The Dark Shadows Font Project Revisited

The Dark Shadows font project is back on track…

When I first heard that there was a new Dark Shadows movie in development I was pretty excited, especially since it was a Tim Burton project and he has used fonts I designed in some of his past films. I started tossing ideas around for a design for a special font for the movie – not at their request, but purely on spec. Then it looked like the movie was going to take forever to get into production, backed up behind other projects, so I set the project aside for a while. Well the latest on IMDB is that they’ve more or less finished casting and may start shooting soon, with an eye on a release date in May of next year.

That means the Dark Shadows font project is back on the front burner, at least for my amusement, though who knows where it might go. I’ve already done the initial research for the font, drawing on five years watching the show devoutly as a kid, and using video clips as a reference for the kinds of designs which were used for the titles of various incarnations of the show

The starting point for the project is the original title font from the first four years of the series which is visible in the first image to the right. The second image shows the title from the poster for the theatrical movie House of Dark Shadows. The third image shows the title from the 1991 primetime series which is an updated variant of the original title style. All of these title designs will to some degree inform the final design, especially the initial D and S characters from the original.

My first inclination is to follow the idea of the original titles where the initial letters are in a gothic style and the other letters are in more of a text style, possibly drawn from the style of the House of Dark Shadows movie titles. It also occurs to me that because a part of the story is set in the 1790s drawing on colonial typeface design makes a lot of sense, so it seems logical to move towards more of a woodcut look for both the initial capitals and the main text letters. I’m also thinking about borrowing some ideas from the original lettering in the titles of Burton’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow to give the font a rougher and more edgy look. And before you even ask, I do hate the titles from the last season of the original series and don’t plan to incorporate them in the design. The idea would be to pull all of these inspirations together into an original font which draws on the tradition while being original and new at the same time. It should be a font which people look at and immediately think of Dark Shadows but if anything even more of an embodiment of the gothic atmosphere of the series.

So now the project ought to move forward more quickly. Look for preliminary drawings of the font in the next installment.

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