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Project Specifications

Jessica Mae Adkins


Format/Paper Size



Typography: Letterpress

Wood vs. Lead type

Final typeface choices

Process steps for letterpress



Glyphs & Dashes

Quotation Marks

Typography: Digital


Body text and footnotes



Binding & Finishing

Belly Band

Presentation Images

Funny: Presentation

My concept for this project is to explore the use of taboo in stand-up
comedy. I was inspired to take a closer look at the subject because I went to
see Jimmy Carr live recently. I found the show hilarious, along with most of the
audience (judging by the laughter). However, a couple of days later I read one
of his jokes in the paper. It was a joke about paedophiles, which I am a little
ashamed to say I definitely laughed at during the show. The joke, now printed
in black and white, was suddenly offensive and shocking to me.
I found it interesting how I had experienced two completely conflicting
reactions to the same thing. How removing the words
from the context of the show and printing them on a page had completely
changed the meaning for me. This gave me the idea of taking a selection of the
most taboo quotes I could find from the routines of various comedians across
the history of stand-up and putting them into print.
Even as a fairly cynical person, I was still shocked by some of the jokes
told as I watched more and more stand-up and find myself wondering, Are
there any taboos left in stand-up comedy?. Apart from this though, the project
had lead me to various fascinating areas of research around the topic of the
use if taboo in comedy. Such as the science behind laughter and the benefits
of laughter as a release; the history of the breaking of taboos; the lives and
careers of many comedians; the repercussions of pushing those boundaries
in society, in the media and personally; the ethical and moral questions and
comedians opinions on the subject.
I have compiled this and more online at

Though I have researched the subject thoroughly, I have known from the
start of this project that it is not my intention to communicate my opinions on
the subject to the reader. I wanted to make a book that prompts the reader
to question the breaking of taboos in the arena of stand-up comedy or maybe
evokes the kind of reaction I experienced when seeing the jokes in black and
I decided to make a large book, printed with a selection of jokes all
transcribed from various stand-up comedians on a range of taboo subjects.
The pages are perforated along the inner margin, allowing them to be removed
from the book and displayed as a set of posters. I chose to explore letterpress
as a medium for printing the posters.
Putting the jokes into print takes them out of the context of the show,
removing the safety-net of comedy, and allowing us to view them through a
different lens. However, I felt it important that the pages could be removed
from the book and viewed independently and totally out of context, allowing
yet another perspective on the subject.


Grids: Letterpress
After understanding a bit more about letterpress, I realised that there
was no point to develop a complex grid for the posters as it is essential
to be flexible Letterpress is not an exact science and, especially as I
have used a number of different typrfaces, I instead chose to anchor the
quotes to the top left corner margin and use this as my guide.


A3 (70p1.89 x 99p2.55)
Due to the majority of the
project being printed in
letterpress, I have used
Line/Pica throughout my

Top 6ln

Bottom 9ln

Outer 6ln

Inner 12ln for binding and

(6ln when posters have
been torn out)

Grids: Letterpress

Grids: Overlays
For the overlays a more complex grid was required to ensure the censor
blocks and devices all aligned correctly in their size and spacing. I scanned
in the posters and placed in indesign. I then created a document grid
based on the lowest common measurent I used in letterpress, 3pt with
subdivisions of 8x8. This gave me a fairly accurate grid that worked across
all 12 posters.

Grids: overlays

Typography: Letterpress
I wanted to create the posters in a range of different complimentary typrfaces
that alternate throughout the book, contrasting from one poster to the next.
I wanted to use the project to really explore and celebrate the different font
families available to us in letterpress.
Though we are fortunate to have a wide selection in the workshop, I
discovered the unique restrictions of this medium during the project. As I was
working in a large format with fairly short quotes, I was looking at larger sizes
of type ranging from 46pt to 10 line. In these larger sizes, there is often a
shortage, or even complete lack, of characters. This can hinder or even prevent
the use of a typeface for a specific quote.
It soon became like a game, finding the right typeface in the right size to
compliment the other typefaces... I started with my shortest quote,
choosing 10ln Clarendon.
The extreme lack of characters
availble meant printing the poster
almost word by word. In addition, the
uneven wearing of the wood type
meant individually packing characters
until the print was even. In total this
first run of posters took 4 days. After
printing a second poste in lead type,
the vast differences in printing texture
and look, lead me to the decision
againt using wood type. I decided
instead to choose longer quotes
from my research to enable me to
work only in lead.

Typography: Letterpress


Gill Sans Bold Condensed




Univers Bold Expanded



Though I had to be flexible, I decided early on that I wanted to use 8

typefaces 4 pairs and 4 originals to make up the set. I arranged these in the
book so that each typeface contrasted and complimented the previous. No
wanting to use anything too similar and working mostly between 60 and 72 pt,
limited my options, but my final choices were as follows:

Typeface Choices

Both the leading and the word spacing for the posters had to largely be
determined by eye. I began by making templates of the posters in the nearest
matching PC font. This way I could guage the approximate leading. However,
even having done this, I still set a few lines of type in the chosen font and often
found the need to proof a few times, increasing/decreasing the leading.
Below is a table of the final leading choices for each poster:

Step 1
Set longest line in composing stick.
Determine leading length.
Step 2
Set min of 3 lines of type in tray and
proof on galley press to determine
leading, word spaking and potential
areas for kerning.
Step 3
Start setting poster in printing press
as many lines as possible. Include
opening quotation marks where
possible (upside-down commas)
outside 12ln border.
Step 4
Proof first print. Adjust registration if
necessary. Determine correct amount
of ink and packing.
Step 5
When all the above are correct,
continue to print, setting poster
line by line, measuring and adding
furniture to move text down the page.

Letterpress process

Both the leading and the word spacing for the posters had to largely
be done by eye. I began by making templates of the posters in the
nearest matching PC font. This way I could guage the approximate
leading. However, even having done this, I still set a few lines of type
in the chosen typeface and often found the need to proof a few times,
increasing/decreasing the leading. Below is a table of the final leading
choices for each poster:

Lenny Bruce

George Carlin

Bernard Manning

Caslon 42pt

Headline 72pt

Garamond 60pt

2ln additional leading

6ln additional leading

2ln additional leading

12pt word spacing

6x2 word spacing

18pt word spacing

Richard Pryor

Hugh Dennis

Doug Stanthorpe

Univers Bold Expanded 48pt

Caslon 72pt

Optima 48pt

3ln additional leading

18pt additional leading

2ln additional leading

30pt word spacing

24pt word spacing

4x2ln word spacing

Joan Rivers

Sarah Silverman

Frankie Boyle

Helvetica 72pt

Gill Sans Bold Cond. 60pt

Headline 72pt

4ln additional leading

48pt additional leading

6ln additional leading

6x2ln word spacing

30pt word spacing

6x2ln word spacing

Jimmy Carr

Louis C.K.

Tim Minchin

Bembo 48pt

Helvetica 60pt

Garamond 72pt

18pt additional leading

1ln additional leading

2ln additional leading

18pt word spacing

4x2ln word spacing

4x2ln word spacing

Leading and word spacing

In some cases, kerning was

required. This mainly occurred
with the larger fonts with the odd
word, but in some cases, as with
HEADLINE, the entire poster
required kerning as the characters
sit right againt each other.


In almost all cases, I was forced

to use upside-down commas as
opening and closing quotation
marks. Especially as I chose to use
overhanging quotes as I felt having
the text aligned flush to the top
corner margin, brought consistency
across the variety of typefaces and
their various weights and sizes This
presented a few challenges with
alignment, meant that they all needed
some amount of kerning and mostly
had to be printed on their own in a
separate run.

Some fo the serif

typefaces such as
Caslon have glyphs
as shown to the left.

Use of the
em-dash breaks
the sentence

Hyphen used
to connect
compounded word

Quotation marks, glyphs & dashes

Caslon Pro Semibold

1234567890 ?!;,.
Due to the variety of different
fonts used in the posters, I felt it
important to keep all remaining copy
refined and clean. Not wanting to
introduce new typefaces at this stage,
I looked to the selection in my posters
for a pair of complimetnary fonts.
I chose Univers in a light weight
for the body text and Caslon Pro
Semibold for headings and quotes.

Univers Light
1234567890 ?!;,.

Typeface choices: digital

Rose Grey



Pale Peach



I chose gentle earthy greys,blues and pinks in order to contrast with the
quotes. It was important to me from the start for the posters to be beautiful
objects that draw the reader in and dont just instantly shock. Due to the
strength of some of the quotes, a bold coloured paper or even just the stark
contrast of black and white would be too harsh.
I am hoping this contrast will also work both ways to emphasise the taboo
in the quotes and the beauty in the posters. I also had to keep in mind
that the thickest stock that can be used in letterpress is 300gsm. I chose six
shades of Murano paper (each to be repeated twice throughout the book).

The purpose of the tracing paper overlay is both to censor and protect each
poster. After trying a few weights of tracing paper, I settled on 120gsm finding
it strong enough to print without wrinkling and light enough to see the poster
through clearly

Paper: posters & overlay

Binding & finishing

When considering the binding for this book, it is importan that I pay special
attention to the strength of the spine. With perforatd posters on thick stock,
comes the risk of ripping the book in half. Another factor is that binding
different weights and types of paper, like posters and overlays, can be tricky.
Also, I will be binding single sheets, as opposed to spreads.
For these reasons I have chosen a perfect bind, with bolts to re-inforce the
spine. I have given 6ln margin (befoe the perforations) for the spine.

Binding & belly band

I chose a hard cover to provide extra protection for the posters and give
additional strength to the spine. After considering black, white and various
shades of grey book cloth, I opted for plain grey board. I like the different tones
in the material and feel it complements the tones of the poster paper.
I also like the stripped-back connotations of using grey board. Book cloth
seemed almost too nice for a book that is supposted to be torn apart. I feel
the grey board, together with the tracing paper and strong graphic devices,
emphasize the content well.
Carrying on this theme, the book is simply called Funny. The title is foil
blocked in black foil on the bottom right corner margin. I used the closest
typeface (un-named)I could find to Caslon for this. I think this one word
provides enough meaning to represent the contents. I hope it will be intriguing
enough to peak the readers curiosity.

Cover & title

Presentation Images

Presentation images

Presentation images