I’ve always had a love for the Art Deco styled fonts (ITC Anna in the Adobe font family). Something about them is so elegant yet sinister at the same time. Maybe it’s because I grew up watching Batman cartoons. The city of Gotham was always drawn in an art-deco style. On the one hand, Gotham was a glitzy city full of lavish lifestyles. Yet there was always a sense of foreboding, corruption, and darkness as well.
They say Gotham City is based on New York, and I can see why. New York is a magnificent city which definitely has two faces. It’s home to some of the world’s richest and most powerful, yet it is also a city of poverty and crime. New York is known for its many art-deco inspired works, such as the Chrysler Building. I get the feeling that the artists of Batman deliberately chose the art-deco font to imply a sense of Gotham/New York being a “gilded” city. Art-deco is very lavish and expensive looking, but you also get the feeling that it is also hiding something about its true nature.
One of my favorite horror video games, Bioshock, features an underwater art-deco city known as “Rapture”. Rapture was originally built as a paradise utopia for the rich and educated. The city looks amazing from the outside, but once you get in, it quickly becomes apparent that something is terribly wrong. Rapture is similar to Gotham in that they are both supposed to represent New York City.
In my opinion, this art-deco typography essentially tells the story of capitalism. It allows the rich and powerful to do magnificent things, but society is still far from perfect. It illustrates where we want to be as a society – wealthy and progressive. But deep down we all know it is just one side of the story.