C’mon Baby, Let’s Do the Twisters

T is for Twisters

In 1987, Albuquerque experienced a rare weather phenomenon for this area: a tornado. This was no over-hyped dust devil, but real honest-to-goodness twister, complete with uprooted trees and damaged buildings but (fortunately) no loss of life.

Now we have Twisters all over the place. Not the cyclone kind, but the burrito kind. (My weekend is not complete without the No. 4 with red chile.)

Holy Ad Lib!!!

The typeface in the Twisters logo is a perfect analogy of the 1987 tornado. It’s chaotic, but basically harmless, maybe just the thing you need to shake you out of your doldrums. The type face is Ad Lib, a subversive reimagining of a classic grotesk sans serif designed by Freeman Craw in 1961.

My earliest memory of Ad Lib in use was in the campy Batman TV show (to which my 7-year-old self was addicted). Ad Lib overlayed the action at the end of each episode, instructing me to return again next week: “SAME BAT-TIME, SAME BAT-CHANNEL!!!” Always all caps. Always extra exclamation points. How dare I refuse?

Atypical TypeFP_Twisters

This is exactly the kind of typeface you would expect Craw not to design. Most of Craw’s work is grounded in reinterpretations of classic serif type forms such as Clarendon, Didot and Bodoni. The paper cut-out crudeness of Ad Lib’s squarish counters and bouncy baseline stand in stark contrast to the refined elegance of faces like CBS Didot, which he also designed.

The added twist in Twisters is that the type has been forced to lean to the right in a faux-italic treatment. Fair enough. Twisters is a quick-service restaurant, and the italics (real or not) do suggest speed, so it works. They’ve also put more bounce in the baseline and set it all inside a jauntily angled bar overlying a rondel holding the words BURGERS and BURRITOS (set on a path in an extra bold weight of Futura). I wish a little more attention had been paid to the positioning there, but it works well enough, especially with the primary color scheme, the mark says fast, fun and friendly.

I know I’ll be there again next weekend. SAME BURRITO-TIME, SAME BURRITO-CHANNEL!!!

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