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Re: "A Letter To An Imaginary Friend"

Ron Koster's query is certainly not "too oddball"-- it addresses an issue
germane to contemporary book art in its www incarnation. I've looked at the
page in question
and it is a reasonable approach to creating a literary work in period style.

>the standard Times font that people use is
>"close enough" to at least get the flavour of the era. Please keep in mind
>that I'm trying to do *web* design in a historical style, not merely copy a
>*book* style (which would be an entirely different thing in itself).
>if I should receive enough suggestions to do the whole thing as graphics
>that's easily enough accomplished as well
>but that would have meant
>doing the whole thing as graphics (which would take forever to load)

 For me, seeing the type in Times New Roman (Courier, Gill Sans, Bembo,
Helvetica... or whatever happens to be the font of the day) doesn't work
with the title page format or the initial letters. It immediately sweeps me
out of the "period" flavor that has been established.I enjoyed the use of
type in the "title" part of the "letter", but wish it was at a higher
resolution, as it seems to break up like low-res computer imaging, rather
than breaking up like worn foundry type. That also pulls it out of the
Victorian period.

It is possible to use "modern" types to create new works based on earlier
models, and in such cases the work created is intended not to reproduce the
style of another era, but to refer to it. Even so, or particularly so, it is
necessary to control not only what font is used, but the typography as well
(size, spacing, ligatures, etc.).

I doubt that instructing people to change their font preferences is
practical, as even if anybody would want to do it, and a lot of people don't
know how,  they might not have the font you want. You could script a font
download into your site, but still.... Also, every browser displays web
pages differently. My biggest problem in designing web pages is very
different from traditional book design, because with"real" books I choose
the paper, the method of printing, and the binding. I watch the pages come
off the press, and control the color.

Surprisingly few people calibrate their monitors, so no matter what you do
things will look different on different systems. And that's the least of it.
I use and have used several internet connections and browsers, including
aol, compuserve, pipeline, netscape, and msn (internet explorer). Millions
of people don't upgrade their software and operate on old systems. Even
versions 3.0 of Netscape and Intyernet Explorer read the same html pages
differently. I try to run every page I do thru several browsers, to be sure
that each gives an acceptable, though different, appearance. People who
design in one browser and don't check with others would be shocked to see
how some of their beautiful designs are wrecked.

So although it may be possible to script a html page for period effect, I
believe a jpeg works better.

In my own work I do this by printing the page on handmade paper (which may
involve hand coloring and gilding), scanning it, and posting the jpeg to a
website. I had some _Minsky in Bed_ pages up a year or two ago, but took it
down because I was unhappy with the scan. There is still a reduced fragment
of a page from that at
but Colophon Page has rescanned the original pages and is putting up a
_Minsky in Bed_ exhibit in its virtual gallery, which will have a few
complete stories with full page graphics. The scans are beautiful--the
problem is compressing the jpegs so that people with modem connections don't
have to wait forever. My concept now is to have 100K files for modem clients
and larger (200K-400K, perhaps 1 M) files for isdn and faster clients. I
find Corel Photopaint does a good job of shrinking jpg filesize while
maintaining definition. Take a look at the medieval illuminated manuscript
in a chemise binding at
which is less than a 60K file to download, and comes in fairly quickly (a
few seconds) on a 28.8 modem (pops right up on an isdn line). It's
remarkable sharp despite the compression.

I'll post a note when the MIB pages are accessible.

> I could also decrease the font size to
>squeeze more text into a smaller space

Be sure it remains readable at different monitor resolutions. Don't assume
your favorite resolution is anyone else's. I use 800 x 600 on my 15" and
1024 x 760 on the 17", though I like to check pages at 640 x 480 and 1280 x
1060 before posting to the server. Some people with big screens like the
1600 x resolution.

All that being said, I'd rather design (and intend to when I learn how) or
look at shockwave pages with JAVA scripting, in which a traditional format
(like the initial letter) has an animated initial, perhaps one which draws
itself on the page and is historiated with a cartoon, or inhabited by
animals which swing from the letter, and background music plays while
reading, ....


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