A post from Shady Characters


In researching the history of the interrobang I’ve been lucky enough to have corresponded with Penny Speckter, Martin K. Speckter’s widow and an ardent supporter of the mark of punctuation he created. After publishing The Interrobang, part 1, she got in touch to let me know that Martin in fact did not lobby for the inclusion of the interrobang in Richard Isbell’s Americana typeface (as mentioned in the newspaper article I cited to that effect1) but that instead it came about purely by chance. I’m happy to set the record straight here for Mrs Speckter — her support has been invaluable and is typical of the generosity and enthusiasm of many of the people I’ve been in contact with over the course of putting together this material.

Commenters here on Shady Characters have also helped a great deal by ferreting out mistakes both large and small. One inaccuracy I think is worth mentioning here is my use of the term ‘religion of the Book’ in The Pilcrow, part 2 to refer to Christianity — I hadn’t appreciated that this could apply equally to a number of other religions, and the way I’ve used it here is a little misleading. Thanks to Theodore for pointing this out!

I don’t plan to update the articles themselves just yet (getting each new article ready for publication inevitably occupies all my attention), but I’ve made changes to the offending posts, and I hope that this note goes some way to mitigating these errors. Again, thank you for all the interest in Shady Characters and look out for The Interrobang, part 2 next weekend!

Publishers’ Auxiliary. “Interrobang (!?) Expresses Modern Life’s Incredibility.”


4 comments on “Errata

  1. Comment posted by Pollux on

    The interrobang is awesome! And it fills a need. I remember discussing this with someone last year. They insisted we needed a punctuation mark that combined the qualities of a question mark and an exclamation point. I explained this already exists: the interrobang.

  2. Comment posted by Jon Dawson on

    On p 212, you state John Wilkins published his “Essay Towards a Real Character…” in 1668. At the bottom of p. 214, you state, “It is not known what reason Wilkins had to coin this first irony mark. Sixty years earlier, the influential Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus had noted the lack of such punctuation,…” Erasmus was born in 1466 and died in 1536: had he noted the lack of an irony mark even as late as in the year of his death, that was still 132 years earlier, not 60.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Jon — thanks for catching that. Duly updated.

    2. Comment posted by Joe Treacy on

      About type designer Larry Ottino, who was active in design and typography from the ‘50s through the ‘80s….

      According to Riley Cran on 12/22/2020, at https://twitter.com/rileycran/status/1341444170284593152

      Ottino was president of the Larry Ottino / Martin Solomon agency in NYC. He was a prolific lettering artist working at Photo-Lettering, Inc., lettering some 58 alphabets for them.

      Ottino published a 1973 book, “The Art of Lettering with Pen & Brush”. He also later edited Annual of Advertising & Editorial Art & Design.

      Joe Treacy

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