In 2015, Moscow-based publisher Zangavar issued a new edition of Sergio Toppi’s comic-strip version of the Thousand and One Nights titled Sharaz’de, originally serialized in Alter Alter in 1979. The Russian translation titled Шараз-де was designed by Ilya Zherikov, using Amalta by Vera Evstafieva for titles and headings.
The editorial team of type.today spoke to Zherikov “about how it feels working on translated comic strips, his love for Amalta, and how, when put in the right place, a typeface turns into an oriental one.”
Why Amalta? Nothing to do with the fact that I fell in love with her as soon as I saw it. Why did it fit so well? I did a little research and realised that in Cyrillic world anything even slightly Arabic-related is either set in the unfortunate typeface Arabskij, which is a literal stilization of Arabic ligature script, or typed using a dense calligraphic typeface. Such as Frutiger’s Ondine, for example. It is equipped with a highly amateur Cyrillic set, quick and dirty as if it was sketched on a napkin. It is often used to set all these Arabian Nights, Aladdins, Bazaars, even though the typeface is originally based on Gothic scripts. Actually, one of English-language editions also used this very same Ondine. Apparently, we’re not the only one to apply it on such books. […] So, next to them I saw Amalta which also had a certain oriental vibe — not just those distinctive terminal strokes, something else. I won’t be able to explain any better. On the one hand, in terms of some of its plastic solutions Amalta is very similar to early Kufic scripts; on the other, it looks very much like late Gothic ones — for example, quite a lot is inherited from Rotunda. A magic of the tool, flat brush. That’s amazing.