Question about ITC Neon - possible revival?

Many of you will be familiar with the classic face ITC Neon (https://fontsinuse.com/typefaces/7788/itc-neon). As the linked page mentions, there is no proper digital version of the face; a couple of half-hearted ugly attempts exist. 

I think the font is worth reviving. I have actually already done a fair amount of work on it, but have paused for other projects. During the pause, I have been considering whether the project is worth continuing, with these considerations:

1. Inasmuch as no decent digital edition exists, I have been hand-drawing the new version based on images of the font in use. I am fairly sure that, at least in the US, publication of this font would not violate software-based copyright law, especially if I give it a different name. (I was thinking, perhaps, "Xenon".)

2. I would give full credit to the original designers of the font, Ronné Bonder (died 2015) and Tom Carnase (apparently still living). I would do my best to contact Mr. Carnase about it, but I don't know if this is possible. ITC seems to have no interest in the font and I would consider it abandoned.

3. I wouldn't mind releasing the font for free, but completion of it will take a fair amount of time, and so I was thinking it only fair that I get something for the considerable work of making a good digital copy. I will also be designing a lot of glyphs that did not exist in the original release of the font. So I have been considering selling licenses for the font, should I complete it. I would of course prefer to obtain permission to do this if possible.

4. While the font was extremely popular in the '70s, it is of course very dated now. I don't know whether anyone would even want it. But perhaps there would be a retro market for it. 

I would very much appreciate hearing opinions about these issues. Should I complete this project? 

Thanks for your thoughts!

Comments

  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,220
    edited April 7
    I think the reason it was never digitized is that it's too intricate. Stack, Good Vibrations, Process or Tonal were likely skipped for the same reason: too expensive. I say go for it. I considered doing that one myself but on closer inspection I reazlied that it required a lot of hand drawing so I gave up on the idea. An ambitious project for sure.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,279
    I'd counsel you to make something inspired by ITC Neon rather than a close copy of it. Perhaps its proportions could be rethought (that in itself might help update the design). Creating a digital font that is indistinguishable from the original doesn't sit that well with me, and it also seems like a missed opportunity to insert more of your own ideas into a concept that to me still feels like it could be useful. 
    When putting together my Feneon I realized the static "neon" fonts of old had an Achilles heel: setting them at different point sizes in the same composition never looked right because the "tubes" wound up with nonsensically different thicknesses. Make a couple masters so you can interpolate optical sizes or even release it as a variable font. 
  • blake_hblake_h Posts: 4
    Craig, thanks for your thoughts...I am considering making the font not so much as a personal expression but explicitly to make available a font that isn't available; for that reason I am not following the "inspired by" ethos for this project. I'm not sure why resurrecting an unavailable font would not sit well with you; do you feel it's better for it to remain unusable? 

    Very nice job on Feneon. The variable sizes (and densities) are a good idea and very well executed.  My goal with the Neon project would be to reproduce the original font with its liabilities intact, although I recognize this is not the most modern thing to do. 
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,279
    Thanks Blake. I appreciate your point that "usable version of" and "inspired by" are two different approaches, each potentially valid; I understand your intention better now. 
    What would bother me is a lingering feeling that "it wasn't mine to copy." But you're right that the design isn't served well by being left in an abandoned state. (And indeed, I suppose one could argue that a faithful copy that preserves the brilliance in the design does more honor to it than having its place in design filled by lesser knock-offs.) 
    You should certainly try to contact Carnase and get in touch with House. If they have convincing propriety of it but are open to letting you follow through, one option would be to estimate the value you've added by digitizing and expanding it, to sell it at market value, then to pass the difference back to them. 
    I dunno, as I suggested my reaction is based on a feeling, rather than an ethics argument or an interpretation of law (nothing I'm saying here constitutes legal advice etc etc!). Maybe if I were a touch younger it'd hit me differently, since 1970 falls within my lifetime!
  • blake_hblake_h Posts: 4
    Craig -- 1970 falls within my lifetime too! It's one reason I have kind of a sentimental attachment to this font. I have tried and failed to find current contact information for Tom Carnase but I have written to House Industries. We'll see what happens...
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