But first: interrobangs. This is shaping up to be a banner year for Martin K. Speckter’s creation. Having been selected by Pearson, the giant publishing firm, to form the nucleus of its new logo, the interrobang now pops up at Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft as the title of an upcoming exhibition of letterpress printing.
Things have been quiet lately on the interrobang front. Well, no longer. Take a look at this:
That is an interrobang and a half, I’m sure you’ll agree.
So, some context. Pearson is a global publishing and education company with fingers in many pies — schools, higher education, professional development, and traditional publishing via imprints such as Addison Wesley and Shady Characters’s own Penguin Books — that until recently possessed only the blandest of corporate logos. In 2015, however, they decided to come up with a new identity. As Brand New reported, quoting from the press release that accompanied the rebranding exercise:
I had the pleasure, recently, of writing another article for BBC Culture. It’s called “Punctuation that failed to make its mark” and it’s a sort of Shady Characters greatest hits, a compilation of a few of my favourite marks that tried valiantly but unsuccessfully to achieve widespread acceptance. There’s Martin K. Speckter’s evergreen interrobang, or ‘‽’, intended to punctuate an excited or rhetorical question; Bas Jacob’s clever but ill-fated ironiteken, or irony mark, as shown above; and the excellent quasiquote (
″), or paraphrasing mark, first sent in to Shady Characters back in 2014 by the late Ned Brooks.
Readers! Have you ever wanted a better name for “marks of punctuation”? No, me neither. And yet that is exactly what drove James Brown (no, not that one) to produce the page shown here in his rambling, esoteric An English Syntithology: In Three Books, Developing the Constructive Principles of the English Language of 1845.1
A couple of years ago, my wife gave me a pair of interrobang cufflinks (as shown above) for Christmas. They were the perfect gift, and I was lucky to get them — I’m afraid to say that they’re no longer available. But if you’re still looking for a gift for the punctuation-phile in your life, worry not: ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the inaugural Shady Characters holiday gift guide!