FF Mister K: Franz Kafka’s Pen

Since last month – Jürgen already mentioned this – I can practise my passion for type as marketing manager of the FontFont library. It is self-evident that I will primarily deal with new developments. However the upcoming FontFont release proves that this does not exclude the publication of articles with a historical background.

The manuscripts of author Franz Kafka had such a profound impact on Finnish graphic and type designer Julia Sysmäläinen that she decided to convert his handwriting with its unusually strong calligraphic characteristics into a digital script. The philologist took on the challenge to transform in Kafka’s rather eccentric letter forms into an balanced typographic flow. This meant not only creating hundreds of ligatures – each of them consisting of two, three or even four single characters – but also integrating numerous alternate characters to avoid successions of repeating shapes, in order to lend FF Mister K Pro a more authentic script feel. Furthermore handy OpenType functions were added, for example for stylistic alternatives including hatched text as well as underlining and crossing out.

Mister K

Eventually three completely different single fonts were developed. Besides the normal cut there’s also Crossout, which allows for setting extensively crossed out text and Onstage, which clearly looks more extravagant and wriggly. All foreign languages and features included the standard cut alone contains more than 1,500 glyphs.

Graphic designer Oili Kokkonen, also originating from Finland, proves that one can compose very witty illustrations with the FF Mister K Pro characters. Pictograms for toilets, Sahti Institute of Design.

FF Mister K Pro is the only completely new design in the upcoming FontFont release 47, and will soon be available from FontShop (tentative release date December 1st). Meanwhile, to attenuate the waiting a downloadable PDF has been made available to anyone interested.

Update: Dec. 17, 2008 — FF Mister K is now online for sampling and download. It’s available in either a Standard OpenType or a Pro version with additional language support. FontShop.com’s advanced character set viewer reveals all the font’s 1500 glyphs, including the hundreds of ligatures, stylistic alternates, underlines and scribbles.


  1. I’m in awe. Looks absolutely stunning.

    Posted by johno on Nov. 17, 2008
  2. I love it!

    Posted by Stockton on Nov. 19, 2008
  3. historical preservation

    Posted by n.x. on Nov. 20, 2008
  4. The fonts are now available! See update at end of post.

    Posted by Stephen Coles on Dec. 17, 2008
  5. historical perversion

    Posted by n. i. x. on Mar. 15, 2009
  6. What makes you say that, n.i.x.?

    Posted by Yves Peters on Mar. 16, 2009
  7. Historical preservation / perversion

    Are works of cultural value are untouchables … do we have to consume them in their original form or can we openly use them as a source of inspiration and further development… (subconciously we are doing it all the time anyway).
    In theater, we are pretty open for updating historical productions to get them to relate more strongly to contemporary issues.
    In type, I noticed that p22 “Cezanne” got me quite interested in the artist’ s personality … the typeface expresses a lot of it and seems to bring him back to life.
    With FF Mister K … you start to ask not only about Kafka but also about this Mister “K”, a central figure of the novels “The Castle” and “The Trial”. The Fontfeed and the Fontblog have given a lot of good background info about this …and in this way did historical preservation.

    Posted by jurgen sanides on Mar. 18, 2009
  8. Preservation or perversion – I don’t care. But what are these amusing piktograms shown in Wikipedia? Do they belong to the font – I couldn’t find them at FontShop.

    Posted by Gisela Hartmann on Apr. 28, 2009
  9. Seems U mean my DINGBATS. Or my iron K-RUSTIES
    K-RUSTIES are in a SLOW TRAIN coming from RUSSIA. Send me a message if U want.

    Posted by K. on Feb. 12, 2011
  10. After visiting his stomping grounds in Prague last year I have been intrigued with Mr. Kafka. What’s great about the font is that it reflects his long winded sentences, which flow beautifully on a page.

    wall art

    Posted by Juliane on Mar. 17, 2011

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