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MARCEL’S LETTERS: The Moving Story of a Font and One Man’s Fate
by Carolyn Porter

MARCEL’S LETTERS: The Moving Story of a Font and One Man’s Fate by Carolyn Porter

Skyhorse - June 2017

Tagline: A graphic designer’s search for inspiration leads to a cache of letters and the mystery of one man’s fate during World War II.

About the book: Seeking inspiration for a new font design in an antique store in small-town Stillwater, Minnesota, graphic designer Carolyn Porter stumbled across a bundle of letters and was immediately drawn to their beautifully expressive pen-and-ink handwriting. She could not read the letters—they were in French—but she noticed all of them had been signed by a man named Marcel and mailed from Berlin to his family in France during the middle of World War II. As Carolyn grappled with designing the font, she decided to have one of Marcel’s letters translated. Reading it opened a portal to a different time, and what began as mere curiosity quickly became an obsession with finding out why the letter writer, Marcel Heuzé, had been in Berlin, how his letters came to be on sale in a store halfway around the world, and, most importantly, whether he ever returned to his beloved wife and daughters after the war. MARCEL’S LETTERS is the incredible story of Carolyn’s increasingly desperate search to uncover the mystery of one man’s fate during WWII, seeking answers across Germany, France, and the United States. Simultaneously, she continues to work on what would become the acclaimed P22 Marcel font, immortalizing the man and his letters that waited almost 70 years to be reunited with his family.

About the author: Carolyn Porter is a graphic designer and typography geek who designed P22 Marcel Script. Released in 2014, this font has garnered five awards (four international), including the prestigious Certificate of Typographic Excellence from the New York Type Director’s Club. At her graphic design company, Porterfolio, she brings a love of design and talent for words to clients in the financial, medical, environmental, and business-service industries. Carolyn Porter has a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin–Stout and studied at Middlesex University in London. Most recently, Porter has studied writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and with Elephant Rock retreats. Carolyn Porter lives with her husband, Aaron, in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. http://carolyn-porter.com

You can see the P22 Marcel Script font and learn more about it here: https://www.p22.com/family-Marcel

Why I love MARCEL’S LETTERS: What an intriguing way to fall into a story—through a font. Every day we choose fonts in order to express ourselves and ideas. Certain fonts say certain things. When graphic designer Carolyn Porter found some old letters in an antique store written in beautiful script handwriting, initially she only cared about the aesthetics, and she decided to design a new font based on the script. But when she had the letters translated she discovered a hidden story—that of Nazi labor camps of WWII. Of course, we hear a lot about concentration camps. But what about the labor camps where thousands of regular citizens (not Jews) slaved away in terrible conditions? Here Carolyn brings us her own story of discovery as she tracks down the history of her letter writer, a French man named Marcel Heuzé, and the story of these labor camps. Because she is a graphic designer her writing is rich with visual details, and she weaves this story with elegance and power. The same care she clearly put into creating her award-winning “Marcel” font can be seen in her writing, and her and Marcel’s story will enthrall you. I know I had a tissue handy for some moments in these pages.


"We pick a font hoping it says something about us: that we are creative, intellectual, or have business know-how. But what happens when a font picks a graphic designer and turns her world upside down and inside out? In Marcel's Letters, Carolyn rescues one man's legacy, and ultimately gives us with her own." – Elizabeth Rynecki, author of Chasing Portraits

“In Marcel’s Letters Carolyn Porter has plucked a powerful story from the recesses of history. After purchasing a trove of letters because of their elegant script, Porter embarked on a quest to solve the mystery of their authorship and in so doing embarks on a historical awakening of her own.” – Cathryn J. Prince, author of American Daredevil: The Extraordinary Life of Richard Halliburton, the World’s First Celebrity Travel Writer