As a design student, there were two publications I subscribed to. The first, PRINT, had a student discount I could afford on my ramen-noodle budget. The second was better yet—it was free, including shipping. The publication was called U&lc, an acronym for upper and lower case, and was a result of 1974 legendary designer Herb Lubalin’s brilliant idea: What better way to display the myriad typefaces for the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) than with a quarterly magazine? (Though the tabloid-size format was really more like a newspaper, and was even printed on newsprint, with a fold down the middle.)
ITC was formed in 1970 by Lubalin, Aaron Burns, and Edward Rondthaler, and it was the very first type foundry to use film and computer typesetting instead of metal type. The first issue was a little slip of a thing, a meager 24 pages printed in black and white, but with a firm mission statement: “U&lc will provide a panoramic window, a showcase for the world of graphic arts—a clearing house for the international exchange of ideas and information.”
The content varied depending on the intended audience. Articles by founders Burns, Roandthaler, and later editor Edward Gottshall and contributor Steven Heller, would regularly appear alongside specimens by type designers like Hermann Zapf, Ed Benquit, Aldo Novarese, and illustrations by the likes of Chas, Slackman, Ed Sorel, Murray Tinkelman, and Lionel Kalish, and cartoons by Lou Myers. Then, very discreetly somewhere on the page, the typeface used for that particular article would be listed. (Elsewhere more traditional type specimen pages appeared.)
All layouts were designed by Lubalin, who set the aesthetic for the next 11 years until his untimely death in 1981. After that, art director Bob Farber took the helm, followed by a long (and impressive) list of guest designers who would direct entire issues over the years. The stellar lineup included Paul Davis, Carin Goldberg, Milton Glaser, Walter Bernard (WBMG), and Pentagram.
The AIGA Design Archives holds a handful issues that includes Lubalin’s masthead from the 1974 Communication Graphics competition. The magazine ceased publication in 1999, sadly with a reduced 8.5” x 11” format that no longer did the subject matter justice. Still, that’s why the Archives exist—so we can revisit design history highlights regardless of how individual projects may have transpired.