• PrintMag

Solve the Mystery of the Pointy S

I’ve never been able to figure it out, and so I’m writing to ask if anyone has ideas. Kids still draw it, in case you haven’t spent much time around middle schoolers lately. There’s always a few in every class, it seems—usually boys, but not always. It’s always an S, on its own, never another letter. Only an S. When I lead middle school lettering workshops, I find that kids are frequently able to style an entire word in a relatively consistent font of their invention, but this pointy S is a killer: They can hardly ever extrapolate how to morph the style of that S into the rest of the alphabet. Sometimes in classes, I end up outlawing it.

The pointy S also seems to be of uncertain origin. It isn’t a corporate logo, or if it is, it’s not well known. Nor is it a band logo that I can think of, though I’m sure somewhere along the line it was. Nor is it ‘graffiti’—in fact I can say with some certainty that this pointy S never figured in graffiti’s early years, and you’d get laughed at if ever you used it. But how the heck did it get to be so ubiquitous? How did it leave the rest of the alphabet behind? Any ideas?

#drawing #lettering #pointys #typography