The Thunderbolt & the Monk

The Book Club of California is pleased to announce the publication of The Thunderbolt & the Monk by Nancy Stock-Allen. This is our 242nd publication.

Unlikely as it may be, two calligraphy teachers at Reed College were the seminal inspiration for some of the most important figures in early digital typography. Former students Steve Jobs (Apple Inc.), Sumner Stone (Adobe Industries), and Charles Bigelow (Stanford University and Rochester Institute of Technology) integrated their teachers’ lessons of letter design and legibility into the nascent world of digital type technology. Other classmates took the Reed studio message into emerging fields: environmental signage, entertainment, branding, and digital humanities. A significant number excelled in the already established fields of calligraphy, handwriting education, fine art, poetry, and writing.

The originator of the calligraphy program at Reed, Professor Lloyd J. Reynolds, possessed a dynamic persona and boundless curiosity for art, literature, philosophy, religion, and most significantly the historical forms of writing. He developed a steadfast conviction about the importance of writing, especially italic handwriting, and proselytized that message through his classroom studio, countless workshops, instructional books, exhibitions, and popular public television series. Reynolds’s successor, Robert J. Palladino, a former Trappist monk, was quieter but similarly remarkable in his devotion to his craft and teaching. While he never used a computer during his life, he directly influenced the future of digital type design.

Written and designed by Nancy Stock-Allen, The Thunderbolt & the Monk profiles the lives and careers of both Reynolds and Palladino along with a representative cross-section of their remarkable former students. The preface is authored by noted book designer and calligrapher, Jerry Kelly, who studied under two of Reynolds’s students, Don Kunz and Denis Lund. A substantial introduction recounts the historical background and technical developments of the italic form—the foundation of Reynolds’s handwriting mission.

PROSPECTUS: The Thunderbolt & the Monk

ORDER FORM: The Thunderbolt & Monk

The book measures 9.09″ wide x 12.75″ high and is 320 pages.

The Standard Edition, of 250 copies, features a printed paper over board cover with a foil stamp on linen spine. PRICE: $215

The Deluxe Edition, of 25 copies, includes a book and a portfolio enclosed in a slip case created by John DeMerritt Bookbinding in Emeryville, California. The slipcase and text are covered in black Japanese book cloth. The text features a foil stamped Harmatan leather binding, and a digitally printed photograph tipped-in on the cover. The museum board portfolio contains a quote by William Morris, lettered on archival paper by one of three artists featured in the text: Carol DuBosch, Anita Bigelow, or Jerry Kelly.  PRICE: $650

Kevin Kosik, Executive Director
(415) 781-7532 x1 |


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