The Other Oswald
Write and design a fictional first-person narrative that showcases typography in an interesting way.
THE OTHER OSWALD is a fictional, first person account of a Soviet conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, 1963.
Identity + Mark | Illustration | Photography | Editorial Design + Layout | Copy Writing + Editing
The Assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 was not just a national tragedy. It was an event that has sparked endless debate and speculation, and a veritable cottage industry of books and documentaries. Polls to this day reveal that a majority of Americans continue to believe that the president’s death was the result of a conspiracy.
I thought it would be interesting to develop a fictional account of the event that strayed far away from popular theories, such as those espoused in films like Oliver Stone’s JFK.
In my version, military hawks in both the United States and the Soviet Union conspire to eliminate Kennedy and further fan the flames of the Cold War. I took bits and pieces of authentic evidence and twisted them to change the context and fit this new narrative.
Written from the perspective of an old Russian man who was a member of the assassination team, the piece takes on the look of a top secret KGB dossier. All of the declassified documents, ephemera and photographs used throughout are authentic and were procured through extensive library research. I was thus able to secure numerous rare photographs of actual events, such as Oswald’s defection to Russia, and weave them directly into my narrative.
To put myself directly in the action as one of Kennedy’s assassins, I altered high quality reproductions of the famous (and oft-claimed to be faked) backyard photographs that linked Oswald to the rifle that killed the president. To project a sense of confusion and conspiracy, ever spread of this book is dense and multi-layered.
I chose typography to express some essential qualities. Given the conspiracy narrative, every letter had to feel sinister. Because this is a Cold War piece, it was vital to present not only a Russian voice, but a vintage Soviet-era sensibility. Matthias Rawald’s Burokrat provided the distressed stamping of a secret government dossier. Neville Brody’s FF Gothic mixes the formalism of Bank Gothic with the bold geometry of Russian Constructivism, and is ‘Soviet’ without being kitschy. Trixie is a versatile, distressed typewriter family and was also useful for the project because it contains a full Cyrillic character set.
I augmented the English narrative with small body sections and captions of Russian text. After translating key phrases, I set them in Russian Block, Cyrillic Sans and Trixie Cyrillic.
The color palette is decidedly Russian: black and red. I added some browns and desaturated the hues to reflect the age of this supposed classified document. Printing the piece on a dirty and grainy 100% recycled stock darkened the colors further and heightened the supposed found nature of this forgotten dossier file.