September 9, 2006
I'm not sure how I landed on their distribution list but in today's mail I received a slim booklet on Mexican Monographias from Pentagram Design, and it's one of the best things I've received by mail in years. Monographias are posters made up of comic book-like panels that teach lessons. The lessons cover just about anything you can think of from astronomy, to famous wrestlers, to world dictators, to social evils. There have been popular in Mexico since I was a kid and are very similar to Indian educational posters which serve the same purpose [they are so similar that you wonder whether there was some cross pollination or whether there was a third source that both are imitating...or perhaps it just has to do with the types of presses used and the respective levels of development/social education needs.].
I used to collect these posters as a boy when visiting Mexico and was always looking for obscure subjects published by small time vendors. My favorite was a collection of martyrs who died by crucifixion. I was also partial to the "Animales Peligrosos" which featured a little boy being devoured by a lion. The booklet I received today was published by the design firm Pentagram as part of their Pentagram Papers series, a set if personal design projects put together by Pentagram's partners. The booklet features a thoughtful intro by partner Armin Vit titled "The World on a page at Five Pesos a Piece." I hope they put the whole thing online so all of you can enjoy it. In the meantime you can find a few reproductions of Monographias showing social evils on this site, a book on the Indian versions is available on Amazon (review, postersfor sale).
Armin Vit's essay ends with this, "Today in our information-heavy environment, I long for those simpler days when research, information and, ultimately, education on any given topic involed only a single, double-sided page."
. . .
as an addendum: another example of a Pentagram partner doing inspiring work.