The Dancing Font from Outer Space

The animated variable font Kablammo has landed on planet Earth

Key points:

  • Kablammo is a new animated variable font
  • The new Morph axis moves shapes around to transform letterforms
  • An homage to the iconic nineties typeface, Jokerman

Maximalist, absurdist, nostalgically 90s, and out of this world. Vectro Type Foundry’s Kablammo, is an animated variable font with morphing parts inspired by the Jokerman typeface and classic Nickelodeon shows like “Double Dare,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” and “Aaah Real Monsters.”

Exploration is an important ethos in Vectro’s process, who prefer to push beyond the known boundaries of type design and technology. Which is why Google commissioned them to explore the potential of variable font technology.

The Kablammo team spent a year and a half getting from idea to final glyphs. They first considered the typical width and weight adjustments found in most available variable fonts but quickly recognized the opportunity to expand this technology to morph the letterforms themselves.

With a rough prototype animating an early version of this Kablammo concept, the team explored many possibilities that didn’t end up in the final design. Part of their exploration included “entertaining these dead ends,” as the type designer and art director Travis Kochel put it. The dead ends helped them make crucial decisions on which directions to take the design.

Text sample of Kablammo reads “without a doubt hallucinations? be perfectly safe with excitement

Kablammo curves

Kochel explained that Kablammo was designed to be animated: “It could work well in some film titles or advertisements. I especially think there’s a good opportunity on the web, where with some simple CSS animation of the variable axis, Kablammo can really take off.”

While Kochel would also like to see Kablammo enhancing office walls and street signs, art director Lizy Gershenzon would be proud to see it become as ubiquitous as the original Jokerman, Comic Sans, and other silly public fonts often used playfully in schools and community centers, and on team banners and holiday party signs. They’re the fonts that can best express and inspire a lighthearted energy.

Kablammo was an opportunity for the team to explore variable font technology. The team decided to explore the strange new worlds of a strange new variable axis. Kablammo uses the Morph axis exclusively to create a series of hypnotic movements. On an axis range of 0–60, the morph styles include Zoink at 0, Bloop at 20, Splat at 40, and Eek at 60.

The four main styles are just starting points. You can play with the variable axis on Type Tester to see what more the typeface can do.

Animation of “G” in yellow on blue background

The uppercase letter “G” changing forms

Comparison of four letters in four Kablammo styles

Can you spot the differences between the four Kablammo styles? 1. Zoink 2. Bloop 3. Splat 4. Eek

Two rows of Kablammo letters read A, R, E, P, E, A, T, E, and R.

1. Contextual alternates off 2. Contextual alternates on. With the contextual alternates feature on, the “E,” “A,” and “R” in line 2 have different forms when repeated.

Kablammo also offers contextual alternates to automatically switch up variations when letters are repeated in the same word.

Kablammoji and patterns

To add to its otherworldly and adventurous spirit, Kablammo includes special Kablammo-style emoji characters and patterns.

A selection of special characters include sun, smiley face, globe, eyes, winking eye, mouth, screaming face, and ufo

Nine animated special characters

Inspired by the style of Ettore Sottsass and the postmodern Italian design group he founded, Memphis Milano, Kochel explains that the patterns “can be used as background texture or decorative elements in a layout. They give an otherwise blank surface, object, or packaging a fun pattern.” Much like how the Memphis group was interested in exploring the future of design in a world of Modernist rigidity, Kablammo presents a playful alternative to more reserved letter design.

A repeated pattern of three basic shapes subtly move in unison

Moving patterns


Text sample of Kablammo Cyrillic reads discotheque farce in Russian

“дискотека фарс” (diskoteka fars), Russian for “discotheque farce,” in Kablammo Cyrillic

In addition to the Latin set, Daria Cohen and Ethan Cohen, based in Berlin, translated the Kablammo design for the Cyrillic glyph set for languages like Bulgarian, Serbian and Russian.

Comparison of two Cyrillic characters in four Kablammo styles

Four versions of the Cyrillic Ж (“zh” sound) and Ф (“f” sound)

“The choreography of the letters is often even more important than their shapes”

For Daria, working on Kablammo felt more like animating than designing a typeface.

“In Kablammo, the choreography of the letters is often even more important than their shapes. I really enjoyed working on symmetrical Cyrillic letters, like Ж (“zh” sound) and Ф (“f” sound). At some point some of those symmetrical letters looked anthropomorphic or zoomorphic. The “Ж” looks like an ink blot with two eyes. It also reminds me of the character, Дюдюка (Dyudyuka), in the Soviet cartoon “Подарок для слона” (“Podarok dlya Slona”/ “Gift for an Elephant”). I allowed myself to be a little silly and just have fun.”

Two Cyrillic characters that appear to have eyes and other animal-like features

Cyrillic Ж and Ф could look like creatures

“In a fun way, Kablammo reminds me of ‘60s minimalist music like Steve Reich and Philip Glass,” explained Kochel. “On the surface, the music feels very repetitive, like it’s stuck in an endless loop. When you take a closer look, it’s constantly evolving and moving. Very rarely is anything actually fully repeated. Each measure is slightly different, adding or subtracting only a note or two, but difficult to distinguish from the previous one. This creates a fascinating tension, complexity, and energy.”

To boldly go where no font has gone before, Kablammo is available on Google Fonts in Latin and Cyrillic, and in Google Workspace products, such as Google Docs.

To see Kablammo animation examples, visit the Kablammo site.


Lizy Gershenzon is Co-Founder, Design Director and Managing Partner for Vectro and Future Fonts. She is also a partner at Scribble Tone, and contracts with in-house product teams and digital design agencies.

Travis Kochel is Co-Founder, Type Design Director and Managing Partner for Vectro and Future Fonts. He is also a partner at Scribble Tone and Adjunct Professor teaching Type Design at Portland State University.