Posts Tagged ‘comic sans’

by Bill Davis

Who says fonts aren’t newsworthy? Last year we had a little fun on April 1 and chose that date to announce the new Comic Sans® Pro font family. Recently we learned that this particular release placed number six on the list of top 20 most-viewed press releases for during 2011.

Yes, the Comic Sans Pro press release was read by more people than:

  • Steve Job’s resignation letter
  • Google’s plans to acquire Motorola Mobility
  • ExxonMobil’s discoveries in deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

Of course there was a lot of other Tom Foolery going on last April 1st, including Google’s font shenanigans — if you searched for “Helvetica” the results were displayed in Comic Sans. Now tell me again, who says fonts can’t be fun?

I love Comic Sans Pro - font sample


by Allan Haley

Comic Sans™ is the “smiley face” of type. It’s cute, overused, and pretty much hated by the cognoscenti of graphic communication. While I’m reasonably sophisticated when it comes to type, I don’t hate the little guy. I do think, however, that it’s about time to move on and find a new typeface that is friendly, and maybe charming, but that does its job without upsetting typophiles.

Which is why last week’s announcement about the availability of a “brand new version” of Comic Sans with italic designs and a bevy of ligatures, swash and alternate characters smacks of trying to make a silk purse out of, well, something that it is not.

Comic Sans was never intended for greatness – or to spark controversy. (Some people actually love the typeface.) It was ushered into the world of fonts as a support character for a Windows® application that had a need for type in speech bubbles. From there it was picked up as part of a package of fonts offered with the Windows 95 operating system and eventually fell in with the other Windows default fonts. Comic Sans has tumbled through life performing with loyal service when called upon.

The new, tarted up, Comic Sans was announced, along with ten other new fonts, with “enhanced OpenType features that showcase the advanced typographic features new to Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Publisher 2010.” Comic Sans with ligatures and swash characters?  A really “brand new” design surely would be more appreciated by type users than a remake of something that does not need it. (Talk about answering the question that no one asked…)

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

by Allan Haley

Two graphic designers, Matthew Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth, decided that they wanted to find out which typeface was the most “earth friendly.” Their collaboration, called “Measuring Type,” took several popular typefaces and determined how much printer ink each consumed.

I’m suspect.

The study involved the Brush Script™, Comic Sans®, Cooper Black, Courier, Garamond, Helvetica®, Impact and Times New Roman® typefaces. The comparison was supposedly done by drawing out large-scale renditions of the typefaces using ballpoint pens, “allowing the remaining ink levels to display the ink efficiency of each typeface.”

Cute concept, but not exactly scientific. First, drawing a rendition of a typeface is not an accurate way to determine how much ink the actual typeface consumes. Second, if you’ve used a ballpoint pen, you know that you can do an awful lot of writing (certainly more than a half-dozen big letters) before any appreciable loss of ink is noticeable.

Then, there are the results. According to the study, Garamond used the least amount of ink, followed by Courier, Brush Script, Times New Roman and then Helvetica. Comic Sans, Cooper Black and Impact were deemed the ink-gluttons of the pack.

While I’m sure that Robinson and Wrigglesworth had the best of intentions with their study, it also ignores one of the main tenets of typographic communication: legibility. As I wrote in an earlier post, legibility is measure of how easy it is to distinguish one letter from another – a pretty important aspect when it comes to reading.

Garamond is generally considered to be a very legible typeface. Courier, because of its mono-width letters, however, is not. It is also less legible than the fourth place Times New Roman and the fifth place Helvetica. Because it is a script, the same holds true for the third place Brush Script.

If you want to save ink, the results of the Measuring Type study may be helpful. If, however, your goal is to make it easy for your readers to assimilate your content the study is a few points short of an em-quad.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

by Allan Haley

It is abundantly clear that the cognoscenti of the type and graphic design communities love to hate the Papyrus™ typeface. While not as reviled as the Comic Sans® typeface, Papyrus receives more than its fair share of bad press.

Sure, it’s overused, but that doesn’t make it a bad design – just popular. And Papyrus does tend to show up in less than stellar graphic design solutions – but, if this is the reason for supposedly sophisticated designers reviling the design, it smacks of elitism.

Would I, use the Papyrus? Probably not – but not because it’s a bad design. If I wanted to make a distinctive graphic statement, I would use a typeface with a little less “face time” – one that really would stand out from the crowd.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this. I saw the movie Avatar™ last weekend and was blown away. While the story was little more than a rewriting of “Dances With Wolves,” the cinematography, animation and special effects were virtually beyond belief. Like the original Wizard of OZ™, Gone With the Wind™ and Star Wars™ movies, Avatar has set a new benchmark for film making excellence.

So why are the subtitles for the Na’vi people, the alien protagonists of the film, set in Papyrus? It is the only unimaginative visual aspect of the movie. If the choice were mine, the subtitles would have been original calligraphy. (There are times when custom handlettering is the perfect answer.) One would think that, in the $300,000,000+ budget for Avatar, there would have been some room for hiring a lettering artist or calligrapher. If there was only $30 allotted to the subtitle typeface (which appears to be the case), designs like ITC Noovo™, ITC Tempus™ Sans, Briem™ Script or Carolina™ would have carried off the alien and beautifully exotic demeanor of the Na’vi quite well – and would not have reminded the audience of a restaurant menu.

Script Font Samples

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

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