is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired in 2013), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “How They Got There: Interviews with Digital Designers About Their Careers”and “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children.
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That’s a great irony, from the most hated font in the world. Although I still use Trebuchet MS for some of my newsletter, I’m not sympathetic with Connare. And that’s thanks to the solely contribution of Comic Sans.
That article contains perhaps my new favorite design geek trivia question: What is the only letter in Comic Sans with a serif?
Will be whipping that out at parties… or not.
I had the pleasure of meeting Connare when he came as the keynote speaker for one of our events (ROFLThing NYC 09). It’s funny, because he seems haunted by his creation, a major part of his final presentation was approximately 7 slides of pictures where he’d encountered Comic Sans “in the wild” in the last 24 hours.
I found this hard to believe. He seems to be using the two most respected superhero comic books to give Comic Sans some kind of street cred. When I read this, I immediately opened my copies of each and saw no resemblance to Comic Sans.
Someone else thought the same thing, too: link
He may be telling the truth, I suppose — perhaps those are the only two comics he owned. Because Comic Sans no more resembles the lettering in those comics than it does in any other comic book. But the link above makes a compelling case that he just did it without paying any special attention to any particular influences at all.
That “someone” you linked to is legendary comic book letterer (they call them letterers, which I think is a terrifically modest and wonderful appellation) Todd Klein. Naturally I agree with you and him that Comic Sans is not a particularly faithful or competent reproduction of the kind of professional lettering that Connare may have seen in “The Dark Knight” and “Watchmen.”
Still, I think it’s possible to be influenced by these comics and still create something not terribly great — and Comic Sans is for sure, not terribly great at all. Much as someone who was heavily influenced by the art of Frank Miller or Dave Gibbons in those comics isn’t necessarily going to draw in a style that’s reminiscent of theirs. In fact, it’s perfectly natural that someone who studies a given comics illustrator winds up with a style that doesn’t look like the source material. Can’t the same variation result when we’re talking about comic book lettering, too?
There are digitised typefaces that look almost identical to the kind of lettering Todd Klein and his contemporaries produce by hand and that style of lettering isn’t that different from letterer to letterer (or as pronounced as an illustrator’s style can be). So it is possible to look at the lettering of Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) or John Costanza (The Dark Knight Returns) and copy it faithfully.
Steve: yes, of course it is possible to copy it faithfully. It’s also possible to look at that style and produce something different.
But how could you look at such great source material and produce Comic Sans? Now, if he was looking at a Wallmart catalogue, maybe…
I agree that influence and inspiration often don’t produce similarity. But this appears more like an attempt to rescue this font from ignominy by placing it in the conceptual vicinity of much superior work.
I also bristle at the idea that this anecdote is going to make people who’ve never read these comics think that the lettering in The Dark Knight and/or Watchmen actually resembles Comic Sans, besmirching the fine reputation of these books and the fine letterers who worked on them.
Another interesting fact – the font is supposedly dyslexia-proof because none of the letters look like letters when flipped backwards. Found that out in a disability-centric web design conference.
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