Thursday, 3 September 2009

Comic Sans

The Wall Street Journal reports: [edited]

Mr. Connare has looked on, alternately amused and mortified, as Comic Sans has spread from a software project at Microsoft Corp. 15 years ago to grade-school fliers and holiday newsletters, Disney ads and Beanie Baby tags, business emails, street signs, Bibles, porn sites, gravestones and hospital posters about bowel cancer.

The jolly typeface has spawned the Ban Comic Sans movement, nearly a decade old but stronger now than ever, thanks to the Web. The mission: "to eradicate this font" and the "evil of typographical ignorance."

"If you love it, you don't know much about typography," Mr. Connare says. But, he adds, "if you hate it, you really don't know much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby."

Mr. Connare, 48 years old, now works at Dalton Maag, a typography studio in London, and finds his favorite creation - Magpie - eclipsed by Comic Sans. He cringes at the most improbable manifestations of his Frankenstein's font and rarely uses it himself.

The proliferation of Comic Sans is something of a fluke. In 1994, Mr. Connare was working on a team at Microsoft creating software that consumers eventually would use on home PCs. His designer sensibilities were shocked, he says, when, one afternoon, he opened a test version of a program called Microsoft Bob for children and new computer users. The welcome screen showed a cartoon dog named Rover speaking in a text bubble. The message appeared in the Times New Roman font.

Mr. Connare says he pulled out the two comic books he had in his office, 'The Dark Knight Returns' and 'Watchmen', and got to work, inspired by the lettering and using his mouse to draw on a computer screen. Within a week, he had designed his legacy.

A product manager recognised the font's appeal and included it as a standard typeface in the operating system for Microsoft Windows.

Thanks to Conrad for the link

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