How we made the hated typeface Comic Sans

Interviews by Ben Beaumont-Thomas in The Guardian:

2560Vincent Connare, typographer

I was working for Microsoft’s typography team, which had a lot of dealings with people from applications like Publisher, Creative Writer and Encarta. They wanted all kinds of fonts – a lot of them strange and childlike. One program was called Microsoft Bob, which was designed to make computers more accessible to children. I booted it up and out walked this cartoon dog, talking with a speech bubble in Times New Roman. Dogs don’t talk in Times New Roman! Conceptually, it made no sense.

So I had an idea to make a comic-style text and started looking at Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns, graphic novels where the hand lettering was like a typeface. I could have scanned it in and copied the lettering, but that was unethical. Instead, I looked at various letters and tried to mimic them on screen. There were no sketches or studies – it was just me drawing with a mouse, deleting whatever was wrong.

I didn’t have to make straight lines, I didn’t have to make things look right, and that’s what I found fun. I was breaking the typography rules. My boss Robert Norton, whose mother Mary Norton wrote The Borrowers, said the “p” and “q” should mirror each other perfectly. I said: “No, it’s supposed to be wrong!” There were a lot of problems like that at Microsoft, a lot of fights, though not physical ones.

More here.

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