CR Blog

The neue Comic Sans

Type / Typography

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 7 April 2014, 14:12    Permalink    Comments (17)

Earlier today, Comic Sans was trending on Twitter. The reason? Designer Craig Rozynski announced the arrival of Comic Neue, his make-over of the now infamous mid-90s typeface. I spoke to him about the project...

Whether you like it or not, Comic Sans is seemingly always with us. From office noticeboards to lost dog signs, party invites and beyond, it has reliably been the font of choice for millions since it was first included in Windows 95 – though it was never 'designed' for this purpose, rather as a comic book-style speech bubble face, as its creator Vincent Connare writes here.

And every so often the typeface crops up in wider cultural phenomena. In 2010, Mike Lacher penned the brilliant I'm Comic Sans, Asshole for McSweeney's, which we also republished in CR, and last year a multicoloured version was adopted as the font of choice for practitioners of the 'doge' meme. (Much Comic Sans wow etc.)

It's also now two years since Dr Fabiola Gianotti used the typeface to announce the results of CERN's ATLAS collaboration to discover the Higgs boson particle (above) and Connare's typeface had another airing in tweets and blogs. CERN also staged a great April Fool a few days ago, claiming the organisation was adopting Comic Sans as its main typeface.

But today Comic Sans was trending because of quite a different reason: Craig Rozynski, an Australian designer based in Japan, had launched a new version of the font called Comic Neue which, he claimed, "aspires to be the casual script choice for everyone including the typographically savvy."

"The squashed, wonky, and weird glyphs of Comic Sans have been beaten into shape while maintaining the honesty that made Comic Sans so popular," he writes on comicneue.com. "It's perfect as a display face, for marking up comments, and writing passive aggressive office memos."

There are two variants – a Comic Neue and Comic Neue Angular, which features angular terminals rather than round ones. Both are available in light, regular and bold weights, with oblique equivalents.

Comic Neue is also Rozynski's first ever font.

 

CR: Can you tell us about your thinking behind Comic Neue?

Craig Rozynski: I'm pretty sure every graphic designer has ‘create a typeface' on their bucket-list, don't they? Not a lot manage to. It requires an inhuman amount of patience for a start. I'd always wanted to create one, but I guess I was just waiting for the right idea to come along.

A few years ago, seeing Comic Sans yet again getting a good bashing online I wondered, could it be saved? Could Comic Sans be given a make-over? The first ever sympathy font? A joke at first (maybe it still is), but one that I began taking seriously enough to have a go at.

CR: How has the original Comic Sans informed what you wanted to do?

CR: I simply set out to fix the weirdness. I still wanted it to be a casual typeface. I still wanted it to be Comic Sans, but a version you couldn't easily fault. Make people question their assumptions. The angular version was a happy accident incidentally.

CR: Did you think it needed updating?

CR: Considering the amount of criticism it's received over the last twenty years, yes. Funnily enough the creator of Comic Sans, Vincent Connare, told me today that my creation "should be more casual". So the criticism has come full circle.

CR: You've mentioned that Comic Neue is currently "free with no attribution required". Is that something that will remain in the future?

CR: I have received a gazillion messages from people who need a full written disclaimer before they'll touch it. The honest answer is I haven't decided. I put so much work into it (it was a three year side-project) that one part of me wants to charge a fee for it, while the other, realistic part of me concedes it will never be ubiquitous if it comes with a price tag. What's online now for download will be free forever. If I give it a fully realised set of glyphs and fine tune it, I may offer that for sale.

CR: Comic Sans was trending on Twitter earlier. What's the reaction to your font been like so far?

CR: Crazy. I had no idea Comic Sans was trending today (sorry Mickey Rooney). I have a fair few devices lying around and my office has been like the Starship Enterprise today. My day has been completely derailed, but it's been fun.

CR: And if a foundry picks up on the typeface, would you look to expand it?

CR: Definitely. The fact is it will all be forgotten tomorrow unless a foundry or library get behind it. It probably isn't ready in its current form to be offered at that level, but if there was any interest shown I would absolutely go there.

Comic Neue can be downloaded from comicneue.com. Rozynski is on Twitter at @craigrozynski.

17 Comments

Don't you need permission to update an existing design, and to put it up for free online?
Shinji Pons
2014-04-07 16:21:55


Comic Sans is available as a free download, is it not?

Haters gonna hate.
Matt
2014-04-07 17:07:04


Comic Sans is not free. It is provided with the system fonts when you purchase the operating system.
Just because you don't play for it explicitly, that does not make it free.

However, even free software is not exempt of copyright.

Comic Sans is not free, and it is copyrighted.

Updating and customising a typeface is allowed if you have permission from the original designer.
Shinji Pons
2014-04-07 17:47:08


The perception is that it's free (i.e. worthless), which is not necessarily the same as the actuality.
Tim at ARTOMATIC
2014-04-07 19:07:21


As far as I know, making an original work, in particular a typeface, basing it on the shape of an existing one should be allowed...
salvo nicolosi
2014-04-07 21:38:26


im sure after all the stick it gets, im sure the original designer would be pretty happy with someone appreciating it some what,

haters hating,
Lion
2014-04-07 23:32:15


Making a typeface that is largely based on another isn't illegal of course, but if you make your work publicly available for free (again, without permission), you are ripping another designer off.
I am not against this typeface, although I will never download nor use it but it's the "fame on top of another one's fame" method that bothers me a little.
Shinji Pons
2014-04-08 10:53:49


For sure, it is wrong to play fast and loose with other peoples' (copyrighted) work, but I think this should be taken for what it is – a fun exercise, it's not like he's making any money out of it (yet). I don't think the real comic sans has too much to worry about.
Matt
2014-04-08 11:52:53


People are never going to adopt Comic Neue instead of Comic Sans because most people don't purchase or download custom fonts. People use the ones that come with their computers. So unless Apple, Google or Microsoft start shipping apps with it built in, it will never succeed.
Kári Emil
2014-04-08 15:03:54


So who is going to redesign the king of fonts "Brush Script'?
John
2014-04-08 15:11:19


^House Industries did it years ago, very well as far as I can tell!
Chris
2014-04-08 16:38:41


I'm amazed a designer hasn't done it sooner and I actually don't mind it. Probably will never use it, mind.
Steve
2014-04-09 09:20:00


looks nice... especially when juxtaposed with lemon vines. Do lemons grow on vines?
I've always felt the animosity towards the original Comic Sans was unjustified. Any typeface can look ugly if 'wielded' improperly.
luke
2014-04-09 12:34:19


looks nice... especially when juxtaposed with lemon vines. Do lemons grow on vines?
I've always felt the animosity towards the original Comic Sans was unjustified. Any typeface can look ugly if 'wielded' improperly.
luke
2014-04-09 12:56:11


It's a decent improvement... Comic Neue has an elegance and 'wholeness' that Comic Sans never came close to having. The 'comic' influence is subtle, which is why I think this could go well.

Agree that they should look at making this a default system font.
Matt
2014-04-10 00:53:45


Much better than the original but still; I'm not convinced I'd use it.
Vincent
2014-04-10 21:05:45


Throwing my hat in the ring:
check out this other Comic sans alternative:
JollyGood Sans http://www.jollygoodfonts.com
kemie
2014-05-20 08:49:47


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