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.