Comic Sans used as headline font in the Wall St Journal - Typophile VICTORIOUS

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Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
Comic Sans used as headline font in the Wall St Journal - Typophile VICTORIOUS
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From the June 5 edition. I guess the barbarians have breached the gates and made it inside the walls of the city.

Corey Holms's picture
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Joined: 26 Nov 2002 - 1:27pm
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That actually makes me happy.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Heads should roll.

Coire Ruff's picture
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Joined: 25 Mar 2010 - 7:33am
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I'm stuck between Nick and Corey.

I hate the font.

But, read the first few lines of the story and it makes sense. It's a story about an comic artist. So...it, sort of, works. Of course, I think that alone should mean that I need to head to bunker and wait out the apocalypse...Yeah...

Nick Shinn's picture
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The typocalypse would be a headline about an article about a cartoon about the artist formerly known as Prince.
But I don't think Vince included that character in CS.

Gabriel's picture
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It's just wrong. Very wrong.

Arthur RF's picture
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Okay it looks flimsy, but really, I don't get all the Comic Sans hatred.. It was made for a use, it has a use, the WSJ did it as a joke and I think it works great. I still prefer marker by hand over it though !

Nick Shinn's picture
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It's not funny.
This is about journalistic standards.
Comic Sans is a Vince Connare font (as is obvious from the identical "t"s), not the cartoonist in question's lettering.
So it is, if not a lie, sloppy journalism.
By making an exception to the style guide, and using the much-maligned CS, the article demeans the subject's status, skewing the objectivity that newspapers are supposed to provide. Again, bad journalism.

Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
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This is flogging a long dead horse, but my primary objection to Comic Sans is that it doesn’t look like comic lettering. You know what does look like comic lettering? The font that Scott Adams uses in Dilbert, that he created based on his own lettering. Wouldn't that have been a better choice than Comic Sans? So, this just seems like a WSJ art director being uncommonly lazy. As a newspaper, I'm glad the WSJ is making a go of it, but the typographic fit & finish has really tailed off in the last few years.

Nick Shinn's picture
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So really, it's like using the wrong person's photo for a story.

Simon Daniels's picture
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> The font that Scott Adams uses in Dilbert, that he created based on his own lettering. Wouldn't that have been a better choice than Comic Sans?

Likely a licensing issue. :-)

Cheers, Si

Arthur RF's picture
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As sii says, the idea of 'let's buy a font for a single headline !' isn't financially viable, so you got to use what you got.. or get an intern to write the text and get you a cup of coffee as it goes.

They should have poked him for a header, that would be better, but well, you know the newspaper world, take the easy way out ! hats off to them. Don't get me started at finding this horrible, I'd rather see this than a full justification ridden with holes.

Eric Doctor's picture
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Then you should use your normal style. This doesn't appear to be a full-page feature with any sort of graphically heavy splash page (I would be surprised to see anything like that in the WSJ), so there is no reason to deviate from normal style. Imagine if newspapers picked a different headline font to "fit" every story. It would be a mess.

Tomi Haaparanta's picture
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006 - 3:16am
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Well, Wall Street Journal is now owned by Rupert Murdoch. It says what he says, in a way he wants. In Comic Sans if necessery. You can see that in Simpsons. Or in Jerry Springer. Fox News is a bit over the top for everyone with a brain.

Vincent Connare's picture
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Joined: 6 May 2005 - 4:33am
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It might be a font but it's a lifestyle and a new religion.

http://Comic Sans Band

COMICSANSMYSPACE

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
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There are better fonts for comic-style lettering than Comic Sans. I think the font change would have been more effective if something more original had been used.

Alvin Martinez's picture
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Joined: 20 Jun 2005 - 3:54pm
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Just because the story is about a cartoonist, does not mean a comic book typeface should be used. Bad form from WSJ.

Vincent Connare's picture
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copying someones comic book lettering is illegal and lazy and you are all way behind now and just all jealous. So fuck off.

Eric Doctor's picture
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I think Mr. Connare may be my favorite poster on Typophile.

Russell McGorman's picture
Joined: 25 May 2006 - 10:01am
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:o)

"and lazy…"

unlike the person who laboriously and expertly scrolls down the list and clicks on CS. :o)

"So **** off."

OK
:o)

Patrick King's picture
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No one in NYC had a brush or a pen and was capable of the best Comic Font of all, that drawn with the human hand?

Chris Rugen's picture
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I agree that it's a bit lame from an art direction perspective, but I like the humor and the thinking.

As usual, I'm sure it did exactly what it was meant to for the audience. I'm sure that as a non-subscriber my opinions sound like so much whistling wind to the WSJ.

Robert Stone's picture
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It makes it look like someone did the typesetting with WordPad on a default Windows XP install.

Tomi Haaparanta's picture
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@ Chris:

Art direcion has nothing to do with it: A designer has done his/her work, and journalists now fill the blanck spots. Now the journalist fills that space with what he/she feels appropriate. Photo-journalist may be consulted. Art Director thinks of a nice opening for weekend issues.

I do not think that there is many Art Directors making newspapers today.

Thomas Phinney's picture
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"Illegal and lazy"?

Vinnie, I thought Comic Sans was inspired in substantial part by Alan Moore's lettering for "Watchmen"? Of course there can be a distinction between "inspired by" and "directly ripped off from."

Which also means that it's reasonably authentic as a "comic book" style, for the rest of you lot. Whatever beefs may have about comic sans, that it is "inauthentic" is an unfair criticism, IMO.

Hey, what happened to Typophile's automatic smart quotes? I seem to be remaining "dumb" (so to speak).

Cheers,

T

Florian Hardwig's picture
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Thomas, I have filed a bug report.

Kent Lew's picture
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Thomas — The SmartyPants feature has been off since the last revision, for several months now. Don’t know why. You have to type your “smart” quotes and em dashes yourself now.

John Savard's picture
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I will have to drag out my copy of WATCHMEN. Comic Sans, even in all caps, doesn't look like typical comic book lettering. It reminds me, instead, in upper and lower case, of lettering or other fonts used in some magazines for young children back in the 1960s.

The family of the late Ben Oda has placed a free font on the web based on his lettering style; he worked chiefly for DC, and is claimed by many to be the founder of modern comic book lettering.

William Berkson's picture
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Thomas Phinney's picture
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@quadibloc: Comic Sans (like most fonts) is generally used in larger sizes than actual comic book lettering. I think that accounts for a lot of the difference. Try it in eight point or something. :)

@Kent: Will do. Thanks!

T

Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
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... Comic Sans was inspired in substantial part by Alan Moore's lettering for "Watchmen" ... Which also means that it's reasonably authentic as a "comic book" style, for the rest of you lot. Whatever beefs may have about comic sans, that it is "inauthentic" is an unfair criticism, IMO.

Comic Sans may be many things to many people, but authentic comic-style lettering, it ain't. See attached comparison

Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
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Meanwhile, the WSJ used Comic Sans as a headline font AGAIN today (June 12) in a truly atrocious layout that also relied on ... wait for it ... Arial

To those who say it would be wasteful and unreasonable for the WSJ to buy a special font for one story or hire a lettering artist, bear in mind that the WSJ routinely hires photographers, illustrators and information designers for specific feature stories. For example, for this very story, they obviously paid for a custom comic-style illustration. But they wiped out on the lettering.

Eric Bentley's picture
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I'm sorry, I didn't know that the Wall Street Journal was produced by a BUNCH O' 3RD GRADERS!

Luca DB's picture
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Joined: 20 Jul 2009 - 2:33pm
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Scary stuff. Even an ape on LSD could have done better...this is hideous. If I do something comparable for the small publishing house I work for, my a** will be kicked. Apparently, WSJ editorial standards are getting quite low. Or the a** of the ape doing this is sturdier than mine.

Eric Doctor's picture
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You know what's actually bothering me more than the type in that illustration? The fact that the comic book and the text block have different perspective.

John Savard's picture
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Incidentally, I learned of the Ben Oda font during a mad fit of searching for information about comic book typefaces.

One supplier is Blambot! - they provided the typefaces used in the Hello Cthulhu web comic, including the strange characters used for direct quotes from the Necronomicon.

However, apparently the major supplier of serious comic fonts used even, at times, by Marvel and DC, is the one that supplies the typefaces used in Phil and Kaja Foglio's Girl Genius webcomic (trying to identify these sparked my search)... is Comicraft.

bowerbird intelligentleman's picture
Joined: 5 Mar 2009 - 5:27am
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i hate rupert murdoch.

but i _love_ comic sans!

-bowerbird

Vincent Connare's picture
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Richard Kegler's picture
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You wrote that for McSweeney's didn't you Vinnie? :^)

Nick Shinn's picture
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Sorry CS, I don't think Papyrus is interested in getting hammered.
You might have to settle for an organic smoothie.
I hear Impact is in town though, but watch out, he'll kick your skinny shapeless butt all the way to Seattle.

Kevin Pease's picture
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I think since Vince did ROFLCON, Impact is already Comic Sans' very best friend. It may not be a healthy or symmetrical relationship...

loocas's picture
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Here's an example of Comic Sans done right: PZ Myers in his blog Pharyngula formats quotations from kooks, nutjobs, etc. in Comic Sans with a little Gumby graphic. Here's the latest example.

And if you ask me, all of the WSJ should be printed in CS.

Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
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Yesterday (June 19): Third consecutive appearance of Comic Sans in WSJ weekend edition.

Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
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Looks like they even put two word spaces between the words in the second line.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Not Comic Sans - "s" is wrong.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Yup, it's Chalkboard.
The plot thickens.

Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
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I stand corrected. Well, I feel much better now, for a minute there I was worried that standards were slipping.

Vincent Connare's picture
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Chalkboard, oh that Chalkboard is trying to ruin my reputation, that impostor.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/jun/20/in-defence-comic-sans...

David Berlow's picture
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>Chalkboard, oh that Chalkboard is trying to ruin my reputation...

Impossible. ;)

Cheers!

Arthur RF's picture
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I was trying to pick up some comic books as a gift this week, and noticed a Translation of V for Vendetta in Comic sans. That aside, the translation also morphed the speech balloons and cluttered the artwork.

But still, it beats the Twilight comic (don't, please don't ask) typeset in Times...

Good to see some Chalkboard love though !

Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
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From today's Wall St Journal (June 24 2010). We might wonder how many times the WSJ art director plans to use the comic-book-layout gimmick. But note that Comic Sans (and Arial) have disappeared, and have been replaced with more convincing comic lettering fonts.

Coincidence? Or has Typophile successfully shamed the WSJ into raising its standards? Given the uncanny timing, I'll assume it's a Typophile victory until proven otherwise