Out With the Comic Sans, In With the Comic Neue (Plus: Kickstarter Alert!)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

People have strong opinions about fonts.

For example, Papyrus took some negative hits when it showed up in the subtitles of James Cameron’s Avatar, Trajan is frequently maligned for having the misfortune to be used in every other movie poster, and no one thinks using Brush Script as a handwriting substitute is cool, not even ironically.

Some movie posters with Trajan.

And then there’s poor Comic Sans.

Despite the ire heaped upon other poor fonts, none seems to be more universally reviled than Comic Sans.

Comic Sans Criminal

Comic Sans was originally designed to be used in Microsoft Bob, a simple UI designed for people new to Windows, way back in 1995. One of Bob’s defining features was Rover, an animated, cartoon dog that guided Bob users through the many different features of their computers, sort of like Clippy does for Microsoft Office products.

Designer Vincent Connare thought Rover’s speech bubbles needed a typeface with comic context, so he created Comic Sans as a solution. But as these things go, Comic Sans wasn’t ready to ship when Microsoft launched Bob, so Rover just spoke in good old Times New Roman. Comic Sans was later released with Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 and then subsequently added as a standard system font, where its use quickly spread.

rover-and-bob
Rover, speaking in Times, ready to guide the user through the digital diorama that is Microsoft Bob. Image via OldOS.org.

Enter Comic Neue

Designer Craig Rozynski caused quite a stir across the internet on April 7, 2014, when he released Comic Neue, a subtle retooling of Comic Sans, to the public domain.

Rozynski describes his font as “the casual script choice for everyone including the typographically savvy,” explaining that it smooths out all of the bumps and idiosyncrasies of Comic Sans. It’s available as a free download in two variants, Comic Neue and Comic Neue Angular, each with six weights in TrueType and web font (both EOT and WOFF) formats. Here’s how it compares to Comic Sans:

Comic Sans and Comic Neue Compared

But what does the original designer of Comic Sans think of all this? Not much, as it turns out.

Kickstarting a Better Comic Neue

But despite Connare’s detraction, Rozynski isn’t done with Comic Neue yet. He wants to improve on the more technical aspects of font-making—such as anchoring, metrics, and kerning—and to give the font more language support (the current version only contains basic English characters).

So he’s launched a Kickstarter that, if funded, will add support for German, French, Spanish, and all 41 languages covered by ISO 8859-15 and ISO 8859-2. Plus, the font will be refined by a professional type designer, turning Comic Neue from a hobby project into a high-quality typeface.

Backers will be thanked on the Comic Neue website and in the forthcoming Souvenir Book (available to certain backer levels as both a digital and physical book) and will receive the font before it’s released to the public (domain) at large.

Comic Neue Souvenir Book

Rozynski is committed to keeping the font free, and a successful Kickstarter campaign will ensure that a slicker, more universal Comic Neue will be available to the public domain for years to come. Plus you get to back a Kickstarter in Australian dollars (which should unlock some kind of achievement).

Funding for the Comic Neue Kickstarter ends June 12.

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