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  • Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. Text.

  • The printed word. Vitally important,

  • but never naked. When

  • words and letters are printed, they have to wear the

  • clothing of a typeface. A font family. We don't always think of it this way, but

  • you cannot

  • type without using a typeface.

  • Even right now, here on YouTube, when you leave a comment,

  • you are communicating your own words, your own thoughts,

  • but through the visual styling of someone

  • else - the creator up Arial. In these Vsauce videos,

  • Jake, Kevin, myself and others use Alsina,

  • because it most closely resembles the handwritingof

  • Nik Guinta, the creator of the Vsauce

  • logo. Now, thinking of typefaces

  • as fashion for letters is not a new idea.

  • Adrian Frutiger famously said that the work of a type designer

  • is just like the work of dressmaker. Or

  • as Alan Fletcher put it, a typeface is an

  • alphabet in in a straitjacket. Some typefaces have serifs

  • and some don't. Some are famously neutral,

  • while others are silly or ugly.

  • But one typeface is

  • so silly and so ugly

  • and so popular that it has

  • arguably become the most hated font

  • of all time. Comic Sans. People who consider themselves

  • discerning designers scoff at its ubiquity,

  • usually wielded by amatures who

  • don't know better. It was recently reported that

  • on Twitter, the only thing complained about more often than Justin Bieber,

  • but less frequently than airlines, is

  • Comic Sans. Online you can play

  • a Kill Comic Sans game. And the website

  • Ban Comic Sans provides a gigantic

  • list of hand-written looking fonts that they would prefer you use

  • instead. Comic Sans is so hated

  • it's almost pulled a 360 and is

  • cool again, ironically. David OReilly's amazing t-shirts, for example.

  • But irony isn't the only thing

  • Comic Sans has going for it. The British Dyslexia Association considers

  • Comic Sans

  • a particularly good font for children who have trouble reading letters because

  • of its easily distinguishable

  • characters, like the letter A. For most of our history

  • books and signs had to be hand

  • written, often meticulously and expensively copied

  • by hand. There were no printers, no typesetters.

  • If you wanted a book, someone had to

  • literally write by hand the whole book for you.

  • But Gutenberg changed that by popularizing

  • interchangeable type. He modelled his tight pieces after the

  • handwriting of scribes at the time, producing what could be called

  • the very first font ever textura.

  • Later on, typesetters in Italy realized that words could be

  • slanted and remain legible and readable,

  • but take up less vertical space, so more could be printed on a single

  • page. That's why it's called italics. Not because

  • italics means slanted or oblique,

  • but because of where it was invented - Italy. Metal type

  • pieces had to be cast from molten metal

  • in foundries, which get their name from the French

  • fondue, which means something that has been melted.

  • And so it's because of the word fondue that we now call a collection of characters

  • within a typeface

  • a font. When setting type,

  • typesetters kept their type pieces in cases.

  • The most commonly used pieces were kept in the lower case for easy access,

  • whereas capitals were kept just a little above

  • in the upper case. Back

  • to Comic Sans. Comic Sans was designed in 1994

  • by Vincent Connare. According to the BBC,

  • Melinda Gates herself asked Connare to design

  • a font for the cartoon dog in Microsoft Bob

  • to speak in. And so, within three days,

  • Connare had designed Comic Sans, based on hand drawn fonts

  • from comic books. It never actually made it into the final version of

  • Microsoft Bob,

  • but was subsequently released as a font choice on so many Microsoft products

  • that it became what it is today. Million of amateurs now had access to this font,

  • which seemed simple and cute and became popular on things like homemade birthday

  • cards,

  • but also in less appropriate situations.

  • For instance, on an official Canadian coin

  • or on a gravestone.

  • Because of things like that, Comic Sans has amassed

  • a lot of haters. But it was never intended to be used

  • so often or in such inappropriate situations.

  • And so in reality, the fault may lie

  • with us, the typers.

  • Comic Sans doesn't disappoint people.

  • People disappoint people.

  • Another way to think of it is this. Discerning type aficionados

  • may recognize Comic Sans so quickly because

  • it is a threat. Type design

  • is a specialized discipline, but now

  • anybody with a computer can take a stab at it

  • without your approval. They don't need

  • you. To be sure, Comic Sans, objectively speaking,

  • isn't really that well designed according to the fundamentals of type

  • design.

  • David Kadavy has a brilliant explanation of this in his

  • "Why You Hate Comic Sans." He points out that it's

  • unbalanced and not very well kerned.

  • Comic Sans is certainly not a calculated, precise

  • font liked Trajan. But it's not organic, like

  • real handwriting. Instead, it lies within

  • the uncanny valley. This concept often comes up in robotics.

  • The more human something gets, the cuter it becomes and

  • the more we like it, until its almost human

  • but not quite. At this point, things become

  • creepy, almost scary. Perhaps Comic Sans

  • exists in that same area, typographically speaking.

  • But that said, the screens that Comic Sans was originally designed to appear

  • on,

  • were typically aliased, and as Kadavy points out, compared to fonts like

  • Garamond,

  • Comic Sans does really well here.

  • That is how we should think about Comic Sans.

  • A pragmatic font, a font that worked remarkably well in its

  • era and exists today as one of the most recognizable

  • relics of one of the most important design revolutions

  • in history. Books used to be painstakingly copied by

  • hand. Now later, you could design a story or an idea,

  • but the final look really just came down to what a

  • few typesetters could do. Today,

  • almost anyone can dabble in typography

  • and that is an amazing thing. Sure,

  • it means that Comic Sans will be used.

  • A lot. But as Corey Holms points out, Comic Dans

  • is proof the design works. The public understands that

  • "type means more than words."

  • And David Kadavy argues that just as interchangeable type

  • led to a spread of literacy, Comic Sans,

  • and the personal publishing it comes along with,

  • should lead us toward a spread of design

  • literacy.

  • Sure. Comic Sans is a bit

  • ugly. But it's ugly in the same way that the first few chords

  • of 'Smoke on the Water' are ugly, as

  • played by almost every beginning guitarist,

  • who picks up a guitar at almost every

  • instrument store. Sure, it sounds

  • annoying and a little bit fumbly, but it represents someone who is using

  • tools to move toward mastery.

  • Adrian Frutiger said that type has the power to make the whole world of

  • thought

  • legible, simply by rearranging the same letters

  • over and over again. Well, Comic Sans,

  • overused by the untrained majority

  • may seem unsavory to some people, but as such,

  • it most loudly represents something phenomenal.

  • Today it is possible for the whole world of

  • thought to be made legible and be shared

  • by the whole world.

  • And as always,

  • thanks for watching.

Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. Text.

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B2 sans comic font typeface ugly design

A Defense of Comic Sans

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/28
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