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

butterick's picture

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

That actually makes me happy.

Nick Shinn's picture

Heads should roll.

darkwolf29a1's picture

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., 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

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.

gabriel00's picture

It's just wrong. Very wrong.

Arthus's picture

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

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.

butterick's picture

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

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

Si_Daniels's picture

> 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

Arthus's picture

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.

DrDoc's picture

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 from Suomi's picture

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.

vinceconnare's picture

It might be a font but it's a lifestyle and a new religion.

Comic Sans Band


pattyfab's picture

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

Just because the story is about a cartoonist, does not mean a comic book typeface should be used. Bad form from WSJ.

vinceconnare's picture

copying someones comic book lettering is illegal and lazy and you are all way behind now and just all jealous. So **** off.

DrDoc's picture

I think Mr. Connare may be my favorite poster on Typophile.

russellm's picture


"and lazy…"

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

"So **** off."


TypographyShop's picture

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

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.

rjstone's picture

It makes it look like someone did the typesetting with WordPad on a default Windows XP install.

Tomi from Suomi's picture

@ 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

"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).



Florian Hardwig's picture

Thomas, I have filed a bug report.

kentlew's picture

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.

quadibloc's picture

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.

Thomas Phinney's picture

@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!


butterick's picture

... 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

butterick's picture

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.

MediocreNinja's picture

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

L.'s picture

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.

DrDoc's picture

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.

quadibloc's picture

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's picture

i hate rupert murdoch.

but i _love_ comic sans!


kegler's picture

You wrote that for McSweeney's didn't you Vinnie? :^)

Nick Shinn's picture

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.

cerulean's picture

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

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.

butterick's picture

Yesterday (June 19): Third consecutive appearance of Comic Sans in WSJ weekend edition.

butterick's picture

Looks like they even put two word spaces between the words in the second line.

Si_Daniels's picture

Not Comic Sans - "s" is wrong.

Nick Shinn's picture

Yup, it's Chalkboard.
The plot thickens.

butterick's picture

I stand corrected. Well, I feel much better now, for a minute there I was worried that standards were slipping.

vinceconnare's picture

Chalkboard, oh that Chalkboard is trying to ruin my reputation, that impostor.

dberlow's picture

>Chalkboard, oh that Chalkboard is trying to ruin my reputation...

Impossible. ;)


Arthus's picture

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 !

butterick's picture

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

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