Dave Gibbons is responsible for some of the best examples of comic art ever produced out of the UK, and his work on the Watchmen series – created by Alan Moore – has secured his place amongst the very best comic artists of all time.
However, all this achievement pales into insignificance next to the horrific creation that Gibbons' work inspired. A creation so heinous that almost 20 years after it was perpetrated in 1994, it still has the potential to harm anyone that comes in contact with it.
And the creation? Comic Sans.
Dave Gibbons on Comic Sans
Comic Sans was designed by Vincent Connare (opens in new tab) for use in a number of Microsoft apps back in 1994. We spoke to Gibbons for his take on the most hated font in existence, and how he feels about his (albeit innocent) role in its creation – you can hear the audio below.
"I think the Comic Sans font is dreadful. The guy that did it has said that he knocked it off in an afternoon and you can’t design a decent font, even a kind of informal, hand-written one, in an afternoon. I certainly perfected my font over many years by looking at other letterers.
"Steve Parkhouse is a guy who pops up all over the place in comics and I literally learned how to do comic book lettering by looking over his shoulder and learned a few tips from him. I then looked at an American letterer called John Costanza and sort of took some things from his font as he had taken it from people before him. I mean, after all, there’s only so much you can do with an alphabet.
"He actually was also one of the sources of Comic Sans. The guy whose name I forget [Vincent Connare] who was working at Microsoft has said that he had to come up with an informal sort of hand-lettered font and on his bookshelf he had Watchmen and he had the Dark Knight returns by Frank Millar, which was lettered by John Costanza, and he sort of copied letter forms from them.
"I think what he came up with was vastly inferior, certainly to John Costanza's lettering and I think also to mine. And I'd have much rather they'd just come to John or me and said: "'Look, can you do some hand lettering for us?' I'm sure we would have done it really, really cheaply and I'm sure that what's out there would look a lot cleaner and a lot better.
"And you can get so many much better fonts than Comic Sans, I guess it's just that it came bundled with every PC that meant that it was the choice when you wanted to do something a little bit jokey or hand-done. But oh, it is an awful font.
"What really bugs me is the letter 'I' in it because in comic books you only use the capital letter 'I', which is the one with the crossbars on it, for the first person pronoun. You never use it as a capitalisation of a word or within a word but I believe in Comic Sans that is the only letter 'I' that is available. So the whole thing always looks wrong to me. I think it's a blight, an absolute blight on modern culture."