Spoiler: This time, Comic Sans does NOT save the day. Good.
May 7, 2009 8:55 PM   Subscribe

FONT FIGHT! the long-awaited (by me and other fontaholics) follow-up to Font Conference. Better than the first IMO, but I'm sure we can still take issue with some of the 'characters'.

Interestingly, in the previous thread, I suggested Tahoma as a Native American, along with a bunch of other font ideas they didn't use (they made Playbill a Cowboy? I can think of better Western-ish fonts - am I the only one who's heard of Gold Rush?).
via Neatorama and Miss Cellania because I'm too cool to check out the videos at CollegeHumor.com myself.
posted by wendell (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ugh...almost as bad as the College Humor show itself.
posted by GavinR at 9:08 PM on May 7, 2009


(also, your favorite font sucks)
posted by oddman at 9:10 PM on May 7, 2009

And even without the spoiler title you just knew the final "Punchline" (as it were) was going to be Comic Sans. This is just lazy comedy. Nothing beyond giving the fonts obvious characters based on their style and/or name and also in unoriginal ways that have been done before. Typical of collegehumor stuff....recycled bad comedy. I wonder if their show has been canned yet?
posted by GavinR at 9:13 PM on May 7, 2009

I was going to say this was a double, but then I realized I saw it on fark this morning when MeFi was down. And then I realized how embarrassing it is to admit that I go to that site and I didn't want people to know. Then I made this post. Crap.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:32 PM on May 7, 2009

The dialog in that sketch was grotesque and the melee needed more biffo.
posted by tellurian at 9:37 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not now, Papyrus.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:46 PM on May 7, 2009

Not enough hinting.
posted by dhartung at 9:56 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Blambot is this best free font source out there for Comic Sans alternatives btw
posted by GavinR at 9:57 PM on May 7, 2009

Disappointed in the lack of serif-based jokes...

Yeah, it wasn't nerdy enough for me, either.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:39 PM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Normally I wouldnt care to post that but this was fertile round for comedy that has now had salt sown in it for a generation.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:39 PM on May 7, 2009

I'm not going to comment on the clip (yet), but I had a font-related statement I've been wanting to make:

Arial is an awesome font. Its proliferation is the best thing that Microsoft ever did. At a time when Adobe had just started to tighten its licensing grip on everything it could possibly touch, Arial represented a more open alternative; it represented the fact that people that needed to create a font could create a font. It may be difficult to comprehend in our era of software behemoths who all hold silly and stupid licensing practices as the sacred rituals of their worlds, but this event was of an importance on a par with the Compaq back-engineering of the IBM BIOS which allowed PC clones to flood the market; it started to open the fonting marketplace. When a major corporate entity like Microsoft was hawking a clone font like Arial, how could anyone argue against cloning Arial itself? So for years now, LATEX, Linux, and a dozen other important open-source projects have actually been able to make use of stand-in fontsets that often ended up better than the originals they imitated. And now, there's a fantastic set of GNU fonts that I almost always prefer to any versions anywhere that's freely available to anybody who wants to use it—though those aren't by any stretch of the imagination the only fonts out there that are freely available for use.

None of this is to say that Microsoft is heroic, necessarily, for promulgating Arial; of course it was a selfish act on their part. But if the situation is one where we have to choose the lesser of the evils, then the lesser evil is Microsoft, and the greater evil is Adobe. Everyone I know who spends so much time talking about how wonderful Helvetica is seems to forget that I still have to pay $30 if I want to use the font. Of course, these are the same people that have been ponying up $500 every year or so for a new version of Photoshop and not only thanking Adobe for the privilege but mocking anybody who happens to be creative enough to want to use alternative software, so I don't know what I should've expected. Suffice it to say: if you'd like to blame someone for the fact that Arial is ubiquitous and Helvetica is rare, well, Microsoft, many though their sins may be, is not the company you should blame. Fuck Adobe.

Besides, I like the way Arial looks better than Helvetica, too.
posted by koeselitz at 12:22 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

You are theoretically right.

However...Arial is a shit font, thus...you are wrong.

The uppercase "R" alone is grounds for dismissal.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:30 AM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

Blame not Helvetica for the sins of Adobe.

You’re right, Microsoft has done a great deal of good for digital typography. But the examples that come to mind are mainly Georgia, Verdana, and the wonderful C fonts. The problem with Arial is that it actually is just ugly – limpid, frumpy, muddled – irrespective of Helvetica.
posted by tepidmonkey at 1:47 AM on May 8, 2009

Yeah, it wasn't nerdy enough for me, either.

Heh. Schaffer The Darklord's "Battlefont" song should be right up your alley.

If you can cope with a Myspace page. Sorry.
posted by tapeguy at 1:54 AM on May 8, 2009

Besides, I like the way Arial looks better than Helvetica, too.

Three things -
FIRST, I would venture to bet that a majority of people (you may or may not be included in this) could not even tell you the differences between the two typefaces without staring at them side-by-side for a good while.

ALSO, judgements of taste or 'like' are generally hard to argue about, but seriously? You do? Like really? It's a weak dupe that took a typeface that shouldn't have the same weight and stroke as Helvetica (Grotesque 512 or some three numbers), and redrew them to have the same weight and stroke. It looks kind of muddled and off because, well, it is.

ALSO ALSO, your whole thing about you liking the GNU fonts better than the ones they are duping and liking arial better reminded me of my mother, who to this day seems to equate free with good. These typefaces cost money because they're good typefaces, and people will pay money for the real thing rather than a cheap/free imitation. But there will always be people in this world that are unwilling (I love you, mom) to pay for the quality product, and then rationalize it with "well, you know, I like something about this thing better anyway." And then you ask "well what about it?" and then they say "i'm not sure. it's just something about it." Which means the something was that it was cheap or free. And that's totally fine! I totally understand that viewpoint (I mean, I grew up with it.).
But please. Just tell it like it is. "I like Arial/GNU fonts/freefonts better because I don't have to pay for them, because fonts are not something I care enough about to pay for." is much more rational and understandable to all of us typeophiles out here than "I like it cause."
(although you still may get the "but how can you not love typefaces?!", but that's a different thing entirely)
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:56 AM on May 8, 2009

Wow, koeselitz, what a clueless rant. I'm not going to spend the time it would take to write a thorough response just to refute a post on the net. I'd have to over-explain things here. I'll say this though:

There are items in your post which are indisputably factually wrong.

You have shown yourself to be ignorant about high-quality type, both in the design of fonts as well as their use. These issues aren't just a matter of wishy-washy opinion where everybody's opinion is valid. When analyzing a typeface there are concrete structural aspects which can be broken down and scrutinized.

Your understanding of the history of type appears to be shallow, including the early PostScript era.

Most importantly, your feelings appear to be driven by idealistic platform war bullshit, which has no bearing whatsoever on the actual quality of vector outlines or design software. Vectors don't have an agenda, they just exist.

BTW, I'm very much for open source projects, including wishing there were more people working on open-source fonts; don't include me with the strawman you've created of what you think professional designers are like.

It sounds like you've had negative interactions in the past about this subject. If you were mocked, it most likely wasn't because you're "creative enough to want to use alternative software." Instead you probably provoked some jaw-dropping from people who have a clue. Many people in my field are arrogant, but real professionals do know WTF they are talking about.

I like the way Arial looks better than Helvetica
Good for you. I don't use either.
posted by D.C. at 1:59 AM on May 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

looked it up because i'm obsessive and not sleeping - it was just Monotype Grotesque.
here's a good litte reference to show what I was yammering about.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 2:04 AM on May 8, 2009

Everyone I know who spends so much time talking about how wonderful Helvetica is seems to forget that I still have to pay $30 if I want to use the font.

Jeez, get a Mac already. Gah.

/Napoleon Dynamite
posted by djgh at 2:10 AM on May 8, 2009

D.C.: Wow, koeselitz, what a clueless rant.

I say I like Arial, and now I'm ranting? I guess you could say I was 'trolling,' but that's only because I know very well the ridiculous eye-rolling that goes on whenever anybody mentions Arial and Helvetica, and I know what a huge thorn Arial is in the side of so many peoples' sides.

I actually spent some time going over your comment, but you actually say very little; you spent four or five small paragraphs saying nothing but 'you are wrong, and I don't have time to tell you why.' So until you manage to spit out something besides 'you appear to misunderstand everything' (whatever, I appear to in some way you can't quite put your finger on apparently) I'll say this: I think you misunderstand my point completely. Several other people have, too, which means that it's probably my fault and not anybody else's.

Here, I'll try to say it better:

Forget about Arial. Really, just forget it for a moment. Like D.C., I don't tend to use Helvetica-type fonts for anything much at all; I like serifs, and when I don't want to use serifs there are sans-family fonts besides the Helvetica types that I prefer.

However, like nearly everyone, I don't even use the license-based Helvetica when I do use a font like that. And notice this important fact: neither do most publishers. Neither do many people who may even think they're using Helvetica, and I'm not talking about clueless MS Word flacks.

For example, I know LATEX isn't quite as popular as it might have been five or ten years ago, but there was a time when it was used to set almost every textbook out there—and, while I've seen a number of textbooks that used 'Helvetica' as a sidebar and caption font, they weren't really using Helvetica—they were using Nimbus Roman Sans. Nimbus Roman Sans is a much better clone of Helvetica than Arial; it doesn't have the scale problems that Arial has (yes, I know that the resizing of Grotesque 512 that produced Arial was a bad idea; you can see that in the weird aspect ratio of the lowercase 'r', which, fine, bugs me about Arial) and it more cleanly reproduces the quality of the font. Hell, it's a professional font with complete hinting, and through LATEX coding it can produce clean, perfect text. I'd submit that it's not any 'sissy' font; where I wouldn't set a book in Arial (I confess) I wouldn't be ashamed of Nimbus for a second.

The point I was making above was that fonts like Nimbus wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for Arial. Microsoft sufficiently muddied the waters surrounding typeface copyright, a realm that was already very up in the air in the 1980s and early '90s, that, in the face of increasing copyright controls as it became technically easier to set type, there was still some openness about those copyright controls. I know that Adobe is sometimes lauded for actually licensing their fonts from the true foundries that created them; at one point in time I might be on that bandwagon, but I think it's become clear what Adobe intended (or at least what they've become) now that those foundries don't exist any more and Adobe is left with all of these licenses for fonts.

And because of that advance that Arial brought, we now have good fonts (like Nimbus) that can take the place of Helvetica. The future I hope for is a future where people can use (or create) any font they'd like for any purpose they'd like. That's all open source means to me, and I can't abide Adobe for everything they've done to make the world less free. Also, I can't stand a good chunk of their software.

Please understand that I don't say this as an outsider. I've been using Adobe InDesign since it replaced PageMaker in 2000 and Photoshop since 1995; I know Quark XPress (used to live with the guy whose dad invented the thing) too. I do various kinds of design, chiefly web design, as part of my job; I've even done AutoCAD work for a land engineering company. I'm not foreign to the world of fonts and typesetting, but I do harbor some resentment for some of the lingering inability to accept new things that I tend to notice in the people I work with in the design field. And I don't even really blame them; I blame Adobe, a company that's been taking pretty obnoxious advantage of its clients in an insidious and sneaky way for a good decade now. Sorry; I'm just going to feel that way, maybe because I've seen the features of Photoshop in at least three or four other open-source alternatives (not just the GIMP) that can do interesting and compelling things, even if they aren't all as completely developed.

Again: what I'm hoping for is a world where the open-source alternative fonts are so indistinguishable from the source fonts that even good designers can't really tell the difference; a world where we can use the fonts we want and need and have the power to use them no matter how much we pay for them. Sounds silly, but I can already see that there's a lot more available for the standard user than there was ten years ago.

Yes, the GNU fonts fuckin' suck, and I should not have linked them. But anyone who likes fonts should browse through that second link I posted of open-source/GPL fonts; there are some great ones. (I've used some of the http://myria.math.aegean.gr/labs/dt/fonts-en.html">Greek Font Society's Greek fonts, for example, and been very pleased with them.)

Sorry; this isn't supposed to be a platform war thing, but I really think Adobe has held back typesetting, and I believe that the opening-up of typesettingis having a good impact on typefaces in general. Remember that until very recently there was still a lot of fear surrounding copyrighting fonts; the more that relaxes, the better.
posted by koeselitz at 3:22 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

argh, my linking script borked itself. The Greek Font Society's Greek Fonts.
posted by koeselitz at 3:24 AM on May 8, 2009

The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew: ...your whole thing about you liking the GNU fonts better than the ones they are duping and liking arial better reminded me of my mother, who to this day seems to equate free with good.

I was dead serious—the GNU fonts I linked sucked, I'll give you that, but seriously, I really like the font selection I get when I fire up the GIMP much better than the font selection I see in Photoshop. I just do. I've been very happy and impressed by this; but I shouldn't be surprised. Fonting and typesetting open-source isn't exactly a new thing, since people have been typesetting books using open-source coding since the '70's.
posted by koeselitz at 3:33 AM on May 8, 2009

Would it be considered ironic that a skit about fonts would be written so poorly?
posted by not_on_display at 4:50 AM on May 8, 2009

Of course, these are the same people that have been ponying up $500 every year or so for a new version of Photoshop and not only thanking Adobe for the privilege but mocking anybody who happens to be creative enough to want to use alternative software, so I don't know what I should've expected.

Fuck you and your snotty rant.

1. Photoshop cost about $200 every 18-24 months when it was separate app before the ongoing CS debacle.

2. Choosing a particular piece of software doesn't make you creative.

3. Getting snotty about the piece of software you use because other other people made you feel bad because they were getting snotty over the software they use is the height of lame arrogance and astonishing stupidity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:08 AM on May 8, 2009

This is a poorly written sequel...I mean who could believe that anyone would get fighting mad about anything related to the way words look on a page amirite? haha.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:33 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

That video was the postscript of PostScriptâ„¢.
posted by dbiedny at 6:17 AM on May 8, 2009

Hey I've got a question for you font experts.

I really like Georgia. I mean I make all of my software default to Georgia; I make my students write their essays in Georgia; I love the way the numbers are vertically off-set form each other; you get the idea.

Now, in this thread there have been a few comments made about seemingly objective problems with Arial. Is there a common opinion on the quality of Georgia? Is there a similar font that is considered better? (i.e. is Georgia a cheap knock-off of some font?) If there is no common opinion, what's yours?
posted by oddman at 6:49 AM on May 8, 2009

Nope, Georgia is an original typeface, designed by Matthew Carter for Microsoft, and optimized for on-screen viewing. That it also looks as good as it does in print is a testament to Carter's craftsmanship. It does skimp on a few features -- true small caps, additional weights (e.g. light, demibold, black), variant numeral forms, optical scaling -- which make it less useful for print typography, but if you're using Word or a web browser, you can't really take advantage of any of those options anyway.

Short answer: Georgia rocks.
posted by nicepersonality at 7:11 AM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

The font fight in this post is better than the font fight in the link.
posted by lyam at 7:22 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

The font fight in this post is better than the font fight in the link.

You'd think someone declawed their cure for teh gay.

(full disclosure: I once used Papyrus in a T-shirt design in 1996)
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:35 AM on May 8, 2009

It was college and you were experimenting, right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:37 AM on May 8, 2009

It was college and you were experimenting, right?

Yes -- since then, I've settled into a stable, monogamous and mutually rewarding relationship with Myriad Roman.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:47 AM on May 8, 2009

Besides, I like the way Arial looks better than Helvetica, too.

Silly Koeselitz, Arial sucks. But Gill Sans, DIN, Univers, Futura, Helvetica Neue and Gotham are better than Helvetica.

The font fight in this post is better than the font fight in the link.

Agreed! Needs more coconut cream pies and bodoni.
posted by Mcable at 10:17 AM on May 8, 2009

Well, I happen to know that the best way to start a good font fight is to yell 'I like Arial! I hate Helvetica!' in a crowded Mefi thread.
posted by koeselitz at 11:25 AM on May 8, 2009

i like garamond cuz it makes me feel important
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:47 PM on May 8, 2009

I object to the notion that Univers is superior to Helvetica. It's like Arial's slightly less hideous uncle.

The G makes me want to kill.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:13 PM on May 9, 2009

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