One of my two New Year’s Day traditions is older than the other, true. That’s only because I’ve been mixing AM New Year’s mimosas out of flat leftover champagne for many more years than Comicraft has been in business. But once the morning recycling has been taken care of, its time for me to visit ComicBookFonts.com and spend some money under the guise of saving some money.
Comicraft is a font company that specializes in “specialty” typefaces. You’ve probably figured out from the name that they’re known for digital fonts that mimic comic book lettering. They’re pioneers in that business; name any important comic released by a large publisher and it’s more than likely that its lettering was — or is — set in a Comicraft font. But they’re also the creators of a wide range of unique handlettering-style and fancy-display typefaces. Would you want to set your resumé in Comicraft’s “Hero Sandwich” face? No. But you wouldn’t want to use Arial or Times New Roman on the slides for your kid’s school winter chorus show. Comicraft fonts are designed to fill specific roles flawlessly, and they never fail to attract and please the eye. They’re the secret weapons for anyone who has no particular training in graphic design but who nonetheless has to produce great-looking design from time to time.
Every year, the company reduces the prices of all of their font packages to a number equivalent to .01 times the current year. This year, all fonts are $20.15. The price applies to the $130 packages as well as the $10 ones.
(No, it doesn’t make much sense. But the regular prices are clearly marked on the site, so it’s easy to go for the bargains. Or, what the hell: why not overpay for a collection of graphical dingbats? You can certainly afford to, with what you’ll be saving on the other fonts in your shopping basket.)
I’ve been buying Comicraft fonts for ages. By now, many of these faces are like old friends. I use them on signs, in my presentations, even occasionally business cards and letters.
Two important tips before you shop, though. First, many of these fonts only contain uppercase letters. Secondly, many are also available in “International” variants that contain additional diacriticals and characters. Normally that stuff costs extra; today, it’s all the same price so make sure you add the “International” version to your basket.
The whole catalogue is worth your perusal. Here are some personal favorites that I use all the time and which earn my robust recommendations.
1. Monologous (Normally $149)
You should definitely buy at least one “for real” comic book lettering font during this sale. They’re normally expensive, for starters, and they also represent some of Comicraft’s finest work. There are lots of professional comic book lettering fonts to choose from, united by their uncanny balance between lively visual style and utterly bulletproof readability at any size.
Is “Monologous” the creation of a robot? Or a freespirited artist? I think it creates the impression of a professional artist who, by 1977, has been hand-lettering comics for thirty years.
“Monologous” is one of those uppercase-only fonts I warned you about. It contains variants of each letter instead of lower-case versions. This helps to “sell” the look of real hand-lettering. Look at the word “swallowed” in that comic panel: by working the Shift key, I typed two different-styled Ls and Ws.
If none of these arguments convince you, then just try to guess how much time I’ve wasted over the past five or ten years, re-lettering classic comics to create dialogue and stories that the original creators wouldn’t have approved of. “Monologous” is better than 4 of the last 7 phone games I’ve purchased.
2. Letterbot (normally $29)
Letterbot is what I call “real handy.” It’s my go-to utility face. Here you can see it at work, labeling the contents of my Armoire Of Little Things I’m Always Misplacing. It looks like the mutant offspring of a comic book font and that weird typeface that was designed in the 70s to be read by dumb computers that weren’t good at reading normal text.
Here are two reasons why this sale is such a godsend: when you need a bold, loud title font that looks like a painted sign, or a free, friendly script font…trust me, nothing in the font collection that came with your computer is going to work. You need the right tool for the job.
This here is the sign I hang on my door when I’m about to withdraw to my studio and record a podcast for a couple of hours. If a salesperson sees this sign and rings the doorbell anyway, thus ruining the recording and forcing me to stop, I feel fully justified to greet this person at the door with lots of energy and then apply what a dog trainer would call a Corrective Action.
5. Dash Decent (normally $79)
I recommend this specific face highly. This is also as a recommendation to buy a Comicraft package that includes a variety of widths. “Extra, Extra” (normally $59) is another good font package in this category.
Why does one piece of graphic design (a sign, a label, a presentation slide) look professionally-created? Partly because the designer had enough experience to choose fonts that all work together in harmony. But what do you do if you don’t have experience or the money to hire a pro?
Well, you buy a family of fonts. And then you “keep it in the family.” See how nice this notice is? It’s just three different weights of “Dash Decent.”
(And watch out for co-workers named “Sylvia.” They’re not always trouble, mind you. But they’re always worth keeping an eye on, at least.)
“Cheese And Crackers” (normally $69) was one of the first Comicraft fonts I ever bought. It’s playful while still being totally readable and professional. You just don’t get that from the “free” font libraries that are floating around the Web.
“Hedge Backwards” (normally $149) used to be my stock font for presentation slides and it resulted in one of the strangest, and yet most satisfying, compliments I’ve ever received. “What font is that?” someone asked me, late in the Q&A section. “It looks like Comic Sans, but it can’t be, because it doesn’t suck!” “Hedge Backwards” is a particularly nice value because (like Dash Decent) the package contains a wide variety of weights.
“Credit Extension” (normally $69) and “Marian Churchland” (normally $99) are lifesavers. There are many times when you need to make a sign or a label and the letter spacing of the text just doesn’t work; it leads to unsightly gaps and breaks. Here’s where you pull out the Font You Bought Because It’s Crazy-Wide or the One You Bought Because It’s Really Narrow.
These are all great, useful fonts that I keep using again and again. But do look through the whole Comicraft catalogue…and don’t be afraid to buy fonts that are utterly impractical. Each one is just twenty bucks! And while the downside of buying a (shall we say) Unusually-Decorative font is that it’s inappropriate for most situations, there are those times when it’s the only appropriate font in your whole collection.
Hmm…? Oh, sure: “Merry Melody,” normally $59.