101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No 5. Comic Sans

Font family, and hatred magnet, Comic Sans MS was created by Microsoft’s Vincent Connare to be the textual voice of a cartoon dog called Bob who would in some way help people use computers. It looks friendly and soon became the Australian Question Intonation of typefaces: that is, used when the message is passive aggressive or just plain irritating in an effort to soften the blow.

Ignorant desktop publishers combined it with clip-art and Word Art to promote their workshops and sell their unwanted IKEA furniture on workplace noticeboards across the world and wound hipsters up something rotten in the process. Which, for a typeface, is something to be proud of.

But it, and easily set legible fontage in general, would never have been possible without Birmingham’s John Baskerville. The designer, free-thinker, and atheist, produced the first real usable typeface and started a real publishing revolution. Democracy in action, but it doesn’t please everyone.

Author: Jon Bounds

Jon was voted the ‘14th Most Influential Person in the West Midlands’ in 2008. Subsequently he has not been placed. He’s been a football referee, venetian blind maker, cellar man, and a losing Labour council candidate: “No, no chance. A complete no-hoper” said a spoilt ballot. Jon wrote and directed the first ever piece of drama performed on Twitter when he persuaded a cast including MPs and journalists to give over their timelines to perform Twitpanto. But all that is behind him.