Kelly Pendergrast - wastrel, Wellington

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tales from the Heartland

Intrepid traveler that I am, I took a trip last weekend to small-town New Zealand.
Well, Palmerston North*.
It was a sunny Sunday, so my family and I drove out to nearby Himatangi beach. Himatangi is a mecca for bogans who like driving on the beach, small children on motorbikes, and unleashed dogs.

We lunched at a cafe beside a table of leather-clad bikers and, scanning the menu wildly for a meal that didn't involve bacon or lambs-fry, I saw something I hadn't seen for a long time - COMIC SANS. Now, I know this probably comes as a shock, especially after the widely publicised campaign to BAN COMIC SANS, but arcane and outrageous fonts are alive and well in New Zealand's smaller centers. Not only Comic Sans, but also Curlz MT. Flicking to the beverages page, I was almost overwhelmed by the curlicues extending from every letter adding that fanciful and artistic touch to the page. Is this what separates us urban-dwellers from our provincial cousins? Font usage? Either Himatangi hasn't yet realised that Comic Sans and its ilk are wildly unfashionable, or they just don't care.

Here is a timeline I just wrote regarding Comic Sans usage:

1994 - Vincent Connaire designs Comic Sans for use in those comic style speech bubbles.

1995 - Comic Sans is bundled into Windows 95 as a system font, allowing its dissemination to millions and millions of unsuspecting computer users.

1995 (later that fateful year) - I write my entire form three science fair project using Comic Sans. And no, the experiment was not about the ability of humans to withstand ten pages of Comic Sans text, it was about the comparative amount of aluminium that different cooking pots leak into your food, giving you alzheimer's most probably. It was very good. I got a highly commended.

1996 - Serious designer types have realised by now that Comic Sans is not a good font for anything other than comic book speech bubbles and torturing font-snobs with. Everyone else remains wildly excited, using Comic Sans for power point presentations, billboards, newsletters, weddings, parties, anything.

1999 - Even your average home computer user starts to get a bit sick of Comic Sans.

2003-ish - The official Ban Comic Sans campaign is in full swing, trying to wipe Comic Sans off the face of the earth.

2005 - I go to Himatangi, and realise that Comic Sans is not only still present, but thriving.

And now, good people of the internet, I ask you this:
Isn't it time for a renaissance?

*Palmerston North has, in my opinion, THE best lower-North-Island op-shop. It is called the Hospice Op Shop. It is on Cuba Street (PN). Go there, and marvel at the cheap wonders.