Hello fellow perverts, this post is completely offtopic for the purposes of this blog unless you’re a typesetter, if you are, go ahead.
Public lynching is not my kind of thing but I felt it was necessary this time. The font Wild Words is spreading like gunpowder, at this point, Wild Words is the new Comic Sans in the scanlation world, everybody uses it, most use it in unappropriated situations and it’s becoming the de facto font for manga translations.
Everybody knows about Comic Sans, and the public hatred of Comic Sans around the internet, and this hatred, independently of the aesthetic and technical aspects is for two reasons. The first one is Comic Sans is a default font in Windows systems since a lot of years ago, helping the spread, the other is people used to like this “child-handwrite” font, and they’ve been using it for completely unappropriated contexts. I’ve received e-mails from my doctor written in comic sans… Did he pretend to be funny and trendy? Sorry but it’s not an appropriate font for something serious.
In manga translation, and more particularly in H manga the problem is a little more subtle, but the problem is actually the same with Wild Words. You can see this font used in all kind of contexts, when the original artist in Japanese made the effort of changing fonts to express different kinds of tones. Wild words is a regular dialogue font, and it looks bad in:
- Thoughts. Sometimes it’s not clear by the bubble shape if certain text is a thought or dialogue, and using the same font in both deepens the confusion.
- Narrator text. The same font as in thoughts are often used for this one, and that’s way better.
- “Sexy” text. You know, sometimes things are said in a completely different tone, and the font changes accordingly, if you keep the same boring dialogue font it looks monotone.
- Moans. This one irks me particularly, the epitome of laziness.
When new blood starts to scanlate they use to follow some external help (namely online tutorials) and they use to suggest you which fonts to use. I declare myself guilty in that aspect, I followed the deceased typesetting tutorial from Red Hawk and at the end they recommended using CC Astro City as primary font, and Augie as “handwritten” font, and so I did.
However that lasted for a couple of volumes, once I got sick of my edits looking generic I started to try other fonts, to the point of changing my complete fontset for each volume, experimentation was really fun. Some of those choices were bad looking back, like Anime Ace (which is pretty much the same as Wild Words) in Misao’s tankoubon, or some other cases. But it’s still a small price to evolve as typesetter.
And a last reason would be giving personality to your edits. Most of us do this scanlation work for pleasure, and in some occasions you may get attached to certain characters, certain stories… and that makes you want to make it feel personal.
I’m pretty sure a lot of people, especially scanlators, recognize who translated these two excerpts at first sight, a personal fontset feels comfortable and recognizable from others, and achieving that is a good enough reason to risk trying non-generic fonts.
As scanlator, you are not going to create something recognizable at first sight using the same tools literally everyone else uses. To do so, please don’t use Wild words like it’s some kind of all-purpose holy grail, and using it “because it looks good enough” leaves no room to improvement, in order to achieve a higher standard you need to evolve from the unwritten rules.
Typesetting is an art, and you don’t make art doing the same thing everybody does over and over.