A Hard Hit to the Ska Community: Comic Sans Creator Was Into Ska

In a year already riddled with difficult music-related losses, we’re here to add another to your list: A recent article over at Newsweek attempts to detail the history of that levitating businessman emoji that subtly haunts our dreams admittedly didn’t really seem that odd until after reading the article. While readers of this site are probably more apt to notice a passing resemblance of the emoji to (spoiler) Walt Jabsco, the ubiquitous mascot of 2 Tone Records, one offhand remark serves to derail the entire article: the emoji’s creator was as much a fan of ska music as he was of whatever disturbed lifestyle you need to live to come up with the Comic Sans font.

Comic Sans, as you are probably aware, is the choice font used primarily within the context of children’s birthday parties and extensive memos from the disconcertingly cheerful coworker at your office that everyone tries to avoid at all costs. And, okay, I’ll admit that inconsolable hatred towards a font is something that affects a pretty small subset of people. But ask anyone who’s dabbled in either graphic design or being high-strung, and they’ll tell you a million different ways to publicly shame the font that was seemingly made to be the scapegoat of the font community. Even the Google image search of the phrase “Comic Sans” is a terrible place, both in terms of content and the ability to induce eyesores.

Despite this devastating news, the full article is quite in-depth look at the history of emojis and even fonts in general, tracing the levitating businessman through it’s roots in Webdings and laying the basics for computer-based graphic design. The story even gives a primer on 2 Tone Records and it’s iconic mascot:

2 Tone Records was a label formed in 1979 by The Specials keyboard player and songwriter Jerry Dammers. Their logo depicts a man dressed in the rude boy style of the British ska revival, complete with sunglasses, a black suit and a porkpie hat. Dammers loosely based it on a photo of reggae musician Peter Tosh, from the cover of the Wailers’ 1965 album The Wailing Wailers, and named him Walt Jabsco, a name he lifted from an old T-shirt.

So yeah, I mean, if you’re willing to overlook the inclusion of the invention of the goofiest font to ever exist, you stand to learn a surprising amount about a rather unlikely example of ska’s influence in today’s culture. Check out the full article over at Newsweek, and check out the cover that inspired Walt Jabsco below:

 

Alex Chiasson

Alex Chiasson is a writer for Boston Ska (dot) net. Alex's first experience with ska involved referring to it as "that music with the horns, right?". He's gotten better with categorization, but he also has this weird thing about staying humble. You can see Alex perform with The New Limits.

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