Virtual Photo Album for ex-Pope Benedict XVI Mocked Over Comic Sans

Benedict XVI officially resigned yesterday after eight years as the Pope of the Catholic Church. The Vatican decided to commemorate his papacy by publishing a digital photo album to its website. It’s a serious set of photos that marks a serious occasion, but it’s attracting attention for the wrong reason: most sites that are reporting on it seem to be focusing on the font selections rather than the images themselves.

The text in the album is Comic Sans and the watermarks on the photos are Papyrus.


The 62-page album is loaded with photographs from the Holy See’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Each page features a photograph of Benedict XVI engaged in duties of his position, from standing before crowds of people to visiting foreign lands.

Alongside the photographs are short quotes from his sermons and writings — quotes that are displayed in the much-mocked and widely-reviled Comic Sans font.


The Verge writes that it’s “a font typically associated with children’s birthday party invitations rather than papal resignations or God Particle pursuits.”

Mashable writes,

Comic Sans, popular during the mid-1990s, has been sworn off by most web designers as a childish and inappropriate font for most purposes. Regardless of your feelings toward the font everybody loves to hate, it may be tough to argue with a little thing called papal infallibility.

Salon writes,

[…] one would think the Vatican would have more dough to spend on a Web designer. The pope’s scrapbook looks like something out late-90s Geocities, utilizing the much-maligned comic sans font to provide caption captions for each picture.


Gizmodo writes,

Sadly, all the pictures in the world of the ex-Pope leading mass, kissing babies and wearing hats can’t hide the fact that it seems like someone actually made it in the early 90s. This thing is a mess of textured backgrounds, comic sans, awful page turns, and a page jump feature that looks like it was coded by a child.

Lesson learned: if you plan on releasing a serious collection of photographs on the Web, make sure you pay careful attention to how it’s packaged (and what font you use) — people pay attention to those things.

You can browse the virtual photo album yourself here.

P.S. Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia article on Comic Sans has a whole section dedicated to opposition to the font’s use.

  • chris steel

    My mother teaches 8 year olds how to use computers. They make better picture books than this.

  • Joe

    Is it fixed now or is my ipad not able to display that font?

  • fixedsrcsm

    The pope be sanding before crowds? No wonder…

  • Simon Forsyth

    While the choice of font might not be the best, out seems to me we now live in a world where everyone just has to criticise something instead of looking at it for the reason it was created- to let people see some of the moments of his reign. And no I am not catholic! Just seems to me there is too much negativity everywhere.

  • James Schooling

    The entire website looks like a Geocities site. I haven’t seen one look like that in years. That being said, what a cool job the Pope’s photographer has. I’d like to get paid to follow the Pope around the world and take photos of the travels.

  • Diq Hud

    Good job. Who cares. Pedophiles………

  • sans

    still comic sans on pc

  • Igor Ken

    Where is your God now?

  • Duke Shin

    Funny how you mentioned 8 year olds…

  • B Deckard

    I think there is not enough criticism of a denomination known for the molestation of thousands of small children.

  • Adam Gasson

    You’re being negative about negativity. Be positive!

  • Adam Gasson

    Comic Sans is a very un-Apple font. I can imagine there being a list of designer unfriendly fonts that are blocked by all Apple products!

  • Adam Gasson

    Comic Sans has a place, it’s very useful when used for designs aimed at children for example. Yes it’s a horrible font, but I think this should be looked at in a wider context. So far a load of design/tech blogs have criticised the use – I’d imagine that a lot of the viewers of the scrapbook are not the same viewers of those blogs (i.e. an older, more traditional audience).

  • John

    Maybe the choice of comic sans is not a bad choice after all then….

  • Anatole

    Actually, italian web-designers are still in the early 90’s. I’ve been living a little more than an year in Italy, and, god… I wouldn’t be surprised to find a website of a bank full of animated gifs and using Comic Sans…

  • FYI

    I think the author of this story is over-estimating the general audience this online photo album is intended for. Not everyone is a web guru or blog writer. In fact, most would never give the font a second thought unless for some reason there is a techno-geek among them who thinks he could do it better.

  • FYI

    If you need this to be explained, then you’d never understand anyway.

  • Grammar Nazi

    Does anyone proofread their articles any more? The grammatical mistakes in the text are as bad as the content in question.

  • tyrohne

    tangentially related to photography?

    nah, why pass up a perfectly good opportunity to malign Catholics…

  • Lee Harris

    That is hardly the point, if you always produced to do just enough to satisfy the lowest common denominator, nothing of any true creative, artistic worth would ever get made!

  • Samcornwell

    The guy flew 20 miles in a brand new helicopter to his Summer holiday home on top of a mountain, yet he can’t afford a designer for this little book?

  • herzco

    How unbelievably rude. I really don’t think that the audience for this thing cares about the font used. In fact it would likely be more distracting with a supermodern design and font selection.

  • kaitb1103

    That’s how I looked at it. “comic” for a comical religion and church/ruler.

  • FYI

    Do you think it was the Vatican’s intent to be cutting edge here?

  • Roy

    You forgot to put on your tin foil hat this morning.

  • Lee Harris

    Doing something well has nothing to do with being cutting edge, the best designs are often the most conservative. The fact is that a lot of people viewing this portfolio, though being gullible enough to believe in such a god, might actually have some taste and therefore find its puerile design off-putting, whereas anyone not so critical would hardly notice, so therefore going back to my 1st point, why not actually produce something of worth and maybe get someone with the requisite skills to do it! I did not realise that that bunch of ‘money hoarding kiddy fiddlers’ were so hard up for cash.

  • Wuz nt Me

    The only thing as ridiculous as using Comic Sans, is complaining about Comic Sans

  • Martin Hansen

    This is extremely terrible