Fun With Fonts – Comic Sans

Author: Cari Peri ’10

Comic Sans has been ruining layouts and upsetting readers for over fifteen years.  If you can’t tell, this columnist is not a fan of the font.  The international design community isn’t, either.  In fact, in a Google search of “comic sans” the first result is not an authoritative web page, but rather a site built as a campaign to “ban Comic Sans.” You may be wondering why there’s such a fuss around something as simple as a typeface – read on, and I believe you’ll find more than one reason of your own.

The designer responsible for this frustrating font, Vincent Connare, developed Comic Sans in 1994.  His inspiration came from a speech bubble in the comic book Watchmen drawn by letterer David Gibbons, who later called Comic Sans “a particularly ugly letter form.” It was released by the Microsoft Corporation as a supplemental add-on during the same year, and became a standard font in MS Office 95.  The script itself is very casual, and the letters do not connect and there is no cursive or italic form.  The characters themselves are rounded and do not have serifs at their endpoints – in many ways, the design mimics a child’s handwriting and evokes an informal, low-impact message.

Though Comic Sans was originally intended for use with informal documents, it quickly became the default font for most child-oriented design and anything having to do with comic speech.  The widespread popularity began to frustrate some designers and artists, including two graphic designers from Indianapolis named Dave and Holly Comb who launched the “Ban Comic Sans” campaign together in 1999 after being assigned a job in which the manager forced the usage of the font in a museum exhibit’s signage. The movement has gained great popularity via the internet, and is still going strong today.

For more information, or to enact your own rebellion against this offense to typography, please see: http://www.bancomicsans.com/, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123992364819927171.html, and http://www.identifont.com/show?1MH.

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