There is a war raging. One side is fighting to obliterate a beloved champion of the people. The typography world has long been disgusted and outraged by the general popularity and overuse of the typeface Comic Sans. Their aim is to “eradicate this font from the face of the earth.”
Comic Sans is bubbly, silly, and wasn’t even well thought-out, apparently. According to Wikipedia, Microsoft designer, Vincent Connare was working on program with cartoon characters that spoke in Times New Roman and recognized the need for a more informal typeface.
After combing the Word typeface catalog, he found nothing appropriate, and quickly designed his version of comic book lettering. Comic Sans shot off like a rocket among Microsoft users. (Ironically Connare now sympathizes with the haters.)
Frankly, it’s hard to believe that typeface designers haven’t already jumped on this. I believe most word-processing software now include Comic Sans in their typeface catalogues. They pay Microsoft royalties in order to do so. There’s obvious market interest on this point.
So why do the haters object so violently? After perusing BanComicSans.com (which was truly an entertaining way to burn an afternoon, by the way. I definitely recommend it.) I gather they object on several points. First, fonts are supposed to convey meaning, and Comic Sans projects nothing but lightheartedness.
What can I say? Duh. Hence the value.
Second, Comic Sans holds no respect for tradition. It was created without regard to rules and guidelines that have long since been “established standards of this craft.”
I’m all for preserving and respecting the traditions set by the stone-carvers and typesetters that worked so hard at their craft. They deserve it. And that history is still relevant to the work that goes into a typeface design today. However, in the marketplace, value should be somewhat dictated by the consumer. Surely someone in the typography profession is smart enough to address and merge these two points.
BanComicSans.com also points to the constant inappropriate use of the font. Warning signs, angry letters, hospital department ads have all been given a naïve spin, because their designers should have made better decisions.
I once heard the use of Comic Sans compared to wearing a clown suit to a black-tie affair, and I agree, there are tons of situations where Comic Sans is wildly inappropriate. But what about my three-year-old’s birthday party? I’d much rather show up in a clown suit than an evening gown. Likewise I’d feel just as silly displaying party banners printed in Bookman Oldstyle or some such.
It is also true that Comic Sans is used to death these days. I even avoid its use, because mainstream popularity has pushed it to the point of cliché. But I continually search unsatisfactorily for a replacement.
So, attention typography world: there is a need to fill here! If you don’t like Comic Sans, fine. Get rid of it. But please provide us the product we are asking for. Give us something appropriate already!
Your turn beloved reader. Where do you weigh in?