back to article In defence of Comic Sans

Good Morning!!! A Facebook pal recently posted to his status: Whenever you see this font, raise your fists and shout "Comic saaaaans!" This is a splendid idea, and I have already promised him on your behalf that we will all join in this game. But it made me wonder: what is it about Comic Sans that inspires such excitement? …

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  1. aBloke FromEarth
    Gates Horns

    Misuse

    I once saw a newspaper ad for a domestic violence helpline. It was in Comic Sans.

    I think that says everything, don't you?

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Too much spare time

    It's only a font. Nobody cares

  3. CT

    Bizarre Comic Sans sighting no342...

    ...labels on the on-screen buttons of the industrial control system for the hydraulic jacks used to launch the 1000s of tonnes of bridge deck for the Millau viaduct (source: Channel 5 documentary last night).

    I make no judgement.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Lay off!

    I actually thought Microsoft Comic Chat was pretty good, back when I first got online. Especially for novice users, the whole cartoon-y effect gave it a certain amount of personality. I'd be the first to burn Microsoft in effigy or otherwise, but sometimes --ok, just once or twice-- they do have a good idea. Shame they never really went with it after IE3

    1. Code Monkey

      Whereas...

      Whereas complaining on the Internet is a good use of anyone's time.

    2. David Dodwell-Bennett

      Nobody Cares

      Pete 2 - I can assure you many people do care. I think the article sums up the level of hot under the collarness Comic SS creates quite well - if anything, it undersells it a little.

      I'm on the "don't use it" side of the fence...especially in schools where I see it used all over the place. The excuse is that is "forms the 'a' properly" thus not confusing small children.

      Fair comment, but there are many other fonts which do that, and when it is used in newsletters home which are aimed at adults, my wife departs the room before she has to sit through another of my rants. It's the font equivalent of celebrity culture - famous for nothing other than being famous as it has no real talent worth speaking off.

      Of course, ultimately it's just a form of "I know better than you" snobbery, just as the use of unnecessary jargon and TLA's is. And it does give one a good reason for a long rant at people who couldn't careless and that is always worth a giggle in my book (a book printed in Helvetica)

      1. mccp
        FAIL

        People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones...

        TLA's ???

        Where did that apostrophe come from?

        Oops.

        1. Just Thinking

          TLA's

          Fairly common, and not unreasonable, to separate the s with an apostrophe to indicate the plural of an acronym. Especially as mixed case acronyms are all the rage these days. How else would you know it was a plural rather than just ending in s?

          1. mccp

            No

            Fairly common, but incorrect use of an apostrophe. Sorry.

            Mixed case TLAs? I suppose that if you had to use one as a plural and the plural s was ambiguous, then perhaps you shouldn't use the TLA in that case.

          2. peredur

            Plurals

            The Spanish have a good way of making an abbreviation plural. Double up the letters in the abbreviation An example:

            EE UU == Estados Unidos

            Cool, I reckon.

            Cheers

            Peredur

      2. Charles Manning

        Who cares

        Sure some people do care....

        But the article was written by a Facebook user, so does his opinion still count?

    3. Gilbert Wham

      TMT

      Oh, you'd be surprised.

    4. The Fuzzy Wotnot
      Happy

      Well My Dear Watson...

      You cared enough to tell us you don't, so therefore you must!

      Incorrect font use is akin to slapping up purple on your walls and lime green door frames! Font's do matter, immensely!

      ( Too much sauce on Monday lunchtime! )

      1. Glyn 2
        Welcome

        Hang on

        When did you see my living room????

        I think the pink doors really set the purple and green off nicely too

      2. Steve X
        FAIL

        "Font's do matter"

        So do apostrophes. More than fonts, I'd say.

      3. Oblivion62
        FAIL

        We'll, my dear wat's_on...

        So does punctuation, my dear chap. Grocers' apostrophes get people even more indignant than the inappropriate use of Comic Sans.

        I should say, from back in the days of my typographical training, that serif typefaces tend to be more readable than sans serif ones, because the serifs add shape and distinction to the letters, assisting the brain's job in following the flow of them and translating them into words.

        Despite this, I have never deliberately used Times New Roman (I know that's a split infinitive. It's an artificial stricture imposed on language by Victorians with too little to do on those long winter nights. Deal with it) at any time I have had any say in the matter. I suspect it's something to do with the way techies' brains are wired -- doctors are similar, I gather -- and we have finally managed to impose our views on everyone else, by virtue of having control of the only allegedly "personal" computers people think they own. Mwah-hah-hah-hah. <cough>

    5. Annihilator
      Go

      Indeed

      It was rather good, once you figured out how to turn off the actual comic bit... But yeah, I used it back in 96/97 (ish) on MSN when I was first online too.

      Isn't it still used to create Jerkcity?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Commiiicccc Saaaaaannnsssss

    ahh .. Verity on El Reg :)

    Whats not to like ?

  6. lil_eddie

    Explosm Comic

    This quote at the top of the article is from a recent Explosm comic - this is where the 'comic saaaaans' thing came from, not your mates facebook status.

    http://www.explosm.net/comics/2301/

  7. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    really...

    ...who really gives a toss except self indulgent toss pots that have way to much time on their hands.

    If you are so annoyed by a font, kill yourself, seriously, your a waste of oxygen.

    see what I did with the "your" their. just annoy the other pedants!!!!!!!!! Oooo, look! More to annoy them with !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grumble?!?

    I notice that one of the alternative fonts on that Ban Comic Sans site is called "Grumble", which according to Viz's Profanisaurus is a slang term for porno mags. There again, my graphic designer brother sent me a link to a Google font called "Growler", which as any fool knows is slang for the feminine reproductive bits.

  9. It wasnt me
    Thumb Down

    Defend it all you like.....

    ......but seeing a software specification written in comic is enough to make you despise it everywhere. The only solution is a complete ban, and if your little examples get killed in the crossfire then so be it.

  10. NorthernSands
    Coffee/keyboard

    Completely overused

    I have, this very hour, received a work e-mail with attached Word doc explaining the absence from work policy. It's three pages of size 12 Comic Sans, complete with bold and underlined headers along with CAPS and in-line bold sections. It's almost painful to read. It is everything that is wrong with how the font is used.

    It's completely overused, to the point of harming itself. If it had only ever been used where it was appropriate, then we wouldn't have websites like 'BanComicSans' and the world would be a better place.

    I am on a personal crusade in my workplace to have ComicSans removed as the default font. Wish me luck!

  11. Steve the Cynic Silver badge
    FAIL

    Verity gets a FAIL award...

    By showing text-based examples of a visual effect. My jolly FreeBSD system, while it does run a reasonably modern browser, something called Firefox 3.6.13 that some of you may have heard of, does not have Comic Sans on board. Consequence: the examples of how Comic Sans looks in various contexts of questionable appropriateness come out in a marginally elegant seriffed typeface.

    FAIL. Sorry, Verity, but it had to be said.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      FAIL

      Possibly, just possibly

      You may have missed the point of an article written in the ironic style!!!11eleventyone!!1!

    2. danny_0x98

      Ask not for whom the "Fail!" calls

      Good point. About time someone put their finger on the point of that quadruple-edged sword of licensing and typographic loosey-gooseiness that is our modern day first medium of choice.

      Indeed, if Steve the Cynic cannot see Comic Sans, well, fie and fail Mozilla. Fie and fail FreeBSD. Fie and fail Internets and its tubes.

      Oops. Silly me. The Forte Finger of Fail was pointed at my beloved Ms Stob. I really should read past the first sentence.

      Fie and fail on me.

      In an essay on Comic Sans and those who know the one thing, its terribleness as a font (usually expressed in furtive, oblivious Arial), that used Comic Sans for example, erudition, and humor, you saw no Comic Sans. I feel your pain.

    3. Martijn Bakker
      Boffin

      Might I suggest ...

      a minor addition to the domain user's login scripts:

      if not exist "%systemroot%\Fonts\comic.TTF" goto end

      del "%systemroot%\Fonts\comic.TTF"

      regdel "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Fonts\Comic Sans MS (TrueType)"

      :end

    4. Haku
      Boffin

      Hold a hand over your left eye and read the letters, starting at the top line:

      http://www.haku.co.uk/b3ta/ComicSansEyeChart.gif

    5. byrresheim
      FAIL

      I second the motion!

      While I generally liked the idea of ironically (I hope) (I hope???) defending that hideous little font, I actually had to search my archives for the thingy and to install it, just to see the examples.

      Capitalising Comic Sans as in "Don't Panic!"? I do not have enough question marks on my computer to express my doubts about this idea.

    6. ThomH Silver badge

      So... a symptom, not a cause

      Banning Comic Sans somehow to solve all the world's signage and document composition problems is surely akin to banning PowerPoint and expecting everybody suddenly to be really good at public speaking?

      1. John 62
        Grenade

        banning powerpoint?

        it might not improve public speaking skills, but it's unlikely to do any harm!

        (Keynote would have to be legal, obviously, but you could kill all its themes apart from black and white and replace Gill Sans with Helvetica Neue. And Windows would have to be killed as well since it can't render glyphs in the correct shap).

  12. Piers
    Happy

    Brilliant Verity...

    ...as always, thank you!

    However, as any designer worth his salt will attest, the reason we don't like Comic Sans is that to our eyes, it does (for a whole catalogue of reasons I won't bore you with) look f**k ugly. If anyone reading this disagrees, that's OK. Carry on using it by all means.

    But as an example everyone might warm to, it has a visual effect on some of us similar to the one people get just before they ask the question "you call THAT music"?

  13. Jaruzel
    Heart

    I <3 Comic Sans

    There I said it. I set the default font in all the chat apps I use, to a dark purple Comic Sans 11pt. By doing this, I am saying I'm friendly and easy going, please talk to me. Nothing will stop me from using it, and group chat, I stand out, because I'm the one with the friendly font...

  14. Tom7

    Web fonts fail

    It took me a long time to figure out why this article seemed so surreal: I don't have Comic Sans installed, so all the examples come out in some quite nice-looking Lucida variant.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    For those who know me

    Comic Sans must fucking die a painful death by being force fed every single website and printed document that has been defiled by its glyphs of jovial doom.

  16. Ian Yates

    Well put

    But you'll never convince me. Something about the font just makes me think "amateur".

    If I wasn't at work I'd hunt for the photo of a "keep this door closed" sign in Comic Sans that someone has placed a "do not use Comic Sans - we are a fortune 500 company, not a toy factory" sign next to (in Arial).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Link

      You probably mean this:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/passiveaggressive/4773512458/

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Troll

      However

      Whilst you think that by using 11pt dark magenta Comic Sans, you appear as a friendly easy going kind of person, to anybody else, it immediately appears that you are a middle-aged housewife who has just got their first computer (probably a second-hand pentium II) and has discovered the 'e' icon on the desktop. Somehow you have made it further than MSN. But not much further. Approximately once a month, your 19 year old son comes home from uni for the weekend and reinstalls Windows for you to remove all the viruses you seem to have accumulated.

    3. Steve Power

      Arial?

      "do not use Comic Sans" is very clearly written in Helvetica. Look at the beautiful "a"

      1. Ian Yates

        n/t

        I stand corrected ;)

    4. hplasm Silver badge
      Pint

      Comic Sans, like every other font

      has it's place.

      But who wants to spend sooo much time trying to decide what that might be?

    5. John 62
      Thumb Up

      you're brilliant

      you teach everyone how to switch to plain-text only!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    A pub in my town

    changed its traditional swinging picture sign for a plain beige swinging sign with the pub's name written in Comic Sans. Insane decision.

  18. stuhacking
    Boffin

    Comic Chat

    Comic Chat was great! There's even an interesting paper about the project: http://kurlander.net/DJ/Pubs/SIGGRAPH96.pdf

    Sadly, it seems as though Windows users had already eschewed aesthetic creativity in favour of bland, grey boxes and spreadsheets.

  19. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Troll

    Outraged of Kent....

    The debate over Comic Sans is to me as pointless as moaning about the colours people paint their front doors, arguing over who's the best drummer or who's the best painter who ever lived.

    It's all ultimately intellectual masturbation over things outside of your own control. Suck it up and live with it. Surely there's something more to life to worry about?

  20. Stumpy Pepys

    In its defence

    I think Comic Sans is a decent enough typeface for cartoon bubbles (and one that I've used for that purpose).

    1. The Real Dave
      Stop

      It's not even good for comic lettering

      From a Grauniad interview with Dave Gibbons (artist and letterer of Watchmen).

      I apologise in advance for asking Gibbons what he thinks of Comic Sans, a Microsoft typeface partly derived from his Watchmen lettering.

      "It's just a shame they couldn't have used just the original font, because it's a real mess. I think it's a particularly ugly letter form," he says. "The other thing that really bugs me that they've used an upper case I with bars on it: it looks completely wrong to the comic eye

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/aug/12/dave-gibbons-watchmen-interview

  21. peddley
    Thumb Up

    Comic Saaaaans!

    I use the font very rarely but I wouldn't want to see it disappearing from the drop down.

  22. fukudasan
    Boffin

    But teaching . . .

    . . . English to kids here in Korea, I use it all the time in my worksheets precisely because it appears clear to read, and its slantiness etc. defuses (in my opinion) some of the stress of trying to read, speak and pronounce words from a language very different from your own.

    If anyone here knows the dreadful fonts made available as part of Hangul Word Processor (HWP), which I would not inflict upon anyone not deliberately intending to drive themselves insane, some departure from what the Koreans think is a 'good' font should be welcomed.

    Besides I run Linux (Mandriva) _and_ I use OOo and this font is free . . . so what's to complain about???

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