I once saw a newspaper ad for a domestic violence helpline. It was in Comic Sans.
I think that says everything, don't you?
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? …
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
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)
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>
...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 !!!!!!!!!!!!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
...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"?
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...
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).
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.
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?
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
. . . 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???
Its like saying cars are to blame for people being in accidents. Its not the car itself, its how its driven. Using Comic Sans for a whole document is like driving your car the wrong way up the motorway. Its messy and hurts people. But used the right way, it works perfectly.
Exactly, just like when the Mac started appearing in peoples' homes some years earlier and people realised that there was more to life than the 2 or 3 monospaced fonts built into their printer. Suddenly you had monstrosities of newsletters that used every single font on the menu ... because they could.
Ahh, those were the days, every combination of font and size, and all hammered out on the old 9 pin ImageWriter.
Where I do "disagree" with Verity is here :
>> This moment, the one just coming up right now, is the first time since 1997 you have remembered the existence of the not-very-good application bundled with IE called Microsoft Comic Chat. There. Sorry about that.
>> Once it was installed on every PC in the world, ...
Err, never heard of it. Perhaps it's because none of my PCs ran Windoze - it wasn't on every PC on the planet. Even when I had to use Windoze PCs at work (like unblocking toilets, someone has to do it) I don't recall that program.
...I hit the pedant part of your post. I think by now, that everyone understands the generic term of PC to imply machines evolved from 8086 processors running a version of DOS/Windows. That was followed by a non-required bit of MS bashing with the 'Windoze' comments. Totally unnecessary and way off topic.
Like all tools, it has it's uses, however...
Using it on the official, court enterable, legal document used to liscense a premise (and which must be displayed under the terms of the Liscensing Act) is not one of them. Something PORTSMOUTH CITY COUNCIL (Legal Services) Directorate failed to comphrend.
Comic sans is the most ugly horrible font that's ever been made accessible to the general public, specifically the people employed in offices up and down the country whose job it is to make stupid notices like "please wash up your mugs" and "turn this light off - save energy" and "please don't print this is if you don't need to" etc etc. It's so ugly it makes my eyes vomit. Coincidentally these are usually the same people who can't help using multiple exclamation points, bold and italics to make extra special emphasis on words that don't require it.
I also hate the default, uninspired, lazy choice of Arial as the default e-mail font for most companies - how hard is it to choose a font specifically designed for screen reading?
Myself, I'm a lover of Gill Sans and can't help assuming that any company that uses it in their branding is automatically reliable and trustworthy.
but why get so excited about (a bit boring, true) font? I agree that nothing should be overused (with the exception of blue cheese. You can´t overuse a blue cheese), but I am using Comic Sans for many years for my amateur translations of webcomicses like XKCD or Pictures for sad children into my native language, and the result is...well...acceptable. I never dreamed of using it elsewhere.
Is it really so widespread? In my cultural area (central Europe going to eastern Europe) I do not recall seeing a sign, let alone the whole document in this font.
Before we embark on a crusade against an insignificant pattern of pixels, how about tackling things that actually matter?
Before ridding the world of Comic Sans, let's fix poverty, disease, repression, oppression, suppression, ignorance (ooops, we're back on fonts again), intolerance (gah - and again), fear, guns (doh! same thing), greed, exploitation, climate change, crime, smoking, baldness, inflation, nagging, corruption, commercial fusion, algal blooms, spam, obesity and late trains.
Once we've got all of that nailed, then it's time to worry about the trivia - though I've got to say the ability to spell has got to come before what font you misspell your language in.
"Can we have some sort of alternative CSS cookie that stores a preference which renders the site in Comic Sans or Default depending on our choice?"
Firefox -> Preferences, Content -> Fonts -> Advanced, Uncheck "Allow pages to set their own fonts".
IE -> Tools -> internet options -> general -> accessibility, ignore fonts
If you were to ask me, I'd say that the trouble is, the Desktop Publishing concept empowered millions all over the world and with no relevant training or insight whatsoever to produce their own graphic masterpieces and proudly display their lack of talent to millions. Those people don't know it but there are times when a marker pen, or even a ballpoint pen, is best.
And more hurtful than mindless typography is the perceived need by most to start every creative design exercise by drawing a box rule around the piece of paper. Why, for f*ck's sake?
If I could upvote your post an infinite number of times, I would.
Well said, sir.
Typography is an _art_ and a skill -- so much so that newspaper compositors had an apprenticship twice as long as any other trade.
Even Neville Brody at his most avant-garde and wackiest maintained that you can't break the rules without first knowing what they are, inside and out.
A sentiment that, today, is all too sadly lost in many other disciplines.
Bad/amateur DTP efforts are getting better though - when ah wirra lad, you could expect to see a single document with a minimum of 8 fonts, 5 colours, bold text, italicised text, underlined text and the most heinous crime of them all: bold-italicised-and-underlined-all-at-the-same-time.
<b><i><u>Is the most unforgivable thing to see</u></i></b> In fact any combination come to think of it
...would you write your CV in it?
It has it's place (somewhere in the 6th circle hell) but for most applications it is just wrong. WRONG!!!
The lass insists on using it for all of her MS Powerpoint slides (she's a teacher). Then she wonders why most of the kids are have an IQ not far short of the font size she uses ^^. I tell you - there's a definite link.
The root of the problem is "font diarrhoea" - people can't help but spray fonts everywhere. They really should put an onClick handler on the font select box in *ALL* applications. Everytime you click it a modal message box pops up asking "are you sure?", with a good 5 levels of recursion.
But since so many people, who seem to have their heads firmly wedged up inside their own rear orifice, have made such a fuss about such trivial thing I have set all my defaults so that any email or document I create is in Comic Sans.
Even the default font on my Linux machines is now Comic Sans.
(apt-get install msttcorefonts)
So all you out there that make such a fuss take note that every thing I produce is now in Comic Sans due to YOU!
Wife is a teacher and uses feckin Comic Sans everywhere. "It's non-threatening", says she, "It's fecking awful" says I.
I hate it without a genuine reason. Word processors should be limited to 3 fonts and 2 colours to stop the feckin numpties having the urge to use every feckin font and colour in the same document.
And animated gifs......
In a world where we are encouraged to conform in so many ways, it is often difficult to tell which people are right-minded individuals who I would wish to enjoy a pint with (etc etc) and who are merely mindlessly following orders.
Comic Sans provides an instant "credibility modifier", just as shell-suits and a lack of washing do when meeting someone face-to-face. It benefits everyone by saving the time wasted in interacting further.
(And if a teacher of my children sent home a 'letter to parents' written Comic Sans they would get an educational follow-up meeting, as would the nupty who employed them.)
...when your client asks you to re-style a perfectly classy Wordpress site to use Comic Sans "because all his documentation is produced in that font". This happened to me this morning, honest. Made me wonder if I really wanted to have clients like him.
Fie and fail on me for deliberately not mentioning cufon and other techniques, but I just fell back on the excuse that, like Steve The Cynic, some folk don't have Comic Sans installed.
Do I detect hints of Robert Norton's mischievous sense of humour calling us from his grave? He was head of Microsoft's type group for a while.
It would be a mark of the man's creativity and generosity to leave a legacy which reminds us not to allow technology to over-ride beauty.
I met Robert Norton a few times, we were both members of the Wynkyn de Worde society where typographers, printers and 'those who care about these things' would meet for a monthly amiable chat.
A modest man, he knew far more about typography than he would let on, and did a great job whilst at Microsoft, despite the challenges he faced there.
Since his death technology has moved on significantly, and the need for typographical expertise in technology firms is greater than ever.
Comic Sans isn't particularly beautiful, but neither is it amazingly horribly ugly. It's just kind of okay-ish, if somewhat awkward in some places (the capital i, for instance).
The problem is much more with how people use it. The font has been used for speech bubbles (ok), text documents (not ok, I'm a cognitive scientist and will fight anyone to the death who tries to claim that comic sans is ok for a full document), greeting cards (usually not ok, "sorry your mum has died" for instance. Just use a pen to, well, WRITE the letters yourself) and warnings/notices ("caution, high voltage", no, just NO).
You're always communicating a message, When you use a green background and red text you're saying "DO NOT READ THIS DOCUMENT", when you use the wrong font for the purpose you're saying "I'm not a professional", "I don't care whether I get this message across", or "hello, my name is **drooool**, asl?"
Knowing when to use a serif or sans serif, or whether to use a formal or informal font is important for actually getting the message across in many cases. Showing that you want to get the message across show either your interest in your correspondent, or your professionalism. Sometimes Comic Sans is perfectly acceptable, but most often it is not. If in doubt then select a mainstream serif font such as Times New Roman. Sans serif fonts can be hard to read when used for multiple lines of text or long lines of text, serif fonts become messy at small sizes/long distances. Arial and Helvetica can be excellent choices for posters and such. If you're not an expert on fonts then the above is most of what you need to know.
As it's the only font they let me use. When they took away my pens and said I could only use crayons I was upset, but now they say I can use a computer but only if I use Comic Sans.
They tell me that's because it doesn't have all those sharp serif corners I could hurt myself on, but I'm not so sure. I think they just don't get typography, but whenever I mention kerning they take my computer away.
But you understand. Will you be my friend?
Lets start with removing the CAPS LOCK key from all keyboards and removing block capitals from all documents.
Then we can fix a couple of americanisms.
Lets start with the date format - DD/MM/YY(YY) is the proper order.
Lets get rid of all the silly spelling - substituting S with Z randomly and removing U from words is also wrong.
If we can't fix those, and other more important, items leave fonts alone. I can read it fine (as long as it is in proper case and spelled right!).
but you broke my brain with the last bit. DON'T PANIC actually looks GOOD in Comic Sans.... that's just so bizarre. It's the only thing I have ever seen that looks good in Comic Sans... and it's possibly the best it has ever looked.
I think I need to take a moment here. Well done Stob.
As an aside: www.blambot.com for all your comic typeface needs.
I find it rather sad that so much hate is directed against Comic Sans, when so many companies will cheerfully and thoughtlessly use fonts like Times New Roman or Arial, in the apparent belief that they're being smart and professional.
Times looks *hideous* in any format wider than a newspaper column. Arial is just lazy - it used to be one of MS's defaults, so it's at or near the top of every menu, let's not bother with finding something better like Gill or Lucida. But those same people who get apoplectic about joke e-mails in Comic Sans, will see nothing wrong in writing me a letter in either of those.
Mote. Beam. Clue.
Arial is a poor imitation of Helvetica. The latter was designed in Switzerland back in the days when Grotesque fonts were … in. I would not say that Helvetica is anything to go by, it is a Grotesque font … Arial? A pale copy of a Grotesque font.
Anyway, real æsthetes use Helvetica over Arial anytime … as for Comic SanS? I used to like it when I was in my early teens ... use of it is a sign of immaturity.
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