You’ve seen Comic Sans. You may have even (facepalm) used it. Have you considered why people around you are facepalming? We really need to get this out in the open.
A Little History
Comic Sans, as the name suggests, was created to mimic the playful style of comic-book script. Comics were (and for some, still are) a fun, creative, collectible outlet. This isn’t to say that the font created with comics in mind should be used willy-nilly.
The font wasn’t actually created for print projects. It was created for the screen and shipped out with Windows 95 Plus. The variations of thickness within each letter, the horrible spacing between letters—called kerning—makes Comic Sans very difficult on the eyes when compared to a font like Helvetica.
It’s 1995. Until now your projects have been handwritten with markers. Today, you have a new computer with a standard font called Comic Sans and a printer.
You love this script font so much. It’s your default font for emails! Nobody can stop you! It’s on your business cards!
You’ve crossed the line.
People had just discovered their ability to create their own projects and print them. They had a new font that was different from Times New Roman. All they needed was Windows 95 with Comic Sans and a printer. That’s where the hatred really took hold.
Besides the letter formation and spacing, which you probably don’t consciously notice, the real hatred of Comic Sans stems from its inappropriate use. Suddenly, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing an advertisement, letter, even product labels and signs made with Comic Sans. It was cute-overload and completely misused on business cards and resumés. It’s fun and cool, not professional.
In 1999, two graphic designers, Dave and Holly Combs, spearheaded the anti-Comic Sans movement with their “Ban Comic Sans” website. The site is no longer active, but it certainly made an impression.
Using this groovy font on any kind of business was frowned upon. Adding fuel to an increasingly hot fire, in 2010, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert put out an open letter to fans about LeBron James’ announcement that he was leaving the Cavs to go to Miami. Part of the letter can be read here. Do you think the font really complements the message?
I don’t think so, either.
In 2012, at the CERN conference—a group of world-renowned physicists—scientists used Comic Sans to announce what was considered one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century, the Higgs Boson particle.
Guess how well it went over with the scientific community? Hint: On Twitter, Higgs Boson was tied with Comic Sans in the #trending list.
When Pope Benedict announced his retirement in 2013, his retirement photo album was captioned with… yeah. It really was.
Are you starting to understand? Comic Sans was used and abused online and in print.
If you still aren’t sure about the font abuse, just Google Comic Sans. It’s sad.
Here to Stay
Despite Kickstarter attempts to create a pro-Comic Sans documentary with a goal of $20,000 (it earned just over $700), websites dedicated to both “kill” and “ban” Comic Sans, and ongoing ironic memes, good ol’ Comic Sans is still here.
As long as only preschool and elementary school teachers use it, we’ll all be fine. Please do not use it for emergency instructions or on the side of an ambulance (yes, it was). Don’t mention it to a graphic designer unless you are very, very brave. Trust us, we will NEVER use Comic Sans on your website from Next! Ad Agency. We promise.