Comic Sans is probably the troublemaker amongst all the fonts. So much so that two typographers even started a “Ban Comic Sans” movement back in 2002, designers hate Comic Sans. It gained a lot of worldwide attention and other designers also joined in to voice their animosity of the typeface. So why did Vincent Connare create such an unappealing font? And Why don’t people like it?
Back in 1994, Melinda Gates hired Vincent Connare to design a fun friendly font for the first Microsoft home computer. It was intended to be used in speech bubbles of a comic Dog “Bob” that would help people navigate the system’s interface for the first time. Ironically pointing out, Connare said:
Comic dogs don’t talk in Times New Roman.
The name Comic Sans hails its origin from the lettering styles used in Comic Books and since it’s a sans serif font, it gets the name “Comic Sans. “ He intended the typeface to be used for kids, as it mimicked a handwritten look that would be easier to read for younger users. However, the font wasn’t completed in time and didn’t make it onto the program called Microsoft Bob.
Although it later came in pre-loaded onto the Windows 95 computers.
Another reason why Comic sans started being used more and more was due to the fact that screens back in the day used to be aliased as opposed to the now commonly used anti-aliased.
Anti-aliasing is the technology that makes the fonts look smooth on-screen. Without it, the font looks jagged and pixelated. As David Kadavy points out “In fact, when compared to Garamond, which wasn’t originally designed for the screen, Comic Sans fares quite well in terms of readability.” Thus, people thought it looked and read better on screen and started to like the familiarity of it. And that’s where the trouble began- People were using Comic Sans where it wasn’t appropriate!
Hackneyed Comic Sans
It was found in everything from Lost Kitten Posters, birthday invitations to professional letters and websites! One of the most noticeable moments in which we can see the prominent misuse of Comic Sans would be in the dreaded letter Dan Gilbert, owner of Cleveland Cavaliers wrote regarding the departure of LeBron James from the Team. This resulted in massive outrage of people over the choice of font for such an issue.
But that’s not all, improper usage of the font is one side of the story behind comic sans hate, the other being it lacks the structural integrity of what makes a good font!
Typographers argue that Comic Sans is not a great font because it has poor fundamentals. It had unmodulated strokes and doesn’t vary the thickness even required for better legibility which results in unbalanced visual weight. Also, Comic sans has a poor letter fit/ poor kerning.
Kerning is referred to the spaces between two characters(letters) of a typeface. Kerning/Letterfit is the leeway space allotted to characters while designing them to allow for space between the letters to avoid overwriting and to maintain legibility.
Though it lacks typographic fundamentals of the modern-day and they are very visible to us sitting right now of high-resolution screens, people often forget the fact that it was never meant to be used in these screens and these places. It stays true to what it was made for, a fun, kid-friendly legible font to help kids get accustomed to screens of 1995. It’s not the font, it’s the people taking it out of context and misusing the font. The bottom line is, Comic sans isn’t claiming to be the best, most versatile font. It stands true to its nature and that doesn’t make it a bad font. To find out more about how to use the right fonts, learn from Clevertize.
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