As a blogger, editorialist, and former web comic writer I’ve managed to acquire a large number of friends over the past several years who are artists and writers in their own right. And with all the time I’ve spent hanging out with them during get-togethers, convention attendance, and the like, I’ve noticed one glaring consistency they all seem to share that still has me scratching my head to this day:
Artists and writers really have a hatred for the font Comic Sans.
I’ve never really understood why, to be honest. It seems like just as good a font choice as any other. It’s not like it’s flat-out nutso like Wing Dings or anything. It doesn’t stand out as particularly obnoxious or offensive in comparison to its fellow fontleroys. Reading it certainly doesn’t seem to cause massive eye bleeding, head-splodeys or diarrhea. Yet, many of my friends are almost driven into a blind, seething rage just at the mere mention of this overly-persecuted collection of QWERTYs.
Originally created back in 1994 and released by Microsoft for use with Windows 95, Comic Sans was intended to replicate the kind of lettering seen in classic and vintage comic books and strips – inspired specifically by the comics The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. Seems like a simple and innocent enough origin for a typeface that would eventually become the bane of all existence. But still – I’m puzzled. Why does this particular font inspire so much hate towards it?
I remember my first foray into doing gag-a-day photo shops in the style of Twisted Toyfare Theater back when I had my own look-at-me web site in the late nineties. My first choice of font seemed obvious – the now reviled Comic Sans. It certainly looked to me like the kind of font you would use to make your joke strip look like what you might see on the printed page. At the time, I was completely unaware of the dark path this unsuspecting character set was heading down.
Boy, was I unaware.
Apparently, at some point there was a movement created at the end of 1999 to ban the font completely due to its overuse, mainly because of the fact that most folks who finally had access to a computer and the internet at the time were using the font for damn near everything – including resumes and other official, important, or serious projects.
By the time I started writing for a web comic in 2005 the hate was already making the masses powerful and their journey toward the Dark Side was almost complete. When I first mentioned using Comic Sans to the artist I was creating the web comic with, he almost set my face on fire with the fury erupting from his eye sockets.
From that point on, all across the board, almost every artist and writer I’ve met has held such an utter disdain for what is a harmless pack of letters, numbers, and symbols. Their reasoning? Most of the time the answer I get is because it’s either overused or it’s the font everyone who isn’t in the know automatically wants to use for their web comic or other artistic endeavour. And don’t you dare say that it kinda looks like a comic book font as your defense, or be prepared to walk away with a trident in your chest. Most of the art community insists that the font looks nothing like what you see in any comic form, despite the fact that it was mainly derived from Dave Gibbons’ own lettering style.
So again, why? I mean – even after everything I’ve just written, I’m still no closer to understanding the hate. Just seems like a complete waste of energy to campaign so harshly against a text pack.
Instead of trying to figure it out any further, I’ve come up with a theory instead. Comic Sans is the font-equivalent of film character Ferris Bueller – he’s the cool guy everyone likes. All the other folks go to him for everything. He seems to have all the answers, and always manages to come out of any sitch squeaky clean. His name and face are everywhere – on water tanks, binders, and even on TV during a televised baseball game. Meanwhile, all the parental types are completely oblivious to the true nature behind this charismatic typeface.
That makes the haters the equivalent of Ferris’ sister Jeanie and Principal Ed Rooney. Fed up with the fact that Comic Sans seems to be so popular and over-hyped, they’ll stop at nothing to make sure the laid back script is brought down and made an example of for all the other fonts to see.
Unfortunately, we all know where this leads. While our little, rounded-edged, overused text style continues to gain favour and support from the masses, the artists and writers striving to dethrone this Serif King of Chicago stop at nothing to put an end to his shenanigans and expose him for the fake he truly is…
…and instead end up battered, bruised, and stuck riding the bus home with the very same yung’uns who herald the legend known as Comic Sans.
At least they didn’t end up at the police station sitting next to Charlie Sheen.