Comic Sans

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Comic Sans MS
ComicSansSpec3.svg
CategoryScript (typefaces)
Designer(s)Vincent Connare
FoundryMicrosoft
Date createdOctober 1994; 28 years ago (1994-10)
Comic Sans sample.svg
Sample

Comic Sans MS is a sans-serif typeface designed by Vincent Connare and released in 1994 by Microsoft Corporation. It is a non-connecting script inspired by comic book lettering, intended for use in cartoon speech bubbles, as well as in other casual environments, like informal documents and children's materials.[1]

The typeface has been supplied with Microsoft Windows since the introduction of Windows 95, initially as a supplemental font in the Microsoft Plus! Pack and later in Microsoft Comic Chat. Describing it, Microsoft has explained that "this casual but legible face has proved very popular with a wide variety of people."[2]

The typeface's widespread use, often in situations it was not intended for, has been the subject of criticism and ridicule.[3]

History[edit]

Vincent Connare explaining in 2009 how he came to create "the world's favourite font"

Development and release[edit]

Microsoft designer Vincent Connare began working on Comic Sans in 1994 after having already created other fonts for various applications. When he saw a beta version of Microsoft Bob that used Times New Roman in the word balloons of its cartoon characters, he believed the typeface gave the software an overly formal appearance. He believed this was inappropriate for the aesthetics of the program, which was created to introduce younger users to computers. In order to make Microsoft Bob look more suitable for its intended purposes, he decided to create a new typeface with only a mouse and cursor, based on the lettering style of comic books he had in his office, specifically The Dark Knight Returns (lettered by John Costanza) and Watchmen (lettered by Dave Gibbons).[4]

He completed Comic Sans too late for inclusion in Microsoft Bob, and the typeface would go unreleased until the programmers of Microsoft 3D Movie Maker, which also used cartoon guides and speech bubbles, adopted it.[5] The speech bubbles were eventually phased out and replaced by actual sound, but Comic Sans stayed for the program's pop-up windows and help sections. The typeface later shipped with the Windows 95 Plus! Pack. It was later included as a system font for the OEM versions of Windows 95. Finally, it became one of the default fonts for Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Comic Sans is also used in Microsoft Comic Chat, which was released in 1996 with Internet Explorer 3.0.

Comic Sans is pre-installed in macOS and Windows Phone but not Android, iOS or Linux.[6]

Comic Sans Pro (2011)[edit]

Comic Sans Pro is an updated version of Comic Sans created by Terrance Weinzierl from Monotype Imaging. While retaining the original designs of the core characters, it expands the typeface by adding new italic variants, in addition to swashes, small capitals, extra ornaments and symbols including speech bubbles, onomatopoeia and dingbats, as well as text figures and other stylistic alternatives.[7][8][9] Originally appearing as part of Ascender 2010 Font Pack as Comic Sans 2010, it was first released on April Fools' Day, causing some to initially assume it was a joke.[10][11][12]

The italicized variant later appeared in Windows 8.[13]

Misuse[edit]

A defibrillator case in Monaco with a label in Comic Sans

Comic Sans has become most infamous for its use in serious circumstances, like warning signs and formal documents, in which it might appear too informal, unprofessional, or inappropriate.[3]

During the summer of 2010, NBA superstar LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency, in a highly publicized media affair that culminated in a TV special called The Decision. The majority owner of the team (at the time), Dan Gilbert, reacted by posting a letter to Cavalier fans. The letter was criticized for its use of Comic Sans.[14][15][16]

In October 2012, a Dutch World War II memorial called Verzoening ("Reconciliation") was revealed on which the names of Jewish, Allied and German military deaths alike were written alongside each other in Comic Sans. The names were eventually scraped off after complaints from Jewish organizations, but the rewritten message was once again in Comic Sans. According to the city government, this was done because the letters fit the shape of the stone and were easily visible from a distance. It was, however, criticized for making the memorial appear "ugly" and "cheap".[17]

In September 2014, The Sydney Morning Herald printed a front page with Comic Sans, causing an uproar, despite its use being within speech bubbles in keeping with the origin of the typeface.[18]

In August 2015, a number of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's Syriza party members split and formed a new party, headed by Panagiotis Lafazanis. The official document of resignation was allegedly written in Comic Sans.[19]

In July 2018, a statue of former Chilean President Pedro Aguirre Cerda was inaugurated in Santiago. The plaques on the monument were written in Comic Sans, drawing negative attention on social media.[20]

In October 2019, when the United States House Intelligence Committee requested that two of Rudy Giuliani's associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruma, present documentation regarding their involvement in the Ukraine scandal, former Trump attorney John Dowd penned a letter of explanation printed in Comic Sans.[21]

That same month, as part of the United Kingdom's Brexit debate, the Conservative Party tweeted an image stating "MPs must come together and get Brexit done" using Comic Sans.[22] The post was heavily mocked, but some commentators saw it as a deliberate attempt to use the typeface's notoriety in order to bring their message to a wider audience.[23]

Legibility[edit]

Font samples with letters prone to legibility problems: Comic Sans, Comic Neue (an alternative published 2014), Candara (a font also considered “casual”[24]), Trebuchet MS (a Windows standard font), Andika (a font designed for legibility), and Komika Text (a font designed for Comic books).

A research article published by Cognition in 2010 showed disfluency could lead to improved retention and classroom performance. The article stated that disfluency can be produced merely by adopting fonts that are slightly more difficult to read.[25] In the case studies cited in the article, Comic Sans was used to introduce disfluency.[26] A 2010 Princeton University study involving presenting students with text in a font slightly harder to read found that they consistently retained more information from material displayed in fonts perceived as ugly or disfluent (Monotype Corsiva, Haettenschweiler, and Comic Sans Italic) than in a simpler, more traditional typeface such as Helvetica.[25]

More often, however, Comic Sans is described as especially legible, and is frequently used in school settings or as an aid for people with dyslexia.[27][additional citation(s) needed] Some people have reported that typing in Comic Sans has helped to clear writer's block, claiming that its casual appearance and high legibility create less mental tension.[28] Compared to other typefaces, Comic Sans has fewer rotated and mirror-image glyphs (ex. the letters "b", "d", "p", and "q"), has particularly wide letter spacing, and is sans serif.[29][27][30]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Several reinterpretations of Comic Sans have been created as a result of its popularity. In April 2014, font designer Craig Rozynski released a modernized version of Comic Sans called Comic Neue. In 2015, graphic designer Ben Harman created Comic Papyrus (later renamed "Comic Parchment" for legal reasons), which combines the features of Comic Sans with the similarly panned typeface Papyrus.[31] In 2019, Tabular Type Foundry released Comic Code, a monospaced version of the typeface.[32]

In 2017, it was reported that Vincent Connare, the typeface's designer, had only used it once.[33]

Opposition[edit]

Because of its ubiquity and misuse, Comic Sans has been opposed by a majority of graphic designers. The Boston Phoenix reported on disgruntlement over the widespread use of the typeface, especially its incongruous use for writing on serious subjects, with the complaints urged on by a campaign started by two Indianapolis graphic designers, Dave and Holly Combs, via their website "Ban Comic Sans".[34] The movement was conceived in 1999 by the two designers after an employer insisted that one of them use Comic Sans in a children's museum exhibit. The website's main argument is that a typeface should match the tone of its text and that the humorous appearance of Comic Sans often contrasted with a serious message, such as a "do not enter" sign.[35] The movement ran until 2019, when it was renamed "Use Comic Sans," which was because Dave Combs believed the hatred had "gotten out of hand" and "it's gotten to be so bad that it's almost cool again."[36]

Dave Gibbons, whose work was one of the inspirations for Comic Sans, said that it was "a shame they couldn't have used just the original font, because [Comic Sans] is a real mess. I think it's a particularly ugly letter form."[37]

Film producer and The New York Times essayist Errol Morris wrote in an August 2012 posting, "The conscious awareness of Comic Sans promotes—at least among some people—contempt and summary dismissal." With the help of a professor, he conducted an online experiment and found that Comic Sans, in comparison with five other typefaces (Baskerville, Helvetica, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, and Computer Modern), makes readers slightly less likely to believe that a statement they are reading is true.[38]

Defense[edit]

In the Netherlands, radio DJs Coen Swijnenberg and Sander Lantinga decided to celebrate the typeface by having a Comic Sans day on the first Friday of July. Comic Sans Day has been held since 2009. Some Dutch companies have their website in Comic Sans on this day.[39]

According to a 2020 Twitter poll held by TES, 44% of teachers sampled used Comic Sans in their teaching resources. Comic Sans is widely used in schools due to its high legibility.[better source needed] Other reasons include:[27]

Vincent Connare is reportedly not offended by the negative backlash over Comic Sans. At the Fourth Annual Boring Conference, he claimed to find the contempt for his work to be "mildly amusing."[40] He has stated that he is proud of his creation, offering different rationales. One of these was that "Comic Sans does what it was commissioned to do, it is loved by kids, mums, dads and many family members. So it did its job very well. It matched the brief!" He has also referred to it as "the best joke I've ever told."[41] In 2014, commenting on Comic Sans' critics and fans alike, Connare said, "If you love it, you don't know much about typography, [but] if you hate it, you really don't know much about typography either, and you should get another hobby."[42][43]

Lauren Hudgins of The Establishment argued that people who use Comic Sans should be treated with respect, not mockery, because "People without dyslexia need empathy for those who need concessions to manage the disability."[44]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2005 session of the youth model parliament in Ontario, Canada, the New Democratic Party included the clause, "Ban the font known as Comic Sans" in an omnibus ban bill.[45]

On May 22, 2012, The Comic Sans Song[46] was released by YouTube content creator and musician Gunnarolla, in collaboration with musician Andrew Huang. The song makes reference to Comic Sans and features commentary around the impact the font has had on pop-culture.

In July 2012, when the discovery of the Higgs boson was announced at CERN, Fabiola Gianotti, the spokesperson of the ATLAS experiment, attracted comment by using Comic Sans in her presentation of the results.[47][48][49] As a 2014 April Fools' Day joke, CERN claimed that it would be switching all its publications to Comic Sans.[50]

The Internet meme Doge, which became popular in late 2013, consists of different colored sets of words in broken English written in Comic Sans around the head of a Shiba Inu dog.[51]

In April 2014, OpenBSD announced the LibreSSL project in Comic Sans, claiming to be the first to "weaponize" it as a means for soliciting donations.[52][53]

In the 2015 video game Undertale and its followup Deltarune, the character Sans is a comic (i.e. comedian) named after the typeface. His dialogue is displayed in lowercase Comic Sans. He is paired with his brother named Papyrus, in reference to the typeface of the same name.[54]

In October 2022, Comic Sans became the representative of Dyslexia Scotland and their ad campaign, There's Nothing Comic About Dyslexia.[55] The campaign's purpose is to inform people on the typeface's benefits among dyslexic people, and to encourage the creation of typefaces that are more formal, but also dyslexic-friendly.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben; Connare, Vincent; Stephens, Tom (28 March 2017). "How we made the typeface Comic Sans". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Typeface Descriptions & Histories". nickshanks.com. Archived from the original on 24 April 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b "What's so wrong with Comic Sans?". BBC News. BBC. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
  4. ^ Steel, Emily (2009-04-17). "Typeface Inspired by Comic Books Has Become a Font of Ill Will". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Archived from the original on 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  5. ^ "Now the world's most hated font, Comic Sans was first used in what Microsoft product?". TechSpot.
  6. ^ "Font Family Reunion: Comic Sans MS". fontfamily.io. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  7. ^ "Comic Sans Pro Typeface Family Makes its Debut - Comic Sans Pro Adds OpenType Features to Extend Versatility of Comic Sans and Inspire New Creativity and Expression". April 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Comic Sans Pro Typeface Family Makes its Debut". Archived from the original on 2011-04-03.
  9. ^ "Ascender 2010 font pack features" (PDF). PRWeb. Ascender. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  10. ^ Terri Stone (4 April 2011). "Comic Sans Pro Not an April Fool's Joke |". CreativePro.com. Retrieved 2015-04-17. The Comic Sans typeface, one of Microsoft's most popular designs, has received a makeover courtesy of Monotype Imaging. Today the company has introduced the four-font Comic Sans Pro family of typefaces. Featuring elements such as speech bubbles and cartoon dingbats, Comic Sans Pro extends the versatility of the original Comic Sans, designed by Vincent Connare for Microsoft in 1994.
  11. ^ "Ascender releases new OpenType font pack for Microsoft Office 2010". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Ascender Releases New OpenType Font Pack for Microsoft Office 2010". PRWeb. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  13. ^ "New Typefaces for Windows 8". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Cavaliers: Open Letter to Fans from Cavaliers Majority Owner Dan Gilbert". NBA.com. 10 July 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-07-10.
  15. ^ "Cavs owner's letter mocked for Comic Sans font". cnn.com. Archived from the original on 11 April 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  16. ^ M. G. Siegler (9 July 2010). "Cavs Owner Goes Online To Rip LeBron A New One... In Comic Sans". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  17. ^ Remembering the dead with Comic Sans letters (in Dutch), Binnenlands Bestuur
  18. ^ "Comic Sans comes of age on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald". 3 September 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  19. ^ "O Λαφαζάνης κατέθεσε την αποχώρησή του γραμμένη σε Comic Sans!". Volos!Now - On-line. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  20. ^ Delgado, Felipe (3 July 2018). "Critican monumento a Pedro Aguirre Cerda por utilización de tipografía Comic Sans" [Criticism towards monument to Pedro Aguirre Cerda for use of Comic Sans typography]. Radio Bío-Bío (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  21. ^ Wilson, Mark (2019-10-08). "Trump's old lawyers really, really love Comic Sans". Fast Company. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  22. ^ @Conservatives (22 October 2019). "Now is the time for MPs to back the new deal and get Brexit done. #GetBrexitDone" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  23. ^ "Tories grab Twitter's attention with Comic Sans campaigning". The Irish News. October 22, 2019.
  24. ^ "Typography – Candara font family". Microsoft.
  25. ^ a b Diemand-Yauman, C.; Oppenheimer, D. M.; Vaughan, E. B. (2011). "Fortune favors the bold (and the italicized): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes". Cognition. 118 (1): 111–115. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.09.012. PMID 21040910. S2CID 1003005.
  26. ^ "The Educational Benefit of Ugly Fonts". Wired. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  27. ^ a b c Severs, Jon (6 October 2020). "Does Comic Sans really help dyslexic learners?". TES Magazine. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  28. ^ "Does Switching to Comic Sans Really Fix Writer's Block?". The Mary Sue. 2019-10-30. Retrieved 2022-06-26.
  29. ^ Baer, Drake (2017-03-07). "The Reason Comic Sans Is a Public Good". The Cut. Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  30. ^ "Creating a dyslexia friendly workplace". British Dyslexia Association. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  31. ^ Escamilla, Rebecca (March 27, 2015). "Comic Papyrus, A Complete Font Designed as a Mashup of Papyrus and Comic Sans". Laughing Squid.
  32. ^ "Toshi Omagari | Comic Code". tosche.net. Retrieved 2022-07-05.
  33. ^ "The designer of Comic Sans has only ever used his typeface once". NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. March 28, 2017. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  34. ^ "Not Funny: Fighting the Good Fight Against a Very Bad Font". The Boston Phoenix. June 3, 2005. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008.
  35. ^ "Ban Comic Sans official page". Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  36. ^ Goldberg, Emma (2019-10-09). "Hating Comic Sans Is Not a Personality". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-07-11.
  37. ^ Schofield, Jack (2009-08-12). "Computers draw a new chapter in comics". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  38. ^ Morris, Errol (August 8, 2012). "Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth (Part One)". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  39. ^ "Comic Sans Dag op 5 juli 2013 - Nieuws - NPO 3FM - Serious Radio". NPO 3FM Serious Radio. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  40. ^ "The Comic Sans creator explains how he made the world's most-hated font". the Guardian. 2014-06-04. Retrieved 2022-07-05.
  41. ^ Winston, Anna (27 November 2014). ""People who don't like Comic Sans don't know anything about design"". Retrieved 2022-07-05.
  42. ^ Vincent, James (8 April 2014). "Meet Comic Sans' successor: Comic Neue". The Independent. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  43. ^ Goldberg, Emma (9 October 2019). "Hating Comic Sans Is Not a Personality". The New York Times.
  44. ^ Hudgins, Lauren (2019-04-15). "Hating Comic Sans Is Ableist". The Establishment. Retrieved 2019-12-21. Comic Sans is recommended by the British Dyslexia Association and the Dyslexia Association of Ireland...People without dyslexia need empathy for those who need concessions to manage the disability.
  45. ^ Kinch, Tyler (2007-11-11). "NDP calls for ban on Comic Sans typeface". Kinch Blog. Tyler Kinch. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  46. ^ The Comic Sans Song | gunnarolla ft. Andrew Huang, retrieved 2022-11-06
  47. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (4 July 2012). "Higgs boson and Comic Sans: the perfect fusion". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  48. ^ "Higgs seminar picture" (JPG). CERN. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  49. ^ Latest update in the search for the Higgs boson. CERN. 4 July 2012. Event occurs at 51:07. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  50. ^ "CERN to switch to Comic Sans". CERN. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  51. ^ Chayka, Kyle (2013-12-31). "Wow this is doge". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-10-24.
  52. ^ "MagicPoint presentation foils". openbsd.org. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  53. ^ "LibreSSL". libressl.org. Archived from the original on 14 April 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  54. ^ Sotomayor, Bella Vanessa (December 15, 2016). "UNDERTALE: A Game That Is Still Amazing Today". ComicsVerse. Retrieved 20 March 2020. Some of the characters also have different fonts in their text boxes, which highlights their different personalities. For example, two brothers named Sans and Papyrus use the comic sans and papyrus fonts in their text boxes, respectively.
  55. ^ "THERE'S NOTHING COMIC ABOUT DYSLEXIA". www.nothingcomicaboutdyslexia.com. Retrieved 2022-11-09.

Further reading[edit]

Comic Sans Pro[edit]