Comic Sans

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Comic Sans MS
ComicSansSpec3.svg
CategoryScript (typefaces)
Designer(s)Vincent Connare
FoundryMicrosoft
Date releasedOctober 1994; 26 years ago (1994-10)

Comic Sans MS is a sans-serif casual script 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 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 Windows 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 for which it was not intended, has been the subject of criticism and mockery.[3]

History[edit]

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

Microsoft designer Vincent Connare began work on Comic Sans in October 1994 after having already created child-oriented fonts for various applications. When he saw a beta version of Microsoft Bob that used Times New Roman in the word balloons of cartoon characters, he felt that the font gave the software an overly formal look inappropriate for a program intended to introduce younger users to computers. In order to make Microsoft Bob more accessible for its intended audience, he decided to create a new face 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 the face too late for inclusion in Microsoft Bob, but the programmers of Microsoft 3D Movie Maker, which also used cartoon guides and speech bubbles adopted it.[5] The speech bubbles eventually were 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, the font became one of the default fonts for Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Internet Explorer. The font is also used in Microsoft Comic Chat, which was released in 1996 with Internet Explorer 3.0.

Microsoft has reportedly claimed to retain in its collection the original Mac computer on which Comic Sans was created, but Connare has said that this is not correct as the computer in Microsoft's collection was his older personal computer.[6][7][better source needed]

Comic Sans is pre-installed in macOS and Windows Phone but not Android, iOS or Linux.[8]

Comic Sans Pro (2011)[edit]

Comic Sans Pro is an improved and expanded version created by Terrance Weinzierl from Monotype Imaging. While retaining the original classic design of the core characters, it adds new italic variants of the original fonts, swashes, small capitals, extra ornaments and symbols including speech bubbles, onomatopoeia and dingbats, as well as text figures and other stylistic alternates.[9][10][11] 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.[12][13][14]

The italic fonts later appeared in Windows 8.[15]

Reception and use in popular culture[edit]

A sandwich shop with a sign in Comic Sans

Installed on the majority of computers worldwide, Comic Sans saw widespread use. Within four years of its release on Windows, designers had begun to argue that it had become overused, often through use in serious and formal documents in which it could appear too informal or even as inappropriate and disrespectful.[3]

In 2017, it was reported that the designer of Comic Sans had only used his typeface once.[16]

Use in schools[edit]

According to a Twitter poll held by TES with 7,234 participants, approximately 44% of teachers use Comic Sans in teaching resources. Comic Sans is widely used in schools due to its high legibility. Other reasons include: [17]

  • That it is a suitable font for dyslexic students
  • That is a good font to model handwriting with due to the correct formatting of the lower-case letters 'a' and 'g'
  • That it is aesthetically pleasing to children

However, there is some research evidence to suggest that Comic Sans is more legible than other widely used fonts because of the wider spacing between its letters, not because of the shapes of the letters themselves.[17]

Opposition[edit]

The Boston Phoenix reported on disgruntlement over the widespread use of the font, 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".[18] 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, and in early 2009, the movement was "stronger now than ever".[4] The website's main argument is that a typeface should match the tone of its text and that the irreverence of Comic Sans is often at odds with a serious message, such as a "do not enter" sign.[19]

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.[20]

Comic book artist Dave Gibbons, whose work was one of the inspirations for the font, 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."[21]

Film producer and 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 fonts (Baskerville, Helvetica, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, and Computer Modern), makes readers slightly less likely to believe that a statement they are reading is true.[22]

Defense[edit]

Commenting on its critics and fans alike, Comic Sans designer Vincent 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."[23][24]

In the Netherlands, radio DJs Coen Swijnenberg and Sander Lantinga decided to celebrate the font 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.[25]

A 2010 Cognition research article 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. In the case studies cited in the article, Comic Sans was used to introduce disfluency.[26][27]

Comic Sans is amongst fonts recommended for dyslexics, as it has fewer rotated and mirror-image glyphs ("d" vs. "p" vs. "q") and is sans serif.[28][29] 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."[30]

Uses[edit]

It was used in the Sesame Street credits from 2003 to 2005.[citation needed]

In 2010 the Doge meme began, which would eventually become popular in 2013, consisting of different colored sets of words in broken English written in Comic Sans around the head of a Shiba Inu dog.

A defibrillator case in Monaco with a label in Comic Sans

A 2010 Princeton University study involving presenting students with text in a font slightly more difficult to read found that they consistently retained more information from material displayed in so-called disfluent or ugly fonts (Monotype Corsiva, Haettenschweiler, Comic Sans Italicized were used) than in a simple, more readable font such as Helvetica.[31]

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. One of the ways the letter was heavily derided was for its use of Comic Sans.[32][33][34]

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 the font in her presentation of the results.[35][36][37] As a 2014 April Fools' Day joke, CERN claimed that it would be switching all its publications to Comic Sans.[38]

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 look "ugly" and "cheap".[39]

On 3 September 2014, the normally staid Australian national newspaper 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 font.[40]

In April 2014, OpenBSD announced the LibreSSL project, claiming to have been the first to "weaponize" Comic Sans as a means for soliciting donations.[41][42]

In 2015, graphic designer Ben Harman created the font Comic Papyrus (later renamed "Comic Parchment" for legal reasons), which combines the features of Comic Sans with the similarly reviled font Papyrus.[43]

On 21 August 2015, a number of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's Syriza party members split and formed a new party, headed by Member of the Hellenic Parliament Panagiotis Lafazanis. The official document of resignation was allegedly written in Comic Sans.[44]

In the 2015 video game Undertale, the character Sans is a comic (i.e. comedian) named after the font. His dialogue is notably displayed in lowercase Comic Sans. He is paired with his brother named Papyrus, in reference to the font of the same name.[45]

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 criticism and derision on social media.[46]

In October 2019, when the 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 written in Comic Sans.[47]

In October 2019, as part of the United Kingdom's nation Brexit debate, the Conservative Party tweeted an image stating 'MPs must come together and get Brexit done' using Comic Sans.[48] The tweet was widely mocked, yet some commentators saw a deliberate attempt to use the font's notoriety to bring their message to a wider audience.[49]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben; Connare, Vincent; Stephens, Tom. "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. ^ a b 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. ^ Landry, Shane. "Twitter post". Twitter. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  7. ^ Connare, Vincent. "Twitter post". Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Font Family Reunion: Comic Sans MS". fontfamily.io. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  9. ^ "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". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Comic Sans Pro Typeface Family Makes its Debut". Archived from the original on 2011-04-03.
  11. ^ "Ascender 2010 font pack features" (PDF). PRWeb. Ascender. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Ascender releases new OpenType font pack for Microsoft Office 2010". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Ascender Releases New OpenType Font Pack for Microsoft Office 2010". PRWeb. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  15. ^ "New Typefaces for Windows 8". Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  16. ^ "The designer of Comic Sans has only ever used his typeface once". NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. March 28, 2017. Retrieved 2019-10-03.
  17. ^ a b "Does Comic Sans help dyslexic learners?". Tes. Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "Ban Comic Sans official page". Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Schofield, Jack (2009-08-12). "Computers draw a new chapter in comics". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  22. ^ Morris, Errol (August 8, 2012). "Hear, All Ye People; Hearken, O Earth (Part One)". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  23. ^ Vincent, James (8 April 2014). "Meet Comic Sans' successor: Comic Neue". The Independent. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  24. ^ Goldberg, Emma (9 October 2019). "Hating Comic Sans Is Not a Personality". The New York Times.
  25. ^ "Comic Sans Dag op 5 juli 2013 - Nieuws - NPO 3FM - Serious Radio". NPO 3FM Serious Radio. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  26. ^ "Fortune favors the Bold (and the Italicized): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-09-24. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  27. ^ "The Educational Benefit of Ugly Fonts". wired.com. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  28. ^ Baer, Drake (2017-03-07). "The Reason Comic Sans Is a Public Good". The Cut. Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  29. ^ "Creating a dyslexia friendly workplace". British Dyslexia Association. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ "Cavaliers: Open Letter to Fans from Cavaliers Majority Owner Dan Gilbert". 10 July 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-07-10.
  33. ^ "Cavs owner's letter mocked for Comic Sans font". cnn.com. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  34. ^ M. G. Siegler. "Cavs Owner Goes Online To Rip LeBron A New One... In Comic Sans". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  35. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (4 July 2012). "Higgs boson and Comic Sans: the perfect fusion". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  36. ^ "Higgs seminar picture" (JPG). CERN. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  37. ^ Latest update in the search for the Higgs boson. CERN. 4 July 2012. Event occurs at 51:07. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  38. ^ "CERN to switch to Comic Sans". CERN. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  39. ^ Remembering the dead with Comic Sans letters (in Dutch), Binnenlands Bestuur
  40. ^ "Comic Sans comes of age on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  41. ^ "MagicPoint presentation foils". openbsd.org. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  42. ^ "LibreSSL". libressl.org. Archived from the original on 14 April 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  43. ^ Escamilla, Rebecca (March 27, 2015). "Comic Papyrus, A Complete Font Designed as a Mashup of Papyrus and Comic Sans". Laughing Squid.
  44. ^ "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.
  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ Wilson, Mark (2019-10-08). "Trump's old lawyers really, really love Comic Sans". Fast Company. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  48. ^ https://twitter.com/Conservatives/status/1186650398037331968
  49. ^ https://www.irishnews.com/magazine/daily/2019/10/22/news/tories-grab-twitter-s-attention-with-comic-sans-campaigning-1745840/

Further reading[edit]

Comic Sans Pro[edit]