The Tragedy of Comic Sans

With all apologies to Milton Glaser.

Oh Comic Sans… few typefaces evoke such strong emotion as our quirky little friend. Whether you love it  (Slightly-NSFW, salty language) or hate it, you have an opinion on it. Just what is it about Comic Sans that 10-year olds love, and makes designers cry?

Comic Sans has been adorning bake-sale posters and fourth grade report covers since its release in 1994. Designed to be reminiscent of comic-book lettering, Comic Sans was intended to appeal to children, and for use in informal documents.

Good ‘ole CS does have its good points. What grade-schooler doesn’t like breaking free from the chains of double-spaced Arial or Times New Roman, and busting out the Comic Sans? To a kid, it is definitely not “boring.” It also finds a strange home among the dyslexic community, the shape of its letters makes it highly legible to those suffering from dyslexia.

The problem, however, is that Comic Sans is everywhere.

Need to write a passive aggressive note for the office kitchen? BAM! Comic Sans! Something kid friendly? POW! Comic Sans! Ground breaking scientific discovery? BANG! You’d better believe it’s Comic Sans!

There might be a time and a place for Comic Sans, but it clearly has a way of worming its way in where it doesn’t belong.

The worst thing, I feel, about Comic Sans, is that it can become a crutch for designers who don’t want to go the extra mile. In the same way that Trajan has become the default typeface for movie posters, and Papyrus for anything nature related, Comic Sans has become the default choice in design for kids and other “fun” things.

Rather than building up a good design, and using other supporting elements to make something kid friendly, it is just easier to throw in some Comic Sans, and call it a day. It’s gotten to the point where people (shudder) will ask for it to be used. Comic Sans is the lazy man’s solution.

Is there redemption for Comic Sans?

In the future, one can only hope that it will fall out of fashion, as countless other typefaces have in the past. As people become more and more design-literate, onc can only hope that its use will diminish until seeing it used is no longer an immediate offense. Until that happens, remember, friends don’t let friends use Comic Sans.




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