I’m going to say it—if you hate Comic Sans, then you don’t really understand typography.
Comic Sans, hate it or hate it; you still know what it looks like, you’ve read it many times and mostly likely used it before. But why?
Well if you were born in the mid 90’s like myself, you’ll have used it without even thinking – you’ll of been on the Windows XP computer, applying it as a default to some strange abstract line art thing you created on MS Paint. And why did you do this? No-one bloody well knows, but you were a small child with access to hundreds of horrid RGB colours and about 3 fonts that didn’t look like a bank logo; you had only a few choices – Comic Sans & Arial and if you wanted to be a bit more historical, it’d be Papyrus. But I’m not going to try and even defend that thing, I don’t have the time or effort.
Comic Sans, or “Satan’s Hell Spawn Handwritting Fiery Super Horrible Death font” as it’s otherwise know was created by Vincent Connaré in 1994 for Microsoft and most likely the release of Windows 98. It was originally created for child friendly use on early windows operating systems; inspired by the lettering of Comic Books and the basic handwritting of small children, in an attempt to connect with that age group – of which it has connected with more children than anything else that I could think of.
It’s on the signs of Nursey Schools, it’s in every web browser and it’s in your mind. I know you can see it, “wow” written over a picture of a dog in luminous green; all the while hurting your eyes. I can see you picturing every terrible Christian comic spread you were ever handed with more Comic Sans in it than mentions of our lord and saviour.
But what if Comic Sans isn’t as terrible as you think? What if it’s just been used wrong and it’s really a typeface of genius? Or are you right, and it really is a steaming bag of dog excrement?
Either way, I don’t think it was created with any of this in mind, just the idea of making a font accessible for children wanting to use a computer. And you can’t hate anyone for that.
The font in question, in my personal view is actually quite a piece of brilliance. Yes it’s ugly but my god, everyone knows it, everyone loves to hate it and everyone was a child and at some point, and it looks bloody brilliant in your childish little eyes, gleaming away at all those pixels in front of you.
I believe Comic Sans is a brilliant font for many reasons and I’ll start with the most important—it’s friendly and children like it.
When you were a child, you didn’t care if that serif had a strong x-height and you didn’t care about all the ligatures that a modern serif could offer you; you wanted a font that’d look great on the card you made for your mum, or on that powerpoint you made for your cat. It’s a friendly font, nobody has ever struggled to read it and if I were 6 years old again I’d be right back on my old grey computer making colourful pieces of crap laden with the thing.
Secondly, not only is it friendly and easy to read, but it’s also had loads of research into how it helps people read with Dyslexia. There are lots of fonts that do this too, so when you grow up you can branch out the Century Gothic or Verdana. But when you are a small confused person, not understanding why the words on the page make no sense – this frankenstien’s monster can be your saving grace.
And finally, don’t hate the typeface, hate the person that plastering it on political campaigns and corporate flyers.
You don’t really hate it as an entity, you just hate how inappropriate it looks on a huge billboard.
Yes it has horrible angles, bowels and x-height but would using Helvetica really be the right choice on a handbook designed for 2 year olds?
If you actually hate the typeface itself, you don’t know enough about Typography. Because I doubt there will ever be a typeface with more impact or usability than Comic Sans.
There are hundreds of typefaces similar to it, that may be better or worse, but it alone created a whole era of humanist typefaces, and inspired a young generation of computer users.
So, if you are really a good designer, you’ll use a font for it’s suitability and not your own personal opinion. I will certainly never advise the use of it for any design brief, but if you can’t see the genius behind the ugly mask, then you should stop pretending you are right.