Defending Comic Sans: a design underdog and 90s classic

In the vast world of typography, one font often finds itself at the centre of controversy and ridicule – Comic Sans. Widely criticised for its perceived lack of sophistication, Comic Sans has become the underdog of fonts, enduring endless jokes and memes. However, I'm here to present the case for the defence. Let's take a moment to appreciate this unconventional typeface and consider the reasons why it shouldn't be dismissed outright.
Tags: Blog, Accessibility

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In the vast world of typography, one font often finds itself at the centre of controversy and ridicule – Comic Sans. Widely criticised for its perceived lack of sophistication, Comic Sans has become the underdog of fonts, enduring endless jokes and memes. However, I’m here to present the case for the defence. Let’s take a moment to appreciate this unconventional typeface and consider the reasons why it shouldn’t be dismissed outright.

A brief journey into history

Comic Sans was designed by Vincent Connare in 1994 and was originally intended for use in the speech balloons of Microsoft Bob, a graphical interface for Windows 95. The font was inspired by the lettering style found in comic books, aiming to infuse a conversational and friendly tone into the digital environment. Little did Connare know that his creation would go on to spark both affection and disdain on a global scale for decades to come. In the end Comic Sans was never used for Microsoft Bob, instead they kept the oringal Times New Roman font. With Comic Sans getting its debut on Microsoft 3D Movie Maker.

Breaking the mold

Comic Sans dares to break away from the conventional, often sterile appearance of other fonts. Its playful and informal style can inject a sense of lightheartedness into otherwise serious content. In a world saturated with rigid design norms, Comic Sans stands out as a rebel, challenging the status quo. 

Accessibility for all

As champions of accessibility, we are particularly passionate about this point. One of the unsung virtues of Comic Sans is its readability, especially for individuals with dyslexia. Research suggests that the irregular shapes and varying heights of the letters in Comic Sans can make it easier for dyslexic readers to distinguish between characters. By embracing Comic Sans, we contribute to a more inclusive design landscape, ensuring that everyone can access and comprehend information effortlessly.

90s nostalgia and whimsy

Comic Sans has become a symbol of nostalgia for many who grew up with early computer technology in the 90s. Its association with the early days of personal computing, along with its whimsical appearance, can evoke a sense of nostalgia and playfulness. Using Comic Sans intentionally can tap into this sentiment, adding a touch of charm to your design. It’s even got its own merchandise.

Unexpected versatility

While Comic Sans might not be suitable for formal documents or corporate branding (by ‘might’ I mean very, very unlikely), it does have its place in certain contexts. The informal, friendly vibe it exudes can be appropriate for projects related to children, hobbies, or casual events. Embracing the versatility of Comic Sans allows us to explore its potential in the right setting, rather than dismissing it outright.

Design freedom and individuality

Critics argue that Comic Sans lacks professionalism, but sometimes breaking away from convention can be a powerful statement. In a world where conformity often reigns supreme, using Comic Sans can be an act of rebellion, asserting individuality and freedom in design choices. It encourages us to question preconceived notions and embrace diversity in all its forms, even in the realm of typography.

It’s not the font, it’s the application

In the spirited debate over fonts, Comic Sans deserves a fair chance. Instead of perpetuating the mockery, let’s appreciate its unique qualities, including readability for dyslexic readers, a touch of nostalgia, and unexpected versatility. By embracing Comic Sans in the right contexts

And here’s the thing, Comic Sans isn’t the problem, it’s how people use it. Fonts, no matter whether they are cool or uncool, will look awkward when used in the wrong context. Comic Sans (and these are some real-world examples of leaflets and posters out there in the real world) shouldn’t be blamed when people decide to use it as their font of choice for a:

  • leaflet about Domestic Violence
  • ‘Funeral Service in Progress’ sign 
  • poster warning of a ‘threadworm outbreak at this nursery’

Instead of perpetuating the mockery, let’s appreciate its unique qualities in the right contexts. By doing so, we foster a more inclusive, playful, and open-minded approach to design. After all, design is about communication, and Comic Sans has something to say – let’s give it the chance to speak without the burden of inappropriate associations.

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