Nothing Is Scarier than Comic Sans

Jim Hamilton
Oct 31, 2011

As we celebrate Halloween today, I wonder how many of you (at least those of you who love words and typography as much as I do) would agree that there is nothing scarier than the use of Comic Sans in the hands of the design-challenged.

Now Comic Sans is a fine typeface as long as it appears in bubbles over cartoon characters’ heads. Released by Microsoft in 1994, its intent was to be a casual font for informal documents. It’s not exactly the font you would choose for a wedding invitation, a late payment notice, or a tombstone. Except that’s what I’m seeing. Not those choices exactly, but ones just like them. And of course I am not alone in my distaste for this typeface. Comic Sans is probably the most despised font on the planet. Just Google it and you’ll see. A good example of this movement is the Ban Comic Sans web site. Their motto: “Putting the Sans in Comic Sans.”

In this blog I will show you two examples of really bad font choices and both involve Comic Sans:

Comic Sans - Political lawn sign

School Committee political poster from Weymouth, Massachusetts

Exhibit A: I think Weymouth school committee member Gail Sheehan should get her money back, unless in some passive-aggressive fashion this is what she really wanted her political poster to look like. Who chooses Comic Sans for their re-election poster? Does she want to be taken seriously? The “Re-elect” in the upper left hand corner is so small that it practically whispers. And Comic Sans makes it seem like a whispery whine. Re-elect me, please?

Posterboard at Steve Job’s memorial in front of the Apple Computer building in Cupertino, California

Posterboard at Steve Jobs' memorial in front of the Apple Computer building in Cupertino, California

Exhibit B: Maybe this is Steve Jobs’ reward for having been at the center of the desktop publishing revolution. When an admirer dedicates a poster on his passing, they choose Comic Sans to honor him. What were they thinking? Was irony at play? Doesn’t he deserve Copperplate or Franklin Gothic or Garamond? Geez Louise! Even one of the original Macintosh fonts, San Francisco, for example, though ugly would have been a fitting choice.

Anyway, enough font ranting for now. Happy Halloween!

P.S. There’s a kerning game (really) called KernType. My guess is that if you have read this far you will enjoy it. If not, then have a ball with Comic Sans.

P.P.S. Thanks to Ed Lee for the Steve Jobs memorial photo!

P.P.P.S. See below for my frightening costume for the company Halloween contest.

Comic Sans costume

Comic Sans costume

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