Thursday, April 23, 2009

Eliminate Comic Sans? No Joke!

There seems to be a movement afoot. The crusade features a font. A typically clichéd piece of type appears to irritate a whole heckuva lotta folks.

I'm not talking about a revolution, but a quiet uprising against one of the most overused computer fonts...Comic Sans.

First things first. Not sure why Softpedia produced the graphic, above. But it pretty much covers the argument for eliminating Comic Sans from typography, as we know it.

Second things second. I come from a long line of "Old School" journalistas. I freakin' studied typography in college. The digital revolution...which started with PCs and has spread in so many different directions since then...has cheapened typography, in a way.

It's just too dang easy these days to have "fun with fonts," as they say. Like the folks who go crazy with clutter, in writing, in words, in their lives. They favor the quantity over quality argument, and standards be damned!

When I studied typefaces, ranging from Bookman to New Century to Bodoni & beyond, typography was an art. I think it still is, in places. But Comic Sans, apparently invented 15 years ago by a Microsoft Geek, makes this whole font business seem tawdry in a way.

There's a reason Times New Roman has that particular appelation. Ever heard of that Old Gray Lady, The New York Times? Bodoni, used in many newspaper headlines to this day, first surfaced in 18th-Century Italian books published by the font's creator, Giambattista Bodoni; an offshoot, Poster Bodoni, communicates the "Mama Mia!" message on Broadway posters, according to Wikipedia.

Emily Steel, writing in the online Wall Street Journal, says Comic Sans was designed to look like comic book lettering.

"The jolly typeface has spawned the Ban Comic Sans movement, nearly a decade old but stronger now than ever, thanks to the Web," Steel writes in her article, entitled "Typeface Inspired by Comic Books Has Become a Font of Ill Will."

The mission of the Ban Comic Sans movement is "to eradicate this font," Steel says in her article. Detractors claim that using Comic Sans in any publication is "analogous to showing up for a black-tie event in a clown costume," she reports.

OK, Comic Sans is seen by some as fun. It's light. It's bubbly. But overused. I reckon I don't have enough time to join any kind of movement, especially one dedicated to the way folks shape their messages in print. But I can urge you to try another avenue.

One uses words to create meaning. The argument can be made that a silly clown font might detract from that meaning. Think about it.

Editor's Note: Yet another of Mrs. Scribe's contributions to the Random Complexity Writing Challenge: 435 words.


LadyStyx said...

Personally, I love that font...when it's used in the right settings. In banner for a family or child's website, yes. In the IM boxes, yes...if you like. For an fonting in an award, or little sticker for a web page, great. But in a blog that's going to have advertising on it or a place where you want or need to be taken seriously, nope. Like everything else, there's a time and place for it.

Tara R. said...

For fun things, Sans Comic is fine, but like LadyStyx, I find it difficult to take something written in it too seriously.

I would even look at a business card with SC as unprofessional.

Deanna said...

Seriously! Don't people have better, more creative things to do with their life than to eradicate fonts!

Marrdy said...

I love to use Comic Sans when doing handouts at church. I think people need to worry about world peace and leave poor Comic Sans alone!

Susie said...

I guess I don't see the problem with the font?? I guess if people are that content, they need to find discontentment in something...anything!

Lynda said...

I think it's one of those fonts good for certain situations... wouldn't want to see it on a death notice - lol

Tracy P. said...

This is interesting! Since I majored in el. ed. and had to handwrite ad nauseum until I perfected manuscript for the chalkboard, I have considered Comic Sans a very good approximation of what a second grader's handwriting should look like if the letters are formed correctly. Your sample looks different from the comic sans I know, and its letters are not formed they way I would teach. (Missing m and u's tails, not rounded circle on p and a, for examples.) I would move to ban that sample too.

On second thought, that sounds a lot like censorship. We don't really want to go there, do we? ;-)

I'm with Lady Styx--there's a time and place for these things.

MammaDawg said...

Ditto to Lady Styx - a time and place. Besides, presentation is key, isn't it??

Yeah, I'm Still Here... said...

I admit it, I'm a font junkie! Mostly handwriting fonts and doodles for fun. But I'm on your side here, I'm sick of comic sans. It lacks creativity and its definitely NOT for anything professional. I just hate it when I see that happen!

HappyChyck said...

Comic Sans doesn't bother me much. There are times when it's nice not to take things so seriously.

Shawn said...

I like different fonts----and I think that it is great to have so many to choose from----and even little Comic Sans has a place.

People have too much time on their hands....

mannequin said...

Being a Mac user, I stand accused of playing with fonts. I look at fonts as an accessory to my writing but using that gosh darn Comic Sans for anything other than lighthearted humour is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

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Anonymous said...

"I love to use Comic Sans when doing handouts at church."

That doesn't say much about Comic Sans per se, but the fact that Comic Sans is omnipresent and omnipotent in church handouts says a lot about the joke of "organized religion".

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