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Comic Sans
August 23, 2007 10:59 AM   Subscribe


 
Gray font on a black background, that's the kind of crap one could expect from the maker of Comic Sans.
posted by jefbla at 11:07 AM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whatever. It's still the smallest and most readable font for the Blackberry. For that reason alone, I think Mr. Vincent Connare.
posted by psmealey at 11:10 AM on August 23, 2007


You think so?
posted by dersins at 11:18 AM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Dark Knight Returns a Batman book was one of the books I referenced often.

The world's worst typeface is derived from Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", a fantastic graphic novel - my irony meter just exploded.
posted by GuyZero at 11:18 AM on August 23, 2007


So wait, at his home page, when you hover over the links, the badly miscolored bitmaps of text get enlarged without any smoothing, so becoming blocky and repulsive. This is a guy who designs fonts? Truly, I believe he wants to taste the curb!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:20 AM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Horatio Sanz really is a poor comedian. Look at him on Saturday Night Live: always laughing at his own jokes, mugging for the camera, losing it in the middle of a horrible setup.

Ban "Comic" Sanz NOW.

Wait, what?
posted by infinitewindow at 11:20 AM on August 23, 2007 [13 favorites]


Mr Connare makes some bullshit justification for the worst font ever created.

IT'S BAD DESIGN, VINNIE. BAD. Just admit you made something ugly and move on.
posted by grubi at 11:22 AM on August 23, 2007


He's not that bad once you get to know him.
posted by arialblack at 11:22 AM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Man when I was thirteen this was hands down: The. Coolest. Font. Ever.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:25 AM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


It seems to me the problem isn't Comic Sans as a font. There are *way* uglier fonts out there - just look at this crap to see some.

It seems to me the problem is that the font is misused. Which isn't the problem of the font designer. It's the problem of the graphic artists who can't judge the utility of a particular font for a particular purpose.
posted by MythMaker at 11:27 AM on August 23, 2007 [8 favorites]




I hate Arial, Tahoma and Impact. A lot.

Which is sad because Impact is a decent font.

I guess I should just be glad that Microgamma remains mostly unsullied.


Oh, right, topic. Comic Sans was designed by a Microsoft employee? That explains a whole lot. Like the terrible metrics and em-spacing. Sweet Jesus, the pain!

But hating on it is like hating on your retarded kid brother for drooling on his own birthday cake.

Signed,

ETAOIN
SHRDLU
posted by loquacious at 11:32 AM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wow. Font hate. Trippy.
posted by zennie at 11:39 AM on August 23, 2007


The Dark Knight Returns a Batman book was one of the books I referenced often.

Man, if anyone doubts the wisdom in RTFA, I was this close to relettering the last Joker scene in TDKR with Comic Sans when I read the next sentence:

I took care not to copy the letters but looked at varying shapes in different styles.

You win this round, Connare!
*Closes Photoshop, cancels torrent*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:42 AM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, man MythMaker, you just made me flashback to my childhood, getting a bonus CD of "1002 WACKY FONTS" included with my printer, and using them everywhere.

My Dad's genealogy records still have the occasional title page printed in this hideously tacky "ye olde signpost"-style font called Ironwood, because he didn't know how to use a computer and I was twelve.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:50 AM on August 23, 2007


You win this round, Connare!

I dunno, I mean.

This still makes me wonder if the guy who came up with Clippy was inspired by Sandman. "What's the next best nightmare after The Corinthian... ... ...?"

"EUREKA."
posted by sparkletone at 11:51 AM on August 23, 2007 [6 favorites]


It's a great font. For comic books. He's not claiming it should be a general purpose font, he's just claiming it has a place, which it does. What's he supposed to do, include an EULA that says "I WILL NOT USE THIS FONT FOR GENERAL WEB SITES OR DOCUMENTS"?

The font-hate is misdirected - hate the masses of aesthetically-challenged designers who misuse it.
posted by chundo at 11:53 AM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Comic Sans is pretty terrible, but nothing will remove Zapf Chancery as the most abused, most horrible font ever in my book.
posted by maxwelton at 11:55 AM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a great font. For comic books.

No. No, it really isn't.

(By the bye, Comics Should Be Good's fun 365 Reasons to Love Comics feature is taking a look at letterers and their craft this week!)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:03 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think the real fault lies with the idiot that made it a default system font in windows.
posted by empath at 12:06 PM on August 23, 2007


Oh thanks a bunch for reminding me maxwelton. Zapf Chancery -- the type equivalent of The Game....
posted by i_cola at 12:08 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


The font-hate is misdirected - hate the masses of aesthetically-challenged designers who misuse it.

My Biochemistry professor used Comic Sans for the homework assignments. He is a bit of a goof, smart as hell, but I wouldn't call him a designer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:08 PM on August 23, 2007


It seems to me the problem is that the font is mis used.

There you go.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:10 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


The whole rambling "I made this font out of a paperclip and something I found under my desk" explanation kind of fits.

And yeah, it's not a bad font. It's a perfectly decent font. It has its uses, and as a pinch-hitter in the basic-fonts utilikilt it'd be fine.

It's like that band your buddy is in, the four piece that mostly does the same bluesrock cover set with the occasional so-so original that the bassist wrote. They play out a bit, people have a good time, they've recorded a couple basement demos, and that's about it. You'd have to be an asshole to give them shit for doing their thing and doing it serviceably and having a good time.

Unless they started getting airplay every hour, every day, on every radio station and music channel and car commercial in the nation. For years. Every iPod, every CD player, every DVD player and game console came with their music preinstalled. People would email you with their cover of "Bad to the Bone" embedded. Posters everywhere—for bake sales, for company memos, for other bands—with their faces on it.

That's when shit gets tired. That's Comic Sans.
posted by cortex at 12:13 PM on August 23, 2007 [50 favorites]


Jesus H. Christ, this Connare guy is a dumb asshole. First, he throws a sucker punch at Apple with its Chalkboard — which is made to look like letters drawn on a chalkboard (surprise, surprise) and not ape letters in a comic book — and then he calls Mac OS X "OS/X".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a font. You may as well rail against oil paints because you think watercolors are the shit.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:15 PM on August 23, 2007


Comic Sans used in business correspondence is the height of bad taste. Save it for bake sale flyers.

Instead of trying to fight it, I just nuke Comic Sans from my personal 'puters, and it falls back to a sans-serif when a CS-using message lands in my In Box. Everybody wins.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:22 PM on August 23, 2007


and then he calls Mac OS X "OS/X"

Oh my god, worst tragedy ever to occur on American soil. I think we have secret courts for this type of crime.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:23 PM on August 23, 2007 [7 favorites]


Typography freaks amaze me with their unfailing ability to confuse their own dislike with objective suckfullness. (Of course they're not along in that capacity. Replublicans are pretty good at it, too.)

As far as I can see, the actual reason for the fact that Comic Sans is so roundly despised is that it's chosen by so many inexperienced users.

It's a low-status typeface, in a nutshell. And that's pretty much it.

And heaven forbid we don't denigrate the choices of inexperienced users. Instead of, you know, like maybe trying to figure out why they made those choices.
posted by lodurr at 12:23 PM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


I like Comic Sans because it's used in Jerkcity.
posted by pieoverdone at 12:27 PM on August 23, 2007


It's a great font. For comic books.

No, it's an ass font for comics. Trust me on this. Comic Sans is the only thing in the world that looks worse than my hand-lettering. and my handwriting sucks like an atomic Hoover. There are lots of great fonts for comics lettering, but Comic Sans sure as shit ain't one of them.

That said, I got an insane amount of respect back in 1997 when I had my name and address on my checks printed in Comic Sans.
posted by COBRA! at 12:32 PM on August 23, 2007


I dunno, it kind of seems appropriately used in the codinghorror.com link, advertising "luftballongas" (helium?)
posted by exogenous at 12:37 PM on August 23, 2007


So this guy, aside from having the most hideous website of any designer I have ever seen, is responsible for both Comic Sans and Webdings? Does he kick puppies in his spare time?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:43 PM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


Comic Sans isn't the worst font.

Sand is.

There's a store in downtown Berkeley that has its signage done in Sand. One day I'm going to burn that motherfucker down. I have no idea what services they offer, or what wares they sell, I'm going to burn it to the ground for that affront.
posted by lekvar at 12:54 PM on August 23, 2007 [11 favorites]


Apparently, it is one of the most easily read fonts if you're dyslexic...

I'm stuck with it... even though I hate it. At least we moved away from from Dom Casual.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:00 PM on August 23, 2007


Comic Sans is extremely useful in deciding who you want to talk to. You don't want to talk to anyone who uses Comic Sans.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:04 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


And yet Fraktur, which is a lovely blackletter typeface, was used by the Nazis. At last, until they decided it was Jewish.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:06 PM on August 23, 2007


lekvar, the signs at Bette's Oceanview Diner are all done in Sand. Oy. As was a recent Captain Morgan's campaign. Billboards. In Sand.

Years ago, a friend and I were going to (erm, fantasizing about) write a virus which did one thing: deleted Sand from people's hard drives. I still think it's a great idea. Perhaps the only idea worth having, even.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:12 PM on August 23, 2007


There's a lot of good, expressive hand lettering in comics that would also be useful on a computer screen, as an informal font, but Comic Sans is miles away from that. Put it next to some good hand lettering and you'll see how weak it is. Calling it Comic Sans is an insult to comics. Let's rename it...
posted by Termite at 1:13 PM on August 23, 2007


Papyrus is another bundled star. I see it everywhere. The artificial aging makes it stand out among the other bundled fonts, making it an easy choice for the casual / non designer. A comment on typophile provided a good explanation for some of the font rage:
Papyrus is a well done face. It is just that because of the ’faux antique’ roughness it is cloying after a while. In this respect the comparison with Comic Sans is very apt. Its positive qualities make it popular. Its affectations (faux antique, faux child-like) make it very irritating with overuse.
posted by lucidprose at 1:18 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Sand is uniquely terrible, but I think that it's not as bad as Comic Sans, simply because at least Sand is obviously bad, and not meant for anything but titling. Comic Sans is "stealth bad." It's just good enough that someone who doesn't know better can look at it and say 'gee, that's cool.' Only, it really isn't cool at all.

Kinda like fanny packs.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:21 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


I have to admit it worked really well in Sims. Maybe that had something to do with the prevalence of anti-aliased, white on blue text.
posted by chef_boyardee at 1:24 PM on August 23, 2007


To All: Your favorite font sucks.
Your most hated font is great.

That will be all, move along...



Oh, and East Manitoba: What's worse than the lack of smoothing is the fact that as intimated by his home page, Vincent is a hot blonde......
posted by Debaser626 at 1:28 PM on August 23, 2007


There's a store in downtown Berkeley that has its signage done in Sand.

Ah, Venus. I heard it was pretty good but never bothered to try it. It may have been the sign that kept me out.
posted by pmbuko at 1:31 PM on August 23, 2007


I never had a huge problem with Comics Sans. I agree: it tends to get used a bit too indiscriminetly, but it wasn't super offensive.

Then I read this article.

And foudn out it originated with Microsoft Bob.

For that reason along, it shoud die.

*sudders* Microsoft frakin' Bob!
posted by MrGuilt at 1:51 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm somewhat art savvy, have some sense of style and design... but I have never understood the vituperative nature of font fights. I really don't get it. It's not that I love Comic Sans... it's just that I don't care that much.

I have friends in graphic design (or graphuck DEE-sign, as they like to say) that can barely look at something because the kerning is bad.

I feel like I must have the font equivalent of tone deafness.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:52 PM on August 23, 2007 [10 favorites]


The worst typography I've ever seen was back when I was designing ads for a local newspaper. A fellow "graphic designer" broke out the Zaph Chancery in 60 point type, but didn't stop there - add an outline, a shadow and an underline, plus crude hinted faux-bold, and you've got one for the record books.

Sand is garbage, too; should have been left behind with Mac OS 9.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:54 PM on August 23, 2007


This font hate is kind of lame. Sure, printed birthday party invitations in Comic Sans indicates half-assed parenting. But those same invitations in Times New Roman? Then you weren't trying at all.

The only thing worse is this guy's immense pride in making comic sans. You were at microsoft for years and your only accomplishment was the font that the "wacky guy" at work uses for his friday e-mails? That's not something I'd keep bringing up voluntarily.
posted by Gary at 2:06 PM on August 23, 2007


I will admit... bad kerning gives me hives. My friends just kind of sympathetically pat me on the shoulder, not really understanding.

I went on a two year tirade against Hobo & Peignot. I'm better now. My meds are working.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:07 PM on August 23, 2007


One summer I worked as a media liaison officer for a branch of the Canadian government. We basically reviewed documents and pamphlets and the like, and made sure that they conformed to proper government standards and templates.

Comic Sans was a big no-no, one that we had to constantly tell people promoting their summer fun time events in small towns they could not use. We were the government, after all, we can't have our official presence made in such a lame and dinky font!

One day I got my hands on an official proclamation, the kind of thing passed down through departments direct from the policy makers. Very official looking, with fancy seals, printed on ye olde proclamation type stock... in Comic Sans.
posted by yellowbinder at 2:13 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I like Comic Sans. It's good for what it's good for.

Hate the user, not the font.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:14 PM on August 23, 2007


cortex: "Posters everywhere—for bake sales, for company memos, for other bands—with their faces on it."

Hold on a minute. Looping back around here, you're saying people use Comic Sans to advertise other fonts? Non-facetiously?
posted by Plutor at 2:18 PM on August 23, 2007


It goes all the way to the top.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:27 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I went on a two year tirade against Hobo & Peignot. I'm better now. My meds are working.
I'll never be able to watch Mary Tyler Moore again.
posted by verb at 2:35 PM on August 23, 2007


There's a store in downtown Berkeley that has its signage done in Sand. One day I'm going to burn that motherfucker down. I have no idea what services they offer, or what wares they sell, I'm going to burn it to the ground for that affront.

lekvar, do you remember the name of the business?
posted by brundlefly at 2:36 PM on August 23, 2007


Many years ago I was involved in redesigning some (state) government web sites, and I distinctly remember Comic Sans being a design requirement.

I don't know who sent out the memo, but apparently Comic Sans was determined to be the most readable font on a monitor and therefore, through some perversion of 508 accessibility guidelines, was used extensively on these government-related sites.

Just imagine: Bureaucratic government-speak, presented in 14-point Comic Sans. Some very special parts of my brain and soul withered and died during that project.
posted by krippledkonscious at 2:42 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ha ha, Microsoft Bob.

When I was, oh, 13 or so...I enjoyed making sure that outside all the windows in our "house," the view was of a flock of cardboard boxes flying over a cowfield.

I think my mom might have actually used that program to like, do stuff, though. Maybe she typed our Christmas newsletter on there? Something like that.
posted by lampoil at 2:44 PM on August 23, 2007


Hold on a minute. Looping back around here, you're saying people use Comic Sans to advertise other fonts? Non-facetiously?

Those second vikings were metaphorical, Plutor.
posted by cortex at 2:47 PM on August 23, 2007


People who get that worked up over a font... I just... I... I just can't take them seriously.

Not even a little.

It seems to me the problem is that the font is misused. Which isn't the problem of the font designer. It's the problem of the graphic artists who can't judge the utility of a particular font for a particular purpose.
posted by MythMaker at 1:27 PM on August 23


You always hear about "this font sucks", and usually Comic Sans gets the lion's share of abuse. I sometimes use it on Instant Messenger because it is very easy to read, especially when you are just glancing. Legibility trumps aesthetics in those kind of applications.

But, what I never hear are what are good fonts. What SHOULD I use? Can someone give me 3-4 fonts that I can use without incurring wrath of some sort or another? Or, in extreme cases, have my building burned down over?

Put more pointedly, are there any standard fonts in Windows XP that are acceptable? Or should I just refuse to write or print anything unless I am willing to pay out for a boutique font?

I mean, there are complaints against at least 8 or 9 standard Windows fonts in the comments above. I'm not sure I can find any font in Word that will pass muster.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:57 PM on August 23, 2007


If there's one thing Comic Sans is good at, it's as an indicator font.

It's the "I don't really know what I'm doing" font. Which is fine for the amateur who just needs to make up a flyer for a church group or bake sale or whatever. They're not getting paid, they just wanted to pick out an okay-looking font without too much hassle.

But, when you see it in a professional context, you know the person who made that design choice was lazy, because they went for the most "fun" font that they already had on their computer, the same one everyone else uses. Like the menus at Fresh Choice. Someone wasn't trying very hard.

It's like when a child bangs out a pretty serviceable tune on the piano using only the white keys, that's fine and dandy, but if a professional does it, they're being lazy.
posted by Durhey at 3:01 PM on August 23, 2007


Well, that ended up pretty much the same as Cortex's analogy.
posted by Durhey at 3:03 PM on August 23, 2007


But, what I never hear are what are good fonts.

Helvetica is lovely and clean and versatile; there's a reason people heap praise on it. I don't think it's standard on Windows boxes, sadly (presumably because it's cheaper to produce a knockoff than to license it?).

Verdana works pretty dang well in screen contexts—not universally loved, but undeniably strong. Readable even at relatively low pt sizes, generous x-height.

Arial Black makes for good headliners. I don't really like reading a lot of text in it, but as a big bold outline-text font it's hard to knock it.

Georgia and Palatino Linotype both make nice alternatives to Times New Roman; I have a weird fondness for the latter, though I'm not sure it's really popular.

I'm not a typographer—this is armchair, populist stuff. But there are plenty of people saying nice things about fonts out there, if you look for it.
posted by cortex at 3:08 PM on August 23, 2007 [14 favorites]


I never understood font hate.
posted by caddis at 3:09 PM on August 23, 2007


I never understood font hate.

Oh, I get it. I know that some people are passionate about many things that bore many more others to tears. I also know that I am one of these people, though not about fonts. But still, yeah. Font hate? Doesn't make it seem any less silly to me.

But back off my stamp collection, biatches.
posted by psmealey at 3:19 PM on August 23, 2007


Typography arguments are the wankiest things ever.
posted by Joeforking at 3:21 PM on August 23, 2007


Philately will get you nowhere, my dear psmealey.
posted by cortex at 3:22 PM on August 23, 2007 [6 favorites]


brundlefly-
as pmbuko mentioned its called called Venus. It's near Jupiter if I'm remembering correctly.

And now I've got a mental image of the signage stuck in my head and all the bleach and paint thinner in the world won't make it come out.
posted by lekvar at 3:25 PM on August 23, 2007


People like the font because it's easily read and looks informal and fun, This approachability makes some people hate it with a passion. It's like catchy pop music.

See, for instance, this: "although young kids do tend to like it, but they haven't yet formed an appreciation of aesthetics relating to design at the age of five, so they don't count" or this: "Comic Sans might look fun and quirky to you, but it's painful to the rest of us who have a smidgen of design sense."

I don't particularly understand the level of vitriol directed towards the typeface. Tackiness is not a moral failure.
posted by factory123 at 3:35 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter's not looking too good...
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:49 PM on August 23, 2007


I feel sorry for comic sans. Its the kind of thing you love as a kid then hate as an adult. Then you find other adults who hate it and pat each other on the back. In a way its a lot like Limp Bizkit.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:53 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Helvetica is lovely and clean and versatile; there's a reason people heap praise on it. I don't think it's standard on Windows boxes, sadly (presumably because it's cheaper to produce a knockoff than to license it?).

What's wrong with a "knockoff"? I mean, you can make one font look visually identical to another, the only thing you have to "license" is the Name (which can be trademarked). Arial isn't exactly the same as Helvetica, but it's very similar and most letters are the same. The only reason to prefer Helvetica to Arial is snobbery.

That said, when I see Arial, I generally find it ugly, boring, and 'default' like the person didn't even bother to pick something interesting. I Don't feel the same was with Verdana, perhaps because it was designed for the screen in the first place.
posted by delmoi at 4:00 PM on August 23, 2007


Don't understand font hate? okay, here's the thing.

If you write code, are capable of instantly dissecting the work anybody does, so highly strung that you have to chant a mantra after every workday phone call to get yourself back in the zone, you will still never once say, 'Christ, if that stupid programmer had bothered to test values BEFORE making them global, I wouldn't still be waiting for the gas pump to clear my card,' because you never see the code. Horrific bits of lame-arse programming are all around you, but you never have to know.

When you're a designer and you see something bad, you register what's bad about it by reflex. And graphic designers are not compensated well-enough to insulate their lives from all ugly things.
posted by ardgedee at 4:18 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


What's wrong with a "knockoff"?

Nothing, in principle. But if part of your knocking-off process is changing things a bit just so to show that you didn't just totally copy the font, and the end result is as a result of those changes not quite right, well, feh. If you're going to copy, copy.
posted by cortex at 4:23 PM on August 23, 2007


> The only reason to prefer Helvetica to Arial is snobbery.

I don't care if you're tone deaf, don't try to convince me your kazoo is a piano.

Arial looks better than Helvetica on-screen at small resolutions because it was designed to be used that way. On printed documents it's acceptable mostly because it was born ugly, and the system standard text settings forced on it can't really make it worse.

Helvetica really is a more handsome font in most of its current popular renderings. I still remember the 1980s when every laser printer and even some impact printers had proprietary Helvetica-ish renderings, uniformly ugly. Using Helvetica or Times (with something garish from Image Club for the titles) was the signature of the Desktop Publisher who called himself a Designer simply because he could afford the computer hardware and didn't have any friends who cared to contradict him. People sensitive to good design used Univers or Futura when they needed a good-looking sans, to emphasize that they weren't Desktop Publishers.
posted by ardgedee at 4:31 PM on August 23, 2007 [8 favorites]


Sometimes I used Comic Sans... a couple times you know. Shit. I dig Helvetica Neue now.
posted by kylefreund at 4:41 PM on August 23, 2007


Years ago, a friend and I were going to (erm, fantasizing about) write a virus which did one thing: deleted Sand from people's hard drives. I still think it's a great idea.

For years I've dreamt about doing the same thing to Matisse.
posted by thatswherebatslive at 4:42 PM on August 23, 2007


Cortex: "...Unless they started getting airplay every hour, every day, on every radio station and music channel and car commercial in the nation..."

You just described an element of my heaven, Cortex.

A world in which radio stations played bands with no resources that love what they do, as opposed to the superficial twaddle currently passing for pop, or the worn path of the Middle of the Road from the past half century ad infinitum.

I now take back everything bad I ever had bad to say about that font. If you're comparing that font to those bands, then Color me Sans, man. Color me Sans!
posted by ZachsMind at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus folks, people who have issues with a font, well they have issues. Get back on your meds. Either that or you are trying way, way too hard to be cool by putting something else down. (I don't know, I just looked at this font again. It is hardly elegant but this hipster dissing is weird.)
posted by caddis at 4:47 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Matt, you son of a bitch.
posted by cortex at 4:47 PM on August 23, 2007 [47 favorites]


Note from admin: This thread gets a special treatment
posted by mathowie at 4:47 PM on August 23, 2007 [42 favorites]


This thread has officially weirded me out. I checked it out earlier this afternoon; particularly, lekvar's comment about Sand. Thought, "Huh, Sand really is worse than Comic Sans." Didn't think much more of it until I went to my local brewpub after work. The entire list of beers except for one was printed in Comic Sans. The other (very special, barrel-aged Belgian-style beer)? Printed in Sand.
posted by cog_nate at 4:49 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with a "knockoff"?

In PostScript-based printing Arial is ten times more likely to fail epically, whereas Helvetica works nearly every time. Helvetica, from a printing standpoint and a purely technical point of view, is a professional font. Arial is not.
posted by lekvar at 4:49 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is the best thread on MeFi in a LONG time. Not only are we getting Font Freaks, but Mac Fanboys in here AS WELL AS Comic books dorks. Im like in internet elitism nirvana
posted by subaruwrx at 4:49 PM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


this thread just went from "best" to "BRILLIANT"!
posted by subaruwrx at 4:50 PM on August 23, 2007


I ♥ Matt.
posted by caddis at 4:53 PM on August 23, 2007


This thread is now officially 110% more wacky and casual!
posted by maxwelton at 4:53 PM on August 23, 2007 [7 favorites]


"Just a little reminder"

please DON'T!!! make popcorn
in the break room microwave
before Lunch time

the oder is very strong
and some of us would like
to be able to "smell"
the food we brought too eat

thanks a bunch!!!!!!!!!!

posted by cortex at 4:58 PM on August 23, 2007 [101 favorites]


Oh my god!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:58 PM on August 23, 2007


I'm feeling strangely hilarious (yet fuglardically uggersly)! This guestbook is funnee! LOL! Kittehs!!!11one
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:00 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Matt, you missed some spots.
posted by ardgedee at 5:00 PM on August 23, 2007


1. Nice work, Matt.

2. Sure, it's overused by parents, teachers, and lazy secretaries, but hey, at least it's not Remedy, for crying out loud.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:03 PM on August 23, 2007


I am so glad that I have Comic Sans turned off on this computer at all times and susequently can't see whatever atrocity Matt has chosent to subject us to.
posted by lekvar at 5:03 PM on August 23, 2007


epic sans!
posted by arialblack at 5:10 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ.

Also, this is the best thread EVAR.
posted by kalimac at 5:13 PM on August 23, 2007


Matt, that was wonderful, thank you.

I have to say, Comic Sans looks quite nice in italics, all things considered.

But how will it look in bold? Hmm.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:14 PM on August 23, 2007


THIS THREAD SUCKS
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:15 PM on August 23, 2007


Comic Sans is extremely useful in deciding who you want to talk to. You don't want to talk to anyone who uses Comic Sans.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:04 PM on August 23


Pwned!
posted by the other side at 5:19 PM on August 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


This just made my afternoon.
posted by serazin at 5:21 PM on August 23, 2007


it's so cute and tiny. and comical. and devoid of serifs.

this is not so good, though.
posted by dersins at 5:25 PM on August 23, 2007


Every time I see Comic Sans, which is WAY more often than warranted, I can't help but point and cry. Seriously. It's such a horrible crime to use it.
posted by Meagan at 5:31 PM on August 23, 2007


Matt's always been cool, but he just went kelvin.

Refreshing the page and seeing the font suddenly change like that? ROTFLMAO! Next April Fools, Matt should make the whole website go Comic Sans just to tick people off.

Best. Thread. So-Far.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:39 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I never cared much before about font-hatred but I've just read this whole thread , and gotta admit...this font sure is ugly.
posted by typewriter at 5:41 PM on August 23, 2007


bug report: the iPhone does not have comic sans
posted by mathowie at 5:42 PM on August 23, 2007 [9 favorites]


Thank you so much for that, DevilsRancher. Until now, I never knew the name of the ubiquitous "playful" font I so loathe.

The Remedy is (almost) worse than the disease.
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:51 PM on August 23, 2007


I guess I'm missing out. My preferences already had Comic Sans as my default font.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:53 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great hand lettering.
posted by doctor_negative at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2007


I always associate comic san's with errant apostrophe's and unnecessary "quotes."
posted by eyeballkid at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


I just want to feel involved in the thread.
posted by Shutter at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2007


After staring at this thread for a long time, the FP just looks so... skinny!
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:04 PM on August 23, 2007


Quick Matt, turn the page hot neon pink and add little butterflies trailing the cursor!!!

xxxcutelilsweetyxxx
posted by ntartifex at 6:06 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


This whole thread has reminded me just how little I like this font.
posted by Surfyournut at 6:08 PM on August 23, 2007


BTW at the moment I'm viewing MeFi in the white background with black lettering, and I think comic sans looks good this way. Would hate to see it In The Blue as it were. Probably is ugly that way, but if the font was intended to be loosely based off word balloons in comic books, it's meant to be viewed black-on-white.

The Con-Air guy wrote that he had used Frank Miller's Dark Knight series as a guide for Comic Sans - I don't see it. Who originally lettered that thing anyway? Frank Miller himself? Did he and Klaus Janson do the lettering together, or did the effort go uncredited by someone else? Letterers are often the unsung heroes of 20th century comics. I understand that nowadays most of it's done using computer fonts instead of real people - and guess what font they ain't using?
posted by ZachsMind at 6:09 PM on August 23, 2007


I didn't actively hate comic sans before this post (mostly I'd just sigh and move on after reading any materials printed in it), but thanks to having just read all the way through the thread in its current format, I now actively hate comic sans. I have a headache. Comic sans is massively unreadable for any prolonged period of time (say, more than one minute).

Ugh.
posted by tzikeh at 6:10 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


ZachsMind writes "Refreshing the page and seeing the font suddenly change like that?"

Ah, OK, now it makes sense. I don't have Comic Sans on this non-MS machine. Wasn't sure what was going on. This is the only time I wish the font was installed. I don't hate it, but it does make everything look like a bake sale.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:10 PM on August 23, 2007


The Remedy is (almost) worse than the disease.

I quite like that font up close.
posted by Surfyournut at 6:13 PM on August 23, 2007


In order to make it look comic-ish, you need to randomly emphasize certain words.
posted by jefbla at 6:15 PM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


I am not a huge fan of Comic Sans but I'm glad it exists because before it existed people just used Tekton for the same kinds of things, which clearly wrong.
posted by aubilenon at 6:22 PM on August 23, 2007


GUYS! COME QUICK! I FOUND THE SON OF A BITCH WHO INVENTED COMIC SANS!

(I'm surprised we've gone 100 comments without that showing up yet.)
posted by neckro23 at 6:24 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


*head explodes*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:27 PM on August 23, 2007


This font slows down my reading speed noticeably.

Classic Kelvin, mathowie!
posted by LanTao at 6:28 PM on August 23, 2007


Sure, it's overused by parents, teachers, and lazy secretaries, but hey, at least it's not Remedy, for crying out loud.

Amen! THANK YOU Devils Rancher! I never knew the name of that horrible font--I knew only that it has irked me to an increasing degree each year since its early 1990's explosion on basically all "classy-yet-fun" restaurant menus. (The Remedy font is, to me, synonymous with brunch in the 1990's--and in my opinion the font was only slightly less perishable than the Tuscan Fritatta Omelet it heralded with its studiously quirky, kokopellian glee.) I can tolerate the awfulness of Comic Sans. But today I cannot take anything seriously if it is transmitted in that vapid, Remedy font... Remedy is the Deadhead girl's answer to dotting one's "i"s with a "heart."

Thank you kindred spirit.
posted by applemeat at 6:29 PM on August 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


(I'm surprised we've gone 100 comments without that showing up yet.)

It's in the post.
posted by dhruva at 6:31 PM on August 23, 2007


Note from admin: This thread gets a special treatment

why you do this
posted by oaf at 6:49 PM on August 23, 2007


I like Comic Sans. It's good for what it's good for.

Generally, "what it's good for" is equivalent to "making it easy to determine whose e-mails you shouldn't bother reading."

There are many, many better sans fonts. Optima is my favorite. Hell, even Impact is better.
posted by oaf at 6:57 PM on August 23, 2007


typewriter writes "I never cared much before about font-hatred but I've just read this whole thread , and gotta admit...this font sure is ugly."

You're nothing but a one trick pony, typewriter. With you it's all Courier, Courier, Courier...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:03 PM on August 23, 2007 [6 favorites]


god this is horrible

also, Vincent Connare sounds like a complete idiot, and I hope his address isn't online, because someone is going to find him.
posted by blacklite at 7:04 PM on August 23, 2007


Earlier I linked to BlamBot as a joke but I'm scanning through their freebies and now I know what I'll be downloading on my home computer tonight. In fact, fonts like Alter Ego, Sidekick and Comic Geek look like what Comic Sans wanted to be but couldn't. I might end up actually buying a couple of these before I'm through. I wonder if I just renamed EuroComic as Comic Sans if I'd be happier in the long run? Or would I notice the difference?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:05 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. Okay, it does suck.
posted by yhbc at 7:06 PM on August 23, 2007


You think you guys have it bad? I've had letters from my boss docking my pay for striking and warning of draconian measures to come written in comic sans.

Also: Helvetica? Jesus. The holy triumvirate of who-gives-a-shit: Times New Roman, Helvetica and Comic Sans. All three say the same thing, and that thing is "whu?" Using any of them is like going out in a tracksuit. Sure, it's comfy, but goddamn it, aren't your words worth a tailored suit?
posted by bonaldi at 7:08 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Like lucidprose, I've been seeing Papyrus everywhere. I think Papyrus is the next one for the hammer. Everyone seems to use it when they want something "exotic" or "Asian" or something. It bugs me.
posted by jiawen at 7:11 PM on August 23, 2007


Oh, and so this is what we're doing instead of upgrading the servers?!@?

YOUR MOTHER DOESNT WORK HERE CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELFS
posted by yhbc at 7:12 PM on August 23, 2007


Okay so what three fonts would you guys want as replacements of Times New Roman, Comic Sans, and Helvetica? We're chaffing about the fonts that exist in Microsoft but I don't hear many solutions. ARE there fonts that blow these away so much that one should just install them as replacements? How might be the best way to go about doing that without Windows freaking out and having a cow?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:18 PM on August 23, 2007


+1 cool point to Matt Haughey
posted by Ynoxas at 7:19 PM on August 23, 2007


Matt for teh biggest win of all tim. Almost unbelievably amusing, having the thread in Comic Sans.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:24 PM on August 23, 2007


Zachsmind: I reckon there's nothing wrong with Helvetica, or even Times New Roman for that matter.

I'm not a typeweenie (though I am design-conscious, in a dilettantey kind of way), but the Segoe and the other new system fonts MS released with Vista are quite nice, and they can be found and installed/used in XP. (The download from that link is dead, but a quick Google will find many other places that you can get the fonts if you're so inclines)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:26 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


As an editor, I've now come to notice whenever a movie uses Lucida Grande in all of its titling.

Lucida Grande is the default font in Final Cut Pro. You know an editor's lazy if that's what he/she uses.
posted by fungible at 7:31 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


ARE there fonts that blow these away so much that one should just install them as replacements?
The thing is, that's kinda like saying "OK so I shouldn't wear my tracksuit everywhere. What can I wear, then?". The answer isn't going to be "this shirt and this tie", because that's going to be no use at the beach or when out running. Fonts need to roughly match what their task, just like clothes do.

That said, you can still have standbys, I suppose. For sans ( eg Helvetica) I usually use Scala Sans. For serif (Times) I like Minion.

As far as Windows goes, Microsoft has already introduced new default fonts in Vista, and the new default font in Office (Calibri, is it?) is quite attractive, so at least everyone's out of shell-suits and into nice terry-towelling.
posted by bonaldi at 7:32 PM on August 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


No Comic Sans on my typewriter, dagnabbit.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:36 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


I reckon there's nothing wrong with Helvetica, or even Times New Roman for that matter.
Helvetica can be a really pretty font, but it takes really careful setting -- by default it is set way too tightly, like a fat man in a skin-tight top. Most people can't set it carefully, so it usually looks ass.

Times, on the other hand, is a nasty, nasty font. It was designed to be legible when printed at very high speed by churlish ink-stained men on shitty cheap newsprint, and also is cramped so as to conserve space. Unless you're running on bog roll, printed cold offset, there's a better font out there. Georgia was designed to be Times for the screen, and even it prints better on a laser printer. (I use Georgia for my MeFi font, actually.)
posted by bonaldi at 7:40 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Matt, I really hate the fonts Memphis, Polish Dirty News, Rough Riders Redux, Icognito, and Solex.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 PM on August 23, 2007


ONOMATOPOEIA!!!!
posted by Mach5 at 7:54 PM on August 23, 2007


Georgia! Georgia! Georgia!
posted by oddman at 7:56 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Instructions for making coffee:

1. Put the cofee in the filter.
2. Press the button only ONCE!!!!!!
3. You will have coffee in about 5min.
3. If you press the button more than once, the coffee WILL be in an overflow situation and office services should be alerted per Barb.
4. "We all have to work here so please remember to pick up after yourself."

Have a good one!
posted by Mid at 7:59 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


FRITTATA!
posted by SassHat at 8:12 PM on August 23, 2007


Scrolling down this thread has become like scraping my eyes with sandpaper. Comic sandpaper.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:16 PM on August 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Hrmmmmm....

I stopped downloading fonts a couple windows upgrades ago. Got tiresome trying to personalize my windows experience. I mostly just go with the default settings now whenever I can stomach it. Still, BoomBot looks like fun..

Life's too short. Nowadays I mostly just go with whatever's the default font in a given proggie or website. It's passing strange that so many have such fervor and passion regarding fonts.

Bonaldi: "The thing is, that's kinda like saying "OK so I shouldn't wear my tracksuit everywhere. What can I wear, then?". The answer isn't going to be "this shirt and this tie", because that's going to be no use at the beach or when out running. Fonts need to roughly match what their task, just like clothes do."

Frankly, if I had my druthers, I'd just wear jeans, a collared pullover, and sneakers at all times. Maybe occasionally sweats. I guess for some, dressing text up in different fonts is like dressing up for a special occasion. I just try to spell correctly as best as I can.

I'd like to spice up the titles in my YouTube videos. I fear suffering through the problems we had in the early days of website design, when people would use Stupid Web Tricks essentially cuz they just learned them, whether they were appropriate for their home page or not.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:24 PM on August 23, 2007


Matt, you got jokes son.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:25 PM on August 23, 2007


I love Comic Sans! Thanks Matthowie for making this whole thread Comic Sans! This rocks! I--

*dramatic chord*

OHMIGAWD! I'VE JUST GONE BLIND! HEP ME SUMBODEE!!!11!!!one!!!!
posted by ZachsMind at 8:32 PM on August 23, 2007


To cortex, yhbc and Mid:
"Thank You"
I Can't Read "Comic Sans"
Without Thinking of Every
Freakin'
Passive-Aggressive
Office "Announcement" With Inappropriate "Quotation Marks"
Scattered "Willy Nilly" Throughout.

Yes My Goddamn Mother Works Here
And She Knows What's In Store For Her
If She Doesn't Clean Up After My Slovenly Ass
ThankUVeryMuch Mr Fox In Sox SIR!!!

posted by maryh at 8:33 PM on August 23, 2007


FONTS????????????
posted by jcruelty at 8:39 PM on August 23, 2007


This is aces -- fun, a great example of why Comic Sans just ain't no good, and I feel like I'm in a really shabby indie comic!

Look at me, I'm emphasizing my dialogue with no sense of rythym or inflection whatsoever! I would have tried making a crappy balloon using Unicode, but I'm sure the formatting would turn into a dog's breakfast upon hitting 'Post'!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:40 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The reason Comic Sans is the most hated font is because everybody forgot about San Francisco.
posted by mazola at 8:43 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, I was going to come along to say that I find Comic Sans perfectly readable. Except now I know I don't. At all.

(this is really cool, though.)
posted by rtha at 8:46 PM on August 23, 2007


So, in Safari, is this actually Chalkboard? Aww, it's so cute in the live preview... I just want to keep typing.
posted by smackfu at 8:56 PM on August 23, 2007


WHAT
THE
FUCK
MATT?

posted by loquacious at 8:58 PM on August 23, 2007 [9 favorites]


smackfu: we got comic sans ms on OS X also, and seeing that the font entry in the source is comic sans ms, its what we are looking at, and now im glad i preemptively took an excedrin.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:11 PM on August 23, 2007


I confess to using Comic Sans on my old business card. I did freelance computer tutoring under the name User Friendly Studio, and the tagline "Computer training and consulting" was in Comic Sans. It did give the card a friendly feel I guess. But it was also over 10 years ago.
posted by The Deej at 9:20 PM on August 23, 2007


A video interview with Connare!
posted by GuyZero at 9:22 PM on August 23, 2007


This is pretty reasonable for one-line comments.

For big blocks of text, ow. Come to think of it, I never read big blocks of text in real comics either.
posted by aubilenon at 9:27 PM on August 23, 2007


Comic Sans is a curse of modern scientific discourse. Seriously; it's not just the wacky secretary who uses it; I've sees Comic Sans busted out by many the serious, respected researcher. Mostly Europeans, come to think of it.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:46 PM on August 23, 2007


Back in college, we were lucky enough to have an Overstreet Price Guide editor on staff in the English dept. He did comics as literature courses and always used the Comic Sans font on the syllabi and pop quizzes.

Some things just fit right into place.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:47 PM on August 23, 2007


Ah, I see. Comic Sans on OS X too. Bummer.

And honestly, I think Chalkboard does look like a chalkboard... it reminds me of the Simpsons opening.
posted by smackfu at 10:12 PM on August 23, 2007


groooaaaaan

/zombie
posted by porpoise at 10:44 PM on August 23, 2007


Seriously; it's not just the wacky secretary who uses it; I've sees Comic Sans busted out by many the serious, respected researcher.

Lawrence freakin' Lessig uses Comic Sans in all his IM communication. The guy argued a Supreme Court case fercrissakes!
posted by mathowie at 10:44 PM on August 23, 2007


Shit. I'm going back to my LiveJournal, where I use Futura Light and Caslon exclusively.

Matt, please turn image posting back on so I can post my awesome "Ban Comic Sanz" icon.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:35 PM on August 23, 2007


If one needed more proof of the power of Matt's combined love and contempt for his userbase, surely this is it.
posted by sparkletone at 12:08 AM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


whew this makes my eyes hurt, which means I either had too much alcohol or have been reading too much Metafilter in Comic Sans, perhaps a combination
posted by edgeways at 12:26 AM on August 24, 2007


Fun fact: did you know that the original Gutenberg Bible was printed in the komisch außen typeface? Or at least, it will be once my time machine is complete. Take that, hundreds of years of literature.
posted by Gary at 2:04 AM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Haven't read a wrod in this thread.
posted by carsonb at 2:16 AM on August 24, 2007


(Typing with eyes clsoed.)
posted by carsonb at 2:16 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


must....stop....Gary!

The first design house I worked at, we had an ongoing challenge to design something elegant with hobo. Nobody ever won.

I don't have comic sans installed on my mac, and this whole thread is in times for me. This will be the one and only time I wish I had comic sans installed. Not enough to go get it, mind you....
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 2:29 AM on August 24, 2007


This is epic fucking win.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:13 AM on August 24, 2007


FRIDAY SUMMER FUN MEMO FOR AUGUST 24TH!!!

Tuesday is now "Fun Day!"
Everyone, please remember that due to Accounts Receivable's new policy on sneakers in the workplace, the "only" acceptable day for wearing them is Tuesday. So each and every Tuesday, let's "get the lead out"!!!!!

Halogen Lamp is a NO-GO
It has recently come to our attention that a certain member of our Summer Team has been keeping a halogen lamp on his desk. Need I don't need to remind us all, that is a fire hazard. People, let's "PLAY IT SAFE"!!!

Shirley's birthday is next Wednesday
Shirley Fox will be celebrating her birthday in the breakroom next Wednesday from 2:00 to 2:15. Marie Antoinette said "Let Them Eat Cake" -- wait a minute, cake??? That gives me an idea!!!

Keep it CLEAN!!!
Finally, let's all remember that the Coke machine in the lobby is an INAPPROPRIATE PLACE for "dirty jokes" about my "daughter." Let's only hit "above the belt," everyone!!!

Summer Loving, Happened So Fast!!!
-Tom
posted by Greg Nog at 4:26 AM on August 24, 2007 [36 favorites]


at the moment this set of slides are popular on progamming language blogs/sites. they're written by one of the great recent contributors to compuer science. yay for the ubernerd's aesthetic sense.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:51 AM on August 24, 2007


When you're a designer and you see something bad...

OK, that's far enough: What's "bad"? Why is what's "bad", bad?

Sure, designers can produce objective criteria like proportion and kerning and x-height, but it's very rare that I've seen anyone bother to explain why those things are good or bad with regard to a specific font.

Again: Font freaks -- and designers in general -- have a great capacity for confusing "I don't like it" with "bad." The problem is that designers get a pass for having to explain the reasons for their aesthetic judgements because they're talking about "art". Only "artists" get to make aesthetic decisions about art.

With code, you can make objective determinations that are hard to argue with: This code executes faster; this code compiles faster; this code is better documented; this code is clearer; this code integrates with other code more cleanly.

But with typefaces, it's rare to see evaluations based on practical criteria. Oh, they exist, and they can be determined, but only very very rarely are they mentioned. What's really interesting is where they're mentioned. For example, you can document that Verdana and Comic Sans are both really easy to read at low resolutions, such as on screens.* I personally don't like Verdana at all, but I use it all the time for this very reason. I can recall only a handfull of times that I've heard other more high-status fonts defended in this way, and in fact, as far as I can tell, many of them fail. Helvetica, for example, doesn't work well at all in low res situations: It breaks up badly and it's difficult to scan words that use 'i' and 'l' in close proximity. I actually find it really hard to read in print (high-res), for that matter. Mind you, I always liked the way it looked, but I always found it hard to read.

Palatino is an exception. I used to often hear it praised for its readability in print, and I used to choose it whenever the opportunity afforded for that reason. But I've never been happy with it in low res. (I've only rarely been happy with a serif typeface for normal-size copy on screens.)

So there are a lot of fonts out there that designers hate, that are objectively "good" in that they're easy to read.

So here's a suggestion: Instead of saying "Comic Sans is bad", why don't you instead say "I find Comic Sans to be ugly." You'd be taking strides in honesty and accuracy. After all, by some objective measures, Comic Sans is documentably good.

--
*So's 'Architect', which is a knockoff of Tekton, which I've never seen on any computer I worked with. I love Architect. Very readable down to very small point sizes, in print and on screen, and "fun" without being "funky". But I hardly ever see it, anymore, either.
posted by lodurr at 5:53 AM on August 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


This thread: thing of beauty and a joy forever.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:53 AM on August 24, 2007


ZachsMind: Okay so what three fonts would you guys want as replacements of Times New Roman, Comic Sans, and Helvetica?

Given the choice, I'd personally pick Palatino, Architect and Trebuchet. (I use Trebuchet to start most of my font cascades for body copy.) I don't like Palatino much for screen work, though, even in headlines -- Arial Black for that, maybe, degrading to Arial, then Verdana.

(I used to set my browser default to Comic Sans. It was a good quick way to immediately tell if the web developers / designers had bothered to establish a base font, because it was glaring and obvious but still left the page usable. I could have used Impact or something like that, but the pages would have become unusable.)
posted by lodurr at 6:03 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Connare posts on typophile.com and the worst thing about it that everyone there is too nice to tell him he is genuinely a really shitty designer.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:09 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


OK, I swear this is not the "Architect" that used to be baked into HP printers. So if I've confused anyone, I apologize. I do swear that one looked just like Tekton.
posted by lodurr at 6:14 AM on August 24, 2007


No, lodurr, it's bad. Empirically so.
posted by grubi at 6:19 AM on August 24, 2007


(I used to set my browser default to Comic Sans. It was a good quick way to immediately tell if the web developers / designers had bothered to establish a base font, because it was glaring and obvious but still left the page usable. I could have used Impact or something like that, but the pages would have become unusable.)

What's wrong with not establishing a base font? I mean, why not go with the user's preference?
posted by delmoi at 6:32 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, I never truly understood the Comic Sans hatred before. I've used it a few times for titles. I think it looks okay in caps for funny/non-serious stuff.

But, wow, after rereading this thread, now I get the hate. This font should just never be used, ever.
posted by Malor at 6:36 AM on August 24, 2007


Empirically?

You'll be able to provide empirical evidence, then, right? Test results? Maybe heuristics that are backed up by empirical evidence?

Or do you mean to say that you have consistently found it to be aesthetically displeasing?
posted by lodurr at 6:39 AM on August 24, 2007


What's wrong with not establishing a base font? I mean, why not go with the user's preference?

It wasn't a moral judgement. It was just a way of understanding how the page was working.

That said, the answer to "why not" is usually "because someone who's paying me required a specific font." Anyway, users with that strong of a preference can always over-ride it.
posted by lodurr at 6:42 AM on August 24, 2007


Non-empirical: I hate Comic Sans.
Empirical: In a survey of 17,000 randomly selected subjects, 93.4% of respondents reported that they hate Comic Sans.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:47 AM on August 24, 2007


Now, this is comedy.
posted by four panels at 6:55 AM on August 24, 2007


Lots of things that people hate produce the desired result.

People hate the species of direct mail that's peppered with boldfaced points of emphasis, uses really action-oriented language, and tells the recipient over and over again to buy the product.
  1. It usually also has lots of bullet points.
  2. And those bullet points are really just ways of making people see the sentences.
  3. Instead of just scanning past them!
And it uses really short paragraphs.

Did we mention that it's always reminding you to buy the product?

But the thing is, generations of research has proven that the style, though nigh-universally loathed, works.

Similar point: Jerod Pore did usability studies on websites back in the 90s. His team found that people were most productive with the sites they liked least, and least productive with the sites they liked best. The sample wasn't large and the correlations weren't strong enough to say that it was liking that made the site less useful, but you could clearly see that preference didn't equate to utility.

So, even if you weren't just pulling that out of your ass, it would still not be to the point. The point being, preference don't mean shit if the metric is utility.
posted by lodurr at 6:56 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long"


Not so tragic now, are you, Lear?
posted by four panels at 6:58 AM on August 24, 2007 [9 favorites]


thatswherebatslive writes "For years I've dreamt about doing the same thing to Matisse."

My uncle used to use Matisse as the default font in Windows. Seriously. Every damn window title and menu was essentially unreadable. I think he thought it looked "wild" and "cool" for my cousins. It scarred me, but I managed to repress that until you mentioned the font. Thanks.

mr_roboto writes "I've sees Comic Sans busted out by many the serious, respected researcher. Mostly Europeans, come to think of it."

That's because they're trying to go easy on us dumb Americans. At home, with no New World dummies in sight, they use shit like Gill Sans for everything.

...and Matt, you're just an evil bastard, and I mean that in the best possible sense. Turning the hate on the haters. Ouch.

(I actually took the time to hack together a Greasemonkey script to strip Comic Sans from web pages. I am trying to resist turning that script on right now. Much as I hate to say it, this thread is useless unless it's in Comic Sans.)
posted by caution live frogs at 7:23 AM on August 24, 2007


Next, someone has to make an FPP on the bean clipart man
posted by anthill at 7:56 AM on August 24, 2007


just caught up

eyes bleeding

quitting metafilter 4 evar
posted by cortex at 7:58 AM on August 24, 2007


Jesus, you guys are such tramps.
posted by lodurr at 8:07 AM on August 24, 2007


I'm with stupid
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:27 AM on August 24, 2007


"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

I love Comic Sans! =)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:35 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I DON'T CARE!
I'D RATHER SINK --
THAN CALL BRAD
FOR HELP!
posted by yeti at 8:47 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


People use Comic Sans because it feels more personal, and unlike most "handwriting" fonts, it's unassuming and legible. People use this font for the same reason they paint their walls white and choose "neutral" carpeting and keep the take-out place's phone number handy even though they've cooked a full meal for their guests. It's very PC, isn't it?
posted by zennie at 8:57 AM on August 24, 2007


This is just painful. I had to increase the font size just to read this thread, and even now I have a headache.

I'm not a designer, just a user and a writer. More often than not, my mac is a glorified word processor. I'm one of those people who experts hate, the "I may not know art, but I know what I like," kind of bitch. I think there's a lot of sense to "a place for everything and everything in its place" when it comes to fonts, and I can't possibly see Comic Sans being taken seriously, for instance, in a dissertation.

That being said, I like Arial and Verdana, and although I am a mac girl at heart, that new Segoe font referenced above is lovely and flowing, so I could see using that for a default. My son designed a trebuchet for science fair, so I HAD to use Trebuchet font for the title.

And it hurts me, actually pains me, that someone took a great font name like "Dominatrix" and then screwed it up with laziness like adding a few sharp edges, when there is SO much more that could have been done with it! The O doesn't even have a ball gag, for god's sake!

And this microsoft Bob designer--seriously, comic sans AND wingbats? My two most-hated fonts ever, until (thanks a LOT, btw) Sand, Remedy and Disease.
posted by misha at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. How strangely... jaunty.
posted by RokkitNite at 9:18 AM on August 24, 2007


Yep. Just got an email from one of the jerks I work with. There aren't a whole lot of jerks here but he does deserve the title. And yes, he writes his emails in Comic Sans. Figures.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:47 AM on August 24, 2007


Wow. I couldn't figure out why this thread had almost 200 comments*, so I dived in. My eyes boggled. I read, I laughed, I threw up a little on myself. My life will never be the same. Thank you MetaFilter!

*Doubtless well over 200 by the time I hit Post.
posted by languagehat at 10:16 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nope, mine was comment number 200. You can't take that away from me!
posted by languagehat at 10:16 AM on August 24, 2007


Actually, technically, I could.
posted by cortex at 10:18 AM on August 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


My two most-hated fonts ever, until (thanks a LOT, btw) Sand, Remedy and Disease.

We're from the internet -- we're here to help.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:21 AM on August 24, 2007


Yup, still illegible a day later.
posted by typewriter at 10:30 AM on August 24, 2007


My god, it's full of Comic Sans...
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:41 AM on August 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Usually I read all the big threads that I miss, but I just can't face this one.
posted by Kwine at 10:42 AM on August 24, 2007


loquacious:

WHAT
THE
FUCK FONT
MATT?


Fixed that for you.
posted by Lafe at 11:00 AM on August 24, 2007


This hurts my brain.
posted by Jilder at 11:05 AM on August 24, 2007


Wow, this page is amazing.
posted by NedderLander at 11:54 AM on August 24, 2007


I hate
love
hate


Oh, I give up.

Well played, mathowie.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:57 AM on August 24, 2007


There's something about Comic Sans that makes me wax nostalgic for the websites of the late 1996es.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:03 PM on August 24, 2007


OK, I swear this is not the "Architect" that used to be baked into HP printers. So if I've confused anyone, I apologize. I do swear that one looked just like Tekton.

Archstyl.shx comes with Autocad, and pretty much looks like tekton. I don't know if it came with old HP printers, but it's been around since 1985. For some reason I can't find an example online, and I'm sorry to say I am too lazy to boot windows and open Autocad right now.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:20 PM on August 24, 2007


I am tolerant of Comic Sans only because it reminds me of LeisureTown. I see it and what comes to mind is:

DING DING

why it's DOOFUS
McPADDLEBOAT
THE BIG FAT
CHILD MOLESTER


...and that's OK.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:29 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I’m with the ‘don’t blame the font, blame the messenger’ crowd. Also, to paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut: “I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a [font] is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae or a banana split.”
posted by LeLiLo at 1:07 PM on August 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


I need a Tshirt with "What the fuck Matt" in comic sans.
posted by Skorgu at 2:36 PM on August 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


If one needed more proof of the power of Matt's combined love and contempt for his userbase, surely this is it.

If one needed proof that he's able to maintain his sense of the hilarious in the midst of a nerdfight, this is it.

(on preview-- I do not hate comic sans, but ecchh, posts are so much prettier without it.)
posted by Tehanu at 3:56 PM on August 24, 2007


----------------------------------------
To: All
Subj: Dongles

Dear All, Can everyone please confirm the dongle number of any dongles that you currently have?

Also, if you have any training dongles or dongles which you are no longer using, can you return them to me please?

Thanks, Jane
----------------------------------------
posted by ukdanae at 4:03 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


dongle dongle dongle



I like this silly thread!
posted by ukdanae at 4:03 PM on August 24, 2007


Also, to paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut

To paraphrase myself, Kurt was full of shit. Comic Sans is objectively fucking terrible, and anyone who thinks otherwise can come over and hang out with me for an afternoon and we'll go through it glyph by nauseating glyph. If you disagree, you're either being purposefully contrarian - think jonmc with a degree from the Art Institute - or you shouldn't be allowed to typeset or type or write or draw or scribble anything ever.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:27 PM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yer twistin' my melon, man!
posted by Neilopolis at 4:32 PM on August 24, 2007




Here are two photos of the sign featuring Comic Sans and Sand that I mentioned upthread.
posted by cog_nate at 5:12 PM on August 24, 2007


I saw a great font on the old Sys7 Macs once where every letter was a little comic drawing of a guy vomiting. Does anyone know that one? Where can I get it?
posted by meehawl at 5:17 PM on August 24, 2007


meehawl: It's called Carole's Chunk...
posted by bink at 5:42 PM on August 24, 2007


CarolesChunk, actually.
posted by bink at 5:43 PM on August 24, 2007


I need a Tshirt with "What the fuck Matt" in comic sans

I have the power to make this happen. Who else is in?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:05 PM on August 24, 2007


Metafilter: Goddamn it, aren't your words worth a tailored suit?

(Aside: The single most entertaining article I've ever read was a love letter to Helvetica, so much more beautiful than that pretender to the throne, Arial.)
posted by effugas at 7:27 PM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Clearly I'm not. What's all this fuss about?
posted by flabdablet at 7:32 PM on August 24, 2007


"for the websites of the late 1996es."

The first 1996 was pretty good. But the second and third versions were even better.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:47 PM on August 24, 2007


Comic Sans is a bad font because anyone who knows anything about typography recoils in horror when they see it, just as anyone who knows anything about filmmaking recoils in horror when faced with Ted Mikel's 10 Violent Women.

It is possible to love it in spite of it being awful, or even to love it because it is awful, but it is impossible to say that people who dislike it are simply trying to force their idiosyncratic tastes onto the rest of the population. Taste is not just a matter of preference; it is also the ability to recognize and judge aesthetic quality, to recognize craft and deliberateness and logic and cautious consideration in the making of something that is well-made, even if it is superficially blunt or plain or ugly. Comic Sans is not well-made, or carefully considered, or a work of smart craftsmanship; neither is 10 Violent Women. They are anarchic things slapped together by poor craftsmen; their anarchy is not a choice, but an accident of poor workmanship. They are tasteless.

Sometimes it is worth it to be tasteless. In fact, I would argue that style comes from knowing when to be tasteless, for whimsy, or fun, or shock value, or a thousand interesting reasons. But one must never mistake tastelessness for tastefulness, and argue that they are equivalents.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:51 PM on August 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


*double-takes*

*curls up into a ball in the corner and stays there, rocking back and forth and whimpering*
posted by Many bubbles at 9:33 PM on August 24, 2007


This thread is a veritable font of wisdom.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:36 PM on August 24, 2007


There are so many good, new sans serif type faces around right now - and more being created - that any defence for Comic Crapola Sans is just plain dumb. The last years I've stumbled upon more good sans serifs than I care to remember. Perhaps we are living in sort of a golden age for sans serif type.

Officina

Amplitude

Parisine

Insider

and more...
posted by Termite at 9:45 PM on August 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


CarolesChunk! Brilliant! Thanks.

Metafilter - community weblog
posted by meehawl at 9:55 PM on August 24, 2007


Nailed it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:30 PM on August 24, 2007


...it's gone when you preview! I never thought plain old Verdana could be such a relief.
posted by Termite at 11:38 PM on August 24, 2007


Astro,

Hate to break it to you, but I do think you've missed what Comic Sans MS has taught us.

The bottom line, which you don't have to like, is that Comic Sans MS is a voice for people who are assuredly not you. People do all sorts of interesting things with their letterings, to evoke a sense of their personality in the reader. If, as was mentioned earlier, your words are worthy of a tailored suit -- well, then, a suit is not appropriate at a beach, now is it? Millions of people have seen Comic Sans as an informal written register they can use to express a kinder, gentler tone.

The interesting thing is that this is predicted by what most typographers say about the nature of their work. After all, we want to believe that a fine font lends character and class to the words represented through it. That people are choosing to go out of their way to soften their speech with Comic Sans MS means they recognize the power of fine fonts, and subconsciously choose to avoid them when they're not speaking in their corporate, formal voice.

Comic Sans MS is thus not an affront to typography. It is experimental evidence that people subconsciously respect the power of fonts.

(As for anarchy, see Linux w/o automatic hinting, subpixel rendering, or particularly Bitstream Vera. Say what you will about Comic Sans MS, the kerning is reasonable enough.)
posted by effugas at 2:06 AM on August 25, 2007


Comic Sans MS is thus not an affront to typography.
O yes it is fuckin is! Do you think there's not a sans serif font out there that could convey a kinder, gentler tone without also being just ugly as sin?

You might not wear your suit to the beach, but that doesn't make a skimpy thong and posing pouch your only choice. Especially when you're 60. And my boss.
posted by bonaldi at 4:31 AM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Comic Sans is not well-designed beachwear, if that's your point. It's stitched together from something torn off a dead hobo, uses chicken- and barbed-wire as a tie string, and has tears is unfortunate sports that expose parts of the anatomy that are better left unexposed.

If this thread has taught us anything, it's that doing an entire thread in comic sans is hilarious, but that it is also possible for a typeface, used throughout a thread, to cause eyeballs to spontaneously exsanguinate.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:37 AM on August 25, 2007


"I commented on the great Comic Sans blow-up of 2007."
posted by coolhappysteve at 9:27 AM on August 25, 2007


Comic Sans is a craptacular typeface. For Aldus' sake, look at that friggin' "M" that was posted by OC. It is literally, factually hideous.

Comic Sans was the first "handwriting" face available to your average luser. People who didn't even know there were other faces available were suddenly presented with a "fun" alternative to the traditional faces.

The situation is very much like the rest of MS Windows. People generally don't know any better, so they assume they're stuck with the shit sundae they've been given.

Just because they eat it doesn't mean it's good.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2007


Comic Sans is business casual but with bow ties.

Comic Sans is Plan Nine From Outerspace TimeBrushed.

Comic Sans is Meredith Vieira in a thong bikini.

Comic Sans is Keanu Reeves doing Shakespeare.

Comic Sans is ordering a cheeseburger at a bistro.

Comic Sans is a reprint of Warhol's Tomato Soup on display in a children's nursery.

It's when Bruce Willis was wearing nothing but a sign in Die Hard 3.

It's when John Ritter was wearing nothing but a glow-in-the-dark condom in that Blake Edwards movie.

It's when David Letterman wore a suit made of velcro.

It's when Pauly Shore or Carrot Top show their face in public.

It's a stack of Mad Magazines in a dentist's office.

It's Jim Carrey purposefully being serious. (yuck)

It's listening to Phil Collins obsessively after a really bad breakup.

It's your average run-of-the-mill scifi convention.

It's a french designer trying to pass off paisley as the new black.

It's calling Sir John Gielgud "dude."

It's profanity in a classroom.

It's shouting in a library.

It's shouting fire in a movie theater.

It's Robin Williams at The Met.

It's the first time your brain processed the fact that in order for you to exist, your parents must have had sex at least once, and you were not able to stop your brain in time from imagining what your conception looked like. Ew.

Comic Sans is gaudy, loud, silly, cute, stupid, annoying, strange, weird, makes some people laugh and other people angry, and it'd decidedly unnecessary, because there's other ways, perhaps better ways, to accomplish the same goal. Whatever that goal may be.

But it's there. It exists. Whether you like it or not, all your whining and complaining that your eyes feel like they'll bleed and explode won't make it go away. I wish for just a week, Matt could set it up so that everything I posted to MeFi showed up in Comic Sans. You'd scroll down the page and I'd be wearing a loud polyester suit with sunglasses bigger than my head singing Elton John tunes at the top of my lungs and riding a unicycle. You couldn't miss me. You'd squint and wince and probably skip over what I had to say just cuz you couldn't bear to look, but you'd know I was there.

I wouldn't wanna be that all the time, but every now and then, that's me. That's probably me more often than I'd care to admit, and I don't mind admitting it much at all, so that's probably just me all the time. Comic Sans suits me.

Oh. And Yes. Comic Sans is this post. It's this thread. Hell, it's the Web. You like the fact Comic Sans exists because you can use it to show how much better all your favorite fonts are in comparison. You cannot have light without darkness, and you can't have really great fonts without really bad fonts too. Comic Sans suits you too.

=P
posted by ZachsMind at 1:18 PM on August 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dammit, jonmc, quit killing people and stealing their usernames.
posted by cortex at 1:37 PM on August 25, 2007


Optimus Chyme, I'm both, but I'm gonna anywayz. =)

Comic Sans is Cortex comparing me to jonmc. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 1:51 PM on August 25, 2007


Comic sans is not your bizarre analogy. Comic sans is flowery, smiling death.
posted by tehloki at 2:00 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Comic Sans is a sin upon all that is holy and pure.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:52 PM on August 25, 2007


Comic Sans is.
posted by Kwine at 2:59 PM on August 25, 2007


Comic Sans is... MySpace.
posted by Many bubbles at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2007


For the non-font people in the thread, here's the deal.

Fonts are really, really hard to make.

Most people are spoiled by these "1000 fonts on a CD" things. Even some professionals are fooled by font tracing applications. The reality is that the creation of a high quality font can take up to a year. The deal is that a font is actually a small program, and each character really does need to be accurately placed relative to each other character. If you check out some of your unicode fonts, you'll notice that the quality level is really off...something's wrong.

You'll notice that, for large amounts of text, even the Unicode fonts in Windows look worse than Comic Sans MS. The care taken for a couple hundred characters is difficult to spread across a few thousand.

Font production is really hard, and has objective measures in terms of readability. The issue is that most of what has real objective value is the basic readability of individual characters, with intercharacter spacing (kerning) coming second.

Note, I said basic readability. The ability to recognize, and differentiate individual characters is actually key here. (You'd be surprised how many fonts screw up I/l/1/|, four characters easily differentiatable in Comic Sans. Programmers are the most serious font critics out there.) The various lines that guide fonts are also important, but it's mostly about the lines implied across the top and bottom of characters, and they just need to be OK across sentences. We're remarkably tolerant to intra-character bugs (we don't normally see M's in isolation).

In terms of basic readability, both script fonts and Ye Olde Gothic style writings are far worse than Comic Sans MS could ever be. And, as mentioned earlier, before Linux got their font act together they verged on complete unusability (bad kerning, the death of those 1000-fonts-on-a-disc collecftions, was legion on the Linux desktop).

People actually implicitly recognize this. You rarely see script or gothic writing because of it. But Comic Sans MS is safe. It's readable, it's reasonably kerned. It hits all the actual objective measures required.

It's just the antithesis of a well-designed font.

I like the track suit analogy. There is a reality to fashion, because certain things are worn by certain people in certain contexts. Fashion, as fonts, are a mechanism by which the bearer can be evaluated. There is low-status fashion. Jeans from Wal-Mart are not cut to the same standard as something from, I dunno, Diesel. But the basic requirements -- allowing walking and sitting, letting the bearer not be pantless -- are met by both.

Comic Sans MS is better than almost any font on the 1000-in-1 CD. Comic Sans MS gets more crap, because it's used by far more people, and frankly seeing that font implies all the annoying and childish messages that have ever been sent with it. I actually quite agree, people shouldn't use Comic Sans MS; the messages associated with it aren't exactly wonderful. But all this talk about taste and objectivity and whatever -- this is just a status game masking as science.
posted by effugas at 3:38 PM on August 25, 2007 [7 favorites]


Comic Sans is... MySpace.

qed
posted by effugas at 3:38 PM on August 25, 2007


Comic Sans is delicious with chocolate and peanut butter.

If there was only one post to survive in this thread, I'd hope it to be Effugas' sentiments, cuz they seem the most objective, intelligent, knowledgeable, and concise. 'Con-Air' shoulda gotten Effugas to write his defense for him, and then Con-Air shoulda shut up, cuz in the original link, Con-Air didn't defend his reasoning for Comic Sans very well. Effugas did.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:02 PM on August 25, 2007


But Comic Sans MS is safe. It's readable, it's reasonably kerned. It hits all the actual objective measures required.

And yet nearly everyone has complained that this thread looks like hell's version of hell to the reading eye.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:44 PM on August 25, 2007


THIS IS JERKCITY

A LAND FULL OF ENCHANTMENT AND WONDER

BUT ALSO A LAND FULL OF DANGER AND INTRIGUE

COME WITH ME NOW

EXPLORE THESE VAST UNTAMED LANDS WITH ME

WHO KNOWS WHAT ADVENTURES WE'LL HAVE

FOLLOW ME AND WE'LL SEE WHERE THE PATH--

SURPRISE !!! COCKSUCKING HALGHAGULAHGLUAHULAG
posted by Mikey-San at 4:45 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a big difference between what's easily readable in a glance and what's easily readable as a long, continuous stream of text.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:17 PM on August 25, 2007


five fresh fish--

Yes, and I believe I explained precisely why.

Note that Impact is a far worse font, but never, ever arouses such absolute hatred. That's because even low-status people avoid using it for long lengths of text. I mean, seriously. I'm looking at this in preview and it can't even manage to keep the tops from overlapping the bottoms. And this is a font that ships with the OS! Have you not seen the 1000-in-1 stuff?

And lets not even talk about Script. I can't even read this without looking up.

People bitch and moan about Comic Sans MS because it's the worst font that people actually use. It's not that it's that bad of a font. It's that it's sufficiently legible to be used by people who it is believed don't have anything important to say.

Complaints don't drive the science. There's damn good science that'll show Impact and Script being worse off than Comic Sans MS. There's no science whatsoever (sorry typo's) that'll show a significant difference between Helvetica and Arial. I think there's a case to be made that Comic Sans MS is a bit worse than Arial/Helvetica in terms of readability. But "hell's version of hell?" That's not science.

I wouldn't mention it, but for all the appeals to objectivity coming from the font fans. Arial vs. Helvetica are a matter of taste. Comic Sans MS vs. Impact is a matter of science. We may not like that Comic Sans MS is closer to Arial than it is to Impact. But that's what the data suggests.
posted by effugas at 5:40 PM on August 25, 2007


Ah, MetaFilter doesn't allow arbitrary fonts in actual posts. Le sigh. Go view that post in Impact or Script to see what I mean.
posted by effugas at 5:42 PM on August 25, 2007


Astro Zombie: ... but it is impossible to say that people who dislike it are simply trying to force their idiosyncratic tastes onto the rest of the population

You know, I just don't understand why we're supposed to take seriously people who say things like this. "Impossible"? Do you know what that means?

OK, I will prove your statement false: People who dislike Comic Sans are simply trying to force theri idiosyncratic tastes onto the rest of the population. There: You're wrong. It's not impossible. And, hey, you know what? I actually believe that. (And hey, guess what else: You cannot know anything about my own opionion of Comic Sans from anything I've said in this thread! How much fun is that?!)

Similarly: "Objectively horrible"? What a load of shit. It's a low-status typeface. You guys don't like it. Fine. You may have aesthetic reasons for disliking it, or you may have practical reasons for associating people who use it / like it with stupid behavior. Fine. But at a logical level, to say that it's "objectively horrible" is a bit like saying Joseph Merrick was a bad person because he was difficult to look at. (Think it through before you reject the analogy.) If all you're doing is saying "here are aesthetic rules of typeface design, and it flouts them", you've got nothing that supports "objectively bad". In fact, by definition, you've got "subjectively bad."

If, on the other hand, you've got something that you can experimentally verify, you've got "objectively bad." I'm not seeing that.

I said it once, I'll say it again: Most of you are a bunch of tramps.
posted by lodurr at 6:23 PM on August 25, 2007


And yet nearly everyone has complained that this thread looks like hell's version of hell to the reading eye.

"Nearly everyone"? Interesting exaggeration. I can't help but think that you must mean "nearly everyone who's opinion matters" -- which would translate to "everyone who agrees with me."

But what would you say if it could be experimentally verified that you were wrong -- that Comic Sans is, in fact, more readable than other sans-serif typefaces when used in body copy? Would you grant that it is possible for objective tests to determine that it is actually more readable, while subjective evaluations produced the judgement that it was less readable?

There would be ample precedent for such things: Routes that take longer but feel shorter; computer or typewriter keyboards that feel faster but are actually slower -- or, in the case of the infamous PC Jr "chicklet", that are just as fast but feel slower, and so are hated? If those things were true of Comic Sans, then it would be fair to say things like "it's objectively bad", "it's factually bad", etc.

But nobody on this thread has any evidence of any kind, except their own subjective belief that Comic Sans has poor readability. Frankly, I utterly discount that belief, because my personal experience is that it's more readable -- especially on screen -- than most of the other fonts I've seen.

If this thread has proven anything to me, it's the power of symbols. I have thought long and hard about this, and I can't find any other explanation that makes sense to me for why people who are otherwise rational become raving irrational lunatics when it comes to the relative virtues of typefaces. It's basically a variant of the ancient mystical belief in the concept of the true name, of a piece with kabbalic number lore and golems and tibetan numerology and runelore.

As for my own beliefs about the aesthetic virtues of Comic
Sans, I have carefully avoided stating them. And I will continue to do so, because they are and ought to be irrelevant -- if we're talking objective truth.
posted by lodurr at 6:39 PM on August 25, 2007


But at a logical level, to say that it's "objectively horrible" is a bit like saying Joseph Merrick was a bad person because he was difficult to look at. (Think it through before you reject the analogy.)

It's a bad analogy because a font's entire purpose is to be looked at.
posted by Many bubbles at 6:46 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


But at a logical level, to say that [comic sans is] "objectively horrible" is a bit like saying Joseph Merrick was a bad person because he was difficult to look at.

I do love the creative analogy... But it seems inapplicable in that a human being's appearance is just one (arguably minor) feature of their function/value, while a font has no other purpose but to transmit information visually.
posted by applemeat at 6:59 PM on August 25, 2007


Metafilter: no other purpose but to transmit information visually into your seeing-holes.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:11 PM on August 25, 2007


Anyone else hate Algerian? It seems to get used a lot for quickly-made display signs by Windows users, I assume because it's high in the font list and distinct-looking.

Disneyland Paris used Algerian or similar for some signage on their Jules-Verne-inspired version of "Space Mountain," too. So everytime I see it on written communication, I hear the message read, inside my mind, in Strongbad's voice, and he adds "...from ze EARTH to ze MOON!" at the end.

I guess that tells most of you all you need to know about me.
posted by britain at 8:31 PM on August 25, 2007


The science is actually pretty interesting on this, and it's not what people commonly believe. Firstly, although studies show a slight edge to serif fonts for readability in large blocks of text at smaller sizes, it is only slight. The complexity of the letter form and how condensed it is play a much larger role (one cite of many).

Comic Sans falls down a bit on complexity, because the letter forms mimic simpleness, but are actually complex -- look at the centre stroke of the m. When printed well enough, that translates to distracting "busy-ness" to the eye, and detracts from readability.

Also way less important than people think is the legibility of individual characters -- the I/l/1 thing mentioned above. Most readers tend to read in words, not letters, and so grab them from context. Illustrious is rarely read as lllustrious, even in fonts where the I and l are very similar, like Helvetica. Really good font designers and setters know this, which is one reason we have ligatures. (Comic Sans has problems here as well, btw, like o and a, as in goal).

Where individual legibility does matter is for younger readers who are looking at distinct letterforms, for dyslexics and the partially sighted. Here comic sans scores slightly better -- but it's by no means the slam dunk it's often claimed to be ("best font for dyslexics" I've heard more than once.) This study from 2001 is often cited there, but it's pretty flawed in a number of ways, not least that they tested at 12pt (my cat's handwriting is legible at 12pt) and only with on-screen text.

Interestingly, that study, and a couple of others, show the opposite of what you posited, lodurr -- Comic Sans is perceived as more readable than it is objectively shown to be, in terms of time taken to read a given text.

I think this is what drives (some) people mad about Comic Sans -- it's like a massive hoodwink on people. Its many, many users think it's more readable, but it actually isn't. They think it says casual and fun -- and to people who don't give a shit about fonts, it is, but there are many better ways to say casual and fun in font land without being so ugly about it, and they're just a few clicks away in the font menu.

Is it a form of snobbery? Of course: it's just like sneering at the chap buying some Top 40 bollocks, when you know there are albums out there that would blow his mind, or sniggering at someone's Daffy Duck tie. Comic Sans is like that. There's no excuse, because you have to choose to use it, and it's a really bad choice. Why? Necause it makes the world a little bit uglier, just like a Daffy Duck tie does (however objectively appealing it may be).

So by mocking it, loudly and often, hopefully it will eventually hit the mainstream consciousness that really, seriously, this is the spinning bow-tie, the whoopee cushion, the fuzzy dice, the patterned braces, the dancing to Status Quo of fonts, and it's not cool to use it. Just switch to Verdana, and let us snobs get back to mocking your apostrophes and eighteen exclamation points.
posted by bonaldi at 9:09 PM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


(Also, for a font used by people who can't work apostrophes, it's really unforgiving. Look at all the space between an apostrophe and a letter s. Getting "it's" wrong there is even worse, cos it's shouting about it!)
posted by bonaldi at 9:14 PM on August 25, 2007


I know this is a bit of a religious issue, but I find this page MUCH easier to read on OS X. It doesn't give me a headache like on Vista.

Also, it's amusing that people are writing blocks of text posts in a font that other people are arguing is unreadable in blocks of text.
posted by smackfu at 9:19 PM on August 25, 2007


On the subject of horrible fonts... I was in my bank earlier today, waiting in line and staring into space, when suddenly I began to focus on the absolute crap they had plastered the walls with. Gigantic messaging done in Missive, with its weird, distorted, unnatural letterforms. It's a really creepy font for a bank, and had a disquieting effect on me.

I do not look to my financial institution to give off waves of vaguely evil psycho-gothic fnord, and spent the duration in line thinking about how strange—and yet compelling—it would be to switch to another bank just because they had such a complete lack of taste as to deploy that damned font across their empire.

Typefaces can be powerful things.
posted by mumkin at 1:59 AM on August 26, 2007


DO NOT WANT
posted by herichon at 2:17 AM on August 26, 2007


It's a bad analogy because a font's entire purpose is to be looked at.

No, a font's entire purpose is to communicate information. But thanks for trying.
posted by lodurr at 6:25 AM on August 26, 2007


Bonaldi, how dare you cite empirical evidence!

To be frank, I don't know the numbers on Comic Sans. It just seems to me that the reactions to it are irrational -- and that it's likely that many people who would otherwise have no opinion on it, are reacting negatively because they perceive that to be the high-status choice. They are being tramps, in other words. Sluts, for those who would like it put more bluntly. Font sluts, in this case. (The thing about that kind of herd-following behavior is that the people engaging in it most typically don't even understand that's what they're doing. They really do think one well Vodka is better than another, that homeopathic tinctures actually work on other than a placebo basis, that their imaginary friend is tougher than Ahmed's, or that it "makes their eyes explode" to read Comic Sans.)

So I posited a thought experiment: What if it were true, and objectively so, that Comic Sans was more readable than, say, Gill Sans or Arial? What would then be the basis for the hatred?

Let's be clear: I have no objection to people voicing their aesthetic displeasure, as long as they're honest that that's what they're doing.

Instead, here, I see a lot of claptrap about "objective badness" with nothing to back it up. Occasionally a moderate poster comes in with some data, as you have, that suggests that maybe Comic Sans is slightly less readable in some circumstances, and objectively so, than Arial or Helvetica. But if the worst case for Comic Sans readability seems to be that it's maybe only slightly worse on objective, empirical measures than other mainstream typefaces, then the evidence hardly justifies scorning it on "objective" criteria as people here have insisted on doing.

If one hates Comic Sans, feel free to say so. If you think it should be banned because it's ugly, by all means, start a fucking website. But don't pretend it's anything but aesthetics. That's just quasi-religious bullshit.

As for the "hoodwink" theory -- that strikes me as far too rational an explanation. The behavior I see in font fanatics with regard to Comic Sans -- with regard to typefaces in general -- is highly irrational. It's even more irrational than most people's behavior toward their god(s). Hence my speculation that it's got something to do with elemental concepts of mystical mechanics. Logos, "Word made flesh", and all that rubbish. I'm liking that explanation, for now, though I hardly expect anyone else to buy into it.
posted by lodurr at 6:45 AM on August 26, 2007


Metafilter: "nearly everyone who's opinion matters" -- which would translate to "everyone who agrees with me."
posted by psmealey at 7:14 AM on August 26, 2007


... if scientific measurements of legibility is the only thing that matters when we talk about fonts, then why didn't Crummy Sans get chosen as the new road sign font (previously on Metafilter)?
posted by Termite at 7:57 AM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


They're not the only thing that matters, and nobody in this thread -- and especially not me -- has argued otherwise.

I'm simply arguing that people should be honest about their reasons. Well, and also, that they should learn the actual meaning of words like "factual", "objective", and "empirical" before they claim factual, objective or empirical "badness" w.r.t. a particular typeface.
posted by lodurr at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2007


"LOOK!

Before you leave the cubicle, please ensure you flush the toilet and use brush provided."

From my last place of work... and no, no one who worked there needed to use a booster seat.
posted by Helga-woo at 8:12 AM on August 26, 2007


Missive feels a bit like it belongs on the incidental signage in sets for Harry Potter and the Rats of RISD. It makes me feel ... unsettled, somehow.

There's a lot of stuff that happens in a design process that is like sausage-making: You don't want to really watch it happening. In a case like this, a designer, an AE and an AD might sit there and look at a bunch of things and dance around their meanings and end up selecting a comp done in Missive. The AE then takes it to the client (occasionally with the designer or AD in tow, depending on agency practice and size of client), and, depending on how the meeting goes, the agency ends up tacitly endorsing soemthing like the selection of Missive as the typeface for official incidental communications, and the client goes along because the agency are supposed to be experts. Often along the way there are several tortured rationales regarding the supposed affect of the type on users. It's all gut aesthetics, but it's often cloaked in precise-sounding language designed to make it sound more authoritative. Because the language is actually quite vague, it becomes easier for people to arrive at group decisions that are quite contrary to what's intended.
posted by lodurr at 8:40 AM on August 26, 2007


No, a font's entire purpose is to communicate information. But thanks for trying.

To communicate information visually, ie, through being looked at. But thanks for trying.
posted by Many bubbles at 10:30 AM on August 26, 2007


Sorry, Many. You are confusing mode of function with purpose. But thank you for trying.

Here's a hint: If you had said a fon'ts purpose was to be read, you'd arguably be right. But right now, you've got nothing. Your original "entire purpose" includes nothing about information conveyance. So you were, quite simply, wrong. Adding "convey information visually" doesn't make you right.

Also: "Looking at" is not the same as either "seeing", "reading", "apprehending", or many other fine terms you could have chosen in place of the very flat, content free "looked at."

Seriously, think a little.
posted by lodurr at 11:34 AM on August 26, 2007


So.

Information is a funny thing. Americans who learn friend kind of mock the whole "tu" (informal) vs. "vous" (formal) thing, but English encodes all sorts of status into how you say things:

"Yes sir."
"OK."
"Sure, man"

But the words don't contain the entire message. Indeed, how you say something -- body language, and tone -- is generally agreed to be quite a bit more important than what you say. We try to capture some of this with the particular words we select in our writing, but it doesn't all come through.

And then comes the font.

The interesting thing about fonts is that there's a basic typographical assumption that they're body language and tonality for writing. I don't think the effect is as strong as is assumed; I suspect word choice backreferences to the ways words are normally spoken, thus associating the previously received full messaging with the abbreviated written form. But it's only a suspicion.

I do think the assumption is still valid though. I mean, it's just great seeing all these class-based analogies popping up. Look at this:

So by mocking it, loudly and often, hopefully it will eventually hit the mainstream consciousness that really, seriously, this is the spinning bow-tie, the whoopee cushion, the fuzzy dice, the patterned braces, the dancing to Status Quo of fonts, and it's not cool to use it.

But what's great is the suggested replacement: Verdana. I swear, what some just don't get is that for all but the obsessed Verdana is a wider Arial, which is itself just Helvetica. It's just Sans Serif. Orthographies are by their very nature highly constrained creatures, but...

There is a message -- there is information, directly communicated -- that Comic Sans MS is able to transmit, that Verdana is not. You may parse this message as "The writer is an idiot". That's fine. You'll get that message faster from Comic Sans MS, which encodes the fact in the orthography itself, than Verdana, which can say nothing except to refer to the words themselves. Comic Sans MS thus wins.

Think for a moment. Comic Sans MS is not a Sans Serif font. It's something else. It's handwriting. Remember hand-written letters? Wasn't there something beautiful about them, each stroke specifically crafted for that specific word, delivered quickly or slowly, sharply or softly, with intent or in accident...

Comic Sans MS is a human font. It, unlike Verdana, could concievably have been drawn by a human hand, not deeply versed in the art of calligraphy but just by one of us. It exists outside of the dual ivory towers of Serif and Sans Serif, violating the rules of both with abandon. It's a giddy, stupid smile in a field of flat poker faces. It's tie dye in a black tie world. It has been adopted by millions who wish to say "sup man" instead of "how are you doing today sir".

I may not wear tie dye. But smiles are good things. Comic Sans MS is pretty clearly overused, but it's all that remains of an entire era of individual handwriting. Those of us reading this thread are possibly part of the last generation to have handwritten their classwork, or at least their tests. Maybe this is for the best.

I'm not so sure.
posted by effugas at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2007


Americans who learn french. Oops.
posted by effugas at 2:33 PM on August 26, 2007


There is a message -- there is information, directly communicated -- that Comic Sans MS is able to transmit, that Verdana is not. You may parse this message as "The writer is an idiot".

This, in a nutshell, is what really enrages me about the whole "Comic Sans is BAD" schtick: It amounts to a bunch of (what I see as) irrational elistists finding a good hard rule for who they're better than. Very handy. Very, very distasteful. Makes me want to write off anyone who complains in that way about Comic Sans as someone I don't feel any need to associate with.

They're like star-belly sneetches. Them what use Comic Sans has no stars upon thars. Makes me want to cover my belly in protest.
posted by lodurr at 2:40 PM on August 26, 2007


Honestly, I've always thought Verdana was pretty ugly. I hardly ever use it as my first choice on my own stuff. It's in the degradation cascade behind Trebuchet and Tahoma.
posted by lodurr at 2:43 PM on August 26, 2007


effugas, what the hell is your point? So far, I've got:
1. Language encodes status/register.
2. And people are talking about status about fonts, ho ho!
3. All sans serifs are the same, Verdana's basically just Arial.
4. Comic Sans is handwriting.
5. It can carry more of an implicit message, even a negative one, than dull old sans, which can't carry any message beyond its words.
5b. Except when sans/serif fonts carry the implicit register of "how are you doing today sir".
6. Handwriting is beautiful.
7. Smiles are good.
8. Comic Sans, by dint of being linked to handwriting, and by me calling it a smile, and it not being dull old sans, is ace.
9. I miss handwriting.

I mean, you do realise Comic Sans isn't the only font that falls outside sans and serif? We can agree that it's like wearing tie dye, though. :)
posted by bonaldi at 2:50 PM on August 26, 2007


Gah. Lodurr, Verdana and Trebuchet are web-fonts. They're not meant to be used in print. They have been specifically designed and hinted for low-resolution output.

Comic Sans is Herb Tarlek.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:15 PM on August 26, 2007


My point, in a nutshell:

Fonts are a mechanism for encoding register. The "suggested" encoding that people are supposed to use instead of Comic Sans MS, Verdana, doesn't exist in the same family as Comic Sans MS and it's bizarre anyone would suggest it does. That implies that some people have a fundamental beef with a handwritten, informal visual register.

I ask the simple question -- have we lost something subtle, when the form of writing that's most similar to what we ourselves can express, is so extraordinarily vilified?

I didn't see another handwritten font suggested. Just more and more variations on the Sans Serif theme.

(Oh, and yes. I'll stand by my belief that whatever Verdana expresses is very subtle, while Comic Sans MS is anything but.)

five fresh fish -- is hinting still relevant, in this age of subpixel rendering?
posted by effugas at 4:46 PM on August 26, 2007


Ahh, I get you now. A couple of things: I wasn't seriously suggesting Verdana as a good replacement for Comic Sans, I was kinda joking in a font snob way, meaning that it is a better replacement as a wrong font to use.

Verdana's a screen font, and not an especially beautiful one. Using it would still be using the "wrong" font. It's just not as ugly, and it's on everyone's machine.

As for the beef with the handwritten, informal register, that's actually in two parts:

Handwriting: Comic Sans is a really shit handwriting font. It's ugly. It's crummy. It's not "most similar to what we ourselves can express", it's most similar to what an eight-year-old can express. Other handwriting fonts are available (I don't like them; just like I don't like Courier: when you've got a 600dpi printer capable of doing things that would make Gutenberg sing, why make it look like a typewriter or scrawl?). Fonts that look like good handwriting, yet remain casual.

Register: Very, very frequently, people use it in entirely the wrong register. People think it just means "casual", when the register is much more broad than that. It's like persistantly using falsetto -- for sermons, for breaking bad news, for telling a joke.

"Hey, sup dude"? Fine, use a handwriting font if you must.
"Industrial action would violate the terms of your agreement with the company and places you in danger of disciplinary action"? Putting that in Comic Sans doesn't make it casual any more than putting ":) LOL" on the end of it would.

Why not suggest another handwriting font? Well, because to find a font that can cover appropriately all the registers that comic sans is used for is impossible, and a handwriting font just isn't going to cut it, even if it were widely installed. Sans serif fonts, however, have a much wider range of acceptability. So if you're going to use one font for everything, as Comic Sans users often do, there's a better chance you won't be hideously off-register. And there's an 80% chance it won't be as ugly.
posted by bonaldi at 5:23 PM on August 26, 2007


Think for a moment. Comic Sans MS is not a Sans Serif font. It's something else. It's handwriting. Remember hand-written letters? Wasn't there something beautiful about them, each stroke specifically crafted for that specific word, delivered quickly or slowly, sharply or softly, with intent or in accident...

Comic Sans MS is a human font. It, unlike Verdana, could concievably have been drawn by a human hand, not deeply versed in the art of calligraphy but just by one of us. It exists outside of the dual ivory towers of Serif and Sans Serif, violating the rules of both with abandon. It's a giddy, stupid smile in a field of flat poker faces. It's tie dye in a black tie world. It has been adopted by millions who wish to say "sup man" instead of "how are you doing today sir".


That's beautiful, man. It's too bad it's a load of rubbish.

Each individual character looks like it might be someone's handwriting, true, but delivered en mass, formed into words and sentences and God forbid, paragraphs, the regularity and repetition of letterforms contrasted with the funky idiosyncrasies of each actual letter add up to a kind of uncanny valley effect. It's humans instructing computers to mimic humans.

It's breezy spontaneity every hour on the hour. It's a forced smile on the face of a salesman. It's tie-dye in a Freedom Rock infomercial world. It's been adapted by millions to give a "fun" handwritten look to signs that could have actually been written by hand.

I'm not saying it needs to be banished to the seventh depth of fiery hell, or that all those who have ever used it need to be shunned as unpersons. It has its place--even if it doesn't fill it well and even if maybe nothing could--but in the wrong place, goddamn does it suck.
posted by arto at 6:09 PM on August 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


I should point out, my actual handwriting is both uglier and less legible than Comic Sans. It is, however, honest and human in its ugliness, a barbarous yawp of unaesthetic Reality.

Now the hatred for Verdana, Georgia and (as a display face and for LOLcats) Impact, that I cannot explain.
posted by arto at 6:41 PM on August 26, 2007


Gah. Lodurr, Verdana and Trebuchet are web-fonts.

And your point would be.....?

We have been talking mostly about web presentation, after all. Or did I miss the part where the font-hataz were all "but it's OK if we do Comic Sans on the web, we just think it's hell's idea of hell when it's in print."

(Or maybe I gave a false impression. Maybe there's another medium where one might talk about font cascades and graceful degratation?)
posted by lodurr at 7:19 PM on August 26, 2007


If you had said a fon'ts purpose was to be read, you'd arguably be right. But right now, you've got nothing. Your original "entire purpose" includes nothing about information conveyance. So you were, quite simply, wrong. Adding "convey information visually" doesn't make you right.

Oh, ffs. You read things by looking at them, with your eyes, unless you're blind (in which case Comic Sans is sort of moot anyway). If you're listening to the same words, you don't need a font. You only need a font (or handwriting) so you can look at the words.

The words themselves are conveying the information--all right, aside from the metadata already mentioned--and the font is just a medium. Or a tool for a medium, really. (Leaving aside the "fonts are art" issue, because although they are, I don't think that's how most people see them most of the time.... After someone makes it, it's a tool.)

This, in a nutshell, is what really enrages me about the whole "Comic Sans is BAD" schtick: It amounts to a bunch of (what I see as) irrational elistists finding a good hard rule for who they're better than. Very handy. Very, very distasteful. Makes me want to write off anyone who complains in that way about Comic Sans as someone I don't feel any need to associate with.

Awesome. I hope the next time someone here disses netspeak, you'll be right there on the front lines, defending its value. It's pretty irrational and elitist to hate a dialect, and to use it as a good hard rule for who you (general you) are better than.


Aaannyway.

Each individual character looks like it might be someone's handwriting, true, but delivered en mass, formed into words and sentences and God forbid, paragraphs, the regularity and repetition of letterforms contrasted with the funky idiosyncrasies of each actual letter add up to a kind of uncanny valley effect. It's humans instructing computers to mimic humans.

I think that's exactly right. Handwriting can do things typed text can't. But it can do them because it's handwriting, because it's irregular and the writer is causing those irregularities. Trying to copy that with a font is sort of missing the point, unless it's some sort of advanced font that you can modify while you're using it somehow. Let the font be good at what fonts are inherently better at than handwriting: regularity and readability.
posted by Many bubbles at 8:33 PM on August 26, 2007


Many: Awesome. I hope the next time someone here disses netspeak, you'll be right there on the front lines, defending its value. It's pretty irrational and elitist to hate a dialect, and to use it as a good hard rule for who you (general you) are better than.

So, I guess sarcasm isn't in your toolbox.

Either that, or you haven't had lessons in how to use or perceive it. You might want to go get those, now.
posted by lodurr at 8:37 PM on August 26, 2007


Actually, I was pointing out the sort of thing you'd have to do in order to not be some sort of, well, flaming hypocrite.
posted by Many bubbles at 9:08 PM on August 26, 2007


Hey lodurr, I've been typesetting for about, oh, six years now. None of my colleagues with ten or twenty or thirty years of experience set type in Comic Sans. We're all pretty blue collar. Ask any printer, designer, typesetter, typographer: Comic Sans is fucking ugly. And maybe it really bothers you that it's a subjective opinion. And maybe it bothers you more that it happens to be both subjective and true. But tough shit, fella, because it is. Comic Sans fucking sucks, and if you like it you are ignorant. The end.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:11 PM on August 26, 2007


Given the choice, I'd personally pick Palatino, Architect and Trebuchet

Connare designed Trebuchet.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:33 PM on August 26, 2007


Optimus Chyme: What bothers me is that you're clearly a fucking elitist pig. What bothers me is that you are willing to make judgments about people's value based on one opinion. It's the equivalent of saying that someone is "ignorant" if they like plaid.

In some cases -- regarding some people on this thread -- this kind of attitude toward others is not surprising. (And let's please not pretend that this entails making a judgement about the worth of others, please, it's just disingenuous -- but hey, that's par for the course for some of the font-hataz on this thread, too, so why am I complaining?) In other cases, it is slightly surprising to see who's willing to write people off based on their font choice.

It's a really stupid attitude from a pragmatic perspective, too, because guess what: It's wrong. How do I know that? Well, my experience teaches me so. There are few grand lessons I've had the privilege of relearning more times or with more reliability than that it's a very bad idea to write off people or their knowledge based on one or two general, irrelevant behaviors.

I'll state this bluntly: If you think that a person's preference for one typeface over another tells you anything of real use about that person -- even about their design sense -- then you are an idiot. Or maybe merely ignorant. But more likely an idiot. Certainly someone displaying what I regard as very poor character and moral judgement.

Someone who's opinion about anything is suspect. Because, you know, if they're willing to write people off -- even just in terms of design sense -- based on whether they think a person "likes" Comic Sans -- then how can I trust their judgment in other areas?

Of course, I'll be looking for such poor judges of character as Many Bubbles (who seems to have confused me with someone who makes value judgments about other people based on whether they use something called "netspeak", and also betrays a severed deficit in mastery of irony and sarcasm) to call me a hypocrite for this stand. I'm a hypocrite, they'll say, for making a value judgement about people based on whether they make value judgements about people.

I can live with that.
posted by lodurr at 2:42 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


"But tough shit, fella, because it is. Comic Sans fucking sucks, and if you like it you are ignorant."

Well, I hate Comic Sans. But you're being such an asshole (which isn't anything unusual, mind) that I'm moved to think better of it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:13 AM on August 27, 2007


I just favorited lodurr's comment, but that doesn't satisfy me; I want to openly say that it expresses an important truth that needs to be rubbed in people's faces a lot more than it is.

What bothers me is that you are willing to make judgments about people's value based on one opinion. It's the equivalent of saying that someone is "ignorant" if they like plaid... If you think that a person's preference for one typeface over another tells you anything of real use about that person... then you are an idiot.


You can substitute pretty much anything else for "typeface" in that last sentence and it's just as true. Life is messy and complicated, brilliant people often have silly opinions and preferences, getting a full enough picture of someone to decide what you think of them takes time and effort. It's so much easier to make snap judgments and separate the sheep from the goats based on whether they like Comic Sans, or listen to disco, or say "nucular," or whatever. But to anyone with any sense, it makes you look like an idiot.
posted by languagehat at 5:33 AM on August 27, 2007


Wow. So font preference is the new obesity/smoking.
posted by psmealey at 6:01 AM on August 27, 2007


Metafilter doesn't do typography well.

If you think that a person's preference for one typeface over another tells you anything of real use about that person -- even about their design sense -- then you are an idiot.

I dig the argument you've been hammering on, lodurr, and like languagehat I find the above to be a key, important idea, except for "idiot" (which you sort of qualified later) and "even about their design sense", which is reaching just a little too far.

Speaking as someone with minimal design sense, even. Can you intuit the whole scope and breadth of someone's typographic sensibilities from the fact that you know they use Comic Sans casually and unironically for typesetting? No. That'd be bizarre, rank arrogance.

Can you tell that they are willing to deploy a widely reviled font that has, subjectively speaking, very little going for it besides ubiquity, without seeming to be aware that anyone would even blink at that? Is that someone not a reflection of some of their design sense? Does "design sense" suddenly mean "do whatever you want with stuff, I'm okay, you're okay"? Why hire a designer for anything, then? Etc. When making a partial judgment about someone's professional/vocational capacity in a field based on jarring and apparently lazy choices in that field is off the table, how, exactly, do you expect people to proceed?

People being dismissive jerks to other people about little things in general suck. No question. And everybody has peeves, and people enjoy speaking hyperbolically (especially on the internet) and so especially when the two intersect you're going to get people seeming to rampantly dismiss their fellow human beings for the slimmest trivia, and taken at face value that seems just downright inhuman of 'em.

But hyperbolic dismissal on the internet goes both ways, so I'm not sure how far this particular fontism arms race is likely to progress, really, other than in comment count.
posted by cortex at 6:57 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cortex: This is clearly a religious issue. I give it the same respect/disdain that I give all religious issues. In no sense does Comic Sans warrant the disdain that's been heaped upon it in this thread by people who are eager to establish their credibility as designers. As far as I can see, it's just a pile-on.

And there's nothing in what I said that supports the idea that I think design is "anything goes", or even "I'm ok, you're ok." Design can be purposeful. But it's usually voodoo. The venomous disdain for Comic Sans is voodoo design.
posted by lodurr at 7:28 AM on August 27, 2007


I don't think it warrants the defence that's been mounted of it, either.
posted by bonaldi at 7:47 AM on August 27, 2007


Yeah, but insofar as design can be purposeful, it's not hard to make an argument for when a person should and should not purposefully deploy comic sans, and it's also not hard to find all kinds of places where that sensibility is ignored by people who haven't established the design credibility to show they're doing it on purpose.

Compare with, say, literary mechanics. If you've got ten pages of free-associating run-on sentences, what does it matter if it was written Wiliam Faulkner or Jose Saramago or rather by some eighth grader in English class? Is a run-on sentence an inherently good thing? Inherently bad? I don't think "neither" is a controversial answer—it just is what it is, until read in context at least. Just something from the toolkit.

But that sort of writing can be hard to read. That eight-grader's English teacher is probably going to mark them down for having run-ons, for lacking a clear and simple structure, and that's probably a mixture of justice and voodoo, depending on the quality of the kid's work: there's nothing to say he shouldn't experiment with such things, so how is it suddenly "wrong"? At the same time, we're talking about establishing fundamentals—if this teacher knows this kid, and thinks he's actually a very strong writer, they may cut him some slack and encourage his experiments some of the time, but barring that they're going to be concerned with his ability to display a grasp of the basic concepts of effective writing.

If someone I've got some reason to think of as having good design sense presents me with some Comic Sans out of context, I'll give it a second thought and try to see what they're going for and maybe talk to them about why they went there. If my boss sends me an email in Comic Sans, I'm going to shake my head and conclude that he picked a silly font at random because he was bored, and that I probably won't ask him for design advice on anything, barring some later revelation to change my mind. If I ask someone to design some type and they pull Comic Sans out without a wink or a comment, I'm going to have to think hard about why.

None of that is voodoo, and none of it has to do with Comic Sans being inherently and in every fashion bad—it can be used well, in certain applications. But it's not a great or versatile or handsome or well-designed font, and drawing some initial conclusions about someone's design sensibility based on their choice to use it in any but a select few contexts isn't voodoo or religion either, it's basic pragmatism.

So to dismiss curt dismissals of Comic Sans as elitist voodoo does seem like suggesting that design isn't something a reasonable person can make quick initial judgments on based on some big clues. They might be wrong, of course—they could laugh off a brilliant designer because they didn't grok the context of the Comic Sans usage—but for all the times they encounter Comic Sans in their life, that particular circumstance is going to be a tiny island of serendipity in an ocean of lazy, "isn't this font fun!" lay typography.

People are going to condense all that to "Comic Sans sucks and anyone who uses it is retarded at design" just for the sake of brevity (and snark). That may be a bit conversationally lazy, but it's understandable. As someone who likes to get explicit and windy about this sort of thing and who dislikes pointless snobbery, I hear you, but I disagree with some of how you're making your point.
posted by cortex at 7:58 AM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


What defense?

Seriously, can you even say what defense has been mounted? I'm genuinely curious, because I tend to doubt most people following this thread would be able to do so. Jesus, parts of this thread look like a typography version of Free Republic.
posted by lodurr at 8:00 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


People are going to condense all that to "Comic Sans sucks and anyone who uses it is retarded at design" just for the sake of brevity (and snark). That may be a bit conversationally lazy, but it's understandable.

Conversationally lazy? That's putting it mildly. And the fervency with which the sentiment was levied was a bit less than lazy.

So to dismiss curt dismissals of Comic Sans as elitist voodoo does seem like suggesting that design isn't something a reasonable person can make quick initial judgments on based on some big clues.

Having trouble parsing this. Are you saying that if I dismiss curt dismissals of Comic Sans, I'm implying that design isn't something that people ought to make snap judgements about? Sure, I'll buy that. I think that's fair.
posted by lodurr at 8:15 AM on August 27, 2007


No, I'm saying that you're implying that design isn't something that people can reasonably make snap judgments about in the contexts in which they most commonly encounter Comic Sans: being deployed haphazardly by non-designers.

It's one thing to say you can't just be positive, because design is subjective. I'd agree with that wholeheartedly—see above, re: context and credibility and the belief that no font or technique is absoutely and inherently bad (or good).

It's another to say that becaause you can't be positive, you can't pragmatically be pretty damn sure most of the time. People ought not to make snap judgments about design if the goal is to find enlightenment and become one with the universe, but if they're trying to get something done practically without a lot of bullshit they're going to rely on a degree of snap judgment to make it all happen. That that comes out in stridently condensed opinions isn't really surprising, and working with the text of those opinions but not the context behind them is, well, dismissive.
posted by cortex at 8:29 AM on August 27, 2007


Seriously, can you even say what defense has been mounted? I'm genuinely curious, because I tend to doubt most people following this thread would be able to do so.

You're saying that it doesn't warrant the disdain heaped upon it, which sounds like a defence of it, or did when I read it.
posted by bonaldi at 8:51 AM on August 27, 2007


... and you're saying it does? OK. If you're saying that's on aesthetic grounds, great. I'm saying that the claims to objective justification are mostly bogus, and the ones that aren't bogus (like the studies you cited up thread) don't justify the level of disdain.
posted by lodurr at 9:06 AM on August 27, 2007


I don't really want to get involved in this argument, but I think that you're getting a bit confused on the "objective" thing.

Some people wrongly think that aesthetics and objectivity are necessarily mutually exclusive. Those people are wrong.

Furthermore, although I've not read you closely, it seems as if you're claiming that the only legitimate criteria by which to judge a typeface is on its functional utility with regard to communication and that aesthetics is, though important to many people, irrelevant for the purposes of saying whether one typeface is better than another.

That's wrong. If functional utility with regard to communication were the only thing that mattered about typefaces, we'd only have, and need, a few. This would be true about a great many aspects of the rest of life, as well.

But of course aesthetic considerations matter, even with the most humbly utilitarian tools. Why? Because they do. As the economists, value is what people will pay for something. People care about aesthetics beyond pure functionality. Therefore, it matters.

And the people who are experts and most qualified to evaluate the aesthetics, not just the utility (but that too) of typefaces almost universally judge comic sans poorly.

I agree with you that it obviously has value to many people because they use it. But I think the type snobs here are arguing that comic sans is preferred by people only because it's the only choice available to them that satisfies that particular need. Among all the possible alternatives, it simply doesn't satisfy that need as well as most others. People would probably prefer something better than comic sans if it were available.

You seem pretty sure (or maybe I have you confused with another commenter) that the objection is an elitist one that disdains the casual nature of comic sans. That's probably true in some or many cases. But it's not necessarily true and I think other arguments against have been made here.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:19 AM on August 27, 2007


The phrase that really set me off was 'empirically bad'. That's where you'll find the stuff about testability and empirical results.

For what it's worth, I still don't recall anyone in this thread just closing the loop to say that it's bad because everyone thinks it is. I would have actually had a hard time answering that. (That's subtly different from what I was arguing with regard to why people think it's bad.) I think I know why: They want it to be bad for objective reasons, even empirical reasons. Much like people want God or Jesus to be objectively, empirically real. They don't want to deal with the scariness of having an opinion that they have to hold without evidence -- or without other people backing them up.

I'm mostly pissed off about the fact that the font freaks won't admit that it's mostly about status markers. Use of Comic Sans in anything but a clearly ironic manner, it seems, is justifiably sufficient to mark one as a neanderthal. I find that attitude repugnant.
posted by lodurr at 10:59 AM on August 27, 2007


I'm mostly pissed off about the fact that the font freaks won't admit that it's mostly about status markers. Use of Comic Sans in anything but a clearly ironic manner, it seems, is justifiably sufficient to mark one as a neanderthal. I find that attitude repugnant.

The thing, though, is that font freaks aren't saying that! Some other people might be, the types you're calling tramps, but they're not font freaks. Font freaks dislike Comic Sans for plenty of better reasons than status markers, and would still hate it if the Queen used it for all her correspondence and it was used nowhere else.
posted by bonaldi at 11:27 AM on August 27, 2007


I'm not sure you're the best one to speak on that, bonaldi. You're not really a good exemplar of the population i'm at odds with. I've just taken the trouble to review your comments, one by one, and your charactrerization is absolutely fair -- for your comments.

Your comments were never the ones I had issues with. You were arguing -- really, having a pretty civil discussion, by MeFi standards -- about the messages conveyed by typefaces. But there were others, plenty of others, who were heaping loads of steaming scorn upon anyone who would deign to use Comic Sans. You may not regard those people as font freaks; let's just say that's a cultural distinction I'm not in-group enough to grok, they look like font freaks to me.
posted by lodurr at 11:36 AM on August 27, 2007


God, every time see this in My Comments I want to respond again, but when I click over to make my comment a giddy smile breaks across my face and I forget what point I wanted to make... but here goes:

I'm mostly pissed off about the fact that the font freaks won't admit that it's mostly about status markers.

I am not a font freak but I do hate Comic Sans, not because someone's mom uses it for her bake sales flyers, but because it is horribly suited for use in comics. IT FLOWS HORRIBLY IN ALL CAPS. Mixed capitalization scans slightly better, but I have issues with that style of comic lettering to begin with. The kerning (Not being a twitchy elitist I had to look it up to ensure I had the right term) of the font, or rather lack thereof, makes for a disruptive reading experience which is especially crippling in a medium like comics whose storytelling power is completely dependent on the smooth flow of imagery, whether illustrative or glyphic.

If they changed the name to Neighborhood Rummage Sale Sans or Have You Seen My Doggy Sans, I'd have no problem with it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:28 PM on August 27, 2007


oh god, please make it stop.
posted by Lizc at 4:32 PM on August 27, 2007


lodurr: "And yet nearly everyone has complained that this thread looks like hell's version of hell to the reading eye.

"Nearly everyone"? Interesting exaggeration. I can't help but think that you must mean "nearly everyone who's opinion matters" -- which would translate to "everyone who agrees with me."

But what would you say if it could be experimentally verified that you were wrong -- that Comic Sans is, in fact, more readable than other sans-serif typefaces when used in body copy? Would you grant that it is possible for objective tests to determine that it is actually more readable, while subjective evaluations produced the judgement that it was less readable?

There would be ample precedent for such things: Routes that take longer but feel shorter; computer or typewriter keyboards that feel faster but are actually slower -- or, in the case of the infamous PC Jr "chicklet", that are just as fast but feel slower, and so are hated? If those things were true of Comic Sans, then it would be fair to say things like "it's objectively bad", "it's factually bad", etc.

But nobody on this thread has any evidence of any kind, except their own subjective belief that Comic Sans has poor readability. Frankly, I utterly discount that belief, because my personal experience is that it's more readable -- especially on screen -- than most of the other fonts I've seen.

If this thread has proven anything to me, it's the power of symbols. I have thought long and hard about this, and I can't find any other explanation that makes sense to me for why people who are otherwise rational become raving irrational lunatics when it comes to the relative virtues of typefaces. It's basically a variant of the ancient mystical belief in the concept of the true name, of a piece with kabbalic number lore and golems and tibetan numerology and runelore.

As for my own beliefs about the aesthetic virtues of Comic
Sans, I have carefully avoided stating them. And I will continue to do so, because they are and ought to be irrelevant -- if we're talking objective truth.
"

I'm going blind trying to read this
posted by 31d1 at 4:41 PM on August 27, 2007


I was going to back through to see what types of people were talking like you describe, lodurr, but the whole damn thread's in comic sans!
posted by bonaldi at 4:51 PM on August 27, 2007


oh god, please make it stop.

As pleas for death go, that looks downright jolly. Go go Comic Sans!
posted by cortex at 5:32 PM on August 27, 2007


The phrase that really set me off was 'empirically bad'.

I'll warrant that if one measures reading speed, re-tracking movements, and information retention, Comic Sans will prove to be empirically bad on all counts.

There are objective measurements that can be taken wrt typefaces. Of these, readability may be among the most important. Comic Sans fails.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on August 27, 2007


Lodurr, I seriously have no idea what you're talking about or why you're defending a lazily thrown together eighth-rate typeface so vehemently.

I can put together a basic font in about six hours. A through Z, lower and uppercase, 0-9, and some punctuation. It would take a lot of coffee and no breaks, but yeah, I could do it in six hours.

AND IT WOULD BE FUCKING AWFUL.

To design a truly useful font, one that is pleasing to the eye in all the sorts of ways that great fonts are, without being noticeable or showy, is an insanely difficult task, and one I might never actually succeed at. Professional typography to me is one of the highest arts, with a really fucking low ROI, monetarily speaking. Most typographers would make more flipping burgers than they would designing fonts, if you look at the hours a truly dedicated person puts into it. There's always going to be some freak genius like Hoefler, who seemingly transmits amazing type from the heavens like he has the spark of the Jenson , but most of us humans output mediocre work at a slow pace.

It's okay that not all fonts are created equal. It's okay that Zapf and Baskerville and Hoefler and Gill are thought of as groundbreaking talents while Connare and Chyme are frankly not so great. If nothing is bad, how would you know when anything is good?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:33 PM on August 27, 2007


I just want to say I'm soo glad to be able to read this thread under Recent Activity, where it is in nice, sane Verdana.
posted by exogenous at 6:34 PM on August 27, 2007


Of course, I'll be looking for such poor judges of character as Many Bubbles (who seems to have confused me with someone who makes value judgments about other people based on whether they use something called "netspeak", and also betrays a severed deficit in mastery of irony and sarcasm) to call me a hypocrite for this stand. I'm a hypocrite, they'll say, for making a value judgement about people based on whether they make value judgements about people.

Let me break this down a little more for you. You're a hypocrite if you don't also apply this grand high principle of yours to other instances of people making value judgements about people based on trivial things (netspeak is just an example, by the way, and it's one I picked because it's pretty reviled by people who don't use it), and swoop in to tell them off.
posted by Many bubbles at 6:42 PM on August 27, 2007


I just want to say I'm soo glad to be able to read this thread under Recent Activity, where it is in nice, sane Verdana.

Oh, honey. Verdana is not your font. Trust me, dear, I have an eye for these things. You'd do well with a tall, strapping font, something with definition—with serif. Anywho, the bickering these ninnies are up to is all the more ironic for the revolting font they insist on doing it in! Tee hee!
posted by carsonb at 11:16 PM on August 27, 2007


Lodurr, I seriously have no idea what you're talking about or why you're defending a lazily thrown together eighth-rate typeface so vehemently.

That's because you aren't reading for content or meaning. If you were, you'd understand that I'm not defending Comic Sans: I'm attacking you.
posted by lodurr at 6:01 AM on August 28, 2007


Many bubbles, I'm so sad that I'll disappoint you by not monitoring MeFi to call out any instance of people being assholes. But just so you know, I do have a small reputation around here for doing exactly what you describe.

Not that I give a shit whether or not you think I'm a hypocrite.
posted by lodurr at 6:03 AM on August 28, 2007


Imagine for a moment that there was no Comic Sans MS, and that you couldn't (with normal tools) have font colors, besides Black and Dark Green.

Almost all correspondence would be in black. Occasionally, somebody would use dark green...

...and dark green text would be the new Comic Sans MS.

That's what a lot of people here aren't getting. There are indeed objective measures of inferiority to Comic Sans MS. But those objective measures are usually used for 6 hour fonts, and for Impact. Comic Sans MS barely registers as problematic, or this thread could not exist. The objective measures also see dark green on white as not quite as readable.

But it's no yellow on white.

The fact that people would actually use dark green on white is what would bring the ire.
posted by effugas at 10:05 AM on August 28, 2007


...and dark green text would be the new Comic Sans MS.

That's what a lot of people here aren't getting.


No, it really, really wouldn't. That's what you aren't getting. It's clearly your hypothesis that it would, but there are plenty of people here giving you many other reasons Comic Sans is hated beyond this single-trick it's-the-status thing.
posted by bonaldi at 10:14 AM on August 28, 2007


The status argument accounts for the venom. "Bad design" doesn't.
posted by lodurr at 10:51 AM on August 28, 2007


Yes, there's definitely something in that, but that's not what effugas was saying. If he'd said something like "say there are only six colours of type available, and secretaries and people who can't use apostrophes and people who use lots of exclams exclusively use green and thus green becomes Comic Sans" there'd be something there too.

It just wouldn't be surprising.
posted by bonaldi at 10:55 AM on August 28, 2007


The status argument accounts for the venom. "Bad design" doesn't.

Oh, pshaw - you've been around long enough to know that the average MeFite has enough venom floating around in them to spare a couple of drops for crappy font that is completely unsuitable for the medium that is its namesake.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:19 AM on August 28, 2007


Frankly, I think the analogy is way strained, bonaldi. Sure you can cite lots of tokens for people saying stupid stuff in Comic Sans. But you can cite lots of tokens for people saying stupid stuff in Impact, Arial Heavy, Zapf Chancery, using multiple colors, mixing ten typefaces in the same document, and everything in WordArt. I'm just not understanding how any of that is comparable to Comic Sans. All of those are things that genuinely inhibit apprehension of the information. If Comic Sans is in that territory for a reader, well, then, I submit that reader is far too sensitive and needs to get his/her priorities adjusted.

Blink and ALL CAPS and super-size and yellow on white (or other close matches of intensity contrast) are much, much, much more prevalent markers of design-insensitivity on the web, in my experience. (Though to be fair, I haven't seen significant blinking in a couple of years.) One of the reasons I used ot use Comic Sans as my browser default font was because hardly anybody used it. If a lot of people used it, it wouldn't have been very useful in telling when people didn't set a base font. In those olden days before Firefox+Web Developer plugin, that was a really useful thing.

Maybe that's a measure of what sites I looked at in those days. I hardly ever looked at MySpace, GeoCities and the like. I was mostly looking at B2B and blogs and wide-appeal reference sites like Wikipedia and IMDB.

And I'm sure I could find some Comic Sans in my mail files somewhere. But I can't recall any.
posted by lodurr at 11:25 AM on August 28, 2007


... completely unsuitable for the medium that is its namesake.

But then, that's not what most people cared about. I think I counted three people in this thread who were really interested in how it worked for comics. I might have missed a few, but relative to the thread, the applicability for actual comics was never really a main point of discussion.

Anyway, I always thought the name was not an indicator of what it was to be used for, rather what inspired it. E.g., I never though Copperplate was to be used in making copperplates, or typefaces with names like "carved in stone" were meant to be used as a master for tombstone lettering.
posted by lodurr at 11:29 AM on August 28, 2007


Which analogy, lodurr, his or mine? Because the only way that Comic Sans has gained the reputation for being a font used by idiots is that it is frequently used idiotically.
posted by bonaldi at 11:31 AM on August 28, 2007


But then, that's not what most people cared about.

It's what bothers me... oh crap, does that make me an elitist2?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:39 AM on August 28, 2007


I don't believe it's used idiotically as frequently as people are representing.

I do believe that people believe it's used that way. I think they're wrong. I think their memories are clouded. In much the same way that people remember a lot of bad things happening when they're participating in a bitch-fest.
posted by lodurr at 11:39 AM on August 28, 2007


You'd be an elitist if you thought that only people who understood the importance of a good comics-oriented font were worth associating with.

And you know what? If you are, you are. Just own it. Don't pretend it's not true.
posted by lodurr at 11:41 AM on August 28, 2007


So where did it get its rep, then? I, mean, seriously, there are Flickr groups jam-packed with stunning abuses using comic sans.

(And these groups aren't laugh-at-the-poor-people types, either. It's not solely a low-status thing in the way that some sites are laughing at folk in Burberry caps and white trackies).
posted by bonaldi at 11:42 AM on August 28, 2007


Lodurr, don't take any offense at this, but you are a fucking grade-A nutcase.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:09 PM on August 28, 2007


You'd be an elitist if you thought that only people who understood the importance of a good comics-oriented font were worth associating with. And you know what? If you are, you are. Just own it. Don't pretend it's not true.

While I'm incredibly impressed at how quickly you can slide from over-generalized blanket statements to hyper-specific pronouncements on people and their thought processes in less than 3 comments, it pales in comparison to the relief I feel at not fitting your profile of a socio-typographical elitist. :D

Oh FFS, you can't even make proper smileys with this piece of crap, he looks like he's had a stroke or something!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:10 PM on August 28, 2007


First, I'd like to think that people around here would know "status" is not synonymous with "socioeconomic status." In simplistic sociolinguistic terms, "high status term" means "marks the speaker as being in some sense superior to others."

Second, I'm sure there are such flickr groups. That's consistent with my view: People find what they look for, and record that. They don't record the stupid memos that are in Arial, because they're not looking for those.

Text in Comic Sans is marked -- utterances in Comic Sans are marked utterances. People who use it are regarded as marked -- the use of low-status code (Comic Sans) (we've already established exhaustively in this thread that presentation has content, the medium is messaging, etc.) markes the speaker as being inferior, in the eyes of people who are looking for those markers.

The markers persist in use because they are useful: They help a group (what I've called font freaks) identify itself as better than some other group ("those ignorant of design"); since they're part of an esoteric discipline, they get the benefit of reinforcing their sense that they are sharing in secret, or at least difficult to obtain, knowledge.
posted by lodurr at 12:13 PM on August 28, 2007


... hyper-specific hypothetical pronouncements on people and their thought processes ...

There, fixed that for you.
posted by lodurr at 12:14 PM on August 28, 2007


... you are a fucking grade-A nutcase.

For expecting people to own up to their own prejudices? Um... OK. So be it.
posted by lodurr at 12:15 PM on August 28, 2007


They help a group (what I've called font freaks) identify itself as better than some other group ("those ignorant of design"); since they're part of an esoteric discipline.

But isn't a huge part of this that it's not difficult at all! Just use another goddamn font. Sure, there are fashion freaks who look down on doing up the third button on the suit, but it's not that difficult to not wear a spinning bowtie to a funeral, for most of us.

Text in Comic Sans is marked as low-status now? Yes. But it hasn't been marked from day one! It got that marking because it was used idiotically, repeatedly, to a greater or lesser extent. And its low-status use has made it a low-status signifier. So?
posted by bonaldi at 12:23 PM on August 28, 2007


The relationship between status and signifiers is just not that straightforward. Rap was a status signifier for most Americans, of low status, for a very long time. Now it's much more complex. The same is true for NASCAR watching, Pabst-drinking, and the wearing of a certain kind of t-shirt.
posted by lodurr at 12:39 PM on August 28, 2007


Yes, and I've been trying to argue that the thing about Comic Sans is more complicated, too. There are people steamboating in here (not necessarily you), and saying "oh, this is all ridiculous, the only reason Comic Sans is hated is because it's low-status" or whatever.

When that's a ridiculous over-simplification. You can see it for rap -- well, it's the same for Comic fucking Sans.
posted by bonaldi at 12:47 PM on August 28, 2007


Well, that's where I thought the discussions with effugas were going, was in a direction similar to those about rap and "quality" versus marking. Something analogous to the fact that I find a lot of it really troubling, but a lot of the time these guys are really good at what they're doing.

Then someone says "but no, that's not a valid analogy to Comic Fucking Sans, because Comic Sans is just bad and shouldn't be used."
posted by lodurr at 12:55 PM on August 28, 2007


The markers persist in use because they are useful: They help a group (what I've called font freaks) identify itself as better than some other group ("those ignorant of design"); since they're part of an esoteric discipline, they get the benefit of reinforcing their sense that they are sharing in secret, or at least difficult to obtain, knowledge.
posted by lodurr at 12:13 PM on August 28


A lot of us call ourselves typophiles; knowledge of typography, design, and aesthetics is how we make our living, in many cases. If I were unable to recognize that Comic Sans is an inappropriate face to use in all but the most mind-blowingly specific situations, I would probably not have a job.

A surgeon whose favorite tool for for coronary artery bypass was a dull steak knife from Outback would be justifiably run out of town by the legitimate and skilled members of his trade. I have never, never, never, in all my years met a professional designer whose favorite font was Comic Sans. Not because I hate poor people or whatever nonsense your semiotics class broke your brain into thinking, but for the simple fact that it's not good. To date I have seen about three hundred portfolios from job applicants, and about five or six of them had Comic Sans in them somewhere. And every single one of them was a bottom-tier designer - bad linework, bad proportion, bad layout, just totally unprofessional hackwork even if you ignored the typography.

No one, not even the most "elitist" designer actually refuses to associate with someone based on their use of Comic Sans. Why you've got this stuck in your head I don't know. It's become clear that you need things spelled out for you, because I forgot how amazingly hypersensitive postmodern studies people can get when you point out their ridiculous hypersensitivity. So go ahead and amend my earlier statements to "tough shit, fella, because it is. Comic Sans fucking sucks, and if you like it you are ignorant of design and aesthetics." I thought for some reason that since we're talking about design and aesthetics that the context would be clear, but apparently I overestimated you.

Now, please feel free to not respond to any of the actual points I made and just go ahead and shout some nonsense where you conflate low-status with low socioeconomic status and say that all your friends use Comic Sans and they happen to be award winning artists and etc etc etc.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:24 AM on August 29, 2007


No one, not even the most "elitist" designer actually refuses to associate with someone based on their use of Comic Sans. Why you've got this stuck in your head I don't know.

Perhaps because they've said so?

...because I forgot how amazingly hypersensitive postmodern studies people can get...

Hey, most-efficient corrosive digestive fluid, it's OK if you don't believe in semiotics. It believes in you.

I like how you can so easily dismiss my opinions by marking me as a 'postmodern studies person.' Perhaps you should listen to my opinions about postmodern studies some time.
posted by lodurr at 6:02 AM on August 29, 2007


Perhaps if you weren't being a retard about it all, someone might listen to your opinions. But, FFFS, you continue to insist that everyone who recognizes CS for what it is hate "those ignorant of design." One can be wholly blind and still see that CS is excreable; it has nothing to do with design and everything to do with it being really fucking ugly.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:43 AM on August 29, 2007


I would just like to observe that we are now at 346 comments about a FUCKING FONT.
posted by chundo at 7:54 AM on August 29, 2007


But, FFFS, you continue to insist that everyone who recognizes CS for what it is ...

Exaggerate much?

You know, you have absolutely zero hope of convincing me of the error of my ways if you sit there and tell me I'm doing something I'm not doing.

I'm willing to accept that you believe that's what I'm doing. I don't know why you believe that, because that belief is not supported by what I've actually said in this thread.
posted by lodurr at 7:55 AM on August 29, 2007


I would just like to observe that we are now at 346 comments ...

Yes, but there are only about four people reading at this point, so it doesn't make much of a difference.
posted by lodurr at 7:57 AM on August 29, 2007


Oh, I'm reading.

My take is that Comic Sans suffers from being associated with other things people dislike. Plus the fact that people purposely use it to try to convey a sense of casualness to non-casual documents. Like the coffee station nag sign (i.e your mother doesn't work here). We hate the signs. So we shoot the messenger.

There are probably legitimate complaints about the font from the real design people out there, but most people don't care about that. It's shooting the messenger.

[SCENE: SIDE OF A HUGE PIT]

LODURR: This is madness!

OPTIMUS CHYME: THIS... IS... COMIC SANS!!!

[OPTIMUS CHYME kicks LODURR into the pit]

[FADE OUT]
posted by GuyZero at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's shooting the messenger.

Only because the messenger is a snivelling toady! I mean nobody picked on Arial when people used it badly, did they? or San Francisco.
posted by bonaldi at 8:57 AM on August 29, 2007


Fortunately, Frank Miller doesn't define my reality.

Damn good thing.
posted by lodurr at 9:08 AM on August 29, 2007


Only because the messenger is a snivelling toady! I mean nobody picked on Arial when people used it badly, did they? or San Francisco.

Nobody picks on Arial because it's fairly tough to differentiate it from all these other Sans Serif fonts, like Helvetica and Verdana.

Yep. For all the venom deployed against Arial, it's not so unique that anyone can go so far as to have an opinion about it. That's sort of what bothers me...fonts have completely genericized to Serif and Sans Serif, and it's almost like people are reflexively terrified of any font that the general public can differentiate.

I suspect this has stolen something from typography's power to communicate.
posted by effugas at 9:56 AM on August 29, 2007


I know an architect whose æsthetic is very contemporary - modernist, actually.

However all of the construction drawings he produces are lettered with Comic Sans, because apparently builders find them easier to read.

(This is in NZ; I assume German builders would prefer DIN 1451)
posted by Kiwi at 10:12 AM on August 29, 2007


fonts have completely genericized to Serif and Sans Serif, and it's almost like people are reflexively terrified of any font that the general public can differentiate

Really, is there anything new here besides the increased ubiquity of basic awareness of "fonts" by the general public, though? Computers have gotten people looking at a lot more non-professionally-published text—thirty or forty years ago, what did you see typographically that wasn't either professionally printed or straight from a typewriter? All of a (relative) sudden, everybody who uses a computer knows about "fonts", sure, but nothing has really fundamentally changed about casual knowledge of type and aesthetics related thereto.

So I don't think that the change is typography losing its power to communicate—the average person 50 years ago didn't really know any more or less about type and typography. It's just that, as with blogging and independent music production and a lot of other things, we're now much more heavily exposed to the work of amateurs doing their own thing in a way that wasn't previously possible.

Plus, screen resolutions are still execrable compared to print, so fine-grained apprecation of screen type is sort of hard. Everything looks like everything else because there just aren't enough pixels at 10pt to make different things look both good and really different.
posted by cortex at 10:20 AM on August 29, 2007


fonts have completely genericized to Serif and Sans Serif, and it's almost like people are reflexively terrified of any font that the general public can differentiate
This is just rubbish. It's like saying "people have completely genericized to Men and Women".

You have noticed that Comic Sans is a Sans Serif font, right? The clue being in the title and all.
posted by bonaldi at 10:24 AM on August 29, 2007


Ahem: ... and it's almost like people are reflexively terrified of any font that the general public can differentiate.... would be more like saying "people have completely genericized to Men and Women, so it's almost like people are reflexively terrified of any person that doesn't fit those generic molds." (Like, say, cross-dressers.)

Is it less rubbish, now that I've completed your analogy to match the original formulation?

Or does someone still need, additionally, to point out that Comic Sans, in addition to being (mostly) sans serifs, is also a "handwriting font"? And thus, different from the generic mold?

Not sure I agree with effugas, that said. I think there's got to be more variety in the kinds of typefaces in common use nowadays than there was in the past. They're digital now, after all; you don't have to smelt and cast the things. It's possible that the default settings in our browsers are making it a de facto Arial world, but a lot of sites still specify their own typefaces.
posted by lodurr at 10:55 AM on August 29, 2007


Is it less rubbish, now that I've completed your analogy to match the original formulation?

Well, no, it's still rubbish. I thought about taking the analogy there, but you end up, essentially, with "people don't like cross-dressers because they're different", which is itself a ridiculous over-simplification, just like the one about Comic Sans.

Additionally, "genericised to sans and serif" really suggests that there are basically two fonts, and Comic Sans is the third leg that stands out, which is like suggesting that all men and women are virtually the same.

Sure, Comic Sans is a "different" font. But it's not the only one. And if others are used in its place, they don't get anything like the opprobrium, unless you go waay off the spectrum and use something like San Francisco for your will. Just saying that Comic Sans is hated because it's "different" is over-simplified drivel.
posted by bonaldi at 11:09 AM on August 29, 2007


I would just like to observe that we are now at 346 358 comments about a FUCKING FONT Fluff the Tragic Dragon.
posted by zennie at 11:17 AM on August 29, 2007


zennie: Dragons are fucking important. You dragon hatas make me fucking sick. So what if it gets a little tragic? Dragon gonna blow some flamin' snot up yo ass, yo.
posted by lodurr at 11:21 AM on August 29, 2007


Dragons are simply fucking shit cite. I don't see why you defend them.
posted by bonaldi at 11:26 AM on August 29, 2007


they don't get anything like the opprobrium

But that's becasue Comic Sans is in every copy of windows. It's in the perfect storm of ubiquity and ugliness. Like playing "Stairway to Heaven" in a guitar store.
posted by GuyZero at 11:53 AM on August 29, 2007


To judge by the popularity of this thread (which of course I won't), I should have written all my blogs in Comic Sans. The comments alone would have raised my page rank.

And Dragons are cool.
posted by misha at 12:46 PM on August 29, 2007


Lodurr,

In the past, I suspect we commonly had to read other people's handwriting -- if nothing else, letters were very often handwritten. I remember handwriting assignments; that era is probably done by now.

Sites can't really specify their own typefaces outside of logos; font embedding for HTML never got really standardized, and Flash UI's aren't too popular for a ton of reasons. NYT is really trying a WPF reader that has their fonts; we'll see how it goes.

bonaldi,

Actually, I think Comic Sans MS is the only font that's both visually differentiable and readable. It's hated because it's actually used; it's not actually hideous enough (in the way that Impact and Script are) to keep the masses away.

Regarding your "men and women" comment -- actually, allow me to provide some evidence of my assertion that, to the untrained eye, the Sans Serifs are just remarkably similar. Check out this illustration: One Of These Is Not Like The Others. Now, I personally really prefer Calibri to Arial. That's my preference. But lets be honest, the difference between all these fonts ain't exactly massive. By far the most visible difference in general is the horizontal vs. vertical ratio.

Comic Sans MS is something else entirely.
posted by effugas at 11:51 PM on August 29, 2007


I think Comic Sans MS is the only font that's both visually differentiable and readable.
OK, well, you need to revisit your font menu, because that's ludicrous.
posted by bonaldi at 7:06 AM on August 30, 2007


Anybody have access to a graphic showing samples in all the default XP and Vista fonts? (Where "default" should probably be read as "after installing MS Office".) That's really the relevant sample: Fonts that all these tyros have access to, excluding the nice-to-have fonts that you get when you install other stuff that most people don't have (e.g. Illustrator, Open Office, OS X, etc.).

(Please don't make one. I wince to think of someone actually making such a thing on their own just to participate in this thread.)
posted by lodurr at 9:41 AM on August 30, 2007


bonaldi--

List of web safe fonts here. You're basically looking at the Serifs, the Sans Serifs, the Monospaces, and Comic Sans MS. Yep, that's it.
posted by effugas at 11:06 AM on August 30, 2007


This thread has caused me to notice that part of the back label on my bottle of Hershey's syrup uses Comic Sans.
posted by yarrow at 12:16 PM on August 30, 2007


I just had an email exchange with a faculty member and everything was in huge, bolded Comic Sans. I briefly considered sending her this link, but resisted the urge. Ha ha!
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 1:24 PM on August 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Despite the title of this thread, there's more to Comic Sans than the web, effugas! In fact, I can't really think of a prominent site that uses it, but today walking about I counted it eighteen times in print. It's used in memos, in menus, in posters, in letters. It's everywhere.

It's all over the place in print, and that's what's getting it its rep -- not when some idiot webpage uses it. Calibri's not on that list either, but you didn't discount it in your earlier link because I think you know the wider font world isn't entirely Sans Serif, Serif, Monospaced and Comic Sans. C'mon.

(I had a quick look on a Windows machine, but I don't think it's representative, because it seems to have a lot of extra fonts added. Some of them are as offbeat as Comic Sans, however, yet still readable. Inkpen light? Eugh.)
posted by bonaldi at 2:18 PM on August 30, 2007


bonaldi--

That's a perfectly reasonable critique, so I took the time to go through the font collection on this machine. This box has the combined fonts of Windows and WordPerfect, plus whatever else Dell added. It should be better equipped than most. I selected fonts that were either offbeat or handwritten.

These are the results. Comic Sans MS is far and away the most readable.

You're welcome to repeat the experiment. To be honest, nobody on this thread has suggested a more readable "offbeat" font than Comic Sans MS. The only suggestion thus far has been Verdana, which to most people is just Arial Wide.

So it's funny. I know the font world is wider than Serif, Sans Serif, Typewriter, Comic Sans, and Script, but the subtlety of most fonts really is lost on most. To be blunt, too little variation is tolerated by typographers. But people are drawn to the chaos in Comic Sans MS, and I think it's time we step back for a second and ask why.

People aren't drawn to Impact, after all.
posted by effugas at 6:47 PM on August 30, 2007


But people are drawn to the chaos in Comic Sans MS, and I think it's time we step back for a second and ask why.
Yes, I've been wondering that. It occurred to me that a lot of people try to make a poster or similar, and realise that the result looks "wrong", somehow, because they don't have design/type skills. But putting it in Comic Sans makes it look something like maybe possibly handwriting, which it's much harder to be "wrong" with. I doubt that's all of it, though.

That aside, I thought we were talking about why people hated it, not why they use it!

I was talking this over with a friend today, and she immediately said, "oh what about [font x]?" and pointed to a poster on the wall. It was handwritery like Comic Sans, but, better, frankly. She talked like it was common knowledge, and now I've completely forgotten what it was. Must plunder her Windows-using brane tomorrow.
posted by bonaldi at 7:42 PM on August 30, 2007


This thread made my brain turn into a plate of beans.
posted by intermod at 7:48 PM on August 30, 2007


But putting it in Comic Sans makes it look something like maybe possibly handwriting

Or, in a cruel irony, maybe it makes it look more like other amateur posters... so more normal and better.
posted by smackfu at 8:41 PM on August 30, 2007


bonaldi,

That's an interesting theory -- Comic Sans MS, itself being messy, doesn't clash as much with an otherwise messy poster. I could see that.

I'm not sure we can talk about Comic Sans MS being hated, without talking about all the people who apparently don't hate it. In fact, they're willing to use it, despite its aggressive flaunting of the normal rules of Sans Serif fonts.

That another font might look better, while retaining the feel of handwriting, isn't at all surprising. There's always a nicer font! But, from what I can tell from my own experiments, for most people it's Comic Sans MS or something corporate-clean. It's not surprising that people don't always want to speak in the corporate voice.

What is surprising is how many supposedly independent types bristle at someone speaking with anything but.
posted by effugas at 9:35 PM on August 30, 2007


Marker Felt is only a bajillion times better than Comic Sans. Bradley Hand is also not as bad. Both appear to be part of the default OS X/iWorks set.

I would guess that many, perhaps most, people who use Comic Sans were actually aiming for the sort of effect Marker Felt provides: that of a professionally hand-lettered 'for sale' sign.

Used to be a time when one could train to become a professional signmaker, working with pens and brushes, not computers.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 PM on August 30, 2007


bonaldi: She talked like it was common knowledge, ....

Probably Tekton. It's supposedly based on the architectural lettering of a particular famous architect. I used to print stuff very small to save paper (to save bulk, really -- early 90s, you needed paper, no web yet), and I used "Architect" which was baked into the LaserJets at the library. A few times designers saw it (my GF at the time was an ad writer), and all immediately said something to the effect of "oh, where did you find a computer at U of R with Tekton on it?"

From that I conjecture that it's very well known to people over a certain age (late 30s) with some design knowledge. Fashions move in waves, and leave nothing but water stains behind for the most part. Tekton is pretty much forgotten, now, or so it seems. I mentioned it a couple of months ago to a designer in her late 20s, and she gave me a blank look.
posted by lodurr at 5:11 AM on August 31, 2007


Marker Felt is only a bajillion times better than Comic Sans. Bradley Hand is also not as bad. Both appear to be part of the default OS X/iWorks set.

Which make them available to something less than 3% of office users, and something around 5-6% of all web users.
posted by lodurr at 5:14 AM on August 31, 2007


I just downloaded Marker Felt to take a look, and I have to say, I prefer to look at Comic Sans.

For what it was apparently designed for - writing little informal captions or filling up talk bubbles - I think it works fine.

For general use, though, not so much.
posted by flabdablet at 5:16 AM on August 31, 2007


This has turned into a really interesting and civilized thread, with people actually listening to and responding to each other.

Also, this was a very telling comparison. Thanks, effugas! (I'd love to see a similar pairing with Marker Felt, Tekton, and whatever else people think is relevant.)
posted by languagehat at 6:09 AM on August 31, 2007


I have a friend who at one time set her Windows system font to something that looked a lot like Staccato. I would beg her to change it whenever I worked on the thing, and she'd give me a blank look as though she didn't know what I was talking about...
posted by lodurr at 6:58 AM on August 31, 2007


languagehat,

As requested...sorta. This version of Tekton is clearly not official; I think the official was written to Postscript format and you can't trivially convert between PS and TTF. Still, I do like the font quite a bit.

I don't think I can say the same for either of these Marker Felts. I'm pretty sure if this thread was in either, it wouldn't look great...

...and here's what that looks like. Wow, Five Fresh Fish. You sure you think this looks decent for any extended amount of text? Is this the font you were speaking of?
posted by effugas at 9:58 AM on August 31, 2007


Marker Felt is definitely better for headlines. But it's way too heavy for copy over two lines deep.
posted by lodurr at 10:15 AM on August 31, 2007


Grabbed some Bradley Hand. It's certainly better than MarkerFeltThin, but it doesn't exactly scream "readability" to me either. Comic Sans still wins.
posted by effugas at 10:24 AM on August 31, 2007


oh my, i think that this thread has taken me out of retirement
posted by batboy at 8:02 PM on August 31, 2007


Maxwelton, the problem with Zapf Chancery is not the typeface but the fact that it is nearly impossible to find any weight and style other than Medium Italic. Did you know the real Zapf Chancery has four weights, italics, and drawn small caps? In other words, a complete family? (Autobloggatio.)

No?

Well, blame Apple and Adobe for including only Medium Italic in the original LaserWriter. We’ve been living it down ever since.

It’s actually a profound typeface family, as is to be expected from Hermann Zapf, though polluted by misuse.

On another day, we can discuss Zapf (“Not Dana”) International.
posted by joeclark at 9:35 PM on August 31, 2007


Effugas: I say the light version of Marker Felt is easier to read than Comic Sans.

One would still have to be retarded to think either one is suitable for extended text.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 PM on August 31, 2007


fff,

Dude, those m's and n's are redonkulous, and the density is out of control. For extended text, Comic Sans MS is a "bajillion" times better than Marker Felt. We're not talking about headline fonts at all, where far more variability is acceptable (even Impact can be decent for headlines).
posted by effugas at 11:14 AM on September 1, 2007


Just on a lark, I thought I'd render this thread in Marker FeltThin-Plain Regular 12.

Image 1
Image 2

Wow.
posted by effugas at 12:00 PM on September 1, 2007


Man, I hadn't realized how insanely aggravating the m's and n's are. Those legs that don't meet the baseline demand the creator be slapped upside the head with a rotting cod.

Otherwise, I find the first sample easier to read than Comic Sans. Comic Sans just plain doesn't flow for me: it has a visual "jangle" to it that drives my eyes batty. I've been forcing my own CSS on this page (it's a one-click move on Opera) just to avoid the headache. The MF doesn't jangle so much (except at the m's and n's, where it's really bad).

And, yes, I'm pretty sure "jangle" is the correct technical term. I'm sure Goudy or Zapf coined the term.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:39 PM on September 1, 2007


OK. So Comic Sans isn't a proper sans-serif font, and it's clearly not a proper handwriting font, so it doesn't seem fair to compare it with examples of those things.

Perhaps somebody with more time on their hands than I have would care to mess about a bit with some fonts from this site, which is the first Google result for comic lettering font.
posted by flabdablet at 8:11 AM on September 2, 2007


Y'know, I just found out that Comic Sans at very small pitch is considerably more readable.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 AM on September 2, 2007


That is a fascinating discovery. In fact, it doesn't even have to be very small. Just a couple clicks down in size, and it's barely even a weird-looking font.
posted by smackfu at 5:17 PM on September 2, 2007


Fewer Pixels
[picture of cat]
Makes Comic Sans Happy.

posted by five fresh fish at 5:41 PM on September 2, 2007


So originally, I assumed that Comic Sans MS looked better smaller, just because you see less of its inherent variations. To a degree, that's true, but I think there's something else going on.

Is this all just a matter of line width?

Check it out.

Is the problem (or perk) of Comic Sans MS just that it's Bold?
posted by effugas at 6:06 PM on September 2, 2007


(amazing, they're still at it...)

I'm no typographer, but I think you have to separate the individual letter shapes of Comic Sans (ugly) from the way it displays on a computer screen (very well). It's obvious that great care has been given to make this font display well and be readable on screen - much more than was given designing the font in the first place. The spacing (this is probably not the proper term) is very well done. Sometimes the opposite is true. An excellent print font like Sabon doesn't look very good on screen, partly because nobody bothered to make it look as good as it could, and partly because serif fonts need higher resolution. And I just tried 8 point Univers (a sans serif) on screen - the spacing is all wrong, with irregular gaps between letters l ike th is.
posted by Termite at 10:48 AM on September 3, 2007


I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the "icebox"

and which
you were "probably"
saving
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were "delicious"
so sweet
and so cold.
posted by mono blanco at 8:32 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for destroying that lovely poem forevermore, mono blanco!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:20 PM on September 3, 2007


I want my words preserved in glorious comic sans, and such as the Iraq, and such as like everywhere.
posted by oxford blue at 11:39 PM on September 16, 2007


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