Ban Comic Sans
November 25, 2002 11:56 AM   Subscribe

"We are summoning forth the proletariat around the globe to aid us in this revolution. We call on the common man to rise up in revolt against this evil of typographical ignorance. We believe in the gospel message "ban comic sans."
posted by m@ (51 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I was just complaing to a friend about this. My exact words were:

Comic Sans because it's a crap font: utterly fucking
worthless for anything but selling lemonade from an apple crate.

posted by nathan_teske at 12:03 PM on November 25, 2002

Some people just really have waaayy too much free time. Comic Sans kills whales ?! Comic sans is cause of unemployement ? Comic sans ate your balls ?! COMIC SANS COMIC SANS ! SANS COMIC ! I'll leave this heated argument to unemployed font artists who want to show their new exciting Comic Not Comic Sans font.
posted by elpapacito at 12:06 PM on November 25, 2002

Read the letter from the font's creator.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:08 PM on November 25, 2002

yea, verily. but typography is not something a lot of people know about, or care.
posted by moz at 12:10 PM on November 25, 2002

Its a pretty funny campaign, though I think using poor Vince's photo is a bit overboard. I mean, the poor guy designed the font a long time ago for a comic application. He didn't mean for people to use it the way they do, his creation and intended use were quite appropriate. Its like putting up stickers that say "Ban Nuclear Weapons!" with a picture of Albert Einstein on it. We should focus on the people who misuse Comic Sans by using it on everything from menus, to posters, to advertisements, to greeting cards, etc. Hell, I've even seen people type up papers for classes in it! Leave poor Vince out of it, I'm sure his personal guilt at creating such a terribly misused font is punishment enough for him.

Besides, if you want to use a Comic-y font, use Groening (sorry, no link) that imitates the font used for The Simpsons. Some of the 'extra' characters that it comes with include Jeff and Akbar (of Life in Hell fame), Binky, and various other Matt Groening characters from throughout the years. I do my shopping lists in it, makes shopping more fun.
posted by phidauex at 12:12 PM on November 25, 2002

The discussion on Typophile about all this...
posted by panopticon at 12:13 PM on November 25, 2002

I'm not sure what the fuss is about. If you're a designer you want the people to keep churning out shit, so you can verify that you're actually worth something. Why, if everyone stopped using clip art for their newsletters and powerpoint presentations, I'd have to find a new career. In the meantime, for all your comic font needs check out Blambot! Comic Fonts.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:15 PM on November 25, 2002

By the powers of google, I bring you the Groening Font [winTel zip file] and the Akbar Font [winTel zip file] for your enjoyment.
posted by plemeljr at 12:33 PM on November 25, 2002

When I make a web site, I will not use anything besides
<font face="verdana,helvetica,arial" size=-1>
I don't know why, but those 3 fonts are the only three that I like seeing on a site.

posted by statusquo at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2002

I'd rather we get rid of Times (not my site).
posted by Utilitaritron at 1:07 PM on November 25, 2002

While it would be nice if we all had to learn typography as well as penmanship in grade school, we didn't. Those without the knowledge of a professional graphic designer are bound to produce printed copy that looks unprofessional. But why stamp out a typeface that has valid uses?

My penmanship, incidentally, is terrible. How's yours?
posted by Songdog at 1:11 PM on November 25, 2002

I am really unimpressed by the way they appropriated Vincent Connare's photo. What kind of designer steals someone else's artwork to make their point? For satire, make your own damn picture.
posted by Songdog at 1:13 PM on November 25, 2002

Uptight nerds.
posted by luckyclone at 1:46 PM on November 25, 2002

I don't like Comic Sans either. Now, with that out of the way...

For every designer who flames bad fonts or boring design, there are five more designers whose sites load slowly, have annoying full screen Flash interfaces, and churn out ego-based design that only another holier-than-thou designer could possibly appreciate.

All told, I'd say an assistant soccer coach using comic sans is far less annoying than a stuck up font/design snob.
posted by jragon at 1:57 PM on November 25, 2002

As a bit of a tangent... Does Microsoft ship any good fonts with their OS/Office products? I usually wind up using Times as my default font for extended blocks of text, but I'm not happy with it. I don't like Georgia or the Dutch fonts; I would love to use Palatino, but I'm not about to pay for it (especially since I'd have to buy all the weights separately!) Short of telling me to get a Mac, what serif font recommendations would the design-conscious among you make?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:07 PM on November 25, 2002

Get a -

posted by jragon at 2:10 PM on November 25, 2002

I'll admit it. I'm a font snob. I don't know, I think fonts are important--they bring feeling to text, and give the reader an idea about the text that's being displayed. You wouldn't use Garamond to publicize a kegger, now would you?

Thanks for the site, m@. I absolutely can't *stand* Comic Sans. It's just so... hideous. I know, really snobby, but I. Just. Can't. Stand. It. Especially when it's used in the wrong context. (It's up there with misused quotation marks.)Too many examples to note.

I love small verdana websites. (And, uh, statusquo, what're you doing still using the FONT tag?)

Also on my font-snob shit list: Times New Roman. Whenever I see something in TNR, I honestly get the message that the creators didn't really care or put much thought into their flyer/advertisement/whatever. I just see these ads on the L here in Chicago and wonder, did you really put no more design thought into your ad? (Yes, these are the things I think about. Over-analyze often? All the time.)
posted by gramcracker at 2:27 PM on November 25, 2002

Algiers seems to get used a lot in situations for which it isn't particularly suited, probably because it's first or nearly first on the average non-professional signmaker's font list. My favorite (and, imho, appropriate) use of it I've seen is on the Jules Verne-themed Space Mountain at the Disneyland in Paris.

We should protest by wearing those Designers Republic "Helvetica Neue 95 Black" t-shirts. Okay, who's got theirs?
posted by britain at 2:47 PM on November 25, 2002

I've always found Comic Sans pretty useful for making comics (though Stan might've just ended that. thanks!).

But it's one of those things that had only one useful purpose and unaccountably started turning up everywhere. Like George Clooney.
posted by adameft at 2:49 PM on November 25, 2002

Over-analyze often?

I fairly often catch myself identifying the typefaces on menus, letting my friends know (fortunately most of them are designers or at least know something about design), then feeling like a giant nerd.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:58 PM on November 25, 2002

Also on my font-snob shit list: Times New Roman.

Georgia, Georgia, Georgia! Not only is it a core web font, it's drawn by someone who knows what the hell he's doing: Matthew Carter.

And it works great as a display face. Curse you Microsoft and your nonexistent support for text-transform: lowercase;
posted by nathan_teske at 3:00 PM on November 25, 2002


The three fonts I hate the most.

You wouldn't use Garamond to publicize a kegger, now would you?

Why, yes, I would. Garamond should be the universal standard font, instead of icky arial. And, upon preview, Georgia's good, too.
posted by y2karl at 3:04 PM on November 25, 2002

I can't even comprehend caring so much about something so trivial.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:05 PM on November 25, 2002

Speaking as an actual employed professional typographer, I can say, based upon years of experience, that people who have a lot of typefaces and a Microsoft application (Office, Publisher, FrontPage) will try to cram as many freaking typefaces into a document as they can. Comic Sans is just one of many that is overused and inappropriately applied. Just because it comes with the software doesn't mean you have to use it. I mean, you don't ram your car into a wall just to get some use out of the airbag. "It's there, isn't it?" is not a good enough reason.

I once had to talk a friend out of using Comic Sans for his wedding programs. shudder...
posted by shecky57 at 3:08 PM on November 25, 2002

shecky57 -- I had to talk a client out of using Comic Sans on a funeral program.

No, the deceased was not a clown or children's entertainer. He was an accountant.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:12 PM on November 25, 2002

I am summoning forth and deploying the bourgeoisie to supress and kill the "kill comic sans" uprising. After the crushing defeat, e-mail will be sent to the vanquished, filled with gloating, sarcastic emoticons. :P
posted by hama7 at 3:23 PM on November 25, 2002

britain: My favorite (and, imho, appropriate) use of it I've seen is on the Jules Verne-themed Space Mountain at the Disneyland in Paris.

Now, don't get my hopes up like that - a link and all! - and yet have nary a Comic Sans character to be seen at the link's destination! That's just... icky!
posted by JollyWanker at 3:28 PM on November 25, 2002

I hate Comic Sans. We just moved everyone in our organization to Outlook Exchange and I have to regularly correspond with people who use Comic Sans as their email font. I hate it.

That said, don't send me to a framed site that uses tables for layout and sports a lame, ugly, late-90s curved banner-menu to bitch about bad design decisions.

How's that for snobbery?
posted by mccreath at 3:33 PM on November 25, 2002

I can't even comprehend caring so much about something so trivial.

Indeed. Comic Sans isn't a problem per se anymore than Times Roman is. It's all about appropriateness. Comic Sans is a marvelous font for what it was made for, and Times Roman is great for smaller font sizes when you do hard copies or something with a similarly ultra-high resolution and contrast. Making a campaign against Comic Sans is moronic and completely off the mark. Learn people basic typography and web design instead of getting hot and bothered about a font.
posted by cx at 3:54 PM on November 25, 2002

posted by sir walsingham at 4:15 PM on November 25, 2002

That said, don't send me to a framed site that uses tables for layout and sports a lame, ugly, late-90s curved banner-menu to bitch about bad design decisions.

Yeah, i was thinking the same thing. I mean, who are they to talk?

Regarding the use of fonts and CS in particular, I don't like it 'cause it's so damn ubiquitous in all the worst ways but that's not the creator's fault and it isn't even (in most cases) the people who use it. Most people that use CS aren't professional designers, they like how it looks and I'm sure they could care less what we think. For the design community to diss another lay person's web site or restaraunt menu is the same as if i ask my doctor a medical question and his only reply is to laugh, 'ha ha ha, silly little pathetic man' and then walk out of the room giggling.
posted by poopy at 4:18 PM on November 25, 2002

Ynoxas today: I can't even comprehend caring so much about something so trivial.

Ynoxas a few weeks ago: It's also a bit comical watching so many in the thread trying to act all un-impressed by the whole thing.

If you've ever seen a good quality flat panel up close you will know that it looks gorgeous, especially with a digital source. I've seen some that look like you are looking through a window they are so clear. Tube models are mainly limited by their size. If anyone wants a >36" screen, they will have to go plasma or projection.

I can't imagine it either, man. :)

No gender-implication intended, of course.
posted by cortex at 4:38 PM on November 25, 2002

How can we take seriously any self-professed tyrant of typography who announces, in sentence two of his manifesto, that Guttenberg invented the printing press?
posted by muckster at 5:38 PM on November 25, 2002

Times New Roman: Worst. Font. EVER.
posted by davidmsc at 5:56 PM on November 25, 2002

TW Cen/Futura is popping up all over the place. I just hope it doesn't get overused. I love it too much.
posted by gramcracker at 6:16 PM on November 25, 2002

My personal object of whining is that many good fonts out there don't have a Cyrillic script (or many other scripts, I suppose). Cyrillic is not easy to develop in conjunction with Latin scripts, but nowhere near as hard as some other (say, Asian) scripts.

Also, someone needs to make X11 and major linux window toolkit font support not suck. It's almost the last big reason Linux sucks on the desktop compared to win32/mac.
posted by azazello at 6:28 PM on November 25, 2002

i thought i was alone in this crusade--

but no longer.

onwards, soldiers! onwards to victory!
posted by ronv at 7:11 PM on November 25, 2002

So, we get it. You don't like CS.

How about telling us why?

[Pretty please?]
posted by dash_slot- at 7:19 PM on November 25, 2002

Azazello, if you haven't seen RedHat's latest release, Psyche (RH 8.0) --it has pretty darn nice font support :) Granted, that's definitely a rarity in the GNU/Linux world these days, but at least they're getting there. Now whenever I use a different Linux system other than Psyche, I cringe at the fonts; but Psyche itself is quite nice. I don't notice any difference from Windows :)

And I agree, what exactly is so bad about Comic Sans (CS in my mind == Computer Science :P)? Sure, it looks childish or whatever, but that's the freaking point isn't it? Bash peoples' inappropriate use of it, sure, but don't say the font iself itself poorly designed or ugly. Clothes that might look like crap on one person might look great on someone else; that doesn't make the clothes crappy all the time, now does it? (yes, I suck at analogies, thanks for asking ^_~)
posted by cyrusdogstar at 7:53 PM on November 25, 2002

cortex: that's a bit of a stretch. But I'm flattered that you cared enough to rummage around in my past posts. :)
posted by Ynoxas at 8:45 PM on November 25, 2002

posted by hama7 at 11:31 PM on November 25, 2002

Drat. And curses.
posted by hama7 at 11:32 PM on November 25, 2002

After CS, Ad Lib is next in the line of fire.
posted by elphTeq at 2:41 AM on November 26, 2002

Official police correspondence arrived at my house yesterday, all beautifully set in comic sans. I thought this was a really bad idea.
posted by robself at 3:23 AM on November 26, 2002

What about the scourge of Arial?
posted by D.C. at 3:39 AM on November 26, 2002

dash_slot: So, we get it. You don't like CS.

How about telling us why?

Agreed. I have had no design training whatsoever, nor do I know anything about typefaces or fonts.

How does one know what's "appropriate" for a particular application?

Is there anything -- aside from sheer aesthetics (which is often quite heavily trend-influenced) -- that makes one typeface better than another? Why should (Garamond, or Georgia, or whatever) be a default?

(N.B., I haven't made a flyer since college. So there. Maybe it's because I'm sensitive and don't want designers sneering at my work on the subway.)
posted by Vidiot at 7:20 AM on November 26, 2002

I'm not sure why Comic Sans bugs these guys as much as it does; it annoys me a whole lot less than seeing Times New Roman and Arial all over everything. I'd have to agree that TNR is one of the uglier typefaces ever designed - although I have a sneaking suspicion the idea behind its creation was a serif typeface that could be displayed on a monitor at small font sizes and still be readable (which was probably also behind the ugliness of Arial). I'd have to agree with earlier posters that Garamond looks better than TNR, but try using it in a Word doc at font size 6 - it might be readable once printed, but it's not onscreen without zooming in.

Good typefaces to use: For a sanserif, try Trebuchet (which I believe comes with Windows 98 and later). It has sort of an art deco feel to it without being obvious, and it also displays well at low point sizes. For serif, I like the various versions of Adobe's Minion (Type1 only, I think, and it's far from free so I only use it in non-work-related documents).
posted by deadcowdan at 9:06 AM on November 26, 2002

Well... other than the fact that Times New Roman was drawn in 1931...
posted by nathan_teske at 12:19 PM on November 26, 2002

Yup, Times Roman and Times New Roman (1931 and 1932, respectively; designed by Stanley Morison) were commissioned by the London Times. They were presumably designed to be readable on newsprint (not the finest paper) and when printed as fast as possible. Being readable at low resolutions on a bitmapped display is just a side effect.

That said, I don't really like the way Times looks on a display, but it's reasonably good on paper.
posted by hattifattener at 8:37 PM on November 26, 2002

This discussion is near and dear to my heart, and I must thank norm29 for pointing it out. I don't know how I missed it the ... oh wait, I do. I was at my parents' house for Thanksgiving, and they haven't graduated past the modem yet, so MeFi is skimmed a bit less fervently than usual while I'm there. Coincidentally, here I am again, at my parents' house, for Christmas. Good times, good times ...

Anyway, this was a wonderful thread, and I'm sure I'll come back to reminisce. I have no pretenses to being any sort of an actual professional designer, but I have done my small and negligible share of design work, and I too share a deep and abiding aversion to not only Comic Sans, but Arial and TNR, both of which have been mentioned in this discussion (with the caveat that, while I don't like the way Arial looks, I don't think I'd mind Comic Sans and TNR half as much if they weren't so damn ubiquitous). And I love Garamond, at any point size, no matter what anyone says.

So I've gotten to indulge my hidden typography geek for a little while, and I thank you all for that. And if you're doing any sort of small design project, and you don't want to pay for a font bundle, may I recommend MouserFonts?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2002

Discussion's long dead grrarrgh! Go sing some carols or something.

And that Santa hat really isn't that bad, I've seen much worse from actual paid designers.

And also recently, Garamond is becoming as ubitquitous as Times. I personally suggest Sabon, although it would depend on the printing process and how the ink spreads on your particular press, being that Sabon was originally designed by Tschichold for the rough stock of the Penguin classic books and ....[descends into ridiculous typographic geek speak like you've never seen]
posted by Stan Chin at 9:52 PM on December 22, 2002

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