Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

Jobs | Autos | Homes | Rentals | NWsource | Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Thursday, June 28, 2007 - Page updated at 04:24 PM

E-mail article     Print view      Share:    Digg     Newsvine

Comic Sans | Font for the masses or weed of the graphic world?

The Associated Press

My name is Brian and I love Comic Sans.

There, I've said it. There's no shame. It's time take a stand.

Because I'm about to tell you the story of a couple who has a problem with me and my ilk. These people — this Holly and Dave — think my devotion to the typeface is misguided and, well, even a bit disturbing. They urge me to play the field. Maybe flirt with an upstanding Arial. Or turn my gaze to a svelte Marlett.

But I'm sticking with the font I came with.

Sorry, guys. Go do your Comic Sans bashing someplace else. And, by the way, what's the deal with those "ban Comic Sans" stickers, T-shirts and coffee mugs?

You can't be serious?

Actually, they are. Up to a point.

What began as an inside joke five years ago has morphed — in the quirky ways of the Web — into something resembling a real movement. Dave and Holly Combs, graphic artists from Indianapolis, get a steady stream of e-mails from fans and detractors. They tuck notices for www.bancomicsans.com into their magazine, Peel, which caters to the artistic subculture of stickers, stencils and street art and whose contributors include nom-de-freaks such as Zoltron and Disposable Hero.

Holly and Dave have even started to indoctrinate a new generation into their Comic Sans attack squad. Their two preschool-age children are now pitch kids for the campaign.

And what, may we ask, can muster such passion against an innocent typeface? It's simply Holly and Dave's belief that Comic Sans is the weed of the graphic world: sprouting up everywhere and in all the wrong places.

What really sets them off is when the playful curves of Comic Sans — designed to mimic classic hand-lettered comic book text — are used for serious messages. Like a quotation from Scripture (Hebrews 6:1) on the window of a religious bookstore. Or on a funeral announcement.

They grimaced when it appeared on a flier for a drug to treat irritable bowel syndrome.

advertising

"I've never had it before," said Dave, 33. "But I bet anyone who has it wouldn't think it was very humorous."

"Look around," added Holly, 30. "I mean it's everywhere and in very inappropriate places."

Their Web site takes this rather poetic shot: It is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume.

So I rushed to Comic Sans's defense. It's easy to read, I told them. The lines are nice and bold. I write everything in it: articles, e-mails, even a book a couple years ago. And, look, I'm not alone.

Other Comic Sans backers have fought back. One chat room had a rallying cry for Comic Sans fans: "Come out of the closet! You know you love it!"

Dave and Holly won't give an inch.

"We think we've chosen the poster child for inappropriate typeface usage," quipped Dave.

It's just so easy for people to bully my poor Comic Sans.

Many in artsy circles mock it as just too lightweight and cutesy. Then there's the Big Brother factor. For those who like to rant against Microsoft Corp., Comic Sans presents a very juicy target.

The font was developed in late 1994 by Microsoft designer Vincent Connare and appeared as a lighthearted typeface in some applications of Windows 95.

Connare, who now works in London, remains a bit bemused by all the emotion invested in rapping his creation. One blogger from Canada (www.peaeater.com) said Comic Sans "sucks, truly." But he wasn't through.

Peaeater said it "looks like the shambling tumored scrawl of a left-handed hebephrenic half-pudding dolt boy."

Ouch.

"It should be taken in a spirit of fun," said Connare. "You can't, as an artist, worry too much about the reaction of what you do. Either they like it or they don't."

Connare admitted, however, he got a bit annoyed when Holly and Dave used his image on an anti-Comic Sans sticker. It's turned up around the world: Germany, Spain, France — and Indianapolis.

"There's is an underlying serious issue here," said Dave. "But you have to keep it in perspective. It's not as important as world peace, hunger, weapons of mass destruction."

"Some people get it and some people don't," said Holly.

So what's their solution?

Holly has a soft spot for the simple, clean lines of Futura as an alternative to Comic Sans.

Dave likes the Serif family when the message demands dignity. Frutiger or Helvetica for lighter moods.

"You can't really go wrong with a Times New Roman," he advised.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

Advertising

Marketplace

Win a trip to Paris from NWsource

Fall fashion revealed: step inside the NWsource style guide to see the latest fashion trends. Win a Paris trip for two.

Enter to win

Ten fashion trends for fall

The season's best denim

Hot fall coats

More Living