Luke Buxton Graphic Design

Writings about graphic design past, present and future

Writings about graphic design past, present and future

In defence of Comic Sans

I recently read an very interesting blog on the Toptal website which looked at using a 'hated' typeface to create something beautiful. Its a pretty cool post and the results look great, check it out here.

One of the fonts held up as an example of a bad typeface design was Comic Sans. Poor old Comic Sans, universally reviled by pretty much all of the design community. But how can a font so hated be everywhere? Notice boards, email footers, lost cat posters. Comic Sans is used everyday by millions of people, so it can't be that bad, right? 

I may be ostracised from the design community, I may never get a design job again, but I'm going the attempt the impossible. I'm going to stand up for Comic Sans. 

First things first. I would never actually use this typeface in any professional or personal work, there are loads of better hand-drawn typefaces available. In fact my personal belief is that if something needs to look hand-drawn then it should be hand-drawn. This post is just to say we should love Comic Sans for what it is, a classic typeface that holds a lot of happy memories. 

On the theme of memory, when I think back to my days at school from the mid-90's to early 00's (Comic Sans was created in 1994 for Windows by Vincent Connare) I can vividly remember the classroom, the teacher, the kid next to me, the smell from all the packed lunches. I can also clearly visualise looking down at a maths or English worksheet, and seeing a fun looking typeface that made the prospect of long multiplication seem a little less scary. That font was Comic Sans, and I know this because my parents kept most of them. I think my head would have exploded if I was presented a tricky maths problem in Helvetica or Akzidenz-Grotesk, it would have seemed too grown-up for me to even understand. 

I love it when I see Comic-Sans used on a A4 print out to advertise a village fair or inform people to 'keep this door closed', and always have a little smile to myself. I think there's a warmth to it, it makes me feel nice, that the world isn't all that bad. And lets be honest, its not the worst looking typeface out there, its legible, and I've heard it's one of the best fonts for people with dyslexia to be able to read as well as native Arabic readers and writers learning the Western alphabet.

It will never be used inappropriately because if a design project really matters then it will be handled by a professional graphic designer, and I refuse to believe that any designer no matter how experienced would ever use it, unless ironically. And that's the other thing, as designers we would never entertain the idea of using it, so the hate is a little misplaced. I have more loathing of seeing the same trending typefaces or when big brands use the same old free fonts in global packaging or marketing projects. I despair every time I see a brand using Nexa Rust Script when I know for a fact they've got the budget to hire a lettering artist, but that's a blog post for another day! 

There's loads of things we remember fondly but were actually pretty rubbish. Yo-yos for example. And ice-pops. And the original Power Rangers. But no one would ever start a campaign to have those things banned. 

So instead of hating Comic Sans, how about we just move it to the dusty box labelled 'treasured memories'. And when we see it used rather than filling with rage just a give a little 'awww bless'. 

Luke BuxtonComment