Comic Sans Makes Gizmodo’s List Of “Regrettable Tech Inventions”

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use, Oops! | Yves Peters | October 15, 2009

This one is just too good to pass up. Yesterday Gizmodo, the blog about gadgets and technology, posted a humorous entry called Eight Regrettable Tech Inventions, Regretted. It lists eight “great ideas” that may have seemed valuable at the time, but with hindsight the world would’ve been a lot better off without. And what do we find next to the cubicle, the atomic bomb, and the blink HTML tag? Why yes, that’s Vincent Connare’s oft-derided Comic Sans. There simply is no avoiding this train wreck of a type design rearing its ugly head time and again.

The entry describes it as:

Font of choice for kitschy restaurant menus, passive-aggressive office notices and the worst websites on the internet, Comic Sans is merely a lame font, made evil by its endless, widespread use.

© erikgrahnj
There have been attempts to rehabilitate it, including an interview with Vincent Connare on Karen Huang’s Snog Blog where the creator makes a couple of good points. It is the subject of Ban Comic Sans, the only website dedicated to eradicating a typeface from the face of the earth, and a Flickr Pool records Comic Sans sightings in real life. Will the type and graphic design community ever get over it? I seriously doubt it, as the typeface has so thoroughly permeated (low) culture and life in general that it is nigh impossible to imagine a world without it, just like Helvetica is virtually inescapable. We must resign to the harsh reality that indeed, we will periodically cringe when confronted with yet another – most probably completely inappropriate – use of the generally despised faux childish script.

© Tim Boddy

Actually, is there an appropriate use for Comic Sans? Personally I think not, as it fails at everything it attempts to be. It is too flaccid to be taken seriously as comic book lettering, not naive enough to be mistaken for children’s writing, and too lame to pass for adult hand printing. It’s always either “not enough” or “too much” – a poor design, plain and simple, which looks awful in amateur efforts, and even worse in supposedly professional design. Fortunately there are lots of alternatives, yet I doubt any number of superior designs will ever make Comic Sans fade away. We’ll just have to live with it.
Header image: China Eastern Airlines Airbus A340-642 © Sam Chui

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  1. I think the popularity originates with it being one of the few additional fonts that shipped with early versions of Windows, which in turn was related to the existence of Microsoft’s Comic Chat application ( … an app I quite liked at the time (admittedly that seemed to put me in a small minority). That app wasn’t designed to emulate a Marvel Comic, more an indie Gilbert Shelton style underground comic from the 70s (or maybe an earlier newspaper comic strip). I think the font did a decent job in that particular context.

    Posted by Mark Watson on Oct. 15, 2009
  2. What is regrettable is not the invention of Comic Sans, which, as Mark says, served its meager purpose just fine, it’s Microsoft’s decision to bundle it with Windows.

    Posted by Stephen Coles on Oct. 15, 2009
  3. The only thing I regret was ever using Comic Sans on that failed campaign a few years ago. The font cursed the project.

    Posted by Levon on Oct. 15, 2009
  4. I really like this blog and imma let you finish, but I just wanted to say that the font in the opening picture is not Comic Sans but Chalkboard (cf. the hooked f, the top serif on the B, the lack of a top serif on the C).

    Posted by Puterschein on Oct. 15, 2009
  5. LOL + no way!? Is it Chalkboard? Hah, I gotta tell Si Daniels that. :D

    Puterschein, you are scary perspicacious.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Oct. 15, 2009
  6. As a service to my children, I deleted Comic Sans and a few others off our home computers. I disabled a lot of unnecessary ones as well. Their quality of life just got raised a few notches and they may never realize it. But what are fathers for?


    Posted by Josh on Oct. 15, 2009
  7. Noel Jackson and I specifically decided to use Comic Sans to make the Captioning SUCKS! Web site as intentionally garish as possible.

    We bill the site as having the only justifiable use of Comic Sans on the Web. I’m sticking to that.

    Posted by Joe Clark on Oct. 15, 2009
  8. not nearly as bad as papyrus…

    Posted by ds on Oct. 15, 2009
  9. @Josh: LOL! Too bad you can’t protect them always. Do you know that some teachers use Comic Sans in the classroom? Better get to the next PTA meeting ASAP!

    Posted by Catherine Azzarello on Oct. 16, 2009
  10. I remember the day my wife came home and to my horror learned that employees at her insurance brokerage had “discovered” Comic Sans and were switching from the ubiquitous Times Roman… Sadly their design education came from the Microsoft bundling. I am working tirelessly to re-educate…

    Posted by Rod Wallace on Oct. 16, 2009
  11. I prefer papyrus than comic sans, but not as tedious as Chiller! >_< Oh Jees! I hate that!

    Posted by JBantha on Oct. 16, 2009
  12. In London, Comic Sans is inescapable… every other crappy shop uses it, even for the shop front. Papyrus is nearly as evil…

    And yay that’s my photo! (The GRAET one)

    Posted by Ymmit on Oct. 18, 2009
  13. Some readers might be interested in Balsamiq Mockups, an application for creating lo-fi UI mockups. It makes exclusive use of Comic Sans throughout, and–believe it or not–it actually looks pretty good.

    Posted by Conor Mangat on Oct. 18, 2009
  14. The worst users of Comic Sans is (Juniour High School) teachers. At least here in Norway. I think their logic is that by using that font instead of something else, their papers will look less like something their students hate and more “exciting”. However, since it has been used so much by teachers I think it has gotten a negative meaning and probably works against its purpose.

    Posted by Torbjørn Vik Lunde on Oct. 18, 2009
  15. Seriously? I’ve always liked that font. Funny thing is nobody here gave a reason for “hating” it, so I can only presume it’s because “everybody else” on this post “hates” it. I’m not a “joiner”… I still like Comic Sans, though I would not type my will up with it.

    Posted by Michael N. on Oct. 28, 2009
  16. Funny thing is nobody here gave a reason for “hating” it, so I can only presume it’s because “everybody else” on this post “hates” it.

    I sum up in the last paragraph why it is so poor : “(…) it fails at every­thing it attempts to be” etc. And that’s only pointing out that it doesn’t work well – I’m not even mentioning the undefined character shapes which are all over the place. True, it once has been mentioned it is exquisitely hinted, but you can hardly stick some candles on a pile of mud and call it a birthday cake.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Oct. 29, 2009
  17. Although I see your point and tend to agree -I still think we are being too anal about it all….lets lighten the heck up –
    it only WORDS – haven’t we something better to gripe about – on and on and on? You know what’ll don’t you?..itll suddenly become the rage!Always happens.

    Posted by Karen on Sep. 17, 2010

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