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THE POINT OF putting a thought into print is to preserve and share it. The choice of typography (this word from the Greek: loosely “an impression pictured”) is a complex one. But for a balance of clarity and style, I’m here to say “Hurrah for Comic Sans Serif!”
Surprisingly, this is something of a controversial stance.
Even Microsoft designer Vincent Connare, the inventor of Comic Sans Serif, has said, “If you love Comic Sans you don’t know much about typography,” softened a bit by, “And if you hate Comic Sans you need a new hobby.”
Emma Goldberg adds to this with “Hating Comic Sans is Not a Personality,” in The New York Times, October 9, 2019.
Goldberg writes, “Of all things people love to hate—Mondays, the Kardashians, candy corn, Nickelback—few evoke the scorn and indignation of what Mr. Connare affectionately calls ‘the Justin Bieber of fonts.’ ”
Here are Comic Sans Serif tidbits gleaned from her article, my usual Internet sleuthing, and use of this typeface in my own presentations at technical conferences.
Connare’s Goal. When the company was devising Microsoft Bob and his dog Rover in 1994, type designer Vincent Connare cogently observed, “Dogs don’t talk in Times New Roman.”
Times New Roman, like many typefaces, has serifs, those elaborate little flourishes that are missing in Sans Serif typefaces. (Sans, from the French, “without.”)
Wikipedia notes that Comic Sans Serif is “pre-installed in macOS and Windows Phone devices, but not under Android, iOS, or Linux.”
If you’re searching for a deep meaning in this, I remind you of Connare’s line about getting a new hobby.
A “Fun-Times Font.” Paige Shelton is the author of Comic Sans Murder, a mystery set in a typewriter repair shop with a resident cat named Baskerville.
Goldberg notes, “Comic Sans is what Ms. Shelton calls ‘a fun-times font,’ manspreading across paper in strokes thicker than fair Cambria or no-nonsense Garamond.”
Typographic Backlash Comic Sans Serif is disliked by some with almost Puritanical fervor. Others merely note its inappropriateness in certain writing.
Goldberg observes, “The website Comic Sans Criminal allows people to report its inappropriate uses (see: a sex offender registry, a doctor’s diagnosis).”
Granted. Though I also note that this website’s choice of primary typeface is another sans serif font, one that’s rigidly vertical and, to my eye, a bit stodgy.
A Political Message? “The depth of the internet’s distaste for Comic Sans,” Goldberg writes, “was on full display this week, when an attorney representing two of Rudy Giuliani’s associates informed Congress that his clients wouldn’t comply with the impeachment inquiry demands, with a letter printed in that widely derided type.”
Given the circus playing Washington, D.C., at the moment, I might have sent the letter in P.T. Barnum.
In Comic Sans Serif’s Defense. I’ve given more than a few technical presentations at SAE International and other organizations. And my typeface of choice for these illustrated PowerPoint presentations is, you guessed it, Comic Sans Serif.
It’s the opposite of a guy opening his talk with densely unreadable visuals as he drones, “We’ve got a lot to cover, so….”
Gee, just what we need. This session has been three hours already.
By contrast, Comic Sans Serif is clear and readable. It says, “Relax. This may get technical here and there, but it might well be of interest to you.”
Thanks, Mr. Connare. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019