Comic Sans: the people’s font

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 4th August 2009.

The internet has become the perfect venting medium for anyone with a cause, grudge or axe to grind. What gets your goat? What makes you mad? Simply go online, rant on blogs or social networking sites, and then start an internet petition. You’ll probably feel much better afterwards but will anyone else care?

My favourite kooky but fun internet protest movement is Ban Comic Sans. That’s right, a worldwide movement calling for the banning of the font, Comic Sans, available on almost all word processing software.

The font itself was originally unleashed upon the world in 1995 by Microsoft.  Designed by Vincent Connare, the font was designed to mimic comic book lettering. According to its creator, Comic Sans was not meant to be available as a general use font, but was to be exclusively used in a children’s application, Microsoft Bob. Once added to Windows 95, however, it has become a widely used font despite its suggested use for informal documents, especially those related to children or childhood.

The Ban Comic Sans movement was started by Dave and Holly Combs in Indianapolis in 1999. Their argument is that the font in question is commonly used inappropriately and out of context. An example, they cite, is a Do Not Enter sign, where the Comic Sans font is in contradiction with the serious nature and tone of the message.

 They seek to preserve the sanctity of typography, which has seen the development of hundreds of fonts and typeface, each with a specific quality and context that goes beyond the words it represents. Essentially they are the seed savers of the digital age, but instead of trying to stop purple carrots and Fairie Queen apples from becoming extinct, they are trying to prevent Times New Roman, Courier, Arial and Comic Sans from becoming the only fonts in widespread use.

According to the Ban Comic Sans website, examples of the font’s misuse are safety signs, church information boards, menus and the 2004 Canada Day 25 cent coin.

The website also features Ban Comic Sans merchandise, as well as downloadable stickers that can be printed onto sticky labels.  Supporters are encouraged to place a sticker on any sign or poster they notice that features Comic Sans inappropriately.

 To date there are 4160 digital signatures on their worldwide petition.

Whilst it is highly unlikely that Comic Sans will ever be banned, perhaps a greater awareness created by this movement may result in a decrease in the (mis)use of this popular font but ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference.

So go online and let the world know what you what irritates you. You never know, there might be someone out there in cyberland who agrees with you.

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Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 20:33  Leave a Comment  
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