When I tell people with no interest in typography (like most of my friends) about this project and the blog, I typically get one of two reactions. One is astonishment that somebody actually would have to design a font – many don’t think typefaces are a human artistic expression, they are somehow just there. The other one is: Comic Sans! Love it or hate it, but Comic Sans and the controversy surrounding it have clearly struck a chord among people who normally couldn’t tell the difference between a Futura and a Baskerville.
So, to bring people up to speed (and have a little fun) here is my rundown on the coming of Comic Sans, the backlash against and the backlash against the backlash happening right now.
Microsoft’s Original Sin
Look at that cute dog. That is Rover, your little friendly helper in Microsoft Bob. Widely known as one of Microsoft’s more spectacular failures, Microsoft Bob was an interface redesign of Windows 95 targeted towards new computer users. Microsoft designer Vincent Connare thought little Rover’s speech bubbles should have a more comic-like feel and he designed Comic Sans. He didn’t get done in time and little Rover had to keep talking in more sophisticated Times New Roman. But the seed was planted and with the inclusion in Windows 95 it soon spread like Font-Kudzu around the world, covering up typographic common sense with relentlessly cheery Comic Sans.
Things like this happened:
Used under Creative Commons from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sermoa/3361320234/
Then, older academics discovered it.
It seemed like people just used it for everything. Why? Because it was just so funny. This strictly scientific study proved the point.
As Comic Sans destroyed everything in its path, resistance started forming. Brave designers spoke about against the tyranny. Sites like Ban Comic Sans (“Putting the sans in Comic Sans”) gained a large following. Well-designed posters like the one below offered simple advice on the proper use of the font.
Reproduced from James Random’s Posterous at http://jamesrandom.posterous.com/comic-sans-ms.
The Backlash against the Backlash: Comic Sans resurrected
Soon, Comic Sans became a laughing stock and no self-respecting desktop publishing enthusiast would touch the font. But universal derision turned Comic Sans from evil overlord to scrappy underdog. A Comic Sans Project dedicated itself to the defense of the font and started to set famous logos in Comic Sans. A
Google Chrome app lets you browse the web “Sans-style”. And in this great video by Joe Hollier, Comic Sans actually talked back (you might recognize this, I have featured it before).
Finally, just to be complete, this:
Where do we go from here? No one knows, but don’t bet against Comic Sans.