Comic Sans, Typography’s Martyr: a Defense of the Most Hated Font

In Defense of Comic Sans | Jenn Wells Design

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to know there’s a widespread hatred of Comic Sans. It’s become the martyr of the typography world, suffering more than its share fair of abuse.

Which is not to say I don’t understand the dislike of this particular font. I do, and for those who might not, I’ll explain.

The Reason for the Comic Sans Hate

1. Massive Overuse

Simply put, Comic Sans is everywhere. It’s a system font, so everyone has access to it, it looks familiar and safe and, to the uninitiated, there’s no reason not to use it. The result is that every time someone wants a casual or personal feel to something, the font used is inevitably Comic Sans.

2. Inappropriate Use

Comic Sans is meant to imitate handwriting. It has an informal, even childlike feel to it. Yet it remains a favorite font choice regardless of purpose, used on yard sale flyers and business propositions alike. I believe the bigger portion of the hatred for this font stems from seeing it used so frequently in places it really does not belong.

Defending Comic Sans

I have several reasons to defend this much-abused font, the biggest perhaps being a desire to help out the underdog. I’ll start from the beginning.

1. Innocent Intentions

When Vincent Connare invented Comic Sans 20 years ago, he had no idea the future hostility it would draw. At the time, the font was perfect for its intended use – to illustrate the thoughts of a cartoon dog. It is certainly not Connare, nor his font’s fault that the public took the style and ran with it.

2. Thinking Outside the Box

Don’t get me wrong, using Comic Sans isn’t getting anywhere near the edge of the box, but jumping on board the hate train isn’t either. Everyone hates the font, so what? It has a very clear niche of admirers and, if you know your target market and the feel of your design necessitates cartoon-dog-thought-bubble font, then you have no reason not to use the font.

3. It’s NOT the Worst Offender

I hear more than I want to about the evils of Comic Sans, but you know what fonts I see far more often? Hobo Std. Papyrus. Copperplate Gothic! And no one’s complaining about them (although XKCD references Papyrus).

With all the font abuses out there, I can’t seem to wrap my head around the particular hatred of Comic Sans. Yes, it’s handwritten, yes it’s overused, and YES it’s misused! But it also doesn’t have the glaringly obvious distressing of Papyrus or the curved quirkiness of Hobo Std. and, in my opinion, is a lot easier to skim past than some of the more decorative fonts.

I’m still not endorsing the use of Comic Sans in a professional setting. Or even in most settings. But if you’re making a flyer for your kid’s birthday party, dog pool party, or any other silly, fun project that doesn’t require a great deal of target market analysis or professionalism, then go for it. You use Comic Sans to your heart’s content.

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