Have you ever looked into a binder of an elementary school student? What do you see? Probably many different colored pages of worksheets that are all printed in Comic Sans. This typeface screams “fun” to kids and teachers alike, but as a graphic designer it can make you cringe or gag, sometimes both.
What is so repulsive about this typeface?
Designers have long disliked this typeface because the elegance of lettering is seemingly nonexistent in the letterforms. The look of the font is very heavy, almost as if it was done with a felt marker. One could think though, that if this font had not been so overused and in as many inappropriate places as it has been, graphic designers might not carry so much resentment.
Why was it created in the first place?
The creator of Comic Sans, Vincent Connare, frequently defends the typeface saying that it “was NOT designed as a typeface but as a solution to a problem…” What was the problem? Well Microsoft created a program called MS Bob, which was a cartoon dog. In the cartoon bubbles were text set in Times New Roman. Connare was tasked to come up with a more kid-friendly look for the copy, so he looked to comic books. The type ended up being too big for the program compared to Times, so it was not used, but it was included in the Microsoft Windows system fonts. Connare has said that reason why Comic Sans ended up in the system is “Because it’s sometimes better than Times New Roman, that’s why.”
Vincent Connare created a typeface, whether or not he was trying to. If the typeface was used for its original intent (for children), then designers might not have such an issue with the font as they currently do. What has created such an issue is that the public has taken the typeface and used it in all the wrong places. But there could be a new (or neue) solution.
Comic Neue. A font created to be a less offensive version of the typeface that has caused such an awful backlash. The font has not only a more even-rounded form, but also an angular form that has the same playful feeling with an heir of excitement. Designer Craig Rozynski has said “Comic Neue aspires to be the casual script choice for everyone including the typographically savvy.”
Connare’s response to the new font was… agitated.
Tobias Frere-Jones, a well-known type designer, has said, “I admire Rozynski’s efforts to improve the forms of Comic Sans”.
The question remains, though, if someone uses comic neue instead of comic sans, does that really solve the problem? Will people use this where it deserves to be used, or will it end up being applied inappropriately again? Either way, a good type education is in order for the public.
Download Comic Neue for free at the site here.
To read more about Vincent Connare’s story, check out his site here.