The misunderstood enemy of graphic design: in defense of Comic Sans


Developed in the mid-1990s by Microsoft designer Vincent Connare, the font Comic Sans MS has been stigmatized since it was created. The comic book-inspired font has been criticized as juvenile, ugly, and in poor taste for many years, as it has a resemblance to somewhat childlike handwriting. The font is most widely used in education and children’s media, adding to its reputation of coming across as childish or immature. However, it is not clear why exactly this font inspires anything beyond mild annoyance for most people. While some critics cite things such as poor spacing between letters and issues with the shape of the letters as a whole, most people cannot explain why they dislike it. If one asks someone who is not acquainted with typography or graphic design why Comic Sans is ugly, they usually do not give any technical answer besides a sarcastic joke or one-liner. 

While it should be obvious to rational, sane people why the font may not be appropriate for somber or serious matters, (such as a funeral invitation, although some people’s dying wish may be a funeral invitation written in entirely Comic Sans in 48pt font,) that does not mean that it is completely without use. Due to the spacing between its letters and overall handwritten appearance, it could be useful for teaching children how to read or write. A common defense of Comic Sans is that it may be easier to read for dyslexic people or for people with other learning difficulties. While there is not much reliable research on this topic, and what exists is heavily debated and contested, it could be useful for individuals themselves even if it is not useful for everyone with a similar difficulty on a large scale. 

In short, it is clear that the main reason Comic Sans is hated is not because of typographical issues, but because it is simply the popular opinion within graphic design. Ask yourself- is Comic Sans MS truly the ugly and unprofessional mess you’ve been led to believe it is, or do you simply desire the shallow approval of the masses? Fonts like Times New Roman, although controversial, are not met with anywhere near the same level of vitriol, yet they are famously hard to read and confusing. It is simply not productive to direct one’s hatred towards the relatively innocent and inoffensive Comic Sans, while ignoring the notoriously ugly and overused Times New Roman.