Curious Minds Podcast: Why Do People Hate Comic Sans?
Listen here to our first podcast episode, dedicated to the world’s most hated font
Curious Minds is an original podcast by Domestika that explores the curiosities and untold histories of the creative world.
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If you’re like most people, you might cringe when you see Comic Sans font.
From websites like Comic Sans Criminal to groups like Ban Comic Sans (which has in recent years changed its name), there’s no shortage of online hate for what some have called “the world’s most hated font.”
But where does all that hate come from?
In our first episode of Curious Minds, we speak with “Design for Hackers” author David Kadavy, lettering artist Alex Trochut (@trochut), and “Why Fonts Matter” author Sarah Hyndman to discover how this divisive font came to be and how it just might represent the biggest revolution in typography since Gutenberg.
You can download the transcript of this episode at the end of this article.
Typography can be used to express far more than just the words it spells out.
“Text is kind of like the art of wearing clothes, you need to choose what to wear on what occasion,” says Alex Trochut (@trochut), a graphic lettering artist who has worked with brands like Nike and musicians like Katy Perry and The Rolling Stones.
As he describes it, using “Comic Sans is kind of like wearing flip flops to a wedding.”
But even though the Comic Sans font has been called everything from childish to tacky, there are plenty of people who still use it. A quick online search yields countless images of the font being used in questionable contexts, appearing everywhere from school flyers to passive aggressive kitchen notes to gravestones.
Comic Sans has also been used in high profile cases, like the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs Boson, with the font sometimes drawing arguably more attention than the message it spells out.
So why, despite its bad reputation, do some people continue to use it? Because not every piece of written communication demands, or fits, with the formality we might associate with other fonts. Sometimes wearing flip flops does fit the occasion.
“Comic Sans is pretty much the only [systems font] that doesn’t feel over the top or like you chose a typeface, or like you were trying to do some really ornate calligraphy,” explains Sarah Hyndman, the author of “Why Fonts Matter” who also runs type-tasting events with the goal of making typography fun and accessible to everyone.
You can see this reflected in the images above and below, redrawn from Kadavy’s article “Why You Hate Comic Sans” which goes into greater depth about the font’s technical faults.
The appeal of the friendlier, less formal typeface made it especially popular during the personal computer and printing boom of the 1990s, when, for the first time ever, average people could more easily access and play with typography.
The overuse, and abuse, of Comic Sans made designers like Kadavy cringe - not just because of the work of amateur designers, but also because on the technical side the font’s unmodulated strokes means it does a poor job of managing visual weight.
But that whimsical, almost childish look of letters drawn with a felt tip pen? It was intentional. And we have a cartoon dog to thank.
To discover how a children’s computer program sparked the creation of Comic Sans, and why it might be the perfect example of what a typeface is supposed to be, you can find the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Click on the link below to download a transcript of this episode. It will be saved in your Downloads folder as a PDF.
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Why Do People Hate Comic Sans? - Transcript.pdf
If you'd like to read more stories behind the images, patterns, and designs we take for granted, check out our other blog posts for Curious Minds, an original podcast by Domestika.
You May Also Like:
- Curious Minds Podcast: Why We ♥️ Symbols
- The History of Typography: From 11th Century China to the Digital Age
I don't believe you can just hate a font, well that's not actually true. They're a bit like weeds, the wrong plant in the wrong place.
The problem is how and where the font is used. Now that is where the skill of the graphic designer comes in. Selecting the right font for the job.
However, a bunch of physicists announcing the discovery of the Higg's Boson with Comic Sans, have you seen The Big Ban Theory.
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