April 20, 2009

"Comic Sans walks into a bar, bartender says, 'We don't serve your type.'"

Hating the font.

58 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Cute! The Typescript is the message.

Palladian said...
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Palladian said...

People have hated Comic Sans for years.

It's not the typeface that's the problem, really. It's the inappropriate use of the typeface. Comic Sans is frequently used in an inappropriate way because it was one of the small group of fonts that came with every copy of the Windows operating system. People who aren't graphics professionals or who don't have a particularly developed aesthetic choose Comic Sans so often simply because it looks more like handwriting than other typefaces, unaware that the "jauntiness" of the face is inappropriate in many typographical situations. If these non-professional and/or casual sign makers had a broader range of typefaces to choose from, Comic Sans would be just another handwriting font. Windows ships with many more fonts than it used to, so I suspect the ubiquity of Comic Sans will fade.

The real problem comes from a typeface that is much more ubiquitous and much more terrible than Comic Sans: Arial, the cheap-looking, boring rip-off of Helvetica (which I don't like that much either).

Jason (the commenter) said...

My favorite font is Franklin Gothic. It makes teeny-tiny labels legible. (It's the cutest!)

I'll agree with Palladian on Arial, it's even kind of hard to read.

SMGalbraith said...

I'm a Verdana man.

The others just aren't, er, bold enough.

Too easy (very) but then again, I'm easy.

EnigmatiCore said...

I obviously have lousy taste in fonts. Every email program I have that does fonts is set to Arial 10.

Seven Machos said...

It's funny because when I read this article the other day in the WSJ, I thought, "Man, Althouse should blog about this."And I like Arial. It's great when you are doing something that involves pure information because it helps you focus on only the information.

Palladian said...

"And I like Arial. It's great when you are doing something that involves pure information because it helps you focus on only the information."

NO.

There's no such thing as pure information. Your desire for typographic invisibility is but a desire for a certain typographic condition.

I think Lucida Grande is "blanker" than Arial.

EDH said...

For all these years I thought "comic sans serif" was a comedy without Omar Sharif in the cast.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Tahoma is a good font when you get tired of Times Roman and Arial.


Horse walks into a bar.

Bartender: "Why the long face?"

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Blogger EnigmatiCore said...

I obviously have lousy taste in fonts. Every email program I have that does fonts is set to Arial 10."

I <3 Arial 10.

"Seven Machos said...

...And I like Arial. It's great when you are doing something that involves pure information because it helps you focus on only the information."

That's what I think too.

treeman said...

Good joke. Terrible font.

I make a lot of signs, but the fonts are chosen by the customer. Only occasionally will they chose wisely.

Shawn Levasseur said...

Actually even when an informal comic-book like font is appropriate, Comic Sans is still looked down on.

Why use a type that was designed to look like comic book lettering, when you can use fonts that are actually designed and used by comic book professionals?

I have several such fonts from Comicraft.com on my computer.

The cost quite a bit, but you can purchase them at a consumer friendly price every January 1st. Where the sale price is based on the new year ($20.09 this past Jan. 1st, $20.10 on the next)

HelenParr said...

I thought this post was about the comic Horatio Sanz who used to be on SNL.

Jason (the commenter) said...

"There's no such thing as pure information."

Something written in binary, something written in a secret code, logarithm lists. I can think of many examples.

If I were to hate a font it might be Courier. Do I really need something to look like it was written by a typewriter when people forget such things ever existed? But I can't hate it, because it's used for ASCII art.

El Presidente said...

Horse and his rider walk into a bar.

Bartender: "Why the long face?"

Rider: "His wife just died."

Lem said...

I tried to use Stylus BT on CAD for a while but had to give it up........

The problem using it was that panning, zooming and printing slowed to a crawl.............

The old timers loved it, because it made the drawings look like they could have been done by hand................

But ultimately we had to drop it for the old tried and true romans.

Lem said...

When I see comic sans on a website I instinctively have a bad reaction. it's like something done badly on purpose.

Its just all wrong.

Daryl said...

For certain applications, you can't beat Courier New. Especially, for example, displaying source code.

Otherwise, Times New Roman is a venerable contender. I know some people think it's trite and overused, but there's a reason it's overused, and that's because it's pretty much awesome.

Revenant said...

I like Arial and find it easy to read. Shrug.

SteveR said...
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SteveR said...

Perhaps I'm in the minority, I certainly am among commenters here, but I really don't care. When Perez Hilton is a Miss America judge I'm inclined to feel there are a lot of more important crappy insignificant things we could talk about.

Lem said...

Comic Sans is like DOS.. You will never ever be totally rid of it.

Chip Ahoy said...

After comic sans, Papyrus is the next most overused and misused typeface IMHO. Once you start noticing it, you notice it everywhere. Websites are devoted to hatred of Papyrus typeface, in fact.

Check out I hate Papyrus flickr set.

Lem said...

I'm inclined to feel there are a lot of more important crappy insignificant things we could talk about..........

Wrong!..........

When you go to a restaurant presentation is a big deal.. then again maybe not to you, but trust me it's important.

peter hoh said...

There are no bad fonts, just bad graphic designers.

The proliferation of fonts allows amateurs to make egregious errors in design.

The best primer on graphic design is The Non-Designer's Design Book.

Jason (the commenter) said...

SteveR : "I'm inclined to feel there are a lot of more important crappy insignificant things we could talk about."

Steve, this is a legal blog, so of course fonts are important. Ten percent of practicing law is choosing the right font for small print; choose the wrong one and someone might bother to read it!

SteveR said...
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Lem said...

On CAD nothing reduces as well as Arial but the problem is at .10 inch (the optimum size for text on a dwg) arial overwhelms the drawing. But if you make it smaller than .10 at full scale then it's unreadable at half scale. So Arial is no good for CAD.

SteveR said...
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SteveR said...
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Hector Owen said...

If your fonts could talk …

Font Conference

blake said...

Courier! Courier! Courier!

80 columns per row! 25 rows per page!

It wouldn't be pretty, but, man, it would be fast.

blake said...
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pro said...

I'm pretty sure this is the comic strip referenced in the article. I thought of it immediately when I read Althouse's post.

Theo Boehm said...
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blake said...

In the same way, many people who do programming often prefer some variant of Courier, ugly as it may be. There is something about that typewritery face that makes it hard to mistake numbers, and that makes it possible to stare at otherwise meaningless letters and figures for hours on end without fatigue.Despite my enthusiasm for it, it's not so much Courier as any fixed-width font. Typesetting values seek to minimize and order blank space in a way that's functional for prose, but contrary to reading code.

Whitespace means something. Sometimes literally.

Theo Boehm said...
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Theo Boehm said...
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blake said...

Well, I've done some experiments with this, because I've been fascinated by the prospect of bringing coding to a place where it modeled English.

Yes, I know about COBOL. And similar works. But in most coding style guides, there's a concept of making variable names significant.

But I've found that you can get into trouble that way, because it's easy for the reader to assume a meaning based on his English understanding. And once a programmer understands what the actual code does, using variable names like Xyzzy, Floobie and Hatano can actually be clearer than "Printer" "PrintSpool" and "PrePrinter"--precisely because there's no chance that they're misleading.

And I think this is because, once you understand code, you tokenize it much like a compiler would.

Contrast with reading, where you're looking for the ambiguities, the layers, the possible deception. That's part of the art.

Old RPM Daddy said...

So I have to love or hate the right fonts to be one of the cool kids now?

I read this one somewhere:

A C, an E Flat, and a G walk into a bar. What happens?

The E-Flat is thrown out, because the bar won't serve minors. The C and the G split a fifth between them.

rhhardin said...

All my open generic text windows use 12 pt Lucida, which seems to do the best for legibility in a cramped space. All my daily work is done in generic text windows.

My most hated font is whatever typewriters used to produce for fake script handwriting. Girls used to use it.

Jennifer said...

Using Comic Sans is the typographical equivalent of using AOL.

I'm not a fan of Arial and prefer to use Century Gothic for spreadsheets - which are my daily "pure information" exercises.

Papyrus is played out, as well. I work with a guy who uses it for emails and I judge him for it.

Jennifer said...

And, while we're at it...what's with all the grown women using Bradley Hand ITC and Curlz MT in peppy colors for their email signatures?

TMink said...

I love my sans serif fonts. I can go to the SCIFI section of a book store and avoid almost all of the fantasy titles by avoiding the serifed fonts.

Trey

Jennifer said...

Why do they group SciFi and Fantasy together? That seems like two very different audiences. I guess I don't really know, though.

MadisonMan said...

Y'know, it's all well and good to have your variable names mean something, but all the legacy code I work with, that was written in the 70s, has variable names like I, J, IA, JA, . . . to save space back when memory was tremendously expensive. Or I get code written by people in Brazil and all the variable names are in Portuguese.

If you can understand the logic of the code, the names are irrelevant.

joyce said...

I love Comic Sans because when teaching little kids handwriting, the lower case A is done in Comic Sans how we expect kids to print it longhand.

John Althouse Cohen said...

"Just a little reminder"

AlgonquinS said...

Lucida Console walks into a bar, and the bartender says: "Sorry, we don't serve Italics."

Sofa King said...

I hate Times New Roman almost as much as Comic Sans. The most drab, over-used typeface ever. In almost every circumstance where you want a serif font, Georgia looks way, way better, both on screen and in print.

AlgonquinS said...

Arial Black walks into a bar, and the bartender says: "Sorry, we don't serve bold face."

knox said...

When I was in design school it was the biggest no-no.

Christy said...

I like Comic Sans, used it in personal email for a while.

Times New Roman, however, makes me physically uncomfortable. Seriously, it distresses me. Have you ever turned a page and found yourself staring at an enlarged picture of a particularly nasty bug and cringed. Times New Roman does that to me. First thing I do on any new computer is change the default font to Arial, or sometimes, one of the Gothics.

Hector, thanks for sharing that video. So true to the way I react to fonts.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Back in the 90's at Adobe, around the time when Microsoft's TrueType was overwhelming Adobe's Type1, and Acrobat / PDF was beginning to become a powerhouse, someone in the font rendering team wrote a white paper on portable documents for the future. The paper analyzed PDF, scalable fonts, stroke-based Kanji fonts, print resolution, and on and on. The conclusion? If you want your document to be readable by everyone in 10 years, write it in:

10 pt. monospace Courier

(and 7 bit ASCII encoding, for the geeks among us).

srfwotb said...

Comic Sans Gravestones? Really?

Arial and Verdana are both infamously easy to read online. Verdana was created for that purpose.

My pet peeve is Times New Roman for default reasons.

Papyrus is as tempting as Comic Sans in a "don't have many fonts installed" kind of way.

Sean E said...

My first reaction to this post was to roll my eyes at the stupid things that some people get worked up about.

Then Palladian started smack-talking Arial (What!? Arial Rules!!) and I realized I shouldn't be throwing stones.

Although I guess I always kinda knew that I cared about some pretty stupid things.

blake said...

If you can understand the logic of the code, the names are irrelevant.

My point exactly, MadMan. And the illusion of thinking you understand it because it resembles English (because, semantically, your English interpretation might lead you astray) is dangerous.

I think it helps the casual reader--someone looking for a quick basic understanding on his way to somewhere else. If you've ever looked over code with those short variable names, they require you to get into them to get them at all.

But I think the whole "meaningful variable names" thing is over-rated.