The creators of the most hated font on the web have spoken out with words of love.
In an interview with the Guardian, former Microsoft font designer Vincent Connare said he’s proud of Comic Sans MS, a sans-serif casual script typeface that has divided the internet since its release in 1994.
"It was for novice computer users and it succeeded with that market. People use it inappropriately: if they don’t understand how type works, it won’t have any power or meaning to them," he said.
"I once heard a guy at a Rothko show say: “I could have done that.” He clearly doesn’t know anything about art. He’ll probably use Comic Sans without realising it’s wrong in certain circumstances."
Comic Sans, which had been a standard in the Microsoft font library since it was included in Microsoft 95, was never meant to have this success.
As Connare himself explains on his website, the font was originally designed for Microsoft Bob, "a comic software package that had a dog called Rover at the beginning and he had a balloon with messages using Times New Roman."
Comic Sans is the best joke I ever told. Comic Sans était la meilleure blague que j’ai jamais dit . #comicsans
— Vincent ✍🏽Connaré (@VincentConnare) February 8, 2010
Comic Sans was based on lettering from graphic novels Connare had around his office, in particular Watchmen (lettered by Dave Gibbons) and The Dark Knight Returns (lettered by John Costanza).
"I didn’t have to make straight lines, I didn’t have to make things look right, and that’s what I found fun. I was breaking the typography rules," he told The Guardian.
After it became a default for Microsoft Publisher and Internet Explorer, the backlash started.
In 1999, the "Ban Comic Sans" movement was launched by two Indianapolis graphic designers, Dave and Holly Combs.
"A group called Ban Comic Sans was formed to educate people about the uses of typefaces, though they did email me to ask if it was OK to set it up. It seemed silly, but I said knock yourselves out," Connare said.
Some designers argued that Comic Sans, while perfectly legit in designs for children or comic books, should have no place in business or professional work usage.
But the backlash has now calmed down. "People who come up to me are more likely to say they love it," he said. A Comic Sans ‘defenders’ project has even popped up on Tumblr.
Connare said he used Comic Sans only once. When he had trouble changing his broadband to Sky, he wrote them a letter in Comic Sans.
"I got a £10 refund. In those cases, I would recommend it. The basic theory is that typography should not shout – but Comic Sans shouts," he said.
However, Tom Stevens, program manager at Microsoft, admits that the font still gets misused, for example when Cern announced the Higgs boson in Comic Sans.
RT @CERN: <comicsans>we have observed a new boson with a mass of 125.3 ± 0.6 GeV at 4.9 sigma significance.</comicsans>
— Santiago Orozco (@sannorozco) July 5, 2012
Designers were outraged and the Higgs Boson quickly became a trending topic on Twitter, with amused and outraged users commenting on the typography choice.
"The backlash, the level of hatred, was just amazing – and quite frankly funny. I couldn’t believe people could be so worked up over something as simple as a font," he said.
The font continues to divide opinion and provoke discussion:
#ComicSans is trending this morning.. it’s going to be one of those days (I get unreasonably riled at the mere mention of that font) pic.twitter.com/3UkFVaDsUb
— Litchlife (@stonecoldpiper) March 28, 2017