Hanneke du Toit

What’s so funny?

Comic Sans font, definitely inappropriate on a prostitute's call card.

Comic Sans font, definitely inappropriate on a prostitute's call card.

There is nothing funny about the recession, everyone is struggling. Print media, hard hit by a steep decline in advertising revenue and desperately involved in doing its own extinction management, is trying to get by in any way possible – short of prostituting itself. Which is just as well since not even sex is selling anymore. Walpaper magazine decided to embrace the state of affairs and commissioned designers to make typographic call-cards (like those pasted inside telephone booths) for their current issue.

The cards are typographer’s in-jokes, using font names and stylistic attributes to lewd effect. The use of goofy, innocent-looking Comic sans font in the context of a prostitute’s business card is most definitely appropriately, inappropriate.

Comic sans has developed something of a, shall we say, cult-following, but in the form of an angry mob bearing pitch forks and torches. Designers despise it. The font face has an annoying and inelegant wannabe fun feel to it, an uncomfortable air of bonhomie, a superficial, grown-up kind of childishness in the meticulously mis-formed strokes. The problem with Comic sans is that it always seems to crop up where it doesn’t belong, and it does so very, very often.

Most recently it had the curators at Christies look on their noses. They put a flyer to a Sex Pistols concert up for auction, allegedly dating from 1978. A designer noticed Comic Sans in the artwork which identified it as a fake, since Comic sans was only designed in 1994. Christies has since taken it off the auction.

Fake Sex Pistols Flyer

Fake Sex Pistols Flyer put on auction by Christies

The much maligned type face, described as groovy [sic] on its own home page, was designed by Vincent Connare as a standard font for Microsoft 95. Describing it as FUN (all-caps are Connares) when launched, it has since become his own Frankenstein. He is as annoyed with its over-use and improper application as other designers, and sympathises with a world-wide movement to ban it. He chat with the Wall Street Journal in April amid growing irritation with the font cropping up everywhere including online, being one of a few basic web-safe fonts.

Perhaps the most inappropriate application of this font I have had the misfortune to encounter, was at my local police station. After an exasperating brush with the criminal elements barnacled to the underbelly of any big city, I had to open a case at the station to get a case number for insurance purposes.

The SAP provides case numbers in Comic Sans. Are we having fun yet?

The SAP provides case numbers in Comic Sans. Are we having fun yet?

If you are looking for somewhere to vent some frustration (misdirected or otherwise), you can join the Ban Comic Sans movement here, and even download your own Propaganda Kit, which includes nifty stickers like these.



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