From its inception, the font attracted eye rolls and outright pitchfork attacks. Mr. Connare’s boss, Bob Norton, wasn’t a fan of it and axed it from the ill-fated program, called Microsoft Bob. But the font lived on in a Windows 95 Plus! pack. Paige Shelton, author of the mystery “Comic Sans Murder,” set in a fictional typewriter repair shop, said that when the font was released “all Helvetica broke loose.”
Comic Sans is what Ms. Shelton calls “a fun-times font,” manspreading across paper in strokes thicker than fair Cambria or no-nonsense Garamond. (Mr. Bierut said Helvetica, by contrast, is a “a call from H.R.”) The spacing, or kerning, between its letters is uneven because it wasn’t designed for print.
To type traditionalists, use of the font can signify frivolity or even disrespect. The website Comic Sans Criminal allows people to report its inappropriate uses (see: a sex offender registry, a doctor’s diagnosis). In 2010, a Twitter employee shared that the site’s two most reliable sources of traffic are complaints about airlines and Comic Sans.
Mr. Bierut said that Comic Sans has long been “the default punch line in the design community.” Because it’s meant to simulate the handwriting process, it can come off as inauthentic, he explained, like a packaged cookie when you expected homemade. It is “willfully idiosyncratic,” with its crooked lines and unevenly distributed weight.
“It reads like a Mickey Mouse cartoonish voice,” said Mr. Bierut. “It has this weird sense of dislocation.”
But the Comic Sans hatred was never universal. Ty, the maker of Beanie Babies, used it. So did Electronic Arts Games, creator of The Sims. Scientists at CERN used the font in a landmark presentation about the Higgs boson particle, and Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, used it to thank LeBron James for his service.