The story apparently goes a little something like this: Back in 1994, a font designer at Microsoft named
This clash of dog and font sent him reeling -- dogs most definitely DO NOT bark in Times New Roman.
And so he went to his comic books (which included "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen") and used them as inspiration as he created the Comic Sans font. He apparently did not take the font too seriously -- it only took him a week to design.* He had much more important work to do, such as his not-quite-as-famous Trebuchet MS font.
It seems obvious that Connare saw Comic Sans as mere diversion, something fun for people who did not have much use for Baskerville or Didot. What Connare did not realize then, what he could not have realized then, was that he was creating a typeface whirlwind, a type that would be loved and hated in equal parts for the next 15 or so years. It is probably the most argued about typeface in English. Some people find Comic Sans to be whimsical and childlike, precisely the message they are trying to send when they invite people to parties or want to encourage the neighborhood to come out to their yard sale. It seems the perfect "Lost Dog" font, a font that expressed wounded love for Boomer while still giving voice to the hope that Boomer would indeed be found and returned.
And then there was the rest of the people who hate it, probably because they received a "You are fired" memo in this font that looks like it should be dangling above
Of course, you know that point of all this. Last week, Cleveland Cavaliers owner
Gilbert's words bugged people, yes, but it was really the font that set America off. Gilbert had gone with Comic Sans. Why? So far, we have not really heard a good reason why. (My guess is that Gilbert said to p.r. director: "And don't go putting my letter in some mainstream font like Helvetica ... I want it to stand out.").
But whatever the reason it is true that the font really makes a huge difference in how people read the words. It actually MAKES the words. Don't believe me? Look: Here is how Gilbert's key words look in Comic Sans:
And here is how those words look in a more staid font like, say, Cochin:
Well, hey, if you're the empathetic type, it might not be too hard to understand why Gilbert went with Comic Sans that first night. He was obviously overtaken by emotion. He may have felt betrayed by a player he had worked very hard to keep happy. He may have felt
And caught up in emotion, he may have just started typing out his letter in Comic Sans (maybe it's his default font ... hey, sure, he might send out a lot of eccentric and quirky emails). And then he just sent it off without thinking fonts. When it appeared that way online, he was embarrassed but he couldn't change it then -- he decided to just leave it up out of stubborn pride. Billionaires tend to have stubborn pride. OK. I get that.
But here's what I DO NOT get. On Monday, Gilbert felt like he had to respond to
In Comic Sans font.
Now, how are you going to take that seriously? It's impossible. This is like giving a State of the Union address in Groucho glasses and mustache. I appreciate that Dan Gilbert is not a stuffy billionaire who believes all his pronouncements belong in BIG CASTION type. I appreciate that he thinks of himself as one of us, a regular Joe, who wants to communicate in the impish type of comic books. But, Dan, there is a time and place for everything. When responding to Jesse Jackson's slave owner charges, yeah, you might want to go with something just a little bit more reserved -- a font that doesn't look like it was pulled from the pages of "Richie Rich."
Then, maybe this is just a problem. You know how
But what if that wasn't it. What if we find this note somewhere?
I'm not saying that we should ban Comic Sans. It should be there for those young-at-heart people with impish intentions and for teenagers typing love letters. I'm just saying that we should ban Comic Sans from Dan Gilbert's computer.