Despite Connare’s efforts, the font was finalized too late for Microsoft Bob. Instead, Comic Sans got picked up by Microsoft administrators who used it for office birthday party invites. And when Windows 95 was released the next year, Comic Sans was one of the system fonts.
Suddenly, “I started to see it everywhere,” Connare recalled. “And then the backlash began.”
While Comic Sans may be appropriate for an elementary school project or a Beanie Baby’s heart-shaped tag, it lacks gravity. So when the font began to appear on defibrillators, warning signs, and even tombstones, typographers were aghast.
In her lecture slides, Choi includes a photo of a sealed document envelope with the message “Important Papers Enclosed” emblazoned on the outside in Comic Sans. “There’s this weird feeling of paradox,” she says. “The message contradicts itself.”
The issue is not with the font itself, Connare believes. “People use it inappropriately. If they don’t understand how type works, it won’t have any power or meaning to them,” he explained. “I once heard a guy at a
show say, ‘I could have done that.’ He clearly doesn’t know anything about art. He’ll probably use Comic Sans without realizing it’s wrong in certain circumstances.”
In part, Choi says, its omnipresence explains its notoriety. “If it wasn’t designed by Microsoft,” she explains, “if it was designed by some independent foundry somewhere, I really don’t think it would have the reputation that it does.”