WIRED 2015 is our annual two-day celebration of the innovators, inventors, artists and entrepreneurs who are reinventing our world. For more from the event, head over to our WIRED 2015 hub.
“Twenty years ago, I made the best font in the world,” the inventor of one of the most reviled typefaces in recent history told WIRED2015.
Vincent Connare, the American font designer behind Comic Sans, explained how his oft-abused brainchild came about. It all began at Microsoft in 1993, as the company was gearing up to release its Windows 95 operating system.
In that early era of personal computing, some software still featured cartoonish characters as assistants.
One such application, Microsoft Bob, was accompanied by a cartoon dog that talked through speech bubbles. Connare started working on Comic Sans to give those characters a specific font , because, he said, “I thought comic characters can’t talk in [Times New Roman].”
Inspired by the lettering of classic comics such as Watchmen, Connare drew the new typeface initially by hand. The final result had to be” something resembling, but not copying Dave Gibbons, who worked on the Watchmen comics.”
That was partly due to European copyright laws on typefaces, and that’s why Comic Sans doesn’t look exactly like any other comics font,” he explained.
By the time the font was ready, in 1994, it was too late to include it in Microsoft Bob. But Comic Sans was used in other applications, and ended up as one of the system fonts in Windows 95.
Since then, the global overuse of Comic Sans — sometimes, jarringly, in serious or official documents — has transformed this playful font into the butt of endless jokes and much opposition. From the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times, the fight against Comic Sans looks set to run and run.