Comic Sans might be the most hated font of all time, but that doesn’t make its history any less fascinating. No matter how we feel about it, the font used for text in comic books is undeniably iconic… which is strange considering the fact that, for a long time, the words in comic books were handwritten. So how, then, were they still able to achieve such a distinct visual identity?
First, a brief history lesson from the video above, which takes an educational look at this topic. Aside from writers and illustrators, comic books were also created with the help of letterers, whose job it was to place dialogue bubbles and handwrite the words. Artie Simek and Sam Rosen were the two masters of the trade in the ’60s, and their craft was really closer to calligraphy than it was standard writing. The short and wide lettering was born from a need for legibility in small spaces on cheap paper.
Here’s a test you can do now to prove the effectiveness of the comic book font: Open a word processor on your computer, and type a string of text twice, once in a standard font like Times New Roman, and once in Comic Sans. Now, shrink those both down to a small, small size, and you’ll find that Comic Sans is far easier to read than virtually any font you put it against. Why? The square-ish letters are less prone to distortion, and the consistent stroke width (how all the lines of a letter are the same width) means fewer details get lost as the font gets smaller and smaller.
There’s a truly interesting history behind the font, so watch a video above and gain a new appreciation for a typeface that has unjustly been the butt of jokes for years.
Featured image: Dave Banks