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Comic Sans MS (or Comic Sans) is a sans-serif casual script typeface. The modern Comic Sans was designed by Vincent Connare and released in 1994 by Microsoft Corporation. It is classified as a casual, non-connecting script, and was designed to imitate the historical look of comic book lettering, for use in informal documents.
The typeface has been supplied with Microsoft Windows since the introduction of Windows 95, initially as a supplemental font in the Windows Plus Pack and later in Microsoft Comic Chat. The font's widespread use, often in situations for which it was not intended, has been criticized.
Microsoft designer Vincent Connare began work on Comic Sans in October 1994. Connare had already created child-oriented fonts for various applications, so when he saw a beta version of Microsoft Bob that used Times New Roman in the word balloons of cartoon characters, he decided to create a new face based on the lettering style of comic books he had in his office, specifically The Dark Knight Returns (lettered by John Costanza) and Watchmen (lettered by Dave Gibbons).
He completed the face too late for inclusion in MS Bob, but the programmers of Microsoft 3D Movie Maker, which also used cartoon guides and speech bubbles, began to use it. The speech eventually became true voice, but Comic Sans stayed for the program’s pop-up windows and help sections. The typeface later shipped with the Windows 95 Plus! Pack. It then became a standard font for the OEM version of Windows 95. Finally, the font became one of the default fonts for Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Internet Explorer. The font is also used in Microsoft Comic Chat, which was released in 1996 with Internet Explorer 3.0.
Originally appeared as part of Ascender 2010 Font Pack as Comic Sans 2010, it is a commercial variant designed by Terrance Weinzierl from Monotype Imaging. It added italic variants of the original fonts for total of 4 fonts, extra ornaments and symbols including speech bubbles, onomatopoeia and dingbats.
OpenType features included ligatures, lining figures, localized forms, old style figures, proportional figures, tabular figures, swash, small capitals, stylistic alternates, stylistic sets (1-3).
The Boston Phoenix reported on disgruntlement over the widespread use of the font, especially its incongruous use for writing on serious subjects, with the complaints focused around a campaign started by two Indianapolis graphic designers, Dave and Holly Combs, via their website "Ban Comic Sans". The movement was conceived in 1999 by the two designers, after an employer insisted that one of them use Comic Sans in a children's museum exhibit, and in early 2009, the movement was "stronger now than ever". The web site's main argument is that a typeface should match the tone of its text, and that the irreverence of Comic Sans is often at odds with a serious message, such as a "do not enter" sign.
Comic book artist Dave Gibbons, whose work was one of the inspirations for the font, said that it was "a shame they couldn't have used just the original font, because [Comic Sans] is a real mess. I think it's a particularly ugly letter form."
Film producer and New York Times essayist Errol Morris wrote in an August 2012 posting, "The conscious awareness of Comic Sans promotes — at least among some people — contempt and summary dismissal." With the help of a professor, he conducted an online experiment and found that Comic Sans, in comparison to five other fonts (Baskerville, Helvetica, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, and Computer Modern), makes readers slightly less likely to believe that a statement they are reading is true.
In the Netherlands popular radio DJs Coen Swijnenberg and Sander Lantinga decided to celebrate the font by having a comic sans day on the first Friday of July. Comic Sans Day has been held since 2009. Some Dutch companies, e.g. KLM, have their website in Comic Sans on this day.