Most Inappropriate Use of Comic Sans Ever!

Many of us consider the use of Comic Sans to be inappropriate for any use, anytime, anyplace. However, it’s hard to top this one: a war memorial in Geffen, Netherlands. Not kidding! The choice generated some controversy, and the town responded on its official website (Google translation below):

On Saturday, October 20 was the unveiling of the monument ‘Reconciliation’. Questions have arisen about the choice of the font Comic Sans.

The reason for choosing this font is practical. The Working Group, in consultation with the sculptor chose a slightly rounder and thicker font to use that form fits well with the stone and is readable from a distance.

Priest at war memorial unveiling in Netherlands

Source:  Photo: ANP
No amount of priestly blessing can save this unfortunate typography choice!

Source:  Photo: ANP
These folks seem as stunned about the choice of Comic Sans for a war memorial as I was…

Okay, no criticism without a suggestion for improvement. Too late to undo the unveiling of this stone, and it was a missed opportunity to feature the work of a Dutch typeface designer. I nominate M.O.L. by Gerard Unger as a “slightly rounder and thicker font…that is readable from a distance.” See an example here, in use for subway signage in Amsterdam. The Linotype foundry website includes a sample image of characters included in the M.O.L. typeface on their profile page for Mr. Unger.

The typeface foundry for Comic Sans? That would be Microsoft, or specifically Vincent Connare. He claims that the design was not intended to be a typeface at all, but simply for use in those familiar speech balloons seen in comic strips (and in some computer applications intended for children). Read his explanation at:



The Long View

  • Scanning the Horizon

    Looking out at the “lay of the land” to see what is nearby and out on the horizon.

    Scanning the Horizon
  • Focused on You

    Turning the focus on you, to see how you can take advantage of the surrounding opportunities.

    Focus on You

One of the things I enjoy about the great outdoors is how frequently it reminds me of good practices for business and relationships in general. I’m sharing these snapshots taken while out on a hike in a coastal preserve yesterday afternoon for that reason: while I observed, this osprey repeatedly looked out, and then turned his/her focus on me — in this case, I was nearby with a camera and the osprey wanted to keep an eye on me to make sure I wasn’t a threat.

Since ospreys fish for their dinner, the osprey must look carefully to see below the surface; I suppose they’re scanning for anything that disturbs the surface of the water.  But they must distinguish between surface ripple caused by a passing breeze and surface disruption caused by some fish (there’s my dinner!) swimming near the surface.

There are obvious parallels between the osprey’s behavior and essential practice for a business. First, the organization’s leadership must regularly scan the horizon to see what’s coming that will affect their operations, while also keeping an eye on what the competitors are doing, and what might become a threat to their continued success. Second, there’s a need to determine whether a situation or event primarily presents an opportunity or is a threat; frequently an event, situation, or trend possesses both qualities.

In my practice as a designer, I work with each client to understand the specific “surroundings” of their business so I can identify both opportunities and threats. Every business has its share of each, but the response helps shape any situation into an opportunity.

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