The king of Comic Sans

I read this over a year ago but it’s a great story I find myself posting it in various places every now and then. It originally popped up in a thread about fonts on metafilter. The King of Comic Sans…

I’m semi-obsessed with type (although probably more obsessed than I’d care to admit given I got FPPed for writing about once). Indeed, myself and several other semi-obsessives (all of whom work in the publishing industry in some way) actually have an ongoing competition. The objective is to keep an eye out for the most unexpected or inappropriate instance of Comic Sans. Whenever one of us sees it used in a way we feel sets a new low, we grab some evidence (either photo or copy of whatever pamphlet or suchlike it was in).

Every month or so, we then decide who has spotted the most unexpected and/or inappropriate usage since we’d last judged it and they’re declared the current “King of Comic Sans” – complete with a certificate and free booze for the evening (yes, unsurprisingly, this competition is generally carried out in a pub).

Anyway, about three months ago now my mother passed away. She’d been battling cancer for about two years but it finally won. Mercifully, she lived a relatively full life until virtually the very end – it was only in the final month, after the cancer spread to her brain, that she detoriated seriously. Then, after a couple of days of serious pain, she slipped into a sleep from which she never regained consciousness and died about three weeks later.

As it happened, I was the only family member with her when she died – it was very early in the morning and we’d been operating a “shift” system during the nights to ensure there was always someone with her.

I took a minute to compose myself (okay, maybe more than a minute) and then went and woke my dad and the rest of the family. Whilst they were having their own moments, I went to look for the little booklet that said what you had to do next. Towards the end, when it had become clear that she didn’t have much time left, the charity people had given her this – it said who to ring, what to ask for etc.

She wouldn’t show it to us at the time (said it was “too morbid”) but told us it was in the top draw of her bedside cabinet.

Now, as the others had their own moments, I remembered about the booklet and opened the draw. It was there, just like she said it would be.

It was a little A5 booklet with a Lily on the cover. I opened it up and inside it listed in great detail and in formal yet understanding language, who needed to be called and what could be done when.

It was also written entirely in Comic Sans.

Of course I wasn’t really thinking entirely clearly at the time and this completely passed me by. At least it did until the very last page. There, scrawled in the corner in my mother’s shaky handwriting, complete with an arrow pointing at the printed text below, were the words:

“Comic Sans!!!!”

My mother had known about the competition – I’d told a story about it last year during Christmas Dinner. She also knew that I tend to deal with grief by just getting on with things, and so probably guessed I’d be the person who read the booklet.

We don’t give out a certificate to the “King of Comic Sans” anymore. By unanimous decision we have a little plastic silver cup called “The Garius’ Mum Memorial Trophy.”

I think she’d like that.

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