In the spirit of Black Friday, I thought it would be appropriate to share a present of Christmas past. Spoiler alert: Helvetica is the victim in this story.
Let me set the scene… I’m at my parent’s house on Christmas morning opening presents with my family in a sun lit filled room with the dog tearing up wrapping paper under the coffee table and smiles of holiday bliss on all of our faces. My sister hands me the last present under the tree and it’s a gift for me from her. Excitedly, I rip off the paper, open the box, and pull out a grey t-shirt. My heart drops. I try to fake a smile, but the devil’s pitchfork is poking me in the heart. The shirt reads Helvetica in Comic Sans. After that, it is all kind of a blur. I don’t know if I said “thanks, but no thanks” or just bluntly said “I hope you kept the receipt because I’m not wearing this”.
My sister came so close to getting me a great gift. She knew I had an obsession for type and knew Helvetica was my favorite. Unfortunately, she just didn’t know what Helvetica looked like. I explained the irony of the tee and why some folks may find it funny. She claimed that this wasn’t her intent and that the thumb online was too small to make out the typeface. My heart wanted to believe her, but my brain knew better than that.
Was I a jerk? Well, that’s subjective. But I am a man of principle. I have refused to buy souvenir shirts in the past because of poor typography and have neglected some in my closet for the same reason. Never had Helvetica been the victim before, but it happens. Although it is impossible for a single person to evict poor typography and ugly typefaces from the world, I’ll do what I can to put an end to this infestation.
Please be mindful this holiday season. Ignorance is forgivable; Comic Sans is not.