Buzzfeed: Inman “a fitness buff”. Also Elvis. Also wrote a comic about rape.

Shocking revelations from Buzzfeed!  Jack Stuef reveals that The Oatmeal‘s Matthew Inman likes to work out!

Inman is also a fitness buff. Though he draws himself on The Oatmeal as a blob of a man, he’s actually young and attractive. Inman has said he draws himself that way because attractive, detailed characters are less “relatable” for his audience.

In an interview with Men’s Health Singapore, he detailed some of his running feats, including completing an ultra-marathon of 50 miles, and explained why he doesn’t draw comics about a subject that interests him so deeply.

“I would love to make a comic about ultra running,” Inman said. “But not many people can say, ‘Oh, yeah, I totally know what that feels like, running a hundred miles.’ Similarly, I wanted to make a comic about snowboarding because I love snowboarding. But I don’t know if enough of my readers will get it. So I try to limit my comics to the stuff on everybody’s frequency.”

Which ties into Mr. Shuef’s main complaint about Inman: he’s so stuck in his search optimization mode that his comics are devoid of passion.

Inman has always focused on traffic, not comments or criticism. But until the rape controversy, Inman had never faced such sustained criticism from so many corners. And even if he has admitted to pandering, comic artists are an inclusive community, and nearly all I talked to said they were happy to have him part of it.

“Inman’s large and loyal following (and their wallets) is the envy of nearly every cartoonist,” New York Times cartoonist Brian McFadden said in an e-mail. “Because he’s a relative newcomer, some of the old farts are jealous and bitch and moan by saying ‘I could do that.’ Well, they didn’t.”

That loyal following lends him a special power, one Inman has taken advantage of on a couple of occasions recently, both according to a standard Internet-attention-grabbing script. He may be able to attract criticism, but he’s also shrewd about drawing in goodwill.

In June, Inman was sued by attorney Charles Carreon as part of a dispute with FunnyJunk, an aggregating site that Inman showed to be hosting his comics without attribution. The lawsuit was clearly ridiculous, and Inman, clearly in the right, took the opportunity to attract even more positive press for The Oatmeal, leveraging his audience to accumulate over $200,000 in charity donations to the American Cancer Society and National Wildlife Federation. It’s not entirely clear what the sudden charity push had to do with the lawsuit, but after the money had been donated online, Inman withdrew a similar sum of money sitting in his own bank account and took photos of himself with it to post online (before re-depositing it) to further gloat about the annihilation of Carreon in the court of public opinion, aided by the moral authority of his large audience.

Now that he’s accumulated this mass audience, he’s begun to toy with its power. He’s said he wants a seven-figure income; he’s talked about writing comedy or becoming an animator. And his peers are watching with a mixture of interest and fear.

“He’s like Elvis right now, swinging his hips, and we’re all still doing the Buddy Holly thing,” said Nicholas Gurewitch, the cartoonist behind the webcomic The Perry Bible Fellowship. “Not say we’re going to die in a plane crash. We’ll be just fine. Unless Inman takes over the world. Which he could do.”

The rape comic in question was one published recently about raping a keyboard button over and over again. It has since disappeared from the site after a lot of online controversy, after which Inman rage quit Twitter.

What can we take away from all of this? The internet, she is a fickle beast. Also sorta interested to see Inman’s webcomic on amazing feats of power running.

(h/t Robot 6)

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About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on December 10, 2012, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I gotta admit, sorta paints everything in a different light once you see a photo of the guy. I mean crap mocking a fat loser isn’t really hard and without the pathos and soulbaring, yeah, this isn’t that interesting. It’s got its own charm but this has been seriously diminihed in my eyes.

    Hypocrisy: I spent 15 minutes placing the yeahs and the commas just right to make it read like an impulsive statement. Probably failed but yeah…

    • Eh, the author’s personal appearance has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on my opinion of a webcomic. I thought The Oatmeal was a mediocre comic before I knew what Inman looked like, and I still think The Oatmeal is a mediocre comic now.

      And that rape comic was just a terrible idea. Horribly insensitive, and unfunny to boot.

  2. The deleted panel in question. Personally, I don’t think it’s as offensive as it’s being made out to be (though I can see how it would be offensive), though his first response and the subsequent backpedaling show a clash in anonymous internet behavior and being a celebrity that’s held under scrutiny. In the past, he’d engage in trollish behavior like redirecting traffic from an animal rights site to a comic he made about why horses are stupid and we should eat them instead of riding them. This would get him tons of lulz from his fanbase. And his backhanded apology for the rape comic would probably not be out of place on an internet forum. But instead of the critics getting laughed off like they would be on 4chan or reddit, the criticism got worse and could cost Inman money, so he pulled it and apologized. Ultimately, it’s a lesson that internet celebrities all need to learn. They are the CEO, PR director, and creator of their work, so they need to act it.

  3. In the interest of full disclosure, here is Inman’s response:

    http://theoatmeal.com/blog/jack_stuef

    Whatever you think of Inman and The Oatmeal, it seems that Stuef did nothing more than write a n error-filled hit piece designed to attract page views.

    • Thanks! I’ll post it on the front page. However, whatever Mr. Stuef’s motivations, I can’t say that I thought Inman defended himself all that well.

      For example, the part where he underlines the “inoffensive as possible” statement:

      Jesus, have you ever actually READ my comics? I’ve written (and continue to write) jokes about abortion, murder, urine, boners, poverty, and panda bears shitting on infants.

      Which may be a little true, except the context was in “the social-media-sharing internet public.” Namely, the stuff that Inman claims is offensive has been done before — namely by Penny Arcade — but doing a rape joke sort of is offensive to the same “social-media-sharing internet public” (which is something that Gabe and Tycho also found out).

  1. Pingback: Inman to Buzzfeed: “You don’t know me, you don’t know my life, and you don’t know my family.” « The Webcomic Overlook

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