For the uneducated, The Oatmeal is an online webcomic run by Matthew Inman. You may have actually seen his work around the web. He’s got posts ranging from “What Your Email Says About You” to “Six Types of Crappy Hugs”. Inman’s comic and blog have gained notoriety over the web due to word-of-mouth, be it people passing along the links in emails and chats to posts on sites like Reddit and FunnyJunk.
Which brings me to this post. Recently, Inman was served with a federal lawsuit from the owner of FunnyJunk.com, Charles Carreon. In it, Carreon brought up a past post that Inman did on his blog. You see, when webcomics are posted on the internet, they’re not usually sourced. Which means that artists (like Inman) don’t get as much traffic or revenue from those comics. Sure, people who really love that comic will go dig up the source, but not many people do this. They simply laugh and move on.
Carreon threatened to file a federal lawsuit against Inman for an old, angry blog post about how so many of his comics are hosted on FunnyJunk (and therefore, not gaining him any revenue). Carreon (slow to the uptake), apparently did not like his website’s name being mocked like this, and served him papers. Inman would either mail him a check for $20,000, or face a federal lawsuit.
In Inman’s heavily sarcastic, heavily angry style, he responded to the letter, taking a red pen to the entire thing. Click that link, it’s a great link (and a great introduction to The Oatmeal’s style). Inman then proposed something he called Operation BearLove Good, Cancer Bad. In the operation, he’d take donations from all those who are willing on a Kickstarter-like site called IndieGoGo. When he raised $20,000, he would then take a picture of said money, send Carreon a crudely drawn picture of an obese woman (“Carreon’s mother”) trying to seduce a kodak bear along with the picture of the money, and then proceed to donate half of the money to the National Wildlife Federation (“BearLove Good”) and the other half to the American Cancer Society (“Cancer Bad”). He posted the blog and probably expected to hit something close to the twenty-k in a couple days.
The donations page hit $20,000 in sixty-four minutes. And it’s still climbing up rapidly. At time of writing, it’s over $130,000.
Now, that’s fucking amazing. And that’s the power of the internet. The donation page SKYROCKETED when the blog post hit the number-one spot on Reddit’s /r/funny, which is looked at by over a million people.
Now, what does this mean for the internet and artists everywhere? It means that the good guys win. Sure, Inman insulted FunnyJunk on an old blog post, but really, who hasn’t been insulted on the internet? And have you responded by suing that person for twenty-k? I don’t think so. Carreon has really got himself into a world of hurt now, something that he probably wishes he hadn’t done right now.
Honestly, I’m ecstatic about this. Not only does this mean a ton of money to wildlife conservation and cancer research, it means that if you work hard for something (such as making people laugh on the internet), people will pay attention. People will care. And people will be willing to help when the time comes. As an artist myself, this gives me hope that if I can reach enough people, somebody, somewhere is going to care. And that’s great.
If you want to donate to Operation BearLove Good. Cancer Bad., click that hyperlink. To visit The Oatmeal and enjoy his awesome art style and his hilarious comics, just go to theoatmeal.com. A couple other webcomics worth checking out include VG Cats (for video game nerds, and cat fanatics), xkcd (for the supernerds) and Allan (a chronicle of the author Allan’s life).