MATTHEW INMAN‘s “The Oatmeal” first became hugely popular as a satiric online feature, but the creator Infrequently did more autobiographical, narrative comics. More recently, the cartoonist set out to change that.
“The past two years have been very transformative for me,” Inman tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “At the end of 2012, I decided I wanted to try and write comics that were more driven by the story and the art. This is where my comics about running, my house burning down, and an undead parrot came from.I felt like writing these comics was risky for me, because my readers are used to sardonic, silly, simple cartoons about bears and cats and relatable subjects.
“The comic about my house burning down was particularly tough,” Inman continues, “because it took months to write and draw, and I wasn’t sure if anyone would even care to read it once it was finished.”
So Inman found it especially gratifying to receive his first Eisner nominations this year — including a win for Best Digital/Webcomic over the weekend at 2014 Comic-Con International in San Diego.
“The Eisner [recognition] was so wonderful because I ignored my readers’ expectations and just wrote and drew what I wanted to write, and in the end I found reward and compassion from my readers instead of alienating them.”
With that gratification, though, comes one small regret.
“I regret my acceptance speech a little,” the Seattle-based cartoonist says. “I thought I had a chance at winning the award for best short story for the comic about my house burning down, but I figured there was zero chance I’d win best digital comic, so I had no response prepared in my head.
“I sort of fumbled around onstage and said something about bear poop,” he continues. “It was a funny remark, but I didn’t want to appear irreverent, because I’m not — I was honored and ridiculously excited about winning. The last time I won anything was during a third-grade spelling bee.”
Inman also genuinely appreciates the fact that the Eisners — named for legendary Will Eisner — recognize digital comics in recent years.
It is “really great to see a digital category in the Eisners. I’ve only been cartooning for a few years, and I’ve never understood why something has to appear on paper for it to ‘count’ in the world of comics,” Inman tells Comic Riffs. “Some of the most amazing comics I’ve ever seen were ones that were crafted by pixels instead of pens.”
To see the full list of 2014 Eisner Awards winners, click HERE.