(image courtesy of Matthew Inman)

 

“THE OATMEAL” CREATOR Matthew Inman called me a couple of weeks ago about a project he believed in. He had an engaging card game and a pending Kickstarter campaign. He thought it could be big.

Turns out, he had no idea just how big.

His offering, “Exploding Kittens,” co-created with gaming-industry veterans Élan Lee and Shane Small (Xbox et al.), has just set the record for most-backed campaign in Kickstarter history.

And it still has three weeks to go.

Nearly 120,000 people have backed “Exploding Kittens,” a game (and campaign) that hits that viral sweet spot of seriously humorous with a just-right touch of the transgressive. Of as Inman tells The Post’s Comic Riffs, the game “is a lot of fun — and it’s funny.”

The campaign has raised nearly $4.7-million — the highest Kickstarter total ever for a game, and the seventh-biggest donation total ever.

Did we mention there are still 21 days to go?

And that the team’s goal was a mere $10,000?

“I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about something,” says Inman, who has had several other popular crowd-funding campaigns, but nothing record-setting like this.

At $4.69-million — hold on (*refresh*) –at $4.7-million, “Exploding Kittens” is hot on the heels of such campaigns as “Bring Reading Rainbow Back” (sixth at $5.4-million) and “The Veronica Mars Movie (fifth at $5.7-million). About that are tech-gadget campaigns for coolers and digital-music systems and e-paper watches.

Inman tells Comic Riffs that tech campaigns have a tougher time delivering on their promised products than, say, a coupla decks of cards. “That list,” he says, “begins to look like a graveyard of failures.”

(Note: The most-funded campaign, for a “Coolest Cooler,” received nearly $13.3-million last August; the product team recently posted an update about longer delivery timelines because features were being added.)

As excited as he is, Inman says the tremendous response is “bittersweet.”

On the one hand, the cartoonist says, “it’s exhilarating to think that people responded around something that you created.” To experience that reaction — to where you crowd-fund a million dollars in a mere seven hours — “There’s no adjective to describe it,” Inman says.

On the other hand, he now feels tremendous pressure to deliver a product of a quality — “something wonderful” — that reflects the windfall. A game that promises to offer not only felines and fuses, but also “laser beams and sometimes goats.”

So now that he brought it up: What are they going to do with all money?

“The short answer is: We don’t know yet,” says Inman, an avid long-distance runner who has been lacing up his shoes a lot lately to run off the pressure — “to fight off ulcers that may have been doubling in size this past week.”

Inman says that the team is taking a conservative approach to what it can deliver. “We have people saying that with all the extra backers, we should upgrade the decks and add shirts and posters,” the Seattle-based artist tells Comic Riffs. “But we wouldn’t want that to get in the way of delivering [the product] — where you pay for it and then wait two years for it.”

He does know the care with which he is designing two sets of cards — one is NSFW — and that people overwhelmingly want both sets of cards (which together will have 56 unique cards, including the “exploding kitten” cards).

Meanwhile, as Inman pal Matt Harding (the Internet celeb behind WhereTheHellIsMatt.com) points out, the “Exploding Kittens” project is defying the usual midcampaign rate of donation slowdown.

*Refresh*.

“$4.71-million.” And counting.

“Creatively, how do we give back to the community,” Inman says, “that’s given us so much?”

 

[MATTHEW INMAN: The Oatmeal creator’s 12 Secrets for Going Insanely Viral]