The former editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Heckler, Jack Stuef (COL ’10), has quite a history of offending people. His time as the editor of the satirical magazine was marked by controversy over a piece that mocked The Hoya for its own controversial April Fool’s Day 2009 issue. Now, Stuef drew the ire of Matthew Inman, the creator and author of The Oatmeal.
In case you’ve never been on the Internet before, The Oatmeal is a fabulously successful webcomic. In a recent article contributed to BuzzFeed, Stuef picked apart The Oatmeal’s success after a panel in an Oatmeal comic featured a rape joke. Although the online community usually worships Inman and his work, this joke was seen as going too far. After a barrage of criticism from Reddit and Facebook, Inman initially removed the offending panel but with the scornful line, “To all those who complained: thank you for censoring me,” he wrote. “It worked.” This, too, was removed and he later apologized.
Aside from bringing attention to the rape joke, Stuef’s article dug up some dirt on Inman’s career. “Unlike most cartoonists, online and off, Inman, 30, came to the profession by way of one of the Internet’s most-hated practices: Search engine optimization tricks. Inman […] was an online marketer who made his name devising quizzes and cartoons aimed at going viral on the web,” Stuef wrote. “But the real purpose of this linkbait was what was hidden inside: search-engine keywords and links to his clients’ websites, an underhanded tactic meant to shoot them to the top of Google.”
Stuef also attempted to show the extent to which Inman’s seemingly small-scale website has expanded into a six-figure business.
“Inman plays into this myth of the solitary, struggling webcomic artist, calling The Oatmeal a ‘one man operation,’ though he employs family members to run his sprawling retail business. When Inman declined to be interviewed for this story, the word did not come from Inman himself, but from his publicist.”
Unfortunately for Stuef, Inman has a knack at deconstructing arguments against him. When Forbes criticized The Oatmeal for a comic extolling Nikola Tesla, Inman tore them up for it. He did the same thing after being sued by FunnyJunk.