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Panel Name: The Oatmeal
Topic: The Inception of The Oatmeal, Michael Inman’s start, Jizz Castles
Featured Guests: Michael Inman (creator of The Oatmeal)
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the start of this panel, and I felt the exact same way when it was all said and done. This was one of the funniest experiences I’ve ever had at a panel in the last three years. What started out as a history lesson about Michael and his website, accompanied by awesome drawings, slowly lead into science lessons about some of the more interesting creatures in the animal kingdom.
I actually had a deep appreciation for the way Michael got his start in the business, as I had a similar experience a year or so ago myself. Waking up and realizing that he wasn’t happy with what he was doing, he decided to make a change. He got his first start founding a a website for online dating that included cat pictures, which eventually led to the creation of the book How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You.
During his presentation, we were told all about different aspects of the website such as his dislike for making money from ads to making sure he includes bonus material in his books so people have an incentive to purchase. He also talked about how the simplicity of his drawings are what makes them funny and how the more detailed you get, the less funny something becomes.
From this point forward, the panel consisted of a science lesson about things like the Red Velvet Mite, how shitty it is to be a Male Angler Fish, Penis Fencing, Mallard Ducks and the Mantis Shrimp. The accompanying pictures were absolutely hilarious and only added to the stories he was telling. This, however, pales in comparison to watching the ladies there in charge of sign language for the hearing impaired. Certain parts of the panel actually had people paying more attention to the two ladies up front than the guest of honor – so much so that it was even mentioned during the Q&A. If you ever wondered how to say jizz-castle in sign language, than this was the panel for you. It almost left me in tears, it was so funny.
The Q&A went just about how I expected but nothing meaningful was really asked. We did learn about a charity Michael took part in in town and how he would love to run a marathon for his charities here as well but Coloradoans are too cheetah-like for him. This panel was amazing and will make my future reading of the website even better after having gotten a glimpse into the mind of the man behind these tales.