Under the name The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman has made a career out of making absurd, hilarious comics. Whether the subject matter is mundane (grammar, cats) or bizarre (the sex lives of angler fish, utilikilts), his particular genius lies in tapping into the Internet zeitgeist and delivering the kind of belly laughs that get shared, liked and posted all over Facebook. You can also get those comics in book form, with collections like his brand-new Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants, which he'll talk about on Thursday, October 17 at the Tattered Cover LoDo. To bring people who aren't familiar with the peculiar genius of Inman up to speed, we've helpfully compiled this list of five reasons why you should read The Oatmeal.
You'll talk (and write) smarter When normal people lecture friends, family and strangers about grammar, spelling and proper word usage, they get dirty looks and sarcastic comments in return. But somehow when The Oatmeal does it, he gets millions of hits on his website and untold shares via Facebook. Apparently the rest of us -- teachers included -- need to add a few off-color jokes and some crude drawings to our lectures. Seriously, if your second-grade teacher was as funny as this Oatmeal comic about spelling, you never would have spelled anything wrong ever again. Also, she probably would have been fired. Where to start: Try this comic about what "literally" means. It will literally make you sound like less of a dumbass.
You'll learn fascinating facts about science, nature and history The Oatmeal loves nature, and he's a pretty big fan of history and science, too. These things frequently get featured in his comics, and they're usually full of both chuckles and infotainment. Where else will you learn about the power of the mighty mantis shrimp expressed in such florid prose as "The mantis shrimp is the harbinger of blood-soaked rainbows." Nowhere else, that's where. Where to start: Try on this comic about the angler fish, which is simultaneously grotesque, hilarious and fascinating. The Oatmeal's comic about Tesla is also insanely popular.
Cats It's generally agreed that one of the primary purposes of Internet technology is to let us look at pictures and videos of cats. Sometimes, though, you'll get bored of doing that -- or worse, run out of pictures and videos of cats to look at. For those times, The Oatmeal has a bevy of comics about cats. Cats pelvic thrusting, cats killing, how to pet cats -- he's got it all, because The Oatmeal knows what the Internet wants. (It's cats, if that wasn't totally clear.) Where to start: This comic about cats vs. the Internet is pretty clever in the way it pits two such complementary forces against each other.
He shares your frustrations Man, isn't life frustrating? The Oatmeal knows it is, and he shares your frustrations. He gets fed up with asshole clients, he knows printers are tools of the devil and he hates talking on the phone. More to the point, he has some pretty funny shit to say about all these things, and many, many more. Next time you're ready to pound the shit out of someone who's driving you nuts, hit The Oatmeal and see if he hasn't made a comic about it. If he has, you'll feel better. If he hasn't, well, hopefully the urge to kill will have passed so you don't end up in prison. Either way, win! Where to start: You can't go wrong with this comic about the torture of dealing with customer service, something we all have to deal with all the goddamn time.
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Amusing takes on pop culture There's no shortage of erudite, thoughtful discussion on the great and/or awful pop culture of our time, from Breaking Bad to Miley Cyrus. That's all fine and good, but when you get tired of reading all that smarty-pants bullshit and want a funny take on those same topics, turn to The Oatmeal. From his analysis of hair and violence in Breaking Bad to his takedown of World War Z the book vs. the movie, you can absorb his analysis in half the time of one of those wordy essays, with twice the laughs. That's a great ratio. Where to start: His analysis of how everything goes to hell in a zombie apocalypse is better than 90 percent of existing zombie movies, books and video games.