Published July 11, 2012
He turned cartoons into cash, and The Oatmeal served up its revenge.
When TheOatmeal.com founder Matthew Inman found another website stealing comics he had drawn, he cried foul -- and was promptly hit by a $20,000 defamation lawsuit. Inman turned that lawsuit on its ear, raising a whopping $211,223 for charity.
“I didn’t expect when I decided to draw pictures for a living, I’d be riding in armored cars with $200,000,” Inman told FoxNews.com.
In what is hopefully the final chapter to a bizarre legal saga that has dogged him for over a year, Inman victoriously posted photos of himself lounging in front of all that money, which he plans to distribute to the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation shortly.
The biggest donor gave $1,000, he explained, and the money was raised in two weeks, thanks to Indiegogo, the same website that raised over $600,000 for bullied bus driver Karen Klein.
“It was just to raise money for cancer awareness and endangered grizzly bears. That was really cool to be a part of," he told FoxNews.com.
The photoshoot was part of a promise Inman made when his website theOatmeal.com was first sued for defamation by another cartoon site, FunkyJunk, represented by Charles Carreon, a lawyer notable for his involvement in the fight for the adult domain, Sex.com.
The suit called for The Oatmeal to pay $20,000 in damages, after Inman had written a post in 2011 claiming that FunkyJunk had “practically stolen [his] entire website.” Instead of responding through traditional legal avenues, he made an odd public pledge dubbed "BearLove Good. Cancer Bad."
"I've got a better idea," Inman wrote. "I'm going to try and raise $20,000 in donations. I'm going to take a photo of the raised money. I'm going to mail you that photo, along with this drawing of your mom seducing a Kodiak bear. I'm going to take the money and donate one half to the National Wildlife Federation and the other half to the American Cancer Society."
That picture is the only part of the whole thing Inman regrets.
"I kind of wish I hadn’t done that," he said, noting that it was both a poor example of his work and somewhat inappropriate.
Inman’s fundraiser was nonetheless phenomenally successful and quickly went viral, collecting over $200,000. But this is where things get icky. Unwilling to back down, Carreon followed up with a new lawsuit, now on his own behalf, against not only Inman but also Indiegogo and the two charities involved, claiming he wanted to prevent "a publicity stunt" that might earn Inman a potential tax write off.
The lawsuit also included 100 unnamed John Does, presumably anonymous trolls from the Internet that had begun harassing Carreon and his family, spamming their inboxes with death threats, hacking Carreon’s website and signing him up (with his readily available email) for nefarious services and porn websites. In a fit of rage, Carreon’s wife compared Inman to Hitler on a popular online forum, after her family was flooded with a torrent of Internet rage.
The new suit didn't stop Inman, who said he withdrew funds from his personal account and photographed it for the photoshoot, just to fulfill his pledge.
On his blog, Inman writes that, given how much money he had unexpectedly raised, he had considered dividing it up into four charities instead of the original two, but since Carreon’s lawsuit claims he is holding an “illicit fundraiser,” he’s sticking with the two he mentioned originally to avoid further litigation. “If Carreon wanted a minor victory,” Inman wrote, “he got one here."
Last week, Carreon finally dropped the case. "We're very pleased that Carreon has seen that his lawsuit had no merit, and hope that this is the end of his abuse of the legal system," the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has provided Inman his legal defense, said in a blog post.
With the suit dismissed, Inman was free to fulfill his promise, posting pics of him chillin’ in front of $211,223.04 he’d taken out of the bank that day in a canvas bag.
A fresh cartoon is likely to follow.
“It’s been a good ride," Inman told FoxNews.com.