The Oatmeal's Matthew Inman on Webcomics, Cereal, and His Upcoming Visit to Changing Hands

We can thank the idiots Matthew Inman worked with in the corporate world for driving him to quit and ultimately start his own webcomic.

The 28-year-old says he was sick of the office (mostly the printer) and decided to work for himself. Just more than a year after he launched TheOatmeal.com, he averages 4 million unique users per month, had a quarter billion page views in 2010, and says that a good comic will get around 40,000 page views an hour (he admits, he's a little obsessed with the analytics).

More than the numbers, though, Inman's all about illustrating everyday experiences like sucking at text messaging and awkward hugs to not-so-everyday events like hunting, tracking, and killing unicorns, and preparing your pets to go to war. And oddly enough, they're all spot-on.

The designer-turned-comic is releasing his first book, 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch A Dolphin In the Mouth, and is heading to Changing Hands in Tempe on March 5.

See what Inman has to say about oatmeal (the food), his favorite comics and invitations to the shooting range after the jump ...

Your comic yesterday was the most shared link on Twitter ...
Yeah, it's exciting. I mean there are pluses and minuses. I check my google analytics like every twenty minutes and I do these imaginary metrics in my head. I think, 'if i make a comic and the hit count isn't around 40,000 per hour then it's no good.'

What webcomics are you up on?
AmazingSuperPowers, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Cyanide and Happiness, and older print ones like The Far Side, Calvin Hobbes, and Foxtrot ...

How about Hyperbole and a Half?
[Allie Brosh] and I actually both grew up in Hayden Lake, Idaho (what Inman calls southern Canada). Then she moved to Montana, I moved to Seattle, and we kind of coincidentally found out that we were both doing webcomics. We've hung out a couple times, I've included one of her panels in one of my comics, and we of course link to each others' sites. .

How'd you get out of the office world?
When I was a teenager, I discovered illustration and learned how to program. I was at a job and learned that I was in a unique case where most of the people I worked with were incompetent morons. And I've worked with smart people, I know they're out there ... but ultimately what I was passionate about was subject to whims of others.

The last job I quit was because I founded an online dating website (mingle2.com). I took that site from concept to launch in 66 hours. It was purchased by a company in San Francisco, and I started writing quizzes and comics to promote the site. Eventually, the comics started getting more publicity than the dating site, so I figured rather than using the comics as a marketing vehicle, I'd just focus on them ... from design to an online dating website to a webcomic, I guess it's not much of a lateral career path.

Best part about working for yourself:
Being able to produce something with zero friction. Last night, I went to beers with a friend and got home around 11 p.m.. I read that Obama was meeting with Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs today, so I put together something quick, in like an hour ... I didn't have to get anyone to approve it, or go through any process of months or years. I can click a button.

Do you even like oatmeal?
I hate it. I eat cereal for breakfast. Oatmeal actually gives me heartburn, it's weird.

Where's The Oatmeal headed?
I think I want to do a cat book soon. Everybody loves cat comics.

What's your plan for Phoenix?
 I'm not sure. Someone offered to take me to one of those huge shooting ranges you have out there between landing and going to the reading and signing event ... I'm pretty good at public speaking, but before these things, I'm like a bucket of raisins, so I don't know if they're going to be wanting me to pick up a rifle and shoot stuff.

Inman will be at Changing Hands,  6428 S McClintock Dr.,  at 7 p.m. on March 5. For more information, check out the Changing Hands website and TheOatmeal.com.

Note: This article's been updated to reflect accurate page view information. 

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