The best thing about the latest book from The Oatmeal, How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You, isn’t the cartoons, but that it was published at all.
Matthew Inman’s latest book has it all — cats, office intrigue, more cats. As you would expect from The Oatmeal, the book is funny, smart, low-brow and definitely Internet-friendly.
The Oatmeal has discovered humor formulas that work online, and he should be applauded for the same reasons stand-up comics and movie directors should be when they have mastered a medium. Because The Oatmeal’s normal medium — the Internet — is part of the Distraction Media Complex, some people feel they can dispel it or attack it (because is it really valuable content if it’s something you look at while at work?), but what The Oatmeal does is, on some levels, more difficult than what a stand-up comic does, because when you go to a comedy club, you can’t click away from the current stand-up and select a new one. (Damn, that was a long sentence. Also, wouldn’t that be awesome if you could? Get on this, Zany’s!)
The Oatmeal has to battle itchy mouse fingers all day, and he is winning that battle by providing a take on common annoyances that large groups of people can relate to and enjoy by giving them easily digestible humor that incites a reaction, one that often compels people to share. It sounds easy, but it takes a certain type of genius to pull that off consistently. (Or else everyone would be able to do it.)
Inman now has two books to his credit–his debut 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) and this latest offering. If you like The Oatmeal, you will certainly enjoy How to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you, because not only is it funny, and not only does it provide keen insights into the world of business cats, but buying it makes you feel like you’re investing in what is right with the Internet.
Joe Donatelli is a freelance journalist who publishes The Humor Columnist. Follow him @joedonatelli.