Charles Carreon, an attorney now infamous for his role in a legal battle against cartoonist Matthew "The Oatmeal" Inman, has been characterized as an evildoer in many reports. But when I asked what he thought about how the fight between him and Inman ended, he was a surprisingly good sport and focused on the good that came of it all.
"While it's not the largest sum of money I have ever had a substantial role in raising," he wrote to me, referencing the $211,223.04 collected by Inman's fundraiser, "it is the first time I've seen it go to charity, and I think it's great."
"I had no idea being a cartoon villain could be this rewarding," he added. "I think Matt and I should team up for a mud-wrestling match and see if we can top a million. Being the Mexican, I get to wear a mask."
When I asked Inman how he feels about this strange suggestion, he hesitated, wondering if Carreon is serious or not. In the end, he decided to assume that the attorney indeed wanted to wrestle for charity.
"The idea of getting in my underwear and publicly wresting with a 56-year-old man may sound funny on paper," Inman mused, "but actually doing it might qualify as the most horrible, awkward, uncomfortable moment in my career … or life."
How it all began
In case you've been away from the Internet for the last month or so and managed to avoid hearing about the spat between Carreon and Inman, let's have a quick review.
Matthew "The Oatmeal" Inman is a 29-year-old cartoonist. You've probably seen plenty of his work — such as "10 Words You Need To Stop Misspelling," "What It's Like To Own An Apple Product," or "Cat vs Internet" — at some point.
About a year ago, Inman got fed up with a website — called FunnyJunk — which had become particularly prone to re-hosting and monetizing his work. He wrote a blog post declaring that FunnyJunk had "practically stolen [his] entire website." FunnyJunk's owner responded by claiming that Inman was threatening to sue him and removing any content which referenced "The Oatmeal."
That was the last Inman had heard from FunnyJunk, until June 2012, when he was served with papers explaining that the site's owner was threatening to file a federal lawsuit unless the cartoonist paid $20,000 in damages. Inman consulted a lawyer before posting the letter online, along with his rebuttal and an explanation of what he'll do.
"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."
Inman's fundraiser — which was dubbed "BearLove Good. Cancer Bad" — was incredibly successful. He collected over $200,000 via a crowd-sourcing website called Indiegogo.
Where it all went wrong
While Inman was raising money for charity though, Charles Carreon, who at the beginning of this tale had simply been FunnyJunk's legal representation, was seething.
"I really did not expect that he would marshal an army of people who would besiege my website and send me a string of obscene emails," he told me in early June, after he'd removed the contact information from his site due to the large number of people who'd contacted him after Inman's blog post was published.
Carreon filed a lawsuit — on his own behalf — against Inman, the charities he was raising funds for and more. He wanted to freeze the funds and to silence the criticism of his actions. But a short while after filing that lawsuit, Carreon decided to stop pursuing the matter.
"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," Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that defends digital rights — remarked in a blog post on the organization's website.
How it all ended
Inman wanted to keep his promise to the many people who'd donated to his charity fundraiser once everything calmed down. He needed to photograph the donations, in cash, along with a drawing of someone's mother "seducing a Kodiak bear." So he went to his bank, with an intimidating friend who could act as a bodyguard.
"So there's this bear ... and he's having sex with a lady who's really overweight ... and I make comics ... $200,000 in cash," he started to describe the exchange at the financial institution before seemingly giving up. "I had to fill out a bunch of tax forms."
The money in Inman's photos isn't the money he raised for charity, mind you. In fact, Indiegogo already transferred the grand total to the National Wildlife Federation and American Cancer Society, split right down the middle.
In order to avoid further aggravating the situation with Carreon, Inman withdrew an amount equivalent to the fundraiser's total from his own account. The money was only out of his account for a couple of hours, for the photo shoot, before Inman redeposited it. He posted the photos on Monday night and promised to ship a gift — a photo of the money along with a framed drawing of a woman seducing a bear — to Carreon the next day.
"The lawsuit is over. The money was donated. Oatmeal vs FunnyJunk is over. Back to comics," Inman concluded Tuesday afternoon.
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