Mike Rosenthal (@VectorBelly) on Creating Image Posts and His Viral Tweet Legacy

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Mike Rosenthal is an LA-based cartoonist. He creates the comic Our New Electrical Morals and the tiny cartoon Crystal Zone. His work has been featured in a dumpster behind an abandoned RadioShack. This week I asked Rosenthal to share three of his favorite tweets, and we talked about insecurity, his parents, and video games.

Rosenthal: The joke goes back to my college friends who would pronounce all -ing and -ong words as -ang. For better or worse, Dankey Kang will be my legacy. So many people made memes and fan art of the hypothetical Donkey Kong/Sonic hybrid. The official Sonic Twitter account tweeted it. There’s an achievement in one of the Halo games called Dankey Kang. People took this stupid photoshopped image and made it their own, and I think that’s great. Collaboration is what makes the Internet great. But then there’s the part of the Internet that made this gross, that thought it was a real Jeopardy! moment and wrote mean things about the person in the image. I’m sorry if she’s had to see any of those comments. I think all of that comes from a place of insecurity. You don’t feel good about yourself, so to prop yourself up you try to bring down people you see as falsely superior. I mean, she even got the real Final Jeopardy question correct! The Internet is rude and should be cancelled.

Now that this has been around for a while do you feel differently about it than how you did when it first went viral?

I think I’ll always love Dankey Kang as much as day one, though he’s no longer mine. He belongs to the world now. Sometimes he hangs with a bad crowd, but he also hangs with cool people. I hope, in the end, he can find his rightful home.

Has the reaction to this changed the way you approach posting things online?

It definitely made me more aware of consequences. Dankey Kang is a joke about saying a character’s name funny. The screenshot is just a vehicle for the joke, but for some people that became the focus. I think more about how the audience might interpret or interact with a joke before posting, and I decide on whether I’m okay with those possibilities.

Are there any precautions you take to avoid and/or deal with gross, rude stuff on the Internet?

It’s a lot of understanding what you should and shouldn’t participate in. For example, if there’s a current event, I’ll initially think oh, I can make a joke about this. But do I really need to make a joke about this? Is the world hungering for my stupid take on Twitter drama or international politics? The answer is usually no. There are people who are good at dealing with that stuff, and I save myself a lot of trouble by knowing I’m not.

I consider myself a goal-driven person, even if my goals are pretty trivial. Like, I still call my parents when a tweet does well (and they do a really good job pretending they’re proud of me). I wrote this when thinking about the things I’ve done, which were all very exciting at the time, but the feeling fades away quickly and nothing really changes. It’s a really bummer feeling. You think if you can just get that one project, reach that one milestone, you’ll finally be that person you were always supposed to be. Of course, that’s silly, but it’s hard to shake that view of the future. It reminds me of this psychology experiment where chimps were rewarded with juice for solving logic problems, and the scientists measured the dopamine levels of the chimps during the process. Dopamine is what makes your brain feel rewarded and satisfied. You’d think the dopamine levels would peak once the chimps drank the juice, but it actually peaked the moment they knew they would be getting the juice. The anticipation feels amazing, but the reward is always a letdown.

Anyway, Yoshi’s Island is a fun game, and the way the level names are formatted makes them look like tiny poems.

Do you have a favorite format for tweets?

Replacing the text on old video games and movies is always fun. Image posts also consume extra space and data on people’s phones, so that’s cool.

What are your favorite subjects to tweet about?

Ska, anxiety, Everybody Loves Raymond, and the time my parents took me to a nature park in Pennsylvania where you hit rocks with hammers.

I used to live in Pittsburgh and Boston where I used public transit for everything, but now that I’m in LA I drive a car. It stinks. I don’t know what’s worse, the traffic or becoming that guy who complains about traffic. So basically cars should be illegal and replaced with a single bus. A double-decker. You get on and it’s your favorite ska band from 8th grade driving it, and they’re playing trombones and driving down the middle of the road, opposite the direction you intended to go. But it’s okay. You’re on the ska bus now with all your friends, safe and warm, going who-knows and who-cares where. It doesn’t matter. Somewhere amazing, beyond the city, free from all the things that make you unhappy.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about Twitter?

My favorite thing about Twitter is drawing pictures for people. I make a lot of comics, which is a pretty solitary activity. I like how Twitter can make drawing and other forms of creativity an interactive process. My least favorite thing is that I can’t convince my dad to join Twitter so I can retweet all of his dad opinions. The best I have is endorsing him for random skills on LinkedIn.

Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny Or Die.

Mike Rosenthal (@VectorBelly) on Creating Image Posts […]