Cartoons are all about information. If you don’t know certain things, they won’t work. Admittedly, a lot of cartoons won’t work even though you might get the joke because they just aren’t funny. But let’s stick with the information part. On toonpool.com you can usually get along quite well if you know your pop culture and have some idea about recent news items from a cartoon’s country of origin (language barriers left aside, that is).
“Special interest” cartoons, on the other hand, demand knowledge held by comparably smaller groups of people. They offer a kind of in-crowd bonus (“Ha! There are only twenty people in the world who will get this joke. And I am one of them.”) and, perhaps more important, enable people to discuss parts of their lives that do not get covered in general public discourse. Special interest gags have been around a long time, both in oral culture (“What does it say on a blues singer’s tombstone?”) and in cartoons published in journals or fanzines.
Of course their numbers have increased greatly through the internet. There are webcomics for PhD students, History majors, and programmers. As well as many, many others. My choice of examples, however, apart from displaying my own geekiness points to a major bias in special interest cartoons and Internet culture in general: A lot of it is made by and meant for people with higher education. There aren’t too many cartoons about plumbing, although I am sure that there must be lots of inside jokes. Taking an optimistic view on the democratic potential of the internet, you could argue that this will change in the next couple of years. I definitely hope it will. Staring at esoteric cartoons is a great (although not necessarily successful) way of learning about society.
Sports cartoons are a bit of an exception to the bias I mentioned earlier. While I would still count them as special interest, they cater to a much wider range of people. Omar “Omomani” Momani is a 30-year-old cartoonist and animator from Jordan. He is an animation team leader at a company called Crazy Piranha Studios and draws football-themed cartoons for a website called goal.com. We talked about his own fandom, about how he became a football cartoonist and about players who simply look funny.
Of course am a fan! I am a big fan of AC Milan. I support them since childhood, Milan is part of my life indeed.
What was it about Milan that made you – someone who grew up in a different country – a fan?
It was in 1989 and 1990 when I first noticed football. Milan was then the best team on the planet. So, as a child, I became obsessed with their magic. I liked the understanding between the lines – Baresi – Maldini, Rijkaard – Gullit – Van Basten.
What did you think about them this season? They won the Serie A but didn’t do too well in the Champion’s league…
Honestly, I was not that happy. Milan just lacked the spirit. In the past Milan has had the same soul in its various eras – Sacchi Milan, Cappelo Milan, Ancelotti Milan. When you saw them play you knew it was Milan, I didn’t feel that this season. And, besides, I am sad about the departure of Pirlo. He was my favorite player in Milan.
How many games do you watch in a week?
Well, it’s impossible to watch all the games in the world. I focus on the major European leagues. If I can make it, I will watch the most important matches of the week. Usually three games a week, but I also follow all the summaries in these leagues as well as the news.
How did you end up drawing football cartoons?
This came up during the last World Cup. My friends asked me to start drawing cartoons in general. I found that football was a good subject for me as an animator. Football gives you all the actions and ideas you need. Well.. then I contacted Goal.com. They liked the idea and signed me up to be their cartoonist.
Do you follow football cartoons by other people?
I have been searching for other colleagues but I didn’t find many. Maybe because I am new at this. I like Caye‘s sports cartoons but they are so biased with Barcelona. I try to be neutral when drawing a cartoon.
I love classic playerslike Valderrama and Gullit, they are hip and cool. As for modern football there are Messi, Gatusso, Puyol and Rooney.
What is it that makes them suited for cartoons?
Their funny looks. When you hear Puyol’s name you always remember his hair. Its like he is the “hairy man”. Gullit is the same but with a funny mustache. Other players look much less unique. Xavi for instance. From a cartoonist’s point of view, of course.
Are you going to draw cartoons about the Women’s World Cup?
If and idea pops up, of course i will!
Thanks for your time!