Cats, Bears and Bacon

How to build a Web-comic phenomenon

Josť Mandojana for TIME

Across from the framed picture of the gun-toting cat wearing a jet pack, next to the stack of ink doodles, behind an array of computer monitors, Matthew Inman is pounding out quick commands on his keyboard. His office, a neat, airy room on the top floor of a muraled building in the trendy Seattle neighborhood of Fremont, looks like the headquarters of a tech start-up: polished floors, colorful posters, a fuzzy orange couch, shelves of tchotchkes, a shih tzu named Beatrix and a Lhasa apso named Rambo.

On Inman's screen is a drawing of a grizzly bear holding a giant strip...

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