The Oatmeal Cartoonist Begs Elon Musk to Help Fund a Museum. Musk Agrees.

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 14 2014 12:46 PM

Elon Musk Is Going to Help Fund a Nikola Tesla Museum

Matthew Inman Oatmeal Tesla Model S comic
Flattery will get you everywhere.

Screenshot / The Oatmeal

Matthew Inman, the cartoonist behind The Oatmeal, wrote an illustrated love letter to his Tesla Model S this week. He followed it up with an out-of-the-blue request for $8 million from Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk to help fund a Nikola Tesla-themed science museum.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

It worked.

Advertisement

Titled “What it’s like to own a Tesla Model S: A cartoonist’s review of his magical space car,” Inman’s comic compared the futuristic electric sedan to everything from an “electric cruisebeast” to an “ultra stealth ninja car” to an “intergalactic spaceboat of light and wonder.” Accelerating in the Model S, Inman raved, is “like being fired out of a gun with a silencer on.” It handles, he observed, “like a Ferrari that got porked by a luck dragon.” Where Consumer Reports awarded the car 99 points out of a possible 100, Inman gave it “one hundred stars, two black holes, five supernovae, and an ever-expanding singularity of engorged Luck Dragons and woooo-shit-yeahs.”

That’s part one of the comic. In part two, Inman implored Musk to help fund a science museum on the site of inventor Nikola Tesla’s former laboratory on Long Island. A prior crowdfunding campaign, to which Musk chipped in, raised $1.37 million to buy the property, which had been up for sale. But it wasn’t enough to actually build a museum there. So this time Inman tried going straight to the man himself. He wrote:

Elon Musk, if you’re reading this: You owe us nothing, and you’ve done nothing but good things in the name of Nikola Tesla. But the fact remains: Tesla Motors, a company now worth billions, is using Nikola Tesla’s name and they’re using his technology, and all we want in return is a little bit of help.

On Tuesday, Inman reiterated the plea on Twitter:

Musk being Musk, the response came swiftly and directly:

Whether that means he’s in for the full $8 million is not yet clear. But he’s certainly in for something. Well done, Matthew Inman. Nikola Tesla may not have accepted strangers' charity in his own lifetime, but he can't very well stop his admirers from preserving his legacy now that he's gone.

Previously in Slate:

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They just aren’t ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

How Steven Moffat Made the Best Doctor Who Episode in Years

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 16 2014 2:11 PM Spare the Rod What Charles Barkley gets wrong about corporal punishment and black culture.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.