Tuesday night’s visit from author and illustrator Zach Weiner showed that not even Penn students are too old for cartoons.
Weiner, creator of the popular daily webcomic “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal,” spoke to an audience of about 100 in Berger Auditorium at Skirkanich Hall, discussing the inspiration for his work as well as fielding questions on a wide range of subjects. The event was hosted by Dining Philosophers, a Computer Science club at Penn that was referred to Weiner by another guest speaker last April, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanion.
Wearing flip-flops, wrinkled black slacks and with his long red hair pulled back into a ponytail, Weiner walked into the auditorium with a confident demeanor, smiling warmly and shaking many hands.
“I have nothing really valuable to say that I haven’t already monetized on the internet,” Weiner said jokingly. “So we can make this more of a question-answer kind of thing.”
Weiner’s brand of intellectual humor is characterized by its playful attitude towards academia. His work — which includes a number of other comics and a video project, SMBC Theater — draws its material from everything from economics to psychology to theoretical physics.
“People tend to really respect scientists and academic figures,” he said to the audience, “and anything that people really respect is funny.”
But Weiner’s own intellectual curiosity is reflected in his work. Having graduated as an English major from Pitzer College in 2003, Weiner went immediately into show business, working for a “little horror movie company,” then later for a talent agency. Finding little satisfaction in his new job, he then returned to college to study science at San Jose State University, which he soon left to spend more time on his comics.
When asked about the relevance of his work to college academics, Weiner said, “College kids tend to identify themselves with disciplines. So they like to see me point out the foibles of their disciplines.”
Engineering sophomore and Dining Philosophers member Trisha Kothari, who helped to organize the event, said Weiner “has a very cool personality. We just hope he will inspire the Penn community so more people can do geeky stuff.”Comments powered by Disqus
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