Cartoonist Turns Tweets Into Micro-Comics: A Four-Panel Picture Is Worth 140 Characters

Twitter is — in my view — the finest communications medium under the sun. And the most fun you can have in 140 characters. It’s also proof that everyone benefits from being edited, even if it’s only self-editing taking place.

If you’re looking for evidence that brevity really is the soul of wit, Twitter is the place to go to find it. Indeed, there is so much wit fluttering around the site that it’s now possible to enjoy Twitter in comic form — thanks to cartoonist @VectorBelly (aka Mike Rosenthal) — who has created a Tumblr called Twitter: The Comic.

As the name suggests, Twitter: The Comic turns tweets into micro-comics. Drawn by Rosenthal (and others), each comic is based on a single tweet (such as this one), and typically adopts a four-panel form — like so:

Twitter the Comic

Obviously, not every tweet has comic potential so Rosenthal cherry-picks what he draws – choosing, in his words, “the greatest tweets of our generation”.  It’s not entirely clear how he determines ‘true tweet greatness’ but the number of times a tweet has been marked as a favourite appears to figure in his formula.

He does also take submissions (and advises that tweets not only need to be funny, but must have “plot, characters, dialogue, and action… If it reads like a film script rather than a biography, then it’ll make a good comic”).

So what’s Twitter: The Comic like? In a word: surreal. At least, at its best it is.

Humour does not always travel well so as a Brit I must admit to being slightly baffled by some of the comics — doubtless I’m missing some crucial cultural reference points (natch) — and can almost feel the joke passing me by like a flock of migrating birds. But other comics have an absurdist majesty I can definitely appreciate. Sometimes they bring to mind the excellent Far Side series, by Gary Larson.

Like this one, illustrating this tweet:

Twitter the Comic

Or this one, drawn from this tweet:
Twitter the Comic

Setting aside the nuances of humour and cross-cultural currents, it’s always great to see digital content being reimagined, reworked and reborn in new forms. Earlier this week Wired reported on a project in which two photographers documented the locations where public geotagged tweets were sent from. And late last year we wrote about the artist who has turned Angry Birds gestures into an installation composed of thousands of fingerprints. Other examples that spring to mind include the novelist who wrote a story composed of a series of tweets. Or the algorithm that creates iambic rhyming poetry from selective retweets.

Twitter undoubtedly offers huge amounts of source material and inspiration for creative types — and now that it’s rolling out an archive feature so users can download their past tweets it’s getting easier to sift through your back catalogue for hidden gems. The best tweets create powerful mental images and are thus already inherently visual. But now, thanks to Rosenthal’s pen, it’s even easier to pull pictures from the words to make the tweets fly. Enjoy.