Inside CollegeHumor’s Meme-tastic ‘Class Photo’ of the Internet


If the internet followed school schedules, these 119 memes would have been at the top of their class in 2012/2013: Dramatic Chipmunk, Courage Wolf, and Grape Lady are just a few of the characters who appear in CollegeHumor’s interactive meme poster, “Internet Class Photo.”

We asked the poster’s creators — CollegeHumor illustrator Caldwell Tanner and editor-in-chief Streeter Seidell — to sign our yearbook. They gave us something better: a full explanation of how and why they made the most labor-intensive meme round-up we have ever seen.

“The main inspiration for the poster is actually the Simpsons poster that features every character,” said Tanner. “We thought it’d be fun to do a poster in that style, but for Internet characters. Some of my favorites are LongCat, NyanCat / DoubleRainbow and Goatse – it’s hidden, see if you can find it!”

The CollegeHumor team spent more than a year compiling and illustrating this tribute to internet culture. “Streeter made a huge spreadsheet full of memes and Internet cultural references, and then I chose ones I thought would work visually, and the ones that were most visually interesting,” Tanner explained.

Seidell described the selection process this way: “The Internet churns out accidental celebrities every day so the challenge with this image wasn’t so much who to include, but who not to include,” he said. “We made sure to get most of the classics in there – Numa Numa, Star Wars Kid, Grape Lady, etc. – while still making room for more recent ones like Grumpy Cat and Overly Attached Girlfriend.”

The result is a chart with two layers: the first layer is a full-color illustration of all of the characters; the second layer is a black-and-white legend that assigns a number to every meme. Clicking on each of the memes reveals the source video or illustration for easy reference.

“What Bob Clarke did for Mad Magazine, Caldwell has done for CollegeHumor,” said Seidell. “He’s given our articles and comics a unique look and feel that really resonates with people all over the Internet. He’s also an accomplished comedy writer, constantly adding jokes to his illustrations and subtle references to other CollegeHumor series and personalities that fans pick up on. He’s really the full package and has a great work ethic, clearly on display with this massive, intricate image. Caldwell found additional places for jokes by placing certain memes next to each other or in front of each other. Or even in leaving some off, as he did with the Forever Alone rageface. If you look at the poster long enough a ton of subtle jokes will start to pop out that just reinforce his skill and care with every project, even one as silly as trying to put all the memes online into a single image.”

View the full illustration here.

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