Reddit alien comic an instant, pouty hit

A graphic illustration of Reddit users' codependent relationship with the discussion site went from homage to homepage in an hour.

 

Kevin Morris

Streaming

Posted on Jun 9, 2011   Updated on Jun 3, 2021, 4:22 am CDT

Anyone who has used Reddit for a long time knows the site can be a cruel mistress. Or, at the very least, a cruel, pouty, space alien.

The free-wheeling discussion site is a cornucopia of links, images, and videos, overseen by an iconic alien character. And Reddit’s communal nature just complicates things — how can you leave behind a site that might actually miss you, after all?

So when artist Anna Stiffler visualized that relationship in comic form, Redditors fell in love. And within an hour her version of the Reddit alien — a pouty alien that just can’t stand when its owner stops playing with it — had been turned into the site’s new homepage logo.

Stiffler, a freelance artist based in Columbus, Ohio, said in an email to the Daily Dot she never expected the comic to become so popular.

“I drew it the very morning of its posting as a silly doodle and then left to work on another more serious project,” Stiffler wrote. “By the time I came back, it had exploded on the frontpage and I was pretty shocked.”

Temporary logos like this used to be common on Reddit. Cofounder Alexis Ohanian, who drew the original Reddit alien, used to frequently change the site’s logo for special events or holidays.

But when Ohanian left in 2009, the rest of the team was so swamped with work they didn’t have time to keep up the tradition, according to Kristine Smith, one of the site’s admins.

So Smith decided to teach herself to draw, especially for the holidays, because it “really ties together the community,” she said.

When she saw that the first comment on Stiffler’s comic was a request to make the “puppydog-eyed Reddit” the homepage logo, she immediately gave it a try. Her first draft wasn’t perfect (scaling the image took some skill, she said), and that’s when other Redditors stepped in. The current version was created by user rolmos.

Smith said she had “no idea” how long the logo would remain on the frontpage — certainly not forever, she said. But it could stay in perpetuity on the site’s /r/pics subreddit, or section.

“That depends on the moderators,” Smith said. “They can leave it there as long as they want.”

As for Stiffler, the recognition on Reddit was particularly sweet. A self-taught artist, she said her  art is less about money than it is about her “obsession.”

“It has meant a lot to me to have that sort of exposure in a community that I enjoy and respect,” Stiffler wrote. “For as confident as I feel about my work in other venues, I’ll admit I’m not above getting disproportionately excited by positive feedback from Reddit.”

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*First Published: Jun 9, 2011, 8:29 am CDT