A sign that blockchain tech and bitcoin have gone mainstream might be when they start showing up in the funnies. And in more than one strip.
Last week, the comic strip “B.C.” featured a caveman confiding: “I can’t stop thinking about bitcoin.”
Both strips come from the same creative team, brothers Mick and Mason Mastroianni, crypto enthusiasts who also happen to be the grandsons of “B.C.” and “The Wizard of Id” creator Johnny Hart. While they still produce their grandfather’s strip, the brothers launched their original strip, “Dogs of C-Kennel,” in 2010.
While “Dilbert” comics have employed a half-dozen used bitcoin and blockchain gags—and creator Scott Adams has his own ICO—the fact that the cryptoverse has spread into other comic strips is a sign of the times.
Below, Mason Mastroianni talks about his introduction to cryptocurrency and how he explains it to people over 50.
Q: Is it an indicator that blockchain and cryptocurrency have made their way into the funnies that they are nearing mainstream awareness now?
Mastroianni: Normally, when a pop culture meme finds itself pertinent enough to reach into the abyss of a lowly work-at-home cartoonist, it’s probably a safe bet that most educated people have already been aware of it for far too long.
In the case with cryptocurrency, I think it was safe to assume it’d become part of the normative zeitgeist when both my 84-year-old grandmother and 17-year-old stepdaughter started asking me if I own any.
Q: Did you have to explain the references to your editor?
Mastroianni: Fortunately, I’m one of those rare folks who isn’t as beholden to an editor as people outside my industry might assume—a situation, now that I think about it, probably isn’t wise for anyone involved.
I basically tell everyone under 50 that cryptocurrency is money inside the internet, that is not regulated, and whose value is maintained through a non-centralized network of mutual trust. For the over-50 crowd, I say it’s the devil’s money. Both are sort of true.
Q: Who is the blockchain / cryptocurrency enthusiast, you or your brother?
Mastroianni: Honestly, I’m not sure which of us is more nerdy when it comes to this stuff. I’d say we both have a similar understanding of crypto, judging by the similar amounts of money we’ve lost.
My first crypto experience was when a good friend of mine, having made a small fortune, turned me on to some websites that explained how he did it, and how probably no one else ever will.
Q: Scott Adams has used half-dozen blockchain / cryptocurrency jokes in “Dilbert.” Have you seen them elsewhere in the comics?
Mastroianni: To be honest, I wasn’t even aware the Scott was doing it. As a rule, I try not to read comic strips that are better than my own for sake of not feeling crippling jealousy. As such, I do not read other comic strips at all.
Except maybe “Pearls Before Swine.”