Online media has delivered its share of stars. Myspace brought us Tila Tequila; Twitter delivered @shitmydadsays; and let’s not forget, before YouTube we were sad and Bieberless. Then there’s Tumblr. Founded in 2007, the popularity of the largely image-based blogging service has ebbed and flowed, but Tumblr never had a celeb to call its own. Until now.
Taylor-Ruth Baldwin, 17, created Hanging Rock Comics, a first-person chronicle of high school angst. The Star Wars-obsessed junior started her Tumblr last summer, posting comic panels from her diary. “It was a way of venting my frustrations,” Baldwin says. “I didn’t think much would come of it.” But she struck a nerve, and in a few months she had 15,000 followers. Her posts often get thousands of notes—reblogs, likes, and replies. One got more than 35,000, which is on par with posts by mainstream news orgs. And last fall, a Baldwin lookalike contest got 400-plus adults, kids, and animals aping her style of band T-shirt, big glasses, and braid.
It’s all the more surprising given this is her first foray into social media. “Before Tumblr, I didn’t check my email,” admits Baldwin, who loves “old” technology like VHS tapes, Walkmans, and records. Spider-Man is her favorite superhero, and her new life seems to mimic Peter Parker’s. “At school I disappear into the crowd,” she says. “I go home and there’s all these people online that like me.” Baldwin’s breakout isn’t the only sign that Tumblr’s own star is on the rise. Just weeks after securing $85 million in funding, the platform scored its most famous devotee: President Obama.