The “I Hate TomSka” Masterpost
(tl;dr I’ll be addressing common criticisms and allegations after the fold)
Hey. This is a very strange post to make, even for me, but I honestly feel like I have to make it for my own mental wellbeing. It’s no secret that I regularly check my indirects (posts that mention me but don’t actively tag me) across multiple platforms. Hell, I have them bookmarked - Twitter / Tumblr / Reddit / Instagram / 4chan. I sometimes find fan art, “drama” that’s brewing, posts meant for me but tagging the wrong user (e.g. @tomska), funny shit, mean shit, and a lot of news about the Russian city of Tomsk. It’s also really bad for me.
I won’t bullshit you. When I’m checking my indirects or punching my name into a search engine I’m actively looking for negativity. I don’t like myself nearly as much as some people think I do and for some dumb-ass reason I go searching for the meanest shit I can find to seemingly validate my fluctuating self-hatred. Like my eating habits, it’s unhealthy, and I need to stop.
However, I don’t think I can stop until I have a chance to respond to some of the most common criticisms, allegations, and hate mail I’ve seen/received over the past few years. I’m not here to apologise or beg for anyone’s approval - I just need to clear the air for my own peace of mind. I want to the opportunity to clarify what’s true, what’s false, what’s misconstrued, and what’s simply outdated. I know this won’t make me any less of a “lolcow” or change anyone’s minds but maybe I’ll sleep a little easier knowing I’ve had the chance to defend and explain myself.
Finally, it’s worth noting that almost everything I’m about to discuss has already been addressed across multiple different videos, tweets, and blog posts; I’m partly putting this post together so that it’s all in one easily accessible place.
1) “TomSka is fat/obese/lazy” - It’s true. I am one fat motherfucker. Weight gain and loss has been a consistent theme in my life. I’ve documented my attempts at weight loss multiple times over the years (here’s a vlog from 2012 and a series from 2015-2016). I had a personal trainer from late 2012 to early 2014 (as seen in the 2012 vlog). I got into pretty decent shape in early 2013 but I fell off the program shortly after and packed on the pounds. Mental health and medication were definitely factors but ultimately it was a personal failing. My trainer and I parted ways after he got a full-time job at a gym, I moved towns, and it was clear I was wasting his time and my money. I also made some pretty decent progress in 2016 but, again, fucked it up and now I’m inarguably obese. These days I try and stick to making jokes about my body and not overburden my audience with my weight problems since I’m currently not doing anything to help myself out. Maybe one day that’ll change but, for now, I’ve learned to keep this fight to myself.
2) “TomSka is miserable/depressed/complains a lot” - Yep, can’t argue with this one either. Being in the public eye, gaining a lot of “fame” and attention at a young age, grief, and life in general has taken it’s toll on me. Don’t worry, I don’t think this makes me special or unique. I was diagnosed with severe depression in late 2013 (documented in this vlog) and between then and early 2014 I attended therapy and tried out a couple different anti-depressants (which had some intense side effects, including a drastic increase in appetite). In 2015 I returned to medication and after a very rough 2016, rife with suicidal ideation, I finally began to reach a relatively stable place. I do still complain a lot/too much for someone as fortunate as myself but I try to limit that to my personal vlogs (such as Last Week). That probably won’t stop any time soon as I am who I am. Hearing that people have been inspired to seek help for their own issues after seeing my work has been stellar and I’m unashamedly proud of the more productive ways I’ve utilised my mental health issues such as these informative videos on the subject.
3) “TomSka lost/unpersoned a lot of his old/closest friends” - This is probably the hardest topic to address on this list because not only is it very personal but to do so inarguably falls under “oversharing” which I’ll get to later. That said, a lot of people noticed the change in both my social circle and my YouTube channel and it’s time I gave an explanation. One night in 2013, very shortly after I began taking anti-depressants, I had my first real panic attack (I’m sure anyone who has taken SSRIs will attest that they can really fuck with you at first). In a moment of madness, I shot off a handful of emails to a choice few close friends rambling about “mutually toxic relationships” and how we’d be better off not knowing each other anymore. When I woke up I couldn’t believe what I’d done but I didn’t go back on it because, despite my indefensibly shitty way of going about it, I knew what I said was true. Everything came to a head a year later when my old best friend Chris (one of the people I’d cut off) asked to be formally disassociated with me and my brand. An agreement was penned, his name was removed from my channel, and we didn’t speak for the better part of 4 years. But earlier this year we sat down and apologised to each other, the contract was scrapped, the credits were restored, and we’re both trying to move forward as individuals unburdened by pain. I share this not as an apology, as those are only owed to those I hurt, but as an overdue explanation of an ugly truth. Note: The inclusion of paragraph has been approved by Chris personally.
4) “TomSka cheated on his girlfriend” - Nope, this has never happened. Edit: I have during a few relationships flirted with other women over text/messages. This is obviously still a betrayal of trust, and arguably as hurtful as physically cheating, but it’s never resulted in the end of a relationship as some randos have claimed.
5) “TomSka is still grieving/milking Edd’s death even after 6 years” - The thing about grief is, you never really get over it; it just becomes a part of the new reality you learn to live with. When my close friend and creative partner Edd died in 2012, my entire life fell apart. I’d studied media, built an audience, and moved to London all for the sake of making the next big thing side-by-side with him. Then, suddenly, he was gone and I no longer had a purpose. I still don’t. I just make shit because that’s what I do and I’m so fucking sad, man. I recklessly took over his show in a well-meaning but ill-thought-out attempt at honouring his legacy but I was in no state to do so. I’ll get to that later. The whole thing was so excruciatingly public and drawn-out that I never got a chance to grieve properly. Losing Edd is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me and I’ll hurt for as long as I need to.
6) “TomSka constantly and uncomfortably overshares” - Do I ever. Another bad habit I developed in 2013 was uncontrollably spewing out every single thought and memory I had onto the Internet and in front of my predominantly young audience - no matter how wildly inappropriate it may have been. At one point I even posted a “tasteful” nude under the banner of body positivity. Astounding. I began hosting tell-all Q&As where I’d answer literally any question regardless how private or explicit they may have been. It wasn’t until I seriously upset an ex by disclosing aspects of our sex life that were not mine alone to share that I began to reevaluate my actions. These days I’m still an open book but I try to consider the affect my words could have on my audience or if what I’m sharing might be deeply private to anyone else. I don’t really know why I did it. Maybe I thought if everyone knew absolutely everything about me that their judgements would be objective. Maybe I thought I could absolve myself from being labeled as “manipulative” by disclosing my whole life story. Maybe it was just narcissism (it was probably narcissism). It truly was a “cringeworthy” phase.
7) “TomSka is an asshole/bully/manipulator” - Yeah, sometimes. Anyone who knows me well enough will tell you I have the capacity to be a real piece of work. I’ve had a history of picking people apart, putting them down, and bossing them around. Recognising this flaw in 2013 was a huge motivator for me to seek professional help (and end those old friendships). My relationship with anti-depressants has made my temper far more manageable but I still struggle to treat everyone with the kindness they deserve. I think I’m getting better but I should probably consider anger management therapy.
8) “TomSka had a creepy relationship with an underage girl” - No, I didn’t. I met one of my exes in 2007 when we were both teenagers (14 and 16), didn’t date (well, we saw a movie together in 2008), fell out of contact for a few years, and began dating when we reunited at the ages of 18 and 21. In 2014, a year after our relationship ended, I unlisted 3 videos about our time together to curb the ongoing pestering we both received from my audience. Those videos are still available here, here, and here.
9) “TomSka is an insufferable SJW/Feminist now” - Yeah, I’m definitely left-wing. However, I don’t really align myself with any particular sociopolitical ideology or party as I’m not learned enough in those fields to defend them in an argument. For context, I grew up quite sheltered and religious; learning about the world from my parents and preachers. It wasn’t until I went to university that I started questioning my largely conservative values. The atheistic side of YouTube and my new friends from different walks of life certainly introduced me to some new perspectives. I jumped into the deep end of social justice and fourth-wave feminism around 2013/14 and admittedly became painfully self-righteous. I guess I liked having a new and “virtuous” outlet for my anger. That devolved into the un-winnable race of “virtue signalling” and before long I was calling out anyone and everyone who wasn’t as “woke” as me. The two videos found here and here (originally privated, now unlisted for this post) document a flagship instance of me calling out other creators, getting slapped down, and removing the videos upon request after apologising to one privately (I’m avoiding specific names also upon request). After a few public dunkings I began to mellow out and reevaluate the intensity of my principles once again. Nowadays I try and incorporate my values into my work, jokes, and actions; without demanding others follow suit. That said, my opinions of course still slip out publicly from time to time. To err is human, etc.
10) “TomSka backtracks/deletes things when challenged” - This is true. Every now and then I’ll tell a joke that rubs too many people the wrong way, steer out of my lane and voice an opinion on something I’m not well-enough informed on, or sometimes my temper will flare up and I’ll just go looking for a fight. When that happens I usually just nuke it all. Here is a recent example. It’s not something I’m proud of but I’m tired. I’ve had my fill of flamewars and merry-go-round debates. Unless I really, truly give a damn about something it’s just not worth the stress.
11) “TomSka has said racist/homophobic slurs” - The words we use have an impact and I’ve said, believed, and joked about some extremely uncool, prejudiced, and “problematic” things in my life; especially in my earlier days on the Internet. I know I’ve hurt and upset people with my inappropriate language and for that I’m sorry. Whatever damage that’s caused can’t be undone but my attitudes and behaviour have changed as I’ve grown and in 2017 I purged every use of bigoted language I could find as it no longer reflected me or my beliefs and I don’t want to help normalise harmful slurs. Also, obviously, I’d like the opportunity to move beyond my past mistakes. Embarrassing examples are still dug up sometimes; here is a well-meaning but poorly-executed tweet from 2013 featuring the words “f*g” and “n***er” uncensored. It’s easy to scan Twitter for words you’ve outgrown if anyone else needs to do the same.
1) “TomSka’s work is “lol random”, 2007-era-comedy, for kids” - Fuck yeah it is. God, I miss 2007. Most of the time when I make anything, I’m catering it for my teenage self so it follows that it leans towards mid-naughties stylings and a younger demographic. Most people discover my work (particularly asdfmovie) and get their fill of it until they get older and their tastes change. That’s fine. I’m glad to have been able to provide laughter to people even if just for a little while. It doesn’t feel great though when people feel the need to shit on the content that they once enjoyed just to prove that they’re older and more “mature”.
2) “TomSka underpays / doesn’t pay his animators” - A lot of the earlier animations featured on my channel weren’t adequately paid for; including a handful which were paid very late. Some of this I can put down to ignorance, inexperience, or absent mindedness; but inarguably some of it boils down to both a lack of respect and me trying to maximise profits / minimise spending. On my personal channel (TomSka) the instances of inadequate/late payments are focussed largely from 2010-2012 and on Eddsworld they were localised to 2012-2014 (the reason for this was more linked to budgeting issues mentioned in the Eddsworld portion of this post). However, after I learned how unprofessional my behaviour had been, reparations and apologies were made to the animators who had been wronged (both privately and publicly), I reevaluated my business practices, and have been hiring and paying animators based on their own pricing (or as close to it as possible) for the years since; all without incident. I’ll be the first to admit my initial shortcomings but, as far as I’m aware, nobody is harbouring any grudges and the issue has been rectified.
3) “TomSka made a creepy sex-ed blog / video series” - In 2013 I felt like I should be doing more with my influence. I began opening up about my experiences with bullying, insecurities, and more in the hope I could provide solidarity and advice to any members my audience who were going through the same things. An issue I felt very strong about was sexual education as it’d been withheld from me, leading to a lot of misconceptions and unhealthy attitudes. I wanted to make the videos I needed back then for those who needed them now. That was how it began, at least. I typed up a script, ran it by a few sex-ed experts, ran it by my audience to make sure it was “unproblematic”, and shared stills from the storyboards/animation as I went to get feedback. This raised a lot of eyebrows and, understandably, earned me some public criticism. After all, my channel was, and still largely is, targeted towards the young and pubescent but that was also exactly why I felt so strongly about making this video. The criticism did thankfully encourage me to omit the more inappropriate “how-to” elements and relegate them to a non-essential, unlisted video. Ultimately, while jarring to many, the final video was well-received and even used it schools. But then it went to my head. I got the idea that I was now an authority on the subject and even launched an extremely short-lived advice blog (12 hours~) before getting boo’d off the Internet. After (never) living that one down and apologising profusely, I was hired by a couple charities to produce sex-ed videos focussing on puberty and pornography. Even though it was a cringeworthy and mistake-laden journey, I’m still very glad those videos exist.
4) “TomSka is a sellout” - This criticism often comes at me for a couple reasons: brand deals and asdfmovie. As a popular YouTuber and “social media influencer” I’m often approached by brands to promote their product/idea to my audience and I typically try to take those opportunities. We’ll write a video I’d be happy to release even without brand integration and if the brand are unhappy or try to mangle the idea too much we’ll often write something new or walk away from the deal. I define “selling out” as compromising your artistic vision in exchange for money so if we can make something I’d be proud of and appease a brand, I see it as a win-win. I talk about this in more detail in this video. At the end of the day, the content being provided is free to consume, sign-posted as sponsored, and, personally, a preferable alternative to taking money directly from the audience via services like Patreon. Regarding asdfmovie (and some of my more popular content), I’m often told I make it exclusively to generate ad/merch revenue and honestly… Yeah. Making videos is my job. I need to pay my crew, pay to live, and pay to make more videos. If I can do that by making people laugh then, again, I see that as a win-win from which everyone benefits.
1) “TomSka took over Eddsworld to make money / promote himself” - Hah. No. I took the helm of Eddsworld and launched Eddsworld: Legacy for a handful of reasons: Denial and grief over the loss of my friend and creative partner? Sure. Guilt over not being a good enough friend during his life? Yeah, a little. The assurance from Edd’s mother that his dying wish was for his show to continue indefinitely? Absolutely. Fame and money? How so? Aside from updating all the video descriptions to accurately credit the cast and crew of previous eddisodes and a couple end-card annotations I got very little promotion from Eddsworld - a channel almost half the size of my own (398k vs 660k) by March 2012. Many cite the inclusion of ‘asdfland’ in ‘Fun Dead’ as self-promotion but ignore the history of crossovers and asdf references in Eddsworld pre-Legacy, the fact Edd animated two instalments of the asdf series, and voiced its most popular character. As for the money, the only income I ever received from Eddsworld was in around 2010 when I asked Edd for £100 to cover all the work I’d done on the show since 2004. Although that amount is pale in comparison to the roughly £50,000 I personally invested to complete Eddsworld: Legacy. Even the money I had budgeted for myself in the fundraiser went exclusively towards paying the rest of the crew. In short, this “criticism” is flat-out bullshit.
2) “TomSka fucked up the Eddsworld: Legacy fundraiser” - Yeah. The fundraiser was a real shambles. Despite consulting with the crew and agreeing fees in advance it quickly became apparent that, for a project of this scale, my proposed budget (particularly for animation) was far too small. Attempting to pay everyone on a shoestring budget to compensate was an equally poor choice made by me that drove some of the crew away. In the end, the only solution, as mentioned above, was to heavily invest my own money to rectify the problem. It was a mistake, made out of inexperience and ignorance, that I literally paid the price for. Of course, the production budget wasn’t the only misstep. The delivery of the perks was also shockingly inefficient and, although everything did eventually arrive, some people (largely the highest paying donors) were left waiting over 3 years for their digital/physical rewards. It was, inarguably, an embarrassing failure that I take full responsibility for. However, despite the delays and missteps, the promise of making more eddisodes and donating the profits to charity (£80,176 to CLIC Sargent) was ultimately met.
3) “TomSka made Eddsworld about himself / his character” - This gripe assumes that, much like an immature fan, I don’t differentiate between myself and a cartoon character of the same name. Also, this criticism completely ignores the creative contributions of my co-writer Eddie who had an even part in writing most of the Legacy eddisodes (but he can speak for himself). I hadn’t really seen myself in the character of Tom since well before Edd died but once he did I consciously separated all the characters from their original voice actors; it would’ve been too painful to keep working with them (especially Edd) otherwise. I took the characters, everything we knew about them, everything we’d seen them do, and based all their future actions/dialogue off that history. Yes, there are definitely Tom-heavy Legacy eddisodes and ones in which that character “saves the day” but I sincerely believe this distribution of focus and heroics was consistent with the rest of Eddsworld.
4) “TomSka made the Eddsworld Legacy finale (The End) all about him” - This, again, assumes a much higher kinship between myself and the character I voiced than was present. That aside, I can appreciate how, in hindsight, having the series finale be a Tord-vs-Tom-focussed eddisode and not Edd-focussed eddisode was somewhat inappropriate. Perhaps ‘PowerEdd’ would’ve made for a more fitting finale. When Eddie and I went into ‘The End’ our goal was simply to make the biggest, most explosive, most fan-pleasing eddisode we could think of. Bringing back a character people had been begging for and paying off a conflict established a decade earlier seemed like the best bet. As I said, I respect the criticism that Edd’s character should’ve been the main focus of the finale but it’s almost never worded that way. Frustratingly, the Tom-vs-Tord story was originally supposed to be wrapped in Part 1, leading to a group house-hunt plot for Part 2, but due to our lead voice actor unexpectedly emigrating we had to hastily extend the Part 1 script to serve as the finale.
5) “TomSka ruined Eddsworld / made it in his own style” - It’s absolutely true that Eddsworld: Legacy was skewed more towards my writing style and sense of humour than Edd’s but the reason for that is obvious. He died, I couldn’t ask for his input, and I could only try and emulate his approach so much without going mad. That said, Eddie and I did our best and I think on occasion we did great. It’s also true that pacing and scoring changed noticeably under my supervision as a director and perhaps that’s something I would do differently in hindsight. As far as “ruining” Eddsworld goes, that’s entirely subjective. The show unavoidably changed as a result of Edd’s departure and my takeover but short of a cloning machine I’m stumped for how we could’ve done better.
6) “TomSka made the Eddsworld Documentary about himself” - I think this criticism comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Eddsworld Legacy Documentary was which, in part, is my fault. For context, one of the perks on the IndieGoGo was a behind-the-scenes mini-documentary detailing the production of Eddsworld Legacy. I hired a friend to produce this video back in 2013 but I wasn’t happy with the quality and scrapped it. In 2014 I put my editor Elliot in charge of writing/producing/directing/shooting/editing the project and he really ran with it. What I thought was going to be a 10-15 minute long, interview-based video about working on Eddsworld Legacy turned into a full-blown 40-minute documentary, with an animated host, which also covered the history of the series. So much time, money, and effort had gone into it that (once Eddsworld Legacy was complete) I released it to the public (unmonetized) on my secondary channel. I believe it would’ve been inappropriate to put it on Edd’s channel as it was largely about my team and I. The negativity came from the assumption that I’d hijacked a documentary about Edd and his series and made it largely about my team and I which wasn’t true. To be fair, I hadn’t flagged the internal title of ‘Eddsworld Documentary’ which added to the confusion.
7) “TomSka brought back Tord against his wishes” - This is essentially true. The original voice actor of the character Tord left the series in 2008 and took his likeness with him. Edd didn’t feel the need to write an explanation for his departure so fans spent the next 8 years going crazy looking for answers (and the voice actor himself). When it came to the series finale, Eddie and I hoped we could give the fans what they’d been searching for and give the character a real conclusion. I’ll admit, with no way of contacting him, I hadn’t given much thought to character’s real-life counterpart other than hoping that replacing the voice actor and tying off the character would encourage fans to leave the man alone.
8) “TomSka made Tord a villain because of personal grievances / metaphor for cancer” - A lot to unpack here. The short response is: no, we didn’t. We made Tord a villain because the character had a history of violence, because they had a pre-established rivalry, and because Edd and I had planned on developing their character into the antagonist of the series we wanted to make once Edd was better. The fact that myself and the original voice actor of the character used to banter with each other when we were pubescent was not a contributing factor. At one point, immediately after the release of ‘The End’, I stated (in this blog post) that Tord’s return was a metaphor for Edd’s cancer. This was a lie. I said that to appear like an edgier/deeper writer than I am. My co-writer Eddie has confirmed this was never considered or addressed during the writing process. I talk about all this a lot more in this blog post.
9) “TomSka quit/ended Eddsworld despite his promise to Edd” - I never made a promise to Edd to continue Eddsworld. Edd and I had joked about how I’d make a final episode using old recordings of him if he died unexpectedly but that was it. I promised his mum and the fans I’d keep it going for another season at least, give it the send-off he wanted, and I did. It was only a few weeks before ‘The End’ was released that I learned of the intention to continue Eddsworld beyond Legacy. I was upset to hear this, to say the least, as I felt it was time for the show to rest and for everyone involved to move on. For these and other reasons, some of the crew and I have left the show going forward.
10) “TomSka said he’d leave Eddsworld behind but didn’t” - The few months after Eddsworld Legacy ended were pretty rough and, instead of winding down, the Eddsworld fandom only got more invasive and vocal. After a while it got too much and I tried to renounce the fandom and cut ties completely. Obviously that didn’t last. Eddsworld is and always will be a huge part of my life and I’d rather focus on the positives and the good memories than try to forget it.
End / Amendments
Well, that’s everything I can think to address at this time. There were a few “criticisms” from over the years that I chose to ignore with this post because they were either totally made up or excessively petty. However, if I’m asked or inclined to discuss anything else, I’ll try to include it here. Thanks for reading.
Edit 1: Added clarification to Personal Issues #4
Edit 2: Added source to Personal Issues #3
Edit 3: Added section #11 (harmful slurs) to Personal Issues