Hey! I'm Adam Ellis! I make sort-of-popular comics on the internet, and I have a new book coming out tomorrow called Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously. I also had a viral haunting on Twitter last year that's being made into a movie!


Comments: 403 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

Fercho420411 karma

Are you aware of your meme ststus over at r/comedycemetery and how it quickly changed after you quit buzzfeed?

If so how did you take it and do you think buzzfeed was restrictive in the humor you were allowed to publish?

adamtots_remastered471 karma

I've tried not to pay too much attention to that subreddit. I mostly try not to read what people are saying about me in general, good or bad, because I could easily lose my mind. I usually post comics and then go for a walk or something!

BuzzFeed wasn't as restrictive as people think. I essentially had creative freedom to do what I wanted as long as my content performed well. I set my own goal to make a comic every day, and I learned a lot from that process. Some of the stuff that I made was stupid, and I reused assets to save time, but I also made a lot of stuff that I'm really proud of. Those things never got posted because it didn't fit the narrative of "BuzzFeed hack" certain people had built. I was basically learning how to be a comic artist while at BuzzFeed and it was all on display—both good and bad.

beckroden275 karma

Hi Adam, I am a big fan of your work. How did you manage to survive the transition between a steady job at Buzzfeed and being a full-time artist?

adamtots_remastered390 karma

Once it became clear I didn't have a long term future there, I spent a couple months saving money and trying to set up some freelance gigs so I'd have a softer landing. But even then it was super scary. At some point you just have to close your eyes and jump and hope for the best. Also, once I actually quit my job I immediately switched into survival mode and began working my ass off because I no longer had the safety of a salary.

felineofaveq255 karma

Did the ice cream brand ever reach about stealing your work?

adamtots_remastered916 karma

Yeah, that was Coldstone! I asked them to donate money to Inner City Arts and they were pretty prompt about it and donated $10k. A lot of folks felt I should've asked for payment myself, but I know from experience that brands almost never pay you when they steal work. They just delete the post and ignore it. Asking for a donation to charity added pressure, and it worked!

HelloPepperKitty207 karma


adamtots_remastered371 karma

I'll give Pepper a kiss but Maxwell is being a brat today, so no.

Flamingcherry141 karma

Hi Adam! Moderate fan here. I enjoy your stuff very regularly. Will you ever make a tarot deck? Your most recently posted comic features the Death card and I love it. I would enjoy seeing a full deck made by you with any quirks you would add. I would also throw money at it to own it. Thanks!

adamtots_remastered135 karma

I'd like to do a full deck but it's 78 cards and that's a huge commitment!

Guilty_Old_Pedos120 karma

Adammmm whatever happened to tiny hats for cats? I've seen enough of your face. Show me the cats. Could we at least get tiny capes for cats? <3

adamtots_remastered123 karma

That was a fun project but publishing a craft book was EXHAUSTING. It actually sucks all the fun out of crafting because you have to stop and photograph every single step. It makes it impossible to get into the flow. I might bring it back someday, but it sort of felt like a temporary project.

kitteh-gaga103 karma

What’s the story behind your 3 legged cat? (I own rescue special needs cats so I’m genuinely curious!)

adamtots_remastered379 karma

I'm not sure what his story is! I was taking my kitten Pepper in for a checkup, and while she was in there I went to visit with the shelter cats and Maxwell was one of the new arrivals. He'd come into the shelter with a paralyzed leg, so it might've been an infection or an injury. They weren't sure. He'd just been neutered and amputated the day before, so he was super scared and unhappy and crying, and I couldn't bring myself to leave the shelter without him.

IllamanatiConfirmed102 karma

What first convinced you to get into drawing?

adamtots_remastered297 karma

It was the only thing I was ever good at, so it wasn't really a choice. My mom tried to get me into sports and I would pretend to be paralyzed to avoid going to practice.

HuhHuhHunny97 karma

Hi Adam! Huge fan! Can you please tell me what inspired Lizard Qween??

adamtots_remastered165 karma

I like to put my friends in comics as an inside joke. I drew my coworker Zoe in a comic once, and wrote "Lizard Kween" on the shirt because she has like 6 pet lizards (and a frog, and a turtle, and some other things??). When I posted the comic a bunch of people asked for me to make the shirt real, so I did, and it sold well, so I kept making more shirts. I actually didn't realize after the fact that it was a Simpsons reference. I grew up watching the Simpsons so I'm sure I internalized that reference without realizing it!

princessjaffy84 karma

What ever happened with David? Any new experiences? I loved reading through your tweets about it, seriously fascinating!

adamtots_remastered74 karma

Thanks! Writing about it was a very interesting experience. I don't have anything new to share but if I do I'll make sure to tweet about it!

Whazzits82 karma

When I was a child I went through phases of obsession. Most were pretty standard -- Egypt, dinosaurs, the Middle Ages -- and some weren't -- serial killers, edible wild plants, medical anomalies. Did you have any notable childhood (or current) obsessions?

adamtots_remastered170 karma

As a kid I was obsessed with building things. It started with Lego and progressed to me wandering out into the woods and building tiny villages out of sticks and rocks and stuff. Then I'd fill it with dead bugs and snail shells as the "villagers" and proceed light the entire village on fire, so make of that what you will.

There's an essay about it in one of my older books: https://imgur.com/a/ZqEiOWN

Now I'm into normal stuff like cults and taxidermy.

WinnieMiester82 karma

If you could have yourself cremated and pressed onto Vinyl after death. What would your record contain?

adamtots_remastered136 karma

'80s Janet Jackson

black_hammer_77 karma

What’s your skin care regiment?

adamtots_remastered209 karma

AHA/BHA a couple times a week, hyaluronic acid every morning, retinoid before bed, and sunscreen!

Jota76974 karma

Can you give us any details on the movie?

adamtots_remastered122 karma

Nothing beyond what I've already shared on Twitter! Movies and TV move SUPER slowly. It's being produced by Dan Lin, and the script is being written by Mike Van Waes (who's also writing The Crooked Man and the upcoming live action Lilo and Stitch movie).

SoopaJoonia57 karma

Do you ever feel like you want to go back to working for a big organisation, like Buzzfeed for example, or are you enjoying the freedom you have now?

adamtots_remastered95 karma

I'm not sure! My hours are more flexible now, but I'm working just as much as before. I really like the structure and routine of an office job, so I might go back to something like that in future. It would just have to be a good fit!

chickenphosho51 karma

What is something you wish you had been told going into freelance comic work full time?

adamtots_remastered84 karma

How easy it is to get sidetracked and avoid work.

tinyweasel44 karma

Do you have any advice about dealing with anxiety if you're not a talented cartoonist?

adamtots_remastered123 karma

If you have serious anxiety, you should see a therapist. Therapy is super super helpful!

For me, I try to remind myself that nothing truly horrible is going to happen to me. I have a really hard time in public situations, or when I have to meet new people, but at the end of the day it's a couple hours out of my life and then I can come home and eat some macaroni and cheese. And in 60 or 70 years I'll be dead, and then I won't care about all the times I embarrassed myself.

tinyweasel29 karma

I was thinking about it, costs moneys though. I'll try the mac and cheese thing for now. Thanks for the reply, you're the best!

adamtots_remastered65 karma

Therapy costs money, but a lot of therapists have a sliding scale based on your income! It's worth checking out!

Sup_Grade43 karma

Who is your favorite RuGirl?

adamtots_remastered61 karma

Alaska, Shangela, and Sasha. Also Kim Chi is the Twitter royalty.

voteformein201627 karma

Kim Chi with the DragCon NYC garment drama on IG was legendary.

adamtots_remastered22 karma


motrous43 karma

On this side of the fence, ever since you left Buzzfeed people have noted your improvement in quality and consistency. Even people who were extremely negative about you before (I mod r/comics and your stuff comes up occasionally) are softening to your new material. I'm not looking for anything negative on Buzzfeed, but do you think your departure has helped you find your own voice or was it just a matter of time and dedication?

adamtots_remastered63 karma

I think I found my voice at BuzzFeed, and this is just the distillation of everything I learned. And I'm still learning! I'm a "successful" comic artist but I still feel like I growing.

justcindythings42 karma

How did you meet Dami?

adamtots_remastered104 karma

I was actually Dami's boss at BuzzFeed! We hired her for a fellowship and she moved here all the way from South Korea. The higher ups promised us a certain number of heads but then they over-hired that year and I had to fire Dami and it really sucked, so we took her out to drinks, and a cop yelled at her for climbing on a stranger's car.

kknosh41 karma

Why is a skincare routine for guys not mainstream?

I love it when you put info about your routine up—I don’t know why more people don’t. Every girl celebrity endorses Clinique, etc, I want guy celebrities to do the same

adamtots_remastered199 karma

It all boils down to toxic masculinity. Any form of self care or self betterment is seen as feminine, and being feminine is such a fear for guys. And it's stupid. Wash your face. Light a candle. Maybe put something in your butt.

brinnana36 karma

Hi Adam! I’ve been (hopefully not creepily) following your career for a while now, since well before you moved away from the PNW. How has the transition from buzzfeed been to working freelance/more independently now? I don’t know if you’ve talked about it, but why did you choose to leave?

adamtots_remastered49 karma

Moved away from the Pacific Northwest, or from BuzzFeed? I left Portland because there were no jobs there, and I was starting to feel sort of trapped. I moved to New York because it seemed like the best way to light a fire under my ass, and luckily it worked.

BuzzFeed was actually a great job for about 2 years. I had an awesome manager and I learned a lot. Unfortunately there were a lot of frequent changes with middle management, and a lot of policy changes internally that made it hard to focus on a realistic employment track. I also started getting a lot of sponsorship opportunities outside of work which would've gone against my noncompete, so I had to make a choice about what I wanted to do. The transition wasn't too bad, because I had a book deal lined up and I'd made some freelance contacts, but it was still really nerve wracking!

Frustratedfuck34 karma

Hey Adam I'm a big fan since back in the days of Books of Adam. I really loved when you wrote a fair amount and had your comics in-between your stories. Will you ever go back to that style of writing and drawing your comics in between your words? (I'm not sure what to call that style)

Also, what happened to David. Did you move on, or did he?

adamtots_remastered36 karma

I really miss doing longer illustrated essays and I'd like to do that again, I'm just not sure how to go about it. I feel like traditional blogs are sort of over, and there's not a great way to tell longer stories on apps like Instagram and Facebook. But I'd like to do more stuff like that at some point!

Biscuit_Meniscus32 karma

Hey Adam, is Fever Knights still in the works? I loved the artwork coming out of that series!

adamtots_remastered32 karma

At the moment I don't really have time, but I'll go back to it at some point!

serena_jeanne29 karma

How do you deal with companies and influencers stealing your content online?

adamtots_remastered57 karma

It's frustrating, but there's not much I can do about it. I mostly only make a fuss when it's a bigger account or a brand who's using my content to make money.

opalames28 karma

Will the movie be about you or a fictional character? Who would you dream cast to play you?

adamtots_remastered89 karma

From my understanding, it's about me but they're certainly taking some liberties. Can Jack Whitehall do an American accent?

bulleta725 karma

Hello Mr. Tots. Can you please explain the following

Y Is U sAsSy Af?

Ok. Much thanks.

adamtots_remastered59 karma

Because I'm getting older and I just don't care as much anymore.

Yelloweggs21 karma

How did you decide which comics to include in the book?

adamtots_remastered34 karma

I didn't make that choice until the end. I mostly just drew everything that popped into my head that I felt could work in the book, with the intention of having way more than I'd need, and I edited it down in the end.

dmbigeyedfish21 karma

Hey Adam! I love your podcast with Kristin, especially the older ones when you guys get uncontrollably intoxicated. What was the French song that used to be your theme song? Do you guys not get super drunk anymore because you're trying to be a little bit professional? How's your foot doing? Those were several questions, sorry.

adamtots_remastered39 karma

"Langue Au Chat" by Vanessa Contenay Quinones. And no, I still get pretty drunk. The first couple episodes I was trying to be professional but the last few I've gotten entirely unmanageable. We have about 5 episodes banked that we're still editing, but you'll see what I mean.

Also, here's my podcast for anyone who's interested:

PimpNamedSlickBitch19 karma

Hi Adam! I love your comics! What is your favorite vegetable?

adamtots_remastered89 karma

I love getting fucked up on root vegetables!!!!!!!

AlvaJem18 karma

Thoughts on Sonic the Hedgehog and it's fandom?

adamtots_remastered50 karma

I was a Nintendo kid in the '90s, so there was a bitter rivalry with Sega kids. I played Sonic a few times but it was too fast paced and I found the level design very confusing. I still don't entirely understand the appeal? Knuckles is a stud though.

Edit: Wait!!! I just remembered there's a secret Sonic reference in my new book! If anyone finds it (well, all seven of them) lemme know and I'll give you something good.

megisrad12314 karma

In your new book, are any of the comics about your ghost friend?

Also, just out of curiosity, what is your favorite ghibli movie??

adamtots_remastered45 karma

No ghost comics, unfortunately!

My favorite Ghibli movie is Kiki's Delivery Service. I feel like it's the perfect distillation of heartwarming whimsy and unbearable sadness.

mackemerald13 karma

Do you like living in NYC? How would you rate it as a city for creative people?

adamtots_remastered62 karma

NYC is a mixed bag. It's great for ambitious people because there are so many opportunities—within reason. I'm a decent looking white guy and I absolutely have privileges that offer me more and better opportunities. But still, NYC is the place to be if you're an artist or a media person. Plus there's always good food and something to do. The downside is that it's competitive as hell and that's exhausting. Every time I go out with media friends all we really talk about is what we've achieved recently and how saaaaad it is that so-and-so got fired as the editor of WhateverTheFuck and it gets kind of boring, but I also live for drama, so it becomes a toxic cycle of feigned concern and humble bragging. But eventually (hopefully) you find some genuine friends who stick around, and you stop caring about certain things, and then you settle down and move to Westchester County, and yes at this point I'm just describing Monica and Chandler's storyline from Friends but it still applies. I sort of forgot what the question was.

snugnugs12 karma

Have you ever released a comic that you just didn't feel good about?

adamtots_remastered47 karma

At BuzzFeed we'd have to make a lot of comics in advance. So for instance, Christmas themed comics had to be done and submitted by the middle of December at the latest, so different editors could schedule them ahead of time. I made a comic in 2016 before the elections about Trump losing because I was sure he'd lose (weren't we all?), and then couldn't post it. Lol. That felt bad.

Other than that, I haven't really released anything I feel bad about. I always send comics to my friends first to get feedback.

hardy_12 karma

Hey, can you tell us more more about your interest in drag? Do you ever dress up yourself?

I really enjoy your posts. Thanks for making me smile!

adamtots_remastered32 karma

I don't have any personal interest in it, I just really enjoy the artistry of it!

iMachado2311 karma

Hey, Adam.. sister is a big fan of yours. She introduced me to your work last year when she met ya at RTX.. you’re a comical genius! And well my only question really is, how are you doing?

adamtots_remastered20 karma

That's a different Adam Ellis :)

Solidussnake199610 karma

Got any advice for a high school senior entering college? p.s love your comics man :)

adamtots_remastered58 karma

Don't skip class. You're paying a lot of money. Also go to orientation and any stupid dorm activities they have in the first week, even if they seem lame. People are pairing off in the first week and making fast friendships and you can get left behind real quick. On the flip side, don't spend all your time on campus.

gamblodar10 karma

Adam, it was great to meet you (and buy your book) at NYCC!

What was the culture at Buzz Feed like? I've heard it was an.... Interesting... place to work and I wonder how the self-employment plug affected you.

adamtots_remastered24 karma

BuzzFeed has like 1,500 employees and it's a different experience for everyone. Edit, News, and Video are essentially different companies with various teams, managers, and goals. I can't speak to anyone else's experience. Mine was great, until it wasn't!

ericaferrica9 karma

How many hours would you say you work per week? Either on your own projects or if working for someone else.

More importantly, have you considered creating comics not just about cats, but for cats as well? Asking for a friend

adamtots_remastered22 karma

There are some days I work for like 8 hours, and some days where I play video games all day and pretend like I'm "brainstorming ideas." But I'm always "working" a little bit, whether it's thinking about apparel designs or emailing potential clients. Freelancing means you're sort of always on. Even when I go on vacation I'm still kind of in work mode.

MiuNya9 karma

How do you handle your taxes for any money you make off your art/books/etc?

adamtots_remastered45 karma

Doing your taxes as a freelancer SUCKS. You're supposed to pay taxes every quarter, but it's based on what you made the previous year, and I made a lot of money last year because I was salaried, and now I'm not, so it makes everything very confusing. And if you don't pay every quarter, there's a fee at the end of the year. It's essential that you have a tax person and don't try to do it yourself, even if it's just something like H&R Block. Every check you get basically needs to be cut in half so you can pay taxes later and then hopefully save some for retirement. I have a Betterment account that I just periodically funnel money into when I can. I used to get high and watch DVR'd episodes of Suze Orman so that helped a lot with figuring out my finances.

piratebassist9 karma

How did you get into drawing and all that comic artist stuff? I am a TERRIBLE artist...the best I can do is a stick figure.

adamtots_remastered20 karma

I've been drawing all my life but don't let that discourage you! I have a couple friends who didn't start drawing until they were adults and they can totally draw now! It takes a couple years and lots of practice, but it's not something you have to be born with. I went to art school and a lot of it was bullshit, but I learned SO MUCH from my life drawing classes and color theory classes. If you're serious about art, look into taking some beginner life drawing/color theory classes. There might even be classes on YouTube!

CawfeeTawk9 karma

What’s your moon sign?

adamtots_remastered13 karma

I think I'm a Taurus moon!

butteroffbymyself9 karma

Hi Adam, what is your soul food?

adamtots_remastered23 karma

Baked mac 'n cheese.

Toxicism9 karma

ADAM! Huge fan, just came over from your instagram post : )

How's the money from creating comics? What do you think you'll be doing for the rest of your life? Do you think that you can continue to live off of being a comic artist?

adamtots_remastered13 karma

Money is good but it's not directly from comics. I make my money from apparel sales, sponsorships, books, etc.

bekiboobaa8 karma

Hi Adam, are you still getting harassed by trolls on Tumblr? I haven’t been on Tumblr in awhile but I remember at one point there were pages dedicated to “anti fans”.

adamtots_remastered30 karma

Yeah, I still get shit on Tumblr. But it's impossible to take Tumblr seriously so I'm unaffected by it.

Palico19867 karma

I love your work and want to support you so is there a way I can buy your book so you get 100% of the money?

adamtots_remastered38 karma

Thanks! That's not really how book deals work though. I got a bunch of money up front so I don't get any money from book sales until it sells a certain number of copies, and then I start getting royalties. Don't worry about me, just buy it for yourself if you want to! Or don't! It's fine!!

CynicalRaps6 karma

Hey Adam! Someitmes you put things you love into your comics... but other things I noticed you put in IDK if it's for comedic pruposes or if you actually enjoy them. So my question is, what do you really like?

You have a PS4, what games do you like to play? Any animes? Superheroes? Comic book movies? Is ths too many questions? lol

adamtots_remastered21 karma

No, pretty much all the references I put in are real. I do have a PS4. I actually have every system because I love gadgets. I love the Souls games and Bloodborne, Fallout, Bioshock, Last of Us. Breath of the Wild was great but most of the quests had shitty rewards.

pfiorito046 karma

Hi Adam! Your comics are really relatable, how do you know what people relate to and how do you make comics around the relatable theme?

adamtots_remastered17 karma

Honestly I never really think too hard about how other people will relate to my comics, I just make stuff that I think is funny and relatable and usually other people agree.

boopboopadoopity6 karma

Hi Adam! I remember being introduced to your work over 4 years ago through a friend - so glad to see your success!

What are some of the positives and negatives of making yourself the "main character" of your comics? I've noticed you've changed the frequency of how often you do over time. Do you feel more connected to the comics, do you feel more restricted or more free when you do so? Using oneself as a character in comics isn't uncommon but I've always been curious as to the thought process behind it. I enjoy it!

adamtots_remastered16 karma

I make myself the main character because it's easier to be more critical of myself. I feel like I don't have to explain myself as much if I'm doing autobio strips. At the same time I need to be careful about how I'm portraying myself. Sometimes people make "self deprecating" stuff that's really just them bragging about how quirky they are. The whole "not like other ____" trope is super toxic and I've definitely fallen into that pit a couple times, but I try not to do it or at least do it in a way that feels self aware and meta.

agrabahs4 karma

Are you from Montana? I’ve seen it mentioned a few times on your Twitter/Insta stories. Sorry if that sounds creepy, it’s just rare to see successful people from my home!

adamtots_remastered10 karma

Born and raised, baby.

kitsin4 karma

Hi Adam! I’m an illustrator working in-house. Im thinking about taking the leap into freelancing, do you have any tips to make the transition easier? What were the pros and cons of leaving a steady office environment?

adamtots_remastered11 karma

If you're seriously thinking about it, then you've already made up your mind to do it. Try to save a little before you leave, set up a couple freelance gigs if you can, and then just do it. It's gonna be scary no matter what. But waking up on the first day of not having a job feels great.

justcindythings4 karma

Beef or Chicken ?

adamtots_remastered4 karma

I don't eat meat!

Presentminnow3 karma

You had an AMA impersonator last year that got a lot of people to attack you, correct? How did that affect your career and mental health, and how did you get over that?

adamtots_remastered22 karma

I have pretty thick skin so the fake AMA didn't bother me in and of itself. It bothered me that screenshots would pop up on Tumblr and people thought they were real. Trolls on Reddit and 4chan have been pretty dedicated in spreading misinformation about me, which sucks. I think that's part of the reason why I share so much about my life online. I want to make sure people have an accurate representation of me, both good and bad.

VinnyCherry3 karma

Hey Adam! I love your comics! I especially love your niche video game references. One of my favorite things you've done is the RPG characters with different stats, and I think there was one you did of yourself with different items and how they powered you up. I would 10/10 play any game you developed! What are your favorite RPGS that you draw inspiration from?

adamtots_remastered6 karma

Thanks! That was fun, but I just haven't had time to develop it much. My favorite RPGs as a kid were Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and FF6. Now I'm really into Soulsborne games.

boopboopadoopity3 karma

Second question - you've been doing this for a long time. Do you feel like your reaction, both internally and/or externally, to public reaction or criticism has changed in that time and in what way?

adamtots_remastered22 karma

I think I'm both more receptive to criticism and more dismissive of it. When something has a genuine complaint about a comic I try to learn from it. For instance, I drew this comic about Malia Obama and a few people took issue with the fact that I made her too light and told me I was whitewashing her. I typically alter my colors to be more orangey, and it changed the way she looked, but that didn't matter. Even if I didn't mean to, I was in fact whitewashing her. When things like that happen I apologize and make a concerted effort to not do things like that in the future.

On the other hand, when people tell me I'm not funny or my art sucks, what am I supposed to do with that information??? Like go eat a popsicle and leave me alone.

variable_undefined2 karma

Will you be doing a book tour or going to other cons in the next year? More specifically, will you be at Emerald City Comicon?

adamtots_remastered5 karma

No tour planned, but maybe some cons!