Richard Charles Kyanka (May 11, 1976[1] – November 9, 2021), known by his username Lowtax, was an American internet personality who created the website Something Awful.[2]

Richard Kyanka
Richard Charles Kyanka

(1976-05-11)May 11, 1976[1]
DiedNovember 9, 2021(2021-11-09) (aged 45)
Other namesLowtax
Known forCreator of Something Awful
Notable workDoom House

Origin of Lowtax pseudonym Edit

The nickname "Lowtax" is a reference to Tennessee politician Byron (Low Tax) Looper, who achieved national notoriety at about the same time Something Awful was being launched. In Kyanka's own words,[3]

Way back during my college days at Vanderbilt University, I almost ended up getting a summer job with the Putnam County Tax Assessor (because I was broke and needed to pay for college tuition). He was a very insane little man who legally changed his middle name to 'Low Tax'.

Something Awful Edit

Kyanka started Something Awful several months before being forced to resign from his job at PlanetQuake for writing a derogatory website update about a fellow employee. He moved the "Cranky Steve" personality in question to the site in 1999.[4]

Originally, the site was limited mostly to personal content, in which Kyanka personally reviewed video games, movies, and comics which he felt were "something awful". However, in later years the site grew to feature numerous writers and columnists, putting Kyanka's own writings in the minority. Kyanka is the creator of the characters Jeff K. and Cliff Yablonski, that are featured on the Something Awful site.

Other endeavors Edit

In addition to administrating Something Awful, he also owned the movie publishing company Awful Video, which released the first and second DVDs of the computer and video game-themed show Mega64. In addition to that, he owned and operated City Name Sports Team, a clothing line that mocked sports fanaticism and team loyalty; and released his first CD of original music under his ARC moniker, which he derived from his email address at university.[5] He later added Moofwear to this list, a second clothing line featuring drawings by SA frontpage writer and forums member Tom "Moof" Davies. In November 2005, Lowtax released the DVD of Doom House, a horror movie parody he and fellow SA writer and Internet personality Kevin "Fragmaster" Bowen created in 2003.

In 2001, Kyanka was entered into the Entertainment Weekly (EW) Entertainer of the Year online poll, and went on to receive the most votes. Although he received "thousands" of votes, he was manually removed from the top results by EW, which stated that many of the votes for Kyanka came from relatively few IP addresses. This in turn caused an email support campaign, but EW did not change its decision, pointing out that "similar phrasing" in the many emails proved that only a few people were sending multiple emails. EW awarded "Entertainer of the Year" to Britney Spears.[6]

Kyanka lectured about internet culture, beginning at Michigan Technological University in 2013.[7] In October 2005, Kyanka appeared at a seminar hosted by the Association for Computing Machinery at the University of Illinois and showed a presentation on maintaining an online community.[8]

As a writer with an audience of video game enthusiasts, Kyanka made some mark in video game culture. One of the most obvious references to him is in the game Icewind Dale II where a tombstone bears the inscription "Kyanka. Writer of Humorous Stories."[9]

A character named "Lowtax" appeared in the comic Smallville #11 (based on the show of the same name). The character was named Lowtax by a member of the Something Awful Forums as a homage to Kyanka.[10]

On June 20, 2006, Kyanka announced that he had accepted Uwe Boll's challenge to a boxing match, which Boll had issued to all his online critics.[11] This boxing match took place on September 23 of the same year in Vancouver resulting in Lowtax's defeat within two minutes. Kyanka subsequently claimed Boll had given assurances that neither were expected to actively compete, as it was a publicity stunt.[12] Wired magazine covered Raging Boll.[13]

In 2007, Kyanka joined former Mystery Science Theater 3000 host Michael J. Nelson in an audio commentary mocking the film Troll 2 for Nelson's RiffTrax website.[14]

On October 9, 2020, following a backlash from the community in response to allegations that Kyanka was a domestic abuser, Kyanka sold Something Awful to a fifteen-year member and moderator known under the pseudonym of Jeffrey of YOSPOS.[15] Kyanka was subsequently banned from the site.[16]

Death Edit

Kyanka died by suicide on November 9, 2021.[17]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b ""I Am Immortal! I Have Inside Me Blood and Things (Yeah!)", April 26th update". Retrieved 2006-05-15.
  2. ^ Stanton, Rich (November 11, 2021). "Richard 'Lowtax' Kyanka, founder of Something Awful and onetime king of the internet goons, dead at 45". PC Gamer – via
  3. ^ " forums post". Retrieved 2006-05-15.
  4. ^ "Here's Mud In Your Eye, Batman".
  5. ^ "ARC CD information page on". Archived from the original on 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  6. ^ Entertainment Weekly, "Fan Flare" Archived 2006-11-28 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Richard 'Lowtax' Kyanka Lectures at MTU". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  8. ^ "Lowtax speaks at the University of Illinois". Retrieved 2006-05-15.
  9. ^ "Icewind Dale II – Lowtax reference!". Retrieved 2006-05-15.
  10. ^ "The Awful Forums – I have a feeling this month's Smallville comic will be popular with goons". Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  11. ^ "Uwe Boll Wants Me Alone In The Dark". Retrieved 2006-06-20.
  12. ^ "Uwe Boll Pushing Lowtax's Face In". Retrieved 2006-09-25.
  13. ^ Baker, Chris. "Wired article on Raging Boll". Wired. Retrieved 2007-03-05.
  14. ^ "RiffTrax Announcement".
  15. ^ Gault, Matthew (2020-10-13). "Something Awful, a Cornerstone of Internet Culture, Is Under New Ownership". Vice. Retrieved 2023-06-12.
  16. ^ "Something Awful founder Richard Kyanka dies at 45". Engadget. Retrieved 2023-06-12.
  17. ^ "Richard 'Lowtax' Kyanka, Founder of Something Awful, Is Dead at 45". Vice.

External links Edit

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