|Founder(s)||Fred Todd, Dave Moriaty, Gilbert Shelton, Jack Jackson|
Rip Off Press, Inc. began as a seminal publishing company that specialized in adult-themed comic books and graphic novels. The company was one of the first to produce what became known as underground comix.
The company was founded January 17, 1969, in San Francisco by Fred Todd, Dave Moriaty, and cartoonists Gilbert Shelton and Jack Jackson. The initial plan was to print rock-band promotional posters on an old press and do comix on the side, but by 1972 the printing business had faded away and the company had become a publishing house. During 1972 Rip Off Press, now Rip Off Press, Inc., published a magazine/comic book called The Rip Off Review of Western Culture under Dave Moriaty's supervision. Rip Off Press resided at 1250 17th Street in San Francisco from 1970 until 1985. By the mid-1970s Moriaty and Jackson had long since gone back to Texas, and by the time it moved from 17th Street Gilbert Shelton had relocated to France. The company moved to a smaller space on San Jose Avenue near the city's southern border in mid-1985, with warehouse space across town at the Bayview Industrial Park. This 3-story, block-square building, which housed over a hundred other businesses, burned to the ground on April 6, 1986 following an explosion in an illegal fireworks factory in the basement.
Thus freed of a 17-year accumulation of comix and other paraphernalia, Fred Todd (who at this point was the only original partner still working in the business) decided to relocate Rip Off Press to Auburn, California where he and his wife Kathe could continue to run the company while raising their two small children in more pleasant surroundings. The move was made in June 1987, and during the next few years Rip Off Press continued to publish Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers plus the Rip Off Comix anthology magazine, Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe, Matt Howarth's Those Annoying Post Bros., and many other titles. The popularity of x-rated comics in the late 80s-early 90s led to such titles as Strips by Chuck Austen (later to become an animator at Disney before moving on to writing at mainstream powerhouse DC), The Girl by Kevin J. Taylor, and Doll by classic undergound comix creator Guy Colwell.
After the collapse of the Direct Market in the early 1990s (fueled by Marvel Comics' withdrawal of its 40% market share from the distribution system), Rip Off Press began taking steps to cut costs and gradually retreated from publishing to sell backlist comics to its store and mail order customers, plus the many fans finding them online. The Todds moved the business to much smaller quarters adjoining their home in 1999, where they continue to sell comix, mostly through the company web site (www.ripoffpress.com). This web site was disabled for a time in 2011-2012, during which time it was completely redesigned and a large number of collectors' items (including historic ad pieces, rare press sheets, publisher's overlay proofs from the company's publishing history, and more) were added to its offerings.
Rip Off Press is also notable for being the original company to publish the fourth edition of the Principia Discordia, a Discordian religious text written by Gregory Hill and Kerry Thornley. It was also an early publisher of the infamous booklet on drug manufacturing, Psychedelic Chemistry.
Featured artists and comix
- Rip Off Comix
- Gilbert Shelton: The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Fat Freddy's Cat, Wonder Wart-Hog, Not Quite Dead
- Dave Sheridan
- Carol Lay: Good Girls
- Chuck Austen: Strips
- SS Crompton: Demi the Demoness
- Matt Howarth: Savage Henry, Those Annoying Post Bros
- Larry Gonick: Cartoon History of the Universe
- Rip Off Press.com - Official website