Ted Richards (artist)
Born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Richards developed his fascination for creating cartoons when he five years old. His father was in the Green Berets, and assignments kept the family living in different locations. After serving in the Air Force, Richards moved in 1969 to San Francisco when he was 23, and Rip Off Press was launched that same year. He became friends with Gilbert Shelton and contributed to some issues of Shelton's The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. In 1976, Richard's The Forty Year Old Hippie was published in college newspapers and as a syndicated feature in weekly alternative tabloids. The feature had two collections from Rip Off Press.
In the mid-1970s, he was one of the contributors to the Air Pirates underground comic. The original nucleus of the Air Pirates collective began to form when Bobby London met Richards at the office of the Berkeley Tribe, an underground newspaper where both were staff cartoonists.
In 1977, Richards graduated from San Francisco State University, where he studied philosophy, creative writing, anthropology and industrial design. Over a decade, he worked full-time as a cartoonist on E.Z. Wolf, Mellow Cat and Dopin' Dan. Richards recalled, "For me, the whole explosion, and the opportunities that this presented, is hard to describe. You could do about anything. It was an incredible, eclectic vision of art, design, storytelling, writing, color."
Rip Off Press detailed Richards' transition from comics to computers:
- By 1975 Ted was ensconced in the penthouse studio at Rip Off's south-of-Market facility (1250 17th Street, which ROP occupied from 1970 until 1985). In addition to his own characters, he was working closely with Gilbert and Willy Murphy (who died suddenly of pneumonia over the Washington's Birthday weekend in 1976) on Rip Off Press' entry into the Bicentennial hoopla, Give Me Liberty (this is a quasi-historical comic about the American Revolution, not to be confused with the nearly mainstream comic series with the same name that came out in the early 1990s). When the Give Me Liberty project was completed, Ted went to work drawing the adventures of The Forty Year Old Hippie for the Rip Off Comics Syndicate. The strips appeared in dozens of weekly papers across the nation, and struck a responsive chord with aging freaks and ex-freaks. Two comic collections eventually appeared and sold out, with a major hiatus in between the two as a year of Ted's working life went down the tubes while he and fellow Air Pirates defended themselves against a massive lawsuit by Disney Corporation (the suit alleged copyright infringement as Air Pirates Funnies depicted Disney-esque characters having sex and taking illicit drugs). Tired of living in poverty, Ted left comix in 1981 for a high paying job in the computer division of Atari.
In 1984, he returned to comics with the eight-page "The Forty Year Old Hippie Brings the Computer Age Home" for The Computer Deli (Workman Press).
In 1987, he founded AdWare, providing software products and design services for computer clients, including Apple and Microsoft. In the 1990s, he became a web site developer, offering enterprise-level development services, consulting, web design and information architecture.