If you follow local politics, you are probably familiar with Richard Ryan Anderson, the self-titled ‘DIY Cultural Arts Specialist.’ His ‘Tacomic’ political cartoons have appeared on FeedTacoma every Tuesday since March 2007. The cartoons even crossed over to mainstream print media when the Weekly Volcano reprinted them for nearly two years. Anderson, 31, is part performance artist, part political cartoonist, and part provocateur. The iconoclast is the master of a strange, funny, and often perverted world where he says and does things that many Tacomans only wish they had the nerve to do themselves.
Anderson’s antics aren’t limited to pencil and paper. Last year, he was one of nearly four-dozen people who applied for an open seat on Tacoma City Council. During his three-minute candidate statement at City Hall and in front of the TV Tacoma cameras, he promised to designate the Tacoma Dome as a hazard to life and liberty, introduce a local currency, and reduce crime by 200 per cent. “Why do I want this job?” he asked rhetorically in front of the full council. “How hard is it to sit up there and vote unanimously on everything?”
On Nov. 15, King’s Books in Tacoma hosted a reading and book signing for Anderson, who was one of 17 artists to receive a grant last year through the city’s Tacoma Artists Initiative Program. Anderson used the $2,500 award to produce a book of Tacomics — 100 Tacomics: The Secular and Apolitical Cartoon Life of Tacoma and her Moral People(s), Vol. 001. The book is more than just a collection of Tacomics that have already appeared free on the Web or in print. It is a “behind-the-scenes” account of how the sausage gets made. It includes photographs, bonus sketches, and a foreword by The New Takhoman publisher John Hathaway.
“Tacoma kind of reminds me of Juneau in a lot of respects,” Anderson, who is originally from Alaska, told the Tacoma Daily Index in November. “Especially downtown because it’s isolated. Juneau is a very liberal stronghold in a very conservative red state. It’s kind of like Tacoma in that there are parts that are very liberal and the rest of Pierce County is very conservative for the most part. Tacoma was a good opportunity [for me to do Tacomics] because there were so few other people doing that kind of thing.”
To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of R. R. Anderson, click on the following links:
- Downtown Tacoma’s Tinkertopia grand opening July 20 (Tacoma Daily Index, July 16, 2013)
- Fund-raising success for Tacoma playing card project (Tacoma Daily Index, July 18, 2012)
- Tacoma chalk artists have their day (Tacoma Daily Index, April 6, 2012)
- Amocat Cafe to host R. R. Anderson ‘Tacomic’ art show in March (Tacoma Daily Index, February 2, 2012)
- A political cartoonist ‘celebrates’ downtown’s latest development — another parking lot (Tacoma Daily Index, July 13, 2011)
- Year In Review — Cartoonist R. R. Anderson (Tacoma Daily Index, December 29, 2010)
- A creatively fun night with R. R. Anderson at King’s Books (Tacoma Daily Index, November 16, 2010)
Todd Matthews is editor of the Tacoma Daily Index and recipient of an award for Outstanding Achievement in Media from the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation for his work covering historic preservation in Tacoma and Pierce County. He has earned four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including third-place honors for his feature article about the University of Washington’s Innocence Project; first-place honors for his feature article about Seattle’s bike messengers; third-place honors for his feature interview with Prison Legal News founder Paul Wright; and second-place honors for his feature article about whistle-blowers in Washington State. His work has also appeared in All About Jazz, City Arts Tacoma, Earshot Jazz, Homeland Security Today, Jazz Steps, Journal of the San Juans, Lynnwood-Mountlake Terrace Enterprise, Prison Legal News, Rain Taxi, Real Change, Seattle Business Monthly, Seattle magazine, Tablet, Washington CEO, Washington Law & Politics, and Washington Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications. His journalism is collected online at wahmee.com.