The Topato Corporation, or TopatoCo for short, is a company started in Oklahoma by maverick cowboy cyber cartoonist Jeffrey Rowland, who has been making internet comics since 1999, back when the Internet was run on Morse Code and “teletype.” In about 2003 to he created TopatoCo to legitimize the sale of merchandise related to his internet webcomics. Soon he became addicted to putting labels on things and handing them to the post office lady.
One day he got fired from his job so he talked with some of his internet cartoonist friends and said “hey I can ship your things for you if you pay me” and his friends decided to give it a shot. This was working fine for a while but then it started getting confusing and the entire process was all discombobulated because while all the t-shirts and stuff were being shipped out of the same big room, all the stores were on separate websites.
In December 2007 Jeffrey asked all his shipping friends if they wanted to put all of their stuff on one site where people could shop for everything and save money by mixing and matching orders with everybody else! Jeffrey’s friends said, “okay let’s give it a shot.” And that’s basically how we got to where we are today. It seems to be working so far!
Nowadays, TopatoCo is in Easthampton, Massachussetts! We have two main goals: pay our artists what they deserve, and make sure the stuff you get is of the highest possible quality. Everything we ship out is carefully inspected by actual people, and we’re here to help you in case anything goes wonky!
We also publish books! Some of your favorite internet artists have been approached by publishers who said, “Your work is so amazing that we would like to publish it for you, and pay you pennies on the dollar for the privilege of selling to your existing audience.” The artists, being clever, said “No thanks I’d rather make a living.” TopatoCo Books are just as nice as any book you can find anywhere, except the person who made it — not Amazon, not Barnes & Noble, not Diamond Distributors, not anyone else who did not make the book — actually earns money from the sale. We know! What a concept.
TopatoCo is named after the character Topato Potato who is a magical potato who lives in space and is best friends with a pony.
You can see some of the people who work at TopatoCo in action at Jeffrey Rowland’s journal comic, Overcompensating. There are cusses on Overcompensating so don’t go there unless you’re old enough to know about cussing.
When you buy from TopatoCo, you’re patronizing independent creators who are using the internet to build sustainable careers from their creative work! We think that is a tremendously cool thing and we thank you so much for your support. We’re absolutely doing everything we can to hold up our end of the bargain too, by making great stuff that you will love and making sure everything goes as smoothly as possible with your order.
All of the TopatoCo member artists are directly supported by your purchases. As a company, we keep the lowest commissions in the industry, which means that the largest portion possible of your money goes directly to the creators of the products you buy. We’re pleased to report that quite a few of our artists are now able to concentrate full-time on their creative work, thanks to you and us working together to support them.
We are also committed to environmental and social stewardship. We use recycled materials in packing whenever possible, and source our apparel and other items from US manufacturers whenever possible. We are active in our community, provide jobs to a variety of shady ne’er-do-wells and our CEO rides his bike to work even if it is raining.
If you have a customer-service inquiry, including order status, apparel sizing information, questions about returns or similar, visit our help page for answers to most questions. If your question is not immediately answered by the info on that page, there’s a place for you to fill out a support ticket and get one of our friendly staff to look into your problem.
If you would like information on wholesale orders for your retail store, please write to holly [at] topatoco.com. We can wholesale most items including shirts and books.
If you have a press, business or commercial inquiry, please write to malki [at] topatoco.com. This includes interview requests, sample products for review purposes, and all promotional inquiries.
If you are interested in becoming a TopatoCo member artist, please see below.
TopatoCo is exclusively for established, original, independent internet creators with a proven record of solid updates and a considerable existing audience. If you think this is you, go here to read more about our selection process.