The blog of Richard Thompson, caricaturist, creator of "Cul de Sac," and winner of the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Celebration of National Poetry Month

Here are two views of T.S. Eliot and a limerick. The first Eliot I did for the Wash Post Book World in the late 80s. Actually, this one wasn't used; I rejected this drawing and did a second one that, though almost identical (not shown), was somehow better to my eye and turned that one in along with a companion illustration of G.B. Shaw (and I sold 'em both to Michael Dirda of the Post for like, really cheap). But I kept this one I'd rejected. Now I'm not sure what's wrong with this Eliot. Maybe he doesn't look enough like a ventriloquist's dummy, or the nostril isn't sufficiently ornate.

The second, lower Eliot is from a great book called The Holy Tango of Literature by Francis Heaney that I illustrated back in two thousand and aught four. And the limerick I wrote because it was fun.

Though donnish and quite dignified,
Tom Eliot once versified,
On the greenish-tiled wall
Of a men's restroom stall,
He signed it and then flushed with pride.


Mike Peterson said...

The second is decidedly better. I think the first is realistic enough that it demands to be completely realistic. That is, it's more of a portrait than a caricature and so needs to be a complete portrait. The second, clearly a caricature, allows you to work more on capturing character than reproducing physical features.

richardcthompson said...

I agree, Mike. Edward Sorel does astounding caricatures in pen and ink, and gorgeous ones in pastel too. But he says pen and ink is funnier. I know what he means.

Muzition said...

"T.S. Eliot" is an anagram of "toilets."

paul bowman said...

I don't know that I think the 1st drawing too portrait-like to be a caricature. Seems to me very much a caricature. (Anyway, a portrait is just a caricature so subtly rendered as to leave subject merely confused rather than definitely insulted.)

What the first does lack somewhat to my mind is that smirky hawklike Jeremy-Brett-ness of Eliot's face — which the 2nd, more mature drawing gets, even though you've given him more scowl than smirk. — Of course no one's likely to smirk outright while carrying around a roll of t.p. So that unflinching truthfulness characteristic of your work is perfect here, really.