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

Thursday, April 26, 2012


This is a clip job of previous posts and is meant to shed some light on a character who is a little hard to explain.

Below is the first appearance of Ernesto Lacuna, in the Post Magazine. I brought the stranger-than-Petey little boy back a few times, and I gave him the strange attribute that Petey thinks he may be imaginary. His name is a reference to Lacuna, a gap or missing section in a manuscript, text or piece of music, and an obscure musical pun on the name of Cuban composer Ernesto Lacuona (boy, this gets a laff every time, but you'll recognize this). You'll notice he plays the oboe and Petey's got a trombone; this was later reversed. Please excuse the awkward formatting.

Ernesto is one of my favorite characters to write for. He's something of a Bond villain in embryo, as is evident from his remark below about the extinct volcano, and he's enigmatic enough that I can write dialog that doesn't always make sense as long as it's vaguely threatening.

But Ernesto's also unimpressive enough that he's hard to take seriously. He's based on several kids I knew who wanted to grow up in a hurry under the mistaken impression that adults have all the power. Ernesto belongs to a group called Future Adults of America whose purpose is to gradually take over the world so that they'll be running it by the time they're in their forties, and he keeps trying to get Petey to attend FAA meetings. Which, from Ernesto's description, is mostly an excuse to issue position papers and to eat doughnuts. Disliking organized activities and food with holes in it, Petey has declined so far. Maybe he should go sometime, as it'd be fun to draw. This is the kind of idea I love, as I can revisit it, explore it further and get a lot out of it. And nothing's better than that when you're dealing with a daily strip.

During the Summer months, Ernesto barricades himself in a carrel fort in a remote corner of the library. This Sunday strip above is the remnant of a string of dailies featuring one of Ernesto's periodic decline-and-falls. This time he was caught by the Future Adults of America appropriating a box of doughnuts meant for fund-raising and subsequently kicked out. I think he started a competing group but I forget what it was called.

Ernesto's actuality is best left unexamined, I think.
Maybe he's a wormholian who can slide between realities (I knew kids like this).
Or maybe he's a projection of the zeitgeist. Whatever, he's good for laffs when used sparingly. Some readers find him annoying, though he was a favorite of one of my best editors. Below is my favorite Ernesto appearance (available in the first CdS book or in the Golden Treasury).


Robert said...

Ernesto must be related to John Hodgman somehow.

Mister Fweem said...

I live for your Ernesto strips. Next dog we get, it's name is Ernesto. I give the name "Ernesto" at restaurants. He's your most Dickensian character. Thank you.

Pastor Dan said...

I love the wild look in Ernesto's eyes in panel 7 of the last strip. It's the same look Alice gets sometimes, and it reminds me of Ignatz Mouse when he would get a little nuts in Coconino. I love the echoes of Herrimann I find in your work.

kokomokola said...

Of course he's annoying. His very nature dictates that he be irritating. Which is why we're all so glad he's probably imaginary.
I find him hilarious, personally. The pomposity and blatant self-centeredness aimed from a chubby, overdressed little boy at poor Petey is terribly amusing.

The Bug said...

I love, um, Ernesto :)

58d7462c-90df-11e1-a5d4-000bcdca4d7a said...

I knew kids like Ernesto growing up. They probably succeeded and are boring adults now.

Muzition said...

I was going to ask earlier (and I posted a comment on Gocomics about it) about the musical pun in Ernesto's name. Yay, I was right!