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Richard Thompson, creator of "Cul de Sac," and winner of the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, has graciously offered to sign copies of this beautiful boxed set when you place your order through One More Page. Because cartoonists, like banjo players, are lovable but unpredictable, we can't guarantee a delivery time. We thank you in advance for your support, and your patience. Click here to order or call us at 703-300-9746.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wash Post Blows the Lid Off Cul de Sac Shocker

Mike Cavna has the story here.

Last night he ambushed me with some gotcha questions-

1. Can you tell me how you came to this decision now? Was there a moment that this choice became clear, or has this been a long and gradual decision -- perhaps one that had a tipping point?

 A. I've known for a year or more that I was working on borrowed time.  My lettering had begun to wander off in 2009, but that could be fixed easily enough. But when Alice's and Dill's heads began to look under-inflated last winter I figured I was losing control of the drawing too. When I needed help with the inking (the hardest but most satisfying part of drawing the strip),well that was probably a tipping point. Parkinson's disease is horribly selfish and demanding. A daily comic strip is too and I can only deal with one at a time. So it was a long, gradual, sudden decision.

2. Was there one aspect of creating a daily comic strip that made you decide this was too much? Perhaps it was more the drawing, or the writing, and/or the deadlines? And did you consider letting an assistant -- perhaps Stacy -- carry the load for an extended period of time, or not so much?

A. The deadlines would be the obvious answer as I've hated and feared them all my life (true of most cartoonists, I've found). Yeah, I thought about passing along more of the drawing to Stacy. I thought he did a wonderful job inking my roughs. But I was having trouble separating the writing and the drawing. I found that one fed off the other more than I'd realized' that it was an organic process, to use pretentious art talk. Most of the time I'd start a strip with no clear idea where it was going, or There'd be an end without a beginning. And I'd figure it all out as I was inking it, which isn't the best way to work and would've driven a conscientious editor crazy. One reason I hate and  fear a deadline is that I can't finish a damn thing without one, and everything is mutable right up till the last minute. And often beyond..

3. How are you feeling these days? And what's next for you -- perhaps short- and medium-range -- in terms of treatment?

A. Well, I need some work. Last winter I took time off for a month of BIG therapy at Bodykinetics Rehab and it was tremendously helpful. Basically it recalibrates your body using big, exaggerated movements and yelling and silly walks. But then I went back to work and slacked off and began to decline physically. This was when it became clear Parkinson's didn't mesh too well with a daily deadline. I got wobblier and had a few falls, and I've pushed the meds as far as they'll go. So the next step is something called Deep Brain Stimulation, where they implant wires in your brain, adjust the current and Boom, you're good to go. It's a process that takes 4 to 6 months and I'm just starting out.

4. Is there an overriding emotion you feel now that you've made this decision? Relief? Sadness? Resigned joy? Deep gratitude?

A. All of those. Relief because I've not lived without a deadline of some kind hanging overhead for almost 30 years. Sadness because there was more I wanted to do with the strip that would only be possible with a daily format. Resigned joy because I don't know, because it sounds good. And deep gratitude because I fell into this dream job at the last possible moment and got to produce work I'll always be proud of and made friends I'll always respect.

5. Will you continue to draw (perhaps with less demanding deadlines) -- maybe freelance, magazine covers, back to drawing cows for the FDA or Milk Advisory Board *smile*?
Or are you hanging up your Hunt #101 Imperial for good?

A. I'm not ready to quit, but I'm sure my work will change. It may look like it was done by Cy Twombly using his sleeve.

6. How do you feel about having had the space and stage and opportunity to draw Cul de Sac for as long as you did -- as well as all the acclaim, respect, fandom (from book sales to the Reuben Award)?

A. Like I said above, I fell into drawing a daily comic strip more by luck than design. And that kind of luck is unimaginable, at least to me. I feel like I've squeezed a lifetime career into way too short a time (though I started working on Cul de Sac almost 10 years ago). It took me forever to figure out the Reuben, because it's one of those "not in my wildest dreams" things.  But I finally got it: it's like finding this fabulous object, an artifact of an ancient civilization that's far in advance of our own, and it's crashed in my backyard so I get to keep it.

Mostly, I'm grateful to all who pushed me into this. Starting with Tom Shroder and Gene Weingarten, on through Lee Salem, Rich West, Bill Watterson, Greg Melvin, John Glynn, John McMeel, Pat Oliphant, Amy, Emma & Charlotte Thompson, Mike Rhode, Nick Galifianakis,  Chris Sparks, Shena Wolf and ending maybe with Anna Glynn or Emily Sparks. Without them I'd still be doing covers for the Milk Advisory Board. And also my Mom, who told me years ago if I ever did a comic strip it'd be pretty wonderful, but I'd probably drive myself crazy.

7. Any final "Cul de Sac" thoughts or sentiments you'd like to say to your many fans?

A. Don't wander off yet1 There'll be a joke after the credits.

53 comments:

Octavo Dia said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kat Slonaker said...

This makes me very sad - not only for myself, but because this indicates a hard personal battle on your end. I am sure it was a brutal decision for you.
Please continue blog posting so all your fans (and there are lots of us cheering for you even if you can't produce new things to make us laugh) can hear how you are.

Unknown said...

Well, darn. I will selfishly hope that we still get an occasional update, if possible.

On the other hand, it's much more important to do what's best for you. Thank you for what you've given us, well done for making the difficult decision, and best wishes to you.

Joseph said...

Having only discovered Cul de Sac in the past year, this makes me sad. :( I've told everyone I know to read your strip because it reminds me what it was like to be a kid.

Richard, thanks for sharing your creation with the world. We'll pray that you would recover and once again show us the world through Alice's eyes.

Freddy Letrange said...

"So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay." - Robert Frost

"$#!+, $#!+, @%&(Saturn)#%$!, $#!+ !!!!!" - Everybody Else

H.V.Lukas said...

This news makes me sad as well. I simply love Cul De sac. What a world you've created, and I'm quite sure new generations will discover the comic in the future. It's simply that good.

I'm guessing it must be a very difficult decision, but I can hope it's a decision you can make without bitterness. I'm hoping you'll find new things to give you joy, if only tiny doodles for yourself.

I wish you, Richard, the absolute best, basically because that's what you've given us.

Herc said...

It was my sincere pleasuer meeting you at Heroescon a few years back. You are a true gentleman. Your art never failed to inspire me. Good luck with everything.
peace,
Eraklis (Herc)

jdigriz said...

Your collections share a special place next to my paperbacks of Peanuts collections I've had since I was a kid. Thank you for all the pleasure you've given me and take care.

Jim O. said...

I'm sorry you need to end the strip and grateful for what I got to read. And that I got to meet you. Unforgettable.

Don't think that now that Cul de Sac is done means that we won't be loitering around here and elsewhere, talking about how great your work is. And looking forward to more, whenever and wherever it appears.

Dale said...

I just want to say thank you, thank you so much.

Dolly said...

Thank you Richard for being so brave to make the right decision, even though it must've been one of the hardest you've ever had to make. We'll continue to encourage you with our hopeful prayers. We so appreciate your sharing all of your talented artwork with us but especially for creatively reawakening those childhood memories in all of us ... even those of us with older Petey-like brothers! Signed, a Baltimore born "Alice" who now lives in Austin TX but who dutifully continues to toss ice cubes into the pot each year with anticipation .....

a fan said...

Your work brings me smiles. I'll miss the new strips but probably keep enjoying all of 'em i've collected. Here's to your renewed health.

Robert Gidley said...

I will miss having new adventures of Alice and Petey, but I've got eight years of old adventures to laugh at, so I still end up on the winning side!

Thank you.

J. Lemon said...

Richard, thank you for what you have given us. Cul-De-Sac will remain as one of the greatest strips of all time. Your characters will always be with us.

Trevel said...

The portents of the Uh-oh Baby came to pass! Let mourning bells ring o'er the land.

Peter Hermann said...

I will miss new work from you Richard, but I will continue to enjoy and marvel at the work you have done. I read the Cul de Sac collections over and over, finding new nuances in the art and writing every time. Your work inspires me as an artist, brings me great joy and entertainment as a reader and viewer, and brings me the immense pleasure of sharing a good laugh with my son (probably the youngest Doc Danders fan in Denmark) when I crudely translate the tale of the Otterloops for him. Thanks for all you have given us, and may be the future bring the best for you. With warm wishes and hopes for a brighter tomorrow,
Peter

Ironmom (Julie) said...

Best wishes to you. My family loves the strip and will really miss it!

Rooty Toot Toot said...

oh ah WOOOO hoo hoo hoo hooooooo [heartbroken Alice-style weeping]

StrummerFan said...

Oh man. I am very sad that you have had to make this decision, but I am so thankful that you gave us five years of the best daily strip in the newspaper. I look forward to buying the rest of your books as the final strips are collected and will treasure them for the rest of my life.

Good luck with everything in the future. Your artwork and writing is much loved, but you are loved even more.

Kat Slonaker said...

This makes me very sad - not only for myself, but because this indicates a hard personal battle on your end. I am sure it was a brutal decision for you.
Please continue blog posting so all your fans (and there are lots of us cheering for you even if you can't produce new things to make us laugh) can hear how you are.

David Apatoff said...

Thank you for all of the light and happiness you have spread so far.

As Tennyson's Ulysses said, when age and infirmity had robbed him of his youthful strength:

Some work of noble note may yet be done
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods....
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

John R said...

I will miss Cul De Sac, undeniably my favorite comic strip, but Richard you have made the right decision. I hope you will continue to occasionally post interesting and funny stuff here on your blog. Have you considered continuing the strip as a webcomic? - no deadlines, but even that might be difficult. We wish you good results on the therapy.

Brett said...

Thanks so much, your work has been a daily highlight for a long time now. I guess I will have to go back to Mark Trail now and see if he and Rusty ever busted those Llama smugglers.

Christine said...

I’m both sad and angry — the strip was just brilliant, and the reason for it having to end is SO unfair! Of course, Parkinson’s is a cruel disease for anyone (and my own husband also has young-onset PD, so I have personal reasons for my anger). But somehow, it happening to a gifted artist seems doubly cruel. I feel lucky to have met you (and Mike Cavna, at the book signing in Arlington). Glad to know that you're as nice as I’d imagined the “father” of the Otterloops would be. I hope DBS works well for you. And selfishly, I hope that you find another way to share your gifts with us (you know, that webcomic thing might not be a bad idea...).

Drewe said...

Im sorry to hear it Richard, but take the time to get better!

Ironmom (Julie) said...

I apologize in advance for this unsolicited, possibly obnoxious advice, but my 14-year-old is insistent that we have a moral obligation to try to help you. So…there's a University of Iowa professor named Terry Wahls who did some experimenting on herself (to start with) and had remarkable results reversing the effects of her MS solely through diet. I believe her current research applies the same idea to Parkinson's as well. Here's a fascinating TED Talk she gave: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc.

My family has been eating more or less this way for nearly a year, and if even the teenager is sold on the health benefits, you've got to at least suspect there's something to it. Again, all the best to you.

Roto13 said...

I read dozens of newspaper comics every day, and Cul de Sac is, far and away, my favourite. I'm really sad to hear it's ending, especially because of some asshole disease. I want to punch PArkinson's right in the face.

Paul Karasik said...

Thank you Richard for all you have drawn to make the comics page worth turning to in the 21st century.

Andy said...

Thank you so very much for sharing your work with us! It's been an absolute delight, and I'll cherish the "Cul de Sac" collections. Best wishes to you.

carl craig said...

oh no i feel like a close friend has died i love your work so much and now its gone cul de sac has ment so much to me over the last few years thank you for doing it at all iwish the best for you and hope your health improves . we will all miss you on the comic pages . you are a GREAT cartoonist you are the BEST

carl craig said...

so thank you from the bottem of my heart - austin

Charles Hatfield said...

Richard, thank you for your wonderful cartooning, your unstoppable wit and good humor, and the world of endearing characters you've created. Cul de Sac truly has been the best comic strip in the papers for years now, and I'm going to miss it. Take care, man.

Miguel said...

All the best for the future and thank you for a wonderful strip.

Adam said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you have contributed. You deserve every accolade and award you have received, and I don't think you'll ever know how many of us enjoyed your work. I wish you all the strength in the world to get better. The selfish part of me must speak out and say that I hope Cul De Sac can at least return as a weekly like Fox Trot. Stay strong and enjoy all the love we have to offer.

Kirsten said...

Take care of yourself!

Thank you for all the joy you've brought your readers/fans over the years.

JeremyS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JeremyS said...

Well, this sucks... for us, of course, but most of all for you. It's not quite an original observation, but life really isn't fair.

I'm glad, at least, that the therapy has been helping, and that this will give you more time to follow it up properly.

But I still hope this doesn't have to mean the end of the Cul de Sac characters. You can still do the strip, say for the occasional book... no deadlines, leisure to develop each strip for as long as you need...

Cul de Sac is the best strip, bar none, since Peanuts. It's simply too important to lose completely. Clearly you have more you want to say. I'd love to see you say it.

Kristin Reiber Harris said...

Richard,
I love your work. I am a new convert only religiously reading your strip for the last 9 months. I was very sad to learn it will not be how I start my days soon. Thank you for all of the creative energy you have shared with us and I too hope that Cul de Sac will continue however it is possible.
Kristin Harris

Tony A. said...

Richard:

I just heard the news. I, like the others, are sad and angry at this disease that has robbed us our reason for opening the funny pages.

That said, I am truly grateful you had the chance to give us this gift. I couldn't be more satisfied with the narrative you produced. Cul de Sac is so different from everything else out there. It captures naive childhood and awkward adolescence in a way that should not be possible in this constrained medium. But you managed it every day.

Your art and writing is so real that it merged with my own childhood memories of suburbia. It struck such a chord that my mind simply accepted it as the truth. The small characters, the ones that appeared in just a panel, like Andre's sister, seemed so fleshed out that they had to be real. I could imagine pointing her out in a crowd at school. "You know Andre, right? Well that's his sister." Of course she is.

I could echo the requests about continuing to produce these characters in some form. While the lives of the characters are important, your life is so much more so. We've really gotten to know you through your comic, this blog, and rare interviews. My requests instead are as follows: Continue your fight, stay brave in the face of these challenging procedures, and look to your loved ones for any support that you need. That includes us. Just let us know.

I will continue to follow you on this blog. Check in when you can. We're rooting for you, Richard.

All the best,
Tony Abraham

P.S. My favorite dailies will always be the strips involving Ernesto. He was just so weird. My favorite Sunday is the discussion of birds in the different sections of the supermarket. I showed that to everyone that day.

Christopher said...

Thank you for all the laughs, chuckles, guffaws and grins. There, I said it. Guffaws. You've made the world (or at least my world) a happier place.

The Bug said...

I'll add my dismay & thanks here too - here's hoping that your treatment brings amazing results & that the rest of us can live on without Alice...

Arie Van De Graaff said...

From the very first strip we read, Cul de Sac was the favorite comic strip of my wife and I. Our mornings won't be quite so fun.

You capture the voice and internal logic of children better than anyone I've ever read or seen. There have been numerous times over the past couple of years where my wife or I would comment on something our children had done as a particularly Petey or Alice type thing.

Thank you for provide us with the very best comic strip in the past 20 years. And best of luck moving forward.

Dan Moynihan said...

Richard, I will be forever grateful for the wonder of Cul de Sac. I wish you all the best.

cooperstyle said...

I've been following your work since I heard about your Parkinson's diagnoses--I've been on this Parkinson's journey with my Father for years. I sent him the Team Cul de Sac book earlier this year after his own Deep Brain Stimulation. He was delighted by the book. I wish you much peace and many good days.

Stay Puft said...

Best of luck to you! And thank you, for my favorite comic strip of all time, EVER.

Helloid said...

On top of your work for Wash Post, you have the coolest lettering. This is sad news for everyone, but I hope it gives you time to do other great things.

Bret Wheadon said...

Richard,

Don't know you at all. But last night I dreamed about you. In my dream, you were a big, hulking bear of a fellow, and I just ran right into your arms and gave you a huge bear hug. I, of course, was the guy who took out Bin Laden, so you were happy to see me too. ;) Take care, "big guy."

Darlene said...

I don't know what I can say to thank you enough for the daily laughs my husband and I have enjoyed for the last few years. You have brought a bit of cheer into the day and Alice and family are so believable it is like having friends drop by to visit.

I pray that the next therapy will give you some progress so you can do some things you enjoy more and enjoy life as fully as possible.

Thank you!

Darren said...

Richard,

I want to thank you for the wonderful world you brought us to, even if I never got to see the inside of the playground tube maze. Your artistry is amazing and I hope you will consider still sitting down at your drawing table and create this wonderful world, even if it's every once in a while.

Now kick Parkinson's ass!

Darren said...

Richard,

I want to thank you for the wonderful world you brought us to, even if I never got to see the inside of the playground tube maze. Your artistry is amazing and I hope you will consider still sitting down at your drawing table and create this wonderful world, even if it's every once in a while.

Now kick Parkinson's ass!

Jenn said...

Ah, noooooo....

Me? Just another fan. It's my favorite strip. Love them. All of them.

Dang it all.

I'll be over here, wishing you well...

Capitan Lkl said...

Thanks for all strips you brought us through years.

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