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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. And why not take this opportunity to putchase a signed copy of Richard's Poor Almanac?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My last strip

The last Cul de Sac was drawn in November of 2007. No it wasn't, it was drawn about ten months earlier for the Washington Post Magazine. The image above is that original watercolor and, as I've said before, it was instantly my favorite, because "it's got drama, comedy and meta-ness, and it makes a point that's self-deprecating enough to be self-loathing." I traced the watercolor in ink and did an overlay with colors indicated by numbers so it could be used for the syndicated version. That's the Sunday Cul de Sac that appeared in about 70 papers on November 25, 2007 and that's the strip that Tom Spurgeon saw before he wrote a brief, meticulous and very kind review.

I'd originally planned to draw a new Sunday Cul de Sac for September 23. After umpty-ump weeks of reruns it'd be a relief to the readers and I had a good idea for a finale. Mom is reading to Alice. The story ends "And they lived happily ever after." Alice reacts badly to this bit of fairy tale boilerplate. She goes off on a rant about what a boring, vague and unsatisfying way to end an exciting story that is and why do writers do that? It's like they run out of ideas or something. Alice ends up in Petey's room,of course. And in the final panel something funny happens.

But try as I might I couldn't get it drawn. The lines wouldn't behave and the words wandered. So I emailed my editor, the unflappable Shena Wolf, admitted defeat, and requested the above strip. Shena made sure it hadn't already been used as a repeat then headed off for two weeks in Yellowstone to rassle bears. Her number two, the equally steady-nerved Gillian Titus, handled the actual substitution.

I still like this strip a lot. It's simple, built on misunderstanding and confusion, and it shows Alice and Petey at their best. I wouldn't take Petey's curtain line too seriously. He is a bit of a pessimist, after all.             

53 comments:

Andrew Cohen said...

Thank you, Richard, for your wonderful humor, artistry and wry observations. My wife, who also has YOPD, enjoyed meeting you at the Team Cul de Sac signing this summer. All the best to you. -Andrew Cohen

DaemonCorps said...

My local newspaper only started publishing your strips, but for what it's worth they've been a blessing. It was nice to see something that just read so sincerely and rang true to me, if that even makes sense. Best of luck on any future projects you may have.

Matthias said...

I read this yesterday and didn't realize it was the last strip. It did strike as a brilliant summation of Cul de Sac, however, and now that makes even more sense. Bravo!

Best of luck in the future.

Carolyn Thompson said...

Cul de Sac has provided me with a lot of joy! Your characters were so absurd and yet so believable at the same time--their world felt like a real place. Thank you for years of entertainment! May God bless you. - Carolyn Thompson

buzzyb said...

I've been dreading the day, and now, here it is. Hooray for you, sir, and thank you for letting us see a little bit of your world. Best.Strip.Ever.

H.V.Lukas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
H.V.Lukas said...

I'm sorry to hear you couldn't do what you wanted; but I am in no way dissappointed. Cul De Sac can stand several re-reads, this one included.

I'm sure Cul de Sac will go down in history, not unlike Calvin and Hobbes, as "The last time comics were really incredimazingly great", and you'll have to brush off platonic comic groupies everywhere you go.

If this is a goodbye to the comic Cul de Sac, I'll just say: It's been a pleasure to have it visit our home. Alice might have knotted all the cables in our house into pretty, lumpy bows and Petey might have let us know just excatly how many atoms the served raisin cookies had (plus we later found a little pyramid behind the couch made entirely out of raisins); but all the same, it's been a tremendous pleasure. Cul De Sac is welcome anytime at our house.

I hope you get the chance to do exactly what you want to do.

(Deleted previous comment, as I couldn't bare the many spelling mistakes I'd made).

Kat Slonaker said...

The title of your post - read first thing in the morning when I am most vulnerable anyway - got me all 'weepy', drat you!

Sigh. Well, enjoy your ride off into the sunset on the way to your next adventure, knowing this was a job well-done and that you will be sorely missed.

Brendan Tobin said...

I enjoyed this strip most when I read this in the Boston Globe yesterday, Richard. The 6th panel got an audible laugh and I showed it to my lady to show her there are still brilliant strips out there. Best of luck to you, sir, Cul De Sac will be missed.

Michael Auger said...

Darn that pie-stealing cat!! Thanks for everything Richard! Onward to the next adventure!

Your fan and friend, Michael

mac23 said...

Thank you for your wonderful strip. My 10-year-old daughter and I will miss seeing new strips but will continue to reread our Cul de Sac books for years to come.

Mark Siegel said...

Cul de Sac is the very best strip of our times.

Hinzi said...

Richard, I met Petey and learned about cul de sac when a colleague in my concert band brought in the strip with Petey playing the oboe, or trying to. I am sorry Petey never made it to the Mozart concerto, but neither did I. Not everybody is cut out for it.

I am sorry to see cul de sac go, and I am happy to have been there when it was around. Good things have to come to an end; it would be awkward to read a strip about middle-aged Alice...

Good luck and best wishes on your adventure, and may you soon be able to use your beloved pens again!

emma said...

Richard, you and your characters are much loved. I will miss you all on the pages of The Oregonian. We all wish you well. Be happy -- "you done good, man!"

Lori said...

We are incredibly sad to say goodbye to Cul de Sac but honestly, the world lives on in its other, comic-y dimension. We get to keep the characters and that world forever.

I’ll still keep pointing parents and kids to the books as “it’s as good as C&H.” (And they say they can’t believe it — then they come back and say thank you.)

Thank you for everything you gave us — it was a lot!

Tom said...

Thank you for all the laughter and inspiration, Richard! Wishing you only the best!

Rick said...

Thanks R.T.! Cul de Sac will be sorely missed, but this was a perfect "last strip." I look forward to whatever's next from your creative mind... and of course the collected omnibus of ALL the Cul de Sac strips in one somewhat handy volume. :) Stay well!

Sarahcr said...

Dear Richard,
You have our undying gratitude for starting our mornings with a laugh. Even without dialogue, your characters are just so funny-looking. The stories are spot-on evocations of children's perspectives, blending fantasy with the mundane. Thank you, thank you, thank you for Alice and Petey, Mom, Dad, Big Shirley, Grandma, Dill, Miss Bliss, Tommy Fretwork and all of the denizens of Cul de Sac. We will think of them every time we are served a sandwich with a plastic sword, when we see a kid disappear into a tube slide on a playground, and when we turn to the cartoons first thing every morning.
Blessings to you for all the delight you gave in the past, many blessings for what lies ahead.
Sarah Richards & Mike Ryan

dannyfry said...

One of my favorites! Thank you Richard! One of your original strip hangs above my drawing table... it inspires me daily.

Abigail said...

My 10-year-old immediately noticed cul-de-sac's absence in our paper today. He also pointed out to me that Lio was waving goodbye to Alice yesterday. We hadn't known it was ending and will miss it. Thanks for all the comics!

steinmath said...

We will miss your daily doses of wit and candor. Best wishes and prayers for the next phases of your life.

Quiche Moraine said...

Oh, I'm heartbroken. I feel like I did when I was 7-years old and had to move from the best neighborhood ever. Given my druthers, I'd have stayed - but my parents would have none of that.

I can now see this is a similar situation: I'd happily live on Alice's cul-de-sac for the rest of my life.



jon said...

Thank you, Richard. It's been a blast and a pleasure to read your comic. Best of luck and good health to you in the future!

Adam Koford said...

Thank you, Richard. Cul de Sac was the best thing to happen to newspapers since ink. I miss it already.

John Schutt said...

Thank you, Richard, for your excellent work. It has been the highlight of my days on many an occasion. Thank you for the humor.
I wish you the best.

Fraser said...

I'm a Brit, living in Portugal, only recently discovered cul-de-sac, via your blog. In my personal hall of fame and wonder along with Calvin and Hobbes and Krazy Kat.
I consider myself lucky that I've got your entire past body of work to peruse and enjoy!

All the best for the future

David Mossman said...

Richard, thanks your gift of Cul deSac to the world. I’m very sorry that you had to give up the strip. Readers in the Austin American-Statesman didn't find out until today. Cul de Sac has a unique voice and visual style that was appealing and very funny. It captured the playful joy and angst of being a child. It will be sorely missed. --David Mossman

UUEnforcer said...

Thanks so much for the daily visits. Bye Alice, and Godspeed Richard!

Társio said...

I've met the characters from Cul de Sac just a few weeks ago, because it was never published in Brazil, where I live. And at the same time I felt the joy of falling in love, and sadness because it was going to end.

Fortunely there are a lot of old Cul de Sac's strips to read and reread.

I want to give sincere congatulations for your work. It's inspirational. And that what art is about, something to inspire people.

I hope you'll still make comics and illustration!

All the best wishes and "um abraço",

Társio,
Brazil - Rio de Janeiro

Anne B and family said...

Hi Richard - I am a big CdS fan and just wanted to tell you how much the strip has meant to me, as a NoVa mom of two kids, 4 and 8 years old, who are EXACTLY like Alice and Petey (let's just say, yesterday my older son announced that he is afraid of the wind!). Reading your comic has helped me learn to laugh when I wanted to scream, and that is a wonderful gift. One for which my entire family is grateful! oh, and seems everyone has a favorite recurring character - mine is the uh-oh baby, a portent of doom! Hope you can keep us up to date on the Otterloop family and friends from time to time in the future. Wishing you best of luck and good health.

Boomer Bill said...

Just would like to to know how much we love you and wish you success in the months ahead. Your art has touched us all.

Bill (from the old days, and now from Asheville, with Chris)

Dr. TW said...

Mr. Thompson, I adore your strip. I work with children much like Petey, and Alice and the other preschoolers, so I always feel a smile coming on as I read their exploits. (Their parents give me a chuckle too). I am heartsick to know what you are dealing with, and I wish you the best.

Chris Sparks said...

R.T. I don't care what anyone says about you. I am going by what you first said, "QUITTER"!

Chris (from the new days, and still from Asheville, with Bill)

Much love from the Sparks clan

StrummerFan said...

That was definitely a great strip to end on, sir! Quick question, though, which strip was your last original strip? The copyrights on GoComics are a bit small to read for me. Thanks!

Chris Sparks said...

I have been told this was it.

http://www.gocomics.com/culdesac/2012/07/08

Bookworm618 said...

I want to thank you so much for sharing your humor, wit, and wonderful characters with us. Cul de sac has been in the tip three of my favorite comic strips to read at breakfast every day. It has been charming, funny and insightful.

I am a preschool teacher and I have always been impressed with your ability to capture the mentality of preschoolers. Miss Bliss is also a favorite of mine and I love Alice. I have had her in my classes so often over the years.

Thank you again for your treasure of a strip. I will be buying cul de sac books and putting alongside my collections of classic cartoons such as The Addams Family and Calvin and Hobbes.

Best wishes for you, your health and your family.

Sincerely,

Karen Coombs

StrummerFan said...

Thank you, Chris! I had it narrowed down to either that one or this one:

http://www.gocomics.com/culdesac/2012/07/15

I just couldn't read the copyright on that one... Thanks!!

Charles said...

Thank you so much for sharing your strip with us. It has been a wonderful journey.

Brian Floca said...

Sic transit gloria mundi. Truly, I type through tears. Alice, Petey, all will be missed. You've reminded us what the comic strip can be. Best wishes for you and your health — and for work to come, whenever, and in whatever form.

Dave T said...

Bon voyage, Otterloops. Don't forget to write.

Bill Trewin said...

Richard
All the best in the future.

Bill Trewin
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
"I suffer from optimism"

Blue Kube said...

Richard, you have made Alice and Petey into such believable characters. Because of the strip about the lawn sprinklers I believe my daughter relaxed about her son's obsession with them. I truly believe you saved that wonderful little 6-year-old from unnecessary therapy. I think everyone sees a bit of Alice or Petey in a child they know and love. THANK YOU and bless you.

Karri said...

My newspaper tried to hide the loss of Cul de Sac by making the crossword longer. But I sure noticed! Already, mornings are drab without the Otterloops. Thank you for sharing your time and talent. Alice, Buckethead Kevin and all characters live on in your grateful readers!

Thutmosis ii said...

I was clueless about the ending of Cup de Sac until I opened the comic page today. Boy, was my newspaper going to hear from me! My anger turned to literal tears, however, when I read the strip had ended. What a wonderful comic strip it was. It will be sadly missed. Thanks for all the laughs.

Mike Rhode said...

The Post hasn't been the same this week, but hey, that's always true, isn't it?

I'm going to be the first to suggest CdS children's books - 24 drawings, a few lines of text and, Bob's your uncle.

Musings by Paul said...

Richard, thank you for the wonderful moments we could share with Petey and Alice. We looked forward to each installment and laughed with wry humor at seeing a little bit of ourselves in each...embarrasingly so, I might add. They, and you will be missed in our daily comic readings. Best wishes to you.

Boydell and Brewer said...

I only discovered Cul de Sac about a year ago while looking for something online about Richard Thompson the guitarist. Since then they have brought much joy into my life. Good luck and good health to you, Richard, in all that you do in the future. Cul de Sac is a superb achievement.

Michael, England

Lynne Hix said...

Cue soft slow banjo music from Tommy Fretwork...pan to giant poster on the Blisshaven wall..."Thank You" is painted awkwardly, surrounded by the artistic embellishments of Alice, Dill, Kevin and all the preschoolers...
Thank you Richard, for a comic strip that brought laughter to our breakfast table every single day. Cul de Sac was the BEST. Take care - we will greatly miss this little cast of characters.
Lynne H

David said...

Thank you. I love Alice and Petey and Dill and the whole crew, child and adult. You have channeled a genuine flavor of how children struggle with and triumph in life.
My best wishes to you.

Unknown said...

Richard, thanks so much for your brilliant comic strip. It was always the first one I read. I have a preschool for children 2 through 5 years old (yes, I'm Miss Blisshaven). I don't know how you did it, but you combined the quirkiness of early childhood personalities and interests, with just the right amount of adult sophistication! Now to go through the stages of grief for losing Cul de Sac...I miss it.

Sean Croghan said...

I was a late comer to Cul De Sac but, you and your creations have worked their way into my heart. Many thanks for creating a world realistic as well as fantastic. You are one in a million.

Andrea W said...

When our newspaper picked up Cul de Sac a few years ago, it quickly became my favorite strip. You gave me many smiles and "hmm, well whadd'ya know" moments--they were as nice a part of my morning routine as my steaming cup of coffee. Who knew shoe box dioramas and wobbly shopping carts and manhole covers mattered so much?

Thank you. I wish you all the best.

suznews said...

I am so sorry about this. It's been my favorite since I first read it in the Boston Globe. I was a shy child with unruly red hair, often made fun of. Alice was my alter ego. Thank you for those few short years and all the best.