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

Showing posts with label today's cul de sac. Show all posts
Showing posts with label today's cul de sac. Show all posts

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac June 3, 2012

The banana smell must come from isoamyl-acetate, which I don't know much about it except it's nasty and it's in the spray fixative I used for years (Krylon). And it's also called banana oil, which I always thought was a Milt Gross joke.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, May 26, 2012

I've wanted to use this gag for a while and couldn't figure out how to present it. I'd planned it to be a Sunday strip and that's why I was having trouble. A Sunday page provides a bit more room to play with the layout and sometimes that's more of a distraction than an opportunity. In other words, I monkeyed around with the format so much the gag got lost, and it's a weird little gag. So it got moved to a daily which simplified it into coherency. The lesson we all learn from this is: Stop monkeying around when you don't have to. Life's hard enough as it is.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac in Rough Form, April 30 2012

A word of warning: Petey doesn't move a muscle all week. I find it makes things easier to draw if they're static and repetitive (and I hope Stacy agrees). I'm telling you this up front in case you're hoping for big action sequences or derring-do so you're not disappointed.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, April 29 2012


Alice communes with Nature, in condensed, easily accessible form. Every kid needs a shrub to hide in. I've had several and I was intimately familiar with every inch of dirt it covered (though not familiar enough that I avoided sitting on a slug during a night game of hide and seek).

Here's Alice's first venture into Nature. As always, I thought today's would be easy to draw, but no. Scribbly masses of leaves keep not looking like leaves but only like scribbles unless I fuss with them, and then they look too fussy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, February 22 2012

This strip is a fine example of the kind of multigenerational collaboration that all families should strive to emulate. But only a family as talented as the Flying Jantzes of Savannah could pull off successfully. Drawn by Michael, written by daughter Collette and starring, in an unseen cameo, son Harrison, with the cooperation and support of mom Nicole.

Mike wrote this earlier today in the comments section under the strip on Gocomics-
Today’s strip was written by my 9-Y-O daughter (who also voices Alice in the animated shorts)…and she wrote the gag from a real conversation she and I had while looking for a sweater in her room…in reality? The candy was still in the bucket, half eaten AND there was a Christmas gift unopened! She took the original cartoon to her fourth grade class today for show and tell. Signed, a proud papa.
As usual, the best strips come from real life. Anyone wishing to learn how to animate the Jantze way should take one of Mike's courses at SCAD.

And read The Norm, of course.      

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cul de Sac for February 5, 2012

This is the last Sunday I drew before my hiatus. It's one of those strips that tickles me no end, which is kinda rare.What I most enjoy is a strip that spins in a circle then takes off in an unexpected direction and this one does that if nothing else. I hit a wall in writing it until the phrase "spray cheese" popped into my head then all the pieces fell into place (note to playwrights, novelists & New Yorker short story writers; when in a bind think "spray cheese"). Otherwise the only thing I struggled with was the expression on Alice's face. That took a stack of paper and half a bottle of ProWhite to achieve; you'll note the relative stiffness in Alice's face in the first panel after I'd tweaked it into lifelessness. By the third panel I had it down.

Alice, you'll remember, has tried to wink before.

UPDATE: Regarding "squince" - I was too late. Though mine incorporated "wink." For what that's worth.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, January 12 2012

I used the sled-dragging joke before, in December 2008. It's even the same onomatopoeia. The drawing looks neater in the earlier version; I got fussy with the white-out on this one and didn't know when to stop fixing it. And I couldn't find the pen nib I usually use for lettering. The one I fell back on was feebler. Also, that's the worst signature I ever signed. Why you people read a strip with such shoddy standards is, quite frankly, beyond me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, January 10 2012

It's been a while since I posted one of these things. Let's see if I remember how to do it. I chose this strip to annotate because I redrew it 4 or 5 times. The middle panel gave me fits; it kept turning out too tidy, too stacked instead of heaped, too neat. The comics have a distinguished history of eyesore back yards, and front yards too, from Hogan's Alley to George Booth (see below), so I felt I had a tradition to uphold.

Each time I redrew it the dialog and the gag changed, Originally Alice is disgusted by the squalor and says Get me outta here! But there's nothing funny about that and it makes no sense; Alice is a slob with no natural objections to Dill's back yard. She'd more likely go home and try to do the same thing to her back yard. And, as someone who has a messy back yard, I've got no business acting all superior back-yard-wise. So out of great struggle and profound deliberation comes this Cul de Sac for January 10, 2012.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, August 14 2011

Ernesto has been barricading himself in a carrel fort in a remote corner of the library for several summers now though this is the first time he's felt compelled to explain why he'd need to. This Sunday strip is the remnant of a string of dailies featuring Ernesto's latest decline and fall. 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.

The origami jumping frog is a real thing, even if Ernesto possibly isn't. I like them so much I included one in the first published drawing of Alice (below), though they don't really look much like that. My wife can make them. She used to carry origami paper in her purse and would sometimes make things at an odd time, like when waiting for food in a restaurant. Then we'd all try to make the frogs  jump into someone else's drink glass.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, July 27 & 28 2011

Originally I was going to have Camp Blisshaven be a craft camp where kids would make knicknacks and. tchotchkes and other hard-to-spell-things. But I changed it at the 10th hour, which is 60 minutes before the 11th hour, which is when most such important decisions are made. Please note the small injoke that I got a little wrong; the comedy & tragedy masks are based on the Andrews & McMeel logo. The goofier GoComics logo would've been more appropriate.

Theater camp was such an obvious and inevitable choice for Camp Blisshaven, not only for the ripe opportunity for small-kid comedy that it offers, but also for more sentimental reasons. My wife Amy  has worked in theater with kids for quite a few years, starting with my daughters' elementary school, which has a Shakespeare program for fifth graders. The kids spend half the school year working on a Shakespeare play, sometimes a comedy, sometimes a tragedy. It's a cut-down half-hour version with multiple casting, several to a part in the big rolls. The first time we saw a production, when my older daughter was in kindergarten, they did Romeo & Juliet. We didn't know quite what to expect.

A few minutes into the play I was almost suffocating with laughter, and some other emotion that I'm not sure what to call; awed delight, maybe, that peaked during Mercutio's death scene ("A plague on both your houses") after a hugely energetic sword fight. When I was in school we didn't touch Shakespeare till 9th grade, when we read Richard III in English class and looked confused.  But these fifth graders were giving a passionate, lively performance, made irresistibly funny by the fact that they were fifth graders. Also, all of the Juliets were about a foot taller than all the Romeos. It always takes me a few minutes or longer to get into the rhythm of a Shakespeare play, but I remember picking up on this Romeo & Juliet right away. Maybe the brevity of the production helped.

Anyway, Amy started volunteering to help run the production a few years later and got pretty intensively involved. One of the more glamorous skills offered in the program is stage combat, taught by a professional stage combat artist, where the kids learn how to fall, swordplay, do fake hairpulls and other vital life skills. There's even a production stuntman, a kid-size doll Amy made that gets tossed around and man-handled, and spends its offstage life on a chair in our living room. In the last 3 or 4 years Amy's been working at various after-school and summer theater camps too, and my older daughter's first summer job was assisting at one of them.
Surrounded as I am by theater folk, it's inevitable that some of it leaks into the strip. And I didn't even mention that my brother has been the master sound designer at Arena Stage in DC for almost 20 years.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, July 24 2011

I've done a few Alice-in-the-shrub cartoons and each time I think they'll be easy to draw. Alice sitting amid a mass of leaves, what's difficult about that? But somehow each time I end up getting into the leaf-scribbling a little too intensely and I have to back off and use white to loosen things up and undensify the texture. Next time I'll either use a fatter nib or stand three feet away.
 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, July 5 2011

Alice has a small history of putting together guidebooks (badgers), but this was mostly an excuse to use a music staff nib to draw something. In this case, water. These nibs aren't hard to find (Barnes & Noble has some in their stationery section) but they're of kind of limited value, unless you want to draw something five times at once. Or line a music staff, if people do that anymore. The nib looks like this-

and it can be a bugger to get all five nibs firing simultaneously. Usually getting just one to behave is all I ask.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac

And while there's time, here's today's strip. Hey, look at that crosshatching, huh? Somebody must have time on his hands to monkey around with that stuff. Though it looks like he hasn't had a new idea in two years.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac for the Last Week or So

We seem to have lost track of what's going on for the last month or two (and this isn't even today's Cul de Sac). Let's partially rectify this by cramming a week's-plus of daily strips into one belated post.

I've got to admit that when I drew this I wasn't too sure what would happen next, or how it would end.
When in doubt on this strip, it usually helps to add Dill.
But here Dill is not of much help.
In fact, he's no help whatsoever. Though his demented wasp bit was fun to draw. it's always good to drop in a little showstopper like this during the week. And lets throw in some more characters.
As some may recall, Alice got a bit of a crush on Andre when they first met last summer
So she's ready to be impressed. And Dill's not ready for anything.
I gave a talk at Heroescon in early June and I mentioned something I figured out about Petey, Andre and Loris during their cartoon camp last summer. Petey's a comic by Chris Ware, Andre's a comic by Jack Kirby and Loris is manga. I had a hard time here not expanding on Andre's warning, like "Great will be my wrath! So says Andre!" and stuff like that. Fortunately I ran out of room.
And Petey comes to a conclusion just in time to miss the whole epic adventure.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, June 19 2011

For those who can't see it on GoComics, here's today's strip. Kids looking at clouds is one of those little comic strip conventions that pops up now and then because clouds are funny, at least when they look like something else. And people daydreaming out loud is always funny.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac for April 17, 2011

They really have these things, musical toothbrushes, only not quite as advanced as the one pictured. I use a small toothbrush to clean pen nibs and the one I've been using is called a Firefly toothbrush. You squeeze the handle and it lights up and blinks for one minute, so you know just how long to brush your teeth. These things might be aimed at children or at people who use them to clean pen nibs, I'm not sure which.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac for April 10, 2011

This is still the way I do math, fractions especially, a talent I've passed on to both my children. Whatever a drawing fight is I'm glad I thought of it (though others may have preceded me in inventing it). The actual fun in this, of course, is Andre's kinetic energy contrasted with Petey's stasis. They get along well as friends because their basic tastes are alike and their temperaments are not too mutually exclusive. But I think after spending extended time in each other's company they're kinda relieved to go their separate ways and be alone again.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, March 15 to April 3, 2011

 In a blinding burst of speed we go blazing right through today and into the future!
Like I said, this keeps happening to Petey. I think he's starting to enjoy it.
If Andre hears about Pevey he's going to want a secret identity too.
Between the time Alice wastes getting ready for bed and waking up for nightmares I can't imagine she's getting enough sleep. No wonder she's kinda cranky.
Though it looks like she's also enjoying herself.
 Maybe enjoying herself too much.
This has happened before, you know.
Bedtime entertainment is a wide-open field in the arts if you're looking for a job in a related field (I hope you're listening, Julie Taymor).
This is a well-known fact.
Running around and making noise is how I usually handled sports, so I never got around to learning the rules of most games.
I was afraid someone might complain about the ball rolling into the street.
Beni in for Andre and Petey.
Those wooden paddle spoons have mostly been supplanted by plastic spoons. This is probably epochal.
 I'm hoping that Petey hasn't discovered a latent talent for soccer. It might spoil his life.
Sssshhh. This doesn't come out till tomorrow, but I'm sneaking it in (of course, half the papers in the country deliver Sunday supplements on Saturday). Dill's poignantly strange toy first appeared in Christmas of 2007. I hope nobody plays with it from a range of more than four feet away unless they're wearing protective gear.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, March 14 to 20, 2011

 I look forward to drawing Andre playing soccer.
 This keeps happening to Petey, like maybe twice a year.
 Leaving unfinished jokes lying around means you can bring them back again and pretend you've accomplished an actual punchline.
 And I keep drawing this somewhat sinister playground.
 I'd like to make the playground an actual character. Here it looks a bit like Howl's Moving Castle, which if you haven't seen you should.
 Take that, singing cartoon animals.
This  is not too different from the way I work sometimes. When stuck for an idea I've often contemplated cutting up old strips, strewing them all over the floor and mixing & matching them until they seem to make sense. Or I'll just bring back the tiny missing clown.