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, September 19, 2009


Blindtofte is, of course, Danish for Cul de Sac. At least, I hope it is, because that's what it says real big on the cover of the Danish version of the first book just issued by Carlsen. Who did a lovely job of not just translating but also mimicked my clumsy lettering very nicely too.

Unfortunately, this guy didn't care for it much.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Great Race

Several Metro stations around DC have glass elevators next to or between escalators, or vice versa. I get them confused too. This ran in the Post Mag in aught-six.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hopeful Monsters

For years I've had a small semi-obsession with Hector Berlioz, the great French Romantic composer who was pretty obsessive himself. I like his music a lot and I like his face almost more. He had a wide, sharp edged face, piercing eyes and an aquiline nose. as you can tell from the painting below by the (great French Romantic) artist Gustave Courbet (and I wonder what they chatted about during the posing sessions, like, which one was the greatest, Frenchest and most Romantic). Best of all, Berlioz had this great big crest of brick red hair, one of the great haircuts of the Romantic Period (except for this guy).

He had an eventful, triumphant and disappointing life, like most people, at least during the Romantic Period. His music was revolutionary in all kinds of ways and was received with open arms and cold shoulders. A lot of his pieces were kind of hopeful monsters; symphonies that mutate into concertos or oratorios and vice versa, and most of them tell a story.  His most famous work, the Symphonie Fantastique, tells a gruesome story of obsessive love spun out of control, and it's always struck me as being like a movie with a silly plot but really eye-popping special effects.
Whatever, he just seems like a great guy to draw. Even if, on some days (above), he bears an unfortunate resemblance to Robin Williams.

And I'm not the only one to be inspired by Berlioz's face. The above caricature is by the great, somewhat-forgotten sculptor Dantan Jeune, who, while no Daumier, nailed some of the great personages of his day. 

So, you know, lemme at him. I did this little unthinking sketch some years ago and realized, hey, that's him. I had a frame and mat that was just the right size and color for what I wanted to do; a poster-like caricature with just a few flat, bright colors and a yellow background. And with his big red crest of hair maybe my Berlioz would look a bit like the Gallic rooster, as a kind of visual pun that nobody would get but me.

After way to much fussing, this is what I ended up with. They say works of art are not finished but abandoned. I should've quit while I was ahead, but I never got ahead on this one. I love the hair, it's the best watercolor wash I ever did, 5 or 6 layers of various deep reds and maroons, all without a frisket. But somewhere along the way I got panicky on the face and background. I'd seen some of the splashed, vivid work of the painter Deloss McGraw, so I tried splashing gouache on the background, which might've killed it. I don't know. This has been sitting in a drawer for a couple of years, and I'm not sure if I like it or not. I can't find the frame and mat I had for it, so this isn't going on any wall any time soon.

This (above) is pretty close how I'm feeling about it. Which is a lot of emotional baggage for a mere caricature to carry. But like I said, I've got a small semi-obsession. This should help put things in perspective, especially as you'll note, if you watch the whole performance of the Roman Carnival Overture at the link, they've got Basil Fawlty playing tympany.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Today is the second anniversary of the launch of Cul de Sac as a daily strip, courtesy of the fine folks at Universal Press.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Timmy Fretwork

Today's strip reveals that Miss Bliss has become engaged to banjo virtuoso Timmy Fretwork over the summer holiday. Here's Timmy Fretwork's first appearance from an October '04 Post Magazine, which I redrew three years later for the syndicated strip. Mr. Fretwork is based on about five real people.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Little Neuro & the Dragon

Everybody loves to draw dragons, and who am I to be an exception? This is the middle panel of today's strip. If I'm drawing a Sunday like this I'll often think of the central image first, then attach panels on either side, so it'll make sense. This is how the triptych painters of the Northern Renaissance did it too, though it sounds an awful lot like the tail wagging the dragon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

More Rain

Like I said, drawing rain is hard, hough this came out OK. I'm starting to think that naturalism in a comic strip is the refuge of a lazy cartoonist. It'd be more interesting if the rain was funnier.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Awkward Moment

I'd hate to be the one they're all staring at, wouldn't you? That's a lot of cynosure to be the object of (if that's right).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Apotheosis of Alice

Here's a panel from an upcoming Sunday strip. It's pretty much the whole joke, so Whoops! What a give away!

The Iceman Cometh

This is for Amy, who said the Welcome sign made her laugh (and was probably too small to see in the paper).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crowd Scene

Here's the middle panel of today's CdS. Because if I'm going to draw 500 berzerk toddlers I'm going to show it full-sized.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rubber Room

Here's an illustration I did for this week's New Yorker. The story's about the Rubber Rooms that the New York school department uses to stash teachers with various complaints against them, where they can stay for months or years, even till retirement. Some of the complaints lodged against them can be fairly mundane, usually involving negligence, but a few were pretty lurid. Like one who was falling down drunk in the classroom.

So this was the first rough I did, which was rejected as being too extreme. Understandably, as it's a little extreme, you know?

Here's the final from the second sketch. I cleaned it up some and photoshopped out some clutter on the desk, The size changed on the page, so they cropped it on top, mimicking the watercolor edge and lowering the word "today". Et voila, an illustration is born. Or made.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2010 Already?

Look what's available at Amazon! Tear the page off each day and store it carefully in a helium-filled tank, for a lifetime of memories!
The extra content on back of each page includes riddles, puzzles, inspiring quotes, daily facts, useful tips for all professions, your lucky numbers, first lessons in Italian, directions for constructing your own trebuchet, addresses & phone numbers of celebrities, the full text of Proust's A Remembrance of Things Past, funnier cartoons by better cartoonists and Messages from the Future supplied by John Glynn. And it's also being offered as a six-page-a-day calendar for those of you with busy lives, or who just like to waste paper.

Click on the image below for a bonus wallpaper version. 

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Remembering Elvis

This continues a tradition of running this on the anniversary of his passing, though I usually forget to.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Today's Mail

The FedEx Man brought me early copies of Children At Play, courtesy of Andrews & McMeel Graphic Goddess Caty Neis. Ooh, I hope the jokes are good, 'cause I've forgotten most of them. Review to come.

The image below was scanned off the original painting for the cover. I kinda had in mind that it should look like a parody of the million or so Little Golden Books that floated around my house when I was a kid till all the pages fell out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tom's Greatest Dance

It's now Rankopediaed as the Best Comic Strip Ever. Here's why Tom the Dancing Bug so richly merits this vital yet meaningless distinction.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Pool

This ran in the Post Magazine two years ago and I meant to post it during the week of pool strips (which were, of course, reruns). It's a portrait of every suburban pool I ever frequented, or even (briefly) worked at.

Today's Poor Almanack

This is the first one I've done in about a month. I might be a little out of practice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


While I wait for my memories of San Diego to return, here's a job I did for my friend Bono Mitchell, the Graphic Goddess. When watercolor works, it's the most satisfying medium there is (when it doesn't it's an invitation to homicide). For the ground I used one of my favorite mixes- Daniel Smith Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Grumbacher Terre Verte. The quinacridone is transparent and staining and the terre verte is opaque and sedimentary so you get lots of happy accidents while they fight it out on the paper.

As a bonus, here's a previous cover. To view the full series see this post.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Big Fancy San Diego Comic Con Report

It was all a happy blur. It might've helped if I'd taken the time to wipe my glasses off, but that would probably have destroyed the mystery, and when you're confronted with 125.000 people, the majority of whom are dressed as Wonder Woman, mystery is what you cling to.

More to come as my memory clears.

Today's Lio

The great Mark Tatulli tells me that the second child from the left in the bottom panel is me, and I believe it because I drew cars all the time when I was a kid. The only detail that he might've gotten wrong is the name; I was called Dickie for a long time. But I'm pretty thankful he didn't use Dickie, 'cause I don't want that getting out in public, no thank you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Today's Pearls Before Swine

Leaves me speechless with delight. especially as how I can sue for millions and retire in comfort. Thanks, Stephan!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thank You

For all the enormously kind messages, comments & emails. I didn't mean to leave the preceding post up this long, and now I'm feeling all maudlin and insufferable, like I should be posing for a Parade Magazine cover on facing adversity. And who needs that? I won't bring all this up again unless I need a cheap excuse, like, "this cartoon would've been funnier but, ow, my Parkinson's."

I have to go to San Diego today for 5 days of sensory overload. If I can figure out how, I'll post something from there. We'll see. 

And I owe many of you emails, or worse, which are forthcoming. Meantime, if anybody's got any good jokes please leave them in the comments. 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Some News

When I started this blog two years ago with the kind urging of Mark Heath, I'd intended to pretty much stay out of it. Oh sure, I'd post work and whine about deadlines, and drivel on about pen nibs and other obsessions. But I wouldn't drag too much personal stuff into it, and I'd especially avoid photos of me (the post below and this one notwithstanding). 

That said, I'm going to bend my vague rule a bit, mostly because with this San Diego Funfest looming I feel obliged to go a little public. For the last year or so I've noticed a few odd symptoms; shakiness, hoarseness, silly walks, random clumsiness and the like. So the other day I went to see a neurologist and, after having me me jump through hoops, stand on my head and juggle chain saws, he said I've got Parkinson's. It's a pain in the fundament and it slows me down, but it hasn't really affected my drawing hand at all and it's treatable . And it could be a useful ploy in my ever-losing battle against deadlines.

That's my news and, as I said, I'm passing it along mostly because I'm gong to be more sociable in the next week. And if I drop the chain saw in the middle of a presentation I want you to know why.

Friday, July 10, 2009

San Diego Comic Con

I guess they're serious about this. Full schedule here. Who all's going?

Tom Spurgeon has 100 tips on how to withstand and even enjoy SDCC.

And on Saturday, there's this-

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Old Historical Painting

This is an old illustration illustrating what I forget. It was done with ink, colored pencil and alkyd paint applied with a wad of the spongy foam rubber stuff they put under wall to wall carpeting, which was my favorite way of working, till I got sick of the smell of the Krylon spray that I'd use to force it to dry. Watercolor, that's the stuff.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Upcoming Mystery Panel of Doom

Jeez, I hope he's OK.


I have the feeling I've done this cartoon before. But I couldn't find it so I drew it again in hopes nobody would notice.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Talking Out Loud at the Library

Here's where I'll be next Monday, and please come join me. Besides me yammering, there'll be a bake sale, balloon rides, a Dewey Decimation Librarian Smackdown and the annual Reference Desk Scavenger Hunt (details sketchy). I've already asked both of you who said you'd be there (Hi, Anita!) to bring bulky items of clothing to strew around on the seats to make them look more populated, and if the rest of you could do the same I'd really appreciate it.

There'll be a book signing to follow, courtesy of Barnes & Noble. If you have a recently checked out item from the library you'd like signed or otherwise defaced, please present it then.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

By Request

For Woodrowfan. Strangely enough, I'd just scanned this last week to send to the Funny Times, so posting it was easy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coming in September

Here's the cover of the next one, courtesy of the very patient Graphic Goddess Caty Neis of Andrews & McMeel. Four feet eleven more inches of this stuff and you'll have a five foot shelf of Cul de Sac to impress your less literate friends.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Yesterday's Poor Almanack

Another one of those. The scrapple joke is in honor of Mr. Allan Janus's digestive system.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Video Funtime with Stephan Pastis and John Glynn

Stephan Pastis, who draws a great comic strip called Pearls Before Swine, visited my syndicate in Kansas City a few months back to shoot a video promo. Which doesn't make much sense as his syndicate is in New York City. To watch him harass John Glynn, who runs my entire syndicate single-handedly with the help of 200 other people, please go here.

Watch for Bill Amend's stomach-churningly violent cameo.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Goodbye, Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, the great kid's magazine put out to promote the network that also became a welcoming haven for cartoonists, is shutting down. I hope all the staff find good positions elsewhere quickly, especially Chris Duffy and Dave Roman, who art directed the comic section of Nick into such a treat for the eyeballs. Dang it all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Old Almanac

Old yet ever green. Something about Kim Jong Il just gets those cartoon juices flowing, probably the mixture of malignancy and preposterousness. Though it's been pointed out that he's looking a little worn out these days and the old coiffure is on the decline.