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, October 29, 2009

Something Halloweeny Part II

With much help from the mighty Diego Ceresa, renaissance man. Below is the original in English. It seems less satisfying somehow.

Something Halloweeny

From 2006. The flying candy was fun to draw. Below, the great Diego Ceresa's masterful recasting in Italian.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fan Art Saturday Falls On A Wednesday, Updated

Finally, with my profound thanks for your contributions and apologies for my slowness in posting them, here's some Fan Art.

First, from Ross Klettke, this engaging portrait of, in his words, "someone who kinda looks like Petey." That's about as close as I ever get. And please admire the lovely frame-

Next, from Navy Bean, comes a loving rendering of Alice in all her glory. Getting Alice's hair right is particularly hard; I never do, but Navy nailed it.

From poet-cartoonist Teresa Dowlatshahi, Miss Bliss. Teresa reports that she's scared of Miss Bliss's formidable bun. I hope that drawing it exorcized that demon, though it's never worked for me.

This impressive full length portrait of Beni is provided by Asa Giannini. I especially admire the hammer, the houses, and the subtle color sense.

The famed John Glynn sent this bust of children's author Oswaldo Twee, which is acutely observed and personally flattering.

We thank Anonymous for the following. I've always admired the work of Anonymous in all the arts and this may well be his/her finest effort.

Our friend and renaissance man Chris Sparks sent us this compelling Alice via Facebook. Among Chris's many accomplishments (web designer, art collector, father) he's also a master cheesemonger, which is as much fun to type as it is to say!

Stan Ortega chose to limn Annoyed Guy in Movie Theatre, whose memorable turn in a Sunday strip is still the talk of comics fans across the nation. Those eyes, how they haunt me!   

From Argentina, from the pen of the mighty Kioskerman, comes this passionate. lively and wholly wonderful Alice. Gracias, Pablo!

Dallion sends us this wonderful sketch of an unexpected subject. Nice choice, Dallion, and keep it up with the pen & ink. Just remember that ink's a liquid medium like watercolor and that happy accidents are your best friend!  

There you are, the first collection of CdS Fan Art from the magic day that Saturday happened on Wednesday. More later.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fan Art Corner with Update

This post inaugurates a new and unique feature for this blog- art submitted by fans, avowed or unwitting, of Cul de Sac! You could search the web over and find nothing comparable to our Fan Art Corner! Here we present Alice as imagined by the Mighty Mo Willems (whose "Pigs Make Me Sneeze" just debuted at #5 on the NY Times Bestselling Children's Books). Acclaimed as an author, artist, out-loud-reader, stand up comic and general ball-of-fire, former Sesame Street resident Mo Willems is perhaps best known for providing the forward to the second Cul de Sac collection. Which by its virtuosity, subtlety and humor made the cartoons in the book seem superfluous, much as the forward by Bill Watterson had dominated the first collection. For the third collection we've got Walt Disney, who was recently discovered frozen in a glacier in the Swiss Alps, still locked in combat with his nemesis, Pegleg Pete. For that book we're leaving the cartoons out entirely; they're a letdown and an anticlimax, and who needs that? What was I talking about...?

Fan Art! So if you have a hand-drawn (no tracing!) original image of a Cul de Sac character- Alice, Petey, Dill, Beni, a grocery cart- send it my way and I'll post it right here at Fan Art Corner! Nothing too elaborate that might make my work look feeble in comparison please.

UPDATE- Thanks to all who sent in such fine, heart=felt work! I'll post them later today, and designate Saturday Fan Art Day.



Friday, October 16, 2009


Back in the late 80s and early 90s I did a whole string of work for the National Institute of Health, the huge research facility on a sprawling campus that's right across the street from Bethesda Navy Hospital. Which must be convenient if they ever need to borrow anything. I had friends working in the graphic department who produced some beautiful work; signage, banners, posters, brochures, invitations to the many events held there, etc. Sometimes they'd hire freelancers and, if they needed something laughable, sometimes it'd be me.

This was the first job I did for them, and it got plastered all over the hospital. I've still got one hanging in my studio which means I still like it. I like the hand, and the almost entirely inaccurate rendering of the Clinical Center. And of course the message, which is still important today.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amazon Crazy Days Blow Out Special!

For a limited time Amazon is offering the first Cul de Sac book for only $5.20! Follow this link

Oops! Too late!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Today's Poor Almanack

This is the first one in a while. I nay be a little out of practice.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


No full deck jokes.

Thank you.

Mary Z. Gray

This is my friend Mary Z. Gray on a video from the Washington Post site. My dad worked with Mary on the President's Committee on Mental Retardation back in the 60s and 70s. In 1982, after Mary had become a crack freelancer of humor and travel pieces, she sold a story to the Washington Post Style section and sent along a drawing I did with it. The Post published the story, which wasn't unusual, they'd run Mary's stuff for some time, but they ran the drawing too, thus inadvertently launching my dubious career.

In the video Mary, who's one of the funniest raconteurs I know, talks quite movingly about growing up on Capitol Hill and living above her father's funeral parlor. I'd heard her talk about this before, but never known the address of her old residence. Reading the interview in today's Post Metro section. I turned to B8 at the jump and there was a photo of the house's current incarnation. It's now the Haskell Center, part of the Folger Shakespeare Library where my wife works as a docent.

The full interview with Mary is here

Poll at Comic Riffs

There's a poll over at Mike Cavna's Comic Riffs blog about Cul de Sac's placement in the Sunday Post. My official position is, as long as they keep it away from the obituaries and the tire ads. I'm satisfied.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


In the Great Computer Crash of Aught-9 we lost most all of our old emails and a good chunk of our addresses. If I owe you an email you might want to send me a new one, or send one just to remind me of your address. Emails that include cathartic or uplifting jokes will, of course, receive priority.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Our computer just died, after spitting out steam and giant bedsprings. Amy says it doesn't seem able to locate its own hard drive (and it's sitting right there, plain as day). We may have to wipe it and start all over. Or drop it from a height, which'd be more emotionally satisfying. This is being typed on the laptop, which feels flimsy and toy-like.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Our Annual Plea

This is a repeat of a post from two years ago. October 2nd is the birthday of Groucho Marx, born Julius Henry Marx in 1890. In celebration, I propose a national Walk Like Groucho Day, to be held on this date annually. Everybody walks like Groucho, or we line 'em up against the wall and Pop goes the weasel!

How do you walk like Groucho? You just squat and scuttle, taking long strides, not as extreme as a duck-walk and not as athletic as a Silly Walk. If you can wear a tail coat that flaps behind you so much the better. I've included this chart which illustrates Newton's 2nd Law of Motion (Force = Mass x acceleration), and shows ground reaction forces measured in various strides and different types of footwear. Please note the looping blue line labeled "Groucho". I'm sure this'll help you a whole lot. The chart was taken from Dr. Chris Kirtley's site Clinical Gait Analysis (You can't propose a day of national celebration without some kind of scientific & academic support.)

So quick everybody! Squat 'n' Scuttle!

It's also Wash Post Genius Gene Weingarten's birthday! I detect a theme, and it may not be in the way they walk.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Defending the Indefensible

On today's Comic Riffs blog, Washington Post cartoonist and editor Michael Cavna solicits comments on Cul de Sac under the heading Defend That Toon. My only comment is, I wish the guy who does Cul de Sac would learn to draw faster.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coming Soon. Wait! It's Already Here!

October 2nd! That's Groucho Marx's birthday! And what better way to celebrate than by ordering multiple copies of Children At Play?

UPDATE- It's now available! In fact, it may be already on your shelf at home.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Today's Poor Almanack, Almost

I did this for today, Sept 26th, but it didn't make it into the paper because I forgot to tell them I'd have a  cartoon for this week until the very last minute. And I'm not exactly disappointed as this was a kind of late substitute for another related idea.

Today is the National Book Festival down on the Mall and I've done a cartoon on it several times previously, usually a foreshortened panorama with a lot of wacky details and hilarious details. Which is what I had in mind this time. Stuff like:

  • Malcolm Gladwell writes a best-seller in under 15 minutes based on an  ineffable concept of your choice - $5.
  • Rogue Kindle unfolds into giant robot and destroys all print.
  • Something with a big-headed Dan brown
  • The Librarian of Congress whatsisname goes around shushing everybody.
  • Something else really funny.
  • Are endpapers funny? 
  • The big finish.
But it didn't really go anywhere, and not for the first time either. So here's this Dan Brown thing instead, and it's not even entirely finished . But next week- something else!

And thanks to Michael Cavna of the Washington Post, whose Comics Riffs blog post cogently explains how the Sunday Cul de Sac has migrated to the Post's Style section. We bid the Washington Post Magazine a fond farewell and thanks for the nurturing, the hospitality and for all the fish!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Who's going to SPX 2009? I am, I am! Thanks to the driving skills and good company of the legendary Mike Rhode, I'll be attending as "Press" on Saturday. Anybody else going to be there?


Agh. I didn't make it there today (Saturday). My apologies, especially to Mike Rhode, and I hope everybody had fun. Maybe tomorrow....



Saturday, September 19, 2009


Behold the Finnish version. It will soon be translated consecutively into Icelandic, Urdu, Hobbitese, Klingon, a private language spoken by a set of poorly-socialized identical twins living in Kansas, then back into English.


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).