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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Go Listen to Chris Sparks

Tall Tale Radio's Tom Racine, who's got a Golden Voice and knows how to use it, talks to Chris Sparks  about comics, comic book shops, Sergio Aragones, Team Cul de Sac, how he wasn't drunk the first time met him and more!

Episode 140 – Chris Sparks
by Tom Racine on March 25, 2012

Cul de Sac for March 26, 2012

Starting tomorrow, March 26th, I'll be producing Cul de Sac with the assistance of Stacy Curtis. Stacy's a cartoonist, illustrator and printmaker who draws editorial cartoons, comics and illustrations and is now doing mostly children's books (I find children's book illustrators to be uniquely trustworthy). He'll be doing the inking, mostly on the daily Cul de Sacs. He also promises to go out for doughnuts and coffee, a nice gesture but somewhat useless as he lives 700 miles away.

Except for freelancing illustration, which is by its nature collaborative, I've never worked with anyone before. Some types of comics are built for this kind of piece-work, notably comic books, which distribute the work among divers hands much the way a medieval studio would. But a comic strip, being small and intensely imagined, usually has just one name on it, usually the guy who started it (though often anonymous craftsmen are involved in writing, drawing, lettering,  etc. - ssshh! you didn't hear it from me).

I'll continue to write Cul de Sac and draw roughs for Stacy to try to decipher and I'll do as much of the final inking as I can. Of the weeks of strips we've produced so far I've inked only the Sundays, though that may vary from week to week. 

This change isn't made lightly; I'm as obsessive and grabby and unwilling to share as some four-year-olds I could name. But after some months of missed deadlines and last-minute repeats I'm willing to bend a little. My thanks to the folks at Universal for being sensitive and helpful, especially John Glynn, one of the most helpful and sensitive former Chicago cops I've worked with; Shena Wolf, a more appreciative and unflappable editor than I deserve; and Lee Salem, the most supportive man in the business.

And thanks, Stacy. So far so good, huh?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Back to Work, You!

So I'm back to work in the funny pages on Monday, with a few changes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

This Week's Cul de Sacs

This week's strips will likely debut on the New York Times Children's Picture Book Bestseller List, because pretty much everything Mo Willems does makes it on the list. Because Mo Willems is just that good. And he's done pretty much everything.

Unfortunately, my daughters, being born too soon and consequently being too old, missed out on Mo's menagerie; the Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Naked Mole Rat and my favorite, Knuffle Bunny and Trixie. Which means I never got a chance to read Mo's oeuvre aloud to a sleepy child.

But I did get a chance to have a Gookie-off with Mo, which is the next best thing-
But wait, there's more! This week's Cul de Sacs wouldn't show up in reproduction, would be but pale shadows, without the sensitive inking that cartoonist and illustrator Stacy Curtis provided. If you need a dab hand with pen and ink, Stacy is the man to call. And if you call him, you'll soon find yourself drawing a Banjo Pig.
I'd better get mine drawn if Ii know what's good for me.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In Case You Missed It

There's a good interview with Ruben Bolling by Tom Spurgeon over at The Comics Reporter. Which you should be reading every day, you know.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Complete St. Patrick's Day Poor Almanacs

Collected here for the first time. Enjoy it while you can. On Sunday they're going back in the vault.

The latest Alice

Here's a preview of the first strip I've inked since circa 19-aught-12. It's a Sunday page and it took me 14 hours of concentrated effort just to do the head. Note the generous slathering of white-out to disguise the places where things went south (this was supposed to be Petey, I don't want to talk about it).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

This Week's Cul de Sacs

At the drawing board this week is Mr. Lincoln Peirce, who knows how to do a kid strip better than anybody, seeing as how he's been drawing Big Nate since 1991. The best comic strips are those that appear to happen spontaneously; the person whose name appears as its author just follows the characters around and transcribes events as incisively as possible. That's what Big Nate is and that's what Lincoln does, only of course he doesn't. He has to invent everything, all of Nate's manias and frustrations, and he makes it look large as life and twice as natural.

And he's doing it in Cul de Sac this week and doing a masterful job. Which is great, if you're a reader. But it sure raises the bar for those of us who have to sit at the drawing board in the near future.

I'm particularly fond of this strip. I liked the flying monkeys, the witch scared me silly.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Scottish Play for Fifth Graders

There's not much going on here right now. You should go read my wife's blog on teaching Shakespeare to fifth graders the fun way - with sword fights, murders and Haka dances! Kids today have all the fun.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Visit to the Library

I scanned these so I might as well post them.

Monday, March 5, 2012

This Week's Cul de Sacs

Is this great or what? I should've taken time off from the strip years ago! Because look who stepped up to pinch hit this week - one of my cartoon heroes, the polymathical comics virtuoso, Ruben Bolling!

I first saw Ruben's work in the late 90s when the Washington Post Weekend section started running his weekly strip, Tom the Dancing Bug. And I didn't get it at all. The first strip the Post ran baffled me (I don't remember what it was). But the second strip to run knocked me over and made me laugh out loud, something cartoons rarely do (I don't remember what it was either).  Tom the DB always seemed out of place in the Weekend section, a refugee from the alternative papers on the last page of the Post's goings-on-about-town section; its natural habitat would be in the DC City Paper between Shawn Belschwender and Lynda Barry. And not just for its wide-open format, but for its incredibly sharp sense of satire and parody. Tom the DB covers politics, economics, religion, sex, the law, pop culture, etc, etc, with devastating logic and, that rare thing, a truly funny sense of humor.

It's obvious to anyone looking at Ruben's work will notice right away that he's got a fondness for comics of almost any genre. From superhero to talking animal, he can parody them all, but none so well as the newspaper comic strip. So when he agreed to steer Cul de Sac for a week I worried: would Dinkle the Unlovable Loser show up and steal Dill's kidneys? But my fears are probably unfounded. Ruben can write for characters with irony and affection (go see his strips dealing with hapless, clueless middle-schooler Louis Maltby). I think Cul de Sac's in safe hands. And that Dill's-kidneys gag would work great as a Sunday page with Dill's brothers doing the stealing.

Here's one of Ruben's greatest hits from a few years ago, ironically not drawn by him-

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


So I guess this explains that headache I've got.

Monday, February 27, 2012

This Week's Cul de Sacs

This week's strips come to you courtesy of the mighty drawing & writing hand of the Fake Rockstar himself, the man with the Angriest Eyebrows in the business, Mr. Corey Pandolph. In just 40 short years Corey has produced enough good comic strips to circle the Earth twelve times. But that's the tip of the iceberg. Let's look at his resume, which I've here shortened because it was intimidating me-

•14 years experience in cartooning for print and on the web.
• Worked on syndicated newspaper comic strips with both United Media & Universal/Uclick.
• Successfully put two books of strip collections into print through self publishing and sales.
•At one time, successfully wrote and produced 4 separate daily comics for print and web.
• Used my knowledge and experience to realize a dream of regularly contributing to MAD and The New Yorker magazines.
• Often referred to as the “Johnny Cash” of comics.
• 10 years experience writing and editing comedy for web and print media outlets such as, The Bollard, Casco Bay Weekly, Drink at, and The Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
• Produced, wrote and directed sketch comedy shows at several venues in Portland, ME.
• Continue to perform original storytelling on stage at several storytelling shows in NYC,
including Adult Education, RISK! and Family Hour with Auntie Sara.
• Current producer and host of my own monthly storytelling show at Luca Lounge in NYC.
• I built my own house.
Speaking as cartoonist I find the last item galling. I'm comfortable with the stereotype of the cartoonist as a clumsy schlub so flummoxed by the basic laws of physics that any task more complex than changing a light bulb reduces him to a puddle of flop sweat. But this Corey guy looks like he bats out a few dozen strips, plays with his dogs, sells a cartoon or two to the New Yorker, gets a little drunk and builds his own house. In the Adirondacks. With a lovely view. Also, John Hodgman once bought him a drink.

I so need a life, or a view.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

More Oscar Memories

Below are two old Oscar Almanacs, from 2005 and 2008. Some of my predictions came true. But not the one about Michael Bay's career. Ah, well.

Quick, While There's Still Time!

For Oscar viewing-

From an old Almanac. I hear this really works!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Final Cover

Dorothy O'Brien, et al at Andrews & McMeel did all of the work and Chris Sparks made me post this. I just do what I'm told*.

And so should you. Go order this, or at least bid a lot at the auction this summer.

I'm reliably informed by A.j. Michel that this is an example of a Droste effect. That's the new thing I've learned for today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Old Portfolio Find: The Clinton Years

Since we're all wallowing in Bubba nostalgia, what with the Clinton documentary on TV that I didn't watch, I thought I'd put up some old tearsheets of that era. Because I don't know what else to do with them. All are from US News & World Report, except for Kabuki Linda Tripp, who's from the New Yorker.

Q. What have we learned today?

A. Nothing ages faster than old political gossip.

The Lost Unintentional Adventures Of Danders: A Missing Piece is Found

Here, thanks to the archives of Jennifer Hart, is the next-to-last strip in the previously posted Lost Adventure of Danders. I forget what happened in the last installment, but this one I recalled semi-clearly.As I said in the comments under the previous post-

The museum had a life-size model of a blue whale in their hall of undersea life that I loved when I was a kid (I thought it was real). When they redid the hall in the 90s, they gave the by-then decrepit blue whale to one of the contractors. Who put it, in pieces, in his garage.

The information on the Smithsonian's blue whale model from the DC City Paper. I hope it's accurate. Also I hope Alice found a drinking fountain.

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.