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, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

When I was a kid we'd watch Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians ring in the New Year,  brought to us in living black & white from the Waldorf Astoria. The highlight was catching sight of a drunken middle aged reveler dancing on a table top, crazed by all that sweet jazz. To my mind this is what sophisticated adults did. Not my parents, who were perfectly content to stay at home and laugh at the silly party hats and drunken antics of the swells. But we knew how to have a good time: at midnight we'd step out the front door and bang pot lids together and ring a little bell and yell Happy New Year, often enough to a dark and silent neighborhood.

We still do it, but now there are so many fireworks and such going off our racket just blends into the general din. The above Cul de Sac is from 2006 (?). Note that Petey's got a trombone, which turned into an oboe soon as I realized how hard a trombone is to draw.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hello Bakersfield, CA: Updated Some More

Cul de Sac just started in the Bakersfield Californian, where it replaced the beloved English strip Fred Basset. Many readers are so far unimpressed.  I haven't seen such instantaneous dislike for Cul de Sac since the strip started in '07 (and it makes me feel young again!). My view is that you have to give a comic strip ten years to fully infiltrate you consciousness, and till then your opinions are shallow and worthless. Unless, of course, you like the strip at first sight*.


Really though, this post is a little self-serving: preaching to the choir and making fun of unadventurous Fred-Basset-loving fuddy-duddies who only ask for a pleasant chuckle and don't need some yacky kid strip foisted on them. So let's just say I'm happy and proud to that my strip is available to actual newspaper subscribers in Bakersfield CA! And I'm very happy to say that CdS just started in the Oakland Tribune. From what I hear the strip was picked up because an editor and his kids saw it online and liked it. That's the best I can ask for and an unheard-of way to get into a paper. So I'm damn grateful and I wish I'd quit grousing.

Another Update:

My friend Mike Rhode tells me the Sunday CdS is starting in the Morning Call of Allentown PA, where it replaces Fred Basset, of course. In the comments on this post, David W outlines Fred Basset's sordid history; how it was put into a decade of reruns after the creator's death and, worse, how it's been drawn by an anonymous and uncredited artist for the past 11 years. There's even this. So I'm suddenly a liitle less sympathetic to unadventurous Fred-Basset-loving fuddy-duddies.
*Thank you, Alex in Oakland!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Saint Santa, Again

Wouldn't this make a great all-purpose charming though slightly offensive Christmas card?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Goodbye, Kim Jong Il!

If it's not too much to ask, could everyone on the planet with internet access print this out, construct it as shown and display it in an appropriately wacky place for the next few days? I think it'd be a nice gesture.

See also here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

If You're in San Fransisco or Even Slightly West of the Continental Divide...

... then please visit the San Fransisco's Cartoon Art Museum, where the fabulous exhibit Black and White and Read All Over: Comics of the New Millennium opens this weekend. Here's a bit from the museum's description-
The Cartoon Art Museum is proud to announce its latest exhibition, Black and White and Read All Over:  Comics of the New Millennium, a showcase featuring nine comic strips introduced between the years 2000 and 2010.  From talking animals to beleaguered cartoonists, childhood fears to childhood nightmares, the perils of adulthood to the trials of arrested development, the nonsensical to the political (which often goes right back around to nonsensical), the modern comic strip page really does include something for everyone.
Original comic strips on view live and in person in the exhibit are:
My thanks to Andrew Farago, consummate comics curator, cartoonist and cool guy, for squeezing me in among this august group. Again, the place to be is Cartoon Art Museum at 655 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) CAR-TOON, (415) 227-8666.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Perhaps the Ultimate in Loungewear

Now available exclusively on our Cafe Press site! Excellent for lounging, swaddling and bundling.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Support the USPS & Team Cul de Sac with these Lovely Stamps

Thanks to Mike Rhode, Barbara Dale and David Hagen. you can now send your Cul de Sac cards with Cul de Sac stamps! Barbara Dale's stamp has been revised to lighten it up so you can see Alice better, and David Hagen volunteered his artwork for stamp #3. Collect them all! It's for charity!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yesterday's Cul de Sac, December 3 2011 and Tomorrow's. December 5 2011

I fretted with this thing and rewrote and photoshopped the dialogue so many times that I was sure it had unraveled into hopeless incoherence. The object of Alice's mockery, the cheesy uplifting TV special full of easy epiphanies, seemed obvious when I started out. But with each little piddly adjustment it grew more unnecessarily complicated. At one point I added "childlike sense if wonder" to Alice's rant, diluting it even more.

So I decided to do the whole thing a second time figuring, if you're gonna fail, make it look intentional. This time the subject is "childlike sense of wonder". And this one was harder to do than the first;  each drawing and each bit of text are separate bits hammered together in photoshop (Alice in the third panel looks awfully familiar, no?).

Thankfully one person grasped what I was flailing at, here (scroll down a bit). Now I don't have to make a third attempt at this.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Cards for the Discerning Person Who Buys Christmas Cards

We are pleased to introduce our exclusive line of Cul de Sac Christmas Cards, now available on Cafe Press. These are perhaps the finest Christmas Cards currently offered, painstakingly hand-coloured by traditionally trained photoshop colouring artisans (my wife, Amy).

There are presently six designs to choose from, covering everything from Santa's Personality Disorder to Non-Euclidean Trees. Pictured is the Santa Trap, truly a classic sentiment of the season! We are confident that no other vendor offers a finer line of Cul de Sac Christmas Cards than these, and if one does we'll slap him with a cease & desist order so fast it'll make his head spin. So just watch it, bub.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Mighty Sergio

One of my childhood (and adulthood) idols, the legendary Sergio Aragones. draws Alice. And Groo, Rufferto, and his usual cast of thousands. See also here and here. I'm speechless with delight.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Old Cul de Sac

I'm sure I've posted this before, but I couldn't find it and, as I'd just scanned it again (I couldn't find the previous scans either), here it is. I did it in May 2006, and I remember how much fun it was to work on. The drawing is fairly simple and the color, for several panels at least, is loose and wild and something of a special effect. And the gag is good. I hope you agree, because in two or three months I'm going to post it again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Old Proto-Cul de Sac Pre-Almanac from the Paleozoic

I found this in the bottom of a drawer of old cartoons the other day. It's a first rough sketch for an Almanac from late 1997 or early '98, so it even predates the name Richard's Poor Almanac. Sotheby's puts the price on this as (conservatively) eighteen cents, so it's quite a find. I don't remember if I ever went to a final and filed this for publication in the Post, but if I did I really hope I came up with a better gag than the penultimate balloon holds. It's pretty lame.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reminder: Corcoran Chit-Chat Tonight

 Tonight at 7 I'm going to speak at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and I hope somebody's there to listen, and that I can think of something to say. And that it's at least tangentially about comics.

This is in conjunction with a great show of original & historic comic art at McDaniel College called Kings of the Pages, put together by Associate Professor of Communication Robert Lemieux. Graduate students at the Corcoran College of Art and Design planned the exhibit, with professional assistance from Mark Leithauser, Chief of Design at the National Gallery of Art, and Donna Kirk, Senior Architect at the National Gallery of Art.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who Wrote Shakespeare?

If you're counting you'll know that today is not Shakespeare's birthday. I'm just posting this to cash in on that stupid movie Anonymous, which reveals who really wrote Shakespeare's plays (one million chimpanzees typing for only eight years). Pab Sungensis says it best, and in the right meter too, and Mike Peterson discusses it wisely as always (scroll down a bit). Please post your competing and unfounded theories in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm Going to the Corcoran

 On Tuesday, November 1st, I'm going to speak at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and hope somebody's there to listen, and that they can hear me. It's in conjunction with a great show of original & historic comic art at McDaniel College called Kings of the Pages, put together by Associate Professor of Communication Robert Lemieux, who I wish I'd taken some courses from when I was educatable.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

There Was An Old Woman

Here's the whole spread and a few close ups, some commentary to come when I think of it. Now go buy the book!

The Dark Side of Alice

Stephan Pastis investigates Alice's dark side, because he's a braver man than I.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hello, Miami!

Cul de Sac starts running today in the fabled Miami Herald and reporter Lomi Kriel makes note of it. Many of my favorite people to work with at the Washington Post were previously at the Herald, including Tom Shroder, who pushed me not-quite-kicking-and-screaming into Cul de Sac.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Moving Day

The Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area, in collaboration with the National Parkinson Foundation, is sponsoring Moving Day,  a day of raising awareness of Parkinson’s disease by going for a pleasant 2.5 mile stroll. They anticipate over 2,000 participants, including people with Parkinson’s, families, friends, health care professionals, private and corporate teams, all ambling along while raising funds in support of the Foundation’s mission. I'll be there with the appropriately named Team Cul de Sac, along with family and friends. You're encouraged to join us, in person or in donation form. Or both! 

An added incentive: there may be doughnuts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nursery Rhyme Comics

Coming to a bookstore near you on October 11 courtesy of the fine folks at First Second- Nursery Rhyme Comics, edited by the unstoppable force known to his friends as Chris Duffy. Chris is as close to the platonic ideal of a comics editor as it's possible to be (he knows how to get really good work out of people and he's forgiving about missed deadlines, and he's a nice guy; also, he's a talented cartoonist himself, which makes me worry a little).

Using his editorial superpowers Chris got 50 cartoonists to illustrate 50 nursery rhymes, people like Nick Abadzis; Andrew Arnold; Kate Beaton; Vera Brosgol; Nick Bruel; Scott Campbell; Lilli Carre; Roz Chast; JP Coovert; Jordan Crane; Rebecca Dart; Eleanor Davis; Vanessa Davis; Theo Ellsworth; Matt Forsythe; Jules Feiffer; Bob Flynn; Alexis Frederick-Frost; Ben Hatke; Gilbert Hernandez; Jaime Hernandez; Lucy Knisley; David Macaulay; Mark Martin; Patrick McDonnell; Mike Mignola; Tony Millionaire; Tao Nyeu; George O’Connor; Mo Oh; Eric Orchard; Laura Park; Cyril Pedrosa; Lark Pien; Aaron Renier; Dave Roman; Marc Rosenthal; Stan Sakai; Richard Sala; Mark Siegel; James Sturm; Raina Telgemeier; Craig Thompson; Richard Thompson; Sara Varon; Jen Wang; Drew Weing; Gahan Wilson; Gene Luen Yang; & Stephanie Yue. I'm grateful to be among them.

I got to do "There was an old woman tossed up in a basket..."
There was an old woman tossed up in a basket
Nineteen times as high as the moon;
Where she was going I couldn't but ask it,
For in her hand she carried a broom.
"Old woman, old woman, old woman," quoth I,
"O whither, O whither, O whither, so high?"
"To brush the cobwebs off the sky!"
"Shall I go with thee?" "Aye, by and by."
Here's a sneak preview, with slightly variant text-
Ooh! I'm going to rush out and buy that at a bookstore near me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

National Book Festival

This weekend for two days only the Library of Congress presents the National Book Festival, on the National Mall. Hundreds of authors like Dave Eggers, Tomie dePaola, Rita Dove, Sherman Alexie, Jonathan Yardley and David McCullough will grace the dust-choked midway to demonstrate literary folkways and handicrafts. There'll be out-loud reading, grammar juggling, artisanal autographing and writer's block judging. And I'll be there-


  • Graphic Novels
    Sunday, September 25
    1:00 pm - 1:45 pm

Book Signing

  • Sunday, September 25
    2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
 So come on down for two whole days of literary fun 'n' games!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Last Week's Cul de Sacs, September 5 to 11, 2011

This is all old news, but Oh Well; The Pancake Princess as seen by Peter Otterloop, Jr.
I'd drawn myself into a corner with the preschool play as I had no clue about it beyond the title and suddenly it was curtain  time. There's a whole genre of plays written solely for kids to perform as school plays and I've seen enough of them to've developed a severe facial tick. So I knew what to expect. But I needed what Petey might call a distancing mechanism to disguise my ignorance of the actual plot; in this case, Petey's POV was a great disguise. A technical note: the texture in Sofie's hat is a litho crayon, which I can't use without making a mess. Petey's neater than me.
A few alert readers pointed out the Kevin Bacon joke.  It was entirely accidental but I take full credit for it.
Miss Bliss's music cur look is my favorite thing from this week (apart from the Kevin Bacon joke).
Also the third panel, which refers to a strip from July 26. This rewards alert readers and flummoxes everybody else (great way to run a comic strip).
The happy ending.
The meta ending.
And the completely unrelated Sunday. Coming next: Adventures in a Perambulator.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I sure hope every one of you is going to the Small Press Expo this weekend in Bethesda MD (even if it is more like South Rockville). I mean, look at this line up-

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Petey Sits In, or, Most Of This Week's Cul de Sac

And not in a small chair, fortunately. The dream of all who draw a daily comic strip is to have somebody else please take it off their hands for as long as humanly possible.

Happily, Petey became available at just the right moment. We were on an abbreviated vacation in Duck NC when some of these strips were drawn, which means I didn't have any of the elaborate technical apparatus normally available when I work. I've grown reliant on a lightbox, a tilty art table, 5,000 pens, a stereo, 3,000 CDs, a messy floor, etc, and downsizing to a dining room table in a beach house that also has a nice & distracting view is difficult. So I let Petey do the drawing for a week of so.

I've been making this stuff up as I go along, more or less from week to week, with only a vague idea of what happens next. It took me a while to realize that Emilio Spinnerack's assignment to draw a comic from real life would mesh nicely with Alice's play, which I hadn't really thought through. All I knew was that the play should be incoherent, as though each player was the author and star. So I get to kill two birds with one stone, or fill two weeks with one joke. Regarding Monday's strip, I don't like drawing in public much either.
Drawing in a "child-like" style is tremendously fun in many ways. I've thought about shifting Cul de Sac's art more toward a style I'd call Little Kid Expressionism for a while. By Little Kid Expressionism I mean the characters' anatomy would be clumsified, the perspective would tilt, adults would loom larger, etc and the whole thing would be easier to draw. I can see this but I can't describe it. So this is a way of sneaking up on it a bit. And if anyone complains I can blame it on Petey.

Though I do worry about the lettering being legible. I'd used Petey's handwriting a few times so it seemed a good idea to keep it going for continuity's sake. Petey is at heart a perverse traditionalist, especially fond if unnecessary traditions, and I figured he'd like cursive, probably fancy Spencerian lettering, just for its difficulty. It makes a nicely absurd mismatch with the art too.
(I forgot to include the above strip in the original post) All I can add is that drawing a ceiling always a good move.
A cameo by Kevin's dad and mayne his mom.I'm guessing the whole Kevin family is annoyinng.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Onion's A.V. Club Newspaper Comics Primer

Noel Murray writes a good, easily-digestible primer of America's Most Beloved Art Form That's About to Evaporate. And somehow uses the words "grace" and "dignity" in a paragraph about Cul de Sac.