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

Friday, June 27, 2014

"BABY BLUES" Artist Comes Unglued- A Blog Exclusive

We have photographic proof that the well-known adult cartoonist Rick Kirkman has had an "episode" which has left him a virtual four-year-old. He is seen dancing around on a manhole cover holding some unidentified colorful  objects, possibly an explosive device. The landscape appears to be volcanic, leading experts to speculate he may have fallen, or been  pushed,  into  a caldera while playing tea party or maybe it was bath time.

Whatever, lock your doors.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Creating Character

Character is a mystery. Someone said that the shallowest human being is infinitely more complex than even the best-written creation, so what's the use? I always scared myself off trying a comic strip because it seemed too difficult and incomprehensible. How could I build a water-tight character that'd walk off the page and respond in ways that'd surprise me? Then I'd see Walt Kelly do it with ease, and I'd want to punch him.

I think part of the trick is to start small and to work with opposites; Alice & Petey worked as foils because they were total opposites. I called them the Irresistible Force and the Immovable Object. Also, they liked each other, or at least tolerated each other; early on, they were more argumentative and it wasn't funny. Stand outside your own work when it seems to get too thick and it clogs up, y'know?

Petey Otterloop may have been my Magnum Opus in character design, as some would say, but he's really  a list of opposites with enough of me thrown in to make him hold together. He's the anti-Bart Simpson, the mirror image of cool. I even chose the name Petey because it 's got a finger-snappin', G-droppin' quality that's so alien... What can I say? irony's good for a laff.. 

No, where I think I got it right is in Petey's cohorts from Cartoon Camp; Loris Slothrop & especially Andre Chang (the connection to Andre the Giant didn't occur to me). Loris is kinda one-joke: she's fast and full of energy. But Andre has depth. They were designed out of necessity; Petey needed a milieu, he was surrounded by nothing but little kids and he needed somebody his own size to pick on him. I had to think-what would a friend of Petey's look like or be like? The same but the opposite. Large where Petey is small and loud where Petey'd be quiet.

I am absurdly proud of Andre. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014


I drew this logo for the blog in 2008, a simpler time, before economic malaise, before newspapers were being sold to internet jackanapes, before my kids heard of X-box 360s, before Deep Brain Stimulation, before Cherrydale Rehab Facility, before Parkinson's or before anything bad had even been thought of,  and logos could proudly flaunt their black-and-whiteness because the designer was lazy.

So here's to Heroescon 2014, and all the heroes gathered in Charlotte this weekend. Wish I were there.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Illustration Art

David Apatoff is a confusing guy;  one moment he's dressed like an undertaker and analyzing whether the accounting practices of a multinational organization satisfied the control requirements of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,  then suddenly he's posting some silly cartoon thing on his blog, Illustration Art.

Monday, June 9, 2014

for the Class of 2014

I've never been to a college graduation, but I've been to lots of high school graduations. This is one of my favorite old Almanacs and it's now up on GoComics. I thought of the BC joke first, although Galactus' mortarboard  makes me laugh harder.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

That Wyeth Guy

They're having a show at the National Gallery of some of Andrew Wyeth's calendar-ready brown paintings, so I went down for a quick spin through it with some friends. The gift shop was very tasteful. My friend Nick likes Wyeth a lot, and one of the visiting firemen with us was okay with him, though he preferred Jamie, the cute one. I've always had problems with most Wyeths, except N.C. So I drew this, but didn't know what to do with it, about 20 years ago. I still like it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Tenth Pie

Phil Nel, bon vivant, globe-trotter, author, visionary topiarist, comics fan, writes about Cul de Sac in his blog, Nine Kinds of Pie.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Did Somebody Ask for This?

I thought someone wanted one. Well, here it is anyway, the

Exclusive to the Otterloop Store
Only $14.95!

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Well, Mike Peterson asked for it, anyway. It's the

Available only at the 
for only $14.95!

"Helps me remember why I drink coffee."


These are two pages of caracter drawings I did for Universal Press (I'm stuck on the old name) for the strip's sales kit in 2007. Syndicate salesman send these brochures, with samples, descriptions, etc., to propspective newspapers. The cover of the first book, This Exit, is from the cover of the sales kit.

I was real happy with the way these characters turned out, especially Ms. Otterloop, who I always had trouble drawing, as she's rather formless. I even fooled myself into thinking I'd figured out how to draw them.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Pinhead Ballet

From about 1980-1990 there were several portfolio pieces I worked and reworked, as I was 1. anxious to show my best possible stuff to the fantastical and somewhat imaginary audience of art directors, all of whom were hypercritical geniuses, and 2. put it off as long as I could. Among the pieces, which also include a cartoon slapstick version of Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun (don't ask) and illustrations for Voltaire's Candide, was a thing I called the Pinhead Ballet.


It began as most tthings do- a random little sketch, on a page of the same.

I recognized the sketch's potential and imagined it as one in a series, probably the last one. It was even titled "the Tragic Outcome" or something.. The trouble was none of the other sketches were as nasty as the first.

That one went through all kinds of stylistic permutations. Finally, in about 1990 I tried it as a painting, 

A really ugly painting, like you'd find in an elderly relative's scary basement; painted by unknown hands and it hasn't aged well either. When it was finished I put a 2-step varnish on that would give it a fake  cracquelleur (fun stuff), put it in a frame and hung it on the wall.  Then Caitlin Mcgurk took it off the wall, out of the frame and put it in a case in Columbus, Ohio.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pretty Picture

Of a fat man eating our planet (who does he think he is, Galactus?), done for I forget. This post and others are part of my self-defeating plan to publish everything from the Art of Richard Thompson and drive down sales.


This came out real well, as I was aiming for a smooth, yet subtly gradation in the background, and a big, scary bee in the fore. Of course, this is from 1990, so how can I remember what I was aiming for?

Saturday, May 24, 2014


To make up for the last post, and to lessen the intensity somewhat, here's this from the Post Health section.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Two Centuries and One Year of Rigid Vogner*

Richard  Wagner was the first composer whose work I had a real infatuation with. I was in 11th grade and the history teacher, Mr. Honey, was introducing us to early 20th century European history. He dimmed the lights and turned on the record player in the back of the classroom and picked out some mood music, as he often did, and- Wait, you know what's coming next, right?

Well, suffice it to say that the details of the early stirrings of national feeling in post-World War I Germany were for me lost in the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin. Immediately after the class I hit the school library and checked out an LP called something like "Best of Wagner", with excerpts from his operas. Including both of the Lohengrin preludes, Die Meistersinger Prelude, and the Overture to Tannhauser, which became my particular favorite and was the first thing I ever picked out and memorized on my brother's piano. Well, the first page, anyway; right afterward it gets too hard.

The opening theme is then repeated with a galloping accompaniment that made my hair walk around on my head. It's a tune that gets heavy play in the Chuck Jones classic "What's Opera,  Doc?" Pompous, vain and dictatorial, Wagner was a peach to draw, with a wardrobe straight out of a upholsterer's nightmare. Then there're his opinions, expressed loudly and at length, on politics, art, race, everything, each more hateful than the last. And yet, when the Ring begins in the E-flat darkness of a riverbed, when Wotan says farewell to his favorite daughter forever, when Eva launches the great quintet on Johannestag in medieval Nurnberg, all is forgiven, at least for the moment.  

So you know I'm going to try drawing this guy, for my own amusement if no one else's. His face is quite distinctive and caricatures easily, especially when topped off by one of the theatrical hats he affected.      

I had an ingenious technical idea: I'd paint the final in oils, but I'd use two colors that would fight each other. I'd use lead white and bitumen; lead white because it's fast- drying, permanent and thick, and bitumen because it was popular in the 19th Century, never fully dries, and therefore almost destroyed the 19th Century art it was used in.  Over time, the painting would slowly fall apart, becoming dramatically uglier as the layers of paint, of equal permanence, shifted and cracked.

However, I got bored with the whole project. The painting was dull and didn't, as I secretly hoped, explode, but the sketches of Wagner were good. Here are a few.        

Besides, I get fed up with Wagner and his shenanigans, easily. I prefer Brahms. They had a good deal of mutual dislike, tempered by mutual respect. I'll bet Brahms would win if they ever had a rasslin' match though.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Old, forgotten not-very funny Cul de Sac Thanksgiving Special

Thanksgiving was usually celebrated in CdS (during the Post Magazine days) with a full-page cartoon. As in previous years, I thought I'd just sort of pan around the dinner table, let everybody talk and the comedy would take care of itself. It didn't. It's funny enough, I guess but it could've been better. But here it is, from the depths of my studio's Lost & Found, Thanksgiving  200x.

Monday, May 19, 2014


This is an image from The Art of book, and you can see what you'll get for your $23.09;  unfinished pictures. I've done a lot of those over the years. Pictures that had something wrong with them, yet something right, or at least enough right that I'd keep working on them, intermittently, long after I should've consigned them to a trashcan. This caricature of Gustav Mahler, for example. He's not one of my big favorites. He's just too angsty, as you'd expect of the composer of Kinderotenlieder. I guess he'd be a little happier if he had a mouth. But this as far as I got before I messed up. 'Cause I'm angsty.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Almost Cover

Some ancient civilization or another believed that the Earth was a dome carried by a team of elephants, who in turn were carried through the Heavens by a stupendous turtle. It made sense to me, at any rate, when I saw it referenced in a Time-Life book we had called Evolution (there was even a little picture of what such a thing might look like). Then years later Terry Pratchett popularized it in his Discworld books, even giving the turtle a name (Atuan). I did this sketch sometime in the mid-80s, put a little man on it, entitled it "the Commuter", and had it printed on the verso of the Beethoven caricature as a promo piece. So much for cosmology.

A Cover!

We have evidence a cover has been chosen for the Art of. And the winner is-

Jeez! That's a lot of authors for one guy to have! It seems wasteful. We almost used this image for the cover-

I like this because it reflects the confusion over selecting the cover for such a book- how do you boil something as amorphous down to one image? And what is art anyway? I hope this book has some no-nonsense answers, written in plain English.  You can  pre-order it HERE.

Friday, May 16, 2014

New from the Whaddacallit Store

Inasmuch as I've turned  this formerly somewhat erudite and witty blog into a place to vend cheap bric-a-brac with my name on it, here's some more. From the  Musicophrenology Store (jeez, I hate that name! I tried changing it to Musical Caricatures, which is just uninspired.)

Brahms loved his beer, and now you can experience this great part of musical history for youself! Only $20.95! Get 'em now, they won't last forever!

It's got a caricature of Wolfgang Amadeus on it. Who'd you think it'd be? Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky? Only $14.95.