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, May 28, 2015

3 (THREE) DAYS TO VOTE!


Are you a comics professional? Warning signs include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Tinitus
  • Angst
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
Plus the symptoms covered previously. If you suffer from any of these, you may be eligible to VOTE IN THE EISNERS! Named for multi-talinted  Ed  Eisner [NO, IT WASN'T. IF THS CHILDISHNESS CONTINUES RESPONSIBLE ADULTS MIGHT BE FORCED TO COMMANDEER THIS BLOG. NOW LET'S SEE WHAT BRIAN FRIES SAID.]

Reminding, asking, pleading....there's such a fine line between those words. Eisner Award voting closes June 1, and comics pros--which includes not just writers and artists but educators, librarians, booksellers, journalists, editors--are eligible to vote. I'm up for Best Digital/Web Comic and would appreciate your consideration (don't forget, if you voted online you can always go back and revise your ballot!). The link: http://eisnervote.com/

Other worthy names/titles I think deserve your vote (taking nothing away from their competitors) include Raina Telgemeier, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast, El Deafo by Cece Bell, The Complete Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson, Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer, and Stan Sakai for everything.
          

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Compleating Cul de Sac available now - New Richard Thompson book out

Richard's friend Mike here -

The Complete Cul de Sac isn’t.

Complete, that is. Compiling it while ill, Richard accidentally left out some strips. Others were purposely left out, either because he had redrawn them for syndication, or they were too tied to the Washington, D.C. origins of the strip to make sense for a worldwide audience, or he “just felt some were not funny.” Over 100 are not in The Complete CDS.

But if you’re a cartoon completist, or just want a little bit more CDS, we understand and we’re here for you. We’ve collected the lost water-colored Washington Post Magazine strips, the early inchoate musings about what the strip should be, the promotional material, the sketches for fans, and finally some fugitive Team Cul de Sac charity art by Art Spiegelman, KAL, Patrick McDonnell, Eric Shansby, Nate Beeler and others.

With Richard’s blessing, or at least active acquiescence, any money the book makes will go to Team Cul de Sac to fight Parkinson’s disease.

And if more art surfaces, we’ll do a second edition. (if you've got something, drop me a line)

Compleating Cul de Sac
by Richard Thompson, Michael Rhode and Chris Sparks
Asheville, NC: Team Cul de Sac & Arlington, VA: ComicsDC, 2015.


Available in paperback: http://www.lulu.com/shop/michael-rhode/compleating-cul-de-sac/paperback/product-22163926.html

hardcover: http://www.lulu.com/shop/michael-rhode/compleating-cul-de-sac-hardcover/hardcover/product-22163989.html

ebook pdf: http://www.lulu.com/shop/michael-rhode/compleating-cul-de-sac-ebook/ebook/product-22185584.html

Save 25% on all print books with code MEMORIAL through May 27.

Team Cul de Sac art by Terry Flippo


Saturday, May 9, 2015

THE COMPLEAT IS COMPLETE

  

Order your copy of Compleating CDS from Lulu today for only $35.00 and you'll earn the envy of all you know! They'll be so sick with rage, they'll just spontaneously explode, probably! What other graphic novel can offer that?

Here's what you get:

  • All the strips, over 100 and many in color,  that were left out of the Compete CDS, even if they were salacious.
  • Rough sketches. Everybody loves rough sketches.
  • Ephemera, drawings done for promotion, drawings done  as dedications in books,  drawings done as attempts at bribery or usury or to pay off an exorbitant restaurant bill. 
There's also an exclusive, deluxe HARDBACK edition, available on a first-come-first-served basis to only our most loyal fans for only $50.00 from Lulu.

So hurry!

Today through May 10, save 20% on any print book with the code MOM20.

(Book editor Mike Rhode here - we hope to get a less expensive version out soon, which will also raise more money for Team Cul de Sac. If you need to buy one today, the paperback uses better interior paper stock than the hardcover)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

WHAT'S NEW AT THOMPSONIANA?

MOTHER'S DAY CARDS
FROM 

IT'S NO WONDER THE INVENTOR OF
MOTHER'S DAY WAS A
CRANK WHO DISOWNED THE ENTIRE THING, AND ANY SENTIMENTALITY ON SUCH A FRAUDULENT, MADE-UP OCCASION IS MISPLACED. 
IT'S GENERATIONAL EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL,
 BUT DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU
FROM ORDERING OUR
HIGH-QUALITY ARTISANAL CARDS.


THERE, THAT'S THE LOT.
INSIDE IT SAYS,
"TRUE STORY, I SWEAR!"
OR SOMETHING.

FROM 

TRUE, WE SWEAR.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Compleat!




A Compleating Cul de Sac draft is in hand - a new Richard Thompson book coming soon
A Team Cul de Sac fundraiser book is coming soon!
Including all the art that was left out of Eisner-award-nominated The Complete Cul de Sac, it's 150 pages of strips, interviews and sketches.
We're pleased to provide more Richard Thompson for your viewing pleasure while supporting Parkinson's disease research.
Ordering information will be available soon after our crack team of editors Richard Thompson, Mike Rhode, Chris Sparks and Bono Mitchell) carefully scrutinize the book to decide which errors and mistakes we can let slip through

COMPLETE CUL DE SAC NOMINATED FOR EISNER AWARD


The Complete Cul De Sac was nominated for an Eisner Award in the Best Humor Publication category. Named for famed cartoonist Will Eisner, inventor of The Spirit as well as the very notion of a graphic novel. The Eisners are selected by a panel of judges then voted on by professionals within the  comics industry and given out at a ceremony during  ComiCon in July.


The entire category is:

          The Complete Cul de Sac, by Richard Thompson (Andrews McMeel)
Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats. by Jim Benton (NBM)
Groo vs. Conan, by Sergio Aragon├ęs, Mark Evanier, & Tom Yeates (Dark Horse)
Rocket Raccoon, by Skottie Young (Marvel)
Superior Foes of Spider-Man, by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber (Marvel)
So if you're a comics professional, or think you are go to  http://www.eisnervote.com and do your patriotic duty. if you/re not sure if you  qualify check your laundry tag; it should say "comics professional" or "other" after the washing directions but before the color0 fastness number.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Art of Richard Thompson book excerpt: Thompson and Gene Weingarten talk

Here's another excerpt of the conversation from The Art of Richard Thompson, which you can buy right now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or order and wait for a copy signed by Richard from One More Page.  Part 1 of the Bill Watterson excerpt is here.  Part 2 of the Bill Watterson excerpt is here.

Gene Weingarten: As I recall, Richard’s Poor Almanac(k) originated over a lunch between us. I was the editor of the Sunday Style section of the Post. I was looking for a weekly feature to attract readers who were both smart and smart-alecky. Something both sophisticated and and seditious. I told you I wanted to pay you generously to draw a weekly, anarchic comic strip, with no creative limitations, and you agreed it was a swell idea, and you’d get right on it, and we shook hands, and then I didn’t hear from you for something like two years. What was that all about?


Richard Thompson: Yeah, I remember that restaurant. They gave us both bacon on our cheeseburgers and we didn’t even ask for it. And when we went there a year later they did it again. Auspicious. As I’ve said before, I’ve had three or four real dream jobs as a cartoonist, And I’ve been dragged into each of them kicking and screaming. I’m naturally slow and lazy and I really hate deadlines. Just the thought of deadlines stretching endlessly away, the kind that come with a daily strip, makes my stomach turn over, because I imagine a lifetime of 3 A.M.s at the drawing board looking at a drawing I’ve screwed up for the sixth time, and I’ve forgotten how to draw anyway, and what was I even thinking taking a job like this?

Also I thought if I waited long enough you’d forget all about it. This happened once before, in the late 1980s. I had a somewhat similar offer from the Outlook section when Jodie Allen was editor. And they didn’t offer as much money. I came up with some rough ideas, including an early version of “Little Neuro” my parody of Little Nemo in Slumberland, but it was undeveloped and pretty obvious I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t pursue it and neither did they. Small loss and no regrets.

And I do most of my work subconsciously, when I’m not paying attention to the process. If you’d pestered me every week for ideas (which I’m glad you didn’t) I would’ve come up with something, but it wouldn’t have been too good. It has to age, preferably without me meddling in it. This is nice because I get to dawdle. But without an eventual deadline I can’t get anything done. Somebody has to take it away from me and say, stop fussing with it.

GW: The thing I liked best about the Almanac was its unpredictability -- the reader never knew where you were going to go, week to week -- and I’d like you to explain that a little bit. (Yes, you and I both know I am asking that obnoxious dumb-reader question, “Where do you get your ideas?” but I’ve concealed it through misdirection, and you have to try to answer.)

RT: I never knew where I was going either. Quite often I’d have an idea on Tuesday that I hated on Wednesday (deadlines were Friday). If Thursday rolled around and I was still dry it got ugly; I’d have to sit down and sweat it out. I was always bad at planning ahead because I knew I’d change my mind by deadline time.

Of course, there are always holidays, events, anniversaries and other calendar happenings, or I could try a Restaurant Closings cartoon. Perennials. After I’d done it for a while I felt confident enough to do some really stupid cartoons just because I could make them funny. Stuff from real life, the duller the better, things that would be unworthy of space in a major newspaper. Like when we had opossums invading our garage I did a whole life-cycle of opossums and worked in Henry James somehow. The ideal cartoon  was made up off the top of my head with no research, with only its own comic logic holding it together.

I eventually felt like I could tell when a subject had comic possibilities; that is, when there was a rich enough vein of jokes in something that it’d stand the scrutiny, the analysis, the deconstruction, necessary to turn it into a cartoon. Like, if it rattled loudly enough when I shook it. But I couldn’t force it to be funny. One thing I’d learned after doing this for a while is to back off fast whenever I was forcing it.



Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Art of Richard Thompson book excerpt: Thompson and Bill Watterson talk comics some more

Here's another excerpt of the conversation of Richard Thompson and Bill Watterson from The Art of Richard Thompson, which you can buy right now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or order and wait for a copy signed by Richard from One More Page.  Part 1 of the excerpt is here.

Bill Watterson: We talked about the strips you read growing up, but what about the classic strips that were long gone by then? Did those shape your thinking much? Krazy Kat really set off fireworks for me when I was drawing Calvin and Hobbes. The better I got, the more it taught me. People today would not believe how difficult it used to be to find and read the early comic strips. How did you discover them, and which ones, if any, had a serious impact on you?

Richard Thompson: I discovered, or started discovering, old classic strips when I was in high school. I remember the occasion. Sometime in the mid-70s, the Kennedy Center mounted a show of historic cartoons. All the greats were in it. As a matter of fact, there was an ancient pencil drawing of Mickey Mouse as Steamboat Willie that had slipped loose of its mat, so I tucked it back in, marveling that I was touching a bit of History. Disney, Krazy Kat, Barney Google, all the usual suspects. I was no expert.

Of all the comics on display, none appealed to me like a Krazy Kat Sunday page. It had a depth and charm that kept pulling me back to stare at that inky, scratchy piece of ancient Bristol board. I remember that some of the white lines were scraped into the inky patches, going right back to the white Bristol. Wow.

BW: Right, in places it’s almost like scratchboard, drawing with white. He also scratched away tiny mistakes. The originals aren’t caked with white-out like mine; they’re gorgeous. But what I’m curious to know is, where do you personally connect with what Herriman brought to comics? I mean, there are some comic strips that I’m happy to acknowledge are great, but which don’t open any doors for me. Steve Canyon, or something. Other works, like Krazy Kat, lit a fuse in my head and blew down the walls. Where does Krazy Kat fit for you?

RT: I can’t say that Krazy Kat is a deep personal touchstone, because I did not discover it until I was in high school or later. But it is the strip that sets off fireworks for me too. I love the way Herriman pushes the medium as far as he can. It’s done with such casual playfulness. One big thing it does: it makes me want to do what Herriman’s doing. Not copy him - every time I try to imitate his style it looks boring. Like imitating Herriman’s dramatic lighting effects where it looks like high noon but the sky is pitch black. Yeah, I want to draw Krazy Kat, but my own way. It makes me want to do something comparable in depth and gesture. Silly, no?

BW: I think I know what you mean. It’s such a pure vision--that’s what we all aspire to. But you’re right, you can’t copy it, because it’s so quirky and personal that it just screams “phony” in anyone else’s hands. What seems silly and natural with Herriman looks precious and contrived outside its own context. Obviously, I learned a lot from Krazy Kat’s panel designs in my own Sunday strips, but mostly, I think Krazy Kat made me more attuned to timing, language, and how you express the idea. Heaven knows, the guy drew thirty years of strips with just one joke, so he got very inventive in how he said it, and that’s the fun of it.

RT: Herriman has things that would work in no other  medium, like the constant changes in background detail and you know he only does it to avoid the boredom of drawing something over and over. And the presentation: It’s theatrical and artificial, yet when the wind blows through and the weather changes, the effect is more natural than nature. It’s a heightened reality. I can see how people miss the point of the strip. I have friends who just don’t get it; it’s not for everybody. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t you don’t. But once you decipher Krazy Kat and learn its odd and hilarious humor, it opens a whole new world like no other. There are strips that are classics that I respond to on many levels without loving them (Little Nemo is one). I can enjoy such strips without really learning too much from them. But Krazy Kat is a whole course in comics. A feast.

BW: I feel the same in admiring, but not loving, Nemo. It’s wonderfully imaginative visually, but I find the strip very thin. The setting is always more interesting than the characters. Your satire of Little Nemo goes back some years before you used it in Cul de Sac, right? What brought on “Little Neuro”?

RT: It was an idea for a predecessor to Richard’s Poor Almanac that I put together for The Washington Post’s Outlook section in the late 80’s and went nowhere. It was merely clever, like most early ideas.

BW: A predecessor? You mean like a regular feature?

RT: I almost did a weekly comic. Fortunately, I dawdled it to death. I wasn’t ready for such a thing, but it got me thinking in terms of a weekly strip. One page of roughs was a whole series of Little Neuros. It’s like the genesis of Calvin and Hobbes; you have disparate pieces that need to be fit together.

BW: You did a cartoon essay on bigfoot cartooning that I absolutely love. It’s all true, and describing Beetle Bailey as “Bigfoot Moderne” makes me laugh every time I think of it.

RT: Thanks. I made it up as I went along. I enjoyed using art speak on something as silly as bigfoot cartoons.

BW: Barney Google, Popeye... don’t you miss some of that rollicking energy in comics now? When was the last time a comic character jumped out of his socks when he heard the punchline?

RT: It was about the last time a character’s derby hat jumped off his head in response to some similar stimuli. Yeah, I do miss it in comics now.

BW: I’ve changed my mind about things--I think comics have gotten too sophisticated for their own good! You should always feel a teeny twinge of embarrassment when you read a comic strip. If there’s not something a bit stupid or sleazy in it, you’re doing it wrong.

RT: “Teeny twinge” of embarrassment is entirely too small; I prefer a full-on debilitating attack of shame with my comics.

BW: Says the guy who drew cartoons about Mozart and James Joyce!

Monday, March 16, 2015

NOVA Film Festival, The; NOW WITH UPDATES

That docudrama I posed for for the folks at GVI has been selected  for the first annual NOVA Film Festival,  to be held in mid-April at the Angelika theater in Merrifield.  Specifically, it'll be shown on April 13th at 8 O'Clock in theatre @6. AND it's up for an award (details as they become  available).                                   .




Now ask me about the Athens Film Festival.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

WHAT'S NEW AT THOMPSONIANA

ST. PATRICK'S  DAY CARDS
FROM 

WE AT THOMPSONIANA TAKE ST. PATRICK'S DAY 
AND OUR PART IN UPHOLDING OUR IRISH CULTURE
VERY SERIOUSLY. THAT'S WHY WE'VE
DEVELOPED THESE CARDS, BOTH AS A
SALUTE TO OUR PROUD HERITAGE
AND TO MAKE A FEW BUCKS OFF DRUNKEN
STEREOTYPES.

THE OTHER ST. PATRICK'S DAY CARD


  



THE PUB CARD




THE ST. PATRICK'S DAY CARD


THE GOOD  LUCK CARD

                                                   

HURRY!

THOMPSONIANA

 ONLY FIVE MORE SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL
ST. PATRICK'S DAY*! 
*AND HEADS WILL ROLL,BELIEVE 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Old & Lost Art

Bono Mitchell, the well-known Graphic Goddess, found these drawings in a drawer and  immediately notified the authorities. No, I'm kidding, she wisely kept one, which I did for National Geographic (twice because of a spelling error-their-fault-so doubling the price), which she'd better, as I'd given it to her when she got back from New Zealand.


Here's the one she didn't keep, done for who can say, though I remember all too well struggling with it. It came out well; I'm happiest with the shark, and the elephant not far behind. Realizing the high quality of the art, I released cards of the image through the good folks at Thompsoniana.


It'll be in the St.Patrick's Day section, which aside from being non-existent will feature many Irish-themed images, all in the best taste, you can be sure.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Today is my brother Tim's 50th birthday. I can remember what I was dreaming when I was awoken to be told had a brother (it was boring).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mary Z. Gray, R.I.P..


This is my friend Mary Z. Gray, whose work was among the first I ever illustrated (including the first drawing for the Post). Mary died on February 6 of congestive heart failure. She was 96 years old.

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 her book,  301 East Capitol Street, Mary, who was one of the funniest raconteurs I know, writes quite movingly about growing up on Capitol Hill, meeting Calvin Coolidge (or at least his feet) 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. The book's cover has 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 teaching artist. It's cosmic, like it was meant to be, and I think she'd be tickled.

There's a full interview with Mary right here.

WAMU has more.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

HAPPY 2015

Traditions are important; they're a way of saying, "I did it this way before and it seemed to work OK" or "I haven't got anything new." So to start the year off the same, here's a drawing of an elephant with a New Year's Baby. Because traditions are important, like I said.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Next


The next Gala Launch Party is scheduled for 7:00, January 9, 2015, at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. Washington, D.C. We'll have folklife exhibitions, tests of balance,  methods of reusing old newsprint,  amusing ways to pass the time, whittling, yodeling for bureaucrats,  rasslin' for the meek and an exhaustive tutorial on shoplifting tiny novelty books from up near the cash register.                                            

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Best Review Ever

I used to buy Print Magazine in its more substantial iteration as an actual, you know, magazine, when it cost a week's salary and bristled with rate cards. It was one of a flock of "design" magazines, like Communication Arts & the slightly inscrutable Graphis that filled my shelves when I was a dewy-eyed illustrator.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

So imagine my surprise, in a spate of Google self-searches, to come across this;

I’d planned to include The Art of Richard Thompson on this list, but my Print colleague Steven Brower just beat me to it with an excellent write-up of his own. But luckily, I can substitute another new Thompson book from earlier this year: The Complete Cul de Sac, a two-volume paperback with an intro by Art Spiegelman.
For my money, when it comes to comics about kids with visual kicks, no cartoonist – not even fellow fan Bill Watterson – comes close to Thompson. Sure, Charles Schulz may have created the world’s most famous strip. But let’s be honest: design-wise, compared to Cul de SacPeanuts ain’t worth peanuts.
Listen: Schulz drew a tiny cast of simple, standardized characters on a shallow stage with practically no backdrop. Over and over and over. Every single day. For fifty frickin’ years. Aaugh! Thompson, on the other hand, has built on the lineage of such masters of the excitable pen cartoon form as George “Krazy Kat” Herriman, Ronald “St. Trinian’s” Searle, and Elwood “PushPin Studios” Smith.
Take your time to savor all five years of this hilariously clever, helpfully annotated collection. And after that, you can still look forward to the 2004 Richard’s Poor Almanac: 12 Months of Misinformation in Handy Cartoon Form.
(Excuse the sudden shift in fonts; I don't know how to fix it). This was signed Michael Dooley and titled "7 Outstanding Cartoon Books for 2014". He was further identified as-
the creative director of Michael Dooley Design and teaches Design History at Art Center College of Design and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is also a Print contributing editor  and writes on art and design for a variety of publications. 
So he had gravitas, or at least a paying job (what is wrong with the fonts?), and we were even Facebook friends, always a good sign.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Frohliche Geburtstag



Here, one version of this Poor Almanac (and not the original one) which ran on Beethoven's birthday. I liked it so much I made several copies (I gave this one to my piano teacher). Here's another, in bistre ink.


CHRISTMAS AT THOMPSONIANA

CHRISTMAS CARDS
FROM 

CHRISTMAS AT THOMPSONIANA IS A VERY SPECIAL TIME, A TIME FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY,
AND THEY ALL WANT CARDS FOR SOME
INEXPLICABLE REASON. SO WE TRY TO TAKE
ADVANTAGE OF IT BY SELLING A FEW COLORFUL BITS OF PAPER WITH HOMILIES STAMPED ON THEM.       

THE TINKY THE SPOKESELF CARD I




          THE DICKENSIAN CARD


       THE TINY TIM CARD


THE TREE CARD

 THE CHRISTMAS SWEATER CARD


THE ST. SANTA CARD

ONLY $2.95 A CARD
THOMPSONIANA
EVEN OUR NAME
INSPIRES FEAR

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Good Review

Here's a nice review of the Art book by one who'd know-professor & historian Charles Solomon.  I dunno, a Christmas special....?


Monday, December 8, 2014

Old & Lost Almanac(k)s

First, I'd like to thank all those who came to the Gala Book Launch on Saturday; a report, heavily-illustrated with photos, is forthcoming.

Now then,  this comes to us courtesy of the indefatigable Michael Rhode, partner in crime and Claire's dad, who found it behind a coffee mug at the National Portrait Gallery during a recent backstage tour, which I didn't attend because if I'm around art* I tend to drool.

               
As you can see, the humor's a little dated, but you only have to put "Isis" in and BOOM you're OK. Like it says, this is the famous (and expensive) Landsberg Portrait, named for the retail giant who owned it.

*Or anything.