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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Your Halloween Treat Guide


Here's something until I think of something better. Like a bridge column or Sudoku.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Columbus, Ohio

If I'd've had my druthers, I'd've gone to the ninth triennial Festival of Cartoon Art at Ohio State in Columbus this weekend. Did anybody here go? Show of hands please (Heath, are you doodling frogs and not paying attention? good, keep it up). I went to the Festival in '86 and stayed with an old friend and his wife then living in Columbus. The highlights for me were: attending a chalktalk by Arnold Roth on the lawn of the Thurber House (above) on a brilliant, sunny day; laughing really hard at a show of old animated cartoons, some of which I'd seen a dozen times but which became irresistably funny when watched with a crowd in an actual theater; recognizing Bill Watterson, attending but not featured, by his name tag and chatting with him for a few minutes; my friend and I laughing really, really hard at an inapropriate moment during a panel discussion and having to leave the room before we suffocated from holding it in, while his wife just said, You guys. I also remember getting a Big Mac that was unique in my experience for not looking like somebody had stepped on it.

Ah, memories. My wife's from Columbus and we sometimes go back there. What a nice town, especially for cartoonists.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Halloween Putto All Grown Up

As Mark Heath has identified our Halloween Putto as master cartoonist Charles Addams and thereby spoiled out plans to string this out for the next four days, we provide an "After" photo of our Halloween Putto. Isn't he jolly yet sinister? Roz Chast did a great spread on Addams for the New Yorker a few years back, about how she'd sit and read his cartoon collections in the library while her parents were busy there and how Addams' work inspired her. I remember looking through one of his books in my seventh grade classroom where it was shelved among the art books. I could look at those warmly grey-toned little masterpieces over and over. Though when the Addams Family showed up on TV it didn't do much for me. Idiot that I was, I liked the Munsters more.

Halloween Putto

Here's something appropriate for Halloween. Can you guess who he is?

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm not in Kansas City anymore

I'm back, and I'm pooped, but it's a good kinda pooped. Above is a photo of the area where my syndicate has their offices; they're in the building at right, where you see two towers with lit up points on top, they occupy three floors of the right-hand building. The area with all the lights is called Country Club Plaza, a great place to stroll around and window shop. As most of the stores are high-end boutiques window shopping is about as far as I got. But there is a Barnes & Noble and I bought the Michaelis Schulz bio there to read on the plane and the Rest is Noise by Alex Ross to read sometime later. I stayed in the building at top far right, the square glass thing, it's a Marriot Something and it was hosting a convention of guys in ballcaps who backslapped anyone who came near. If you look closely enough you'll see me waving out of a 16th floor window. Either that or I'm inside the hotel room at the little desk finishing up dailies for Thanksgiving week so I can hand them in this morning, before I ride out to the airport.

Around the corner from the hotel is the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, with a terrific collection and a good cafe tucked into a free-flowing yet compact building that looks like it might take off like a silver aircraft, but didn't. The piece above by Tom Otterness called Crying Giant sits out on the lawn. The feet make me happy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kansas City Here I Come

I'm off for a few days to confer, converse and otherwise hobnob with the ladies & gentlemen of the Syndicate who so expertly handle Cul de Sac. (Above: front of the Universal Press offices, with a good view of the reflecting pool and the statue representing the Cherub of Comedy Presenting the Fruits of his Labors to Commerce, Who's Holding a Big Stick. Below: the shed where they put bad cartoonists who miss their deadlines)

I'll be updating remotely, including photos of Syndicate Big Shots, podcasts of us chewing some Big Meals, and of course, live blogging of Big Deals Being Made!

No I won't! I'm lying! I don't know how to do any of those things! You're stuck with this post for the next three days! So let's just all quietly meet back here on Friday. Otay?

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Bigger Book

Anybody reading this? You should be; it's probably a lot more fun to read than the Michaelis Schulz biography and it's definitely more a labor of love. Reading this makes me want to be a strip cartoonist, and write about exotic locales & vertiginous adventures. And it makes me want to learn how to use a brush, and how to spell chiaroscuro without looking it up (I looked it up).

It's National Folksong Month!

Did you know it's National Folksong Month? Well, you're wrong, I don't think it is. Still, here are two lovely folksongs just waiting for you to sing.

Cartoon Roundtable

Another old cartoon, from the days when "Opus" launched. I just like the little bit with Charlie Brown's shirt, which seems an apposite gag seeing as how Schulz is in the news.

I learned the word "apposite" from Alex Hallatt, comic genius behind the strip Arctic Circle (see Moontoon under Nice Places to Visit to your right).

Advertisement disguised as vital information

The statistics above are provided by I'm not really sure what they mean, but boy, whatever they're describing sounds great, and it's probably a bargain, too.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

No Mitt

So, that drawing of Mitt Romney for the NYer fell through. After they okayed the sketch and I'd finished the color final and was about to email it, I got a call from the AD saying, Yikes, the editor got his copy of Harper's Magazine, and the cover of Harper's features four views of Romney as a bobblehead. My sketch, above, had him as a rotating blur, and the coincidence made everybody uncomfortable, as I can understand. And I didn't have any time to do something new, so alas, much regret and tears all around, and promises to work together again soon (the NYer has some really nice people to work with, a lot more loose and funny to deal with than you'd expect from a weekly, high-pressure magazine). And hello kill fee!

What the heck, posting the sketch of a killed drawing is what blogs are for, man.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I missed a book signing tonight at Politics & Prose by the Mighty Pat Oliphant. The deadlines done got me and I'm lonesome, blue and stuck at home. I owe Pat some massive thanks for many things, not least years of inspiration. And he taught my older daughter how to pick her nose when she was a little over a year old. How can I even begin to pay him back for that? (photo above of Oliphant's Mighty Left Hand at work by Bruce Guthrie, who made it to P&P and reported back)

Everybody! Go buy his book!

A Big Book

Anybody read this and care to comment on it? If you do, could you also cut and paste the text of the book into your comment? It'd make it easier for us cheapskates. Thanks!

I'm disappointed that they didn't make the zigzag on the cover hand-drawn in Schulz's distinctive line instead of so cleanly graphic. It looks like chomping teeth and I'm afraid to buy it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dream Spoiler Alert

Hope this doesn't ruin things for anybody.

P J Piehole's

While looking through some old drawings the other day, I was shocked and embarrassed to find that I'd used the same joke twice in cartoons about a year and a half apart. The reference in the cartoon above to P J PIehole's being closed because of obscenities in the Find-a-Word Puzzle was repeated a month or two ago, though not word for word.

I'm especially shocked that the management at Piehole's hadn't cracked down on this problem. And thank heavens it didn't happen in a comic strip; using the same jokes over and over in a comic strip could end a cartoonist's career pretty dang fast.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Guy Mitt Smiley Romney

So I have to draw Mitt Romney for the New Yorker and I find he's tougher to draw than you might think. They liked the sketch I sent them just fine, but Guy Smiley is stuck in my head and it's making it hard to draw Romney not as a Muppet.

As far as I know, Romney Muppetness was first pointed out on the Daily Show a few weeks back, but it may be something everyone was already aware of but me.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Thanks to all those who squatted in the darkness of Nick Galifianakis's living room Saturday night waiting for me. The look of shock still hasn't left my face and may be permanent. Thanks a lot. Really.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chat 'n Chew

So that went pretty well, though the audience seemed dismayed that I appeared to be 3-dimensional. More TK.

Friday, October 12, 2007


You haven't yet, Little Neuro, but time's running out! Those in foreign lands had better leave soon if they want to make it! Tonight at 7:30 at the Writers' Center in Bethesda. Type into your window up top for more information, news, traffic and weather.

Did I mention there'll be snacks? Well, there will.

Deadline Disaster Fun-Time Literary Limerick

So my big idea for the Almanack cartoon that's due today fell apart into little pieces and I had to think of something else. Which seems to've turned out OK so far, though it could head south any minute.

Seems like a good time for a Literary Limerick!

Though donnish and quite dignified,
Tom Eliot once versified,
On the greenish-tiled wall
Of a men's restroom stall,
He signed it and then flushed with pride.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Poor Almanack for October 7th

Can you find THIS blog in that mass of tiny dots? Hint- it's 23,476th from the bottom right. Can you find YOUR blog? Other hint- it's between mine and the banjo smashers.

I Need This

A Ceramic Phrenology Inkwell, phrenological areas marked in black, mid 19th century, English, excellent condition. Only 536 English pounds (chicken feed in US$). C'mon, all I got for my birthday was a lousy storm door. And Christmas is coming. Halloween, too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Phooey on the #*@%ing the Deadlines!

I've still got time to put this up (which I swiped from Jim Borgman, who kindly put it up. When I learn how the scanner works I'll return the favor).

The Post runs a column listing restaurants closed because of health code violations, and I sometimes do one of my own. Because, well, because restaurants are inherently funny, and those closed because of health code violations are funnier still! Until you order the fish ceviche.

Crushing Deadlines of Doom

It's that time of the week again again. And I'd so hoped to share my technique for inadvertantly giving yourself a jailhouse tattoo using only a dip pen, some ink and a moment's clumsiness. Maybe later, but till then please enjoy a drawing of Petey looking beleaguered, as always.

Real Estate

This illustrated a Wash Post Magazine story by the genius polymath Joel Achenbach. Briefly, he hit a bunch of open houses on a Sunday, houses for sale in the DC area, each one of varying price and history. And wrote a great piece on what he saw. The former Nixon house is real, as is the asking price. Kind of a cool looking house, in a morbid, slightly creepy way.

My neighborhood is a mix of old houses from the 30s, 40s & 50s and new monstrosities squatting on land previousley occupied by old houses from the 30s, 40s & 50s. Our house is one of the few on the block that hasn't be at least added on to, and boy does it need adding on to. And a new roof, too. For my birthday I'm getting a storm door on the front entrance, so that's taken care of.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Old Cartoon I Still Like

Here's a cartoon that's about 8 years old that I still like. (I tried to post it earlier; if you're getting a blank space let me know, unless you really prefer the blank space, in which case keep it to yourself. Image swiped from Amazon's Look Inside the Book feature despite their evil spells). I might do a cartoon on Edward Hopper this week as there's a show of his stuff downtown that I have yet to see, and this one sprang to mind as inspiration. Or I could just cross out "Norman Rockwell" and write in "Edward Hopper" and hope no one notices. Don't tell.

Embarrassing Technical Difficulty

Apologies for the blank space that appeared instead of a cartoon in a previous and now-deleted post. The image was swiped off of the Look Inside feature at Amazon, and they've got spells protecting their pages that couldn't be broken. Something better will be posted directly, with an actual image.

Till then please enjoy this lo-res grumpy Alice, our go-to girl for embarrassing technical difficulties.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Late Night Nib Talk: My Favorite Nib

Ooh, lookit that baby! The Hunt #101 Imperial nib, excellent for penmanship, copperplate calligraphy, ornamental work and funny cartoons. With its dual shoulder slits, fleur de lys vent hole, compass, and this thing in the stock that tells time, it's a cartoonist's best friend. Unless, of course, the tip is a little bit askew or there's something wrong with the tines, or it's got a little schmutz in the main slit, in which case it's an evil, twisted, deceitful little monster who'll screw up every drawing it puts its point to, dribble ink down the sheet and break your heart. And you know what the difference between a good nib and a bad one is? It's microscopic! You can't see it! But you'll know it the instant you put the nib to paper. And don't get me started on brushes.

Next on Late Night Nib Talk: how to give yourself an inadvertant jailhouse tattoo.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Step #11 is the Important One

People sometimes ask me How Do You Do It? But for some reason nobody makes it past the 45 minute mark of my answer, where it's just getting interesting. So I drew this 20 step tutorial to cover just the basics. Try it yourself, you'll be shocked and disappointed at just how easy it is.

You can find the version with ads here .

Friday, October 5, 2007

Chat 'n Chew

Next Friday, October 12th, I'm giving a talk at the Writers' Center in Bethesda MD at 7:30 pm. It's timed to coincide with the annual Small Press Expo that weekend also in Bethesda (well, White Flint). I'm posting this a week ahead so you can make plans, or cancel the plans you've made and rearrange your schedule. And those of you in Canada or New Zealand might still find available transportation (or maybe you two could carpool). I've got no idea what I'm going to say yet, and the way I mumble you'll not have much idea what I said, but they're good people at the Writers' Center so come on down. Did I mention it's free?

And Bethesda is like Eating Central, with every block crowded with restaurants elbow to elbow . When we were dating my wife lived smack in the middle of it and around 3 in the afternoon you could hang out her window and inhale the smell of all the grills starting up and thousands of dinners being prepared in every cuisine imaginable.

But no place in Bethesda can compare to the Tastee Diner, which has sat on its corner, opened 24 hours a day, for about 70 years. It's where the waitresses stop and chat, call you Honey, and know what you mean when you ask for a one-eyed bacon cheeseburger. And late at night, early in the morning, you'll see a wider cross section of humanity in its booths than you'd think one planet could hold, never mind one diner.

So here's the deal. After the Writers' Center chat, let's head over to the Tastee Diner for some scrapple or a plate of fries with gravy or one of those milkshakes where they bring you the shake in a glass and the silvery pitcher it was mixed up in too, with some extra shake still in it. I'll need one for sure.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Another old drawing

I thought of this about 20 or more years ago, but it took me about ten to get around to drawing it. The original plan was to come up with a bunch of famous quotations and then illustrate them inappropriately, but I got this far and ran out of ideas. Maybe it's time to find some more quotes and give it another shot. Did this Erasmus guy say anything else funny?

Crushing Deadlines of Doom

I need a dingbat to use as a placeholder for when I can't think of anything funny to post because I have to draw a cartoon, and nothing saps you ability to be funny like having to draw a cartoon. So I'm using this, though he'd work better as a plea for money. Which could happen, too. Anybody got anything funny to add? The only actual joke I know goes on forever and I always forget the part at the end where the punchline happens.

Also, anybody got anything stronger than coffee?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Mini Golf

It feels like summer here in Northern VA. So let's play mini golf! Or is it putt putt, I'm not clear on the difference.

This is just another example of me foisting old stuff that 's already on my computer onto you, the discerning yet time-wasting blog reader.

Talk to Nick!

Hey everybody, now's your chance! Go to Washington Post Cartoon Genius Nick Galifianakis's online chat and ask him questions, like: how he does it, what he draws with, how's his dog, what's it like to illustrate an advice column, and would he please teach us some cuss words in Greek? His chat is at 1 pm EST at The Art of Nick .

And ask him about his glamorous globe trotting, his years in Hollywood and about the time he found a rubber sink stopper in his plate of eggs benedict at a fancy restaurant in Virginia. No, don't ask him that, just ask him how he got to be such a dang good artist & writer and when is he gonna do a comic strip?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Still Can't Draw Cheney, Can He?

This is about a year old, but you know, it's really timeless. And I found it on the computer so up it goes! I'm just emptying old drawings onto this thing because nobody saw 'em the first time around. And yeah, the Cheney's still iffy, the Churchill's so-so, but I like the writing. Except there's no N in "symptom".

Monday, October 1, 2007

Walk Like Groucho Day

This is being posted a few hours early, unless you're a few time zones east of here in the middle of the Atlantic. 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.

Talking Animals

As today's Cul de Sac features the first syndicated appearance of the guinea pig Mr. Danders, I'd like to talk a bit about talking animals. But I can't think of anything to say except dang, they're fun to draw. If I meet someone around here for the first time and we have the what do you do? conversation and I say, I draw cartoons and they say, which one? I say a couple that appear in the Post and this draws a blank, then they say wait, is it the one with the guinea pig? oh, I love that guinea pig, he's on my refrigerator, in my cubicle, tattooed on my baby's head. Why? It's because everybody loves talking animals, even when they're pompous little things, like Mr. Danders. I've found the key to his character is that nobody calls him anything but "the guinea pig", nobody calls him "Mr. Danders" except for him. It must drive him crazy.