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, December 30, 2007

The Year in Review by Dave Barry, With Added Drawings

The Post Magazine this Sunday has Dave Barry's annual review of world events, and he's not making any of it up. And I got to illustrate it, and illustrating Dave Barry's stuff is like dynamiting fish in a barrel, only more fun and less messy. The hard part is that Dave Barry tends to use up all the good jokes, leaving me scrambling to catch up. Here's the cover and below are some of the inside illustrations. I like the Gore caricature so much I'm showing it twice, because I'm show-offy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Talking Animals Again

I have to reintroduce Mr. Danders, as he's the actual star of the strip, maybe. I know how he talks, at least in my head, but I wish I knew what he sounds like. Elmer Fudd with overtones of Truman Capote is as good a guess as any.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Alice's Indignation

I worry that the strip for December 26th dealing with Alice and her Dad may be a little harsh, and that Dad shows up in too poor a light. I got an email from a reader complaining about the Sunday strip where Dad bounces Alice on his knee; the actual complaint was based on a misreading of the strip, but it made me pause and think (which isn't always a good thing to do, but sometimes is).

But in regards to the December 26th strip, adults make a fuss over children when they do something cute, especially if it's an unwitting cute thing, and kids don't always appreciate it. Let's just say that Alice and her Dad have a loving yet fraught relationship, like all such relationships. And that she's probably got the more potent personality so they're not too unevenly matched, despite the disparity in size.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Cul de Sac of Yesteryear

This is from the Post Magazine of December 10, 2006. It's all true, pretty much. Sorry to chop it up into bits; I still don't know how to tile images after scanning them. Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Oh, Boy! And Hully Chee! I got an invitation to attend the Heroes Convention in Charlotte NC next June! My thanks to Dustin Harbin, the Human Fireball, Con Organizer, Comics Creator & Creative Director of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, the Premier Comics Shop of the Great City of Charlotte. My Mom was from Charlotte and she'd've been proud. Some nice folks in Charlotte. I'm looking forward to it. Go, look around their site, ooh & ahh at their guest list, then come on down!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Elephants for Monday on Wednesday!

Since I didn't post any elephants on Monday, here are some extra bonus elephants two days late. This drawing's about 20 years old, and it's from an image I'd remembered in a Time/Life book on evolution we had when I was a kid; a creation/universe myth with a bowl shaped world supported by elephants on the back of a giant sea turtle. Terry Pratchett uses the same myth, but his is of course a disc shaped world. It makes sense to me which ever way the world's shaped, as long as I don't fall off it. I think the title of this drawing was The Commuter.

Monday, December 17, 2007

This Week's Almanack

Okay, fine. Too much Beethoven? Want some cheap laffs? Here.

I actually used the joke about a German Expressionist Christmas in a Cul de Sac a few years ago in the Post Magazine. At some point the Otterloops will go to a P J Piehole's Family Fun Restaurant and the two strips will merge into one seamless universe.

More Beethoven, with a Song You Can Learn

Since there's some discussion that Beethoven's birthday might've been on the 17th, here's this.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Favorite Drawing

In honor of Beethoven's Birthday, I'm posting this caricature of him I did about 20 years ago. It's "personal work" I did just for fun, and I was so tickled by the way it came out that I had it printed up as a self-promo piece to send out to art directors. This is scanned off one of the prints, so it's nowhere as sharp as the original.

Back in the late '80s the Society of Illustrators in New York did several annual shows of humorous illustration and gave out awards called Funnybones. So I entered Ludwig and to my delight he brought home a Gold Funnybone from the Society of Illustrators. It's an actual bone-shaped object and heavy enough to be a dangerous weapon (I got a Silver Funnybone, too, for a drawing of Garrison Keillor, so if the kids want to have fights with them they're pretty evenly matched).

The Society of Illustrators had the Humorous Illustration Show in their lovely brownstone headquarters in NY in late 1988, and a few months later I entered Herr Ludwig in their annual all-illustration-type show, and it got into that, too. And, after that show, he got into a travelling show of select small pieces that went around to various galleries around the country, many of them in colleges & universities. Then, in late summer of '89, I got a call from the then-president of th S of I saying with great regret that my drawing was among 4 peices stolen from the University of Washington gallery, that the police were involved, we're sorry about this, here's a number to call, and did I want the insurance money? I'd insured it for $500, not too much I guess, and I said OK, I'll take the money, and I did. About a year later I got a call from the Seattle police with news that the 4 stolen pieces had been dropped off anonymously at the U of W campus security office, and would I like mine back? I did, though I had to give back the $500, and the piece looked fine other than a ding to the frame so I reframed it and hung it over the piano (the other illustrators had insured theirs for a lot more, several thousand, and I think they kept the money).

That's my exciting tale of glamorous international art theft (well, national). And he's still hanging over the piano, though in a different house. But, unlike Schroeder's bust of Beethoven, I don't think he ever smiles at me, especially when I'm trying to play the piano. I guess he's not THAT deaf.

UPDATE: Here's a bonus downloadable Beethoven Wallpaper for your computer!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More Christmas Sweater

Here's the Big Payoff to yesterday's violent confrontation with the Christmas Sweater. All's well that ends well. Though I probably shouldn't've put the Big Payoff in a Saturday strip, 'cause nobody reads the Saturday paper I'm told.

Originally I had all these gewgaws & baubles hanging off her sweater, but I had trouble making the train show up. And when the strip's reduced to gumwrapper size for the newspapers the more clarity and focus the better. And visual flow and coherence, can't forget those. Plus you gotta do spelling and squeeze a joke in there somehow. This stuff is really hard, man.

Friday, December 14, 2007

MORE Unnecessary Cartoon Violence

I just said in the comments on the previous post that Cul de Sac isn't some baggy-pants big-foot slapstick fest, and here's another instance of unnecessary cartoon violence. So maybe it is a baggy-pants big-foot slapstick fest, and I just hadn't realized it. This is the penultimate panel of today's cartoon, right after Alice slammed into her mother's new Christmas sweater. More tomorrow!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unnecessary Cartoon Violence

Here's an early sneak preview of the strip for December 29th. Things look bad for Petey but he recovers, mostly unharmed but his dignity in tatters. The strip was really just an excuse to draw stars, tweeting birds, curlicues and other dingbats. Any chance to draw dingbats or cartoon swearwords that presents itself, I say #*$%ing go for it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday Bonus Pig

That's a title I always wanted to use, and since the novel didn't work out it'll do for a blog post. But I also always wanted to do a comic about a pig named Sweeney; this isn't it, this is an old sketch for an illustration job for Yankee magazine when it was art directed by the mighty J Porter. Nowadays of course Stephan Pastis has a perfectly excellent comic about a pig, named Pig not Sweeney, so I feel another pig strip would be superfluous. But if Pig ever wanders away from Pearls Before Swine like Shermy wandered away from Peanuts, here's a backup comic pig. And look how loaded with pathos & sympathy this one is! If he were converted into a line of mid-priced stuffed toys he'd fly off the shelves so fast you'd swear he had wings, and coffee mugs? They'd kill.

Though like the sign says, he does look dangerous. He must have a compelling backstory.

A Classic Christmas Carol

Everybody, go look at Mike Lynch's blog. He's got a set of links to Youtube where you'll see one of the greatest animated half-hours ever produced. It's the Chuck Jones & Richard Williams 1971 version of Dickens' Christmas Carol, that aired maybe a couple of times on TV and has since been unavailable in any form. It's done in a classic, crosshatched pen & ink style, just like the illustrations for the original book. And it's terrifically spooky, too. As Mike says in one of his comments, the part where Marley's Ghost undoes the cloth from around his head and his jaw yawns open is the stuff of nightmares.

Go here, if you dare.

Then look around at the rest of Mike Lynch's place; it's a nice one to visit.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Almanack for December 8

This is the end product of that lengthy discussion under the posting "STILL..." below. I kept changing it up to the last minute, especially when some of the jokes wouldn't fit under where I'd already drawn the paper dolls. Go to Mike Rhodes' ComicsDC blog for a lovely photo of just how festive & realistic these dolls look if properly displayed!

Elephants for Monday!

Here are two elephant sketches for Monday, just because. Every time I start a new sketchbook I draw an elephant in it, just because. Because they're fun to draw. Sometimes I never get any farther with the sketchbook than the elephant, and it's the only drawing in the whole sketchbook. Wasteful, huh?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Petey Attacked

This is the last panel of today's strip. Petey lives in a dangerous world.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Still got the Deadline Monkey on my back. Can somebody think of something funny?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Strangled by Deadlines

After a relaxing dinner on Tuesday I'll spend the rest of the week strangled by deadlines. And what better way to convey that situation than a Sad Clown Drawing?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dinner with Alan Gardner

Tuesday night a few local cartoonists and I are having dinner with Alan Gardner, who runs the excellent (there at your right). I found the above painting of him at his Wikipedia page. I look forward to hearing about his outstanding career in the Royal Navy, and I can tell him what it's like to be a guitar hero and singer-songwriter who played with Fairport Convention.

The Almanack for December 1

Catalogs! How many times have I used that idea? Lots. I'll dig up some more and prove it to you.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Sunday's Cul de Sac

The strip for December 2nd is one of my favorites. I just liked drawing the rough, more than I liked drawing the final. Which is common; when drawing a rough the brain is in a relaxed, liquid state, the jaw is slack, and the hand moves easily. Drawing a final everything tightens up, neatness counts because, mistakes are made and worries form because, you know, People Will See This.

Here's a bit off the end of the rough skech for December 2nd's Cul de Sac. Actually, I did a previous quick rough for it I like even better; it's an almost incoherent tangle of lines. Somday I'll learn to draw cartoons by swinging a canfull of ink, like Jackson Pollock. I'll need a bigger studio.

Note: for some reason when you click on the image it downloads to your computer instead of merely opening in a new window. I don't know why. But please, consider it my unwanted gift to you, with all my best wishes for the Holiday Season.