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 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!


here today, gone tomorrow said...

That's frackin' scary! (Great story!)

Michael Devers said...

I will give you $890.10 for the original. That would be five hundred and one 1988 dollars, adjusted for inflation. A pretty sweet deal!

richardcthompson said...

Yeah, htgt, he's all glower & haircut.

Thanks, chb, but this one I don't wanna sell. I've still got a pile of prints that I never got around to sending. They're cheap, free, even. Or $19.95 while supplies last, I'm not sure which.

Michael Devers said...

Ok then. Put me down for one (1) print at somewhere between free and $19.95. I can even throw in a buck-three-eighty for shipping and handling and tubing.

Carter said...

HA! that's awesome :D

Stacy Curtis said...

So you have more than one drawing style?
I'm not familiar with your work, other than Cul de Sac and your almanac book.

richardcthompson said...

Hey, chb, if you're serious email me.

Thanks, carter!

And yeah, stacy, I used to use colored pencils & pastel & even oil paint, but it's hard to be funny in anything other than pen & ink, with maybe some watercolor. (Well, Ed Sorel says pastels aren't funny, though his certainly are.)

Mike Rhode said...

Oh, you know I want one of the prints.

patricia said...

Stunning. I'm speechless. I'm sure luverly ol' Ludwig would approve.

Scott Nickel said...


I remember seeing that piece about 20 years ago and loving it. Was it in one of the Society of Illustrators annual books?

Your current style seems so different. I'd never connect the two.

Yer just full of surprises, ain't ya?

Brad said...

awesome painting! awesome story!

sdn said...

Okay, that's a great story.