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, October 30, 2008

Three Scary Stories

My Halloween gift to you; three tales of terror for you to tell as you sit around the glow of your monitor. As Count Floyd would say, Pretty scary, huh, kids?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Poe and the Duck

Something for the season, sorta.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thank you,

AV Club. I apologize for making fun of you kids in high school.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


The Sunday strip that ran today is a reworked version of a Post Magazine strip of two years ago. Yet more evidence of laziness, I'd say. What I really wanted was another chance to draw Alice's oblivious self-absorption and that explosion of candy. And Dad's ghoulish face looming out from behind the tree. That's what Halloween is all about.

Saturday's Almanack

Here's yesterdays. I'd done a few of these Treat Giving Guides before, but this is the most up-to-date and useful, at least for the next 5 to 8 days.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saturday Night at the Writer's Center

Tomorrow night the Writer's Center in Bethesda MD is holding a panel discussion called Political Cartooning in an Election Year at 7:30. On the panel will be King Kevin Kallaugher , Master Matt Wuerker and me . Kal and Matt will present an informative, dazzling multi-media tour of recent politics, a landscape right out of Hieronymous Bosch for sure. I'll mostly defer to them, as they're far more experienced, wiser and slightly older than me. And I don't know how to work a powerpoint thing, so I'll do a chalk talk.
And afterwards we're all heading over to the Tastee Diner, so the waitress can call us Honey and bring us a plate of scrapple and eggs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bark the Vote

This is a cover for the Comic Book section of Nickelodeon Magazine. I'd probably vote for dogs, as they'd more likely have the good of the pack in mind, whereas cats would think only of themselves. Yet somehow the rodents keep getting into office.
There, that's my political thought for the day.

(The patriotic dog in the upper left corner is by the great Sam Henderson.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hello, Sailor!

This is from this very week's New Yorker, drawn for a story about how over the years Gov. Palin may have actually been courting those very inside-the-Beltway elites she so professes to despise. Shocking, shocking. Go read it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Great Divide

This was done about four years ago for the Wash Post Mag. The differences between Maryland and Virginia (the suburban parts around DC anyway) are many yet ineffable; everybody knows them but nobody can quite define them. And the Post Mag had wanted to do an issue exploring them, but it never happened, so I stepped into the breach just to muddy the waters.
I grew up in the outer Maryland suburbs, but I've lived in the inner Virginia suburbs for 16 years. So you think I'd be an expert, but as it is I still think of DC as being to my south, when it's directly east. On the other hand I don't get lost in VA like I used to, but going back to the first hand I don't leave the house often enough to have a chance to get lost.
Those of you familiar with the area will notice that Arlington is actually over about an inch to the right from what's indicated on the map. Everything else is entirely accurate.

My Personal Commintment to Recycling, or, Today's Poor Almanack

Above is today's Poor Almanack. It's a pretty bald-faced steal from one I did eight years ago when there were some undecided voters who needed help. That one is below.

And four years ago, under similar circumstances, I did another one, also meant to help undecided voters. I guess indecisive voters are just an ongoing problem.

Though I can't help but note that the indecisive voter guy who's featured in the two top cartoons sure seems decisive enough in his choice of loud-checked jackets. And I have to admit that the original cartoon of eight years ago has the strongest finish in the yard sign joke. Maybe I'll use that again in four years, when we're due for another spate of Undecided Voters

Friday, October 17, 2008

Metro Games

In these purse-tightening times it behooves us to make our own fun. This is for all you commuters out there killing some time on the Metro each day. Anybody who wants to organize a team, please let me know.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Media Darling, or, More Than You Need to Know

I talked to that nice Zack Smith at Newsarama , and that nice Amanda Hess at the DC City Paper . And they went and published it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Things Work

It's been a while, so here are three drawings that describe How Things Work. I can't vouch for the accuracy of any of these, as I don't have a clue how anything works. It's all string theory or donut theory or little magic homunculi pulling levers to me.

The first is The Government. This was for a Dave Barry article in the Post Magazine.

The next is The Senate, and it was for the New Yorker, back when a group of senators was threatening the "nuclear option". They may be better behaved now.

The last is Everything Else. It was for a NYer piece on conspiracies and how they comfort the idiots who believe in them.

There now, hope it's all clear. I'm working on one on The Economy, so you won't have to worry about that any more.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Unseen New Yorker

This was done two or three weeks ago for a piece in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, a book review, that will likely never run. The book dealt with a long-time head of Goldman Sachs who'd grown up poor in a tough Brooklyn neighborhood and started at the firm as an assistant janitor while in his mid-teens. He'd gone on to be a titan of finance, deal-maker & adviser to presidents, and Gladwell's take was that outsiders can often do things within the system that others can't, and hence do well. One of his counter-intuitive pieces, and it was interesting.

Well, Wall Street looks different now, and the piece may now be too out-dated to run without a lot of revisions, which is too bad. But here's the drawing to go with it, selected for finish from 3 roughs, and tweaked some. At SPX last weekend I talked to two artists who do New Yorker illustrations, Joost Swarte and Istvan Banyai, and we wept over drawings we'd done for them that because of circumstances will never see print. That collection of rejected NYer cartoons "The Rejection Collection" needs a counterpart for illustration work. Maybe call it "The Refuseum".

Two More Days of Poetic Inspiration-

Before your poetic licence expires! Michael Cavna's Comic Riffs blog is offering a signed copy of the Cul de Sac book to the winning Cul de Sac poem! See here for details!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Saturday's Almanack

In case ya need such a thing. I got one for ya.


This is one I've wanted to draw for a while now, but I couldn't figure out quite how to do it, or if it'd be something that anyone would recognize. A daily strip about daily lives is obviously dealing with the quotidian, the mundane and homely, and the hard part can be teasing out the unexpected, unnoticed and weird from all that day-to-day stuff without making it unrecognizable.
That was unnecessary exposition to lead into a personal admission: I make silly noises when I'm driving, sometimes silly faces, too. And I don't think I'm alone in this (Hi, Paul!). I once heard a radio announcer say that on the way to work every morning he'd sing the Modern Major General patter song from Pirates of Penzance, just to loosen up his face and get his tongue going. He at least had some reason to do it, but me, I just babble, sing, talk in accents, parrot radio commercials, even do bbrrrm bbrrrm car sounds. It doesn't affect my driving, on the contrary, I'm sure it makes me more alert and speeds up my reflexes.
There, I've said it and I'm proud.

Monday, October 6, 2008


To Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Frank, Ngoc, Kevin, Claire, Mark, Mark, Marc, Joost, Mary, Istvan, Brendan, Raina, Dave, Keith, Libby, Dustin, Van, Dave, Jen, Warren, Andrew, Charles, Joe, Matt, Rob, John, Zack, John, Brian, Chris, Trade, TJ, Matt, LInda, Jason, Jason, Joel, Abby, Magnolia, Calla, Paul, Jackie, Nell, David, Greg, Drew, Casey & Matt. Good to see you all at SPX!
If I've left your name off the list, please remind me.

Friday, October 3, 2008


SPX - The Expo
Just a reminder. I'll be there both days hanging around. I'll sell anybody a book who can find me. On Sunday at 5, I'll talk with Mike Rhode, mostly about our kids.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Poetry Slam

Michael Cavna at the Washington Post's Comic Riffs blog thinks I know about poetry . Here's my fragmentary entry-

There once was a rodent named Danders,
Who spoke in a voice like George Sanders,

And that's all I got.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Walk Like Groucho Day

This is a repeat of a post from a year ago. 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.

Old Glamor Job

About 17 years ago I got a call to do a cover for one of a series of Honeymooners VHS tapes. What made the job particlarly cool was that it was art directed by Lou Dorfsman (a legend in the field), the other illustrators doing covers were some of my heroes (Hirschfeld, Brodner, Burke...), the money was swell (they bought the originals) and coolest of all there was no deadline (within reason).

So they sent me the tape I was to illustrate, something about Ed Norton sleepwalking and dreaming about his dog. Unfortunately the tape was the wrong one, and I'd never watched much Honeymooners (though I'd seen the cartoons with the Honeymooner mice several times). But I found enough photos that I could fake up a scene okay; Norton sleepwalking, dreamed-of dog, and annoyed Kramden. Here's the first skech I did, just a quick one of Kramden & Norton. I like the Norton, though from the little pen mark over Kramden's head you can see that Lou Dorfsman chose the Kramden. This was back when roughs were exchanged leisurely with a client via FedEx, or carrier pigeon, or footmen with velvet cushions. However we did it, I eventually came up with a usable sketch.

Here's the final, and the first thing you'll notice is that I slightly mismeasured the height, leaving some dead space between the focus of the illustration and the main type, but nobody minded. I did it in alkyd paint, which is somewhat like oil but it dries faster and it's a little more tar-like in consistency, and it's a little less aesthetically pleasing, if you're into that. Despite there being no firm deadline and despite the fast-drying quality of the paint, two hours before FedEx closed on the day before it was due I was down on the floor spraying the finished illustration with half-a-can of Krylon in hopes of forcing the paint to dry. I understand Norman Rockwell worked the same way.

The last cool things about the job were that the original went into a museum in New York City, I forget what it's called but it's full of TV stuff, and when the complete series of VHS tapes was released Leonard Maltin showed several of the covers on Entertainment Tonight, and not only showed mine but said my name out loud on TV (along with Hirschfeld, Brodner, etc). That was when my career peaked. The most I could hope for now is a mention by Pat O'Brian on Access Hollywood, and who wants that?