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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac, December 22 Through 31, 2010

Wherein we try to catch up some before we get a whole year behind.
Just to remind you where we left off, this is what happened on December 21.
And this is what happened on December 22.
I'm sick with pride over this strip as it is undoubtably the first comic strip in the long history of the art form to feature the contrabassoon in actual graphically rendered form. And of course the fact that it's being played by an elf pushes the whole thing from the realm of the unlikely into the kingdom of the utterly impossibly fantastically absurd.
Or so I thought. The above photo was sent to me by Lewis Lipnick, who for 40 years has been a bassoonist and the contrabassoonist for the National Symphony Orchestra. And once, too briefly, he was the Hanukkah Elf at the NSO Christmas Pops concert in 2005, where he played a series of Chopin pieces arranged for contra and orchestra. According to Lew's email, none of the guys in the orchestra knew he was going to show up in Hanukkah Elf duds. Lew says, "So when I walked out on stage wearing red and green tights, pixie shoes and an elf hat, the orchestra and audience both lost it. People in the hall were going nuts, and the guys in the band were laughing so hard that we had to wait for them to compose themselves before we started the piece." And the explanation for the Hanukkah Elf playing Chopin is that, obviously, Chopin's cousin twice removed wrote the Dreidel Song.

This is the kind of thing that makes the performing arts so glamorous and leaves the graphic arts in the dust.

Somehow even Christmas Eve is a little bit of a letdown after that.
I snuck downstairs at least once at 4 AM on Christmas.
This seems awfully unheartwarming for a Christmas strip.
I often read the comments left on Gocomics by readers. One that can be left under any strip on any day is "this won't end well." So I'll just say, this won't end well.
Too few comic strips with kids have them actively playing with toys, and it seems like natural territory to cover in a kid strip. A few Peanuts strips and lots of Calvin & Hobbes did it, but most kid-play, if reduced to a narrative, is probably too random and expansive to lend itself easily to the confines of a strip.
Epergne is just too fun a word not to be used in conversation at least once a week. And as an object, the epergne has an ornate Edward Gorey gruesomeness that's hard to resist.
This opens up a lot of plot possibilities, I think.
This is just a mashup of the last few strips.
We were in a restaurant last night and my wife said, "There goes a Dill hat!" And sure enough, a small child in a purple, double tasseled Dill special walked by. If I could just find one in my size I'd probably run screaming.


Chris said...

I just love that Alice now has whatsername as a best friend. I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing the dynamic between the two of them. The panels where they're laughing at the orchestra are my favorites in this posting. Seeing cartoon characters cracking up is far too rare these days.

Chris Schweizer said...

A genuinely great collection of strips. Thanks for posting, Richard! Especially love the lava - I can't think of a single childhood play fantasy that didn't involve lava in some form or another.

Tom Devlin said...

"Contrabasoon" and "epergne" appearing so close together make it clear that no editor actually reads your comics or they would have asked you to change them immediately and that you are trying desperately to get fired. I applaud this impulse.

Doug said...

A great set of strips! AND... I learned a new word! epergne. I'm thinking that we now need a new sitcom... "Epergne and Shirley"

submarinesubmarine said...

I love the period after Petey's "Z" in the strip where Alice has Daddy's present. Petey's sleeping sounds are, of course, properly punctuated and FINAL.

Christa said...

If you really want a "Dill" hat in your size, I could make one for you. It could be fun!

Mike Rhode said...

I meant to ask you about those totally Schulzian children's mouths...

Jeff Manley said...

My son has had many Dill Hats. Worn none of them.