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, May 31, 2011

Reuben Report

It's all a happy blur. More to come when things are clearer. Right now go see Dave Kellett's journal strip.

Hello Again, Charlotte

This weekend I'll be going down to Charlotte NC with my pal and comics enabler Mike Rhode to Heroescon, well known as the friendliest comics convention on the face of planet Earth. I'll bring some books and sit at a table and look hopeful and needy, which is what you do at a convention if you're selling stuff, and woe to any passerby who makes eye contact. But I'll also be on two panels on Saturday.

10:30 AM
Richard Thompson: A Celebration
Room 209 

Is Cul-De Sac the best comic strip being published today? Perhaps, but one thing is for certain, it is the best drawn and the funniest. Okay, that’s two things. Please join Mike Rhode and some fellow strip creators as we sit down and examine the art of Mr. Thompson. In addition to discussing craft and daily deadlines, we will see if Richard can provide any insight as to whether poor Petey will make it through the entire soccer season without having a psychotic breakdown. Ahhh, total Bliss (haven).

12:00 PM
Approaches to Humor
Room 209 

Sure the convention is HeroesCon, but let’s never forget the funny side of the comic book world. Join The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald as she sits down with three of the very best cartoonists in the business. They are able to me us smile and even laugh out loud: Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac), Roger Langridge (The Muppets, Fred the Clown) and Evan Dorkin (Milk & Cheese, Yo Gabba Gabba!) are three of the wizards who put the comic in comic.

Given the touchiness of the subject matter and the volatility of the personalities involved, either one of these could turn into a chair-throwing brawl. Plan to it there but please note where the exits are, just in case.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Thing

The NCS handed me this last night for which I'm grateful in countless ways, not the least being that I didn't fall over. A longer post to come.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Where I'll Be

This weekend is the annual National Cartoonists Society Reuben Awards and I get to go. And I get to take my family along to subject them to all the fun. As in past years I'm taking the train from DC, this time to Boston, disembarking at South Station, which is only a few blocks from this hotel.

It's the fabulous Fairmont Copley Plaza, an ornate ocean liner of a hotel that floats on Copley Square in Back Bay. In its famous Oak Bar you can buy a special engagement martini priced at $12,500! There's a resident dog named Copley that guests may rent for walkies! There's a lobby with big plush chairs where you can sit and look directly at someone else in a similar chair! Each room features beds with a pillow arrangement so complex and hard to disassemble that most guests give up and sleep on the floor! Okay, not all of that's true, but this is the venue that the NCS has chosen for its annual bash.

We'll be staying next door at the Westin, which is also a nice place, and much taller.

More TK.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Experts Speak

Over at the Team Cul de Sac Blog Craig Fischer unveilss the cover Favorites, a zine of essays written by comics critics, artists and bloggers about their most cherished comic strips, comic books and graphic novels. 

The style is familiar.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Joyboys of Radio

Michael Cavna and I will be on NPR tomorrow at 11:00 AM.  The show's called Tell Me More and I don't know what we're going to say but it promises to be laffs galore. They'll have a sound effects guy to jazz things up when the conversation stalls.

Basically True

As far as it goes. This was drawn for the Post Magazine, and Mike Cavna's fine piece of journalism.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Post Mag Blows Lid Off Cartoonist's Shady Past

Article here, photos here, and my profound thanks to Michael Cavna for omitting the embarrassing stuff and Dustin Fenstermacher for only getting my good side.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Old Cul de Sac

This was drawn for the Post Magazine in early 2007 then redrawn for syndication later that year (I haven't recycled any old strips in a while, I think because I ran out of good ones). To see the syndicated version, plus some nice words by Tom Spurgeon, see this review.

When I first drew this it was instantly my favorite; it's got drama, comedy and meta-ness, and it makes a point that's self-deprecating enough to be self-loathing. All you could ask for from a comic strip! I was looking at this original the other day and realized something. Recently I've gotten obsessive about the shape of Alice's head. I want it to be perfectly spherical, but it keeps getting lumpier and more oblong. I've always had trouble drawing these characters on model and I stand in awe of those cartoonists who can reproduce shapes and sizes from panel to panel effortlessly. Especially someone like Charles Schulz, who designed one of the subtlest shapes in pop culture- Charlie Brown's head- and replicated it endlessly (though there was some gradual evolution in it, of course). But I realized that Alice's head here is a doughy, unformed lump, and it looks better than any platonic sphere ever could. 

 The above Alice is as close to a Platonic ideal of Alice as I can imagine. The drawing is rough and scratchy and the lines seem to have landed on the paper almost randomly. The watercolor defines things as much as the linework does, one of the main differences in the strips drawn for the Post Mag and for syndication.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Here's something from the Post Weekend section from 1996 for Friday the Thirteenth. I'm putting it up quick while it's still Friday the Thirteenth. More vital commentary to follow when I get a chance. See also here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today's Cul de Sac for May 12, 2011

GoComics is still down for those of us browsing with Safari, so here's today's strip as a public service. Long time readers with their memory still intact will recognize the childish taunt the two rowdies are using as a cheer. And just look at that jungle gym! Giovanni Battista Piranesi would weep to see such perspecstive!

Today's Cul de Sac for May 11, 2011 is doing some upgrading, maintenance and vacuuming up right now and some people, like me, are having trouble getting to the site (Safari users are having the most trouble). So for those of you who can't see it on its home page, here's today's Cul de Sac. Didn't I start posting these every day at some point? I forget. This one's a little violent with all these tiny soccer hooligans but the perspective on the jungle gym is dandy, if you like that kinda thing. As the week goes on the jungle gym seems to get denser and more pointlessly intricate. I must've been obsessing.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Team Cul de Sac Deadline Extended; Grateful Cartoonists Nationwide Heave Great Sigh of Relief

This is a cross post from the Team Cul de Sac Blog. We have extended the deadline for donations to the Team CdS fundraiser until June 17th! This was done for a couple of reasons. Lee Salem, Caty Neis, Richard Thompson and Chris Sparks will be at the Reuben awards in Boston in less than three weeks. Chris will personally be asking cartoonists to contribute to Team Cul de Sac, Caty might be singing and Richard will be juggling (possibly unintentionally). Ooh, this could get ugly!

The following weekend please visit Heroescon in Charlotte NC. Team Cul de Sac will be releasing The Fanzine for the ages put together by Craig Fischer. The contributors are an all-star line-up: Derik Badman, Noah Berlatsky, Alex Boney, David Bordwell, Matthew J. Brady, Scott Bukatman, Johanna Draper Carlson, Isaac Cates, Rob Clough, Corey Creekmur, Andrew Farago, Shaenon Garrity, Dustin Harbin, Charles Hatfield, Jeet Heer, Gene Kannenberg Jr., Abhay Khosla, Susan Kirtley, Sean Kleefeld, Costa Koutsoutis, Andrew Mansell, Robert Stanley Martin, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Ana Merino, Chris Pitzer, Mike Rhode, Jim Rugg, Frank Santoro, Chris Schweizer, Caroline Small, Tom Spurgeon, Ben Towle and Matthias Wivel.

The Zine will be a word-packed 40 pages, topped off by a cover by some fledgling artist whose name I forget. Please come by and say hi to Craig, Mike Rhode , Richard and Chris.

Thank you to everyone who's helping out!
Thank you, Happy Deadline Clown!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cartoonists Day Again, Again

You may be wondering, "How can I best celebrate this festive day?" You might consider:
  • Finding a cartoonist near you and mowing his lawn, at least the front lawn (especially the hard part with the hill).
  • While you're at it trim his shrubs, so the mailman can find his front door again.
  • Does his house need vacuuming? Well, what are you waiting for?
  • Who left all these dishes in the sink?
  • The cats; somebody feed the cats.
  • You could take him to lunch at the Mexican place down the street, where they're having some no doubt cartoonist-related celebration.
  • For God's sake laugh at his cartoons. If they appear in a newspaper, buy extra copies (or multiple subscriptions, even) and laugh at them too.
  • Is he not posting anything new on his stupid blog and it's driving you crazy? You should send him a cheerful card stuffed with cash to inspire him.
Note: if the cartoonist near you is a lady, please substitute "her" for "his". The original of the cartoon reproduced above is in the collection of the fabulous Mr. Jef Mallett, so this is a scan of the Almanac book page. And it's the same one I ran last year, and the year before, if it looks familiar.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May the Fourth Again

Today, for those of you who care about such stuff, is May the Fourth Be With You Day. Back in 1977 I went to see Star Wars (the first, real, one) on its opening night at the Uptown Theater with a bunch of friends, which establishes my geek cred if there was any doubt. All the shows were sold out, there was a line around the block, and we ended up seeing the added-on midnight show, and some of us appeared in a photo in the Wash Post the next morning of all the geeks in line to see a movie. Somehow we all knew it was an event and the line was the place to be. The Uptown is still the best theater in DC; it's got a huge screen and a balcony and the blockbusters open there. I've stood on that sidewalk out on Connecticut Avenue for dozens of movies since and nowadays I drag my daughters along, or vice versa.

The above cartoon is one of a few Star Wars Poor Almanacs I drew, the others having now been lost. One was about the Star Wars exhibit at the Air & Space Museum back in the mid-90s and the only bit of it I remember is something about them discovering a colony of midgets still living in the giant rubber Jabba the Hutt. There was another, unfinished cartoon about the new characters in some of the prequel movies; one was a robot that was just a dangling boom microphone named Oopsie Boomshot, ha ha.

Each of the subsequent movies in the SW franchise were, for me, another big step down from the fun of the original. When the last one came out I was ready to throw something big and wet at the screen. The above was drawn before I saw it, but I'd already figured it wasn't going to be much fun. George Lucas will likely spend the rest of his career tinkering with his Star Wars oeuvre, reworking CGI effects and monkeying with the explosions and stuff. And I'll likely keep recycling old blog posts, sometimes adding a little bit here and there. Like this one.

Sunday, May 1, 2011