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, January 29, 2012

Fan Art Sunday

This blog has a long and noble tradition of posting art by fans of Cul de Sac, most of whom draw a whole lot better than the regular guy. One such is Austin Milne, who sent in this deft portrayal of Alice, Petey and Dad. He says he's drawn them all, "from Alice's imagination," which I like because it shows he's figured out the whole point if the strip. And when he's got a moment, I hope he'll explain it to me.

I'm kidding. Thank you very much, Austin! Continue to draw every day, splash around with watercolor and doodle in the margins. The last is probably the most important.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Team Cul de Sac Has A Cover

Just a few tweaks and some color and there 'tis.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac from Two Days Ago, January 22 2012

My original plan was to have a week of Mom reading Lewis Carroll to Alice, with Alice responding in various annoying ways. Like here, where she's fixating on some pointless digression because that's what four-year-olds often do.

I don't remember why but the week got boiled down to a Sunday. It's an excuse to try drawing like the formidable John Tenniel, whose definitive Alice illustrations show Wonderland in careful, other-worldly detail and solidity. Which was a stupid thing to do, as I discovered after fussing with the counterfeit Tenniels and using up half a bottle of ProWhite on Alice alone. I meant to save the roughs for this and post them. They were nice and loose and got a semi-Tennielly effect in a few quick lines without any worrying but I must have chucked them.

Millions of illustrators have taken a shot at illustrating Carrol's Alice. His characters and situations exert a powerful visual fascination; you want to draw a croquet game with flamingo mallets just to see what it'd look like. For me, of all the other artists who've tried, only a two have brought something worthwhile to putting Wonderland on paper- Ralph Steadman and Deloss McGraw. But neither is likely to unseat Tenniel as Court Painter to the White Queen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


For all the supportive comments and emails. I was glad to hear from so many that you don't mind repeats* and that you'll still be here when I get back. Till then please don't mess with any of my stuff.

*Paul Karasik may actually prefer them.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, January 15 2012, as you might've noticed, a repeat of the strip from January 18, 2009. If you hadn't noticed then please go ahead and enjoy it (exploding socks!). But I'm guessing you noticed and you probably noticed that recently there've been a whole lot of Cul de Sac repeats and you're too nice to say anything (though you're likely thinking, Whoa, somebody sure takes a lot of vacations). I mean, c'mon, what's going on here?

Well, I'm taking some time off. Some more time off, three or four weeks. I'm about to start a program of physical therapy sessions designed for people with Parkinson's. I've only been in for an evaluation, but the therapy largely consists of big, exaggerated movements and sweeping silly walks that will so embarrass your body that it'll start behaving itself, I hope. Also I'll learn ten ways to defeat a mugger by falling on him.

Garry Trudeau likened daily newspaper comics to a public utility that delivers its service so regularly that any interruption is seen as some kind of major systems failure. .Though well aware of this, the kind folks at Universal Press have been greatly supportive and urged me to do whatever I needed to do. So I'm'a gonna.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Team Cul de Sac Book Available for Pre-Order at Sparking Design

  Sparking Design, the web & print firm run by the indefatigable Chris Sparks and the irresistible Jamie King, has got the goods! Here's the product information-
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449419666
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449419660 
  • Drawings of Alice et al by better cartoonists than me.
Why, it's worth it for that sweet ISBN alone! Not to mention you'll be helping the Michael J. Fox Foundation in its good work opening a big can of whupass on Parkinson's Disease!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Here's something from the Post Weekend section from 1996 for Friday the Thirteenth. I also ran it last year, but almost too late for Friday 13th, so here it is early which should give you time to prepare. The cover was watercolor, one of the first large ones I tried. The inside drawings were pen & ink with colored pencil and pastel blotted with Liquin (a weird mix but it reproduces well enough on newsprint). I wish I'd spent more time on the demons unrolling a calendar on the first page. See also here.

We're Number One!

The Cul de Sac Golden Trasury; A Keepsake Garland of Classics is now #1 in Amazon's Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Comics & Graphic Novels > Comic Strips & Cartoons! I have no clear idea what this means, and it's a vanishingly arcane category and the download costs mere pennies, but number one is number one.

By the time you read this it will have sunk into the low 6 digits, but I'm momentarily elated.

Today's Cul de Sac, January 12 2012

I used the sled-dragging joke before, in December 2008. It's even the same onomatopoeia. The drawing looks neater in the earlier version; I got fussy with the white-out on this one and didn't know when to stop fixing it. And I couldn't find the pen nib I usually use for lettering. The one I fell back on was feebler. Also, that's the worst signature I ever signed. Why you people read a strip with such shoddy standards is, quite frankly, beyond me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Mighty Alice

Et voilá- here's the final mechanical for the next Cul de Sac book! "Mechanical" is a technical printing term that I've never gotten around to learning, but I think it means a pretty final version in this case. This'll be the first time that I didn't do the color on a CdS book. It was colored by Kansas City watercolorist Peggy McKeehan, who's done a lot of work for Andrews & McMeel, and I think she did a fine job. I appreciate her deft touch and dab hand.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, January 10 2012

It's been a while since I posted one of these things. Let's see if I remember how to do it. I chose this strip to annotate because I redrew it 4 or 5 times. The middle panel gave me fits; it kept turning out too tidy, too stacked instead of heaped, too neat. The comics have a distinguished history of eyesore back yards, and front yards too, from Hogan's Alley to George Booth (see below), so I felt I had a tradition to uphold.

Each time I redrew it the dialog and the gag changed, Originally Alice is disgusted by the squalor and says Get me outta here! But there's nothing funny about that and it makes no sense; Alice is a slob with no natural objections to Dill's back yard. She'd more likely go home and try to do the same thing to her back yard. And, as someone who has a messy back yard, I've got no business acting all superior back-yard-wise. So out of great struggle and profound deliberation comes this Cul de Sac for January 10, 2012.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sneak Peek, Updated

Here are three roughs for the next Cul de Sac book. Which one will it be? See below.

And the final cover-

If this seems familiar, it is.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

RIP, Ronald Searle

I wrote this for Mike Cavna at Comic Riffs. For a little more, go here; for much, much more, go here (it's worth it). For almost too much, but to understand Searle more fully, go here.

For a long time Ronald Searle's work exerted a tidal pull on me, as it has at some point for a lot of cartoonists. The first time his stuff hit me hard was in 1978 when I got a big, lovely art book titled Ronald Searle, and it was like a window opened. His drawings were so potent and dense and alive with comic energy. His pen could do anything; it went curling and spiraling all over the paper, describing a world that was ugly, bitter, grotesque, hilarious and sometimes, briefly, quite sweet. It made me suddenly aware of how liquid ink is, how it skips and splotches and pools when it hits the paper. It was also obvious Searle had a deep appreciation for the history of the graphic arts and an awareness of how he fit into it. This was heady stuff for a generally clueless 20 year old semi-cartoonist to be exposed to, and it took a few years for me to put my own eyes back in my head.

 Searle's style was so powerful that any other artist who mimicked its effects was pretty quickly overwhelmed by it and exposed as inferior. I think Searle himself was a little intimidated by his chops. There's a bit in his biography that tells of him taping the fingers of his drawing hand together to slow himself down and avoid becoming too facile. I've heard that he planned his work pretty carefully and his wiry, sprung lines were laid down with a lot more control than might be apparent.

Pat Oliphant said something to the effect that going through a Searle period is good for cartoonists, as long as they pull out of it before it's too late.  The best way out, of course, is to draw and draw some more, as far away from the source of inspiration as possible and under circumstances that don't allow for cheating (i.e., a deadline). It's hard but think I managed it.

But still, I'd give my right arm if I could draw like this-

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Traditions are important; they're a way of saying, "I did it this way before and it seemed to work OK" or "I haven't got anything new." So to start the year off the same, here's a drawing of an elephant with a New Year's Baby. Because traditions are important, like I said.