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, July 31, 2014

Thompsoniana Continued

Will there be updates as more cards become available?

A Major Advance in Greeting Cards!

Are you tired of greeting cards that are too thoughtful? That announce their sensitivity trght from the get-go, leaving you no space for nuanced crudities? Well, the good people at Thompsoniana are here to help, with thousands* of card designs that are both attractive and uncommunicative.  Hey, we're up to our eyeballs in images here, there's gotta be some way to turn them into cash!

Boy, if I got that in the mail I wouldn't know what to think.  But I'd sure like to send it! Do you have anything for that hard-to-buy-for relative with a fondness for silly cosmologies?

How about friends whose brains float?

Suicidal clowns?

Something better?

A cranky, freshly-awoken Brunnhilde?

Something with a heart in it?

How about a heart with some math?

Do you have any greeting  cards which might appeal to a cat fancier who's also fond of music?

Wow, what a wide selection of cards! How about occasions? Anything for Mozart's Birthday?

How about Beethoven?

Presidents' Day?

The Forth of  July?

How about something literary?

 Do you have anything that'd be appropriate for someone who's experiencing an existential crisis?

Well,  I'm sold, even though the whole thing is repurposing existing images for some bucks! Now I can't wait to rely on the U.S. Postal Service for all my communication needs! Say, how much are these cards going to end up costing me? They look awful fancy.


Holy cats, only $2.95  a card? I'm doing all my card shopping at Thompsoniana! Only an ungrateful fool would do otherwise!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Your Unnecessary Magazine Illustration for Today

I drew this for the New Yorker during the investigation into the Enron scandal (which today seems quaint) and it was such a crummy experience that I realized subconsciously, inchoately*, that the bloom was off the rose and it was time to quit the illustration game. Briefly, from l. to r. there's Fastow, Lay and Skilling, the chief perpetrators.

I remember more about the drama behind the drawing. The sketch was okayed, but then came back to me for revisions. They FedExed it overnight to me for Saturday delivery. I waited on the front step for the package. The FedEx truck came and did not deliver anything, but parked next door. The driver was blaring opera (why do I remember that?). Just before he pulled away I ran down the hill and hammered on his door. It turned out that he had almost misdelivered the package and was quite upset by it (he kept saying "Oh Lordy!" like it was a major crime). I was just glad to get the package. The changes were all minor. They said Ken Lay looked like he had a black eye so I fixed that with some gouache (I actually rather like fixing boo-boos; it appeals to my fussy side), and had it in the mail the next Monday.

It was going to be a full page illustration so I was disappointed when the issue came out - it had shrunk to spot size. By then I was starting not to care. The things you can do in Photoshop allow an editor or art director to tinker endlessly with your work or force you to tinker endlessly with your work, and deadlines are mutable.

So like I said, the bloom was off the rose and it was about time to change careers. But gradually. Gimme, like, 4 or 5 years.

*"Inchoately" is a $25 word.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mutt & Jeff

Here's an early caricature cover for the Post's National Edition to illustrate an article on Edwin Meese and George Schultz. I used to do covers for them fairly often, and this was the first, from about 1987-8. The National edition was (is?) a weekly tabloid that reprinted the week's stories, etc.; sort of like a magazine. And, for a cover like this, they'd pay the handsome sum of $200. So I was inspired. If it had been any more money, I'd've been worried.

In doing this, I filled two pads of my then-favorite paper, Bienfang Ad-Art, a translucent layout paper I liked before I started using a lightbox. At 100 sheets per pad, we're talking a serious emotional investment, probably due to inexperience and the kind of panic that hits at 4 a.m. when you've got a drawing due that day and you imagine a magazine with a blank cover  and your byline. (one guess what my reoccurring nightmare is).  My only clear memory of those two days (well, nights) is poring over works by Sorel, Steadman and other, better artists who knew what they were doing to see how to do it.

Finally, along about 4 a.m. on the second, penultimate night, something clicked. And after drawing these two bozos umpty-ump times it was probably my sanity. Suddenly, I had them both on one page. I added some colored pencil (enough to show it was supposed to be in color), Metroed down to the Post (from Gaithersburg, Md, where I then lived about 20 miles) and turned it in.

Later, this got into the Society of Illustrators' 2nd Humor show, and still later my brother was rear ended in Georgetown by Edwin Meese's limo.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

more merchandising

ONLY $23.95



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Art in Illustration

Here's an issue I've never seen addressed anywhere, so it's either too tough or it's nonexistent.  I mean, of course, using Art in illustration. I've made known my theories of Art for quite  some time. With maddening deliberation, I remove my pince-nez and quote myself (picture Edward Van Sloan in Lugosi's Dracula), "Comics is a bastard medium (embarrassed laughter).  Image marries Language, then tires of his nonstop chatter, dumps him, and runs off with  Commerce. Then, a couple years later, Image realizes she's stuck in a double-wide with this lummox and a bastard child (cries of "Here now!" and "There's a good fellow!") Commerce's heavy drinking and uncertain paycheck force Image to work at an unsavory dog track and loses her looks. (cries of, "Resign!") So Commerce runs off with Telemarketing (pandemonium and gunfire), And that, gentlemen, is my answer to the question - Are Comics Art? Which, sadly has nothing to do with the subject at hand. Let's have a photo of Edward Van Sloan with a link.

No, I mean when you draw stuff that's already been drawn, like this-

Or this-

Or even this-

But not this-

Your Unnecessary Magazine Illustration for Today

I know, this is really a sneaky way to get an illo for the  Art of Whatsis, pad this blog and waste everyone's time repurposing old, stale art. Yeah, so? Watcha gonna do about it, four-eyes?

I don't remember what magazine this was done for, only that I turned it in to Bono Mitchell. Some screed against smoking would be my guess. I do recall that it was, "they're all smoking." And that I did it very quickly. Probably because it's just out-and-out ugly, and nothing fires up a cartoonist's muse as the Ugly.   

 I used oil on paper, which is not recommended for longevity, but I used Liquin, a thixotropic, resin-based medium that took the place of linseed oil. I worked in my normal mantra for this technique, dabbing half-heartedly at it with the foam rubber padding they use under carpets (this is true). 

The rest must wait till the Art of Carpet Sample.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Small things

Here's another teaser quote from that impatiently-awaited, incipient best-seller the Art of Whosis (as  seen on TV!*), But this time I include some actual text, taken from an actual PDF of the actual book, to sweeten the deal! Once again the part of "BW" is played by Bill Watterson while I assay the rĂ´ll of "RT" (we did funny accents),

This is what I was trying to get at in the previous post about the specific vs. the general. A comic strip is the ideal medium to bear small ideas (no jokes, please), especially one with little kids in it. I'll show you; here's a strip from the Post Magazine that's not in the Complete Cul de Sac because I forgot about it, even though it's one of my favorites; I gave it to my brother for Christmas. He kindly lent it back for use in the Art book. 

That's taken from a true, well I hate to call it a "story"; it's barely an anecdote. But both of us remembered it, that one inch gap between iron and shirt that made the animatronic maid's efforts so stupidly poignant. Woodie's windows were an important part of Christmastime for us as it was for many in the DC area, so I knew this would resonate back when CdS was a local strip.

Here's perhaps the height, or nadir, of smallness. For a week Dill followed that bug. You can't get much punier. Yet in  the last year of CdS, I tried some microscopic gags, all to make producing  the strip easier.

This is a rough for Stacy Curtis to ink. A week of repeating the same scene led to this-

In short, the constant search for Ways to Do Things Faster, the Shortcuts to Fill the Page, make smallness ideal.  Look at one of my favorites-

There's so little movement in it that I used the same rough for 8 panels! Alice is the only movement, and she's just fidgeting around. And the smallness is carried through the dialog; casual chitchat that goes nowhere. I'm almost embarrassed to've constructed a whole strip around this.

But that's my other point; that a comic can be made up out  of the mist desultory, small, nothing  banter imaginable and successfully present a legitimate funny, universal idea. And there's a chance you'll make your deadline.



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On the front is Alice mauling Polyfill.
On the back is the title of a forgotten comic strip.
You wear this shirt. Chicks dig it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Agreed; The Specific is Funnier Than The General

In the last chapter of the forthcoming must-have book of the year, the Art of Some Guy, I bloviate, dilate & expound on comic strips at excruciating length with Bill Watterson, with a few unrelated ventures into global politics, sports and fashion. At one point, there's this exchange;

RT: I remember one of the first interviews I gave to some reporter somewhere. She called and I told her "the particular is always more funny than the general." And she said, "could you be more specific?" (BW and  RT laugh). And I couldn't! I hemmed and hawed for ten minutes! (Laughter).
My point is not that I can hem & haw for ten minutes (my current personal best for hemming & hawing is 24 hours). My point is the Specific is funnier than the General. It's axiomatic, whatever that means, and I still can't think of any specific examples. So let's run some strips to distract you and make you think you've learned something.

Be sure to watch for future helpful & informative tutorials on the comic arts!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Poodle in the Playground

Here's something so old I'd almost forgotten it. For the Post Magazine of  June 21,1998 I did a piece suggested by my friend Bruce Guthrie, a close student of history, taken from a tourist guidebook to odd places. I even went to the playground so the drawing would be accurate. Strangely, this listing was gone in the next edition. My thanks to Mike Rhode for ferreting this out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


I hate to alarm anybody but there are only ten copies of Richard's Poor Almanac left on the planet. I had 500, bought at firesale rates from a sinking publisher, but now those are gone. Like the passenger pigeon they once darkened the skies, but, alas, no longer. And who is to blame? All the greedy people who're hoarding copies of RPA in false walls, toasters, attics and under floorboards, like in Fahrenheit 451.

But panic no further! Those of you wanting a copy of this understandably scarce book will be happy to hear that now you can snag a copy for a reasonable sum. One More Page Books, my friendly neighborhood bookstore that also stocks the Collected CdS, has a supply of RPAs on hand, all signed by me. Copies are going for $15 (I think) and they'll ship your book right to your door for just $4. Run on over to 2200 N. Westmoreland Street, Suite 101 Arlington, VA,  22213 or call 703-300-9746 or email and tell 'em to send you a copy and quick, or you'll have some kind of Richard's Poor Almanac-related syncope.

These charts once appeared on Amazon's RPA page. I have no idea what they mean.