By Diego Ceresa of Turin, Italy
Diego was Richard’s translator (and letterer) of
Cul de Sac and other material for the Italian comics magazine Linus. When
Richard passed away, Diego wrote a version of the following for Linus, and has
recreated it for us on the occasion of publishing Compleating Cul de Sac's 2nd edtion – Mike Rhode
On July 27th, 2016 at
18:30, the Facebook page “Art of Richard Thompson” published the following few
words by Mike Rhode: Cartoonist Richard Thompson has passed away. I've been
informed by his best friend Nick Galifianakis that Richard passed away today
due to the effects of Parkinson's Disease. We're poorer for his loss, but
richer for his life and art.
Remembering Richard Thompson, the
immensity of his genius and his humanity, isn’t an easy task. To avoid writing
banalities, I thought that, better than in just my own words, his could be the
best words to remember and describe him. In 2008, when, simultaneously to the
Cul-de-Sac strips, Linus also published excerpts from his blog, we began an
email correspondence that lasted until his illness no longer allowed him to.
His messages were always full of a delicate and smart humor, and I appreciated his
extreme willingness to collaborate with an obscure overseas translator - he,
who was a famous illustrator and cartoonist - that constantly pestered him to
get drawings to publish. A little advisory: as humble and modest Richard was
with respect to his own qualities, so he exalted in an exaggerated way other
people’s qualities, as you can deduce from the lines that follow.
Hello, Mr. Thompson
(may I call you Richard?)
I'm the Italian
translator of your beautiful strip "Cul-de-Sac"
for Linus magazine. Next month it'll make its debut in Italy and
we're currently working on its presentation pages.
Although we deemed not necessary to translate the strip
characters' names, we'll like to explain the meaning
of the Otterloop surname. Could you explain what
precisely do you had in mind with it?
Since I'm also
lettering your strip, I loved your style of lettering and
would like to maintain that style in our version,
I created a font with your letters and I think
that isn't too cold and mechanical, like most
computer lettering are. I enclose a sample of it
for you to see. I hope that you won't
be angry about the font. It'll be exclusively
reserved to your strip.
I hope to hear from
Ciao Diego, if I may call you
I'm really happy and proud to hear
about Cul-de-Sac appearing in Linus magazine. It looks like you're doing a
beautiful job with it (I wish I spoke Italian so I could enjoy your
translation). The font you created is perfect, I'd say. I always think my
lettering looks lumpy, but it fits the drawings and as long as I spell things
correctly nobody ever complains.
"Otterloop" is a nonsense
word, but it's based on a phrase that residents of the Washington DC area know
well. We have a major road that circles the city called the Beltway that's
famous for heavy traffic jams. It has an Inner Loop and an Outer Loop, and I
just took the second phrase and changed it to Otterloop. I sounded funny, and
who doesn't love otters? I hope that makes sense, or at least enough sense for
a comic strip.
I have a blog at http://richardspooralmanac.blogspot.com/,
and I'll post something about my big break into Linus. I've heard of it for years
looks like a very nice place to be.
Thanks for your hard work on my
behalf and please stay in touch, especially if I can help you with anything.
And I hope all's well with you.
maybe you're beginning
to think that Italy is becoming your second country! Today I was talking by
phone with my editor, Stefania Rumor, and we were both enthusiast about your
strip and work as a whole. She would be delighted to add to your monthly run of
strips in Linus an additional page showcasing your world. I suggested that we
could include some of your blog posts, since they are delightful and full of
your subtle irony. We could put some of your sketches and would-be Cul de Sac
strips, or other features regarding your look on things and stuff. It'd be a
sort of an Italian version of your blog!
What do you think
about the matter? Of course, I'd send you that page for your approval.
I'm tickled and a little overwhelmed
by my sudden adoption by your country, and very proud to be in Linus. I'd be
delighted if you all want to use some of my other stuff, from the blog would be
fine, however it works. Seeing blog posts in print isn't something I'd counted
on; I'll have to start paying more attention to the stuff I post. But I've got
mountains of sketches, false starts and screwed-up drawings in my studio and
using them as blog posts is a good way to turn dross into gold, or at least
into something more useful than dross. We can discuss this and I'm sure we'll
come up with something. I think it sounds cool!
Did you receive my following e-mail? I'm sorry to bother you,
but my deadlines for your blog are becoming very tight...
here I am with new
requests for your blog monthly installment on Linus. This time I have to do 2
installments for the august and September issues. I enclosed all the pics I'd
need to get in hi-res, if it's possible for you to get them.’
Please forgive my slow reply. I'm
trying to get ahead on things so I can take the end of the month off, and I've
been bad about answering my email. And I haven't really gotten ahead on
here's my new request of hi-res images from your blog. You may
think that I'm a bit too demanding, but I find your blog so incredibly funny...
I'm really sad I have to renounce to other brilliant features you included. Oh,
and I'll pester you in a short time for its January installment on Linus.
Just today, looking at your fantastic drawings, I realized how
much your linework is reminiscent of Heinrich Kley's, that German genius of the
Did you spend a nice Halloween night?
I can put all these together pretty
quickly, and I'll combine the Christmas strip that's divided up into several
pieces into one file.
Thanks very much for the comparison to
Kley; you've got me walking in tall cotton, as we say. An old friend of mine, a
cartoon collector named Art Wood, had some pieces by Kley, including a
beautiful color drawing that's now in the Library of Congress collection. It's
a small piece and I could stare at it all day. I've attached a file.
Halloween was quiet for me this year as
I was the one to stay at home and answer the door. Do you have trick or treat
in Italy? It was always my favorite holiday, even more so than Christmas.
I'm rather in trouble with a strip of yours. Although I
understood the meaning of the punchline, I still don't get how to translate it
in Italian. "He finally short-sheets it into submission." I know what
"short-sheet" means, i.e. the prank with sheets and all. In Italian
we call that "Fare il sacco" (Doing the bag), but simply translating
it like that doesn't work. Could you help me in any way? Is there another
meaning, other than the literal one?
First my deep and groveling
apologies for not answering your last email; I started a reply, put it into
drafts, and it's still there. I'll finish it up and send it over the weekend.
Humm, let me think. If I remember, I
kept changing the last line on this one. How about if we change it entirely to
"He finally beats it into submission with his pillow"? Is that funny?
I can't always tell what works, and if you can think of anything funnier let me
know. Thanks for the care you're taking with this, as always.
I'm in trouble with one strip. I could not find what is the
"blop" and what's its color. Could you help me with it, please?
Your mediocre Italian translator
Dear Masterful Italian Translator,
There is no good answer to this as I
just made it up. I figure "blop" is a word a kid might use to
describe something disgusting, like something spilled on the floor. It's more
of an onomatopoeia, and if there's a better Italian equivalent feel free to use
it. Such words are one of the dangers of working with four-year-olds.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
As of tomorrow, June 26th, my email
Also, I got a haircut.
I wish you and your
family a very merry Christmas and a wonderful 2010! I guess you'll spend a
WHITE Christmas, in Virginia. We, too, had cold weather and snow until the day
before yesterday, then a warm rain melted the snow and chased away the icy
I'm hoping you and yours had and are
still having a merry Christmas! Except for big heaps on every corner, our snow
has mostly melted, which is fine with me. Our official measurement here was
20.5 inches and it fell in a day. That's plenty for this year. Our Christmas
was good; quiet but with lots of food and wine and enough people around to make
it's quite some time
since last I wrote you, but 2010 is a terrible year for me, as far as workload
is concerned. I don't remember if I said you about my Gottfredson
tour-de-force. Yes, the complete run of Mickey Mouse's strips and Sundays, 45
years worth of material, to letter in Italian in a 10-month period of time. I'm
so stressed about all that, I really can't enjoy the masterful art of Floyd
Gottfredson! His thirties strips are so... wonderful!!! But deadlines are
horrible, alas! I'm really tired, since I have to work on my usual jobs at the
same time. We are nearly through anyway. I'm completing the 34th book on a
How are you? Reading
your blog, I see that deadlines are your nightmare, too! Oh, and speaking about
your blog, that's the subject of my message:
since I noticed your
recent innovation in it, that is your commentary on your strips and Sundays,
we'd like to introduce such a feature, too, for the Italian readers of Linus.
My only question is, do you have in mind to keep going with it or was it just a
temporary feature you added? I'm asking you so to avoid to introduce it in the
magazine one month as a regular feature and then, next month to abruptly
As months and years
are passing I'm more and more convinced that you are a genius! I'm a fan of
yours, no doubt! Every piece of art you do, I like :)
It's very good to hear from you and
sorry to hear about the terrible crush of deadlines. That is a lot of Mickey
Mouse to translate and letter! I agree about the horribleness of deadlines;
without them I'd get nothing done, but they can make life sheer hell. Those covers
are quite beautiful though, and I hope that once you've finished and they're
all published you can look at the shelf full of Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse
and feel proud of your accomplishment.
As to the blog posts on daily Cul de
Sacs- yes, I intend to keep that feature running, though I've gotten behind in
the last week. I'm hoping to keep it loose enough that if I do miss a few days
I can just do a bunch of them to bring it up to date. It seems pretty popular
with the readers and they're easy to write, as they're more entertaining than
enlightening and accuracy is kind of beside the point. So yes, if Linus would
like to use them that would be great, and it'd be an impetus for me to keep it
I hope all's well with you and
yours. We're pretty good; school just started and summer was, as always, too
And again, good luck with your
deadlines! Sounds like you're in the home stretch on Mickey Mouse, so I hope
that your life gets easier very soon.
I wrote you a couple
of days ago, but Verizon's anti-spam system blocked my message, I don't know why.
This is the text of my message:
next issue of
"Linus" magazine will be celebrating the 60th year of Peanuts. The
first strip of Peanuts appeared, in fact, on October 1950. It will be a special
issue, obviously, with a large part of the mag dedicated to Schulz's
characters. Stefania Rumor, Linus magazine editor-in-chief, called me today and
asked me to ask you a comment of yours about "Peanuts", just a couple
of lines. She's doing the same with other creators that appear in the mag, as
Trudeau and so on. I guess she has in mind to put all those sentences as
headlines of the strips or maybe to squeeze them in one single page.
Do you think you could
do that? It'd be fun to read them all.
I haven't seen the new
blog page design with your strips comments. I'll send you a pdf asap.
All the best
Do you think you could
rush me in a comment like, "Peanuts was my inspiration" or "I
tried to do a strip far distant from Peanuts" or whatever? Thanks a lot if
you can (and also if you can't, anyway.)
Sorry it misidentified you as spam-
I don't know how that thing works sometimes.
When I was a child in the 1960s,
Peanuts was hitting its first peak; it was THE comic strip and dominated pop
culture like nothing else. I think it seeped into my dna too, and I'm thankful
to Charles Schulz for that.
Does that make sense? Not bad for 5
AM. Strangely enough, I'm going to meet Jeannie Schulz for the first time when
she's in DC next week for the unveiling of a portrait of Charles
Schulz at the Portrait Gallery here.
how are you? Did you
find your training helpful for your well-being? I check your blog every day to
see if you have some news to tell.
I'm doing pretty well, thanks. I've
still got a few more sessions left, but I've learned how to push through it when
I start slowing down. The hard part is often just getting up to speed and
increasing endurance. I might try rugby.
I received no scans
after #4. Did you send any new ones? Are there any troubles with regard to
My apologies! I'm a slow scanner.
More are on the way very soon, and I'll get my wife to help.
thank you so much for
the hard work you've done for us! The Sundays you sent me were wonderful and
they'll look great on the pages of Linus. 15 Sundays shall suffice, since we'll
make a little introduction on them explaining to our readers the reasons behind
the Cul de Sac retrospective. We all look forward to see your new strips, after
the guest artists efforts, and send you our best wishes!
You're more than welcome! Thank you
for using the watercolor strips when I'd run out of new stuff. I'm working on new
strips now, which I'll get help with from a friend who'll do some inking. I
hope to be up to speed soon.
how are you? It's been
so long since the last time I wrote you.
We are currently
working on the usual two-issues-in-a-month routine of Linus mag. I found out
that we'll never get enough Cul de Sac strips and Sundays to cover both august
and September issues. So, my editor-in-chief, Stefania Rumor and me, were
thinking about a possible solution to our problem. Do you remember when you
sent me those old early CdS Sundays, that only appeared on the weekly Post mag?
You mentioned that you did 150 or so of those, in the early days. May I ask you
a further effort to send me another 16-Sundays batch? I think that if they
feature a summer theme, it'd be really fine.
I'm sorry to bother
you again with that, but I really think that we're in a mess, otherwise. Do you
think you could help us again?
sorry for the slow reply. a huge
storm hit here on Friday and we're just now getting power, internet,, ac, etc
I can send you some more. how hi res
do you want them?
I hate to say it, but I think the
strip is coming to an end sometime soon. I can't keep up with it. No decision
yet, so ssshh please.
as I anticipated to
you with my previous e-mail, some of your scans were already printed on
"Linus" when we featured your blog. Exactly, four out of eight of
your scans. I searched through your blog and found 4 additional weeklies that
we could use. I'm enclosing them with this message. Do you think to have a
hi-res scan of those ones and could send them today?
Thanks a zillion for
your patience and kindness!
I let you down on this and my abject
apologies. I had a very slow couple of days and couldn't get anything done. I
haven't even made it down to my studio. I haven't kept track of the stuff Linus
has used, just the drawings I've scanned for you.
I really hope there aren't any blank
pages in the next issue and you didn't go crazy dealing with this.
I hope all is well
with you! Did you see my last e-mail, a week ago?
"I talked with my
editor-in-chief, Stefania Rumor, and she'd be very interested to publish
monthly on Linus all your early non-syndicated Cul de Sac strips (except those
already printed, of course.) Obviously getting paid for them, he he. Do you
think it could be possible? Do you hold directly their copyrights or, if not,
who should we contact about them? Could you provide us the art scans month
after month or do you know other ways to get the material, maybe from the
Washington Post itself?"
It'd be great to have
those early strips on "Linus"!
Yes, this would be great, and I hold
all rights to them. And I'm sure I'm missing a few, either sold or just plain
What would be the best way to start?
One thing that may slow things down is that I'm going in for Deep Brain
Stimulation surgery on October 12th. I have friends who're stepping up to help
with stuff and they'll find drawings and scan them if need be.
how are you? Months
are going faster than ever for me. It's time already for another batch of Cul
de Sac scans. When do you think you could send me the new installment?
I'm still moving pretty slow. And I
hate to say it, but I don't think I can get you your scans this time. I haven't even
set foot in my studio since Christmas.
how are you? Do you
feel better than the last time we exchanged e-mails? Are you still undergoing
the target adjustments needed for the electronic device to work properly or the
doctors finally found the right zone for it, in the meantime?
A few days ago
Stefania Rumor asked me about the Cul de Sac feature on Linus mag. I told her
that, for next issue, I was taking strips from your blog and that I still have
material for a couple of months, more or less. After that, we'll be regretfully
forced to stop your wonderful strip reprints. Do you think that it'll be
possible for you to do some more scans, in the next few months?
All the possible best
Don't get lost! But, sadly, I think
I'm at about the end of my scans. There are more strips but they're either
rehashes (or prehashes) of syndicated strips or they're somewhat inferior. I'll
take one more look tomorrow if you like. But I'm guessing that I've sent you
all the good ones I've got on hand.
It's been a good run and you've been
the best translator I could hope for and wonderful to work with. And more
patient than I deserve.
Keep in touch. There's a complete
Cul de Sac coming in November. And an Art of Richard Thompson book too, only
with I hope a less pretentious title (sshh about that for now, please).
All best and love to you and yours