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, December 5, 2022

Ciao, Richard (2016)

Ciao, Richard

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 you soon.

 Kind regards


Ciao Diego, if I may call you Diego?,

 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, 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.



 Dear Richard,

 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.


Dear Diego,

 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!




Hello, Richard!

 Did you receive my following e-mail? I'm sorry to bother you, but my deadlines for your blog are becoming very tight...

 ‘Dear Richard,

 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 anything, either.




Dear Richard,


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 past.

Did you spend a nice Halloween night?


Dear Diego,


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.



 Dear Richard,

 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 is richardcthompson@……..

 Also, I got a haircut.




Dear Richard,

 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 temperatures, sob!


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 some noise.



 Dear Richard,

 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 38-book schedule.


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 interrupt it.

 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 :)


Hi Diego,

 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 going.

 I hope all's well with you and yours. We're pretty good; school just started and summer was, as always, too brief.

 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.




Dear Richard,

 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:

 "Dear Richard,

 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.)


Dear Diego,

 Sorry it misidentified you as spam- I don't know how that thing works sometimes. 

 How's this-

 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.




Dear Richard,

 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.



 Dear Richard,

 I received no scans after #4. Did you send any new ones? Are there any troubles with regard to them?


My apologies! I'm a slow scanner. More are on the way very soon, and I'll get my wife to help.



 Dear Richard,

 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.



 Dear Richard,

 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.




Dear Richard,

 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.




Dear Richard,

 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 lost.

 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.




Hi Richard,

 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.




Dear Richard,

 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


Hi Diego,

 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


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