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, December 3, 2009

Now Available at the Otterloop Store

Many fine giftables, necessities, unmentionables, sundries and kitschy schlock, all with the handmade artisanal attention to detail that makes Otterloop a synonym for quality! Including many items with Feral Two Year Old Alice and our exclusive line of Uh-Oh Baby Infantwear. Go here, or simply head over to Cafe Press and search for Otterloop. And watch for our full-page color ad in tomorrow's Faquier Democrat-Gazette, next week's New Yorker, or next year's McSweeney's!

Sneak Peek

Here's a bit of the cover for the Golden Treasury: A Keepsake Garland of Classics. Some adjustments may be made in the color. The first time I drew it, I lettered in A Keepsake Garden of Classics. Which is, of course, completely wrong and makes no sense.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fan Art Saturday Falls On A Saturday This Week Again! Maybe the Universe is Working Right After All

More Fine Fan Art has arrived this week, making me very happy and leaving almost completely unable to draw. This is the creative psychic balance I've been trying to hit; to be in a frenzy of inspiration yet frozen by inadequacy, if that makes sense.

First my friend Jack Gartner has caught the tone of the strip perfectly; everyone's off in his or her own little world. If only they could somehow combine their dreams into one larger dream. Beni builds Toy World, Dill pushes carts in the parking lot, and you have to go through Alice to get inside, probably after an enforced period of watching her dance. And Mr.Danders is being ignored, just like in real life. Thanks, Jack, there's a whole Sunday strip right there!

The accomplished cartoonist Melissa Mendes has drawn Alice as she appeared in one of my favorite strips, where Alice changed costumes in every panel*. Melissa has a delightful blog where she posts drawings and news from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction VT. Thank you, Melissa! If this is any indication of how the youth of today are using their education, I say there's hope for the future.

Alice enters the third dimension with frightening accuracy thanks to my friend Mark Anderson's dab hand at Legos. Just think how many man hours were involved in this bust that might've been otherwise wasted on something productive. Thank you, Mark, for this investment in Cul de Sac Fine Fan Art! I hope the Lego people see it and market it as a kit. And Mark draws even better than he plays with Legos!

There, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Can you create some Fine Fan Art that will match these magnificent offerings? G'wan, I dare ya!


Friday, November 27, 2009

The Comics Reporter's Black Friday Shopping Guide 2009

Tom Spurgeon has assembled his annual guide to the perfect Christmas present for a comics fan. It's a great, useful list, and I don't say that just because there's a CdS book on it (though that doesn't hurt). Me, I'd like almost anything on the list, especially the Herbie doll.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ringraziamento Felice!

Are there any Italian recipes for turkey?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving 2006

And Big Shirley's debut.

Thanksgiving 2005

This may be Grandma's first appearance.

Thanksgiving 2004

This was done as a Thanksgiving special for the Post Magazine in 2004. It's a little contrived, but I like it.

A Holiday Classic

This originally ran, in slightly different form, in the Washington Post Magazine. With an illustration by Gene Weingarten.

Seventeen years ago today, my wife, Amy, and I were about to celebrate our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. We were going to serve a large feast on our new plates on our new table in our newly rented home for as many of our extended family as could make it. The night before Thanksgiving we went to a bar with friends and we had a most festive and enjoyable time, I personally enjoying it more than anyone else. When we got home, in hopes of coninuing my festively enjoyable time, I started dancing around like Fred Astaire would if Fred Astaire danced in his socks.

Our house was old and strangely shaped and it was heated by radiators, big iron monsters, all coils and ribs and flanges. The kind of fixture that would give sensitive children nightmares. I, as Fred Astaire would not, executed a kick that planted my foot squarely into the radiator in the hall, good and hard.

Amy, seeing me suddenly rolling around on the floor, thought I was still enjoying myself, until I pulled my sock off. One toe was bent completely back, and since it was the middle one, it looked like my foot was giving me the toe, if you know what I mean. It was indescrabably funny, in a silent-film-comedy-trauma way. And it hurt like "the dickens". The dickens is when the entire output of Charles Dickens-all 15 hardbound novels, plus journalism, letters and ephemera-is simultaneously dropped from a height and hits you.

The folks at the emergency room were extremely helpful and didn't laugh and didn't yell at me when I did some doughnuts with the wheelchair and knocked over the IV stand. But the nurse on duty did tell me an awful story about when he was in the Navy and won a $300 bet that he couldn't pull all the hairs off the top of his foot with tweezers without screaming. And they gave me some Tylenol 3, the kind with codeine, the kind that comes with the warning that not everybody reacts well to codeine.

So that is how I ended up at the head of our table the next day, Thanksgiving Day, with my mangled foot elevated on another chair, presiding over our first Thanksgiving feast. And that is when, not ten minutes into the meal, I fould out I was one of the people who react badly to codeine. And it was Amy who quickly handed me a bowl, the fancy one that matched our new plates and was fortunately empty, for me to react badly in.

It's been 16 years. The toe's still there, of course, though it's still bent a little funny. The house is gone, or at least so renovated it's unrecognizable, and good riddance; it was an astestos-clad eyesore and a menace.

Somehow, subsequent family holidays have never quite matched that First Thanksgiving for intensity of emotion; not the Christmas of the Flaming Oven Mitt, or the Other Thanksgiving When the Fireplace Blew Up, or that Day or Two Before Easter When We Had to Evacuate Because of a Carbon Monoxide Leak That Almost Killed Everybody.

The only downside is that, ever since I broke my toe that night, I've been forced to draw with my hands.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cul de Sac Coloring Contest!

Today at the Comic Riffs Blog Michael Cavna announces an exciting contest that will test the very fiber of your creativity, if your creativity is in fact fibrous. Details can be found

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fan Art Saturday Falls On A Saturday This Week Again!

This week we have two Very Special Friends of Cul de Sac - but aren't you all? (said in a Dame Edna Everage voice, please).

First, Ms. Jennifer Hart of Arlington, who writes and hand delivers to us a perceptive and funny weekly newsletter and who also bakes us excellent cookies, somehow found the time to draw these two excellent images, both of which I wish I'd've thought of.

This one, casting Petey as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and Alice as the Ghost of Christmas Past, really cracks me up. Who would play Scrooge? Mr. Danders, of course.
Here Mrs. Otterloop has some problems with her annual Winter Sweater, a theme I've visited a few times. And probably will again soon enough, but Jennifer got to this variation first, darnit.

Mr. Diego Ceresa, the renaissance man, artist and translator whose work we've lauded on this blog before, sent in this vivid image of Alice If She Had Pupils. It's haunting in the same way an Andy Warhol painting would be, if Andy Warhol had ever had the foresight to paint Alice Otterloop.

Mille grazie to Diego and Jennifer! I'm inspired, which I sure do need because I got a pile o' work to do.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tall Tales Radio

That nice man Tom Racine- cartoonist, podcaster, voice extraordinaire- called me the other day and we had a nice long chat. Et voila, it's available as a podcast over at the excellent Tall Tales Radio! Tom's the one who sounds like Superman, I sound like a helium addict who plays the kazoo, and not well, either.

While you're over at TTR, please take the time to vote for Tom's mighty work at Did you know he's done 60 high-quality & informative podcasts? The man's indefatigable! And he looks good in a derby.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Golden Treasury Keepsake Garland of Classics

This is the first public glimpse of the cover rough for the Cul de Sac Golden Treasury Keepsake Garland of Classics, due to hit the shelves Spring of 2010. The Cul de Sac Golden Treasury Keepsake Garland of Classics will gather the complete contents of both previous Cul de Sac books, plus author commentary, drawing how-tos, grammar tips, suggestions for improved posture, recommendations for further reading and a favorite recipe for spoonbread, whatever the hell that is.

Fan Art Saturday Falls On A Saturday This Week Again!

Here we have two masterful examples of fan art. So masterful, in fact, that I'm considering passing the strip along to one of you people; I can't do this forever, you know. And then Cul de Sac would qualify as a "legacy" strip, making its position on the comic pages inviolable. I'd just keep 95% of the take, plus all rights into perpetuity. Deal?

From our old friend the cartoonist & animator Marc Crisafulli comes this heart-warming scene of an unexpected romance between Nara and Beni, As Nara is the most mature and accomplished student at Blisshaven (being 4 1/2) and Beni is more competent than most, especially Dill, I shouldn't be surprised. Please note the liveliness of the line and the subtle yet fanciful color. Marc, take a bow!

Here Mr. Evan "Doc" Shaner proposes a very likely explanation for the name Blammos. And he includes the redoubtable Mr. Danders, who I've sadly neglected for the last year. When I look at a piece like this it makes me wish I knew how to draw. Thank you, Doc, please take a bow! And thanks for the kind email (and my regards to your wife).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alice at Two

Here's a bit of today's strip; Alice at two, or The Feral Child.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fan Art Saturday Falls On A Saturday This Week

Here are two more excellent additions to our burgeoning collection of Fan Art.

First, from the multi-talented triple-threat omni-directional Chris Eliopolous, this terrifying preview of what could happen if Petey should somehow stumble into the presence of the awful Uh-Oh Baby. Thanks, Chris! It's bone-chilling!

Next, cartoonist, blogger, founder of Falling Rock State Park and longtime long distance friend of CdS Josh Shalek limns Petey and his own Uh-Oh Baby, the dread Ernesto. Truly horrifying, especially as Ernesto is based on a real person, or possibly two. Thanks, Josh!  

More TK, as we say in journalism.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Something Halloweeny Part II

With much help from the mighty Diego Ceresa, renaissance man. Below is the original in English. It seems less satisfying somehow.

Something Halloweeny

From 2006. The flying candy was fun to draw. Below, the great Diego Ceresa's masterful recasting in Italian.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fan Art Saturday Falls On A Wednesday, Updated

Finally, with my profound thanks for your contributions and apologies for my slowness in posting them, here's some Fan Art.

First, from Ross Klettke, this engaging portrait of, in his words, "someone who kinda looks like Petey." That's about as close as I ever get. And please admire the lovely frame-

Next, from Navy Bean, comes a loving rendering of Alice in all her glory. Getting Alice's hair right is particularly hard; I never do, but Navy nailed it.

From poet-cartoonist Teresa Dowlatshahi, Miss Bliss. Teresa reports that she's scared of Miss Bliss's formidable bun. I hope that drawing it exorcized that demon, though it's never worked for me.

This impressive full length portrait of Beni is provided by Asa Giannini. I especially admire the hammer, the houses, and the subtle color sense.

The famed John Glynn sent this bust of children's author Oswaldo Twee, which is acutely observed and personally flattering.

We thank Anonymous for the following. I've always admired the work of Anonymous in all the arts and this may well be his/her finest effort.

Our friend and renaissance man Chris Sparks sent us this compelling Alice via Facebook. Among Chris's many accomplishments (web designer, art collector, father) he's also a master cheesemonger, which is as much fun to type as it is to say!

Stan Ortega chose to limn Annoyed Guy in Movie Theatre, whose memorable turn in a Sunday strip is still the talk of comics fans across the nation. Those eyes, how they haunt me!   

From Argentina, from the pen of the mighty Kioskerman, comes this passionate. lively and wholly wonderful Alice. Gracias, Pablo!

Dallion sends us this wonderful sketch of an unexpected subject. Nice choice, Dallion, and keep it up with the pen & ink. Just remember that ink's a liquid medium like watercolor and that happy accidents are your best friend!  

There you are, the first collection of CdS Fan Art from the magic day that Saturday happened on Wednesday. More later.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fan Art Corner with Update

This post inaugurates a new and unique feature for this blog- art submitted by fans, avowed or unwitting, of Cul de Sac! You could search the web over and find nothing comparable to our Fan Art Corner! Here we present Alice as imagined by the Mighty Mo Willems (whose "Pigs Make Me Sneeze" just debuted at #5 on the NY Times Bestselling Children's Books). Acclaimed as an author, artist, out-loud-reader, stand up comic and general ball-of-fire, former Sesame Street resident Mo Willems is perhaps best known for providing the forward to the second Cul de Sac collection. Which by its virtuosity, subtlety and humor made the cartoons in the book seem superfluous, much as the forward by Bill Watterson had dominated the first collection. For the third collection we've got Walt Disney, who was recently discovered frozen in a glacier in the Swiss Alps, still locked in combat with his nemesis, Pegleg Pete. For that book we're leaving the cartoons out entirely; they're a letdown and an anticlimax, and who needs that? What was I talking about...?

Fan Art! So if you have a hand-drawn (no tracing!) original image of a Cul de Sac character- Alice, Petey, Dill, Beni, a grocery cart- send it my way and I'll post it right here at Fan Art Corner! Nothing too elaborate that might make my work look feeble in comparison please.

UPDATE- Thanks to all who sent in such fine, heart=felt work! I'll post them later today, and designate Saturday Fan Art Day.



Friday, October 16, 2009


Back in the late 80s and early 90s I did a whole string of work for the National Institute of Health, the huge research facility on a sprawling campus that's right across the street from Bethesda Navy Hospital. Which must be convenient if they ever need to borrow anything. I had friends working in the graphic department who produced some beautiful work; signage, banners, posters, brochures, invitations to the many events held there, etc. Sometimes they'd hire freelancers and, if they needed something laughable, sometimes it'd be me.

This was the first job I did for them, and it got plastered all over the hospital. I've still got one hanging in my studio which means I still like it. I like the hand, and the almost entirely inaccurate rendering of the Clinical Center. And of course the message, which is still important today.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amazon Crazy Days Blow Out Special!

For a limited time Amazon is offering the first Cul de Sac book for only $5.20! Follow this link

Oops! Too late!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Today's Poor Almanack

This is the first one in a while. I nay be a little out of practice.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


No full deck jokes.

Thank you.

Mary Z. Gray

This is my friend Mary Z. Gray on a video from the Washington Post site. My dad worked with Mary on the President's Committee on Mental Retardation back in the 60s and 70s. In 1982, after Mary had become a crack freelancer of humor and travel pieces, she sold a story to the Washington Post Style section and sent along a drawing I did with it. The Post published the story, which wasn't unusual, they'd run Mary's stuff for some time, but they ran the drawing too, thus inadvertently launching my dubious career.

In the video Mary, who's one of the funniest raconteurs I know, talks quite movingly about growing up on Capitol Hill and living above her father's funeral parlor. I'd heard her talk about this before, but never known the address of her old residence. Reading the interview in today's Post Metro section. I turned to B8 at the jump and there was a photo of the house's current incarnation. It's now the Haskell Center, part of the Folger Shakespeare Library where my wife works as a docent.

The full interview with Mary is here

Poll at Comic Riffs

There's a poll over at Mike Cavna's Comic Riffs blog about Cul de Sac's placement in the Sunday Post. My official position is, as long as they keep it away from the obituaries and the tire ads. I'm satisfied.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


In the Great Computer Crash of Aught-9 we lost most all of our old emails and a good chunk of our addresses. If I owe you an email you might want to send me a new one, or send one just to remind me of your address. Emails that include cathartic or uplifting jokes will, of course, receive priority.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Our computer just died, after spitting out steam and giant bedsprings. Amy says it doesn't seem able to locate its own hard drive (and it's sitting right there, plain as day). We may have to wipe it and start all over. Or drop it from a height, which'd be more emotionally satisfying. This is being typed on the laptop, which feels flimsy and toy-like.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Our Annual Plea

This is a repeat of a post from two years ago. October 2nd is the birthday of Groucho Marx, born Julius Henry Marx in 1890. In celebration, I propose a national Walk Like Groucho Day, to be held on this date annually. Everybody walks like Groucho, or we line 'em up against the wall and Pop goes the weasel!

How do you walk like Groucho? You just squat and scuttle, taking long strides, not as extreme as a duck-walk and not as athletic as a Silly Walk. If you can wear a tail coat that flaps behind you so much the better. I've included this chart which illustrates Newton's 2nd Law of Motion (Force = Mass x acceleration), and shows ground reaction forces measured in various strides and different types of footwear. Please note the looping blue line labeled "Groucho". I'm sure this'll help you a whole lot. The chart was taken from Dr. Chris Kirtley's site Clinical Gait Analysis (You can't propose a day of national celebration without some kind of scientific & academic support.)

So quick everybody! Squat 'n' Scuttle!

It's also Wash Post Genius Gene Weingarten's birthday! I detect a theme, and it may not be in the way they walk.