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, April 19, 2010

Some Small Drawings for Project X

These are some small random-seeming drawings I did for a project I'm working on in all this spare time I've got on my hands. It's a secret right now, but once it's completed and unveiled before an unsuspected world you won't believe how you ever lived without it. Unless I get distracted or bored and wander off, in which case, eh, no big loss.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Today's Cul de Sac

When I drew this one I fussed with the background too much, putting in all this crosshatching and textured greys and all that mess. In a sudden fit of disgust and lucidity I blotted it all out with black ink. Nice, tasteful, simple black ink. Dr. Ph. Martin's Hi-Carb Black Ink to be specific.

There, that's my tale of drama, conflict and resolution for today.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Cul de Sac Animations to Make Your Life More Fun

Thanks to the fine folks at Ringtales, through the courtesy of Babelgum, here are four more animated Cul de Sacs. If you listen carefully to the last episode, The One That Got Away, you'll hear my wife, the fabulous and accomplished Amy Greenisen Thompson, say "no."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Wisdom of Bill Griffith

This is the best advice for drawing comics I've ever seen. Forty points by Zippy's friend, Bill Griffith. Thanks to Sherm Cohen at Cartoon Snap, passed along by Tom Spurgeon at Comics Reporter.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages

John Read, the indefatigable editor, publisher and comics fan, is putting together a show of original comic strip art that you could call wide-ranging, if you were given to understatement. He picked the publishing date of April 11, 2010 (that's today) and asked as many syndicated cartoonists as he could think of (pretty much all of them) to lend that day's original drawing for a show that, well, here's what John says-
I’m beginning with an exhibit featuring currently-syndicated comic strips. This show will be a unique, one-of-a-kind collection of today’s comics, from the oldest, The Katzenjammer Kids and Gasoline Alley, to the newest, Dustin, and will be billed as “a celebration of a quintessentially American Sunday pleasure.” One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages will feature the original art of 85 to 100 different comic strips and panels (that will have been) published in newspapers on the same Sunday (April 11, 2010). Alongside the framed “raw” art of the strips will be displayed the actual comics sections from newspapers across the country, giving people a behind-the-scenes, before-and-after experience. The first showing of One Fine Sunday will begin in late May/early June of 2010.
A mostly-complete list of those comics John's got lined up is here, though it's grown to over 100 by now, some by cartoonists who hadn't even been born when John first thought this up I'll bet. And, if it works, I understand there'll be a printed color supplement version of the entire show, a chromatic effulgence of such brilliance and radiance it should only be viewed through smoked glasses lest it drive the beholder mad. From what I've seen of John's ingenious schemes, they mostly do work.

Above is what I came up with. The original's a mess, blops of white-out and food stains (probably jelly) all over it. So I hope the frame John puts it in is nice.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Big U

I swiped this from the Universal Press Editors' Blog. It's a photo taken by Hugh Andrews of the looming shadow of the the UPS headquarter's big U logo cast on a neighboring building. It's like that scene in Journey to the Center of the Earth where the cast shadow of the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull points out the crater that will lead the Lidenbrock party to the Earth's center. I'll bet you were thinking that too, right? So, c'mon Hugh and John and everybody! See if the big U points the way to a land of living dinosaurs and giant mushrooms and Pat Boone, who was in the movie version!

A Mostly True History

I meant to repost this earlier, but in my headlong rush to promote all the flashy new media iterations of CdS I forgot this very important lesson in our nation's history.

UPDATED Chris Sparks and Me and My Big Mouth UPDATED AGAIN

UPDATE- Here's the whole darn thing in 7 (seven!) parts. Bring a snack.

My friend Chris Sparks (comics fan extraordinaire, cheesemonger, web designer, Ashevillian) made me answer questions into a microphone a few months back. Here are 3 of 4 parts of it (hint- I'm the one who mumbles): 1, 2, 3. The whole thing runs about 14 minutes, though I haven't listened to all of it yet. The part where we get into a big fight about Popeye is epic.
And here's part 4. Part 5 will appear when it's been properly vetted for language.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New Cul de Sac Animations

Three new CdS animations by the fine geniuses at Ringtales have been posted at Babelfish. More to come. Can you tell which of the kids is voiced by an adult?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fan Art Saturday Falls On A Wednesday, Peeps Edition

My friend Joe Sutliff, who had some time on his hands and has talent to burn, sent me these Peep Dioramas he did for the Washington Post's annual Peeps competition. I am astounded, as I'm sure you are too.

It's stuff like this that makes drawing a comic strip worthwhile. As anyone who's actually eaten a Peep will agree, I'm glad they've found another use for them as building material, and I hope they develop some way of constructing low cost, environmentally friendly housing out of the damn things. And that when they do they can find people who'd be willing to live in spongy pink and yellow houses.

Joe also made this, Alice's big ugly fountain. It's amazing, and it actually works! Dang, Joe!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Little Scheme Begins to Bear Fruit...

Ahahhahaha! This latest bit of news confirms it! Even as I foretold, the nation's economy teeters on the brink, and my fortunes increase!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Drawing A Mostly Accurate Map

Before I drew this I went back to a Cul de Sac from April 18th 2004. Here's the first panel-

Which was also used in the first syndicated Sunday strip-

Then, because I wanted to research the roots of this image as an excuse to put off starting work on the thing, I looked at the Tower of Babel by Breugel-

Which is especially interesting because it's under construction and it's got little clouds around it. Then, in the interests of further procrastination, I looked up Mont St. Michel, which is the coolest place around-

There's also the city from that Creepy Classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-

And Minas Tirith!-

By now several weeks had elapsed, so it was time to do a rough-

That's in brown Pitt marker. Then I had to do something larger and more detailed-

This is about 11 by 17 and it's where I sketched in most of the ideas, about half of which were left out because they weren't any good. But I like this in some ways more than the final. I like the ghosts of lines and stuff that's obscured and the way it shows the process. Then I did another, simpler rough that I won't show because it's boring. But here's a detail from the final-

And now, because I don't know what else to add, here's a drawing from an old Joel Achenbach column in the Post Magazine. It's my dream house if only because it's got a great porch-

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today's Cul de Sac

I'm putting this up just because I like it. The only thing I'd change would be to add "Oh, no!" in Alice's balloon in the fifth panel, right before "The children fell into their ice cream!"

Census Laffs

This is a ten year old Almanac, back when Stomp jokes were new and untried. Below is an illustration from Smithsonian Magazine for an article that somehow dealt with the beginnings of census taking and which I no longer remember anything else about. But the flies were fun to draw, I remember that much.

Spring Again

A lazy repost because it's Spring. Note the laughably outdated reference to the lack of snow this winter. This was the first Almanac I did in color but because of a production glitch it was printed in black and white.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Mostly Accurate Map

This is hot off the drawing board, or really the watercolor paper stretching board. It's for a show opening next month at the Charles Schulz Museum, curated by cartoonist & historian Brian Walker, that features comics with a definite (if invented) setting. I'm loaning a few daily and Sunday strips and the cover of the first CdS book, and I wanted to do an additional piece for the show.  A map sounded like fun, as long as it wasn't too accurate. So here's this. I'll update later with some behind-the-scenes how-to stuff. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Today's Cul de Sac

For some reason the comics on aren't always showing up today. So, here it is, exlusively at this blog, for now. 

How to Draw Alice in Fast Motion

See here. My thanks to my friend Chris Sparks, who filmed this and thoughtfully provided a soundtrack by Beethoven that covers up my usual stream of Popeye-voiced drawing-time profanities.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Time, In Living Color

I'd like to thank th-

Another Kite-Eating Tree

Here's the rough and the final for today's strip. It's always more fun to do a larger and more intricate drawing than a strip with lots of talking and stage business, the trick is in finding a good enough gag to make it work. This one seems to. Cartoon trees are enjoyable to draw, as Dr. Seuss or George Herriman would tell you. And kite-eating trees are doubly so, as Charles Schulz would tell you. The hard part in this was making it look like it was full of kites and not just a random mass of triangles. The rough held together pretty well (this is the one I sent to my syndicate editor, the gentleman & scholar Greg Melvin), so I tried to follow the structure in the final too.
It did get a little fussy in the final, the little slope in front is clearer in the rough, but I think it still reads as a mass of kites in a tree. The only thing it needs now is color, which is done at the syndicate by Melissa Mallory. The final version that appears in a newspaper near you (I hope) can be seen at GoComics.

I have an idea for a tree in Grandma's back yard that's a balloon magnet, that's full of little colorful shreds of rubber. I'd thought of it a while ago and I still don't know what to do with it. But after seeing a couple of balloons stuck in a neighborhood tree and finally seeing Up last night, it's sticking in my head. I don't know, it sounds too hard to draw.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Searle at 90

Master penman Ronald Searle turns 90 today, and this is an update of a post from a coupla years ago. I'd meant to do something new, but I don't have the time now so it'll have to wait a few days.

Below is Searle's illustration for the song "National Brotherhood Week" from the book Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer With Not Enough Drawings by Ronald Searle. The original hangs in my dining room, just waiting to offend an unsuspecting diner. I think it's the only piece of art I've ever bought, and when I first unwrapped it I studied it for almost an hour, sometimes with my nose an inch from the paper. For a long time his style exerted a tidal pull on me, as it has at some point for a lot of cartoonists for over sixty years. Look at those hands! just clumps of fingers sprouting out of sleeves, and look at the way he's laid out the page in bendy chains of rectangles, look at how he's balanced the various line weights and the black sleeve and the curly hair, and look at all those gormless-looking faces...

I've heard that Searle plans his work pretty carefully and his unmistakable wiry, sprung lines are laid down with a lot more control than might be apparent. His work always makes me aware of how liquid ink is, how it skips and splotches and pools when it hits the paper.  Though he used to draw not with ink, but with a kind of stain meant for I think furniture. He liked it because it aged interestingly into a greyish purple, and because it handled differently than regular ink. They don't make that brand of stain anymore, and he's drawn with regular ink for years, and better than just about anyone else.

Happy Birthday to Mr. Searle, and I hope he's well and working in his converted windmill in the French countryside.

For a great recent interview with Searle, go here. For a fascinating and wide ranging tribute blog go here. For a deeply moving video interview in two parts, go here. The best thing I can think to say about his work is that when I look at it I remember why I love to draw, even though as he says in the interview, it's just slog, slog, slog.

Dr. Seuss's Birthday

Dr. Seuss would have been 106 today but, sadly, he left us in 1991. So he doesn't have to suffer through this cheap mockery I did for a Poor Almanac some years ago. And geez, it's fun to write in that rhythm. From what I've read, he either heard the catchy beat (trisyllabic meter) in the engines of a train heading west or a ship heading east and used it in his first book, And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street.  Whichever, it sure worked for him.

In Seuss's honor, today is Read Yourself Sick Day. So get out there and read something, and not on the internet! Something on paper, like a book or a newspaper. Right now! Go!