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, January 12, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, January 12 2012

I used the sled-dragging joke before, in December 2008. It's even the same onomatopoeia. The drawing looks neater in the earlier version; I got fussy with the white-out on this one and didn't know when to stop fixing it. And I couldn't find the pen nib I usually use for lettering. The one I fell back on was feebler. Also, that's the worst signature I ever signed. Why you people read a strip with such shoddy standards is, quite frankly, beyond me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Mighty Alice

Et voilá- here's the final mechanical for the next Cul de Sac book! "Mechanical" is a technical printing term that I've never gotten around to learning, but I think it means a pretty final version in this case. This'll be the first time that I didn't do the color on a CdS book. It was colored by Kansas City watercolorist Peggy McKeehan, who's done a lot of work for Andrews & McMeel, and I think she did a fine job. I appreciate her deft touch and dab hand.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Today's Cul de Sac, January 10 2012

It's been a while since I posted one of these things. Let's see if I remember how to do it. I chose this strip to annotate because I redrew it 4 or 5 times. The middle panel gave me fits; it kept turning out too tidy, too stacked instead of heaped, too neat. The comics have a distinguished history of eyesore back yards, and front yards too, from Hogan's Alley to George Booth (see below), so I felt I had a tradition to uphold.

Each time I redrew it the dialog and the gag changed, Originally Alice is disgusted by the squalor and says Get me outta here! But there's nothing funny about that and it makes no sense; Alice is a slob with no natural objections to Dill's back yard. She'd more likely go home and try to do the same thing to her back yard. And, as someone who has a messy back yard, I've got no business acting all superior back-yard-wise. So out of great struggle and profound deliberation comes this Cul de Sac for January 10, 2012.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sneak Peek, Updated

Here are three roughs for the next Cul de Sac book. Which one will it be? See below.

And the final cover-

If this seems familiar, it is.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

RIP, Ronald Searle

I wrote this for Mike Cavna at Comic Riffs. For a little more, go here; for much, much more, go here (it's worth it). For almost too much, but to understand Searle more fully, go here.

For a long time Ronald Searle's work exerted a tidal pull on me, as it has at some point for a lot of cartoonists. The first time his stuff hit me hard was in 1978 when I got a big, lovely art book titled Ronald Searle, and it was like a window opened. His drawings were so potent and dense and alive with comic energy. His pen could do anything; it went curling and spiraling all over the paper, describing a world that was ugly, bitter, grotesque, hilarious and sometimes, briefly, quite sweet. It made me suddenly aware of how liquid ink is, how it skips and splotches and pools when it hits the paper. It was also obvious Searle had a deep appreciation for the history of the graphic arts and an awareness of how he fit into it. This was heady stuff for a generally clueless 20 year old semi-cartoonist to be exposed to, and it took a few years for me to put my own eyes back in my head.

 Searle's style was so powerful that any other artist who mimicked its effects was pretty quickly overwhelmed by it and exposed as inferior. I think Searle himself was a little intimidated by his chops. There's a bit in his biography that tells of him taping the fingers of his drawing hand together to slow himself down and avoid becoming too facile. I've heard that he planned his work pretty carefully and his wiry, sprung lines were laid down with a lot more control than might be apparent.

Pat Oliphant said something to the effect that going through a Searle period is good for cartoonists, as long as they pull out of it before it's too late.  The best way out, of course, is to draw and draw some more, as far away from the source of inspiration as possible and under circumstances that don't allow for cheating (i.e., a deadline). It's hard but think I managed it.

But still, I'd give my right arm if I could draw like this-

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Traditions are important; they're a way of saying, "I did it this way before and it seemed to work OK" or "I haven't got anything new." So to start the year off the same, here's a drawing of an elephant with a New Year's Baby. Because traditions are important, like I said. 

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Special New Year Cul de Sac Posted Two Whole Hours Early

Or two whole days early if you're in Samoa.

Happy New Year

When I was a kid we'd watch Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians ring in the New Year,  brought to us in living black & white from the Waldorf Astoria. The highlight was catching sight of a drunken middle aged reveler dancing on a table top, crazed by all that sweet jazz. To my mind this is what sophisticated adults did. Not my parents, who were perfectly content to stay at home and laugh at the silly party hats and drunken antics of the swells. But we knew how to have a good time: at midnight we'd step out the front door and bang pot lids together and ring a little bell and yell Happy New Year, often enough to a dark and silent neighborhood.

We still do it, but now there are so many fireworks and such going off our racket just blends into the general din. The above Cul de Sac is from 2006 (?). Note that Petey's got a trombone, which turned into an oboe soon as I realized how hard a trombone is to draw.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hello Bakersfield, CA: Updated Some More

Cul de Sac just started in the Bakersfield Californian, where it replaced the beloved English strip Fred Basset. Many readers are so far unimpressed.  I haven't seen such instantaneous dislike for Cul de Sac since the strip started in '07 (and it makes me feel young again!). My view is that you have to give a comic strip ten years to fully infiltrate you consciousness, and till then your opinions are shallow and worthless. Unless, of course, you like the strip at first sight*.


Really though, this post is a little self-serving: preaching to the choir and making fun of unadventurous Fred-Basset-loving fuddy-duddies who only ask for a pleasant chuckle and don't need some yacky kid strip foisted on them. So let's just say I'm happy and proud to that my strip is available to actual newspaper subscribers in Bakersfield CA! And I'm very happy to say that CdS just started in the Oakland Tribune. From what I hear the strip was picked up because an editor and his kids saw it online and liked it. That's the best I can ask for and an unheard-of way to get into a paper. So I'm damn grateful and I wish I'd quit grousing.

Another Update:

My friend Mike Rhode tells me the Sunday CdS is starting in the Morning Call of Allentown PA, where it replaces Fred Basset, of course. In the comments on this post, David W outlines Fred Basset's sordid history; how it was put into a decade of reruns after the creator's death and, worse, how it's been drawn by an anonymous and uncredited artist for the past 11 years. There's even this. So I'm suddenly a liitle less sympathetic to unadventurous Fred-Basset-loving fuddy-duddies.
*Thank you, Alex in Oakland!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Saint Santa, Again

Wouldn't this make a great all-purpose charming though slightly offensive Christmas card?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Goodbye, Kim Jong Il!

If it's not too much to ask, could everyone on the planet with internet access print this out, construct it as shown and display it in an appropriately wacky place for the next few days? I think it'd be a nice gesture.

See also here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

If You're in San Fransisco or Even Slightly West of the Continental Divide...

... then please visit the San Fransisco's Cartoon Art Museum, where the fabulous exhibit Black and White and Read All Over: Comics of the New Millennium opens this weekend. Here's a bit from the museum's description-
The Cartoon Art Museum is proud to announce its latest exhibition, Black and White and Read All Over:  Comics of the New Millennium, a showcase featuring nine comic strips introduced between the years 2000 and 2010.  From talking animals to beleaguered cartoonists, childhood fears to childhood nightmares, the perils of adulthood to the trials of arrested development, the nonsensical to the political (which often goes right back around to nonsensical), the modern comic strip page really does include something for everyone.
Original comic strips on view live and in person in the exhibit are:
My thanks to Andrew Farago, consummate comics curator, cartoonist and cool guy, for squeezing me in among this august group. Again, the place to be is Cartoon Art Museum at 655 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) CAR-TOON, (415) 227-8666.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Perhaps the Ultimate in Loungewear

Now available exclusively on our Cafe Press site! Excellent for lounging, swaddling and bundling.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Support the USPS & Team Cul de Sac with these Lovely Stamps

Thanks to Mike Rhode, Barbara Dale and David Hagen. you can now send your Cul de Sac cards with Cul de Sac stamps! Barbara Dale's stamp has been revised to lighten it up so you can see Alice better, and David Hagen volunteered his artwork for stamp #3. Collect them all! It's for charity!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yesterday's Cul de Sac, December 3 2011 and Tomorrow's. December 5 2011

I fretted with this thing and rewrote and photoshopped the dialogue so many times that I was sure it had unraveled into hopeless incoherence. The object of Alice's mockery, the cheesy uplifting TV special full of easy epiphanies, seemed obvious when I started out. But with each little piddly adjustment it grew more unnecessarily complicated. At one point I added "childlike sense if wonder" to Alice's rant, diluting it even more.

So I decided to do the whole thing a second time figuring, if you're gonna fail, make it look intentional. This time the subject is "childlike sense of wonder". And this one was harder to do than the first;  each drawing and each bit of text are separate bits hammered together in photoshop (Alice in the third panel looks awfully familiar, no?).

Thankfully one person grasped what I was flailing at, here (scroll down a bit). Now I don't have to make a third attempt at this.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Cards for the Discerning Person Who Buys Christmas Cards

We are pleased to introduce our exclusive line of Cul de Sac Christmas Cards, now available on Cafe Press. These are perhaps the finest Christmas Cards currently offered, painstakingly hand-coloured by traditionally trained photoshop colouring artisans (my wife, Amy).

There are presently six designs to choose from, covering everything from Santa's Personality Disorder to Non-Euclidean Trees. Pictured is the Santa Trap, truly a classic sentiment of the season! We are confident that no other vendor offers a finer line of Cul de Sac Christmas Cards than these, and if one does we'll slap him with a cease & desist order so fast it'll make his head spin. So just watch it, bub.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Mighty Sergio

One of my childhood (and adulthood) idols, the legendary Sergio Aragones. draws Alice. And Groo, Rufferto, and his usual cast of thousands. See also here and here. I'm speechless with delight.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Old Cul de Sac

I'm sure I've posted this before, but I couldn't find it and, as I'd just scanned it again (I couldn't find the previous scans either), here it is. I did it in May 2006, and I remember how much fun it was to work on. The drawing is fairly simple and the color, for several panels at least, is loose and wild and something of a special effect. And the gag is good. I hope you agree, because in two or three months I'm going to post it again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Old Proto-Cul de Sac Pre-Almanac from the Paleozoic

I found this in the bottom of a drawer of old cartoons the other day. It's a first rough sketch for an Almanac from late 1997 or early '98, so it even predates the name Richard's Poor Almanac. Sotheby's puts the price on this as (conservatively) eighteen cents, so it's quite a find. I don't remember if I ever went to a final and filed this for publication in the Post, but if I did I really hope I came up with a better gag than the penultimate balloon holds. It's pretty lame.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reminder: Corcoran Chit-Chat Tonight

 Tonight at 7 I'm going to speak at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and I hope somebody's there to listen, and that I can think of something to say. And that it's at least tangentially about comics.

This is in conjunction with a great show of original & historic comic art at McDaniel College called Kings of the Pages, put together by Associate Professor of Communication Robert Lemieux. Graduate students at the Corcoran College of Art and Design planned the exhibit, with professional assistance from Mark Leithauser, Chief of Design at the National Gallery of Art, and Donna Kirk, Senior Architect at the National Gallery of Art.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who Wrote Shakespeare?

If you're counting you'll know that today is not Shakespeare's birthday. I'm just posting this to cash in on that stupid movie Anonymous, which reveals who really wrote Shakespeare's plays (one million chimpanzees typing for only eight years). Pab Sungensis says it best, and in the right meter too, and Mike Peterson discusses it wisely as always (scroll down a bit). Please post your competing and unfounded theories in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm Going to the Corcoran

 On Tuesday, November 1st, I'm going to speak at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and hope somebody's there to listen, and that they can hear me. It's in conjunction with a great show of original & historic comic art at McDaniel College called Kings of the Pages, put together by Associate Professor of Communication Robert Lemieux, who I wish I'd taken some courses from when I was educatable.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

There Was An Old Woman

Here's the whole spread and a few close ups, some commentary to come when I think of it. Now go buy the book!

The Dark Side of Alice

Stephan Pastis investigates Alice's dark side, because he's a braver man than I.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hello, Miami!

Cul de Sac starts running today in the fabled Miami Herald and reporter Lomi Kriel makes note of it. Many of my favorite people to work with at the Washington Post were previously at the Herald, including Tom Shroder, who pushed me not-quite-kicking-and-screaming into Cul de Sac.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Moving Day

The Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area, in collaboration with the National Parkinson Foundation, is sponsoring Moving Day,  a day of raising awareness of Parkinson’s disease by going for a pleasant 2.5 mile stroll. They anticipate over 2,000 participants, including people with Parkinson’s, families, friends, health care professionals, private and corporate teams, all ambling along while raising funds in support of the Foundation’s mission. I'll be there with the appropriately named Team Cul de Sac, along with family and friends. You're encouraged to join us, in person or in donation form. Or both! 

An added incentive: there may be doughnuts.