When the laughter stops

To call Richard Thompson – who died on Wednesday at the age of 58 -a cartoonist is like saying Mozart could carry a tune.

The Cat

A fairly typical Cul de Sac episode

His reputation will probably rest on his syndicated Washington Post strip, Cul de Sac, which featured in-yer-face 4 year old Alice Otterloop and her deeply introverted elder brother, Petey, along with their friends, parents, their grandmother and their grandmother’s enormous dog. Thompson’s genius, however, stretched to caricatures, the ever-inventive and often weird Richard’s Poor Almanac, editorial illustrations, oil paintings and much more.

Richar Thompson steps072

Richard Thompson on inspiration

What I found irresistable in Richard Thompson’s work -and the reason why The Art of Richard Thompson would be my desert island book – was the amount of life he could pour into his most casual line. Look at any of his drawings and see the expression in those faces, the carefully-observed humanity in those cartoon bodies, the humour in the eyes of the figures standing behind the main figures.

He could draw the best caricature of George W Bush, wonderful cows, fools with caps and bells, Santa’s little helpers, elephants like you’ve never seen them before, a brilliant Beethoven, and the story of evolution in three perfect panels (click on the Richard Thompson link in the blogroll to the right). We shall not encounter his like again any time soon, I know.

I offer my inadequate small tribute (below) to an artist I would have loved to have met and told how much his work means to me.

Thompson blog

Tribute to Richard Thompson (A5 sketchbook, ink, 2016)







23 thoughts on “When the laughter stops

  1. Thank you so much for sharing, what a touching tribute. I (ahem) confess I hadn’t heard of him, but a brief glimpse suggests I’m going to love his strips. Better late than never. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “…carefully-observed humanity…humour in the eyes of the characters standing behind the main characters…” Life observed and drawn out in living colour. Life observed and lived. Smirks. Gasps. Winks. Nods. Life…
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful tribute Michael-both words and image. When I was living in Virginia, our paper carried Thompson’s strip, but it was dropped as many people did not like it, which I never quite understood-he was an immensely talented artist and mind and I really enjoyed his take on the world and us human beans-

    Liked by 1 person

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