Monday, December 13, 2010
Richard Thompson's drawings make me happy, not just because he is so darn funny but because his work is a daily reminder that a beautiful line and a lively intellect are still enough to succeed in this wicked world. No software, Dolby sound or corporate financing necessary; just pure observations about human nature scratched onto bristol with a dip pen nib.
Thompson is an illustrator / cartoonist / writer in the tradition of James Thurber. If Ronald Searle and Bill Watterson got married and had a baby which was raised by Crockett Johnson, that would be Thompson.
His illustrations have appeared in the New Yorker, The National Geographic, the Atlantic Monthly and other publications. I love this smart, witty series of drawings about superstition that appeared in the Washington Post:
Look at the marvelous way he handles the horizon line in this next image:
Thompson's syndicated comic strip, cul de sac, is regularly the most delightful space on the newspaper comic page. With the demise of Calvin & Hobbes, I feared that every possible comic strip idea had been exhausted, and that we were now doomed to an endless loop of formulaic gags of the type found in Garfield, Cathy and Family Circus. (The world's leading recycling industry is not Waste Management Inc. but newspaper comic syndicates.) But cul de sac views the world with a child-like freshness and offers a new, recognizably true insight every day. This is really hard work; it requires high standards and a hyper-active conscience. But Thompson understands the importance of making the end result appear effortless, and cul de sac floats lighter than air.
In the immortal words of Jessica Rabbit, "He makes me laugh."