Monday, November 24, 2014


If you hear a fanfare of celestial trumpets this week, it might just be for the release of the new book, The Art of Richard Thompson-- 224 pages of Richard's brilliant work in color and back and white.  I was fortunate to be a co-author of the book, one of the most fun projects I've worked on in a long time.

An excellent video about Richard and his art has been prepared by GVI in connection with the release, and can be viewed here.

Each day this week I am going to show you a different picture I like from the book and discuss what I think makes it special.  

This illustration of a smoker is a good place to start:

No normal cartoonist draws heads like this:

The head has been re-invented to look more like a suction device designed by a production engineer for the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Company. 

Similarly, conventional cartoonists don't draw cigarette smoke this way: 

Kandinsky might draw smoke like this, but it clearly violates the Official Manual of Cartoon Cliches and Formulas (last revised in the 1950s by Mort Walker).

And that's a good first reason to pay attention to Thompson's drawings.   His original ideas transcend the conventions of cartooning.  Look at the bold way he has conjured up forms to represent amorphous fumes.  They dominate the sky and indeed the whole picture.  Those forms don't come from any recipe book, they come from genuine creative thinking.  This is, in my view, first class opinionated drawing.

And the cool thing is, having invented this look, Thompson did not return to it as his "style."  I am unaware of him ever using anything like this approach again.  Instead, he skipped off merrily to invent new things for his next job, as we shall see in other drawings this week. 


MORAN said...

Be sure to follow the link to the movie.

BobBurnett said...

Looking forward to reading your takes on the RT images+ thanks for the nice words about the film.

chris bennett said...

Looks great. It could be that by the end of this week a tiny amount will be added to your royalty payments on this by way of yours truly. :)

Anonymous said...

I learned about Thompson from this blog years ago. He draws beautifully and funny.


bill said...

The video is really wonderful. Made me look at his work with fresh eyes and that's always a joy.

David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- Yes, I think they did a good job with the movie, and it will give you a good sense for Richard.

BobBurnett-- Many thanks.

chris bennett-- One of the good things about this book is that no royalties go to gawkers and middlemen like me, they go right to the artist where they belong.