Sunday, November 30, 2014


 Today we have another sketch by Thompson:

Here is what is NOT included in this sketch, that you might have expected to see:

1. Somebody getting punched in the snoot with the traditional impact starburst.  

2. The traditional "dizzy" lines radiating from his head, or birdies swimming around.

3. A more cautious and clear drawing of that boxing glove, showing the thumb, or with proper shadows so it is less ambiguous. And while we're at it, a less messy line for that spring.

All of these items would be on the short list for an ordinary cartoonist's  picture. But Thompson left them out, including the single most important  part of the picture: the person getting punched.  He left it to our imagination to decide what the person looked like, and whether he is still up in the air, or his eyes are crossed, or he is upside down with his legs sticking out.

Here is what IS included in this sketch that you might not have expected to see:

1. Loose pages floating down (a marvelous touch)

2. The chair tipped over backward

3. That scribble of a book-- no right angles, parallel pages or details to slow down our quick impression of the book as nothing more than a launching pad.

I'm guessing Thompson didn't consciously think through any of this. I suspect it was all instinctive for him. 

When I grumble on this blog that so many of today's preeminent graphic novelists are clueless about the timing, staging, and even the basic vocabulary of visual storytelling, this is what I am talking about.  In my view, this wonderful sketch is a thing of beauty compared to most of the work currently winning awards.


Anonymous said...

Loving these posts on Thompson's work and the book itself is great! I'm actually an intern at NPR's arts desk, where we received a copy. I actually did a little write-up/capsule review for the NPR Books tumblr here --

Looking forward to future posts!


Robert Cook said...

I saw the book this evening in the Tribeca Barnes & Noble. It's a beautiful thing! (They only had one copy on the shelf.) Unfortunately, I found some pages that that had not been cut apart, which will lead to some unhappiness by some not-so-careful purchaser! I will have to carefully examine a copy before I buy it to insure I don't discover a similar flaw after I get home!

Anonymous said...

It's a wonderful book with gorgeous drawings on every page. Regarding the one in this post: what is that thing on the floor in front of the book? Thanks, Michael

Chris Sheban said...

Congratulations on the publishing of this book. I can't wait to see it in person - it looks beautiful…and what a wonderful video. Incredible talent.

David Apatoff said...

Rafael-- Thanks so much for your review on the NPR tumblr. I appreciate it, and I think the NPR audience should like Richard's work.

Robert Cook-- Hmmmm, that's not good. I haven't seen it on any of the copies I've handled, but I'll ask about it.

Michael-- are you referring to the glasses or perhaps the shoe?

Chris Sheban-- Thank you for your good wishes, that's very encouraging.

David Apatoff said...

For those of you interested in a real artist's analysis of Richard Thompson's work, I heartily recommend John Cuneo's essay on Drawger:

Arun Kumar said...

Just wanted to say that I just got my copy yesterday - and I'm still ecstatic!

David, thanks to you and everybody else involved in putting this together - this book means a lot to me.