Wednesday, July 27, 2016

RICHARD THOMPSON (1957 - 2016)


The brilliant Richard Thompson, an artist of immense gifts and creator of the last great comic strip, Cul de Sac, passed away today.

I've written about Richard several times on this blog, always inadequately.  I've written about his courageous decision to end his strip in 2012 when Parkinson's cruelly stripped him of his god-given gifts, and the book about his art that was created as an homage to Richard by fellow artists such as Bill Watterson, Peter de Seve, John Kascht and Nick Galifianakis. 

As I wrote in that book:
Richard's lines wobble like an infant learning to walk, teetering to the right and to the left of what the laws of perspective and anatomy might require. His shapes are askew as if they were lured from the straight path by a more fun place to play.  Yet those same lines are applied with such exquisite precision, his drawings would be diminished by any variation.  His beautiful ungainly pictures place him among the very top artists in his field.  
You can view an excellent documentary about Richard below.  His extraordinary gifts deserve your attention.

In the final stages of Richard's illness, he sat immobilized in a wheel chair barely able to whisper a single word.  Still, some of the most talented and famous cartoonists and illustrators came from far and wide just to sit in his presence.  They were a boisterous group, sitting around Richard's messy kitchen table (littered with Richard's crappy diet of Cheetos, orange soda and corn nuts) drawing sketches, laughing and telling jokes.  But the instant that Richard attempted to say something, all noise ceased.  Everyone turned expectantly to Richard and strained to hear his few squeaked words, which were consistently the best part of the conversation.

Even ravaged by Parkinsons, he was always the funniest man in the room.



Anonymous said...

This blog introduced me to Thompson. I'm sorry for your loss.


Aleš said...

Oh man, that's sad. I became aware of Thompson for the first time on this blog too. His silly stuff immediately felt so honest, fresh and true. He became one of my favourites. I hope they use his fonts on the gravestone.

Matt Jones said...

A touching tribute David, I was saddened to hear about Richard's passing.

Sean Farrell said...

Richard Thompson was one of the great finds at this site. He really could make one laugh out loud. Fantastic characters in a charming and funny world. Condolences to his family and friends. It's also sad losing Jack Davis in the same week.

john cuneo said...

Thanks to an original drawing of his on the wall here, he will always be the funniest guy in my room (actually kinda frustrating when I think about it..).
What a legacy of brilliance. What a goddamn loss.

JFC said...

David: count me in as another fan introduced to Richard Thompson’s work through your blog. Thanks for your good work.

As painful as it is to watch Thompson’s physical demise in that video, it was nice to see him get love at that gallery opening. Cartoonists working in solitude often don’t get to hear the laughter/feedback the way a stand-up comic might.
Richard Thompson could draw “funny” as well as the best of them. So sad to see him taken down.

Anonymous said...

In this time of sadness I don´t want to be disrespectful, but the great Carlos Nine passed away on the July 16th.
Check Sergio Aquiondo´s troesmas blog for examples of his work.

conwayde said...

David, Richard goes down as one of the greatest comic strip artists of our lifetime and in comics history. His work was sheer genius, and I don't use that word easily or often. I believe even Bill Waterson thought so. At least he'll always be remembered through his work which will live on long after us. I know you were good friends with him, but I feel lucky that I got to meet him once and I will always cherish that.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Tribute..

Li-An said...

Great loss. Great talent.

David Apatoff said...

JSL, Aleš, Sean Farrell and JFC-- If this blog did indeed introduce you to Richard's work, I feel I've done a real service. He deserves the widest possible audience.

Matt Jones-- Thanks very much. I know the family appreciates your remarks, as well as the sympathies of others writing in about Richard.

John Cuneo-- Many thanks for writing, John. I know Richard thought the world of your own drawing, and appreciated your visits toward the end.

David Apatoff said...

David C.-- I agree with you, Richard was truly one of the greatest. I don't know any comic strip artist in his league since Calvin & Hobbes ended years ago.

D.H.-- It's gratifying to see the number of tributes that have popped up for Richard on the internet, some from extraordinary talents.

Li-An-- It is indeed a tragic loss. They aren't making any more like Richard.

Unknown said...

Wow, I'm a UK illustrator and had never heard of Richard Thompson. A great tribute to a great all round story teller, comic and artist. I've just ordered a compilation of cul de sac. I think my 11 year old boy will relate to it too. It seems to have the same pathos as Charlie Brown & Peanuts.

Anonymous said...

I've seen that 'Art of Richard Thompson' video so many times, just to marvel at the close-ups of his wonderful line, but the last time I watched it was with tears obstructing my view. I never knew RT except through his drawings and his strips, which I discovered fairly recently (probably through this blog), yet I feel like I've lost a friend.