Friday, January 14, 2022


In my opinion, there are only two reasons why Richard Thompson isn't celebrated as one of the greatest political cartoonists.  

The first is that he devoted most of his time and energy to other artistic pursuits--  his popular comic strip, paintings, illustration art, a weekly gag panel, etc.

The second is that Parkinson's disease cruelly robbed him of his drawing ability while he was still young, and he tragically passed away at age 58.  

Nevertheless, looking back at Thompson's political cartoons, it's clear he was an artist of enormous gifts.  

Here we see President Clinton entertaining the crowds with the game, "Soak the Rich." Meanwhile the "Global Peril" game is crawling out of its container unnoticed.   

Thompson's breezy, child-like scrawl is built upon an architectural
engineer's solid understanding of the forms he was drawing.

Thompson's caricatures of presidents and presidential candidates are sheer poetry:

Ross Perot

Richard Nixon

Hillary Clinton

Saddam Hussein

Rudi Giuliani in an earlier era

For his weekly panel, Richard's Poor Almanac, Thompson wrote the text accompanying his drawings: 

Even his apolitical cartoons often contained clever social commentary:  

Thompson's political cartoons amounted to only a tiny percentage of his total work, but based on the brilliance of that work, Thompson remains firmly among my favorite political cartoonists. 


Robert Cosgrove said...

I was not familiar with this side of Thompson; as usual, you are miles ahead of me. Educated by your post, I repaired to Amazon to see if I could find any pertinent collections. "The Art of Richard Thompson" was available on Kindle, but being rooted in my enthusiasm for the physical book, I checked out the alternative: hardcover (no paperback) available for a mere $1050. Pass. I'll hope for a reprinting. In the meantime, I've ordered "The Incomplete Art of Richard Thompson," for a mere $27.95.

On another note, thank you for your recent piece on Michael Ramirez, whom I have long considered the natural successor to Jeff MacNelly.

kev ferrara said...

I don't think there is a word in the language to describe being hilarious and beautiful at once. But the caricatures of Perot and Giuliani would qualify.

The Perot reminds me of Sullivant structurally, but the technique is somewhere between A.B. Frost and Ralph Steadman.

The Giuliani looks like a caricature from the 1930s. The vertical teeth lines being repeated horizontally under the eyes and at the temples, and somewhat diagonally in the hair shows either a lot of compositional knowledge or a lot of innate sensitivity to self-similarity.

Jason_Chatfield said...

Truly a genius.
Devastated that we were robbed of his presence so early, but incredibly grateful he was so prolific. What an extraordinary body of work.

MORAN said...

Awesome work.

Li-An said...

@Richard Cosgrove : you can find french edition for less.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for that book since I first read about Thompson here. It's impossible to find at a reasonable price.


Thomas Fluharty said...

Pure magic. That Clinton soak the rich drawing takes years to draw in that manor. Rough and scratchy and with ease. His Ross Perot poking his head out of the Whitehouse lawn is top level ability. It’s the first time I really took note of his ability. A true genius.

Matthew Adams said...

His drawings are beautiful. I've introduced my older boy to his work and he can't get enough.

Robert Cook said...

Thompson's CUL DE SAC was the last truly brilliant newspaper cartoon. It is, to my taste, superior to the widely loved and lauded CALVIN AND HOBBES, (which I also adore).

Mike Rhode said...

The French edition is very well produced too. If you send me proof that you bought it, I'll send you the English text.

Robert Cosgrove, and others, that was the first in a projected series collecting Richard's work, in this case from the Why Things Are newspaper column.

The publisher had the text for Completing Cul de Sac, but never acted on it. Maybe it'll go into print someday.