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Wednesday, September 7, 2016


 Richard Thompson was a truly amazing cartoonist.  So few of us are able to capture the wonder of childhood, the drudgery of adulthood and the absurdity of life in general in a single strip as well as he did.  His strip, Cul De Sac, was by far one of the greatest comics to ever grace the funny pages.  It was a crushing blow in 2012 when Parkinson's Disease forced Mr. Thompson into retirement so he could undergo treatment.  We hoped he'd get well again someday and return to the funnies to give us all our badly needed dose of Alice dancing on her manhole cover.  Sadly, it never happened.  On July 27, 2016, just days after the world gathered in my hometown to celebrate comics, Mr. Thompson passed away.

I never met Richard Thompson in person, although I did have a few chance interactions with him on Twitter.  Early on when I started on that site, I had mentioned one day how I wished my local paper, The San Diego Union-Tribune, carried Cul De Sac.  About an hour later, he tweeted me back, thanking me and jokingly asked if he could crash on my couch during Comic Con!  He wound up not making it that year (because of his illness), but he would've been more than welcome to the sofa in my home.  At that moment, I didn't even know he was ill.  I just knew he did a comic that I absolutely adored and couldn't get enough of.

The art in today's post was made in honor of Richard Thompson and his wonderful characters.  The piece at the top of the page was for the Team Cul De Sac art auction that Chris Sparks hosts every June at HeroesCon in Charlotte.  I drew this piece back in May and included my three favorite characters: Mr. Danders, the wily guinea pig always looking to make a quick get away; Petey, Alice's neurotic older brother always trying mightily to get a grip on his oboe; and, of course, Alice, a wonderfully imaginative, pangolin-obsessed little girl who looks at every manhole cover as her own personal stage.  I don't know if this piece sold to be honest, but it is one of the things I'm most proud of.  Coloring the grass on this piece wasn't easy, but it was worth the effort.

After word of Mr. Thompson's passing reached, I did another bit of art...

Most of Cul De Sac was in black and white, one of the qualities that added so much to the comic's charm.  That's why I opted to forgo colors on this one.  I liked the simplicity of it.  That's why I liked Cul De Sac so much.  It wasn't full of political satire, wacky antics, grotesque violence or disgusting bathroom humor.  It was just simple fun.  In a very complicated world like today, simple is always a welcome change.

I never knew Mr. Thompson, but I knew his work and knew it was very good.  I know he is in a better place now and I know he made this world better for having been here.  I urge any who want to help fight Parkinson's Disease to check out the Team Cul De Sac site to learn more.  But more than that, I want to thank Richard Thompson for being such an amazing artist and for bringing so many smiles during his time here.  And thank you Richard for giving us Alice, whom I will always see dancing whenever I pass a manhole cover.

-Jon Esparza

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