Richard Thompson (cartoonist)

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For other people named Richard Thompson, see Richard Thompson (disambiguation).
Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac (October 7, 2007)

Richard Church Thompson (October 8, 1957 – July 27, 2016) was an American illustrator and cartoonist best known for his syndicated comic strip Cul de Sac and the illustrated poem "Make the Pie Higher". He was given the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year for 2010.

Cul de Sac[edit]

Thompson did numerous humorous illustrations to accompany feature articles in The Washington Post. His comic strip Cul de Sac focuses on a pre-school girl, Alice Otterloop, and her daily life at school and at home. It began as a Sunday feature in the Washington Post Magazine and was launched in more than 70 newspapers in the fall of 2007. It is distributed nationally as both a daily and Sunday by Universal Press Syndicate.[1]

The first book collection of Cul de Sac strips, published in 2008 by Andrews McMeel, includes the pre-syndication Washington Post strips in color, as well as a foreword by Bill Watterson, who praised Thompson's work:

I thought the best newspaper comic strips were long gone, and I've never been happier to be wrong. Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac has it all--intelligence, gentle humor, a delightful way with words, and, most surprising of all, wonderful, wonderful drawings. Cul de Sac's whimsical take on the world and playful sense of language somehow gets funnier the more times you read it. Four-year-old Alice and her Blisshaven Preschool classmates will ring true to any parent. Doing projects in a cloud of glue and glitter, the little kids manage to reinterpret an otherwise incomprehensible world via their meandering, nonstop chatter. But I think my favorite character is Alice's older brother, Petey. A haunted, controlling milquetoast, he's surely one of the most neurotic kids to appear in comics. These children and their struggles are presented affectionately, and one of the things I like best about Cul de Sac is its natural warmth. Cul de Sac avoids both mawkishness and cynicism and instead finds genuine charm in its loopy appreciation of small events. Very few strips can hit this subtle note.

In 2009, Andrews McMeel published a second Cul de Sac collection, Children at Play, featuring a foreword by Mo Willems.

Richard's Poor Almanac[edit]

His cartoon series Richard's Poor Almanac appeared weekly (usually on Saturdays) in The Washington Post Style section. A compendium of his Richard's Poor Almanac cartoons was published by Emmis Books in 2005.

The Richard's Poor Almanac cartoon published the week of George W. Bush's first inauguration was a mock inaugural poem, "Make the Pie Higher," composed of some of Bush's more incoherent quotations, aka Bushisms. When "Make the Pie Higher" was leaked onto the Internet, it spread rapidly and was eventually dissected and analyzed on, which did a lengthy review of its origins. The poem has been set to music at least five times in various styles, including Irish and choral music.[2]


Thompson's illustrations have appeared in U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, Air & Space/Smithsonian, National Geographic and The Atlantic Monthly.

In 2004, Thompson illustrated Francis Heaney's Holy Tango of Literature. In 2010, he wrote and illustrated "Barney Google and the Bigfoot Style", the foreword for Craig Yoe's Barney Google: Gambling, Horse Races & High-Toned Women (Yoe Books/IDW, 2010).



He received the National Cartoonists Society's Magazine and Book Illustration Award for 1995, plus their Newspaper Illustration Award for 1995. He won a Gold and a Silver Funny Bone Award in 1989 from the Society of Illustrators for humorous illustration. Thompson received the Milton F. "Sonny" Clogg Alumni of the Year award in 2004 from his alma mater, Montgomery College, from which he did not graduate.

On May 28, 2011, Thompson was awarded the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, presented by the National Cartoonists Society.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Thompson was a long-time resident of Arlington, Virginia.

On July 16, 2009, Thompson announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a problem he described as "a pain in the fundament" which slowed him down but did not affect his drawing hand.[4] Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, described Thompson as "probably the most talented all-around syndicated cartoonist working today" and praised the courage and optimism he showed in revealing his illness.[5] Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson's is a book that features the work of Watterson and other cartoonists, who rallied together to raise money to benefit Team Fox, the fundraising arm of the Michael J. Fox Foundation that is working to find a cure for Parkinson's disease.

Thompson died on July 27, 2016, of complications from Parkinson's disease.[6]

Stacy Curtis[edit]

Children's book illustrator Stacy Curtis became the inker of Cul de Sac on March 26, 2012.[7]


  • Cul de Sac (2008)
  • Children at Play: A Cul de Sac Collection (2009)
  • Cul de Sac Golden Treasury: A Keepsake Garland of Classics (2010)
  • Shapes & Colors: A Cul de Sac Collection (2010)
  • The Mighty Alice: A Cul de Sac Collection (2012)


  1. ^ "A Short Interview With Richard Thompson". January 26, 2008. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  2. ^ Mikkelson, David (21 July 2008). "Make the Pie Higher!". Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  3. ^ Cavna, Michael (May 28, 2011). "THIS JUST IN: 'Cul de Sac's' Richard Thompson wins the Reuben Award". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  4. ^ Richardcthompson (July 16, 2009). "cul de sac: Some News". cul de sac. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  5. ^ stephanpastis (July 18, 2009). "Some News About Courage". Pearls Before Swine. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  6. ^ Cavna, Michael (27 July 2016). "Richard Thompson, acclaimed 'Cul de Sac' creator and Post contributor, dies at 58". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "Stacy Curtis Joins Richard Thompson On Cul De Sac". March 26, 2012. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 

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