Friday, March 21, 2014

Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson talks to Ohio State Curator Caitlin McGurk

Richard Thompson’s “Cul de Sac”, November 4th, 2007 © Richard Thompson, collection of the artist – Used by permission of Richard Thompson

Exhibited along with Bill Watterson’s work is the immensely talented creator of Cul de SacRichard Thompson.

Exhibition Curator Caitlin McGurk got the opportunity to chat with Richard:

What are your favorite comics currently being published, in the newspaper pages and beyond?

Pearls Before Swine, Frazz, and a few others. Currently the comics scene is so atomized, it’s hard to limit favorites to newspaper strips

What is your take on how the digital era and social-media has affected cartoonists, and further more, what are your thoughts on the “death” of print?

It’s sad and confusing.

Tell us about your process with creating Cul de Sac. Were the characters speaking to you after a while, or were the storylines a struggle?

It was frighteningly easy. The characters came alive and I lost control of them early on. It was like dictation. The plots were so tenuous it didn’t matter what direction they went in. I always thought of it as an organic process. I’d just stand back and let it grow.

How much of Cul de Sac is based on your own memories of childhood, or your experiences with your family?

A lot. Almost none of it is specific enough that you could point to a given situation and easily find its inspiration.

What is the best advice that you could give a young cartoonist?

Try everything. Comics are, as they say, blowing up. The chance for invention is great but the chance for moneymaking is small. Right now creators are pretty much screwed.

Where did you derive your inspiration for Richard’s Poor Almanac, and were there other reasons to discontinue it beyond a focus on Cul de Sac?

I’ve gotten several dream jobs. Richard’s Poor Almanac was one of them. Each cartoon was sui geners (a curse and a blessing). I ended it when it became clear it was suffering in relation to Cul de Sac. I couldn’t juggle both cartoons.

Who or what were the biggest influences on you as a cartoonist?

Any cartoonist whose name begins with an ‘S’: Sorel, Steadman, Steinberg, Sempé…I’m considering changing my name to “Sthompson.” Basically anybody who makes me want to draw. The list is endless.

I understand that you and Bill Watterson have a close friendship. Can you tell us about the history between the two of you, and your thoughts on his work?

I guess you could say that the whole world has a close friendship with Calvin and Hobbes (I know I do). I’d known Rich West, one of Bill’s closest friends, for years. Unknown to me, he sent Bill some of my old work and Bill liked it. 

God knows I admire his work and comic genius immensely, so getting approbation from him made my head swell noticeably. It was like receiving an ‘atta boy’ from Jesus Christ.

Exhibit Curator Caitlin McGurk among Richard Thompson original art

Phil Gramm by Richard Thompson

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