Cul de Sac
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Manga | Hiroaki Samura will bring his long-running samurai revenge epic Blade of the Immortal to a close in the February issue of Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine (on stands Dec. 25) after 19 years. The series is published in the United States by Dark Horse; the 25th volume was released in North America in August. [Anime News Network]
Political cartoons | NPR talks to several editorial cartoonists about the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s decision to run cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed. The general sense seems to be that while the magazine had the right to do so, it wasn’t a good idea given the turmoil already caused by the YouTube trailer for Innocence of Muslims. Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker said, “Over the last few years, people have gotten the idea that cartoons are radioactive because they have the power to inspire riots. That doesn’t help cartooning in a certain sense.” And Daryl Cagle observes that the long-term effect is to make editors more timid. [NPR]
Richard Thompson ended the five-year syndicated run of Cul de Sac on Sunday with a funny and touching salute to “the dying art form” of the comic strip. The cartoonist revealed last month that his struggle with Parkinson’s disease had just become too much for him to meet deadline demands.
”At first it didn’t affect my drawing, but that’s gradually changed” Thompson said in a statement at the time. “Last winter, I got an excellent cartoonist, Stacy Curtis, to ink my roughs, which was a great help. But now I’ve gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip.”
This morning many client newspapers announced comics-page replacements for Cul de Sac, with Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate and Hilary Price’s Rhymes With Orange emerging as apparent favorites (although the Las Vegas Review-Journal opted instead to bring back Bruce Tinsley’s Mallard Fillmore). Tom Spurgeon notes that Thompson’s syndicate is re-running Cul de Sac online from the beginning.
For those that aren’t in the know, it was announced last week that Richard Thompson (the cartoonist, not the Fairport Convention guitarist) is bringing to a close his daily comic strip Cul de Sac due to the demands of his ongoing struggle with Parkinson’s disease. It’s rotten news, both in the sense that a talented artist is being denied the opportunity to make a living doing what he loves and, from a more selfish perspective, the sense that readers like myself will be denied the opportunity to enjoy what I regard as the best comic strip going, no arguments.
In honor of Mr. Thompson (who, by the way, I’ve had the great pleasure of interviewing and is a warm, funny and lovely man) I thought, rather than try to sift through and pick my favorite individual strips (a madman’s game if ever there was one) I’d list some of my favorite characters instead. Hopefully my meager descriptions will be enough to spur those of you unfamiliar with the strip to check it out, either online, in a book or — dare I imagine it — an actual newspaper.
1. Mr. Danders. Mr. Danders is the guinea pig that resides at Blisshaven Preschool, which young Alice Otterloop (ostensibly the strip’s main character due to her sheer force of will) attends. He’s easily the most erudite and sophisticated creature in the strip — not that it does him any good, being stuck in a cage all day and all. He’s a bit given to overstating his own importance and stretching the truth from time to time (the hermit crab next door dubs him a “resume-padder”). Still, he serves an important role at Blisshaven, “gweeping” encouragement to the students whenever possible. Not that they notice.
Creators | Cartoonist Stacy Curtis talks about inking Cul de Sac for creator Richard Thompson, who announced last week he’s ending the celebrated comic strip because Parkinson’s disease has left him unable to maintain the schedule: “I never felt inking Cul de Sac for Richard worked. It was like going into a theater to see Jerry Seinfeld do stand-up and watching Steve Martin deliver his lines. And that’s what it felt like. Every time I sat down at my drawing table to ink Cul de Sac, I could hear a narrator’s voice say, ‘For tonight’s performance, the part of Richard Thompson will be played by his understudy, Stacy Curtis.’” The final strip will appear Sept. 23. [Stacy Curtis]
Graphic novels | Andrews McMeel Publishing, which has focused on comic strips and comic strip compilations up to now, has announced its first original graphic novel series: The Chronicles of Desmond, by Mark Tatulli, creator of Lio and Heart of the City. The books will be published in October 2013 under Andrews McMeel’s new AMP! imprint and will be aimed at middle-grade readers. [Publishers Weekly]
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Caleb Goellner, pug lover and senior editor of ComicsAlliance.
To see what Caleb and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Cartoonist Richard Thompson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009, will end his acclaimed comic strip Cul de Sac next month, The Washington Post reports. The announcement was made this morning by his syndicate Universal Uclick.
“The last year has been a struggle for Richard,” the syndicate said in a letter to client newspapers. “Parkinson’s disease, first diagnosed in 2009, has so weakened him that he is unable to meet the demands of a comic strip. For a time, he worked with another artist, but the deadlines became too much of a task.” The final comic strip will appear Sept. 23.
Thompson, who received the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, explained in a statement that, ”At first it didn’t affect my drawing, but that’s gradually changed. Last winter, I got an excellent cartoonist, Stacy Curtis, to ink my roughs, which was a great help. But now I’ve gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip.”
Launched in 2007, Cul de Sac focuses on 4-year-old Alice Otterloop and her suburban life with her friends, family, family, and classmates at Blisshaven Academy pre-school. It’s syndicated in more than 150 newspapers.
According to The Washington Post, the oil painting of Cul de Sac character Petey Otterloop fetched the highest bid of the more than 100 works donated for Team Cul de Sac, created to honor cartoonist Richard Thompson following his recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. All of the proceeds from the auction benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support Parkinson’s research.
Nearly $50,000 was raised by the online sale, which included original art by the likes of Sergio Aragones, Danielle Corsetto, Evan Dorkin, Cathy Guiswite, Lynn Johnston, Karl Kesel, Roger Langridge, Patrick McDonnell, Stephan Pastis, Lincoln Peirce, Don Rosa, R. Sikoryak and Mort Walker. The artwork is also collected in the book Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson’s, which arrived in stores Tuesday. A portion of the proceeds from book sales also benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Watterson explained his approach to Thompson’s character last year to the Post: “I thought it might be funny to paint Petey ‘seriously,’ as if this were the actual boy Richard hired as a model for his character. At first I intended to do the picture in a dark, Rembrandt-like way to accentuate the ‘high art’ of painting vs the ‘low art’ of comics — the joke being that the comic strip is intelligent and the painting is idiotic — but the picture went through quite a few permutations as it developed.”
With the Team Cul de Sac benefit art book set for release on June 5, Heritage has begun auctioning off original art from the project to, like the book, raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Like Fox, Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Up for auction are pieces by Karl Kesel (above), Sergio Aragones, Bill Watterson, Gary Trudeau, Pat Oliphant, Evan Dorkin, Bill Amend, Roger Langridge, David Malki, Mort Walker and many more. The auctions started on Monday and will run for two weeks.
There have been a few glaring omissions in the newspaper comics world over the past few days.
The more serious one is the loss of Cul de Sac, one of freshest, funniest comics around, which will go on hiatus for three or four weeks while creator Richard Thompson goes through a course of physical therapy for his Parkinson’s Disease. In his usual gracious way, Thompson finds something funny in all this:
I’ve only been in for an evaluation, but the therapy largely consists of big, exaggerated movements and sweeping silly walks that will so embarrass your body that it’ll start behaving itself, I hope. Also I’ll learn ten ways to defeat a mugger by falling on him.
The gap may not be noticeable to those who don’t look to closely, as Thompson will rerun some older Cul de Sac strips during the hiatus.
Longtime readers of Robot 6 know there is much love among the gang for Max Overacts, the popular Eisner-nominated webcomic by Caanan Grall. The webcomic came off of a brief hiatus in June 2011. Here’s the basic premise of Max Overacts: “The strip is about Max’s unbridled optimism, and his quest to be the next greatest thespian. He wears his heart on his sleeve for his self-proclaimed leading lady, Janet, and lords his ‘planned’ status over his ‘accidental’ older sister, Andromeda. His best friend is Klaus, when his ventriloquist doll, Curio, isn’t around.” In addition to discussing the strip, we also talk about his recent Muppet Thor mashup.
Tim O’Shea: How much of an effort was it to design the relatively large cast of Max Overacts? How long was it in the development stage before you found Max’s voice?
Caanan Grall: Most of the characters were pretty easy to figure out. I tried tons of different looks for Max, but inevitably ended up back at the very first one I sketched. The funny thing is, when you make up characters, and the name and character traits come first, it’s almost instinctual that the first design you do is the right one. Max’s parents probably went through the most changes, because at first, the characters weren’t defined enough. They began life on the sketchbook page as the standard harried parents, always struggling to stay one step ahead of the bank, and two steps ahead of their kids. Now, they’re still like that, but they’re fine with it. They’re not rich, but they’re happy, positive people.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Kelson Vibber, Flash fan and proprietor of the Speed Force blog. To see what Kelson and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Publishing | As the fallout mounts from the revelation that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child more than a decade ago with a member of his household staff, plans to revive the Terminator star’s acting career have been put on hold — a move that now extends to The Governator, the comics and animation project co-developed by Stan Lee. “In light of recent events,” representatives announced last night, “A Squared Entertainment, POW, Stan Lee Comics, and Archie Comics, have chosen to not go forward with The Governator project.” However, Entertainment Weekly notes the statement was revised two hours later, putting the project “on hold.”
Unveiled in late March, on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, no less, The Governator features a semi-fictional Schwarzenegger who, after leaving the governor’s office, decides to become a superhero — complete with a secret Arnold Cave under his Brentwood home that not even his family knows about. “We’re using all the personal elements of Arnold’s life,” Lee said at the time of the announcement. “We’re using his wife [Maria Shriver]. We’re using his kids. We’re using the fact that he used to be governor.” But even before the couple’s separation became public, producers had backed off depicting Shriver and their children. [TMZ, Entertainment Weekly]
As we noted in January, Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s disease, and Chris Sparks, of Sparking Design, are putting together a book of Cul de Sac tributes by different artists to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Now you can follow along on the Team Cul de Sac blog, where as the artists make their contributions. The artwork will be compiled into a book, which will be sold to benefit the fund, and the original art will also be auctioned off for the cause.
And here’s an extra treat for Cul de Sac fans: Alex Dueben talked to Thompson about the strip last week for Comic Book Resources.
Cul de Sac is one of the freshest and funniest newspaper comics to come along in recent years, and it’s one of the few strips to gain a foothold with general comics readers as well. Creator Richard Thompson revealed in 2009 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and this week he announced he’s fighting back—with fan art.
Chris Sparks, of Sparking Design, has launched Team Cul de Sac, a fund-raising page for a book of Cul de Sac tributes. Professional cartoonists have been invited to contribute their takes on Cul de Sac characters:
Please run with them; deconstruct them, parody them, confuse them, cubisize them, psychoanalyze them, draw them in your own strip, whatever tickles your fancy. Enjoy. Open up your heart and just create something out of the ordinary, maybe not with your own characters, but this is an opportunity for you to let your talent to shine in a wide range of ways.
The contributions will be published by Andrews McMeel, and proceeds will go to the Michael J. Fox foundation, which raises money for Parkinson’s research.