End of the road for ‘Cul de Sac’


Richard Thompson, creator of the comic strip Cul de Sac, sketches Petey at his home in Arlington, VA on April 19, 2011. Thompson was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. (Dustin Fenstermacher/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
September 21, 2012

Alice Otterloop has danced on her last manhole. Petey Otterloop has read his last “Little Neuro” comic (we can relate, brother). And thousands of “Cul de Sac” fans feel as bereft as Mr. Danders, the caged class guinea pig, suddenly left alone in the dark.

After Sunday, Richard Thompson’s acclaimed Universal Uclick comic strip, born in 2004 in the pages of The Washington Post, will be no more. Thompson, 54, is unable to continue the strip because of his Parkinson’s disease, diagnosed four years ago.

“I’ve gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip,” Thompson said. “I’m thankful for all the newspapers who took a chance on ‘Cul De Sac.’ ”

Bill Watterson, creator of “Calvin and Hobbes,” said: “I’m just grateful we got to have ‘Cul de Sac’ as long as we did — it was a beautiful and fun gift. I admire not only Richard’s immense talent and artistic integrity but also the grace and openness with which he’s confronted his struggles. What gives me hope is knowing that Richard is nothing if not artistically versatile, so he may find new ways to create yet.”

Thompson’s fans — many of whom have followed his work since “Richard’s Poor Almanac” debuted in Style in 1997 — reacted to last month’s “Cul de Sac” announcement with disbelief, denial or sad acceptance. And foremost, of course, was the concern for the Arlington County cartoonist’s health.


(Richard Thompson)

To mark Thompson’s five-year run with “Cul de Sac,” which won the esteemed Reuben Award last year and has received Ignatz and Harvey awards this month, here are a selection of farewells readers posted on the Comic Riffs blog.

It became one of those little things that happy couples share that probably seem silly from the outside but are precious to those inside. The sheer understated brilliance of this strip, day after day, simply amazed us. . . . You will be missed every morning by so many.

mandraki

My first reaction to this sad news was selfish: This is a personal loss because I so love Alice and the entire cast of Characters (with a capital C!). Just yesterday I told a friend how “Cul de Sac” is among my lifetime favorites.

— kjuhl


Richard Thompson works in his Arlington, Va. home studio. (Dustin Fenstermacher/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Your work has been a source of daily joy. Alice and Petey and dioramas and the mysteries of plastic sliding boards will never be forgotten (and Alice’s wild eyes get me every time). Thank you for sharing this gift with us, and if you’ve ever wondered which strips ended up on refrigerators, in my case it’s “I was having a bad day and his big bucket head annoyed me.”

bengt16

Will the class hamster ever find his love? Will Petey ever get some sun? I am so grateful for your brilliance and weirdness, many many thanks for all these years of laughter, the kind that makes me poke my husband and say: “Read this! And then give it back!”

maryellen2

This is the most wonderful “dysfunctional,” and thereby normal, family ever! I knew kids like this! I WAS a kid like these! I will miss them so much!! Thank you for creating this home, and letting us into it! Best to you in your fight!

newsjunkey

I want to know whether Miss Bliss ties down the banjo man, I want Dill’s brothers to send off something really fun in one last trebuchet load, I want a cure for Drooly’s Syndrome, and I want a real-life statue of Alice dancing on a manhole cover that I can use in my backyard fountain. Until my demands are met, I will emit a plaintive cry: “PANGO! PANGO! PANGO! . . . Lin?”

Neon Tetra

It’s amazing how a comic strip about little kids can be so funny in so many unexpected ways. . . . I love how Thompson captures the notion that for very little kids, the whole world is fantastical and impossible to distinguish reality from fiction.

Jeanne Gomoll

This is heart-breaking news. Richard Thompson gives everyone such a gift with his brilliant work, and I’m so sad for him and for us that the work must be curtailed. And from everything I’ve seen and heard, along with being a genius, he’s just a truly wonderful guy.

ltwd

We will miss the Otterloops who so reflect family life in Northern Virginia.

jct4

I’m devastated! Don’t know how I’ll make it through the day without my “Cul de Sac” fix! . . . Thanks for all the years of little chuckles and big belly laughs.

Pamsm

We recently named our new rescue Basset Hound Alice O. . . . [“Cul de Sac’s”] been part of our day now for a long time and we will miss it badly when it ends.

bpiper

I grieve that Alice’s adventures are coming to an end, but I grieve more that a genius is being deprived by illness of sharing that genius with the rest of us. Thank you for everything you’ve written and drawn.

PQSully

This breaks my heart.

— susan6sw

“Cul de sac” has consistently made me smile. Hugs to Alice (but not to her brother, who would not appreciate being touched by germy me) and good vibes your way.

Aprilshowers

Deep brain stimulation may be the answer for Mr. Thompson. He’s deeply stimulated my brain (and funnybone) for many years!

sonnymoon42

Truly a great, humane and honest strip.

David90

Alice’s sense of self has always been a source of great envy for me. . . . How does she do it!!?? We are all pulling for your successful treatment, and hope that you can draw now and then, when YOU want to.

Kas300

Richard Thompson has been making Washingtonians smile for years. His “Poor Richard’s Almanac” was a revelation and a delight. “Cul de Sac” took his art to another level and made his readers part of an extended family of Otterloops. . . .

All of Richard Thompson’s fans are . . . devastated by his illness and frustrated that our affection and respect (to say nothing of our need to stay in “Cul de Sac’s” world) can do nothing to help him with his illness. . . . He may be gone from the comics pages soon, but he will not be forgotten.

KCBinBethesda

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