The Cartoonist’s Cartoonists: Richard Thompson

Editor’s note: Each week I invite a cartoonist to list 10 or so other cartoonists whose work he/she admires or has influenced their own work. This week’s featured cartoonist is Richard Thompson. Click on the cartoonists’ names to explore more about them and their work.

Mad Magazine: There, I cheated right off the bat, but I have to say that buying issue #108 of Mad Magazine when I was nine years old was a happy jolt to my system, and I loved every cartoonist in it and in all the subsequent issues I bought. What child-sized cartoonist wannabe hasn’t tried to draw a Mort Drucker face or a Don Martin shoe or a Jack Davis everything?

Honore Daumier: The other side of the art. The most perceptive caricaturist and the cartoonist with the most humanity, even after all this time. He’s influenced everyone from Degas to Pat Oliphant, and his work is still funny and angry.

George Booth: Maybe the funniest New Yorker cartoonist and one of the most atypical. I saw him do a chalk talk 23 years ago and I laughed so hard I got a stitch in my side that’s still there. If I could draw a simple thing, a chair or a dog maybe, with as much comic life as he does I’d be happy.

Ronald Searle: The greatest comic draftsman of the last hundred years easy. Just go look at his work, then try to draw some other way.

Charles Schulz: I remember him best from the sixties and early seventies when he was at his peak and the tension among his complex cast was at its most taut. Say what you want about the new biography but it’s pretty obvious he dealt his life out in those little tragicomic panels.

Bill Watterson: The utter elegance of his comic conceit, Hobbes coming alive in Calvin’s imagination, was so perfect for a strip and so well sustained by Watterson’s mighty sense of humor and drawing talent. And you can skip a rock off Calvin & Hobbes and it’ll also hit Peanuts, Barnaby & Skippy. I actually remember reading the first Calvin strip and thinking, hey, this is something!

Walt Kelly: And I remember the first time I read a collection of Pogo strips, at a friend’s house when I was in the fifth grade. I doubt I got half the references but I loved the vaudeville of those wonderfully drawn animals. Still my favorite strip of all time, the most vivid characters, the most characters, and the liveliest and widest range of any daily comic strip.

George Herriman: Everybody knows Krazy Kat is the daily comic strip raised to it’s greatest height, but go look at his editorial illustrations. Oh, to crosshatch like that.

Michael Leunig: I bought a book called the Penguin Leunig in the early 80s and I was instantly smitten by his poetic, angry, funny drawings with all his little marsupialian people. The Gift of the Magpie! I can still laugh at that! And he’s an official Living National Treasure in Australia.

Lynda Barry: The most honest, observant chronicler of childhood (and life in general). Unsparing, empathetic & hilarious.

Roz Chast: Maybe the other funniest New Yorker cartoonist and also atypical. She examines all the awkward pauses, anxious moments and mundane embarrassments that you’d prefer not to notice.

Edward Sorel: Look at his drawings, they’re carved into the paper with a line of such subtlety and velocity that you know he’s worked his heart out on every square inch of the page. And such a great combination of anger, elegance and charm! His book First Encounters, written with his wife, is my favorite work of comic illustration. Jeez, just look at his hands! Why can’t I draw hands like that?

Ralph Steadman: The first time I saw his work I hated it, which is often a warning sign that I’d love it later. The other greatest comic draftsman of the last hundred years and a force of nature.

Ruben Bolling: The smartest cartoonist now working and the best genre parodist, too. His comic sense is unexpected & wonderful and his logic is unassailable.

Pat Oliphant: His mental lens is so clear and his hand is so deft that, to quote someone, he draws five inches into the paper. Scathing & angry, sure, but also playful and endlessly inventive, and a serious artist who knows art history.

8 thoughts on “The Cartoonist’s Cartoonists: Richard Thompson

  1. That’s a pretty definitive list. I’m not familiar with some of those people, but of those I recognize they ARE the cream of the crop.

  2. Great list and great feature. Keep it up.

    The inclusion of Daumier makes me wonder…I know he’s a caricaturist and cartoonist as well as a painter, but how wide a net will the list makers be allowed to cast? There is a book full of Van Gogh’s sketches which, to me, look not out of place as an illustration or comic strip background. Van Gogh is of course known as a painter, but could you include those sketches as an influence? Just curious.

  3. Invited cartoonists are allowed to list any other cartoonist/author who has influenced their work or whose work they greatly admire. While the focus is cartoonists, I recognize cartoonists are artists who may derive their inspiration from other art forms.

  4. Great topic, Alan. I hope you’ll keep this going as a regular feature. I hope you’ll include cartoonists from all mediums(strips, editorial, web, magazine, etc.).

    I always enjoy any form of interview with cartoonists…

  5. This is an awesome feature. Lately everywhere I go I see Mr. Herriman’s name popping up. Definitely an interesting list.

  6. That’s more like it. Some interesting and thought-provoking choices.
    I’m an Australian citizen and I find Leunig a pretentious, fey lightweight who drew a dozen or so good cartoons about fifteen years ago which he put into a book. I bought that book.
    Leunig has been basically living off that book in the way that Kraftwerk have been living off “Autobahn” ever since.

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