Richard Thompson discusses life before Cul De Sac

Cul De Sac creator Richard Thompson talks to Panels and Pixels blogger Chris Mautner about his career and work before the launch of his syndicated daily.

Before there was Cul De Sac, Richard did (and still does) a weekly feature called Richard’s Poor Almanac.

Q: How would you describe that strip? Was it a social satire or a political strip?

A: It’s more social. It’s political sometimes, just because D.C. is a political town, but I wouldn’t call it an editorial cartoon. Politicians appear in it sometimes, but as an almanac I can make fun of the weather too.

Again, they don’t much care what I do as long as it’s funny and makes some sense. I just turn it in on Friday night and they don’t even look at it until it shows up. Another dream job. For years I didn’t think anyone was really reading it so who cares? The pressure was off.

Q: So how did doing a weekly strip lead to Cul de Sac?

A: The editorship changed a couple of times. I guess I’ve been through five editors with it. I think the second or third was Tom Schroeder, who came up to the post through the Miami Herald. He’s now the editor of the Washington Post magazine. Somewhere along the line he said, “Have you ever thought of doing a strip with continuing characters in it?” “Well yeah kind of.” “Why don’t you put something together for the Sunday magazine and just have it be about Washington without being about official Washington, the people who live around here.” I grew up around DC and the suburbs around DC. It sort of grew out of that. It’s a backwater side of Washington. Calling it Cul De Sac made it obvious it was not the center of town somehow. That started in 2004.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of Richard’s Poor Almanac, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s a wonderful read in both its humor and the amazing art.

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