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Calling All Cartoonists

Contrary to the occasional snarky aside on this page (always meant in good fun), the newspaper comic is not entirely dead or devoid of creativity. Strip cartooners still exist that push the limits of craft, given the limitations of editorial dictates, space, declining revenues and deadlines, cartooners who know that having restrictions can result in more funny, cartooners who aren’t just phoning it in so they can make their 11:00am tee time.

Among modern cartoonists (web, newspaper, and other), it’s pretty much agreed that Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson¹ is the epitome of the strip craft. And Richard Thompson is the subject/honoree of a project that could use your assistance, if you’d be so kind.

If you’ve seen Thompson at a convention (I saw him on a particular interesting SDCC panel in July 2009), you may notice that he has a sometimes better, sometimes worse tremor in his hands (aside: I can’t think of a more terrifying thing for a cartoonist to face, yet his lines are confident and controlled). What I didn’t know when I saw Thompson speak (although he had announced it about a week earlier) is that he has Parkinson’s Disease.

It’s chronic. It’s degenerative. It can lead to cognitive problems in the late stages. It has treatments that are of varying efficacy, but no cure.

Thompson’s friends would like your help teaching this “pain in the fundament” who’s the boss. As part of the TeamFox initiative to support Parkinson’s research, there is now a Cul de Sac fundraising team, but the organizers aren’t asking for your cash (at least, not just yet). They’re asking for cartoonists to donate original art (on the theme of Fun) to support a book that will be used to fundraise:

We are inviting cartoonists like you to donate original art made especially for a book about Parkinson’s awareness in Richard’s honor. Part of the profits from the sale of the book would benefit the Michael J Fox Foundation (MJFF), and the original art will be auctioned as part of the fundraiser with all of auction money going to MJFF. Additionally, there will be a limited number of deluxe edition books signed and numbered by Richard Thompson.

The theme is going to be fun. It is your take on the 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.

Please write a little text as well, if you would. Not necessarily about Richard or PD, but inspiration, technique, influences, determination, strength, spirituality, etc.

By all accounts I’ve ever heard, Richard Thompson may be the nicest guy in cartooning; to hear that he’s inspired others to take such a creative, positive approach to giving that sonofabitch disease the finger seems entirely in character for him. Contact information is on the TeamFox page, and I’m suggesting to webcomicdom that we ought to absolutely bury the organizers under more artwork than can possibly be included in the book, artwork that will still be auctioned to support research. Give it your best shot, and do something in honor of a master craftsman whose work you should be studying closely if you aren’t already.

¹ Not the Richard Thompson who has the nimblest guitar-picking fingers on the planet, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it was?

We need to get Richard Thompson, Richard Thompson, Warren Ellis and Warren Ellis together for a drink sometime… :)

It’s true. Richard Thompson just might be the nicest guy in cartooning.

He also sells original art and commissions, and I highly recommend taking advantage of that useful fact.

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