I thought I noticed something a little different in the art and the writing this morning when reading today's installment of the comic strip "Cul de Sac." Then I saw it wasn't a previously published strip from 2009, as cartoonist Richard Thompson's syndicate had been running while Thompson was undergoing treatment for Parkinson's. It was a new strip signed "Jantze 4 R.T." Sure enough, a quick check of Michael Cavna's Comics Riff blog (always a great source of the latest comic industry news) told what was going on:
COME MONDAY, the characters of “Cul de Sac” may look a little odd to the eye. Then again, that’s the hazard of letting your comic children be babysat by six sketchy cartoonists.
Richard Thompson, who is on hiatus from his Universal Uclick strip as he receives treatment for Parkinson’s disease, is turning his Reuben Award-winning comic over to a half-dozen potentially demented foster parents for about five weeks of dailies and Sundays.
It’s not uncommon for syndicated cartoonists to let a colleague sub for them for a week — but letting so many creative uncles move in for at least a month could be considered an act of bravery. So, how’s the father of “Cul de Sac” feel about it?
“I’m tickled, honored and grateful,” Thompson tells Comic Riffs, “that cartoonists as talented as Mo Willems (Pigeon), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate) and Michael Jantze (The Norm), Corey Pandolph (Elderberries) and Ken Fisher (Tom the Dancing Bug) would babysit my collection of poorly socialized children ... and adults.”
(Those first four cartoonists, by the way, have previously “channeled” Thompson’s creations at least once — for the upcoming Team Cul de Sac artbook to raise money for Parkinson’s research. Update: And it was announced Friday that Pastis is a finalist for the NCS Reuben Award, which Thompson won last year.)
So is the “Cul de Sac” creator concerned that these interlopers will run amok through the wry, suburban life of his Otterloop brood?
“I let them have free rein to re-create ‘Cul de Sac’ as they saw fit,” Thompson tells ‘Riffs, “hoping only that no one introduced anything too bizarre, like an angry talking Rat, or a Pigeon with some kind of bus-mania.”
The guest cartoonists will be drawing the daily strips through the week of March 19. They'll draw the Sunday strips from March 18 through April 15.
The rest of Cavna's post, including comments from the six cartoonists on the experience of writing for and drawing Thompson's characters, can be found here.