Starting this Sunday catchup with an apology: Circumstances kept me from getting a new Francophone Friday posted this week. Sorry about that. I'll try to have one up next week.
Work continues on the Special Project for post #450. Fasten your seatbelts!
After the cut: A tribute to a great comic strip and its cartoonist.
Cul de Sac was another in a long line of strips centered around suburban children that have graced the comics page over the decades, but from the start it was clearly different. Unlike Peanuts with its mix of cynicism and silliness, or Calvin and Hobbes' collision of bratty behavior and a sense of wonder, Cul de Sac was whimsical and absurd in a way that is rare in comics, and in storytelling in general, but somehow never strayed too far from the real world. Just like with Charlie Brown and with Calvin, we could see some of ourselves in the Otterloop family and their friends...but not too much. [Click the samples to enlarge them.]
Alice Otterloop, the preschooler with a strange imagination, was the original focus, but as time went on, her neurotic older brother Petey got more screen time. And their friends and acquaintances were beautifully realized, one of the best supporting casts ever in comics. My favorites were Dill (who had a fondness for the cardboard inserts in toilet paper rolls), Loris (aspiring graphic novelist with hairbands that popped off whenever she had an idea) and Ernesto, who was so weird that Petey became convinced he was imaginary.
Richard Thompson had to retire Cul de Sac after too few years due to the onset of Parkinson's disease, which robbed him of his ability to draw...and finally took him from us last week. Thankfully, you can read the entire run of Cul De Sac online, at the GoComics website. And you should, because it was a great comic.