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The Incomplete Art of “Why Things Are”

The Incomplete Art of “Why Things Are”
Art by Richard Thompson
Foreword by Joel Achenbach • Edited by Michael Rhode
The Richard Thompson Library, Volume 1

Before the incalculable capacity of the Internet to answer nearly any question put to it while allowing a legion of pedants to hold forth without constraint, getting the facts of the matter took some effort. Just before the end of those benighted times there was a Washington Post column entitled “Why Things Are” to which readers could pose everything from child-like queries to stoner hypotheticals in the hope of answers to life’s arcane conundrums. That weekly column ran in the newspaper from 1990 to 1996, and it was adorned with smart, silly cartoons by then staff artist extraordinaire Richard Thompson. In retrospect, it’s not surprising that those cartoons stand up quite well by themselves, getting their own laughs from the eccentric questions posed by readers. Gathered here for the first time is a (near) complete collection of Thompson’s genius illustrations and cartoons for “Why Things Are,” the first regular humor series in Thompson’s career.

THE RICHARD THOMPSON LIBRARY
The Richard Thompson Library, published by Picture This Press, collects the work of one of the great artists working in cartooning and illustration in the last 25 years.

Paperback: $27.95 • 346 pp. • B&W • paperback • ISBN: 978-0-9906932-8-4

Hardcover: $34.95 • 346 pp. • B&W • hardcover • ISBN: 978-0-9906932-9-1



Richard Thompson (1957-2016)

Richard Thompson
Thompson—one of his generation’s greatest cartoonists and caricaturists—was beloved by readers and fellow artists alike. Pat Oliphant called him “Michelangelo with a sense of humor,” and Bill Watterson, who had not said anything publicly in almost 20 years, broke his silence to credit Thompson with “giving me a reason to read the comics again.” In a more than 35-year career, Thompson, his work appeared in U.S. News & World Report, The New Yorker, Air & Space/Smithsonian, National Geographic, and The Atlantic Monthly. He is best known for his 2004–12 syndicated comic strip, Cul de Sac.


2016 Small Press Expo Panel Discussion: “The Life and Art of Richard Thompson”

Moderated by Picture This Press co-publisher Joe Procopio, this 2016 Small Press Expo panel discussion celebrates Richard Thompson’s art and generous spirit as conveyed in this conversation among Thompson’s long-time intimates—fellow cartoonist Nick Galifianakis, Cul De Sac editor Shena Wolf, and art historian David Apatoff.


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