Thompson to end 'Cul de Sac' comic strip


Creator ends ‘Cul de Sac’ due to Parkinson’s diagnosis

Three years after revealing he had received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, comic-strip creator Richard Thompson, 54, has announced that he will end his popular strip “Cul de Sac” in late September.

“Parkinson’s disease is horribly selfish and demanding,” Thompson said Friday. “A daily comic strip is, too, and I can only deal with one at a time.”

“Cul de Sac” debuted as a weekly feature in 2004, in the Valentine’s Day issue of The Washington Post Magazine. Thompson had previously launched his weekly comic “Richard’s Poor Almanac” in 1997 in The Post’s Style section.

Since then, “Cul de Sac” — about preschooler Alice Otterloop — has won a loyal following. Thompson’s Kansas-based syndicate, Universal Uclick, rolled it out as a daily strip in 2007, and it is now syndicated to more than 250 newspaper clients.

“I’ve known for a year or more that I was working on borrowed time,” said Thompson, who works out of his Arlington, Va., studio. “My lettering had begun to wander off in 2009, but that could be fixed easily enough. But when Alice’s and Dill’s heads began to look under-inflated last winter, I figured I was losing control of the drawing, too. When I needed help with the inking (the hardest but most satisfying part of drawing the strip), well that was probably a tipping point.”

For a while Thompson worked with another cartoonist, Stacy Curtis, which he said helped a great deal, but that he had trouble separating the inking process from the writing. Ultimately, he said, he felt he’d “gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip.”

In May, Universal’s parent, Andrews McMeel, published “Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson’s” — an art book for which more than 150 of Thompson’s peers donated illustrations for charity.

A companion auction of the art raised money for Parkinson’s research.

Despite the setback, Thompson said he’s not about to hang up his Hunt No. 101 Imperial for good.

“I’m not ready to quit,” Thompson said. “But I’m sure my work will change. It may look like it was done by Cy Twombly using his sleeve.”

TNT renews McCormack-led drama ‘Perception’

LOS ANGELES — Eric McCormack’s second time on TNT seems to be the charm: The network has renewed the crime-solving drama “Perception,” in which he stars, for a second season.

The network has ordered 13 episodes for the show’s sophomore outing, which is slated to air in 2013.

In the series, McCormack stars as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a scruffy, eccentric neuroscientist and paranoid schizophrenic who helps the federal government solve difficult cases.

It’s McCormack’s second series on the network.

His first, “Trust Me,” set inside a fictional advertising firm, was canceled after its first season.

“Perception,” which airs Monday nights on the network, premiered in July to 5.6 million viewers and, according to the network, it ranks second behind TNT’s other drama, “Major Crimes,” among basic cable’s top new scripted series for the year to date.

Its first-season finale is set to air in September.

After theater shooting, moviegoer reluctance persists

LOS ANGELES — Four weeks after the shooting at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Colorado, 17 percent of moviegoers are still reluctant to head to theaters.

That’s the finding of the most recent survey by consulting firm Screen Engine, which has been polling Americans each week since the shooting.

While the figure has declined slightly from 21 percent in the first week after the shooting, the still-significant number demonstrates that the after-effects of the movie theater massacre, in which 12 people died and 59 were injured, are still being felt.

That could help explain why several recent films had lower-than-expected openings, based on interest in pre-release surveys, including “The Bourne Legacy,” “Total Recall” and “The Watch.”

“In our experience, when there are major events that reach the national news level, it can take at least several weeks for things to get back to normal,” said Screen Engine chief executive Kevin Goetz.

The surveys found that teenagers, particularly females, were most likely to be hesitant about going to movie theaters.

Late-night screenings may be particularly affected. Several people who closely follow box office returns noted it didn’t become clear that some recent movies were underperforming until box office receipts from nighttime showings were counted.


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