Usually when I “read an art book” it means I look at the pictures and skim the text. The newly-released Art of Richard Thompson is the only one I’ve ever read cover to cover, feeling genuinely sad when I was done. Fortunately, it’s good enough to go back to repeatedly and enjoy a place of honor on my drawing table. What really makes this book is that a) Richard Thompson is a superb writer as well as artist and b) the people who worked on this book are all superb writers who can gush about Thompson's work repeatedly without it getting old. And at least half of the writers are superb artists, too, notably Bill Waterson and Nick Galifianakis. One of my favorite paragraphs is the Nick Galifianakis introduction, when he describes seeing Thompson’s portfolio for the first time:
"Richard Thompson’s drawings staggered me. Their deftness, humor, and depth made mine feel amateurish, self-important and shallow. In an instant, I saw not only just how long the road was..I was astonished to realize I wasn’t even on the road. Ability? Sure. Effort? Absolutely. But how does one convince the gods to fashion your visions, and an angel to guide your hand?
Richard provided me with the “aha!” moment of my creative life. This book exists partly because I want current and future artist to feel as worthless a I did.”
As one of the book's contributors David Apatoff points out, Richard Thompson knows how to “draw funny.” This is pretty much what it sounds like; sometimes a picture can crack you up without any text. You don’t need to be a good artist to draw funny, and not all great cartoonists can draw funny, at least not reliably. But it certainly doesn’t hurt. I mean, just LOOK at that pig.
(Sidenote: Other artists who could draw funny: Hieronymus Bosch , Flannery O’Connor (no, really), Saul Steinberg.)
In short, everyone I know is getting this book for Channukah, and if I don't know you, you should get one yourself. You're welcome.