After eight years, Richard Thompson's much-loved newspaper strip Cul de Sac will be drawing to a close next month, as the cartoonist is forced to retire due to his ongoing struggle with Parkinson's disease.In a statement released today, Thompson's syndicate, Universal Uclick said that,

The last year has been a struggle for Richard. Parkinson's disease, first diagnosed in 2009, has so weakened him that he is unable to meet the demands of a comic strip. For a time, he worked with another artist, but the deadlines became too much of a task.

Thompson himself is quoted in the statement as saying that "At first [the Parkinson's] didn't affect my drawing, but that's gradually changed. Last winter, I got an excellent cartoonist, Stacy Curtis, to ink my roughs, which was a great help. But now I've gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip."

The addition of Curtis this past March followed a period where fellow cartoonists took over the strip on a temporary basis to allow Thompson a break for treatment for the disease, with guests including Pearls Before Swine's Stephan Pastis and children's book illustrator Mo Willems. A book featuring various artists' interpretations of the Cul de Sac characters, Team Cul de Sac, was released in June to raise awareness of Parkinson's disease and also raise money for Team Fox, the fundraising arm of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which helps research into the disease and a potential cure.

Described by no less an authority than Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson as "[having] it all-intelligence, gentle humor, a delightful way with words, and, most surprising of all, wonderful, wonderful drawings," Thompson's strip about Alice Otterloop and her friends and family originally debuted as a limited-run strip in the Washington Post in February 2004, before becoming syndicated nationally three years later.

The final Cul de Sac strip is slated to run September 23.


[Via The Washington Post]