Welcome to the web log of illustrator, cartoonist, writer, motorhead, and future Wal-Mart greeter Lou Brooks. I've gone cold turkey blogless for awhile, and let me tell you, it hasn't been easy! Have you missed all your old familiar pals?... Balloon Face, Typo Tom, Mr. Irresponsible, and those endearing rascals, The Ass Puppets? Well, to be honest, they're not here... and they're never coming back. But lots of others are just waiting to make all this worth your while, so let's get going! Shall we?

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot... check out my newest Internet brainchild, The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, where tools of the trade that have died or have just about died a slow death are cheerfully exhibited -- Over 700(!) of them and counting (all submitted by folks like you!). And don't forget to join in the fun at the Facebook Forgotten Art Supplies Forum. Over 4,000 members and growing every day!


Labor Day, September 5, 1944. I remember the day I was born. I suddenly noticed there was a lot more room, which was nice. There was a radio on. Then a man in the room said, "Jesus Christ, that nurse talks too much!" That would have been my father. I didn't know who this Christ guy was, but as life went on, my father brought his name up a lot. My mother would occasionally call out, "Jesus Jenny!" I have no idea who that was either. August 6, 1945. Things had been going pretty swell. Then there was this sadness, and everybody seemed to get real quiet. Beginning that day, the world seemed different. Like I was put in exile or sumthin' for no reason. April 27, 1962. My father still wouldn't give me permission to smoke in the house. I told him in the kitchen that I wanted to spend my life as an artist. He smoked Camels and blew out one of those quick sarcastic smoke puffs, you know, the kind they blow out the side of their mouth and it makes their one eye squint and gives them this really scary half-grin besides. "What are you gonna paint," he said, "FLOWERS?"


Let's get down to... MONKEY BUSINESS!

Courtesy Grand Comics Database www.comics.org

Check out Lou's book of tongue-twisting limerick madness for kids of all ages! Visit the Twimericks website now or die!


The True Story of Lou Can Now Be Told!

A Guy Named Lou from Lou Brooks on Vimeo.

Back in 1988, I was slotted as the Friday night presentation event for American Illustration Weekend. It was to be in the FIT main theater in Manhattan, and I was following a Thursday night presentation by Robert Zemeckis, who had just released "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"... not bad company!

For my budget, the technology available to me at the time was sketchy. I remembered those educational filmstrip showings in grade school, so friends and I cobbled together a sort of "industrial slide show" of a Lou Brooks history that never really existed. Most of the money went into the narration and sound track, which I wrote. I was so fortunate to get the late Joe Hamer as the main narrator. He was amazing. He actually did narrate some of the industrial films from back when, and his every word and nuance still plays perfectly today. My voice was done by Patrick Horgan. He was the narrator of Woody Allen's "Zelig."

Technology has slightly(!!) advanced since then, and thanks mainly to that wonderful sound track trapped in my brain all these years (like a dance record from a long forgotten date), I found myself recently lost in months of monastic film production in order to do justice to that crazy soundtrack. Anyway, here it is. Frame-by-frame production done by me in Adobe Flash CS3 and exported to QuickTime. Special thanks to AI-AP and Edward Booth-Clibborn, and also to Sound Director Rich Mendoza.


New Lou Interview for DEADBEAT Magazine

Babes, fast cars and tattoos! What more could a boy ask for? Thanks to Deadbeat Magazine and my new friends in Oz down under for a great lead-off interview and feature. Some of the juicy bits excerpted here...

"I’ve always hated going to school of any sort. To me, it was a job, only you didn’t get paid. I was pretty ambitious, but I didn’t see the sense in having to show up anywhere and do a lot of things that I didn’t want to do... Going to a real art school that taught you how to be something besides an art teacher wasn’t really affordable, so, my parents convinced me to take the first job that came along – all-night dishwasher and busboy at a local Howard Johnson’s.

"Meanwhile, I had sent some art samples to a local city newspaper, and miraculously, they hired me. They put me on night shift there as a masker in the ad department – painting red lacquer on sheets of acetate. I grew to enjoy staying up all night, and have been a night people ever since. Eventually, they taught me to set phototype and work the stat machine. Best part of it, though, was touching up stripper photos for the newspaper burlesque ads. I thought I was Van Gogh."

The newspaper was the now-long-gone Philadelphia Bulletin, and the burlesk ads were for the Trocadero Theater in Philly's tenderloin on Arch Street. When thiings were slow in the art department, a few of us would sneak down to catch the late show. We told everybody we we'd been to the Teddy Roosevelt Opera Company (T.R.O.C.). First show I saw there featured Virginia "Ding Dong" Bell, and I've been an opera fan ever since.

"My father was a bean counter at a rail car company. So, I had to look elsewhere on my own for any culture beyond what a blue-collar suburban life had to offer. There was television… Walt Disney, Warner Bros. cartoons, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and all that stuff. I realize now that my career's been a little bit of a Zen thing...

"I could read very well by age four – thanks to a steady diet of newspaper comics and comic books. I knew every comic author and writer by name, and most of the artists wrote their own strip. I was sure that if Rembrandt couldn’t write, then he wasn’t very good, was he?

 "My last job was in the mid ‘70s at a Philadelphia art studio, and by then I was selling freelance illustration pretty steadily, as well as cartoons to Playboy. New York City was just ninety miles north, and I realized that everything I was doing was coming from up there, so my wife and I packed up and moved to New York. To live in New York, even back then, you had to know who you were and why you were there. Beginning each day in Manhattan is like getting hit in the face with a shovel. You have to like it, then get back up and continue down the street. We moved there when the city was at its grimiest and most dangerous. Son of Sam was running around loose. We got hit with a huge blackout. The worst blizzards in fifty years. It’s just hard to live there, unless you’re on a trust fund... for people starting out now, my advice is: have rich parents."


Party Gag Art #6

Discipline has usually been pretty serious business (ask those guys from the Spanish Inquisition)... up until the relatively recent invention of The Fanny Whacker. A lady faints. What better way to bring her to? And you can stir paint with it! Purchased at Peanut World on the Atlantic City boardwalk in the '70s.


"He Says She Says" for the Wall Street Journal

Another "retirement" assignment for an article entitled "He Says She Says" for The Wall Street Journal. Created a few weeks ago, and I thought it would make a lovely companion piece to my previous "He Wants to Retire...but She Doesn't" post. This one was all about couples spending a lifetime together, only to find out their retirement dream worlds are very different. Shown below is the pencil drawing for it. I originally thought a perfume shoppe would work (see shoppe counter), but came to my senses and changed it to a dress shoppe. AD, once again: Orlie Kraus.


Latest for The Wall Street Journal

Seems I've been on a Wall Street Journal binge lately, thanks to WSJ AD Orlie Kraus, who, along with the editors, insists on making each assignment a barrel of fun for me. Here's the latest front page opener for yesterday's edition. A few of the steps along the way to arriving at this are shown below.

These were very fast roughs done while Orlie and I spoke on the phone. Although it looks more like a sunrise here, I imagined a setting sun denoting a time near the end of a career. I usually try to weasel my way out of doing a lot of quick thumbnails, worrying that the client will pick the weakest idea (which I think this one is). When this happens, you can sometimes find you've created a monster of a problem!

Thiis one's getting there. I like the confrontational situation between the couple, which gives them personality -- an ingredient that creates characters instead of just drawings. A touch of the animator in me, I guess.

This one brings a ton of energy to the image, and it's interesting how close to the final solution it is. The "clock" has turned into some sort of Age-O-Meter, and the couple are really going at it. As I developed a tighter drawing, it quickly occurred to me that the meter should show retirement-age possibilities rather than years.

An example of my laboriously rendered presentation pencil drawings. I can't explain why I work this way, but an upside is that it helps editors easily visualize what they're getting.

The pencil drawing placed in Orlie's supplied layout. I've emphasized the circular meter with some quick dark tones to make it obvious that the circle is the frame that will be holding all the other elements together. The computer makes such touches fast and easy. I was pretty sure about the motion lines, but finally decided they were just too much and had to go.

Speaking of computers, here's the front page of the iPad edition of yesterday's Journal. Editorial art... not exactly your father's Oldsmobile anymore.