Welcome to the web log of illustrator, cartoonist, writer, motorhead, and future Wal-Mart greeter Lou Brooks. I've gone cold turkey blogless for the last few months, and let me tell you, friend, it hasn't been easy! Have you missed all your old familiar pals?... Balloon Face, Typositor 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 300 of them and counting (all submitted by folks like you!).


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!


How Lou Does It - Collage "Sketching" on Your Computer

Some artists call the computer "the devil's television", but your computer can be an angel, especially when clients seem to give us less and less time to be a genius on a project. "We don't want art, we want it Thursday!" Elizabeth Ashley said that, and it still rings in my brain every time editors leave for Martha's Vineyard while I stare at a blank piece of white paper as the air conditioner ices up. But hold on! How'd we get to THIS...

... from THIS??! The assignment was about business marketing strategy for a trade show magazine. I was asked to create a portrait out of this PR photo of Mark Stevens -- in-demand speaker, frequent guest commentator on Fox Business News, and author of (I swear!) Your Marketing Sucks, Your Management Sucks, and the recently published Your Company Sucks.  You can check them out on Amazon. In spite of his apparent great success, I felt that his photo didn't really give me much to start with. Pretty typical. And dig those showbiz shirt cuffs! But I couldn't help feeling there would be a bit of the old alchemy and showmanship and seeing-into-the-future in Mr. Stevens' delivery, so I thought of Coney Island and magicians and magic posters -- three things that I go nuts over. When's that plane due back from Martha's Vineyard? I better get moving, but before I started drawing, why not zero in on that face and make that photo look more like the all-seeing all-knowing Stevens the Great!

I wanted him to be dead-on centered, like the Tilyou Coney Island face. To begin with I'm going to use just one side of the face, flip it and mirror it. Then start pushing and pulling on his main features. Hey, plastic surgery is fun! Nurse Photoshop, hand me that scalpel. The crowd is gathering as he mesmerizes them about turning marketing into money.

This old poster hangs in my living room. Alexander (whose real name was Claude Conlin) was quite the showman, and had truckloads of these things printed up. Years later, thousands of the unused posters fell into the hands of another magician, Lon Mandrake, who changed his name to Alexander rather than pay for posters of himself. He toured for years as "Alexander," and I guess no one ever really cared that much about it. Anyway, you can see here the direction that my sketches might be headed.

Time to start drawing on paper. Coming along. Some artists will say that the first idea is usually the best. Not necessarily, and it's why I don't like to show editors lots of ideas, although it's a nice short meeting if everyone agrees on the safe and familiar -- which is often the weakest idea.

Now we're on the right track! I stole (excuse me, these days artists say: "appropriated") the lightning bolts from an old magic catalog of mine. For some reason, the AD had brought up the "eye" on the pyramid. You know, like on the back of the dollar bill. Perfect. What we're on the verge of here is Mark Stevens, the all-seeing Marketing Mystic. Oops! The AD informs me that they don't like that eye thing afterall. But I'm still hot to go "Alexander" all the way and get a turban on him and some color going!

Wow! Here's a tight color drawing, complete. I can't wait to start inking. Mr. Stevens, you're coming through loud and clear! It's moments like this when I run to the bathroom mirror and say, "Lou, you're too too much!" Uh-oh, hold on a sec -- an email from the client. Something about another meeting they just had... lose the cockamamie turban, will ya, Lou?

No time to fret, there's always that deadline to take your mind off your troubles. Time to put on a stack of Fats Waller, and ink into the night. I'm really pleased with the final result anyway, but I still love the turban version the best. By the way, did you know that the term "deadline" comes from a line they used to draw around a prison, and any prisoner seen beyond it would be shot? Sounds close to home. I should have listened to Alexander. He knew!


When Magazines Were MAGAZINES! - #1

I've been collecting magazines of all sorts from the golden age of publishing on paper for as long as I can remember, and I'll be showing them here now and then under the umbrella category title of "When Magazines Were MAGAZINES!"

I've been wanting to post these examples of Paris Sex Appeal for a long time. I was originally going to call it "When Smut Was Lovely," even though when I look at them all together here, I think  "When 'Naughty' Meant 'Mysterious'" would be better. There's a strong alluring mystery to these, and it seems downright weird now because we've long given up on any desire to be seduced by any kind of mystery. Hey, we gotta know what's goin' on about everything now, don't we, pally?

Before Clare and I left on our first trip to Paris back in the '80s, old friend Art Spiegelman gave me a list of some places there, and one of them was this dark tiny used book store off the Boul'Mich where I found a pile of these along with a whole bunch of Tintins and other things that I ended up dragging back to NYC.

Actually, blame Turner Classic Movies, the greatest cable channel in the world, for me putting these things up here. About a week ago, they ran a 24-hour marathon of Jean Gabin movies, and we watched every one. We were back in Paris, back in "The Quarter," where you don't care what they're saying, as long as it's French.

The garish colors, the unearthly glassy eyes... the teeth! This particular cover holds a mystery never to be told. I can't explain about what exactly. 

What follows are a few examples of Paris Sex Appeal's jewel-like interior pages, first the delicate design of the table of contents and how it changed with each issue.

Finally, three exquisitely over-airbrushed and somewhat unusual examples of full-color full-page nudes. Most issues also offered male pictorials, and it somehow all seems perfectly natural. Draw your own conclusions, but imagine such a thing in any American skin mag.

The trailer for Jean Gabin in one of the greatest gangster movies of all time, "Touchez Pas Au Grisbi" (1954) directed by Jacques Becker.


Party Gag Art - #3

Yoma the Mystery Lady isn't exactly a party gag -- she's more in the business of party entertainment. Nonetheless, one of the greatest examples of packaging graphics in all packaging history, and certain to gather a large crowd at any get-together. But perhaps the greatest mystery that Yoma holds is: why hasn't any magician ever cut a man in half?


The Stray Cats

One more Record Review illo. for Rolling Stone, this time from my toothbrush-spattering days for The Stray Cats release, "Rant n' Rave" (1983). Left to right: Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom, and Lee Rocker. Anything for brother motorheads... start 'er up, boys!

 The original music video for "Sexy + Seventeen," one of several break-out hits from the album. By '83, the vaseline lens was rediscovered, and teenage videos and movies started to strangely look '80s, regardless of what era they were supposed to be set in. Great song, but I don't think it can touch Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher." Both here on The Lou Blog for your enjoyment... two distinct styles, but you decide for yourself!



Elvis Costello


Another Rolling Stone Record Review illustration also from 1979, this one for the release of the "Armed Forces" LP by insect-like Elvis Costello & the Attractions. The thing I remember most about the project is that Elvis's father wrote a letter to the magazine saying he didn't care for his son's music that much, but he loved this art and had the page taped to his refrigerator. Don't look for this one at the upcoming Society of Illustrators show -- I think space is limited to around a hundred pieces. Regardless, if they don't do a book of the show, they're nuts! The mag was pretty hot back then... hot hot hot!


Nowadaze they stick a couple of "bonus tracks" on a CD as a re-package deal. But there was a lovely small two-track vinyl record in its own illustrated sleeve that was tucked inside the original Armed Forces LP sleeve. Surprise! The tiny record contained three live performances: "Alison," Accidents Will Happen," and "Watching the Detectives," a song that still has hold of me. What Elvis, The Police, and others were doing with the reggae back beat was fairly brand new then. The video's from Koln, Germany, 1978.