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!

Thursday
Aug112011

Party Gag Art - #2

Three views of the box art for the always popular trombetta scherzo per auto, which means "car trumpet joke." But it's really all about the young lady wondering what's wrong with her little red Alfa. Purchased at a magazine kiosk in Monaco. All cars in Italy are red. It's the law.

Tuesday
Aug092011

How Lou Does It - Rush Deadlines & How to Stay in the Driver's Seat

Once in a while, I thought I'd show the complete process I go through on an illustration assignment. Here's the final art, done for Fast Company Magazine with an unmistakeable rush deadline. It's from a few years ago, and it's just occured to me that most of that cable jungle undergrowth has disappeared into the ether of the wireless night.

When it's a rush, there's usually no time to allow editors to have half a dozen choices. So, I try to get the art director and editors on my side quickly with one strong idea, if possible. It's end of day Friday, everybody wants to go home, and I'm scribbling away as I talk the idea up on the phone. As soon as I think they're getting it, the scribble's in the scanner and into a low res Photoshop file. This assignment has to do with being overwhelmed with computer cable connections.

I quickly throw some color guesswork into the drawing, and fire it off by email to the AD while I still have him or her on the phone. Not very pretty. But it's just to give them a basic idea of where we're going.

Now for the fun. First, I come up with a character that really gets across what the editors wrote, while cramming as much personality into him as I can. The man's looking fluid, and my animation influences are showing here.

On an overlay of tracing paper, I go a little crazy with computer cables attacking him like boa constrictors! Somebody STOP me! If I think I've nailed the base drawing of the guy, I like working with rough overlays, which usually seem to give me more freedom to go nuts.

One final very tight drawing, if I have the time. I want him a little nerdier, so I've used at least one jar of axle grease on his hair. Time to throw on a dance party CD and start inking! I usually ink on watercolor paper with some tooth to it, although I'm really not precious about materials at all. Whatever's handy.

Tuesday
Aug092011

Party Gag Art - #1

Partial view of the box lid for Naso Rumoroso, which roughly translates to "nasal babbler" or "nose noise," depending on which ethnic crowd you're running with at the time. My party gag collection isn't as epic as, say, Mark Newgarden's, but what I have is cherce.

Saturday
Aug062011

The Village People

 

The Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, New York, will be offering an amazing exhibit: Rolling Stone and the Art of the Record Review, featuring original art chosen from over thirty years of Rolling Stone record reviews. I recently got the cool news that my illustration of The Village People (1979... yikes!)) has been chosen to be included. The show opens September 1 and runs through October 22, with the official opening reception party on Friday, September 9. The Society is located at 128 East 63rd St. in Manhattan. You can visit their web site or call for more information at 212-838-2560.



This is the original "Y.M.C.A." video of the original group, filmed three years before MTV launched. Back then, they weren't called "music videos," they were called "clips," and would be used by entertainers mainly to show during talk show appearances and the like. I moved to New York the year before their "clip" was shot. New York was at its grayest and seediest, as some of the location backgrounds indicate. Son of Sam was still running around loose, and mayhem seemed to reign supreme. So, how come I had so much fun?

Sunday
Jul312011

All Hail, Manny Moe & Jack!

 

What better place to start than where I started. Twenty-three years before I existed, Manny Rosenfeld, Moe Strauss, and  Jack Jackson founded an auto parts store in Philadelphia, and the world beheld The Pep Boys (an original fourth partner, Moe Radavitz, was bought out two years later). The countless versions of their matchbook, such as the one pictured below, have lived on as sort of the Mount Rushmore of matchbooks.


Why am I telling you this? Because I owe my entire career to Manny Moe & Jack. Somewhere in my life, the matchbook had cast a spell on me that's never been broken. So, one afternoon in Philadelphia in the late '60s, with no formal art training, I decided to re-create a large slick version of The Pep Boys matchbook. Like a bajillion other wannabe's at the time, I was already under the influence of Pushpin Studios, and it has a definite Barry Zaid feeling to it. Somehow I knew about Cello-tak colors, but I'd never even seen an air brush. So, I created the red background with Magic Marker, which, believe it or not, came in aerosol cans back then.

Anyway, I was so spellbound by this thing, I decided to build a whole portfolio around it, which I did. Cut to the early '70s. Nobody else was working like this, so it was hard to sell. I had been dragging my portfolio up to New York each Wednesday and leaving it at magazines and record companies. Once in a while, somebody would have a use for it.

Somewhere along the line, Atlantic Records and Peter Wolf, lead singer for The J. Geils Band, saw what I was doing and hired me to illustrate the band's next album.

Genius designer Peter Corriston at Album Graphics designed the package so that the inner sleeve was the phone receiver. I love CD package design, but there was nothing like having that twelve inches of cardboard at your disposal.

The band portrait for the back cover was used again for the "Best of The J. Geils Band Two" LP. Hard to find, but obviously still being listened to in Japan somewhere.

Arena-style rock concerts were the thing back then, and I was going to a lot of them. No one could touch the Geils Band for live performance, even The Stones, which I was lucky enough to see once on a press pass.

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