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!

Saturday
Nov122011

The Lou Sign - Learn It, Know It, Use It

Tell the world you're Lou's pal! While driving along the highways and biways of this aesthetically sensitive nation of ours, keep a friendly eye open for anyone wearing a yellow hardhat. The plastic yellow hat, odd and uncomfortable as it may look to you, is the official hat here at The Lou Brooks Web Site... so chances are, the person you see is working for Lou! Why not just slow down and give 'em The "Lou" Sign? You may just get it back!

Once and for all, here's how to give the official "Lou" sign. Just smile, hold your right hand up and make the sign of the "L"... that's all there is to it! A good way to make friends at home, at the office, or when you're being patted down by a police officer. Obviously, don't use your left hand... it makes a "J", and, for all you know, they'll think you're making reference to some artist named "Jacques."

Coming soon: The lyrics to the Official Lou Brooks Song, "I Wanted to Paint Her in the Nude, But She Made Me Wear a Robe!", the same song Lou sings at parties and in the checkout line!

Friday
Nov112011

Party Gag Art - #5

The Teaserooo Flip Strip was another ingenious invention by none other than Soren Sorensen Adams, "King of the Professional Pranksters." Adams began his career by launching the Cachoo Sneezing Powder Company, later changing the name to the S.S. Adams Company. He went on to invent hundreds of items, including the dribble glass, the snake nut can, itching powder, the stink bomb, the squirting nickel, the bar bug in an ice cube, and perhaps the company's most enduring item: the joy buzzer.

Adams died in 1963 in Asbury Park at the age of 84, leaving behind a legacy of over 600 novelties he had dreamed up (many of which he had patented), including the postcard-sized Teaserooo Flip Strip shown here from 1945. Each Teaseroooo in the series featured a picture of a lovely pin-up girl along with an amusing titillating limerick. Various layers of her clothing were printed on three celluloid overlays which could be flipped out of the way for greater viewing pleasure. For more on Mr. Adams and novelties in general, take a gander at Mark Newgarden's classic great book Cheap Laffs: The Art of the Novelty Item (Abrams).

 

Saturday
Nov052011

Amazing Books - Independently Animated: Bill Plympton

Occasionally, I'm going to do a show & tell on a book from my own personal book shelf... at least any book that really really really blows my skirt up. Here's the first, and watch for others!

I met both Bill Plympton and Harvey Kurtzman at the same Playboy party in 1978. I got to know Harvey a little bit. A party here and there, and lunch once in a while. But Bill and I seemed to latch on to one another that evening, and we've been good friends ever since. Back then, he wasn't the King of Animation yet (he wasn't even a duke or anything). He was an editorial cartoonist for the long-gone Soho News.

It's near impossible to write about Bill Plympton and tell you things you haven't already heard. Fans idolize him. Media people such as Leonard Maltin love him. He's been given life-time achievement awards, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards. His frequent newsletter makes it seem like most all of his time is taken up by flying in a jet to the next gala event, and it's astounding he's managed to find the time down here on the ground to turn out the body of completely hand-drawn film projects that he has.

Model sheet for Bill's second Academy Award-nominated short film, "Guard Dog" (2005).

With the exception of a few live-action projects, every cel for every frame (well, actually for every third frame) of every feature and short he's created over the last 25 years has been hand-drawn by Bill Plympton. I remember in the old days stopping by his old Lower Eastside apartment, and there he'd be, sitting at his kitchen table, drawing like he's setting the woods on fire.

For the last dozen years, I've lived out in California, and Bill and I have sort of gone our separate ways, I guess. But right from the inspirational introduction that takes place in Bill's apartment (whereby he says no to a lucrative Disney contract and shows the lawyer the door), his new book, Independently Animated: Bill Plympton (Rizzoli/Universe, 264 pages) brought so much of it back to me. He mentions me in it, which I thought was great, considering all he's accomplished and all he needed to write about.

The film that started it all. Cel drawing for Bill's first Academy Award-nominated short film, "Your Face" (1987). From here, it took him five years to complete his first feature, "The Tune."

My favorite drawing from the book. For the short film, "Sex & Violence" (1997).

Art for Bill's feature-length film, "Mutant Aliens" (2001). For a 28-episode (!) online behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of "Mutant Aliens," go to: http://www.mutantaliensmovie.com/main.html

Glory daze! Back around 1980, a bunch of us started an all-cartoonist band which I named Ben Day & the Zipatones: Elwood Smith and Bill on guitars, Mark Alan Stamaty (world's only Elvis impersonator impersonator), Leslie Cabarga on keyboards, and NatLamp AD Skip Johnston on drums. I wrote songs and tried to pass myself off as a singer. Left to right: the Zipettes on back-up vocals, Leslie Cabarga on piano, and Bill and Elwood go at it on guitars. We sold out Irving Plaza and raised 5,000 bucks for the Graphic Artists Guild. Bill's suit was a $14.95 special from 14th Street. Lots more about our adventures in the book.

One of many pages from the book showing Bill's early mastery of caricature from his earlier years as a political cartoonist. His exquisite draftsmanship shines through! The drawing of Reagan upper right is one of my all-time favorite Plymptons.Independently Animated: Bill Plympton is crammed with full-color art throughout, and is written by Bill along with David B. Levy, president of the New York Chapter of the Association International du Film d' Animation. Foreword by Monty Python's Terry Gilliam.

 Buy Independently Animated at Amazon.com now!

Check out Bill's films here!

Wednesday
Oct052011

Relics of Lost Civilizations #1 - Punk Dolls

I don't think Ken and Barbie ever had these two over! Acquired at a souvenir store in Picadilly Circus during one of our London trips, and the closest thing to Sid and Nancy dolls you're probably ever going to see. She looks pretty wired, but he looks like he's got his shit pretty together.

Tuesday
Oct042011

How Lou Does It - The Trouble with the Future

Detail from opening two-page spread shown below.

Briefings is a drop-dead gorgeous magazine that most of us will never get to see. Designed by Joannah Ralston, it's relatively modest readership consists exclusively of the top corporate CEOs of the world, and the magazine strives to offer them insight into issues that CEOs get to face every day. As an example, with the constant barrage of uncertainty that seems to threaten us all these days, David Berreby's "The Trouble with the Future" attempts to demystify that endless parade of "experts" who keep trying to tell us what's going to happen tomorrow. Behind it all, the real answer seems to be: "Who knows?!! We're just guessing!!"

Makes me wonder even more about all you people who hang on every word spoken day in and day out by idiotic "experts" on the news explaining "what's in store for us." Sometimes the experts even debate it -- you know, that split-screen thing they use where one's in Washington and another's in some other god-forsaken place (or so they try to get us to believe!).  As if they knew what they were talking about. As Father Kerouac put it so poetically half a century ago: "... nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody..."

Being the unsophisticated politically and economically unaware person that I am, the assignment immediately reminded me of every Lugosi and Bowery Boys seance movie I've ever seen. Joannah understands this about me, and she and I have always worked well together. So, when she gave me 6-8 pages to dig into when I was already knee-deep in too many deadlines, I had to say YES! Plenty of room to spread out, and I wanted it to be slightly sequential, enough to flow across the 3-4 spreads. The "answers" in the circle are a la my Magic Eight Ball.

Was there ever a more beautiful game board than this? My inspiration for the face was from an Eddie Cantor game called "Tell It to the Judge" from 1939. To me, his googly face smacked of Coney Island, and was a great beginning for what I had in mind.

A detail of my pencil drawing. The hands are my own, from a few snapshots taken by my wife and handler, Clare.

The next spread here holds an initial cap "T" in its rightful place to indicate where the text will begin). I gotta say, continuing the "answers" on magician's cards was a great way to carry the idea's flow across not just this spread, but the entire article.

The pencil drawing, indicating how the text shape will zoom across, following cards along with the blue astral swirl (which mimics the background of the opener).

The righthand side of the following spread. The cards have continued across the left page (not shown here), and have found a lovely home as fortune telling cards at the "expert" predictor's table. The stars and planets have finally created their own universe within his crystal ball!

 

We were very close to deadline, and Joannah felt that we had a problem with the final spread -- and she was right. It was all heavy text with a sidebar, and just didn't go with all the dazzle leading up to it. So, I grabbed the nearest life vest: the magic card idea one more time, and presto -- turned it into a sleight-of-hand sequential illustrated sidebar. Wah-LAH!

As you might guess if you follow my work, I'm a real fan of magic, ever since my Aunt Clementine brought a magician named The Great Amaze-O over to have dinner with me, my cousin and my family. I was very young and very excited, but right before dinner, he announced he doesn't do magic anymore. During dinner (after my heart had hit rock bottom), he suddenly started pulling cards and coins  from everywhere -- our ears, our noses, the buttered peas, the roast chicken, even thin air! Before leaving, he gave a magic trick to each of us kids as a present. I've been addicted ever since.

A bunch of us used to go to a place in Manhattan in the '70s called The Magic Townhouse. I'm not sure if it's there anymore. There was a small little room upstairs. The evening always included a tolerable buffet, and lots of close-up magic, which I adore, along with an occasional mentalist. And thanks to ol' pal Brad Benedict, I was lucky enough once to go to the Magic Castle in LA. There was a magic show going on in every room, but I was most interested in the bar, where magicians sat at various tables and tried to top one another. I wanted to move in and live there forever. I still would like to do that.