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Lou Brooks – RIP

Graphic artist and cartoonist Lou Brooks has passed away.

 
Louis (Lou) Brooks
September 5, 1944 – November 21, 2021

From the obituary:

Known to some as “The World’s Oldest Kid”, Lou began his career as a self-taught commercial illustrator, but over 50 years expanded his talents into other creative realms as writer, graphic designer, historian, humorist, and artist.

[W]hat Lou became most known for – his work as a creative force in the graphic arts world – began early on, when in 1965 he landed a job as a production artist on a Philadelphia newspaper. This was the job he credited with giving him a thorough, well-rounded knowledge of the graphic arts. With that experience under his belt, Lou developed his craft, and became a towering and charismatic figure in the New York illustration world of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Brooks has been credited as a pioneer of infusing high-profile illustration assignments with the sensibility of low-brow comic book iconography.

More from the obit:

Bob Staake, in his book “The Complete Book of Humorous Art” wrote: “In many ways, Brook’s impact is similar to the effect that Andy Warhol had on the world of art. If Warhol said it was okay to call soup cans art, Brooks said it was okay to call old comic book imagery humorous illustration”. Those influences were readily apparent in the colorful, exciting and witty work he produced during his NY years – work like his redesign of the Monopoly logo and the updated version of the Mr. Monopoly character (formerly known as “Rich Uncle Pennybags”) or the fourteen covers he created for Time and Newsweek. His comic-inspired art appeared continuously for ten years in Playboy magazine’s “Playboy Funnies” and was featured in Playboy: 50 Years of Cartoons, edited by Hefner himself. Later on, Lou – so adept at reinventing himself – wrote and illustrated a children’s book of verse, “Twimericks: The Book of Tongue-Twisting Limericks” earning the Silver Funny Bone from the Society of Illustrators for their Humor Show, and a Ruben Award nomination by the National Cartoonists Society.

Lou’s style is instantly recognizable to a couple generations of particular ages with certain buying habits, though not much of Lou’s Playboy comics can’t be posted on this (semi-) family friendly site.

From a 2011 David Wasting Paper interview:

By the late 70’s Lou and Clare had saved up enough money to move to New York. Lou’s comics began appearing in Playboy Magazine’s “Playboy Funnies” where they continued to be published for over a decade. Now forty years later, his art and humorous writing have appeared in practically every major publication in America including The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Reader’s Digest, Penthouse, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American and many others. He has also designed and illustrated multiple covers for Time and Newsweek.

 

From an Illoz profile:

[Lou’s] ubiquitous re-design of “the little guy in the top hat” for the game of Monopoly is practically as famous as Mickey Mouse, and is known internationally to anyone who plays the game.Major advertising clients include: Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, Budweiser, Dr. Pepper, CBS, NBC, Milton Bradley, Nikon, Sony, IBM, TWA, Clairol, Verizon, AT&T, Exxon, and others too numerous to mention. His art has been animated for television by MTV, Nickelodeon and HBO .For two years on Saturday nights, he raced a modified midget at Airport Speedway in Dover, Delaware. He has also at various times in his life worked as a disc jockey, stand-up comedian, and night club bouncer. Along with Bill Plympton, Elwood Smith, and Mark Alan Stamaty, he was a founding member of “Ben Day & the Zipatones,” an all-cartoonist rock band. But Lou’s proudest lifetime achievement: having dinner with Soupy Sales which escalated into an all-night joke-swapping marathon.

 

Lou Brooks’ own website offers wondrous array of commercial and comic art.

Community Comments

#1 Kip Williams
December/22/2021
@ 6:58 pm

I will attest that Lou Brooks has made me utter a sort of naughty, disreputable laughter with his mastery of 40s-type gag-type art. Very sorry to see him to, but it’s nice to learn that he did a lot of stuff I wasn’t “hep” to, as you young cats say.

#2 Darryl Heine
December/23/2021
@ 6:14 am

I know Lou Brooks did art for 2 Scholastic magazines in the 1970’s and early 1980’s – Dynamite and Bananas.

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