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Lou Brooks on his art and reading. – Page 2

Lou Brooks goes on the record about his deejaying…

READERSVOICE.COM: Where did you work as a disc jockey and what sort of music do you like?

LOU BROOKS: The Philadelphia station I worked at was WDAS-FM. During the week, they had a wild line-up of crazy daytime jocks playing “soul” music. On weekends, we did a new form of pop music, which we all called “underground” or “alternative.” FM was being largely ignored until former Philadelphia deejay Tom Donahue by-and-large invented the FM-based underground format in San Francisco.

My Saturday noon-to-four slot kicked off Philly’s underground weekend by following a morning show called “The Saturday Morning Czechoslovakian Hour,” or something like that. Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t Czechoslovakian… but some Eastern European country or another. Anyway, the two guys didn’t speak English, and I showed up one Saturday to find that the key to the rock ‘n’ roll record cabinet was locked. So, I had no music to play except Czechoslovakian folk dances and love songs until the man with the key showed up.

As far as the music I like, it stretches as far as the ear can see. Duke Ellington said, “If it sounds good, it is good,” and you can’t put it any better than that.

James Brown. Thelonius Monk. Charles Mingus. Fats Waller. Ted Lewis. Louis Prima. ABBA. Django Reinhardt. Sinatra. Peggy Lee. House of Pain. Anouar Brahem. MC5. Tom Waits. Maria Callas. Toots and the Maytals. George Jones. Junior Brown. Edith Piaf.

Tammy Wynette. Tchaikovsky. Strauss. Oscar Peterson. Mozart. Beethoven. Bach. Spike Jones. Captain Beefheart. Slim Gaillard. Talking Heads. Hey… we’ll be here all night!

RV: What was your experience as a stand-up comedian like and which venues did you do that at?

LB: It began in New York on a dare from illustrator and friend Elwood Smith. Elwood has always found the world to be a funny place anyway, so I could always crack him up, no problem.

I found myself taking a night class in comedy, because of an ad Elwood had seen in The Village Voice. Not long after, I was doing a weekly stand-up routine at a place called Eric’s on the Upper East Side, across Second Ave. from Elaine’s. It was pretty heady stuff a lot of the time. Very satisfying when it went well. But it can be a rough, desperate, sinister business. They don’t always end up like Jerry Seinfeld, ya know. Lots of drinks at the bar while waiting to go on.

Around that time, I just fell together with Bill and Elwood and the others to form The Zipatones.

RV: Your work has been animated for MTV and HBO and Nickelodeon. How did that work?
LB: All of that was done through Jerry Lieberman. It was an easy way to see my art animated (but still a lot of work!). I’d give Jerry the key drawings, rough background designs, and color indications, and his animators would do the rest.

It was a challenge for them sometimes to animate my stuff, becaus e my line is so bold and precise. But it was great to see the finished film as well as the pencil tests, which were sometimes the most interesting to me.

RV: What sort of books and magazines do you use for researching your 50s influenced graphics and where do you find them?

LB: I’ve been doing it so long now, I don’t depend as much on source material as I used to. But when I need to anchor myself, I go right to the source. I’ve got a hefty collection of comics from back then.

If a client insists on a classic sweet romance comic image, I steal from the same guy Roy Lichtenstein stole from: Tony Abruzzo. Abruzzo was a genius. But it depends on what I’m working on.

Lately, I’m more into the old black and white animated cartoons… Fleischer, Terrytoons, stuff like that, before Disney “cuted” it all up. It’s all very accessible now, thanks to the Net.

RV: What was your story Attack of the Giant Buttocks People influenced by?

LB: Well, I kind of half stole it. This guy and I in Philly came up with the idea one night a long time ago, while we were sitting around smoking some weed. So, when Monte Beauchamp first asked me to do something for Blab!, I figured, what the hell, the other guy hasn’t done anything with it for 35 years — so I will! I wrote it as “anything for a laugh”… I hope people took it that way. I also hope my writing’s improved a lot, since I wrote it almost eight years ago.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.