East Bay Express | October 31, 2007
The Strange Drawings of Brian Brooks
The artist behind Emily the Strange attempts to exorcise his creation from his art. BY KELLY VIRELLA
Strange fascination: Goth icon Emily keeps her creator in the black | 2005
Oops, they went goth!
My daughter and her friends are suddenly wearing plaid miniskirts and carting around Living Dead Dolls. What do black lipstick and snap-on dog collars mean to a 10-year-old?
By SEAN ELDER
PUBLISHED APRIL 13, 2004 9:55PM (EDT)
It all began when my daughter’s friend Catherine moved to the Midwest. Catherine and Franny, my 10-year-old, had been friends since they were babies, and the decision of Catherine’s parents to leave New York — brought about in part by Sept. 11 — was traumatic for both girls. Besides, Catherine was a New York kid. What would they make of her in Minnesota?
Catherine had her own answer to that. When she came to visit us a few months into the school year, her look had completely changed. Gone was the generic Gap and Old Navy garb of before. Though only 11, she was now wearing a plaid miniskirt, striped stockings and a little black shirt adorned with a tragic looking kewpie doll — imagine a bobble-head with a Laura Petrie do — called Oopsy Daisy and the message “Oops, I Went Goth!”…
THE FADER | Little Funny Books Review | 2004
Moz Pequeño Brian Charles Brooks’ Morrissey Gets A Job is a 2×4 inch coloring book that has the Morrissey at the office, looking at bar graphs, sitting in meetings and wearing a dress. We can all relate to the anathema of the lame desk job, but seeing the Moz doing it cartoon-Crayola style is pretty much just hilarity. Others in the “Little Funny Books” series include Zappa Does Sports and David Bowie’s Lamest Hallowoon Costumes. Seriously, I’m already working on my diamond dog costume. -SELPA NACHAN
‘zine Buddha | 2001
Nearly a decade ago, Phoenix resident Brian Brooks was churning out little Xeroxed coloring books filled with inventive characters, clever phrases and subtle skewerings of pop icons.He put Yoko Ono on a snowplow in suburbia. Paul McCartney peddled frozen entrees at sporting events. One showcased geometrically shaped bugs predisposed to sadness and existential brouhaha that crawled around posing impossible questions. Another saw the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 reconstructed into a gang of docile, Old West cowboys in which Jennie Garth was a gender-bending wrangler with a penchant for pistols.
Brooks would summon up courage and hand out his line-drawn coloring books at local all-age punk shows. The experience taught him that his efforts to find an audience for his work were in vain. The do-it-yourself presentation of his books, it seemed, lacked the necessary glossy allure to capture the fleeting attention of nihilistic pubescents, even when offered free at all-age punk shows. You’d see the tomes on a bathroom floor, soggy under leaky urinals, or out in the club’s parking lot swirling around in monsoon dust devils with Burger King wrappers and cigarette butts.
No matter. To date Brooks has produced over a hundred such books inspired by the spirit of punk rock — the Damned, in particular — and success was the last thing on his mind. Brooks didn’t get into art for approval rating. “I would have quit a long time ago and stayed working at Zia records,” he laughs.
The spindly 29-year-old Central High grad and current Oakland resident suddenly finds his finger squarely planted on the sugar-fueled pulse of America’s youth market. Here is a guy once dismissed by some as nothing more than an artsy oddball with a dubious fashion sense.