Monday, January 15, 2024


Obscurity of the Day: Brooks Looks


Unheralded gems can be found in some of the darnedest places. Brooks Looks, a weekly panel cartoon that ran only in The Cape Codder, poked fun at life on the Cape, with special emphasis on the particularities of both Islanders and the tourists they put up with. If you have ever lived in a tourist area you'll find many a grin in Brooks Looks, even if you're not a chowder head. The bemusement at tourist behaviour translates to just about anywhere, from Cape Cod to Orlando to Acapulco to Rome. 

Gordon Brooks penned the weekly cartoons, probably for little pay, despite having a lot else going on in his life. He wasn't some oddball hermit type who penned cartoons because he had nothing better to do with himself. He was also a very fine cartoonist, not a hometown hack. For biographical details check out this obituary and this appreciation

The panel debuted without a title on March 28 1957, and gained the title Brooks Looks a few weeks later. In 1962, The Cape Codder showed its appreciation for Brooks by publishing a little book of his cartoons titled Cape Codder Library Volume 1: Thre Best of Brooks Looks. This, to my knowledge, is the only book of Brooks Looks material, and is well worth searching out. Just in case word gets out, you might want to start looking now while the prices are cheap. 

I've been saving the most amazing thing about Brooks Looks for the end. The real Ripley moment comes now, when I let it fly that Gordon Brooks apparently produced Brooks Looks weekly for that newspaper for 54 years!! The only other unassisted cartoonist I can think of who produced a weekly for five decades like that is another Massachusetts guy, Ed Payne, who did Billy the Boy Artist. His record is a little blurry because the strip did not appear every week in its early years. Of course these both pale in comparison to the achievement of one Charles Schulz, but then again, Sparky got rewarded very well to produce Peanuts, unlike these gents who laboured in relative obscurity.

Though cited in multiple places to have run until 2011, the year Brooks died, sadly I cannot give a definite end date for Brooks Looks. The online archives of The Cape Codder, which seem to only be available from the website of the Snow Library in the town of Orleans, seems to only go up to 1999.


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