From a Cave in the Woods...

Brooke McEldowney - Influence and Inspiration

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In an audio interview (very much worth the time to listen to) conducted by WUKY radio at the University of Kentucky, Tonic's Dr. Greg Davis asked Mr. McEldowney, among other things, what he did to relax, and during the conversation Brooke mentioned the work of other artists that he admired or who had influenced him.  I thought it might be educational for those inquiring minds who want to know,  to summarize Brooke's response here, with some links to the work of the individuals mentioned.


It all makes perfect sense.


"Well, I do read, and one of my favorite authors, and forever, has always been S. J. Perelman. Anything he wrote for The New Yorker I will willingly read. I like certain movies, although I can't say I follow them in any way so that I can draw comparisons between them. There are a few cartoonists whose work I really savor: One, a friend of mine, Pat Brady, who used to draw "Rose is Rose" (he created "Rose is Rose" although now it's drawn by a differenct cartoonist) - but he's a friend of mine, and I've always admired and marveled at what he does. I also like the work of Ronald Searle, Jean-Jacques Sempé, and H. M. Bateman. There are a few out there whose work, as soon as I look at it, I just find myself staring.  I like to look at the way Norman Rockwell would tell a story in one drawing ... he had a knack for being able to give you one image and yet play out all sorts of clues to show you a story of how this character came from this  point in the painting, to the other point in the painting, and what has happened and what's going to happen, all in one picture, and that you can savor for quite a while."


"I also find certain composers, pieces of music, reminders of how, at some point when I start to feel a little stale about what I'm doing, they remind me how I should, as they say, 'push the envelope'. Pieces of music by Maurice Ravel or Sergei Prokofiev. I can think of particular pieces, Prokofiev's 5th Symphony, Ravel's "l'Enfant et les sortilèges", things that just remind me that I have to push in order to keep it from becoming just this sort of daily activity."

Regarding his continuing practice as a violist, Brooke discussed the importance of separating the right hand, which supports the music with the bow, from the left hand which is then free to create the music itself on the fingerboard.  In this context, he said:

There are certain musicians whose playing [...] I listen to. I listen to recordings by Jascha Heifetz and they always tell me something about how to be musical. One of the really most musical violinists I've heard recently, who is not what you'd call a conservatory jock but a really, really good violinist and a really, really good musician is Hilary Hahn. And it's worth listening to what she does with a piece of music because technically she's entirely free and secure and a virtuoso, but musically [gives] very personal interpretations, and is definitely taking her own road.

(Links below will take you to the Wikipedia articles unless otherwise noted)


S. J. Perelman


A scrap of Perelman's writing: “The waiters' eyes sparkled and their pencils flew as she proceeded to eviscerate my wallet - pâté, Whitstable oysters, a sole, filet mignon, and a favorite salad of the Nizam of Hyderabad made of shredded five-pound notes.”


Pat Brady


Two of my favorite "Rose is Rose" strips, done during the Brady era:




For his own part, Brady is a fan of Brooke's work as well: in another interview conducted by the Washington Post, Brady said, "9 Chickweed Lane
by Brooke McEldowney feels like a guilty pleasure."


Ronald Searle


Searle is a noted English author, artist and cartoonist, with a distinctive style easily recognizable to those who have seen it.



Jean-Jacques Sempé


Sempé has done many covers for The New Yorker, and his work is well-known in Europe in the context of the Franco-Belgian comics industry.

(Click for larger views)




H. M. Bateman


Henry Mayo Bateman was a British humorous artist and cartoonist, noted for his "The Man Who..." series of cartoons, featuring comically exaggerated reactions to minor and usually upper-class social gaffes, such as "The Man Who Lit His Cigar Before the Loyal Toast", "The Man Who Threw a Snowball at St. Moritz" and "The Boy Who Breathed on the Glass at the British Museum."



The "Right People" at a Christmas Party      The "Wrong People" at a Christmas Party


"A Day in the Life of the One-Note Man" (Published in Cartoon Cavalcade)



Part 1                   Part 2


Norman Rockwell


(Click for larger image)


 Maurice Ravel



Maurice Ravel - l'Enfant et les sortilèges - Ma mere l'Oye, 5 (Le jardin féerique).mp3



Sergei Prokofiev




Prokofiev - 5th Symphony in B-flat Major*



Jascha Heifetz (Links to



Hilary Hahn (Links to


(Ms. Hahn links to this video from her site, so I'm assuming it's approved.  She makes it look so easy...)

*If you ask me, this could be the theme song for "Hallmarks of Felinity".



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