Brooks was state’s first editorial cartoonist

Published 12:02 am Saturday, October 2, 2010

“I couldn’t have received any greater award than one from my hometown high school,” said Charles G. Brooks Sr., one of two Andalusia High School Outstanding Graduate winners.

And that is high praise coming from a man whose artistic works are in the permanent collection archives of presidential libraries across the nation and the Library of Congress and one who holds the distinction of being the first-ever editorial cartoonist for The Birmingham News.

On Friday, Brooks, a 1939 AHS graduate, along with Dr. Ben Roberts, was given the distinction of being named as the Class of 1948 Foundation’s AHS 2010 outstanding graduate. Since 2007, the award has been given annually to AHS graduates whose personal life, professional accomplishments and community service exemplify the ideals of the school.

Brooks’ accomplishments are many – AHS graduate, soldier, leader and thought-provoker.

After graduation, he attended Birmingham-Southern College and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied editorial cartooning under two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Vaughn Shoemaker.

Brooks served four years in the combat engineers during World War II, and was with the

531st Engineer Shore Regiment at Utah Beach, Normandy, on D-Day.

He was the editorial cartoonist for The Birmingham News for 38 years, beginning in 1948 and retiring at the end of 1985. For many years, Brooks was the only cartoonist in the state.

He earned 13 Freedom Foundation awards, a national VFW award and two Vigilant Patriot awards. He has served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. His work appears in more than 80 books, including high school and college textbooks on political science, economics and history, encyclopedias and yearbooks.

His cartoon originals are in the permanent collection archives of the Harry S. Truman Library, the Sam Rayburn Library, the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum and the Library of Congress, among others.

In a letter supporting Brooks’ nomination, Roger Powell, whose father was a classmate of Brooks, wrote, “When I was a budding artist, I was captivated by his caricature drawings of the political figures and events of the day. I was amazed that someone from a place like Andalusia could be so involved in re-creating, satirizing and making us think about our world and to be able to do that on a large scale.”

Brooks attended the day’s award program with his daughter, Barbara Bankhead, and son, Charles “Chuck” Brooks Jr.

“This is the top honor, the best award I’ll ever get,” Brooks said. “I can guarantee the best place I’ve got to hang this award in my house.”

Charles Brooks Sr. holds up his plaque. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News