Pat Brady, Creator of Rose is Rose

5 October 2001

   It seems some people are born with cartooning in their blood. They must have India Ink coursing through their veins, pumping humour through their hearts. Pat Brady, the creator of the popular Rose is Rose strip, is one of those people.

    Pat Brady was cartooning at the young age of five. By age eleven, he sent his first comic attempts to the editors of MAD Magazine. MAD Magazine was a strong influence on the young Brady, along with another of his favourite cartoons, "Li'l Abner" by Al Capp. Brady graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1969, where he studied art and creative writing, but his cartooning magic is mostly self-taught.

    Brady's first syndicated cartoon, entitled Graves, Inc., debuted in just a few newspapers in 1984. The strip, featuring a workplace with tyrannical boss and frightened employees, did not catch on and was dropped after a three-year run.

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   Brady took the cancellation in stride and came up with several more comic strip ideas in the following year. One of those strips was Rose is Rose. It caught the eye of editors at United Features Syndicate and began successful syndicate publication on April 16, 1994. It has quickly climbed to 600 newspapers.

Rose is Rose is an imaginative cartoon that makes the reader feel warm and fuzzy with both flights of fancy and down to earth scenes.

   Day by day readers discover the daily life and quirks of the strip's actors, the Gumbo family. The main character, Rose, is an endearing mother and wife, with day dreams of a wilder life. Her alter-ego, Vicki, may show up at any time sporting sunglasses, a short black leather skirt with matching jacket, and hitting the road on a good-sized motorcycle. Rose's husband Jim is a kind-hearted, simple fellow who is eager to please his adoring wife.

    Pasquale is the adorable cartoon youngster with spiked hair and a genuinely happy smile. The cartoonist based Pasquale on himself as a child. The little boy displays a wisdom and a wild imagination similar to his mother Rose. Pasquale has a guardian angel who may appear as a child with wings or as a large warrior-type character with weapons and lightning.

    Peekaboo is the ruling cat in the feature. It seems that Pat Brady really understands the habits and yens of the feline persuasion. From nestling in the sun on someone's bed to being scratched just so behind the ears to ever-so-delicately climbing the fine furniture, Peekaboo portrays the personality of a realistic cat in a delicate and cute cartoon body.

    Pat Brady adds a note of religion to his comic strip, using fantasy and suggestions of the cosmos to enhance the humour and depth of the Gumbo family experience. It suits the fans well; Rose is Rose has been rated the Number One comic in many reader surveys across the USA.

    The art of Rose is Rose has caused Pat to be considered one of the finest artists in the industry. He uses a range of tools to create the cartoon including what he calls a "Frankenstein pen." It is cobbled together from pieces of other fountain pens and he uses it for much of his drawing. He uses a paint brush for hair and large dark areas. Pat does the initial cartooning in blue pencil so he can ink right over top without erasing.*

    Three-ply smooth-surface bristol board is Pat's present choice of drawing surface. He uses his computer for some shading on his cartoons and colored pencils to colour the copy sent to United Features Syndicate. Pat keeps his art new and interesting by drawing unusual angles and unexpected points of view. He likes to try different paper, pens and materials to keep his work fresh. He finds the art to be more fun than coming up with ideas and some days only perseverance gets the job done.

    Brady uses doodlings and jots down words to come up with cartooning ideas. He makes notes of things he hears and sees during the day and works the tidbits to create Rose is Rose. He firmly believes the way to be successful in cartooning is to be determined and keep trying, "because you are going to fail a number of times before you succeed."* Throughout Rose is Rose, readers get the impression that Pat thoroughly enjoys his work as a cartoonist, much to the benefit of his fans.

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    Rose is Rose has been nominated five times for Best Newspaper Comic Strip by The National Cartoonists Society. Brady has been nominated three times, including the most recent year 2000, for the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year. He has received the Wilbur Award from the Religious Public Relations Council.

Pat Brady lives with his wife in Sycamore, Illinois, and has one daughter.

*How To Be a Successful Cartoonist by Randy Glasbergen. North Light Books, 1996.   Pages 26-27.

Rose is Rose daily installment:
A short interview with Pat Brady by Dominick A. Miserandino:
© Susanna McLeod 2001  
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on