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Howard Brodie Remembered

Blackmun  Howard Brodie, one of the greatest sketch artists ever, has passed away at age 94. He was generous, gentle and honest.

I met Howard when I was trying to land a job with CBS News in Washington. He was their regular artist, had covered the Watergate trial and was currently sketching the Panama Canal Treaty debate in the Senate.  He graciously let me tag along as I tried my hand at sketching the Supreme Court.  We then went over to the Senate where I was overwhelmed by the task of sketching the chamber with all it’s senators milling about.  Howard told me that it was the hardest thing he had ever had to draw, and that gave me some comfort.


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I started freelancing for CBS, although Howard still flew in from California for the big stories.  At the CBS bureau I had access to Howard’s drawings which I studied, and I tried to copy his style.  At dinner one evening when he was in town Howard remarked that his wife had seen my sketch of congressman Dan Flood, then on trial in District Court, and  thought it was Howard’s.  I was both thrilled and embarrassed.  Howard wasn’t upset though, but continued to give me encouragement.

 

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There are many stories about Howard’s compassion; here’s one : during  the Watergate trial Howard came upon a pigeon with a broken wing.  Facing a tight deadline he didn’t have time to take the crippled bird to a veterinarian himself, so he hailed a cab and gave the driver money to cover the pigeon’s fare and care.

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When it’s a slow day at the Supreme Court  I sometimes walk over to the Library of Congress, where Howard has donated most of his drawings.  I fill out a slip, give it to a librarian and pretty soon I’m once again getting fresh inspiration his amazing, strong drawings.

Thank you, Howard!

Howard Brodie’s obit in the San Francisco Chronicle can be found here.

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