Rick Brookes was born in Bangor, Wales, on 16 June 1948, the son of an electrician. He studied art at Manchester School of Art, and then worked first as an assistant art editor for Mirabelle magazine, and afterwards as a graphic artist and designer for IPC magazines such as Woman's Own, Woman's Realm and Ideal Home.
From 1977 onwards Brookes was an illustrator and staff cartoonist at the Evening Standard, signing himself first "Rick Brookes" then shortening it to "Brookes". He worked alongside Jak for seventeen years, deputising for him and remembering him as "one of my best friends." In 1994 Brookes began contributing to the Daily Express, using the signature "Brook", and he kept the same signature after he moved to the Sun in 1996, taking over from Tom Johnston. However, Brookes lasted only a few months at the Sun, where he was briefly replaced by Franklin until Dave Gaskill took over as editorial cartoonist at the start of 1997.
Brookes has also contributed to the News of the World, Mail on Sunday, Metro - with a popular series "This Life" , The American, and Punch, and worked on the Allied Lyons advertising campaign for Saatchi & Saatchi. In April 2009 there was controversy over one of his cartoons in Metro, showing a newspaper placard reading "PROFESSOR STEPHEN HAWKING ILL", and a passer-by commenting "I wonder if they've tried switching him off and switching him on again." There were complaints that Brookes' cartoon was in bad taste, but Professor Hawking himself reportedly asked for the framed original. "This Life" ran in Metro until November 2011, when Brookes retired.
Greatly influenced by Carl Giles, David Low and Raymond jackson (JAK), Brookes also admires Pat Oliphant, Matthew Pritchett (Matt), and Stan McMurtry (Mac). He uses a Swan fountain pen with a flexible nib, and used to hide a rook in his drawings "because there is a rook hidden in 'Brookes'".
- "Tributes", Evening Standard, 28 July 1997, p.9.
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.39.
- Christian Adams' cartoon blog, 23 April 2009 - blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/christianadams/9604325/Offensive_Stephen_Hawking_cartoon_update/
- Metro, 7 November 2011, p.58, "Buckles" [announcing the departure of Brookes].