Gary Brookins and Susie MacNelly


The comic strip Shoe is populated by the feathered denizens of Treetops, East Virginia.

The first string characters are P. Martin "Shoe" Shoemaker, Perfesser Cosmo Fishhawk and Roz Specklehen.

Support characters include Cosmo's nephew Skyler, Loon, Irv and Senator Batson D Belfry. Filling out the Shoe gang are fortuneteller Madame Zoo Doo, nonagenarian Biz and Wiz, the computer whiz.

Life and banter revolve around Roz's Roost, a greasy spoon diner. When not feeding, Shoe and Cosmo work at the local newspaper, The Treetops Tattler.



Skyler is Perfesser Cosmo Fishhawks nephew. Hes a smart kid but refuses to let any of his teachers in on this secret. Skyler understands how important he is to any team he plays on. As hes fond of saying. Without me, the bench would never get warm!


The strips namesake, Shoe, is based on legendary North Carolina journalist Jim Shumaker, Jeff MacNellys first news-paper boss. P. Martin Shoemaker is a grouchy, cigar-smoking newspaperbird with a tough side and an even-tougher other side. He is a proud ex-husband five times over. When not editing reporter Cosmo Fishhawks stories and columns to shreds, he can be found trying to pick up his next ex-wife or grumbling about the food at Rozs Diner.


Perfesser Cosmo Fishhawk is an overeducated underachiever. He is the reporter and columnist for Shoes newspaper, The Treetops Tattler-Tribune, although hed much rather be a famous novelist. Even though hes slightly on the chubby side, Cosmo insists hes not fat, hes just fluffy. When not fighting his war on calories, he specializes in being late for work, striking out with the ladies and taking naps at his desk.


She runs her famous greasy spoon, Rozs Roost, where the rest of the Shoe gang spends as much time as possible avoiding work. The wisecracking, street-smart redhead takes guff from no one. Her only house rule is No whining! And if her diner had a motto, it would have to be, If I dont have it, you dont need it!


Skyler is Perfesser Cosmo Fishhawks nephew. Hes a smart kid but refuses to let any of his teachers in on this secret. Skyler understands how important he is to any team he plays on. As hes fond of saying. Without me, the bench would never get warm!


Gary Brookins

A cartoonist and painter living in Richmond, Va., Gary Brookins began working with Jeff MacNelly and Chris Cassatt on Shoe in 1999, originally drawing the dailies while Jeff continued providing the art for the Sunday strip. Following Jeff's passing in 2000, Gary went into full art production mode for both the dailies and the Sunday cartoons. He also draws another brilliant MacNelly creation, the cartoon panel Pluggers, which Jeff turned over to him in 1997. Syndicated by Tribune Media Services, the feature appears in 75 newspapers nationwide, including the Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

After a long career as a syndicated political cartoonist based at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Gary has escaped the daily grind of a nine-to-five office life, traded in his India ink for oil paints and is happily meandering back roads all over the South, searching for those great American icons, rusty old Fords and Chevys. His painting blog is:

A native of Florida, Gary received a Bachelor of Arts in studio art from the University of West Florida. He and his wife, Janet, have four sons, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.

Susie Macnelly

“On my planet, EVERYBODY has long curly red hair and skinny legs. Even the guys. That's what first attracted me to Jeff. He didn't have either.”

Susie met Jeff MacNelly, the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, in 1989 on a blind date at a bar in Washington, D.C. Jeff was poised at the back door ready to flee if he didn't like what he saw. He stayed. To his amazement, Jeff immediately realized she was the wiseass Roz he'd been drawing in Shoe for 12 years. She was the bird of his dreams! It was love at first sight. They were soon married and took up residence on a Blue Ridge mountaintop.

As Jeff expanded his talents as a painter and sculptor, he saw the need to put together a crew of wiseacres to help with Shoe production. Susie was quickly appointed field marshal. Her first marshaling job was to round up the digital cartoon nerdmeister-of-the-west, Chris Cassatt, followed by Gary Brookins and his magic brush.

Little did Jeff know, he was assembling what would be the driving force behind the continuing wit and wisdom of Shoe after his premature death in 2000 from lymphoma.

Susie continues to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains and in Key West. She takes care of her expanding brood of animals and repairs Jeff's ancient, beloved automotive relics. Every day she and Gary breathe life into Shoe, Roz, Cosmo and the cast of characters that make Shoe the award-winning comic strip it is.



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