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The Funniest Cartoon I’ve Ever Seen

This column is by the great Randy Enos about his favorite gag cartoons.

Email Randy Enos Visit Randy’s archive –Daryl

My interest in cartooning started when I was a wee small child and on Sunday mornings, my dad and I would lay out the big newspaper comics on the rug in our parlor and go over them carefully with him pointing out some of the finer details of the artwork along with both of us laughing at the antics of the poor Dagwood and Major Hoople and the Toonerville folks. My father and I also greatly enjoyed the political cartoons of Shoemaker and Herblock.

I started looking at, what we in the business call “gag cartoons”, in The Saturday Evening Post which came to my house every week. I was a big fan of Virgil Partch (who I got to meet later in life).

When I worked at The Famous Artists Schools in the 50’s and 60’s, I got to work with a fellow instructor named Frank Ridgeway who was a gag cartoonist for Saturday Evening Post and other magazines and wrote gags for The New Yorker. At lunchtime, Frank would sometimes make roughs for his cartoons. One time I said, “Hasn’t that idea been done before?” He replied, “Of course it has but has it been done this week?”

He showed me some of his tricks in coming up with ideas. One was “gag switching” where you would take a cartoon you found in a magazine and, in essence, take the general idea of the joke and just re-do it using different characters, locale etc.. No honor among thieves.

One day, he showed me another technique. He said for me to get a magazine and he’d show me how he can quickly put an idea together. I got a magazine and was instructed to flip through and at random just pick out three images. I found a picture of a cowboy in a cigarette ad, a picture of a little boy and finally a picture of a store or market. In a few minutes, he had the gag. A kid dressed in a cowboy outfit is talking to a butcher in a market. The kid says, “WHAT… no buffalo meat, and you call yourself a meat market!” This was before we actually had buffalo meat in the markets. Not a great idea, by his own admission, but it quickly demonstrated a method that could be used. I’ve used it a few times myself. Frank sold a comic strip “Mr. Abernathy” while he was working there at the school and he was off to fame and fortune.

When I would go into New York to deliver my illustrations or pick up work, I often rode the train with several New Yorker guys who were going in to their weekly meeting to sell their cartoons. They would NEVER talk about cartoons on the train. Their heads were buried in the New York Times except for Bob Weber who would be doing his roughs because he always waited until the last minute.

In this column, I’ve included some of my favorite cartoons from recent times. My favorite of this bunch is the “tango” cartoon by P.S. Mueller. I find Hillary Price‘s cartoons always funny and likewise with Dan Piraro who seems to never draw an un-funny cartoon (how does he do that?). Both of these guys, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

I’ve done very few single panel “gag cartoons” in my career but I’ve included a few of them here also. I’ve sold some of them abroad but never in the U.S..

The very very VERY funniest cartoon I’ve ever seen was a long long time ago and I don’t remember who drew it and I don’t remember where I saw it but I often think of it to this day.

Here’s what it was. Two hippos are in the Nile. Only the tip of their snouts and a little bit of their eyes are showing above the water in this very plain, gray, steamy atmosphere. There is nothing around… just grayness… quietness… boredom. One hippo says to the other, “Y’know, I keep thinking today is Thursday!” I crack up every time I think of it… like just now!

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Here are Randy’s favorite gag cartoons, along with his reviews …

Ahab and the swatch… My good friend Arne Levin, the New Yorker cartoonist sent this great cartoon to me because of my interest in whaling history and Moby Dick, of course.


The slinkies… it took me a while to figure out what was going on with the ski lift. I wasn’t reading it as a ski lift, but THEN, when I figured it out, I haven’t stopped laughing. (Mark Parisi is one of my favorites, too -Daryl)


The cowboys robbing the bank… great cartoon by Piraro. I think this is the best one of his that I’ve ever seen.


The tango… my all-time favorite cartoon of past years. A lot of people don’t agree with me but I think it’s brilliant.


The last supper… Best take-off on the Last Supper that I’ve ever seen and there have been many.


Litter box and cat… Hillary Price put me on the floor laughing with this one. Anyone who has ever had a cat has got to love this.


Crash dummies in car … Dan Piraro again at his best. Anyone who has had children has to love this.


Retractable dog leash… This one rivals the Tango cartoon for best of recent years for me. I love this guy Parisi. Simple, clean and hilarious. (I love Mark Parisi, too. –Daryl)


Seeing-eye dog … A great one by Drew Panckeri!


Dog with walkman apparatus… Another great one by Mark Parisi.


Retractable dog leash… This one rivals the Tango cartoon for best of recent years for me. I love this guy Parisi. Simple, clean and hilarious.

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Read many more of Randy’s cartooning memories:

The Beatles had a Few Good Tunes

Andy Warhol Meets King Kong

Jacques and the Cowboy

The Gray Lady (The New York Times)

The BIG Eye

Historic Max’s

The Real Moby Dick

The Norman Conquests

Man’s Achievements in an Ever Expanding Universe

How to Murder Your Wife

I Yam What I Yam

The Smallest Cartoon Characters in the World

Chicken Gutz

Brought to You in Living Black and White

The Hooker and the Rabbit

Art School Days in the Whorehouse

The Card Trick that Caused a Divorce

The Mysterious Mr. Quist

Monty Python Comes to Town

Riding the Rails

The Pyramid of Success

The Day I Chased the Bus

The Other Ol’ Blue Eyes

8th Grade and Harold von Schmidt

Rembrandt of the Skies

The Funniest Man I’ve Ever Known

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part One”

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part Two”

Famous Artists Visit the Famous Artists School

Randy Remembers Tomi Ungerer

Randy’s Overnight Parade

The Bullpen

Famous Artists Schools

Dik Browne: Hot Golfer

Randy and the National Lampoon

Randy’s Only Great Idea

A Brief Visit to Outer Space

Enos, Love and Westport

Randy Remembers the NCS

Blog Syndicate

Famous Artists Visit the Famous Artists School

Here is another memory from Randy Enos‘ tenure at the Famous Artists School.

The Famous Artists Schools had five correspondence art courses, cartooning, illustrating, painting, writing and photography; they always wanted to do sculpture too but couldn’t figure out how to deal with the student submissions of assignment work.

Each course was laid out the same way. The school had 12 famous practitioners in each field as their “Guiding Faculty” who were the ones that created the texts and assignments that I and the other “instructors” would criticize by means of written, drawn or painted corrections and advice on the lessons.

The Guiding Faculty, of course, didn’t work in our Westport, Connecticut office buildings but they did visit from time to time and give us lectures on their own work and look at some of our student critiques. Some of them who happened to live locally came over to the school frequently like Robert Fawcett (who got friendly with me and would give me tips on my own work). Harold von Schmidt also came to visit quite often to see his friend Al Dorne our fearless leader and principal founder of the schools. A few of our cartoon course Guiding Faculty like Whitney Darrow lived in Westport.

The cartoonist Virgil Partch (VIP) would come from California to visit and Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon) and others would come, and when they did, Dorne would take our small group of cartoon instructors and the visitor out to lunch at a very high class restaurant in Westport. I remember going out once with Rube Goldberg and after we had our lunch we all sat there and smoked great long cigars.

One notable visit was from the legendary sports cartoonist Willard Mullin, who decided that he’d like to try a critique of one of the students’ works before we went out to lunch. He sat down at my drawing board and a lucky student got an original Mullin drawing of a baseball pitcher. I watched in awe as the master started with the pitcher’s throwing hand extended forward in the throw and drew a sweeping arm line down to the pitcher leaning into the thrust.

Young Randy Enos (left) watches legendary sports cartoonist Willard Mullin draw.

When the painting course’s Ben Shahn would visit, I would show his slides of paintings to invited guests from the Westport Womens Club. I was chosen to do that because I was the only one in the building who knew Shahn’s work so well that I could navigate, looking at and putting each individual slide into our antique slide projector one at a time (it only held two slides). I did the same thing for the famous Chinese watercolorist Dong Kingman who used to make believe he couldn’t speak English well enough to answer the dumb questions from the audience (more about Dong in another story).

I think the funniest visit was from our superstar Guiding Faculty member … the one and only Norman Rockwell. He visited about once a year but the visit I remember best was when my friend and car-pool buddy, Zoltan raised his hand to praise Mr. Rockwell’s work. Zoltan was the schools’ staff photographer. He shot stuff for the text books mainly; it was pretty pedestrian stuff. Zoltan was a nice, simple soul, not very well versed in the art that surrounded him at the school.

Zoltan stood up and said that his favorite work of Rockwell’s was his annual Santa Claus in the Coke ads. Rockwell answered that he didn’t do the Coke ads. Zoltan’s reply was, “Yes you do … you know those great Santa Clauses… I love them!” Rockwell reiterated that he was not the illustrator that did the Coke Santa Clauses. To which, Zoltan replied, “Yes you do… the Coke ads!” Now, Zoltan was arguing with Rockwell. Finally after a few more back and forths, Zoltan quietly sat down.

I know that Zoltan was never convinced, like so many other Americans, that Rockwell didn’t do Haddon Sundblom’s Santa Clauses.

Randy Enos

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