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Brought to You in Living Black and White

Here’s a memory about NBC television, from our brilliant cartoonist, Randy Enos.

Over a span of 12 years (late 1960’s through the 1970’s), I worked heavily for NBC. I had left Pablo Ferro Films because his business went sour and rather than go to work at another film house, I decide to hit the streets and just freelance. Our secretary at Pablo’s had a husband who art directed at NBC so she sent me there where I met 9 art directors who gathered around and looked at my portfolio. One of them followed me out to the elevator as I left and said that he had 15 illustrations he needed right away. So, began my years with the Peacock. The art directors were a United Nations of nationalities. There was a Ukrainian, a Russian, Chinese, Arab, English, Irish, a couple of Jewish fellows and so forth. I ended up working for all of them. Some did the national advertising (New York Times, etc.) and others did affiliate station work which included even bumper sticker art while others did on air spot advertising, station breaker slides and film animation.

One memorable film animation job I did for them concerned their airing of the Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night.

NBC was fiercely proud of their status as THE color network. They were still fairly new at this color thing when I came into their pantheon, but they had developed the system to be compatible with all the black and white sets across the nation which CBS had failed to do at that time. They tried to do as many color shows as they could. When a Movie of the Week was aired it was always a color movie –until A Hard Day’s Night came along. Imagine their embarrassment at having to air a black and white movie. The intro to their color presentations was always “NBC is proud to present the following program in living color”. The color logo of the peacock would appear on the screen and some rippled, burbly music would accompany the unfolding of the logo’s red, orange, yellow, blue and purple feathers.

SO, they came to me and asked if I could figure a way out of this dilemma. They wanted me to design an opening for the movie. An opening that would be for just that one night. They wanted something that could soften the blow of this being a black and white movie on the COLOR network.

Using the off-beat, quirky mind that Pablo Ferro had implanted in my brain, I decided to think about replacing our famous peacock with the only black and white bird that came to my mind, a PENGUIN! I figured I could have some fun with him flapping his small penguin wings up and down as our announcer would intone, “NBC is proud to present the following program in living BLACK AND WHITE!” He actually ended up saying “lively black and white”.

I set about drawing the scene in just line art. The penguin waddles out on the screen, takes off his top hat, waves his little arms up and down to the peacock music while the announcer does his thing. Then he unzips his white “tuxedo” front, it rolls down and emits – THE BEATLES, caricatured by me, tumbling out onto the ground where they quickly compose themselves and start playing. Then girls voices are heard screaming off camera. The Beatles run off to the right and we dissolve right into the opening scene of the movie where a bunch of girls are chasing them down the street.

I told this story on a blog years ago and some guy wrote to me to tell me that it was on YouTube. And here it is:

It’s pretty crude and scratchy and primitive and old looking, ain’t it?

I did quite a few films for NBC in those days but mostly it was caricatures of everybody on the shows even the newsmen, soap actors, etc. along with Flip Wilson, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, all the Laugh-in people, Bill Cosby, Danny Thomas, etc. etc..

But one of the other films I did was also a one-nighter. Carson had been off sick for a while so to commemorate his return to The Tonight Show, I created an opening which started out with a bird’s eye view of New York with an ambulance running through the streets to the NBC building in Rockefeller Plaza where it drives in… into an elevator… elevator opens up on the studio floor and we cut to Ed McMahon saying his, “H-E-E-E-R-R-R-R-E-E-E-E-S-S-S-S, J-O-O-O-O-H-H-N-N-N-NY!”

We had some friends who used to hold an annual “Tin Cannes Film Festival.” They were all film buffs who used to make their own crude little films that they would show. All the attendees would also arrive in costume. One year, I decided that my wife, Leann and I should dress in film. In the editing rooms at NBC, I remembered seeing big wastebaskets full of giant reels of heavy, thick 35mm film. They were just throwing it out so I asked if I could just grab a bunch of it. I took some reels home and we made complete costumes out of it.

Here’s the weird part. ALL of the film I had brought home were films I had made for NBC.

Email Randy Enos

Read more more of Randy’s cartooning memories:

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 National Cartoonists Society



Those Terrible Virginia Tech Cartoons

When a lunatic killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University earlier this week I knew what to expect from political cartoonists, who don’t react well to tragedy. Some of the cartoons seemed insensitive, as today’s generation of jokesters struggled to respond to a story with no lighter side.

I have some sympathy for the editorial cartoonists who have a daily deadline and must respond to the headline of the day. The first cartoons were predictable: Uncle Sam or the Virginia Tech mascot, with bowed heads and flags or the school pennant at half-mast. There were lots of riffs on the school logo (the letters “VT”), including one depicting the school logo in dead bodies. Some cartoonists launched immediately into gun control cartoons – “how terrible it is that guns are so widely available” and “what a shame it is that none of the victims were toting firearms to protect themselves.”

I run a syndicate that distributes editorial cartoons to newspapers, and our editors were not happy. The day after the tragedy one editor from Georgia wrote: “As a Cagle subscriber, I have to tell you the cartoons sent today about the Virginia Tech shootings showed a deplorable lack of sensitivity and taste. Can’t you find (someone) who isn’t so quick to try to be funny or cute at innocent people’s expense?”

As bad as this week was for cartoonists, it was worse for television. An army of aggressive TV reporters descended on little Blacksburg, Va., asking everyone they could find, “How do you feel?” and “Did you know him?” The television coverage reached new heights of ugliness when NBC released the killer’s “Multimedia Manifesto” and all we could see on cable news was 24 hours of “non-stop nut-case.” It took a day for the wallpaper killer coverage to devolve into finger pointing among the media about whether they were doing the right thing in publicizing the killer’s message.

When I first heard about the massacre, I wrote in my blog that I would not be drawing any cartoons about it. But after only two days the story had matured into something I wanted to draw cartoons about because there was something for me to criticize. I drew two cartoons bashing NBC; one showed the NBC peacock dressed up as the network of gun-brandishing Seung-Hui Cho. I drew another showing two kids dressed like Cho, because “He’s the only guy we see on TV now.” I drew another one generally bashing people who didn’t see that Cho was a psychopath, with Cho painting the giant words “STOP ME” on the ground while two oblivious college professors walk by saying, “How can we know something like this is going to happen?”

Political cartooning is a negative art form. Cartoonists and columnists work best when bashing hypocrites or speaking to issues where opinion is divided. I am fortunate to have no daily deadline. When I don’t want to draw on a subject, I don’t have to; that was a luxury for me with the Virginia Tech story. Unfortunately, the deadlines of the 24-hour news cycle demand that most cartoonists, reporters and commentators chime in right away.

Sometimes it pays to take a step back and hold your breath without writing, drawing or reporting anything for a couple of days – until there is something constructive to say.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 800 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His books “The BIG Book of Bush Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Editions,” are available in bookstores now.


NBC and the VT Killer Tapes

NBC and the VT Killer Tapes Color © Daryl Cagle,,Virginia Tech, shooting, killer, college, school shooting, kids, children, television, TV, media, Cho Seung-Hui, Cho Seung Hui,NBC,MSNBC, peacock


NBC anthrax

NBC anthrax © Daryl Cagle,,NBC, anthrax, peacock, gas mask, alert, television, terror, terrorism, fear