Blog Newsletter Syndicate

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


Blog Syndicate

TRUE Stupid Stuff 2!

Here’s another new batch of my old TRUE cartoons from the 1990’s – at least the ones that look like they could still be true. This is from a batch about government.


Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville!

Here I sit in my new Nashville, Tennessee apartment, trying out a new restaurant for every meal, and finally drawing cartoons.  I finished my second cartoon in Nashville today – a busy, crowd scene cartoon about Obama and foreign aid to Egypt.  Here is my rough pencil sketch.
EgyptAidSketch600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

I drew this first with a light, hard, #5 pencil to get the people in the crowd into the right composition, so they are interacting with each other, have expressive body language, their faces aren’t obscured, the feet and arms are on right … all those details need to be thought through for each figure; better to do it in a sketch than on the fly in in finished art.   The line art is below.  I debated whether to go with just line for the black and white version that most people see in the newspaper.

136479 600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

Here is the gray-scale version.  I thought it read a bit better with tone.  I do the gray-scale separately.  It isn’t just a gray version of the color cartoon.

136480 600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

I usually avoid doing crowd scenes.  When I was an illustrator, I used to do a lot of crowd scenes.  I think art directors would sit in a brainstorming meeting and come up with a list of too many things that they needed to put in an ad – so they would call a cartoonist to jam it all into one piece of art.  Cartoonists get these jobs because the lists are too long, so the art has to be crazy. In fact, crowd scenes are usually not very effective compositions.  The most effective compositions show powerful character and expression, which is better done with large figures and faces.  With too many little figures in a crowd, the power of the expressions and body language are lost to tiny details.  That said, I hate to admit that sometimes a concept calls for a crowd scene.

Here’s the color cartoon …

136481 600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

This one suffers from low resolution on the web, and will look much better in print, with crisp lines and texture in the tiny characters.  Here is a detail.

aiddetail Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

One funny thing about cartoon crowd scenes; when readers send me unsolicited ideas for cartoons, the ideas are almost always for crowd scenes.  The reader wants to say so much in his cartoon idea, that he comes up with a list of junk to include, just like the sloppy advertising art directors.  Some ideas I get start with, “draw an army on the left, and another army on the right …” or the reader will write, “fill the sky with helicopters …” Not only am I too lazy for this, all the tiny details would be ineffective in the composition, and the cartoon would be lousy.  For people who think in words, not images, these list-cartoons make perfect sense; to cartoonists, they are nonsense.

The previous cartoon is another Egypt/Arab Spring drawing.  Here’s the rough pencil sketch.  Notice that I drew Obama too low and made a note to move him up.  I make lots of mistakes.  Mistakes are easy to fix.  Better to make lots of mistakes and have no fear of mistakes – at least in cartoons.  I wouldn’t give that advice to my dentist.

AmericanSketch600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

Here is the line art version that most people will see in the newspapers.  No gray version for this one.  I like to keep them as line art if possible – there is something more elegant about not having to rely on tone.

136409 600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

And here is the color …

136415 600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

This cartoon is similar to one I drew a week earlier, with Obama and the Republicans.  I like the yellow ochre texture background for dirty fighting scenes.

135857 600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons


Obama doesn’t actually wear pinstripe suits.  He wears plain black and blue suits, which are no fun to draw.  So I take some artistic license.  This recent Detroit-in-the-toilet cartoon also uses the yellow ochre, grungy theme that I’m fond of right now.

136000 600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

Another recent one I neglected to post is this one about the chilly relations with Russia – not much of a cartoon, just an illustration of chilly relations.

135924 600 Egypt, Obama, Putin, Detroit and Nashville! cartoons

Sorry, with the move to Nashville I’ve fallen behind.  I’ll catch up soon.

Nashville is starting to grow on me.  I’ll get used to it soon – when it cools off and the humidity goes down.




Chilly Relations With Russia

135924 600 Chilly Relations CMYK cartoons