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The Garden (of Earthly Delights)

My cartoonist buddy, Randy Enos, writes more about his illustrious career …

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Visit Randy’s archive –Daryl

About 20 or 25 years ago I started working on a large linocut, just for myself, entitled “The Garden (of Earthly Delights)”. I’m still working on it and I’ll probably never finish it. Every few months, I pull it out and do a little more on it. It’s tucked away in a closet in my studio and I tend to forget about it. I guess I’ve lost interest. It started out as a grand idea. My “garden” doesn’t have any flowers, vegetables or weeds in it. It doesn’t have any caterpillars, dung beetles or worms. What it has are dozens and dozens of famous cartoon characters in it. My grand plan was to pay homage to all the old wonderful “delights” of the magical world of cartoons.

It’s a kind of street scene hustle bustle with a building behind with windows. The characters pass each other on the cobblestones going to and fro while Superman and Captain Marvel attempt to save Fritzi Ritz who is falling from the roof of the building.

My picture contains, so far, Dick Tracy, Li’l Abner, Krazy Kat, Superman, Captain Marvel, Secret Agent X9, the Gumps, Barney Google, Tillie the Toiler, Popeye, Olive Oyl, Prince Valiant, Alley Oop, Hagar the Horrible,
Captain America, Jiggs & Maggie, Ella Cinders, Li’l Orphan Annie, the Cap’n and the Kids, Smilin’ Jack, Beetle Bailey, Harold Teen, Skippy, Archie Andrews, Moon Mullins, Nancy, Felix the Cat, Happy Hooligan, Smokey Stover, The Little King, Ferd’nand, Fritzi Ritz, Mutt ‘n’ Jeff, Pogo, The Yellow Kid (with “Is dis da gardin?” lettered on his gown), Walt from Gasoline Alley and a few dozen others that I can’t even remember the names of. But, I have a lot of space left and many many more characters to include. I get worn out just thinking about it.

I’m cutting on an old, very hard piece of linoleum which is dark brown in color. They don’t even sell this stuff any more. It’s like engraving on a hard wood block. It holds the finest detail. I don’t know if I have the patience to continue on in the dense detailed style I set for this piece. The big 24X36 lino block is even starting to crack in places but I think I can work around that hazard. The formidable task of inking and printing it when it is finished presents another challenge. I don’t use a press. I print everything by hand so I’d probably have to ink and print it in sections and then paste ’em together or just keep lifting my paper and freshening the ink as I go along. I’d have to find a nice big sheet of fairly thin and absorbent paper to use. But, as I said before, I’ll most likely abandon this project before I finish it. My wife keeps urging me to go on with it, however, and she often gets her way. More than often.

A while back, meaning a few years ago, I decided to see how the work was proceeding and whether or not things were coming out as planned so I actually inked a few small sections and took some quick prints off of it hoping to encourage myself to continue. I’m showing some of them here in this article along with a couple of shots of the big brown block itself.

To make matters worse, I started another picture in 2011 that still isn’t finished. It seems to be going the way of “The Garden”. It’s named “The Conqueror Worm” after my favorite Poe poem. At least with this one I’ve started printing and pasting up. It got interrupted when I worked on my Mocha Dick book and I have never gotten back to it.

Well, if my “Garden” never fulfills its destiny… at least I got a story out of it.

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Read many more of Randy’s cartooning memories:

Happy Times in the Morgue

I was the Green Canary

Born in a Volcano

When I was a Famous Chinese Watercolorist

My Most Unusual Art Job

A Duck Goes Into a Grocery Store

A Day With Jonathan Winters and Carol Burnett

Illustrating the Sea

Why I Started Drawing

The Fastest Illustrator in the World!

Me and the GhostBusters

The Bohemian Bohemian

Take it Off … Take it ALL Off!

I Eat Standing Up

The Funniest Cartoon I’ve Ever Seen

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

Randy Remembers the NCS

My cartoonist buddy, Randy Enos, will be writing some short remembrances here in the blog; he has had a long career with many stories that he needs to tell. Randy has had a fantastic career, drawing for all the top publications; he was a regular in the old National Lampoon with his Chicken Gutz comic. Randy was working with all the top cartoonists and illustrators in the New York scene since the year I was born (1956). Randy draws his editorial cartoons with a knife, cutting into linoleum block, backwards. Check out his archive.


An Evening at the Society

In the late 50’s into the early 60’s, I often attended the meetings of The National Cartoonists Society as a guest of my friend and co-worker Pete Wells (once a Katzenjammer Kids cartoonist). The meetings were held in New York at the old Lamb’s Club which was really a club for actors, playwrights and the like. I would often see some very familiar faces of old timey actors there because they all enjoyed honorary membership in the Society as exchange for loaning us their home for our meetings.

On this one night, I was employed drinking at the bar, half listening to the two guys standing next to me discussing their work, but mostly I was paying attention to the antics of the Smokey Stover cartoonist, Bill Holman, who was gleefully glad-handing every one who approached and chortling like a little kid when they were “shocked” by the buzzer he had concealed in his right hand.

One of the two next to me was the great DC comics artist Jerry Robinson. I don’t remember who the other guy was. As I listened to them, I became aware of a small man with a large head who had approached and was in rapt attention to the speakers, darting his enormous noggin back and forth between them as though watching a tennis match. Every now and then he would attempt to interject something to no avail. He would say, “Hey… hey, fellas”. This went on for a time and then, through utter frustration, he finally exploded, “Hey, you guys. You never talk to me!” It was then that I recognized one of the founders of the Society, Otto Soglow, former political cartoonist who was now famous for “The Little King”.

“You realistic guys never want to talk to me” he went on, “I draw realistic too… I do. I draw realistic . I can’t help it… that’s the way people look to me!”

Well the evening went on to include a near fist fight between a very drunk Walt Kelly and the evening’s guest speaker, my favorite radio guy Jean Shepherd (A Christmas Story) who was dressed in a gamy tux with holes in his socks.

It was just another typical evening at the Cartoonists Society.

Randall Enos

PS from Randy:
Daryl, In case you’re wondering what the fight between Shepherd and Kelly was all about, here’s what transpired:

Shepherd’s talk that evening was about freedom and bucking the system and speaking out. He was admonishing a lot of the cartoonists for being very tame and not pushing the boundaries etc.. At that time in his career he was without a sponsor. There were brief periods when he did have a sponsor but he was so irreverent to them that it never worked out very well. He was fired at one point and then re-instated when his listening audience rose up and demanded his return. so, I tell you this because Kelly’s point was that Shepherd could play Mr. High & Mighty because he didn’t have sponsors to deal with and answer to while the cartoonists worked for papers that had editors and ads to contend with and didn’t have that freedom. Kelly was very drunk at that point in the evening and started shouting from the floor, openly arguing nastily with Shepherd. It got so fierce that I honestly thought they were going to come to blows but finally Kelly staggered off and left the building.