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.
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.