Our cartoonist Randy Enos has had a long and interesting career. Here’s another one of his stories …
When I was working as a film designer with Pablo Ferro in the 1960s, every job was an adventure. Pablo was a very innovative guy and he never wanted to do anything like what other people would do. The story I’m about to relate happened when we got a commission to do an institutional film for the “Negro Marketing Institute of Harlem.” Pablo and I went up to Harlem to meet the client and take a tour of the neighborhoods to get the feel of the place, learn some of the slang (such as “kicks” for shoes) and eat some great home cooking at a little out-of-the-way kitchen.
Back home at our studio I started working on ideas for the film. I finally hit on the notion of just throwing a lot of fast images on the screen in various styles in Pablo’s usual quick-cut filming style. To hold the whole conglomeration together I thought we would have a very long parade of drum majors and majorettes and other band members which we would slowly pan while intercutting still pictures that we and others would create.
So, the long process began of drawing many many individual pictures of faces, shoes, store fronts, words and the like. Because we needed so very many images, we enlisted the aid of anyone who happened by our office on 45th Street. This included messenger boys, friends, workmen, our secretary, wives, husbands, and actors like Vaughn Meader and Reni Santoni who often dropped by. We’d hand out pencils, ball-point pens and magic markers to one and all and just beg a picture off of them which related in some far-flung way to our subject matter. One day a girl showed up looking for a job. She was a pretty good cartoonist so we put her to work on it. She had fun just drawing anything that came into her head. She said, “I love this animation business.” I told her that this wasn’t exactly what the animation business was all about.
Meanwhile, I was busy at work on a loooooooooong roll of white paper creating my parade of colorful characters. It stretched out across one or two office spaces.
When we had a real long parade that suited us and a huge pile of assorted, colorful drawings (some professional, some amateurish and primitive) we piled into a cab and rushed down to Francis Lee’s Oxberry animation stand. Francis had a dusty, dirty loft-type studio on the east side near the U.N. building. Dust and dirt aren’t an ideal environment for shooting with animation cels but shooting with Francis had its advantages. He was a visionary, an experimenter, an avant garde explorer of the wild side. He had relationships with the New York underground film makers. He was even a friend of Jonas Mekas the renowned critic who died not long ago. Francis also contributed the famous abstract psychedelic sequence in 2001: a space odyssey. We liked the fact that Francis would go along with any crazy notion that we had.
In later times, after I left Pablo, I would still go to Francis’ stand to shoot films on my own. He would let me unscrew the bolts on the Oxberry so we could spin the table while the big 35mm camera would come sliding down the rails to film a wild spinning zoom. But, I digress.
So, we placed our parade, the unifying element in this minor masterpiece, on the animation stand locked onto the Oxberry pegs, by peg strips we had affixed to it, and started cranking the long strip of paper, increment by increment as we banged off single frames of film. We stopped when we ran out of table length and had to re-position to crank it further. All the while this was occurring, we would interject one of our friends’ drawings every now and then. Pablo and I were working like modern jazz musicians improvising on the spot as the parade and its intercuts rolled on into the wee wee hours of the night and morning.
It finally came to a finish and we sank into chairs exhausted from bending over the table all night. Francis unloaded the film reel and came over to tell us… the bad news. He had forgotten to load COLOR film. You see, this was a time when there were still a lot of commercials and film that was shot in black and white.
Well… back to the drawing board (or, in this case, back to the Oxberry stand).