Categories
Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Never Put Words in Your Pictures

Here’s another gem from my cartoonist pal, Randy Enos.

Email Randy Enos
Visit Randy’s archive
 
–Daryl


I think this was the most satisfyingly creative picture I’ve ever made… full of improvisation. I had been trying to think of a unique way to illustrate my favorite book “Moby Dick” and I had hit upon this idea of doing a large picture consisting of just words… the first page of Moby Dick. Mystic Seaport sells giclées of it along with my whaling picture called “New Bedford Boys At Toil”.

Back in 2005 when my wife and I visited my ancestral homeland, the Azores, at one point, we stayed on the lovely island of Fayal in a hotel which was once a fortress right on the water’s edge replete with cannons on an upper deck next to a big swimming pool and a castle-like entrance. One afternoon we encountered an American artist and his small group of watercolorists. I’ve known a few guys that did this European tour-thing with a gaggle of amateur artists/students who would sign on for a package deal of touring various countries, lodging, visiting museums and painting with critiques from their instructor-guide. The instructor was an amiable chap and he invited us to sit in on a critique of that day’s watercolors by his little gang of students. One woman had put some words into her picture for some reason which prompted the admonition from the instructor, “Never put words in your pictures!” He explained to her that written words have no place in a piece of art and that it had ruined her picture.

I wondered what he would think of a picture I had made 4 years earlier which I named “Call Me Ishmael” (the most famous opening three words of any American novel). I had been trying to think of a unique way to illustrate my favorite book “Moby Dick” and I had hit upon this idea of doing a large picture consisting of just words… the first page of Moby Dick.

The picture is 26″ X 40″. It’s a linocut. What I like to call a “linocut-collage” because I print on a variety of colored papers inking the block in a variety of colored inks. Then I select parts of each print and paste it all up to create my full color picture.

I penciled in the words in mostly capital letters, inventing shapes with them using positive and negative spaces as the forms presented themselves to me. It’s very hard to exactly explain so I am submitting here a few details from the picture along with a photo of the whole thing to show what I mean.

After I had carved all the lettering, I proceeded to ink the block and print on the colored papers. I stuck to mostly greenish and bluish, waterish colors. I made a blue print, a green print, a purplish print, black print, white print on black paper and so forth. I kept inking the block different colors and printing on many many Pantone papers until I had this bunch of prints. Now all I had to do was select parts of those prints and paste it all up as a collage. First I used one of the prints as a “master” to paste the other little letter forms from the big prints on to it.

I think this was the most satisfyingly creative picture I’ve ever made… full of improvisation.

Mystic Seaport sells giclées of it along with my whaling picture called “New Bedford Boys At Toil”.

When I show this picture to people, I tell them that I’m illustrating Moby Dick and that this is the first page… and I have only 822 pages to go!

Amidst my picture puzzle of letter forms in “Call Me Ishmael”, I have buried a few whaling images. There’s a harpoon, whaling spade, killing lance and a small white whale.

I guess the admonition to me would have to be… “Don’t put pictures in your words!”

We need your support for Cagle.com (and DarylCagle.com)! Notice that we run no advertising! We depend entirely upon the generosity of our readers to sustain the site. Please visit Cagle.com/heroes and make a contribution. You are much appreciated!


Read many more of Randy’s cartooning memories:

Never Put Words in Your Pictures

Explosion In A Blue Jeans Factory

The Garden of Earthly Delights

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

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post.