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Drawing for Real

Last year an author friend of mine asked me a favor. He wanted to know whether I’d forsake my regular drawing style to illustrate a book he was writing which consisted of interviews he had with 47 well known writers of popular fiction. He had seen some artist who had done realistic simple line drawings for, I think, The New York Times Book Review section. He didn’t want color or shading and he certainly didn’t want caricatures. Would I be willing to try drawing something realistic and not cartoony for him? I thought it might be a challenge and an interesting adventure so I agreed to try it.  

No coronavirus cartoons today (you should go to Cagle.com for that).

My cartoonist buddy, the great Randy Enos shares a story about an unusually real job.  –Daryl

Email Randy Enos   Visit Randy’s archive

Last year an author friend of mine asked me a favor. He wanted to know whether I’d forsake my regular drawing style to illustrate a book he was writing which consisted of interviews he had with 47 well known writers of popular fiction. He had seen some artist who had done realistic simple line drawings for, I think, The New York Times Book Review section. He didn’t want color or shading and he certainly didn’t want caricatures. Would I be willing to try drawing something realistic and not cartoony for him? I thought it might be a challenge and an interesting adventure so I agreed to try it.

James Rollins

Only a couple of times in my career have I ventured into this arena. Once was a series of realistic hands I had done for New York Magazine and the other was a few ads for N.B.C. back in the late 60’s. They would run these “piggy-back” ads for various shows, one on top of another in the Times. They preferred to work with just one artist on these projects so I was compelled to work in three different styles so it would look like three different artists. I would do one in my regular linocut style and one in a stylized pen and ink style and one very realistically drawn.

Faye Kellerman

In both of these cases, I don’t think I did a very good job with the “realism”. So, here I was once again giving it a try. I’m a masochist.

At first, I just couldn’t help it… the exaggeration just kept creeping in. I had been doing caricatures for too many years and it was hard to break out of that mold. My friend, the author, wasn’t pleased but he had so much faith in me that I was determined to make it work. It was kind of a little vacation from drawing cartoons. I kept plodding on. I decided to draw them in pencil and I forced myself to “play it straight” and resist all my urges to make that nose a little bigger…exaggerate those face wrinkles and have a lot of fun with those ears.

Harlan Coben

The idea was that I would just do a simple head of each author for the beginning of every chapter.

I searched the web for photos of them being baffled at times to see how different they looked at different times. When they were posing for a book jacket shot, they were prettied up a lot so I preferred it when I could find candid shots of them at home or at a gathering or a book signing. I was blowing up some very blurry photos sometimes to see what they looked like. You see, I was working under the disadvantage of not knowing what any of them looked like before hand. I was not familiar with any of the writers in this genre.

I ended up surprising myself by actually enjoying this foreign exploration into the world of a realistic illustrator.
I’ll probably never do it again. It’s really not as much fun as being a caricaturist.


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Read many more of Randy’s cartooning memories:

Me and My Axe

The Ugliest Woman in the World

Baseball Soup

The Lady with the Mustache

The Rest is History

Randall Enos Decade!

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.