Here’s another memory from our cartoonist Randy Enos …
New Magazine in Town
One day in the 70’s, I was trudging along Madison Avenue, doing my rounds, lugging my big black portfolio, when I bumped into the cartoonist Stan Mack. After I helped him to his feet, he told me about a new magazine that had come to town from Harvard, The National Lampoon.
Stan said, “Get over there and show ’em your stuff, everybody’s working for them!” So, I went down the street to 59th and went up to the offices they shared with Weight Watchers to meet the art director Michael Gross. After looking through my portfolio, he gave me an assignment and for the next 15 years, I worked for the humor magazine (long after the founders Henry Beard and Doug Kenney and even Mike Gross had left).
I became very close friends with Mike and his family until his wife and finally, he, died just a few years ago. I worked with him through his stints at Esquire, Mobil Oil, his own design firm, an avant garde, sophisticated porno site and his Hollywood career, producing films like Ghost Busters.
Shortly after I had joined the Lampoon family, I was asked to contribute a comic strip to their new Funny Pages. My strip Chicken Gutz went on for many years. Occasionally I would throw in additional comic strips like my As The Tears Jerk which was a kind of soap opera strip and Specks-the smallest cartoon characters in the world which was a tiny strip consisting of tiny spots which talked to each other.
The work I did illustration-wise for the magazine was different than my regular lino-cut stuff I did for Time, The New York Times, N.B.C., Playboy, etc. in that I didn’t use my own style. Because of the nature of the material, I was required to assume other styles in parody. So, I did Picasso, Robert Crumb, Heinz Edelman (Yellow Submarine), Rube Goldberg etc..
I worked a lot on features written by Michael O’Donoghue, Sean Kelly, Doug Kenney and others. BUT… along with this, I was sometimes asked to pose in photo shoot parodies. One such shoot occurred on a day on which I had delivered a job to them and was on my out the door. I was getting very sick with the flu or something and I wanted to rush home. Mike Gross stopped me and pleaded with me to do this photo shoot. He said, “I know what a ham you are and you’re perfect for this. So … I did it. It was the poster for The National Lampoon Show which Ivan Reitman was producing. It starred Belushi and Radner and others (before Saturday Night Live).
The poster (below) consisted of a large title at the top and then four panels showing a back view of me in a trench coat trying to get a pretty model to laugh.
Panel one: I’m giving myself a hotfoot.
Panel two: I’m tipping my top hat. There’s a rubber chicken draped across my noggin.
Panel three: I’m slamming an ice cream cone into my head (remember, I’m getting very sick at this point). We went through a huge box of ice cream cones (Hagen Dazs, no less) for take after take after take. All through my futile antics, the model is just bored… UNTIL in …
Panel four: I open my trench coat and she dies laughing. These posters were all over New York. Everywhere I went I saw the poster and the creative work done by grafitti thugs who portrayed graphically what the model was looking at.
At that time, my wife was doing a lot of acting in New York and one day she was stepping off a subway train with one of the actors that was in the play with her at the time. He had never met me. As they stepped off, guess what was right in front of them.
Without missing a beat, my wife said, “Oh, by the way, this is my husband.”