Here’s another story from my cartoonist buddy, Randy Enos
In the late 50’s, as I started my career, I would promote myself by mailing out samples of my work to a
lot of magazines, large and small, one of which was Playboy. I sent Playboy photostats of two pencil caricatures. One was Frank Lloyd Wright and the other was Brigitte Bardot.
Two years later, I got a call from Art Paul, the Playboy art director who said, “Those two caricatures you sent me…” My mind reeled back in time, trying to recall what I had sent. He went on, “I have a job that requires a bunch of caricatures. Seymour Chwast at Push Pin tried it and Hugh Hefner didn’t like his approach. Then Paul Davis gave it a try and Hefner didn’t like his either.
“I rummaged through my drawers and found these two caricatures you sent me. I showed them to Hef and he likes your style for it,” Art Paul said. He went on to tell me that it would be two vertical rows of heads, one on each side of the page. They were celebrities like Sophia Loren, John Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Fidel Castro, etc. There were about 23 or so. Then Art said that since we had never worked together, perhaps I’d like to send a sketch first, but if I didn’t want to I could just do the finished job and send it in, which I did posthaste.
A few days later, when he would have received the art, I got a phone call. My wife said, “It’s Playboy.” I thought, “Oh no, he hates what I did!” Art said, “I’ve got another job for you, can you be on a plane tomorrow morning and get out here to Chicago and stay here a week to do it?”
“Of-course,” I said, “Of-course.”
I still worked at the Famous Artists Schools so at 10:00 that evening, I called my boss and said that I needed a week off to fly out to Playboy. I had never been on an airplane and the next morning I found myself running late across the tarmac to a waiting plane and a stewardess frantically waving me aboard.
I arrived in the windy city and went to the newly opened Water Tower Inn where a nice room awaited me. After unloading my suitcase, I took a walk down the street to 232 E. Ohio St. where a small brick building housed the famous magazine. I rode up in the elevator to the art department floor and when the elevator door opened, I was knocked off my feet. There sitting at the receptionist’s desk, facing the elevator, was the most famous Playboy model of the day, Janet Pilgrim. I could barely get the name “Art Paul” out of my astonished mouth. As I sat waiting for him to come out to get me, I watched Miss Pilgrim opening a stack of manila envelopes containing cartoon submissions. She would just open the top and without even pulling them out, she would glance in and shunt the envelope aside to one of two piles she was creating. I realized that she was filtering out the obviously amateurish-looking cartoons from the thousands upon thousands of submissions they received.
As I walked back to the art dept. with Art Paul, I was treated to miles of Playboy cartoon originals that lined the walls of every corridor. And over each secretary’s desk, I could see big beautiful original illustrations.
Art explained the job to me. Every year the magazine had a Jazz Poll whereby the readers would select their favorite jazz musicians … favorite drummer, favorite trumpet player, favorite soloist. etc. My job was to draw each performer and put them all in a big, double-paged spread as one big orchestra. The reason I was asked to work on it at the magazine was because nobody had bothered to invent the internet yet and I would have had a devil of a time finding photos of some of the lesser known performers like Joe Morello the drummer. Playboy had hundreds of pictures of all of them. Also the reason I was there was because the votes were still coming in and I had to draw them as they were finally selected as the winners.
The next day, Hefner came back from a trip and I was introduced to him. He asked me to come and work at the mansion instead of at the office because he loved cartoonists and he had drawing boards right there at his house.
Later, Art told me that Hef was an amateur cartoonist and had published some of his own cartoons in their first few issues and that they were terrible. Hefner told me that he loved having cartoonists around the house and that Shel Silverstein was often there. Now, all the time he’s telling me this, Art is standing behind him furiously shaking his head “NO” and drawing his finger across his throat in the “CUT” gesture. Then Art blurted out, “No, no, Hef, Randy’s fine here in the studio where we have him set up with a nice drawing board and he’s at the Water Tower where he’s turned his bureau drawer upside down to create a drawing board. He’s good, he’s fine!”
So, Hef left it at that and after he walked out, Art said, “Do not go to the mansion, the place is full of naked babes running around jumping in the pool and they got pillars and fancy stuff all over the place, you’ll never get anything done over there and we’ve only got a week to get these 25 musicians selected and drawn!”
So, that’s as close to going to the Chicago mansion that I got.
The week rolled on as I worked day and night on the caricatures in pen and ink and colored pencil. At one point, as I was sitting at my board drawing away, I became aware that there was a small group of people standing behind me watching. It was Art and some of the other executives of the magazine. Now in those early years, I had developed this tendency to draw eyes on my characters with no eyeballs kinda like Orphan Annie except not round … more Egyptian oval-like.
As I worked on, one of the publishing execs said out loud to Art, “Could Enos draw eyeballs in those eyes?”
Art leaned down to my ear and whispered, “Randy, can you draw eyeballs in those eyes?”
I replied, “I don’t draw eyeballs!”
Art straightened up and said, “Enos doesn’t draw eyeballs!”
And, there was not another word about it.
After the job was finished, Art took me to the Chicago Playboy Club one night which you’ll read about in Part Two of “I’m Your Bunny Wanda”.