Famous Artists Schools

On July 29, 2009 I did a post titled “Cartooning Lessons,” in which I described my experiences as a Famous Artists Schools correspondent student back in the early 1960s. The post featured my first FAS cartooning instructor, Randall Enos, who is now a famous illustrator and cartoonist himself. Somehow, Mr. Enos came across my little blog memoir, liked it, and in a comment suggested that I—but wait, let’s let him explain what happened next in his own words, which I copied from his blog post. If you’d like to check out the original Enos post, here’s the link: http://www.drawger.com/bigfoot/?article_id=9751

“Between 1956 and 1964 I worked at The Famous Artists Schools in the correspondence art school. I worked on the Cartoon Course. We would get a student’s assignment and put overlays on it and point out various “trouble” spots and sometimes re-draw the whole situation and then send a letter to accompany the crit. The letters were standard form letters (after all everybody would make the same “mistakes”) but we would “personalize” the letter by inserting certain words that applied specifically to the student’s particular picture. We had lessons on inking, heads, action etc.. There were 4 or 5 of us doing the lessons and we would bounce the student around between us so he or she would have the advantage of more than one point of view. I was the youngest, being hired at the ripeness of twenty years. The others were pretty much retired guys in their 60’s having had careers in the field. One of them had and continued to draw Popeye, another had worked on the Lone Ranger, another on Katzenjammer Kids, another on Captain Marvel Jr. and Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang and Playboy girlie cartoons etc..

“So . . . the other day I’m surfing the web and I come across a blog called “Doodlemeister”. The fellow that runs it named Jim Sizemore had a post where he, in great detail, described critiques of mine he had received when he was an FAS student. It was a trip down memory lane alright. He complained that I had always given him high grades and flattery when he really wanted tough criticism. He pointed out that my overlay comments were a little more to the point than my letters (form letters). I made a comment on his blog post and invited him, if he wished, to send me an assignment NOW and I would give him a free crit. He was 25 then and is in his 70’s now as I am. I promised him, in addition, that this time I definitely would not give him a good grade. Here then is my crit of his “assignment” because he took me up on it.” (Click images for larger views.)

The one disagreement I have with Mr. Enos’ critique is not visual but verbal—his suggested caption, making it about the mythical memory powers of elephants instead of cross-species relationships. In the writing process I considered the memory angle but quickly rejected it as too much the cliché. I  think the relationship idea is the more original—and funnier—choice.

Mr. Enos ended his blog post with these kind—and much too generous—words: “Y’know, the more I look at it . . . the more I like his cartoon better than mine.”

Copyright © 2010 Jim Sizemore.
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6 Responses to Famous Artists Schools

  1. jacquie Roland says:

    Now THAT is a KEEPER! Randall Enos is one of the wittiest guys on the planet, and his illustrations are superb. (Check out his blog for his Whale series.) Of course, Jim, I don’t think you’re too darned shabby, either, as I believe I’ve mentioned before. 🙂

  2. Jim says:

    Thank you Ms. Jacquie.

  3. jobi says:

    Its really a nice, deep analysis that can be really useful for beginners. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Jim says:

    Thanks for the comment, Jobi, much appreciated. Also visited your blog and enjoyed it, very good work. I tried to comment but was unable to because I didn’t want to register with Gmail, etc., but I’m linking to you on my blog roll.

  5. Elwood H. Smith says:

    I’m not a cartoonist, but I am an illustrator who works in a cartoon style. Also, Randy is a pal of mine and I agree with much of what he says in his critique, but I agree with you about the caption. You wisely avoided the old “elephant memory” cliche and I think your caption is perfect. The idea that the only thing that might be a problem in that relationship is an age difference is perfect.

  6. Jim says:

    Thank you for that, Mr. Smith—er, Elwood—you “got” what I was trying to do with the caption—avoid the cliché. Also agree with you—and Randy—that a much older-looking elephant would have enhanced the gag. And now, I hope without it sounding too much like a swoon, I have to tell you how pleased I am to have your attention. I am and have been for a long time a HUGE fan of your “retro cartoon” style of illustration. No one does it better. Simply brilliant work, and I know because I’ve tracked your career since it first came to my attention some (many) years back. With your permission I’d like to link to your website. Thanks again for your kind and insightful comment.

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