Thursday, January 25, 2007

Berndt Toast Gang Meeting January 25, 2007

Above: Emilio Squeglio shows us the latest issue of Alter Ego, which had an interview with him about his days at Fawcett.

After some morning flurries, the Gang convened around noon at our Long Island restaurant. I got in a little early due to unusually light traffic. The radio was warning everyone about the impending drastic temperature drop -- "the coldest it's been in 2 years!" -- and people decided to stay at home by the hearth. Heck, even the Office of Emergency Management issued this warning:

"On Thursday, January 25, the coldest airmass of the season will grip New York City, bringing sub-zero wind chills and temperatures in the teens. OEM reminds New Yorkers to dress warmly when they must go outside — layer clothes to capture warm air, wear mittens, scarves and hats, and keep clothes dry."

Regardless, us hardy cartoonists got together for lunch. Any chance to talk shop!

We toasted Bill & Mimi Seay, as well as Tom Gill and Val Costantino. Each of them, significant presences at the Berndt Toast Gang, and I miss them all.

When I first came to BT, it was then-chairman Bill Seay, and co-chair Tom Gill who welcomed me. It was through them that I met everyone else.

Above: Tony Cerezo has handed Sandy Kossin and Sy Barry an EC Comics Portfolio. All I know is I hear the name "Alex Toth," and these guys, whose faces are obscured by the portfolio, had to have a close look.

NY Newsday staffer Bob Buethe brought in a zine from the 1990s titled "Breaking In," which was, of course, about breaking in to the comic strip industry. And Tom Heintjes, who now is the force behind Hogan's Alley, was on the masthead. Valerie had a number of contributions to this 25 year old publication, including a full color cover. My friend Val passed away due to cancer 3 years ago next month; and, to draw a silver lining over her untimely passing, at the time of her death she had cartoons in all the major publications, had just scored a syndication deal, and was joining me in journeying the New Yorker offices. Yeah, up to the end (and without letting on how sick she was) she was getting routinely rejected by Bob Mankoff, but she persevered.
Above: Three masters: Don Orehek, Stan Goldberg and Steve Duquette

With Al Scaduto and Bill Kresse not able to come to our lunch this day, we were without any music. We asked Albert, the restaurant owner, but he shook his head and hustled away to his office. "That's the fastest I've ever seen him move!" quipped Sy Barry. Don Orehek sang a couple of Slovenian songs to our table, in between mouthfuls. We urged him to stand up and sing for the whole roomful of us (I even offered to buy him another drink), but he demurred.

This being the season of colds and flus, we shared advice about keeping healthy. Stan Goldberg pointed out that cartoonists are the healthiest. They work at home, they aren't in the office environment, getting other peoples' germs. Well said! And that ammonia in the ink maybe helps, added Sy Barry. Ha ha! Maybe.

Above: Emilio Squeglio and guest Mike Setaro who -- if I remember what he told me correctly -- is an SVA student. If not, please forgive me, Mike. (Mike's friend, Joe Bennett, was taping Emilio, and was probably out of view, taping me taking this photo. Joe, I told you to tell me if you're putting this up on YouTube, OK?!)

Emilio Squeglio brought a couple of students who told me they wanted to do a documentary about the Berndt Toast Gang. Emilio's days at Fawcett, as part of the Captain Marvel artist stable, is the focus of his interview in this month's Alter Ego. I remember one time, watching him draw the Big Red Cheese, and telling me, let me show you how Mr. Beck showed me how to do it.

I chatted with Greg Fox, whose Kyle's Bed & Breakfast strip runs in a number of gay and lesbian publications nationwide. It's usually paired with Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For. There was one time when he got Alison Bechdel's check and she got his. It was weird, he elaborated, because her had her address in Vermont and mine had my address on it -- but we still got each others check. Weird! Well, OK, so, now they e-mail occasionally, but have never met. We talked about her book FUN HOME, and it being called "Book of the Year" by Time mag -- beating out a slew of "plain prose" books. . We talked about taxes. Freelancers get a lot of 1099s, and sometimes it's confusing. For instance, I got a tax statement today from Bauer Publications. And I gotta remember that Bauer Publications publishes a couple of magazines that bought some cartoons (FIRST FOR WOMEN and WOMEN'S WORLD). The names of those mags appear nowhere on the tax paperwork.

Knaishia and Penelope Grover, daughter (cartoonist) and mother (singer), joined us. Knaishia gave me advice about what manga to read. Her reply is below. Thanks, Knaishia!

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