Thursday, February 22, 2007

Berndt Toast Gang Meeting February 22, 2007

Berndt Toast Gang January 31, 1991: Joe Edwards and Steve Duquette

Although it "smelled like snow" outside (to quote Steve Duquette), the snow respectfully turned to a soft rain as we all drove in for this month's get together.

"Archie Comics genius Joe Edwards ... had a lovely graveside memorial last Sunday," wrote columnist Ellis Henican in Sunday's Newsday. "But a far less somber send-off is set for Thursday. The Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonists Society, meets for lunch."

After a "Berndt Toast" to absent friends, I spoke about the three kinds of people in Joe's life: his family (three generations of whom were in attendance), his colleagues (the Berndt Toast Gang, and the Archie crew) and, of course, the fans. I read some of the things people are saying about him on the blogs:

"I loved Li'l Jinx!"

"I've long been a fan of the man's work. My subscription to Li'l Jinx in the 70's was one of the firs I had to ANY publication."

"I grew up reading Archie comic books. It was the one thing I can remember saving up for when I was younger. I actually kept all my old Archie comics and my kids read them now."

"I agree. Glad to see your kinds also like it. When I read those comics you could relate to what happens in school, so they kept it real."

Jerry Edwards talks about his brother Joe

Jerry Edwards stood, introduced the family, and told us how much Berndt Toast meant to his brother Joe. Growing up, the family had a tough life, with the kids being split up, having to go to separate foster homes. What Joe really wanted when he grew up was a base; a family.

Joe and Eda were together for 63 years. All the time. And that's what Joe wanted. He didn't want to go into the city.

Actually, added Jerry, since Joe worked at the drafting table at home, and he and Eda were always together, it was, "really like 189 years."

Jerry Edwards raised his arms, looked at the family. "This is Joe's base. And Berndt Toast is part of his family."

Joe Edwards was a cartoon illustrator whose genius was that he got what he wanted: a loving family.

Here's a list of links about Joe:

  • Joe's page at the NCS here

  • Archie Comics press release here

  • Ellis Henican's Newsday column (scroll down)

On display: cutouts from the children's' book illustrations of Adrian Sinnott. Foreground: two of Adrian's students, Anthony and Javier, and, to the far right, Lewis Matheney.

We welcomed illustrator/teacher/curator Lewis Matheney, cartoonist Ruth Marcus (whose work you may have seen in Good Housekeeping or Rosie magazines), Denise Ozker from the Graphic Artists Guild, and Derek Mainhart, who teaches cartooning in nearby Deer Park. Elissa Lynch (no relation) from Diamond Distribution, the people who distribute all the comics to the comic books stores (about 94 million as of 2005), drove in from Maryland. Well, actually, she's also in the NYC environs for the Comicon, and to talk up Free Comic Book Day on May 5, 2007!

Ernie Colon, Mike Lynch. It was a kick to meet Ernie, whose reputation precedes him. He's a journeyman artist, whose labored successfully on everything from Batman to Richie Rich. His most recent work, THE 9/11 REPORT, with Sid Jacobson, was a major 2006 release .

Trish, Tom Gill's wife, surprised us with an appearance. Tom's book of his days at the NY Daily News, Dell Comics and USO/NCS tours has been delayed, but I hope to see it published and on the stands later this year. I talked to the publisher, and she hopes for that too!

Some photos. It looks like I was following Don Orehek around!

Diamond Comics Public Relations Representative Elissa Lynch, Playboy's Don Orehek, the Graphic Artists Guild's Cartoonist Alliance President Denise Ozker

Don Orehek and Art Cumings. We welcomed back Art and Alda Cumings, who we haven't seen at lunch since June!

Joe Vissichelli (partially obscured -- if you know Joe, he has whole weeks in this state), Don Orehek, Tony D'Amato, Dan Danglo. Steve Duquette is behind Tony, and I don't recall whose nose that is on the right. Comments welcome.

Steve Duquette, Mike Lynch, Don Orehek, Art Cumings

Today's Cartoon Factoid: journalist Ellis Henican has a cartoon connection; he's the voice of the Cartoon Network character Derek "Stormy" Waters in SEALAB 2021.

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