Friday, March 30, 2007

Berndt Toast Gang Meeting March 29, 2007

It was the last Thursday of the month and that means it's time for the Long Island chapter of the NCS to get together for lunch and shop talk. We started the meeting off as we usually do, with a "Berndt Toast."

Jumpin' Joe Giella and Don Orehek

We toasted King Features Editor-in-Chief Jay Kennedy. Joe Giella talked about the time when Jay took him out to lunch and told him he knew that Joe had been doing Batman and was used to drawing superheroes smashing through windows and so on -- but -- maybe -- he'd consider drawing Mary Worth.

Al Scaduto said what a shock it all was. It was Joe who called Al to give him the sad news. Here's Al:

"Many years ago, when I was still working at Bob Dunn's office up at King Features on the 17th floor, Jay Kennedy was assigned the job of Comic Editor. He was always very 'low key' and a true gentlemen, with a tremendous knowledge of comics. I met him several times, either at cartoon conventions or at King Features affairs, as well as at NCS meetings and of course, at Bunny Hoest's Annual Bash. Talking to him on the phone one day, he praised me by saying, 'Al, you do a handsome feature.' I'll truly miss this gentle man."

Sandy Kossin, Al Scaduto, Chuck Goll, Sy Barry

I got the shocking news by phone. I'd just gone out to the store, and missed a couple of calls. Bunny Hoest had left the message and I called her back. Even though it's been a couple of weeks since Jay's death, it's all, still, just hard to believe.

Like a lot of cartoonists, I first met Jay at a cartooning get together; in this case, a NYC Reubens convention back in 2000. The first thing I said embarrasses me to this day. I blurted out something like, "I'm Mike Lynch and you rejected my strip."

Gee whiz. Not really the nicest thing to say to the guy. But I caught myself and said it was OK. It was a "good rejection," I quickly added. He'd written some notes on the standard form rejection letter. These were specific comments about the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. I told him I appreciated the notes. I hoped he didn't think I was being insincere. He told me that he usually didn't write notes on rejection letters, and he asked my name. And he never forgot it.

Bill Kresse played us out, with a rendition of Amazing Grace on the harmonica.

A card for a friend of Sy's that we all signed.

We wished a happy birthday to our March birthday boys: Sy Barry, Dan Danglo, and Mort Drucker.

Joe Bennett and Emelio Squeglio. This is Joe's second visit this year. Joe, an SVA student, is going to do a documentary about the Gang.

Joe Giella and Bunny Hoest

Greg Fox, Helen Murdock Prep, Al Scaduto

Al favored us with a song. It was great to welcome him back (and Claire too!!!!) and hear him sing again.

Beauty, Beast, Beauty; Jeanine Manheim, Mike Lynch, Helen Murdock Prep

We put envelopes on the table to collect the lunch money. I doodled the diner, and someone else (my suspects are Dan Danglo or Bill Kresse) took the lump of food I'd drawn and transformed it into a face, complete with a word balloon. Instead of signing the envelope, Bill drew himself and Lorraine. See? You try to give a cartoonist a little structure and he rebels!

And so another lunch ends: the lovely restaurant hostess takes our money, and we are shown the door.

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