Exhibiting in the Strolling Gallery
The Infallible Creig Flessel
A Tribute to the original leader of the Berndt Toast Gang
Exhibiting through January 30
"The Sandman", illustration of Creig Flessel depicted as the Sandman by Adrian C. Sinnott.
View works by award winning cartoonist Creig Flessel, from the private collections of the Berndt Toast Gang. As we approach the anniversary of his 100th birthday, Huntington native Creig Flessel is remembered as last of the Golden Age Comic Illustrators.
The Infallible Creig Flessel
By Adrian C. Sinnott
Berndt Toast Gang Chapter Chair
It was just a small article in a local paper but my father-in-law, Ralph Comellas, cut it out knowing that I would certainly be interested. Working in advertising and struggling to pick up work in the field of cartooning, I, as most other cartoonists, was working alone in my studio. In the days before the internet, it was difficult to get any real world information on "How to be a Cartoonist." The article told of a group of Long Island cartoonists that met once a month for lunch. So, I wandered down to the Elk's Club in Huntington where the Berndt Toast Gang was having it's monthly gathering.
Walking in the door, the first person I met was Creig Flessel. It was like meeting an old friend, all the nervous anxiety of meeting professionals doing the work I longed to do vanished. Creig brought me around an introduced me to the various members gathered around the bar. There was Mort Drucker (MAD Magazine), Al Scaduto (They'll Do It Everytime!), Frank Springer (The list of his work in comics just goes on and on), Tom Gill (The Lone Ranger), David Gantz (Don Q and children's books), Lee Ames (Disney and the "Draw 50" series just to name a couple) and so many others that I'd fill the page with a veritable "Who's Who" in cartooning. And they were all welcoming me to the "Gang." That was over 20 years ago and, today, I act as chair for the Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. All because of a little piece of newsprint my Ralph saved.
A little history:
The Berndt Toast Gang had it's beginnings after World War ll, when local cartoonists would visit wounded soldiers in local VA hospitals and draw for them (a tradition that continues to this day with members drawing for children suffering from life-threatening diseases and visiting the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan). But it wasn't until 1966 that the members decided to meet once a month to talk shop, laugh and commiserate. It was then that Frank Springer, Lee Ames, Creig Flessel, and Bill Lignante were working on an animated feature for Hanna-Barbera. In order to keep abreast of their progress, each working from their own studio, lunch seemed the best way. Having realized just how enjoyable the lunches had been, once the project was finished, the group decided to keeping meeting. Creig, the unanimously elected leader, was dubbed "The Infallible Creig Flessel" by the members of the Gang. Every single one of them in awe of the great talent this wonderful friend possessed.
So why are we "The Berndt Toast Gang?" That's best left to the words of the late, great, Lee Ames: When Creig Flessel, Bill Lignante, Frank Springer, Al Micale, and I got together to work for Hanna Barbera in the 1960's, we decided to have a lunch at Finnegan's Bar the last Thursday of every month. During that period, Creig brought Walter Berndt (creator of the long-running strip, "Smitty") to join us. We fell in love with the cigar-smoking old-timer (look who's talking!), as he did with us. After a couple of years he passed away and left us grieving. Thereafter, whenever we convened on Thursdays, we'd raise a toast to Walter's memory. On one such, my big mouth opened and uttered, "Fellas, it's time for the Berndt toast!" I wasn't trying to be cute at the time, but I'm not displeased that it stuck and we became the Berndt Toast Gang, one of the largest branches of the National Cartoonists Society. It has become tradition that we raise a toast to a departed cartoonist at every lunch. We've lost a great many talented people through the years, been through a number of venues, added many new friends and, almost fifty years later, we still meet every month. So much of it was due to the, kindness, humor, talent and enormous efforts of Creig Flessel that we're proud to share a very little bit of his work with you has a fitting "Berndt Toast" to what would have been his 100th birthday!