The National Cartoonists Society, established in 1946, is the world’s most prestigious cartooning organization, requiring considerable skill to be accepted as a member. Many of America’s greatest artists have been members of the NCS, including Milton Caniff, Charles Schulz, Mort Drucker, Rube Goldberg, Chester Gould, Jack Kirby and many more who have become icons in American cartooning.
The Long Island chapter of the NCS, known colloquially as the “Berndt Toast Gang”, hosts some of the most beloved and accomplished cartoonists in the United States. The BTG has it’s origins in Long Island cartoonists who gave their free time to draw for wounded soldiers in Veterans Association hospitals after World War II. The group started in earnest in 1966 when several of these cartoonists worked on animations for Hanna-Barbera. They would meet monthly to discuss the project and continued to do so after the animation was complete. Members of the group also worked on Tubby the Tuba at the New York Institute of Technology, in what was the forerunner of the 3D animation industry at that time.
The group is named in honor of Walter Berndt, creator of the newspaper comic Smitty, which ran for over 50 years. After Walter passed, children’s author and illustrator Lee Ames raised a toast to Walter. They have been raising a “Berndt Toast” to past members at every lunch since.
This exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Jeff Fisher.