Thursday, March 06, 2014

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Creig Flessel


Creig Valentine Flessel was born in Huntington, Long Island, New York, on February 2, 1912. His full name was found in his hometown newspaper, The Long Islander, and the Social Security Death Index. His birth information was confirmed in a July 2002 interview in the Comics Journal #245.

In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Flessel was the second of four children born to Frank (1883–1944) and Ida (1884–1971). The census recorded his father’s birth in Germany and occupation as blacksmith. The family resided in Huntington on Southdown Avenue. They remained in the same place according to the 1925 New York State Census. Flessel’s paternal grandmother, Fannie, lived with them. In 1930, the Flessel family remained in Huntington but on Prospect Avenue.


In the Comics Journal, Flessel said his family lived on a five-acre farm about a mile from town. His father could draw; an aunt was an art teacher; his mother was musical and his brother could draw and was “an electronics genius.” Flessel named cartoonist Vic Forsythe, of Joe Jinks fame, as his idol.

The life of Flessel, from his early teens to to his early twenties, was chronicled in the Long Islander: he was a scout, high school athlete and cartoonist, art student, occasional performer, and scoutmaster.

April 30, 1925: Last Tuesday evening, April 27, Troop One, Boy Scouts of America, received their charter for the next year, at the Huntington High School gymnasium. The charter was presented by Scout Executive A.R. Wolfe, at a banquet attended by many of the scouts’ parents.

The following scouts received their registrations: …second class, …Creig Flessel...


June 17, 1927: The funeral service was held in the Catholic Church Wednesday morning, about forty Scouts being in attendance. The pallbearers were members of his patrol, Creig Flessel, Albert Flathtnan, Harry Mathison, Ralph Lewis, Jack Klauer and LeRoy Glosten.

September 30, 1927: The Ketewamoke Patrol of Troop No. 1, of Huntington held a banquet at the Methodist Episcopal Church on Friday evening, September 16. The eight Scouts of the Ketewamoke Patrol of which Creig Flessel is leader and Clifford Trainer is sponsor, celebrated their first Patrol birthday by entertaining their parents and friends present with a fine meal. After the tables had been cleared the Scouts presented a sketch entitled, “Pee Wee Harris’s Patrol to the Rescue.” This bit of Scout work was put across in a very amusing manner. The Handicraft exhibit was very interesting. It included some fine sketchings, leaf printing and soap carving.

November 2, 1928: This Friday the first edition of the “Mirror” is to be sold to the students. It has made quite an improvement over the first edition of last year.…The illustrations were furnished by Louise Kjellander, ’29; Lydo Petersen, ’29; Mary Shantler, ’29; Creig Flessel, ’30 and Florence Hoag, ’30.

(The Standard Union, in Brooklyn, April 12, 1929, reported the following: “Capt. Carroll E. Welch of the citizens’ military training camp has issued a statement that to April 1 forty-four applications from Suffolk County for the training camps this summer have been accepted…[including] Creig V. Flessel, Huntington…”)

September 6, 1929: Creig Flessel returned home Saturday from the Military Training Camp at Plattsburg.

September 13, 1929: Romney Wheeler is editor-in-chief of the school magazine. The Mirror, this year. The other editors include…Creig Flessel, art...

November 8, 1929: The first issue of the Huntington High School Magazine the “Mirror” was put on sale last Wednesday.…Illustrations also, are in profusion, especially in the humor section.

The staff is as follows: Romney Wheeler, Editor-in-Chief; Nat Elkins, Business Manager; Clifford Phillips, Humor, Editor; Phillis Fredericks, Literary Editor; Creig Flessel, Art Editor; Lyle Carson and Helen Hubbs, Sport Editors; Jean Carter, Alumni Editor; Evelyn Hart, Exchange Editor; Herman Wientjes, Circulation Manager and Mortimer Kassel, Advertising Manager.


November 22, 1929: Those who played their last game for the Blue and White were…Creig Flessel, end…

(The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 25, 1929, published a photograph, below, of the football players, including Flessel, who received letters.)




May 9, 1930: The annual election of Epworth League officers was held at the church last Monday night with the following results: Eugene Dittmar, president; Crieg Flessel, first and second vice-president; Glady Bunce, third vice-president; Natalie Suydam, fourth vice-president; Estelle Miller, secretary; Helen Velsor, treasurer; Gladys Bunce, organist.

June 27, 1930: Prizes and honors for the year were announced by Superintendent Toaz as follows: …Alumni Drawing Prizes—Creig Valentine Flessel and Florence Hazel Hoag...Those who received their diplomas were…Creig Flessel...

September 12, 1930: Creig Flessel starts Monday for a course in the Grand Central Art school in New York.

September 26, 1930: Creig Flessel, Huntington High 1930, won the poster prize for Nassau and Suffolk counties sponsored by the New York State Educational Department, on the topic Vacation Days. A little boy, strutting along with a tiny fish on the end of a pole, Is not more excited than the dog that is with him. Mr. Flessel is a student at the Grand Central Art School this fall.

November 7, 1930: Creig Flessel entertained the members of his Sunday School class at a Halloween party Friday night.

April 24, 1931: Creig Flessel, who is a student at the Grand Central Art School, received second prize of $10 for illustration, and third prize of $5 for life drawing.

(The New York Times, April 20, 1932: “Awards at School of Art.” The eight annual exhibition of the Grand Central School of Art…Medals for Illustration—To Creig Flessel, George Cook, Dorothy Deyrup, Harry Rossoll and Tom Harter.)

April 29, 1932: Creig Flessel, of this place, was awarded first prize for an illustration at the Grand Central Art School in Manhattan last week.

Creig Flessel who is a student in the Grand Central Art School received first prize for illustration last week.


June 3, 1932: Creig Flessel has organized a Boy Scout patrol.

June 24, 1932: Creig Flessel, who has just finished his second year at Grand Central Art School, entered Monday for the summer course in that institution. 
(In the Comics Journal interview, Flessel said he attended Harvey Dunn’s night class and met Charles Addams, the future New Yorker cartoonist.)

September 2, 1932: Arrangements are being perfected for an exhibit of the work of Huntington amateur artists at the Flessel Building on Main street from September 5 to 10, inclusive. Among the artists making exhibits are Woodhull Young, Alphonse Bare, Creig Flessel and Miss Anna Flessel.

April 21, 1933: “Troop 12 Has Ten Year Reunion”; ...Through the efforts of Pete Whipple assisted by Wilbur Percy, Woodhull Young, Creig Flessel and Bob Alexander is due a large part of the success of this enjoyable gathering.

April 21, 1933: Saturday night Was a red letter day for our Boy Scouts. In their bright new uniforms they were on hand to welcome their friends and their neighboring Boy Scouts from Huntington and Greenlawn.

Jack Levy then presented Creig Flessel with his credentials and Scout pin for Scout Master of Troop 113 of Centerport. The Scouts then received their badges from their Scout Master, Creig Flessel.

…All boys, twelve years or over, who are in any way interested in Boy Scouting, may Join, this troop by reporting to Creig Flessel or Jack Levy at the Centerport Fire House on any Thursday evening between 7:30 and 9 o’clock.


April 13, 1934: The second event was a Parents’ Night held by Centerport Troop 113, of which Creig V. Flessel is Scoutmaster and Jacob Levy chairman of the Troop Committee.

Under the direction of Scoutmaster Flessel the Scouts put on a splendid demonstration of Scouting, also some interesting skits depicting Scout life. There was an excellent display of Scout handicraft. The meeting was held in the new school building on Little Neck road and was attended by over fifty parents and friends of the troop. Refreshments were served at the close of the meeting.


January 10, 1935: Creig Flessel was a guest of Miss Marie Marino in Brooklyn for New Year’s Day.

January 31, 1935: Creig Flessel and his troop of Boy Scouts enjoyed a grand day of hiking and coasting Saturday.

March 1, 1935: The Centerport M. E. Church in place of the Centerport Fire Department will sponsor the Boy Scout Troop in the future. With a; troop, committee comprised of James Van Alst, Rev. Edgar N. Jackson, Creig Flessel, Arthur B. West and George A. Bunce, they expect to have one of the liveliest troops in Suffolk County.

March 13, 1935: “Minstrels Enjoyed”; ‘Kentucky Daze’ drew a large crowd to the Centerport School Friday night. The minstrels kept the audience in an uproar throughout the performance.

Much applause was given to Creig Flessel as Old Black Joe and Natalie Suydam as Aunt Jemima. The ballet dancers wore not to be beaten by any professionals.


June 28, 1935: Friday evening, June 21, was one of the happiest in our school year, when thirteen, wide awake boys and girls received their diplomas to enter high school.…Creig Flessel was master of ceremonies in giving the flag donated by the combined basketball teams, the Sea Gulls and Sea Girls.

April 3, 1936: Creig Flessel was a week-end guest of Miss Marie Marino in Brooklyn who is home for her spring vacation from Alfred University.

May 29, 1936: “Memorial Day Plans”; ...At the park on the newly erected pole will be unfurled the Stars and Stripes by the Boy Scouts under Scoutmaster Creig Flessel.

November 1936: Creig Flessel was a guest of Miss Marino for the week-end. They attended the Alfred-Upsalla game in East Orange, Saturday.

Flessel’s engagement to Marino was announced in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 9, 1937. 


MARINO-FLESSEL
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Marino of 293 Clermont Ave. announce the engagement of their daughter, Miss Marie Grace Marino, to Creig Valentine Flessel of Manhattan and Centerport, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Flessel.

Miss Marino was graduated from Alfred University, Alfred, N. Y., with the class of 1936. Mr. Flessel studied at Grand Central School of Art in Manhattan.
The New York, New York, Marriage Indexes, at Ancestry.com, said Flessel and Marino married on November 20, 1937 in Brooklyn. The Alfred Sun (New York), April 14, 1938, noted their marriage: “ ’36—Marie Marino to Creig Valentine Flessel in Brooklyn on November 20, 1937.” The Marin Independent Journal (California), March 17, 2007, said Flessel met Marie “during a function at a Long Island yacht club gathering.”

Some sources said Flessel attended Alfred University and even graduated from there. I have found no evidence that he was a student at Alfred University. Surely, his hometown paper, the Long Islander, would have reported his enrollment there. In the Comics Journal interview, Flessel never mentioned the university as part of his education. The confusion, I believe, centers on his wife, Marie, who graduated from Alfred University in 1936. Flessel’s attendance at the university was as a visitor seeing his future wife. The Alfred University alumni news mentioned Flessel because he was Marie’s husband.

Flessel was part of the first wave of Golden Age comic book artists. He was hired to produced art work for Major Wheeler-Nicholson’s More Fun Comics. Flessel recalled:
…they were desperate so I had to go out and buy a drawing table. They had just one table that they were doing all of the mechanical work on. So I got a table and managed to find a chair and sat down and they said, “Here. Do this.” I think I did a couple of center spreads for More Fun….Detective [Comics] was created while I was there.”
Flessel drew the covers for Detective Comics numbers two through 19. He worked with editors Vince Sullivan and Whitney Ellsworth. In 1937, Flessel moved on and worked a couple weeks for Harry Chesler. Some of Flessel’s comic book credits are here.

Later in 1937 Flessel worked for the advertising studio Johnstone and Cushing. At Hogan’s Alley, Flessel explained how he entered the advertising industry after a stint on a comic strip.
“In 1936, I went to J. Walter Thompson looking for work, because they had been doing a lot of comic ads,” he said. “All the secretaries there knew Tom Johnstone, and one of them told me I should go to Johnstone and Cushing.” Flessel went to the Johnstone and Cushing offices, then in the Commerce Building at 145 East 44th Street, and he took the elevator to the thirty-sixth floor penthouse suite that housed the offices. Flessel was in awe of the staff, which was a cartooning Who’s Who: “There was Albert Dorne, Austin Briggs, Bill Sakren, Joe King, Stan Randall, Paul Fung, Milt Gross, Milt Caniff, Lou Fine, Stan Drake, Noel Sickles, Ralston Jones, Katie Osann…everybody went through there at some point. The talent level was just intimidating,” Flessel said.
…“They had a lot of work and they needed artists,” Flessel said, “but they felt my work was a little crude, so they recommended me to John Striebel.”
Striebel hired Flessel to assist on Dixie Dugan. Flessel also had the opportunity to work on Streibel’s characters Vic and Sade, who appeared in Farina Wheat cereal advertisements. In Alter Ego #45, February 2005, Jim Amash interviewed Flessel who said: “In 1937, I was ghosting for John Streibel on Dixie Dugan for Liberty magazine, as well as ad work for him. And then Dixie turned into a newspaper strip. Dixie was a showgirl, but Blondie proved that a showgirl strip didn’t fly in the newspapers, so Dixie Dugan became a single secretary. I did that for one year. I was also doing ad worked for Johnstone and Cushing, pulp work, and comics for National Comics.”

After Streibel, Flessel returned to Johnstone and Cushing and began work on the Nestlé Toll House cookies and R.C. Cola accounts.

The Alfred Sun, October 17, 1940, explained the story behind the Nestle’s advertisement (below) that ran in the Sunday comics section October 13, 1940.

Scan courtesy of the Fabulous Fifties

Alfred Banner Seen in Sunday Section 
In the funny section last week in the Sunday paper, there appeared an advertisement for Nestle’s which was of great interest to Alfred people and students. The adv. carried the theme of the girl who won a pledge to a sorority by her mother sending her baked goods that suited the taste of some of the girls, who in turn pledged her to their sorority. In this girl’s room was seen an Alfred banner, although the colors were orange and green, the word “ALFRED” was very much in evidence. It was learned that the author, Creig Flessel is the husband of Marie Jean Marino, who graduated from Alfred with the class of 1936 and was a member of the Sigma Chi Nu Sorority. If you were familiar with the sorority pin you would know at a glance the pin in question belonged to Sigma Chi Nu.
According to Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999, Flessel worked on the Vimms vitamins account.

Cleveland Plain Dealer 6/28/1942

Another advertising campaign, illustrated by Flessel, was for New York state savings banks; the advertisements ran in 1944 and 1945.

Star Journal 5/25/1944

Perry Record 6/29/1944

Nunda News 10/13/1944

Cortland Standard 1/24/1945

Flessel also did illustrations for pulp magazines by publishers such as Street & Smith, and Martin Goodman.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Flessel illustrated the Book-of-the Month adaptation of Colonel Effingham’s Raid, which was published in 1943.

Rockford Register-Republic 9/13/1943

Flessel has not yet been found in the 1940 census. In an April 2006 letter to Mike Lynch, Flessel wrote: “I (We) lived in Brooklyn, near Pratt Institute in 1937. My son was born in Brooklyn in 1940.” According to the Marin Independent Journal, February 4, 2011, Flessel moved back to his hometown of Huntington in 1943.

In the 1950s, Flessel produced illustrations for Boys’ Life magazine and the Sunday Pictorial Review supplement. Boys’ Life covers and comics are here, here, here and here. A couple of Sunday Pictorial Review covers are here. At Johnstone and Cushing, Flessel worked on the Eveready battery account. Samples are here, here, here and here.

From 1958 to 1960, Flessel assisted on the Li’l Abner strip. In the Comics Journal interview, Flessel said: 
…The best part of that job was that we sat there and worked and we had Andy Amato, and Harvey Curtis and Walter Johnson was the inker. Curtis was the manager of the office and Amato was the man who created all the crazy things—crazy penciler—but the reason why I was there was no one could draw a pretty girl. I knew how to draw big tits. If they made them the size of a grapefruit, I’d make them bigger. So that was it….
Flessel took over the David Crane strip from Winslow Mortimer from October 31, 1960 into 1972. Several samples can be viewed here, here and here.


8/6/1961; scan courtesy of the Fabulous Fifties


From 1969 to 1977 Flessel drew This Week in Astrology which was written by Carl Payne Tobey; Flessel signed the feature with his middle name, Valentine, which was his paternal grandmother’s maiden name.


11/26/1972; original art courtesy of Heritage Auctions


In American Newspaper Comics, Flessel is credited with two-week stints on Apartment 3-G (Sundays) and Friday Foster in 1973.

In the 1980s for Playboy magazine, Flessel drew, for about eight years, The Tales of Baron von Furstinbed and explained, in the Comics Journal, how he got involved: 
...The guy that I worked with on Friday Foster wrote stuff for Playboy. They needed stuff for the Playboy Funnies, and he was writing and they would send it back, so we arranged to do stuff together. I would get notes from Hefner that said, “I like your drawing, but the story’s not good.” So finally I asked the writer if he would mind if I wrote my own copy. So I did and sent off a color page and they wrote back and said that they liked it, and would like to see some more. So, almost immediately, I was in business. 
…I went from David Crane to The Tales of Baron Von Firstinbed [sic]— piety to pornography in one lifetime…
In 2000, Flessel and his wife moved to The Redwoods retirement community in Mill Valley, California, to be closer to their children and their families. Flessel passed away July 17, 2008. His death was reported in the Marin Independent Journal, July 26.

Flessel was remembered at several comic book-related sites, here, here and here. Photographs of Flessel and samples of his artwork are here. An overview of Flessel’s career is here. He was a member of the National Cartoonists Society.

Flessel’s wife,
Marie passed away January 20, 2011 in Mill Valley.

—Alex Jay

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Comments:
Berkely cartoonist Lee Marrs was an assistant to Flessel in the seventies and could be helpful for anyone doing Flessel scholarship.
 
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