Only two days before former NCS president George Breisacher died unexpectedly of a heart attack on August 11, 2004, he was actively planning to organize informal lunches for Charlotte-area cartoonists. He sent out an email on that Monday, August 9, saying in part, "Here's what I propose: We have a cartoonists' luncheon or dinner once a month at a restaurant to be determined. No one will be in charge. It will not be a meeting to discuss politics, national issues or the other trappings of organization. No speakers. If you want to come, you simply show up."
Well, he had touched too many lives with his energy and willing spirit for such a plan to stop just because he wasn't around.
On Monday August 30, about 15 area cartoonists, artists, and members of George's surviving family got together at the Red Lobster for exactly what George had envisioned, a free-wheeling, informal gathering with no agenda other than friendship and shoptalk.
L-R standing: Gene Payne, Kevin Siers, Shelton Drum, Bill Pitzer, Jayne Breisacher, Jeff Breisacher, Rob Bradford, Jim Scancarelli, Don Sherwood. Kneeling: Al Bigley, Gerry Mooney, Marcus Hamilton, Tammy Breisacher.
George's wife Jayne was the guest of honor. We also enjoyed the company of his son Jeff and daughter Tammy, as well as Tammy's boyfriend Rob Bradford. The artists attending included Al Bigley, Jim Scancarelli, Marcus Hamilton (who organized the gathering, though he claimed numerous times that he wasn't the organizer), Gerry Mooney, Kevin Siers, Gene Payne, Bill Pitzer, Jim Scancarelli, and Don Sherwood. We were also joined by Shelton Drum, owner of Charlotte's "Heroes Aren't Hard to Find" comic shop, and organizer of Charlotte's annual Comic con.
Once we were seated, Marcus suggested we each in turn introduce ourselves to the group. More than one person there said in so many words that if it weren't for George, they wouldn't have A. become cartoonists, B. met other cartoonists, C. gotten an art job, D. become acquainted with others at the table, or E. all of the above. It was abundantly clear that George was a lifelong catalyst who took genuine joy in networking people together, sharing a joke, taking others "under his wing" (this phrase was used more than once) and generally being the kind of person who effortlessly brings the best out in people by his mere presence. It was as if he was there but had just stepped into the other room for a moment.
After lunch we made plans to continue getting together on a monthly basis, and settled on meeting for lunch on the last Monday of each month. A lot of ideas were offered for future meetings, such as whether we might have a museum trip some months, or a guest speaker, or take turns presenting our own work. There seemed to be a consensus that they will continue to be informal, with no set agenda or purpose other than spending time with other cartoonists.
Whatever form our future gatherings take, there's no doubt that George's presence will continue to be felt as we do what George would have done, create an opportunity for us to be our best selves.
Photo by the waitress. We should have tipped her!
Al, Shelton, Jayne, Tammy, Rob.