Mel Birnkrant Presents:
All of the Art on this site is one of a kind, created by CHARLES PONSTINGL, for the sheer joy of it.
He intended it as loving homage to the Great Comic Artists of former days. 
The images are based upon the work of many, including some that were created by, and are
“Copyright The Walt Disney Company”. The writing and photography is “Copyright Mel Birnkrant”.

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        Several months later, the phone rang.  It was Tom. “Do you still want more of those BLEEPING carvings?” he inquired.

Yes, of course”, I answered.  “Did you get new dining room curtains?”

BLEEP No!  These aint the BLEEPING carvings that I own; I’m keepin’ those!  These are BLEEPIN' NEW ONES!  He did MORE!” was the reply.  And so, it began, a routine that went on for a few years.  The crazy old coot story had evaporated.  “CP” was obviously alive and well and carving up a storm.

Thus, on the opening day of Brimfield, three times a year, the minute I got there, I parked my car and headed for Tom’s van.  There, he would open up the sliding door, and lying on its back on the floor would be another carving.  Each time, the price got higher.  He was sizing me up, like a carnivorous tiger, and ascertaining how far he could go.  How much could he make me pay, without killing his prey?

I didn’t complain about the sky-rocketing prices, as the carvings were worth it in my eyes, but I also knew that in Tom’s eyes I was getting BLEEPED, and he was loving every minute of it.  I wondered what he was giving CP for these new carvings?   Twenty dollars each?  Nonetheless, I paid the rising prices willingly, but I wished the money could have gone to CP, directly; whoever he might be.

         Here are a few of the carvings Tom sold me:
         Eventually, the one man market for CP’s carvings got so "Hot" that Tom decided that he could live without those he was keeping, drapes or not!  His sister still hung on to hers.  One of those Tom sold me, was the Toonerville Trolley, which is something of an icon for train and toy collectors.  I could understand why he had been keeping it, apart from his sensitive eye for interior design.
           CP’s rendition of “Pinocchio” is a lyrical lullaby of light!  Here, he tries his hand at Chiaroscuro, the Renaissance technique of rendering light and shadow.  The effect is highly painterly with dramatically dark shadows, artfully cast upon the walls, and splashes of blue-white light, applied intuitively, in a well-intentioned, although, somewhat naive attempt to achieve the dazzling effect that the Blue Fairy actually glows.  And, miraculously, she does!!
          Here are the “Katzenjammer Kids”, the only comic strip drawn by two different artists under two different names, and simultaneously appearing in two different newspaper chains.  It was begun by Rudolph Dirks in 1897.  In 1912, Dirks left the Hearst organization and another artist, Harold Knerr drew the strip for the next 37 years.  Meanwhile, Dirks continued to draw his own version of the Katzenjammer Kids for Pullitzer, which he called “The Captain and the Kids”.  It ended its run in 1979.  The Katzenjammer Kids, on the other hand, continues to be syndicated by King Features to this day,  It is the longest running comic strip in history.  Many of the characters in Charles' carving, “Miss Twiddle”, “Lena” and “Rollo” were actually created by Kerr.  Confusing, isn’t it?
          The ghosts of Hendrick Hudson and his merry henchmen in this fabulous carving of Charles’ own invention bring a flood of fond memories back to me.  Young Rip Van Winkle, so elegantly envisioned  with cup raised to lip, is about to sleep his youth away as the Gnomes bowl a game of nine-pins that makes the Catskill Mountains resonate with the sound of rolling thunder.  One of the Wonders of my childhood was Vernor’s  Ginger Ale.  It originated in Detroit, like me.  Down by the Detroit River, there was a mysterious building, a kind of Palace of Ginger Ale.  One could go there in the late evening and sip a Boston Cooler, which was a foaming mixture of Vernor’s Ginger Ale and heavy cream.  The great hall’s soaring interior was covered with gigantic murals, depicting Gnomes, very much like these, making the barrels of Ginger Ale.  It’s all gone now, the murals, the building, the city?