Clem Gretta was born Joseph Clemens Gretter on December 11, 1904 in Indiana. His father was Aloysius Urban Gretter, born in Indiana 1878. His mother was Celeste Keller, born in Indiana 1882. They married in 1903 and raised nine children on a farm in Midway, Idaho. He was their first child. After the birth of their ninth child his parents divorced.
He was too young to serve in the Great War, which ended before his fifteenth birthday.
In June 1922 he graduated high school, and in September 1922 he attended Idaho University School of Fine Art.
In 1923 he left that school and moved to 2619 West 55th Street in Chicago, Illinois, to study at the Art Institute of Chicago.
In 1926 he was an artist on the staff of The Chicago Tribune, where he drew The Kippity Skip Puzzle Page.
In 1927 he married his wife Alice Wolter. She was born November 4, 1907 in Illinois. In 1929 their daughter Alice Mae Gretter was born.
He illustrated the syndicated feature, Sue to Lou, for The Chicago Evening Post. The comic strip ran for nine years.
By 1932 he had moved to New York City to work as a freelance illustrator in the pulp magazine field. His work appeared in Short Stories and Mystery Novels Magazine. He used the pen name "Gretta" for most of these illustrations.
In 1932 his second child Ann Gretter was born in New York.
He contributed drawings to New Fun and More Fun Comics, which were two of the earliest American comic books to consist of original materials. He also contributed to Real Fact Comics. These comics were produced by a company that eventually became D.C. Comics, which was owned by the pulp magazine publisher, Harry Donenfeld. Other artists that contributed to these same comics included Lyman Anderson, Adolphe Barreaux, William Merle Allison, Henry C.Keifer, Ray Wardell, Will Ely, Tom Hickey, Cole Brigham, and Creig Flessel.
In 1935 the family moved to Norwalk , Connecticut, where they lived on Adams Lane.
In 1936 his son Gary Gretter was born in Connecticut.
He continued to draw for comic books published by Fawcett, Hawley, and Magazine Enterprises.
He drew the popular syndicated strip Ripley's Believe It Or Not during the years 1941 to 1949.
During the 1950s he drew a widely distributed newspaper feature called "In This World."
By 1972 he had moved to 119 Seir Hill Road in Wilton, CT.
Clem Gretter died in Wilton, CT, at age of eighty-three on April 8, 1988.
© David Saunders 2013