Vincent James Napoli was born April 8, 1907 in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, Antonio Napoli, was born 1873 in Italy. His mother, Luigina Gervace, was born 1887 in Italy. Both of his parents came from the same small farm district near Rome. His father first came to America in 1890 and settled in Cleveland, where he worked as a farm laborer. In 1905 he returned to his hometown to marry a neighbor's daughter, who was fifteen years old. After the marriage they moved to America and returned to Cleveland, where they lived at 1259 East 102nd Street. They had three children. The artist's older brother Paul Napoli was born in 1906 and his younger sister Anna Napoli was born in 1908. His father worked as a street cleaner and manual laborer at odd jobs.
Vincent Napoli attended public schools in Cleveland, where he contributed cartoons signed "Nap" to school newspapers and yearbooks. In June of 1926 he graduated from Glenville High School, where he was the entire art staff of the yearbook.
By 1929 his younger sister married and moved away from home, while his older brother worked as a shipping clerk at a local wholesale paper bag company.
During the 1930s he worked as a muralist for the WPA Federal Art Project, an enlightened government program that provided relief income for artists during the Great Depression. Pulp artists Delos Palmer, Elton Fax, Lee Browne Coye, and Remington Schuyler also worked on mural projects for this same government program. Vincent Napoli painted murals to decorate several schools in Ohio.
In 1932 he began to draw pen and ink story illustrations for the pulp magazine Weird Tales. He continued to produce interior black and white line drawings for this magazine for many years.
During WWII Vincent Napoli enlisted as a Private in the Army Infantry. He was inducted on August 17, 1942, at which time he was recorded to be five-foot-five and to weigh one hundred and sixty-five pounds. Two months later on October 20, 1942 he was honorably discharged. It is unusual to be discharged so abruptly during wartime, unless some previously unidentified physical or medical disability was discovered during basic training.
In 1946 he married and moved to New York City, where he continued to draw pen and ink story illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in A. Merritt Fantasy, Astounding Science Fiction, Avon Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reader, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Fantastic Story, Marvel Science Stories, Planet Stories, Startling Stories, Ten-Story Fantasy, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Wonder Stories, and Worlds Beyond. He also continued to draw illustrations for Weird Tales.
Along with pulp magazines he also contributed his drawing skills to the comic book industry. His work appeared in Beware and Horror, which were produced by Trojan Comics, and Atomic Attack, Captain Science, Chilling Tales, and Stamps, which were all published by Youthful Magazines.
On June 15, 1967 his mother died in Cleveland at the age of eighty.
In 1968 he moved to San Diego, California.
According to American Weekly Magazine, "In all of the artist's work there is a strong undercurrent of sympathy for the people he draws. He is not a malicious cartoonist, like many of the Surrealist artists. He says he sees beyond the limitations of human character and personality. According to the artist, 'The pictures just seem to take form when I shut my eyes. I do not know how they do so, other than the fact that they are actually the pictures of impressions which I get from seeing and hearing different things, whether it be the sound of a radio crooner's voice or the sight of a chicken scratching for a worm.'"
Vincent Napoli died in San Diego, CA, at the age of seventy-four on October 28, 1981.
© David Saunders 2012