Gaspano "Gus" Ignazio Ricca was born February 22, 1906 in Brooklyn, New York City. His father, Ignazio Ricca, was born in 1860 in Santa Margherita Belice, Italy and came to America in 1888. His mother, Julia Brown, was born in 1876 in NYC of Italian and Irish ancestry. His parents married on August 23, 1895 in NYC, and had one child. The family lived at 245 Steuben Street in Brooklyn. The father was a classically-trained artist with a studio at 236 Court Street in Brooklyn.
In 1918, during the Great War, Gaspano Ricca was a twelve-year-old student in the seventh grade, and was not eligible to register for military service.
In June of 1919 Gaspano Ricca completed the eight grade, after which he entered the work force. He worked at a printing shop that created graphic material for newspaper advertising.
In 1925 the New York State census recorded the Ricca family still living on Steuben Street in Brooklyn. The occupation of the father and the son were both listed as "artist."
In 1928 Gaspano Ricca drew gag cartoons for The New Yorker magazine.
In 1929 he began to draw illustrations for Radio Revue Magazine.
In 1930 Gaspano Ricca, at the age of twenty-four, still lived at home in Brooklyn with his parents, who were aged sixty-nine and fifty-four.
In 1931 the Century Publishing Company produced "Grim Jim" by Talbot Mundy with a dust jacket designed by Gaspano Ricca.
In 1931 he drew illustrations of notable radio personalities for nationally syndicated newspapers.
In 1934 he drew portraits of newsworthy people for Time Magazine.
On October 27, 1934 Gaspano Ricca married Beatrice Goldberg in Manhattan Civil Court. She was born February 6, 1909 in NYC of Polish Jewish ancestry. She was an associate editor at Radio Revue Magazine. The married couple moved to 323 West 80th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
In 1933 Gaspano Ricca drew covers and story illustrations for Liberty Magazine.
In 1934 he illustrated Esquire Magazine.
In 1935 he created a cover and story illustrations for Collier's Magazine.
On February 7, 1937 the father, Ignazio Ricca, died at the age of seventy-five in NYC.
In 1939 Gaspano Ricca joined with Billie Gould and Dorothy Haubert to form Gould, Ricca & Haubert Advertising Agency at 45 West 45th Street.
Billie Gould was the artist, William Gould (1902-1984), who grew up in the Bronx and began as a sports cartoonist in Newspapers and The Boxing News. In 1934 he created the syndicated comic strip Red Barry, an adventure strip that ran for four year until 1939, when he left King Features and started a new career in advertising. William Gould's younger brother, Manny Gould (1904-1975), was also a cartoonist active in publicity, advertising, and merchandising. He had opened an art studio on 42nd Street to produce animated cartoons of Krazy Kat for William Randolph Hearst.
In 1939 Gaspano and Beatrice Ricca had a daughter, Roberta F. Ricca, their only child. The artist's mother, Julia Ricca, age sixty-seven, also came to live with the family.
In 1940 Gaspano Ricca joined the staff of the Harry A. Chesler comic shop, which produced contents for comic books published by Martin Goodman, Street & Smith, and Fawcett Publications.
In 1940 the U.S. census recorded the Ricca family at 323 West 80th Street. He was listed as a "free-lance commercial artist," and his wife, Beatrice Ricca, was listed as a "radio news commentator."
On January 13, 1944 newspapers nationwide carried a staged photograph by Gaspano Ricca that humorously protested the exportation of rationed cotton to Saudi Arabia.
In 1944 Gaspano Ricca became the art director of Harry A. Chesler's Dynamic Comics, for which he drew several memorable cover illustrations.
In 1945 he was listed as Vice President of Billie Gould, Incorporated, public relations firm at 55 West 42nd Street.
In 1945 Gaspano Ricca drew gag cartoons for Stag Magazine, which was published by Martin Goodman (1908-1992).
In 1948 Gaspano Ricca joined the staff of The New York Star newspaper, where the Art Director was Walt Kelly (1913-1973).
In 1952 the marriage of Gaspano Ricca and Beatrice Goldberg Ricca ended in divorce. At that time their daughter, Roberta Ricca, was age thirteen, so she lived with the divorced mother.
In 1952 Gaspano Ricca drew horror and crime comic books that were produced by St. John Publishing and also the American Comics Group.
After 1953 the comic book industry suffered lower sales, as readers became fascinated with television shows. Publishers were also attacked for producing uncensored comic books, which were widely believed to promote juvenile delinquency. This fear was further inflamed by opportunistic politicians.
By 1954 most artists that had worked for comic books and pulps had to look for other sources of income. Gaspano Ricca continued to sell gag cartoons to men's adventure magazines and worked as a free-lance artist for newspaper advertising.
Gaspano "Gus" Ignazio Ricca died at age fifty in NYC on April 27, 1956.
In 1957 the artist's daughter, Roberta Ricca, age eighteen, lived in a private apartment at 890 West End Avenue on 104th Street. At that same time, three doors west, at 312 West 104th Street, another under-employed pulp artist, Norman Saunders, also struggled to find work to support his family.
© David Saunders 2016