Gus Ricca’s Beautiful Grotesques

« Gosh, if only Dad would inject me with some of that!* »

The undervalued Gaspano “Gus” Ignazio Ricca (1906-1956) managed, in the first half of his scant half-century of life, to get his foot in a lot of important doors: The New Yorker (1928), Liberty (1933), Time (1934), Collier’s (1935)… then he wound up in pulps and comics, for better or worse.

Having joined, at the dawn of the 40s, the fabled studio of Harry A. Chesler, the original comic book packager, he became, in 1944, art director of one of Chesler’s many lines, namely Dynamic Comics.

In general, Dynamic’s output wasn’t anything particularly distinguished or accomplished, but oh, those eye-catching covers!

Staff artists Charles Sultan, Paul Gattuso and future DC mainstay Ruben Moreira also ably pitched in, but we’ll stick to Mr. Ricca’s doozies this time out.

Dynamic8A
Dynamic Comics no. 8, published sometime between 1942 and 1944. Read this issue here.
Dynamic10A
Dynamic Comics no. 10 (July 1944, Chesler / Dynamic.) Read this issue here.
Dynamic11A
Dynamic Comics no. 11 (September 1944, Chesler / Dynamic.) Read this issue here. The “little people in test tubes” motif never lost its cool, and it pops up all over: for instance, here, here, and also here.
Dynamic12A
Dynamic Comics no. 12 (November 1944, Chesler / Dynamic.) According to the Grand Comics Database, “The man playing chess bears a distinct resemblance to many contemporary descriptions of Harry “A” Chesler.” Read this issue here.
Dynamic18A
Dynamic Comics no. 18 (April 1946, Chesler / Dynamic.) Read this issue here.
Punch9A
As if the back-breaking, eye-straining labour, low pay and oppressive deadlines weren’t enough to sap the spirit of a cartoonist. This is Punch Comics no. 9 (July 1944, Chesler / Dynamic.) Read this issue here.
Punch12A
This is Punch Comics no. 12 (January 1945, Chesler / Dynamic.) Read this issue here.
Punch13A
This is Punch Comics no. 13 (April 1945, Chesler / Dynamic.) Read this issue here. Pray note that Mr. Ricca seized the opportunity to symbolically write finis to his and a trio of his colleagues’ lives. « You should’na oughta defied The Skeleton, chum! »

-RG

* from the mouth of Yankee Doodle Jones’ sidekick “Dandy”, Dynamic Comics no. 6. Read it here!

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