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USA Comics #1-17 (Aug. 1941 – Sep. 1945).
Vincent Alascia (January 14, 1914 – September 3, 1998), also known as Nicholas Alascia, was an American comic book artist known for his work on Captain America during the Golden Age of comics, and for his 23-year run as inker on a single creative team, with penciler Charles Nicholas Wojtkowski (as "Charles Nicholas") and writer Joe Gill at Charlton Comics from 1953 to 1976.
Vince Alascia was on staff at Timely Comics, the 1940s predecessor of Marvel Comics, where the artist and comics historian Jim Steranko credits him for art as early as USA Comics #5 (Summer 1942),on the masked crimefighter feature "American Avenger". When Captain America creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby left Timely after issue #10 (Jan. 1942) of the eponymous book, Alascia penciled the hero's adventures in the sister title All Select Comics #2-10 (Winter 1943/1944 to Summer 1946), generally inked by Allen Bellman, and in several issues of All Winners Comics, with a variety of inkers, starting with #11 (Winter 1943/1944). Syd Shores and Al Avison had taken over art duties on Captain America Comics, and Alascia shortly afterward filled-in as Shores' inker while Avison did his World War II military service.
Alascia later went into rotation as one of the various Captain America Comics artists in any given issue. Examples of his work in that flagship title include the story "Ali Baba and His Forty Nazis" in issue #32 (Nov. 1943), inking Ken Bald, and "The Crime Dictator" in issue #47 (June 1945), which Alascia penciled. It was Alascia, inked by Bob Powell, who drew the Captain American and Bucky chapter in the landmark full-length, all-star stories of the All-Winners Squad in the (non-hyphenated) All Winners Comics #19 (Fall 1946) and #21 (Winter 1946; there was no issue #20). Additionally in issue #19, Alascia inked Shores on the Miss America chapter. In issue #21, he also pencilled both the Whizzer chapter and the final chapter, and inked Avison's Sub-Mariner chapter.
Other Timely work includes stories featuring the Young Allies in Kid Komics and The Young Allies; the Patriot in the omnibus title Marvel Mystery Comics; and occasional work in Blonde Phantom.
After Timely's downsizing in 1948, Alascia freelanced for such other comics companies as Avon, where he inked Martin Nodell, creator of Green Lantern, on anthological horror stories in that publisher's 1950s comics City of the Living Dead and Eerie (no relation to Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror-comics magazine of that name).
Mostly, however, Alascia worked with Charlton Comics of Derby, Connecticut, where he was teamed with Charles Nicholas (the 1921-1985 comics artist of that name) on a full gamut of crime, suspense, mystery, science fiction, war, Western, romance, and hot-rod titles, beginning with Crime and Justice #16 (Jan. 1953). The art team would sometimes sign its work Nicholas & Alascia. As a penciler, Alascia's work for Charlton includes the August 1956 premiere issue of Tales of the Mysterious Traveler.
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Cartoonist Goes Literary After Years With Comics (Bridgeport Sunday Post, October 9 1977. By James Ventrilio):
The GI warrior, the glamour girl, the cowboy and crime buster and the superhero cartoonist Vincent Alascia once helped bring to life are gone from his daily life now, but not forgotten.
And as “Vince” sits in the Trumbull library office, quietly sketching library posters announcing forthcoming social events, one can't help, but wonder whether the inked pen he holds sometimes wanders to form the “Human Torch”, “Submariner”, “Kid Colt” or the great “Captain America” those comic book characters of past decades whose adventure sagas populated the magazine racks of the comer drug store.
Vince for more than 30 years was an essential part of an era in America popular culture, as he worked with other artists to produce the art form called the comic book. But Vince’s days as a cartoonist go back beyond those 30 years with the comic books, because as a student at New York's textile High school on 18th West street, he served as cartoon editor for the school paper. He also fondly remembers the encouragement he received from his grammar school principal, who convinced him to pursue a career in art.
It was as a student at Textile High, Vince said in his speech, that he became friends with another student named Gill Fox. Mr. Fox is a national syndicated cartoonist who draws the “Side Glances” cartoon appearing daily in the Bridgeport Post and other papers.
“I always had a pen in my hand”, Vince said of his early years, when he enjoyed sketching sports cartoons. One of those cartoons, of Babe Ruth, got him a personal mosting and autograph with the “King of Swat” at Yankee stadium. “My father had a friend who was an usher at Yankee Stadium”, said Vince, “and after I made this sketch of Babe Ruth, the guy told us to come to a game. When we got there, he took us down to the dugout and to the Babe, so I could show him the sketch, I was 14 years old then”. Mr. Alascia recalls that a ballplayer was sitting there with a towel over his head after running a footrace with another player on a bet and losing. “Lou Gehrig was sitting next to him, too”, Vince said.
“I shook hands with Ruth and showed him the sketch and he said to me, “that's great kid”, then he autographed it”. When we came out of the dugout some big shot sitting in a box seat offered me $50 for the sketch, said Vince. “That was a lot of money in those days, too, but I kept it”, Vince said of the sketch.
He spent a lot of his teenage years sketching famous figures from after, and when he sent sketches he made of Jack Dempsey and Franklin D. Roosevelt to those men, he received a personal greeting from both.
Vince's cartoon career was furthered by a now defunct Hearst paper known as the New York Evening Journal, which sponsored a cartoon contest, awarding 5$ to the best editorial type cartoon it received for each edition. Vince's work was picked twice, both cartoons appearing on page one around 1936. “But then it didn't pick my cartoons anymore,” Vince said. He said he got his nerve up and went around to see the paper's editor. “He told me that the paper had to spread the wealth around, so to speak-give others a chance to have their work picked”. “But then me, being a wise kid”, Vince recalled, “I send another cartoon to them, but with a different name on it and they picked it and ran it”. “I don't know why they didn't recognize the style”, Vince said with a wry smile, “but anyway, I never entered anymore cartoons after that.”
After the duping of the Hearst sheet, Vince went to work for the Innwood Journal, a weekly, covering activities of fan’s Innwood section, around Columbia university. He stayed as a cartoonist for about three years, sometimes doubling as a sports reporter.
It was about 1938 that comic books began to become popular especially with the birth of Superman, and Vince got the idea of securing a job with a comic book publisher. “I sent Harry A. Chesler, the publisher of Chesler Features Syndicate, some of my samples” Vince explained. “He liked them and he hired me”. I started working with George Tuska, and as a team we did Captain Marvel. He did the pencil and I did inking.
Vince explained that comic book art work is done on a sort of production-line basis, in that one artist will sketch the characters, another inks them over and perhaps colors them in, while yet others will lend their work to create a background and lettering for each block in the strip.
While still working for Chesler, Vince approached Eisner and Iger, on 44th St. and 3rd avenue, showed them some samples of work, and they offered him $40 a week.
When Chesler learned of their offer, Vince said, Chesler offered $5 more. And what Vince did was incite a bidding war between the two publishers until Chesler made him an offer he couldn't refuse. “You had to be a little sneaky to get ahead in those days”. Vince said of his attempts to get a salary increase.
And what comics was he involved with at Timely? “There were so many”, said Vince, “but I did backgrounds and later started inking for Captain America, but I also worked on The Human Torch, Submariner, Crime fighters, Kid Colt, The Two Gun Kid and others”. Also while Vince worked at Timely, his wife had twins, a son, Vincent and a daughter, Anne Marie, both now living in Bridgeport and who have presented Vince and his wife, Mary, with five grandchildren.
“I worked for Timely for a little over ten years”. Vince said noting that about the same time television was introduced, became popular, and cut out part of the comics business, slowing things down.” And according to Vince, the business never returned in its former levels, although he said at about the beginning of the Vietnam war, comic books began to become popular again. “But during World War II” Vince said, “the comics were a hot item, especially among Gls.
“I remember getting fan mail from Gls overseas. Sometimes they'd ask for sketches that they might be able to draw on their tank or something, It was mostly for girlie shots they would ask” , said Vince. “We used to send the guys batches of comics“, he remembered.
Following the war, Vince worked for Avon publishers, working on “mostly weird stuff”, like horror comics, and then Ace publishers, where he did crime stories and Orbit publishers, where, Vince noted, he worked for his first woman editor. “She left me alone to do what I wanted to do” he said of his relationship with her, “that's when you do your best work, when you do what you like best.”
Later, incoming to Derby from the Bronx, to work at Charlton publishers, Vince got off the Merritt Parkway one day about 22 years ago, discovered Trumbull and moved here with his family. He still occupies the same home he bought then, located at 22 Twitchgrass Road. After his long years at Charlton, Vince noted that he and a lot of other artists were given “temporary” layoff slips in September, 1976. But while at Charlton Vince worked in such comics as Captain Gallant, “Army War Heroes”,” Attack”, the “Fighting” series featuring adventures of heroes of the armed forces, and plenty of hot rod, western and romance comics, too. But Vince and the other artists became victims of new marketing techniques when the publisher began to reissue the back issues of the comics, thus needing their talents no longer.
When the temporary layoff appeared to be turning permanent, said Vince, he decided to look for other work, eventually finding it at the library under funding of the Federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which for the past few years has given many unemployed persons here and around the country, a chance to earn a living. “I do the art work for the library flyers and posters, now” said Vince of his new work,”and I also sometimes give “chalk talks” to groups of kids in the library. I show them that by using a letter or a number on a piece of paper anybody can become an artist”.
Reflecting on his years with the comics, Vince noted that aside from becoming a victim of television, the comic book was also hurt by persons who criticized them as serving as a poor influence on youth. “I grew up with comics”, Vince said “and I never wound up going to jail“,meaning that he thought they’re not as bad an influence as they're said to be. “It's the family upbringing” he slated, that determines how kids turn out, not the comics”.
Finally, Vince confessed, that although he didn't have a favorite comic book hero when he was a kid, “because they didn't have comic books then“, he did have a comics hero who lived his adventures in the pages of the daily newspaper: Flash Gordon. Of Alex Raymond, creator of Flash Gordon, Vince says. “He's the greatest comic strip artist there ever was or will be”. Running a close second behind Flash Gordon, Vince says he would vote for Hal Foster, creator of Prince Valiant.