Monday, December 21, 2020

Comics: Sparky Watts by Tom DeAngelo and Others

Tom DeAngelo was born on December 27, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York. The New York, New York Birth Index, at Ancestry.com, recorded his name as Arcangelo De Angelo. In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, DeAngelo was the youngest of seven children born to Joseph, a building contractor, and Phillipa, both Italian emigrants. The family lived in Brooklyn at 288 20th Street. The 1925 New York state census recorded the family at 291 20th Street. According to the 1930 census the DeAngelos resided at 323 17th Street in Brooklyn.

The 1940 census said cartoonist DeAngelo’s highest level of education was two years of high school. In 1939 he earned $1,200. DeAngelo and his older brother Peter lived in Brooklyn at 332 Prospect Avenue. All of the censuses had DeAngelo’s first name as Angelo.

The New York Daily News, June 27, 1994, profiled DeAngelo and said he “started drawing in grade school;” “attended what is now John Jay High School” and “worked for McNaught Syndicate and DC Comics …”
If you’ve ever wondered why Superman has a cape of red and eyes of sparkling blue, talk with Tom DeAngelo of Windsor Terrace. DeAngelo is the cartoonist who gave Superman his true colors back in 1937, when he failed to fly as a black-and-white, daily comic strip character.

DeAngelo, who was employed by DC Comics, said giving Superman his soaring colors was “nothing sensational. The colors had to be pleasant Nobody was ever dissatisfied with them. After the first edition, every other one just followed the same pattern,” he said.
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said DeAngelo did work for Magazine Enterprises and United Features Syndicate.

DeAngelo signed his World War II draft card on October 16, 1940. The name on the card was “A. Thomas Tom DeAngelo” and his address was 143 Sealy Street in Brooklyn. He was employed at Columbia Comic Corporation in Manhattan. DeAngelo’s description was five feet eight-and-a-half inches and 130 pounds. He had gray eyes and brown hair. The top of the card said he was discharged June 2, 1943.


After his military service, DeAngelo resumed his job at Columbia Comic. He produced several Sparky Watts stories because its creator, Boody Rogers, was serving during the war.

Frank Jay Markey was the president of Columbia Comic Corporation and Vincent Sullivan was its editor. According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Sparky Watts was a comic strip distributed by the Frank Jay Markey Syndicate beginning on April 29, 1940. Rogers’ work on Sparky Watts was interrupted when he enlisted in the army on June 30, 1942. 

Sparky Watts was licensed to the Eastern Color Printing Company. The fourth issue of Sparky Watts, 1944, featured five Sparky Watts stories of which three were numbered. The story by DeAngelo was number eight. Two unsigned stories were numbers seven and nine. There were two unnumbered stories by Rogers here and here.

Sparky Watts also appeared in Big Shot Comics. Issue forty-two was the last one by Rogers to appear after his enlistment. The next four issues featured Sparky Watts by different artists: #43, February 1944; #44, March 1944; #45, April 1944; and #46, June 1944.

DeAngelo’s first Sparky Watts story in Big Shot was issue forty-seven, July 1944. DeAngelo usually signed his name or initials on the last page of the story.

Here is a list of Sparky Watts stories by DeAngelo and possibly others.

Big Shot #48, August 1944; signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #49, September 1944: Sparky Watts #14 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #50, October 1944: Sparky Watts #15 signed Tom De Angelo
Indicia credit: Thos. De Angelo, Managing Editor. He was managing editor to the last issue, number 104.

Big Shot #51, November 1944: Sparky Watts #16 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #52, January 1945: Sparky Watts #17 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #53, February 1945: Sparky Watts #18 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #54, March 1945: Sparky Watts #19 signed T. DeA.

Big Shot #55, April 1945: Sparky Watts #20 signed T.D.A.

Big Shot #56, May 1945: Sparky Watts #21 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #57, July 1945: Sparky Watts #22 unsigned

Big Shot #58, August 1945: Sparky Watts #23 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #59, September 1945: Sparky Watts #24 unsigned

Big Shot #60, October 1945: Sparky Watts #25 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #61, November 1945: Sparky Watts #26 unsigned

Big Shot #62, January 1946: Sparky Watts #27 unsigned

Big Shot #63, February 1946: Sparky Watts #28 unsigned

Big Shot #64, March 1946: Sparky Watts #29 signed T. De Angelo

Big Shot #65, April 1946: Sparky Watts #30 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #66, May 1946: Sparky Watts #31 "by Tom De Angelo pinch hitting for Boody Rogers"

Big Shot #67, July 1946: Sparky Watts #32 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #68, August 1946: Sparky Watts #33 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #69, September 1946: Sparky Watts #34 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #70, October 1946: Sparky Watts #35 unsigned

Big Shot #71, November 1946: Sparky Watts #36 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #72, December 1946: Sparky Watts #37 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #73, January 1947: Sparky Watts #38 unsigned

Big Shot #74, February 1947: Sparky Watts #39 unsigned

Big Shot #75, March 1947: Sparky Watts #40 signed Tom De Angelo

Big Shot #76, April 1947: Sparky Watts #41 signed Tom De Angelo

The next issue resumed with Sparky Watts stories by Rogers.

N.W. Ayer & Sons Directory, Newspapers and Periodicals 1946 had a listing for Big Shot Comics and DeAngelo. A similar listing appeared in the 1949 edition.

DeAngelo was listed as Chief Editorial Executive or an editor at the Frank Jay Markey Syndicate in several issues of Editor & Publisher: October 6, 1945; September 6, 1947; August 28, 1948; August 6, 1949; August 1, 1970.

DeAngelo created Basil the Royal Cat which was published by St. John Publishing in four self-titled issues dated January 1952; March 1952; May 1953; and September 1953. He filed for a trademark which was published in the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, April 28, 1953.



The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series, Volume 7, Part 2, Number 1, Periodicals, January–June 1953 included Basil.
Basil. © Dean Publications.
V. 1, 1953, no.
1, Jan. © Nov. 4, 1952; B398333
2, Mar. © Jan. 6, 1953; B398223
3, May (title on apple.: Basil the royal cat) © Mar. 6; B408268
For the Frank Jay Markey Syndicate, DeAngelo created the strip, “Verse of the People”, which was listed in Editor & Publisher, July 28, 1956 and July 27, 1957.

According to Writer’s Market ’69, DeAngelo continued as editor at Frank Jay Markey Syndicate. It’s not clear when the syndicate closed its doors.
 
The Daily News said DeAngelo was hired by CBS “where he was manager of the drafting department”. He retired from CBS around 1987.

The New York, New York Marriage License Index, at Ancestry.com, said DeAngelo and Katherine [sic] F. Connelly obtained their Brooklyn license on April 21, 1941.

The Daily News, January 3, 1976, published DeAngelo’s wife’s obituary.
DeAngelo Kathryn (Kitty) (nee Connelly). On Jan. 1, 1976. Beloved wife of Thomas. Loving mother of Phylis Fusco, Patricia Cox, Thomas, Rosemary, Grace and Dorothy. Beloved daughter of Catherine. Devoted sister of Dorothy Muller and James Connelly. Fond grandmother of Kevin Cox. Mass of the Resurrection, Mon., 9:30 A.M., St. Thomas Aquinas R.C. Church. Reposing at the Chapel of Joseph G. Duffy, 9th St. betw. 4 and 5 Aves., Bklyn.
DeAngelo passed away on June 23, 2004, in Brooklyn, New York. He was laid to rest at Green-Wood Cemetery, Lot 43033, Section R, Grave 1. When DeAngelo filed his Social Security application in December 1936, his name was Angelo Thomas DeAngelo. After his death the name was Thomas A. DeAngelo.

 
Further Reading
Don Markstein’s Toonopedia: Sparky Watts
Stripper’s Guide: Boody Rogers
 
 
(Next post on Monday: Fine Print)

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