Monday, May 1, 2023

Comics: Angelo Grasso, Letterer and Art Editor

Angelo John Grasso Jr. was born on July 27, 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to his World War II draft card. He was the first of three children born to Angelo John Grasso Sr. and Erminia Radona, Italian emigrants, who married in Philadelphia in 1921.

The 1930 U.S. Federal Census said the Grasso family of five were Philadelphia residents at 2205 21st Street. Grasso’s father was a tailor. Also in the household were Grasso’s uncle, Peter Radano, his wife, Evelyn, and daughter, Jean. 

Grasso was a high school sophomore in the 1940 census. The Grasso’s lived in Philadelphia at 2612 Chadwick Street. Grasso’s father was the foreman at a clothing factory. Grasso’s siblings were Carmela and Joseph. 

On June 30, 1942, Grasso signed his World War draft card. His address was 3030 Avenue R in Brooklyn, New York. Some time later the address was updated to 2046 Haring Street (about 2 miles from Frank Frazetta who lived at 2435 East 11th Street). He named his mother as next of kin. Eighteen-year-old Grasso worked at Fawcett Publications. (He is not listed in Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999.) His description was five feet seven inches, 140 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. At the end of the war, Grasso’s Army rank was Tec 5

Grasso was mentioned twice in The Steranko History of Comics 2 (1972).

… At the same time, Jack Binder had split from Chester, organized another shop, and began doing a considerable amount of Fawcett strips. Fawcett still maintained its own staff for several years, which included letterers like Al Jetter, his wife Charlotte, Martin DeMuth, Angelo Grasso, Ben Oda, and Leonard Leone (who began correcting lettering at Fawcett and eventually became vice president and art director at Bantam Books). …
… “I joined the staff of Fawcett Publications with an eye toward a career in illustration and writing. France E. (Eddie) Herron was comics editor at the time. Al Allard was Art Director and the art staff numbered about 25 or 30, many of whom were layout artists for magazines other than comics. Clarence Beck and Pete Costanza were there at the time. Pete had been producing Golden Arrow and Prince Ibis. Beck, Pete and I got out Captain Marvel until Chic Stone and Ray Harford came along and joined us. Angelo Grasso was our letterer. Mac Raboy was just starting Captain Marvel Jr. as a staff project. …
Artist Marc Swayze mentioned Grasso in Alter Ego #96, August 2010. 
... And trust me they did. An editorial assistant approached my desk a while later with a Captain Marvel script. “Mr. Herron said hand you this and get out of your way!”

I liked that. It meant freedom to proceed from script to finished art, which was the way I worked from then on. Angelo Grasso came on as a letterer, and Chic Stone and others were added to assist with secondary characters and backgrounds, but the responsibility for each story assigned to me was mine. On that basis I believe I produced during that period more Captain Marvel material than anyone, considering that C.C. Beck was heavily involved with supervising the work of others being brought in for his assembly line staff.
The Indiana Marriage database at said Grasso and Ann Durst married on July 25, 1946. He was a Brooklyn resident. The bride’s parents were Frank Armstrong Durst and Louise Adams who were included in The Rules and the Exceptions, a genealogy book compiled by Patricia King Rule Stebbins and published in 1996. Here are excerpts from the Armstrong Family section.
4. Josephine Armstrong, b. KY, 6 Mar. 1856; d. Lexington, KY 12 Mar. 1920, ae 64; m. KY 17 Oct. 1889 to Frank S. Durst, b.; He disappeared, no information. They had: 

a. Frank A. Durst, b. 10 Mar. 1890; d. 24 Jun. 1961; m. to Louise Adams, b. 29 Apr. 1890; d. 21 Oct. 1957. Daughter of Abner and Almira [---] Adams. They had: …

2. Mayme [Ann] Price Durst, b. 9 Oct. 1927; m. 25 Jul. 1946 to Angelo [John] Grasso, Jr. They had: 

a. Mark Angelo Grasso, b. … 1951 
b. Paul James Grasso, b. … 1957 …
Grasso has not yet been found in the 1950 census. 

At some point Grasso was employed as an art editor at Dell

Grasso passed away on April 13, 2013. He was laid to rest at Calverton National Cemetery.

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(Next post on Monday: Frank Bartuska, Lettering Artist)

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