Gus Ricca pencils, inks and signed; 1944; matted 15.5" x 20.5"; Part of the Harry Chesler Collection
Jon Berk CollectionAccording to comics.org - The man playing chess bears a distinct resemblance to many contemporary descriptions of Harry "A" Chesler.
Smaller publishers had to stand out somehow in the hard-fought newsstand wars of the 1940s, and hiring the very best artists and unleashing their creative genius seemed like as good an idea as any. While Charles Sultan's sleek, lovely line-work provided a sturdy, attractive sheen (see Dynamic #2), it was the lunacy of the Dynamic and Punch crime/noir covers that eventually pushed copies and attracted readers. The combination of lush pen-work and garish subject matter made these instant classics, and the work of the sadly unsung Gus Ricca hearkens back to the glory days of 1930's crime dramas and horror flicks, with smoky, surreal imagery and a strong sense of menace. Most impressive is the original cover art to Punch #11, which, even without its striking color work, is an arresting noir image, one that would not look at all out of place on the movie posters of the glorious pre-code era. Chesler covers are cult classics and high-demand collector's items, and these remarkable original works, which have miraculously survived, are among the most memorable of the great Golden Age of comic covers.
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Gasparo "Gus" Ricca went to work for the Harry "A" Chesler shop about 1940. Gus Ricca did interior art for comics published by Timely ('Dale of the FBI', 'Dynamic Man'), St. John (horror and crime features), ACG (various features), Street & Smith ('The Whisperer') and Fawcett ('Diamond Jack', 'Ibis', 'Jim Dolan'). From 1944 to 1946, he served as an art director for Chesler's new Dynamic Comics line. Ricca created a series of strange and often morbid covers for titles such as 'Scoop', 'Punch', and 'Dynamic'. Gus Ricca's comics work was last seen in the early 1950s.