Vincent Fago

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Vincent Fago
Born Vincenzo Francisco Gennaro Di Fago
(1914-11-28)November 28, 1914
Yonkers, New York, U.S.
Died June 13, 2002(2002-06-13) (aged 87)
Bethel, Vermont, U.S.
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Artist, Editor
Notable works
Timely Comics funny animal line

Vincenzo Francisco Gennaro Di Fago (November 28, 1914 – June 13, 2002),[1] known in the comics community as Vince Fago, was an American comic-book artist and writer who served as interim editor of Timely Comics, the Golden Age predecessor of Marvel Comics, while editor Stan Lee did his World War II service.

Fago headed the Timely animator bullpen, which was largely separate from the superhero group that produced comics featuring the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner and Captain America. This group, which featured such movie tie-in and original funny-animal comics as Terrytoons Comics, Mighty Mouse and Animated Funny Comic-Tunes, included Ernie Hart, David Gantz, Chad Grothkopf, George Klein, Pauline Loth, Jim Mooney, Kin Platt, Mike Sekowsky, Moss Worthman (aka Moe Worth) and future Mad cartoonists Dave Berg and Al Jaffee.

Later in his career, Fago oversaw Pendulum Press' Now Age Books line of comic book adaptations of literary classics, where he employed a slate of artists from the Philippines.

Biography[edit]

Early career[edit]

Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal in Animated Funny Comic-Tunes (formerly Funny Tunes), one of Fago's Timely Comics titles

Fago was born in 1914 in Yonkers, New York, the youngest child in a large Italian immigrant family. He sold his first cartoon to the New York Sun at fourteen for $2, a princely sum for a kid in 1928. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he began a lifelong friendship with Kin Platt. When Fago was eighteen he was recruited to work at the Jam Handy Studio in Detroit, training as an animator's assistant. From there, in about 1936 he headed to Florida to work as an amimator at Fleischer Brothers Studios, at that time the largest animation studio in the country with hundreds of artists. Fago worked on Popeye, Betty Boop, and many theatrical shorts, and on features including Gulliver's Travels (1939) and Mr. Bug Goes to Town (1941). Although Walt Disney was luring animators to Disney Studio in California, Fago knew that his involvement with the union would likely mean trouble if he stayed in animation.[citation needed]

Returning to New York City and cartooning in 1942 after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, he wrote and drew for Timely Comics, bringing an animator's dynamic sense of movement that quickly made him the head of the "animators bullpen" at Timely for such features as "Dinky" and "Frenchy Rabbit" in Terrytoons Comics; "Floop and Skilly Boo" in Comedy Comics; "Posty the Pelican Postman" in Krazy Komics and other titles; "Krazy Krow" in that character's eponymous comic; and, following other writers/artists, the features "Tubby an' Tack" and "Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal". Fago's love was drawing funny animals. During this time he became close friends with Stan Lee, who was the nephew of Timely's owner, Martin Goodman. Fago said his friendship with Lee was based on long walks taken together around the city.[citation needed] During Lee's U.S. Army service from 1942 to 1945, Fago, by now head of the animator bullpen, assumed the interim title of Timely's Editorial and Art Director, beginning on comics cover-dated March 1943. Sometime after Lee's return, Fago left to work in independent comic-book production and as a children's-book illustrator for Golden Press.

In 1948, he took over the syndicated Sunday comic strip Peter Rabbit (based not on the Beatrix Potter books but on a character from the Thornton Burgess series that began with The Adventures of Peter Cottontail).

Later career[edit]

For the entire decade of the 1970s, Fago worked under a ten-year contract for West Haven, Connecticut-based Pendulum Press. Based in his Bethel studio, Fago adapted, edited, and handled production[2] for Pendulum's extensive line of Now Age Books comic book adaptation of literary classics. Specifically designed for classroom use, the Pendulum classics used typeset instead of hand lettering, vocabulary appropriate for grade levels, and included word lists and questions at the back.[3] After having difficulty finding American artists to illustrate the comics,[4] Fago turned to Filipino artist Nestor Redondo, who offered to help Fago recruit some of his fellow Filipino comics artists.[4] In 1970, Fago and his wife traveled to the Philippines and, with Redondo as their guide, found many artists who would illustrate most of the hundred or more titles Pendulum eventually produced.[4]

During this period, Fago also collaborated with Vermont-based musician Julie Albright on The Rabbit Man Music Books, a series designed to teach children music theory.

Other books include Zhin or Zhen (Charles Tuttle Publishing, 1972).

Personal life and family[edit]

For most of his adult life Fago and his wife, the former D'Ann Calhoun, whom he married in 1941, lived in a rural section of Rockland County, New York.[5] They moved to Bethel, Vermont, in 1968, following D'ann's appointment as director of Vermont’s Arts and Crafts Service (a division of the Vermont Department of Education).[5] They had two children, son John and daughter, Celie.[5] Vincent also had one other son, Joshua Burbank, by another love interest in the early 70s. Fago spent his final years in Bethel[6] with his wife before dying of stomach cancer at age 87.

Vince's older brother, Al Fago, was also a funny-animal cartoonist, most notably the creator of the Charlton Comics title Atomic Mouse. Al was a freelance editor and comics packager, and in the mid-1940s he acquired material for the fledgling company to publish. Al spent most of his career with Charlton, also editing a number of the company's titles in the 1950s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vincent Fago (Vincenzo Francisco Gennaro Di Fago) at the Lambiek Comiclopedia. Archived October 18, 2011
  2. ^ Kleefeld, Sean. "Vince Fago Post Script," Kleefeld on Comics (May 16, 2008).
  3. ^ Inge, M. Thomas. "Comics," The Mark Twain Encyclopedia. Ed. J. R. LeMaster and James D. Wilson. (New York: Garland, 1993), pp. 168-71.
  4. ^ a b c Fago, Vincent. "Nestor Redondo and the Pendulum Classics," in Arthur Conan Doyle: Rosebud Graphic Classics (Eureka Productions, 2002), pp. 4-6.
  5. ^ a b c "D’Ann Calhoun Fago: 70 Yrs. of Art". The Herald of Randolph. Sep 30, 2010. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. 
  6. ^ Arndt, Richard J. "A 2005 Interview with Steve Bissette about Bizarre Adventures!" Enjolrasworld.com: Marvel’s Black & White Horror Magazines Checklist. Accessed May 8, 2013.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Stan Lee
Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief
1942–1945
Succeeded by
Stan Lee