The following is a 1985 Obituary written by Michele Hart-Rico:
DON RICO, writer and artist, died March 27 at age 72 at his home in Hollywood following a 4-month bout with cancer.
He began as a wood-engraver and his fine art works now hang in many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Library of Congress. He turned to comic illustration and writing, working on many "Golden Age" books including Captain America, Submariner and Daredevil.
In the 40's, Rico sang in nightclubs in Manhattan and for a time had his own singing radio program in upstate New York.
He wrote the features "Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary" and "2000 Years Later", and wrote for the "Adam-12" television series. He was the author of over 60 published novels.
Rico is survived by his wife, actress Michele Hart, his son Donato Rico III and his daughter, Dianne.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the City of Hope. There will be no funeral, but a memorial service is planned for Monday evening at home.
*This ran in major newspapers from coast to coast including the Los Angeles and New York Times, the Miami Herald, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety, as well as many comics-related publications.
The following is an autobiographical piece by DON RICO:
Don Rico was born Donato Francisco Rico II [after his grandfather, Donato] September 26, 1912 in Rochester, New York, the eldest of nine children. His father Alessandro was a shoe designer from Celano, Abruzzi, Italy. His mother Josephine was from the Basilicata area of Italy. He received a scholarship at the age of 12 to study drawing at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. A year later his family moved to The Bronx, New York City.
At 16, he began to make wood engravings under the tutelage of H.J. Glintenkamp. During the Depression, he worked with the Federal Arts Project creating a number of prints under the supervision of Lynd Ward. Many of his prints from that period are now in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Museums of Art of the Universities of Michigan and Oregon and others, as well as in many private collections. He has had three one-man shows in New York City and has been included in important fine print exhibitions in America and Europe. In early 1983, two of his prints were included in the Metropolitan Museum exhibition "Working America: Industrial Imagery in American Prints, 1900 - 1949."
A double-page spread of his "Nevada Suite" was published in Westways the magazine of the Automobile Club of America in 1962. He has been in many periodicals and books, including a six-page portfolio and biography in "Digest & Review" in 1938. His print of a lynching, "Pieta", was published in "The LIFE History of the United States, Vol. II, 1935-1945, The New Deal and the War."
He spent the 40's and 50's illustrating and writing for comic books, becoming one of the best-known "Golden Age" artist-writers, working on "Captain America", "The Human Torch", "Submariner", "Young Allies", "The Sorceress of Zoom" and countless others, eventually becoming Editor at Marvel Comics in charge of the publication of 60 comic books per month.
After the bottom dropped out of the comic business in the 50's , Don Rico moved to Los Angeles, where he lived and worked since 1958, writing over 60 published paperback novels, as well as screenplays and television. He continued his wood engravings, among them a broadside for John Updike's poem "Small City People", published in a limited edition in 1982. He has created motion picture and television production illustrations and teaches drawing at Cal State Northridge. He has also taught "The Theory, History and Technique of Comic Books" at UCLA. He spent two years at Hanna Barbera Productions, working on storyboards for various shows. At present [written in 1984] he is illustrating a special edition of "The Song of Songs" with over 50 wood engravings.
He is represented in New York City by the Mary Ryan Gallery and in Los Angeles by the Tobey Moss Gallery.
The following is excerpted from a Fine Art Biography written by Don Rico:
The art of the artist-engraver is almost a lost one. It is a long and difficult craft to learn and perfect, but it has a quality, distinction, and integrity that is unique. Don Rico is one of a handful of artists keeping the craft alive.
He became deeply involved in wood engraving at the age of fifteen, and devoted his life to the craft. In the ensuing ten years, he produced 400 blocks. He was inspired by the works of Lynd Ward, Rockwell Kent, and J.J. Lankes.
He has been represented in most of the important print shows in America and Europe. At 21 he was listed in "Who's Who in American Art" and is to be included in an upcoming "Who's Who in the West".
The following is excerpted from the New York Times
Published: April 20, 1985
Donato (Don) Rico, a comic book artist who became a cult figure to fans of adventure comics, has died of cancer, his family said. He was 72 years old.
Mr. Rico, who died March 27, began his career in 1939. He wrote and illustrated such comics as The Claw, Captain America, Captain Marvel, The Human Torch and Daredevil.
In 1976, several years after he had given up comic-book illustrating, Mr. Rico said he was amazed to find youngsters - part of a resurgence of interest in adventure comics - who considered him a ''living legend.''
Mr. Rico, a co-founder and first president of the Comic Arts Professional Society, also wrote about 60 mystery and Western novels and produced wood engravings.
He is survived by his wife, Michele Hart-Rico, a son and a daughter.
In the late 1970s, Don Rico has done storyboard illustration for Hanna Barbera Productions and worked as storyboard supervisor for Animation Filmmakers Corporation.
He was also one of the pioneers of comic books, writing and drawing such features as "Captain America", "The Human Torch", "Young Allies", "Daredevil and the Claw", "The Sorceress of Zoom", and many others. He was editor, handling both story and art for Marvel Publications and Gleason Comics. He was a founder and first president of CAPS, the Comic Arts Professional Society in Los Angeles. He has written novels screenplays and television.
At the time of his death in March 1985, he was preparing a book "The Wood Engravings of Don Rico" and a special edition of "The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's" to be illustrated with wood engravings.
Don Rico began drawing and writing comics in 1938 for Victor Fox where he worked on Blast Bennett, The Sorceress of Zoom, Flip Falcon and others. The editors were Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
In 1939 he worked for Lev Gleason as editor, writer and artist on The Claw, Daredevil, Silver Streak and The Secret Six.
For Blue Bolt [Curtis Publishing Company], he created wrote and drew Mickey Starlight, The Chameleon, Sgt. Spook and Gary Stark.
For Otto Binder, he worked on Captain Marvel and other features.
For Federated Press Syndicate, he created, wrote and drew Johnny Jones, Merchant Seaman and Tex Travis.
He adapted "Moonstone" for Classic Comics.
1946 Humdinger Comics Vol. 1, NO. 1 "Mickey Starlight featuring Apollo and Clytie"
At Martin Goodman's Timely Comics, which is now Marvel, he wrote and drew Captain America, Young Allies, The Human Torch, The Golden Archer [created], Capt. Battle, Jr., Lorna of the Jungle, 2-Gun Kid, Kid Colt, as well as many single features in the genres of suspense, gothic, and Western. As editor for Marvel, he was responsible for editing, buying and supervising forty comic magazines per month.
1953 "Conflict" magazine, Issue No. 1 has interior art by Don Rico
Other characters created by Don Rico include: The Thunderer, Kid Terrific, The Fang, Nightshade, Earthshaker, Dynoman, plus writing, drawing and/or creating: Venus, G-2, Outlaw Kid, The Bingham Boys, Bonzo, The Secret Stamp, Bible Tales, Black X, Bantu.
He created story and art for Ernest Tidyman's "Shaft" character preparatory to a daily and Sunday syndicated strip.
At UCLA Extension in the mid-'70s, Don Rico taught "The Comic Book: An American Phenomenon, Its History, Character & Technique" and "Ka-Pow! A Nostalgic History of the Comics". He also taught art at the Hollywood Art Center and "Cartoon and Comic Drawing" at Cal State Northridge [CSUN] in 1983. Together with Sergio Aragonès and Mark Evanier, he co-founded CAPS - Comic Arts Professional Society and served as its first president.
During the "Golden Age" of comics, Don Rico originated many of the styles and techniques now commonly used. At the time of his death, he was working on two graphic books: "The Cloven Hoof" [novel] and "The Killing of Ruben Salazar" [nonfiction].
See also: Steranko's "History of the Comics", Vols. I, II and III
"Who's Who of American Comic Books", Jerry Bails and Hames Ware, Vol. III
Los Angeles Times, 28 May 1976 major feature story and pictures on front page of the View section, picked up in syndication by other papers.
Coast Magazine, January 1976, "Inking the Future: Comics to Come" by Herbert T. Schmidt Jr. and Michael C. Ford
"The Once and Future Don Rico" , an interview with Ronald Levitt Lanyi, Department of English, UC Davis
When asked to refer Don as a teacher at UCLA, Stan Lee, publisher of Marvel Comics and CEO of Marvel Productions [Spider Man, etc.] said:
"Don Rico has been in the comic book field for years, as an artist, writer, and editor.. He has served as my assistant editor, and as a staff and free-lance artist. Certainly his knowledge of the field is as great as you could wish.
Don is both intelligent and articulate, as well as immensely talented. I'm certain that he has the best qualifications to teach an entertaining and beneficial course. He also possesses great enthusiasm and a remarkable flair for showmanship. Young people have always empathized with him.
I have known Don under the most critical circumstances, as his boss. He was highly competent, creative and reliable. We worked together for more than 10 years and I can recommend Don Rico most highly and with absolutely no reservations."
Larry Shaw, Senior Editor, American Art Enterprises, said:
"When I first entered the comic book field as an assistant editor for Atlas Comics in 1952, Don Rico was considered one of the best writers, illustrators, and editors available, and was known and respected as a veteran in all these areas. When I met him, I found that his knowledge of all facets of the field was prodigious, and I know that it has increased continuously since that time. Don is "a natural". His ability to impart information is matched by his obvious enthusiasm for his subject, and he is able to hold and fascinate an audience better than most. As a comic book reader, I was familiar with Don's work for many years before I met him, and after 1952 I was privileged to observe it more closely. Don helped me learn my trade as an editor, and taught me many things that helped me become a writer for comic books and daily newspaper strips."
Don Rico was an American comic book writer and artist of Italian origins. He worked mainly for Marvel's predecessors Timely and Atlas, but has also contributed to Fox, Fawcett, MLJ, Fiction House and Lev Gleason. He was also a paperback novelist. During the 1930s, he made wood engravings for the W.P.A. Federal Art Project. He began his comics career in 1940, starting with some work for Fox Publications and illustrating early 'Daredevil' stories for Lev Gleason's Silver Streak Comics. He joined Timely in 1943, and worked as an artist on characters like 'Captain America', 'The Whizzer', 'The Destroyer', 'The Blonde Phantom', 'The Terror', 'Venus' and 'The Young Allies'. In the 1950s, he was one fo the six main writer for Stan Lee's Atlas line. Among the titles he wrote for were Adventures into Terror, Astonishing, Jane of the Jungle, Jungle Action (co-creating 'Leopard Girl' with artist Al Hartley), Jungle Tales, Lorna, the Jungle Girl, Marvel Tales, Suspense and Strange Tales. In the 1960s, he did two more scripts for Marvel, which he signed N. Korok. Rico was mainly active as a paperback novelist at the time. Rico's other pseudonyms include Dan Rico, Donella St. Michaels, Donna Richards, and Joseph Milton.
Last updated on 11/12/2007