Not long ago, archive assistant Amir Avni, John Kricfalusi and I took a trip out to visit Carlo Vinci’s family at the home of his wife, Margaret. Mrs. Vinci graciously welcomed us into her home for a tour of her collection of artwork belonging to her late husband. Carlo’s animation desk, which he designed and built himself, still stands in his office just as he left it, with caricatures by co-workers hanging above it on the wall. Every room in the house has beautiful artwork filling the space. It was an awe inspiring experience to get a chance to see it all.
John K, Steve Worth and Margaret Vinci
Carlo Vinci was a remarkable artist. He received classical art training at the National Academy of Design in 1930. He joined Paul Terry’s Terry-Toons soon after, and worked there for twenty years. He came West to join Joe Barbera at MGM, and ended up as the lead animator at H-B for twenty more years. But as I learned at my visit, those great achievements were only a small part of his story. In addition to cartooning, Vinci was an all-around fine artist, adept at oil painting, watercolor, illustration, stained glass and sculpture… in a variety of styles, from classical to baroque to art deco… with a wide range of subjects- still lifes, portraiture, landscapes and religious subjects. It was a mind blowing experience to discover the depth of talent behind a cartoonist we thought we already knew.
Carlo Vinci’s son, Paul and grandson, John
with John K in front of Vinci’s self-portrait
After we had viewed all the amazing artwork, Mrs. Vinci invited us to enjoy some home made Italian desserts with her family. Excited by everything we had seen, we had plenty of questions about Carlo and his wonderful career as an artist. We asked if she had met him before he started working for Terry-Toons or after, and she replied, "He was working for Mr. Terry when I met him. When we were courting, he lived in the Bronx, and I lived in Brooklyn. It was a long trip across town to meet for our date every Wednesday evening. Carlo would send me a little note with a cartoon every day in the mail when we couldn’t be together. I’ve saved them all these years, but I don’t suppose you would be interested in seeing them…"
Naturally, we were! Her son, Paul Vinci helped her to retrieve the hundreds of letters from a closet- all on Terry animation paper in envelopes with the distinctive Terry-Toons logo. Dating from 1938 to 1939, these charming little notes had a personal message, along with brilliant drawings depicting Terry characters. Paul commented that he himself hadn’t seen the letters since he was very small; and even then, his mother only shared one or two with him. They had been bundled away carefully for over fifty years. Mrs. Vinci has kindly allowed us to share these drawings with you…
All of us at Animation Resources appreciate the Vinci’s generosity. Since this article was originally posted, Mrs. Vinci has passed away. John, Amir and I will never forget her kindness and generosity.
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.