Lawyer, Author, Comic Book Script Writer
Born May 20, 1911, Brooklyn, New York
Died December 24, 1986, Jamesburg, New Jersey
I have written about comic books and science fiction over the last few entries. Despite the fact that the two subjects are closely allied, few artists and writers have bridged the gap between them. In fact, if what my friend says is true, there are a lot of science fiction people who look down their noses at comics. I'm not sure how you can be interested in one without being interested in the other. Besides, how can science fiction fans, who have suffered from ridicule, derision, hostility, and just plain indifference from a wider world, begin to treat another likeminded group of fans the same way? Anyway, I would like to write about Gardner F. Fox, a rare author who was successful in both comic books and pulp fiction.
Any account of the career of Gardner F. Fox reads like a book of wonders. In a career spanning half a century, Fox wrote at least 160 books and 4,000 or more comic book stories, as well as short stories for Weird Tales, Planet Stories, Amazing Stories, sports pulps, Western pulps, and hybrid Western-romance pulps. According to one source, Fox wrote at least one novel per year between 1944 and 1982 (except for three years). He typically wrote three novels per year and in 1974 published an astonishing twelve novels. Fox created, co-created, or helped develop or revive The Flash, Hawkman, Sandman, The Atom, Adam Strange, the Justice Society of America, and Batman's utility belt, Batarang, and Batgyro. (One of my favorite Fox characters is Cave Girl.) During the 1960s boom in heroic fantasy, Gardner Fox penned several novels each of the characters Kothar and Kyrik. He also wrote stories of "the Lady from L.U.S.T." In fact, there seems to be little that Gardner F. Fox did not do as a writer. (1)
Gardner Francis Fox was born on May 20, 1911, in Brooklyn, New York. On his eleventh birthday, Fox received two of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars books. Like so many writers of his generation, reading those books changed his life. He became an avid reader and devoted fan of fantasy. More practically, he studied law at St. John's University and was admitted to the bar in his native New York in 1935. Although the worst part of the Great Depression had passed, a double dip was on the horizon. Luckily for Fox, comic books were entering their golden age and they needed writers. Fox began writing for DC comics in 1937. Over the next four decades, his stories appeared not only in DC (his main employer), but also in Marvel Comics, Warren Publications, and Eclipse Comics, the last in 1985. Fox held vast knowledge of the most arcane subjects. His reference library of books and files has become legendary.
Gardner F. Fox died on Christmas Eve in 1986 in Jamesburg, New Jersey, at the age of seventy-five. I'm happy to report, though, that people still read his works and probably will for as long as there are fans of science fiction and comic books.
For Weird Tales
"The Weirds of the Woodcarver" (Sept. 1944)
"Rain, Rain, Go Away!" (May 1946)
"The Rainbow Jade" (Sept. 1949)
(1) My sources are the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the Speculative Fiction Database, and Wikipedia.
Text and captions copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley