John Robert Forte, Jr., was born October 6, 1918 in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York. The family name is pronounced "fort." His father, John Robert Forte, was born in 1893 in New York of Italian ancestry. His mother, Martha J. Forte, was born in 1896 in Connecticut of German ancestry. His parents married in 1917 and had two children, of which he was the first born. His younger brother Charles Forte was born in 1921. The family lived at 52 North 84th Street in Rockaway Beach. His father was a plumber with the Mooney & Krenscher Plumbing Company. The paternal grandparents, Vincent and Josephine Forte, operated a dry goods store and also lived with the family.
During the Great War his father served as a Private in the Infantry and was sent overseas. After his honorable discharge in June of 1919 the family moved to Clinton Street in Hempstead, NY, which is only five miles north east of Rockaway.
The children attended Hempstead public schools. According to the artist's younger brother, Charles Forte, "He always had a pencil in his hand and we knew he would become an artist."
By 1930 the family lived at 15 Lawrence Lane in Lawrence, which is another suburban town between Hempstead and Rockaway Beach, NY.
On June of 1936 John R. Forte, Jr., completed his Junior Year at Lawrence High school and then entered the work force.
He attended night school in Manhattan at The Career School of Art, located in the penthouse of the Flatiron Building, the landmark skyscraper on the triangular city block at 23rd Street, where Broadway and Fifth Avenue cross, facing Madison Square Park. One of his teachers was Samuel Kay Roller (1883-1979), an illustrator of children's books. A guest lecturer at the school that time was the artist Marshall Frantz (1890-1953). While studying at the school John Forte met another young artist, David A. Kyle (b.1919), who later recalled, "We were irrepressibly young, discovering new experiences, such as cigarette smoking and stark nude life classes. Like me, John Forte was an admirer of Alex Raymond's marvelous drawings for Flash Gordon."
In 1940 John Forte began to draw pen and ink story illustrations for the pulp magazine Comet and the following year his drawings appeared in Future Fiction.
He also drew features for comic books, such as War Heroes and War Stories.
On October 30, 1942 during WWII John Forte entered military service in the Army, as his father had served in WWI. John Forte, Jr., served for the duration in Europe. He was a Private First Class in the 359th Infantry, 90th Division.
On November 2, 1945 he was honorably discharged from Fort Dix, New Jersey, and returned to live with his parents in Queens.
On May 28, 1947 he was awarded the Conspicuous Service medal.
John Forte resumed his illustration career. He continued to illustrate stories as well as to paint covers for the pulp magazine Future Fiction, as well as its replacement, Future Science. His illustrations also appeared in Phantom Detective, Detective Novel Magazine, Thrilling Mystery Novels, Black Book Detective, and G-Men Detective Magazine.
In 1947 he moved in with his old art school friend, David A. Kyle, who lived in an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. John Forte joined the Iger Studio , where he contributed material to comic books published by Fiction House and Fox.
In 19?? David A. Kyle formed Gnome Press and hired John Forte to create the cover for Conan The Conqueror by Robert E. Howard.
On October 28, 1950 John Forte married Jessie Hutcheon Fraser. She was born on January 5, 1922 in New York, and had served as a nurse in the Navy during WWII. They had two children, Diane (b.1952) and Robert (b.1954). The family lived at 6 Roland Place, Valley Stream, which is yet another suburban community between Hempstead and Rockaway Beach. The artist's retired parents also lived with them.
In 1951 John Forte drew the newspaper comic strip, South Sea Girl, for Phoenix Features Syndicate.
John Forte continued to draw for comic books. His work was published by ACG, Avon, Better, Charlton, DC Comics, Orbit, Farrell, Marvel, and Trojan.
He also illustrated calendars, clothing catalogs and newspaper advertising.
John Forte died of cancer at the age of forty-seven in Valley Stream, NY, on May 20, 1966.
© David Saunders 2015