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Matt Fox was born on November 8, 1906 in New York City. His father, Morris Fox, was born in 1879 in Russia of Jewish ancestry, and came to America in 1894. His mother, Minnie Flesche, was born in 1881 in Russia of Jewish ancestry, and came to America in 1897. The parents married on October 28, 1905 in New York City, and lived in a crowded tenement at 307 East 100th Street, in the Jewish ghetto of East Harlem. The parents had two children, Matt Fox (b.1906) and Rose Fox (b.1909). The father was a tailor in the clothing industry.

When Matt Fox was born his birth record mistakenly identified him as "Mars Foxe." The oddity of the name "Mars" may be attributed to its phonetic equivalence to "Morris," which suggests he was originally named after his father, Morris Fox. As with any family in which the father and son share the same first name, a nickname is often used to distinguish them. Four years later, in the 1910 U.S. Census, the son was listed as "Martin Fox." The 1915 NY State Census listed him as "Marty Fox." The 1920 U.S. Census listed him as "Max Fox." The 1925 NY State Census listed him as "Matthew Fox." The 1930 U.S. Census called him "Mathew Fox." The 1940 Census listed him as "Mathew Max Fox." His military records called him as "Matthew Fox." So it seems most likely his full name at birth was actually "Morris Max Fox," and his family called him "Marty," and eventually settled on "Matthew."

By 1915 the family had moved to 500 East 119th Street, where the father worked as an ironer of shirts.

In 1918 the family moved to 344 East 118th Street, where the father's occupation was listed as an operator in the woman's dress industry.

The children attended public school in East Harlem. In June of 1920 "Marty Fox," age thirteen, completed the eighth grade, after which he left school and entered the workforce. He worked as a laborer at a piano factory.

By 1925 the family had moved to 339 East 118th Street, where the father's occupation was listed as traveling salesman, while the son was employed at a piano factory. In the evenings and weekends, Matthew Fox attended art classes at the neafby National Academy of Design, where he studied drawing, etching, woodblock printing, lithography, watercolor, and oil painting.

On September 23, 1925 the father, Morris Fox, died at the age of forty-eight. After his tragic death the eldest son, Matthew Fox, supported the family as an ironworker in the building industry, while his younger sister, Rose Fox, age sixteen, continued her schooling. She graduated from high school in June of 1927, and began to work as a saleslady at a department store.

On May 23, 1931 the artist's sister, Rose Fox, married Joseph Van Wees. He was born in 1903 in NYC of German Jewish ancestry, and worked as an engraver. The newlyweds moved to their own apartment at 311 Bolton Avenue in the Bronx.

After his sister's marriage, Matt Fox, age twenty-five, continued to live at home with his widowed mother, age fifty.

During the Great Depression hard times came to most Americans, including ironworkers in the building industry, so the dutiful son began to look for additional income from a second career as a commercial artist. He took his portfolio to advertising agencies and magazine publishers.

By 1935 the artist and his mother left Manhattan and moved to 1640 Washington Avenue in the Bronx, where they lived closer to his sister and brother-in-law, Rose and Joseph Van Wess.

The 1940 U.S.Census recorded Matt Fox, age thirty-three, lived with his widowed mother, Minnie Fox, age sixty-six, in the Bronx at 1640 Washington Avenue, where his occupation was listed as "artist."

His first published drawings appeared in 1940 in the pulp magazines Astonishing and Super Science Stories. Other artists in these issues included Hannes Bok, Gabriel Mayorga, and Theodore Eron (1916-2002) and Gerry Thorp (1914-1986). Pulp illustrations by Matt Fox eventually appeared in Future, Crack Detective and Famous Fantastic Mysteries. He signed his work "Matt. Fox," with a period after the first four letters of his name Matthew.

He also drew story illustrations for Weird Tales, where his fellow pen-and-ink artists introduced him to the fast-growing comic book industry, which hired free-lance artists at low wages.

In 1942 he worked for the pulp magazine Planet Stories, which was produced by Fiction House, and edited by Malcolm Reiss, whose personal address book listed Matt Fox at 278 East 152nd Street in the Bronx.

During WWII the artist registered with the selective service and was drafted into the Army. Although all servicemen in wartime were required to remain on active duty for the duration of the war, Matthew Fox only served for eleven months, from January 13, 1943 to December 13, 1943. This irregularity suggests he was discovered to be disqualified from military service for some physical disability that was discovered during his basic training, after which he was honorably discharged.

After his return to civilian life, the artist resumed his career as a commercial artist. In 1944 he began to sell sensationally strange paintings to the art director at Weird Tales, Charles Lamont Buchanan, Jr. (1919-2015), who worked under the editor, Dorothy McIlwraith (1891-1976). Matt Fox cover paintings continued to appear on Weird Tales for the next six years.

During the 1940s he also worked for Marvel Comics, such as Adventures Into Terror, Journey Into Mystery, Journey into Unknown Worlds, Mystic, World of Fantasy, and Suspense.

In 1951 Matthew Fox registered with the Social Security Administration, which identified him as a "New York resident."

In 1952 and 1953 he provided cover illustrations for Chilling Comics, which were produced by Youthful Magazines.

In 1958 his mother Minnie Fox, died at the age of sevnety-seven in the Bronx. After her death, the artist lived alone. He never married and he had no children.

In the 1960s he contributed drawings to Strange Tales, Journey Into Mystery, Tales of Suspense, and Tales to Astonish, all of which were produced by Marvel Comics.

In the spring of 1966 Matt Fox worked for Bhob Stewart (1937-2014), who was editing the monster movie magazine, Castle of Frankenstein. According to Stewart, "Fox came across as a straight-arrow, no nonsense sort of guy. I recall him looking very slim and fit. He was selling glow-in-the-dark posters, and he wanted to run an ad in the magazine. He unfurled his glowing poster, which depicted demons and banshees dancing in the pale moonlight. We took it into a dark corner of the room, and yes indeed, it did emit an eerie green glow. He had designed an ad for the posters with clever hand drawn effects. The style for his half-page ad fit in nicely with the type of art we ran in the magazine. I suggested he create one of our department headings and he said, 'Sure. I'll do those.' The Matt Fox ad ran on the bottom of the last interior page of issue #8 from October of 1966. His neatly rendered copy read, 'Weird and monster fans! Something new! Demons and Banshees! See astonishing monsters that will glow in the dark in weird green light! A lot of fun, shock and surprise!' That same issue also featured his heading for the Ghostal Mail department, which showed a variety of demons looking on as Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster peruse letters from readers. We later produced The 1967 Castle of Frankenstein Monster Annual Fear Book, which included the same Matt Fox ad as well as a new heading he illustrated for the fanzine review column. That second drawing was much larger, showing a demon chasing a terrified man across a cemetery where one of the tombstones says 'Rest In Peace Matt. Fox.' When he dropped off the second illustration, I casually asked, 'So how many orders did you get for the glow-in-the-dark posters?' he responded bitterly, 'None.' After that I never saw him again. He became the 'phantom' artist, whereabouts unknown!"

On August 8, 1968, three months before his sixty-second birthday, Matthew Fox applied for monthly social security payments, after which he retired from commercial art, left New York City, and moved to the Meadow Brook Apartments in Norfolk, Connecticut, where he lived for twenty years.

After a long illness, Matthew Fox died at the age of eighty-one at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in West Haven, Connecticut, on February 20, 1988.

The Connecticut Death Index identified his occupation as "Graphic Artist." His obituary in The Lakeville Journal of Norfolk, CT, identified his only surviving relative as his sister, "Rose Van Wees, of the Bronx."

                               © David Saunders 2018

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