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John Russell Fulton was born on May 26, 1896 in Valley Center, Kansas. His father, Francis C. Fulton, was born in Mississippi in 1867. His mother, Pamelia "Millie" Stevens, was born in 1877 in Kansas. His parents married in 1895, and had three children, John (b.1896), Ellen (b.1898), and Lucy (b.1901). His father was a farmer.

In 1899 the family moved to Kremlin, Oklahoma, to work a farm near an Indian reservation.

In 1905 the younger sister, Ellen died at the age of seven. After this tragic loss, the family left Oklahoma and moved to Wichita, KS, where the father worked as a trolley motorman.

In 1911, at the age of fifteen, John Russell Fulton finished the eight grade and entered the work force. He worked for his uncle, Frank S. Fulton, who was the printer of The Wichita Beacon newspaper. As a gifted draftsman, the teenager was soon contributing topical cartoons to the newspaper.

By 1915 his drawings were being published in The Kansas City Star.

In June of 1916 he moved to Chicago to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. He supported himself by working as a staff artist at an advertising agency.

In 1917 he studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. That same year he opened an independent art studio at 606 St. Clair Street in Chicago.

On September 5, 1918, during the Great War, he was drafted at the age of twenty-two. He served as a corporal in the Medical Corps at Fort Sheridan in Illinois. He was honorably discharged on May 16, 1919. A few days later, on May 27, 1919 The Wichita Daily Eagle reported, "John Russell Fulton, formerly of Wichita, but now of Chicago, is in the city visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. F. C. Fulton of 431 Stevens. He will reopen his studio in Chicago soon, having been discharged from the Medical Corps at Camp Sheridan, where he was head of the art department and taught wounded soldiers commercial art, which is one of the occupations the government endorses. Two of his students have won scholarships to the Chicago Art Institute, which is recognized as one of the leading art schools in America."

While working in Chicago he met and fell in love with Wilhelmine Rosalie Shaffer. She was born in 1897 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and lived in Chicago with her parents, George and Gertrude Shaffer, and three sisters Suzanne (b.1895), Violet (b.1905), and Imogene (b.1910). Her father was the Linotype manager at a magazine publishing company, where she and her sister, Suzanne, worked as editorial assistant and assistant editor.

In August of 1919 John Russell Fulton left Chicago and moved to New York City, where he worked as an advertising artist at the L. C. Peodlor Studio.

On November 19, 1919 he married Wilhelmine Rosalie Shaffer at her Aunt's home in Narberth, Pennsylvania. They had two children, John Jr. (b.1924), and Shaffer (b.1926).

By 1922 he worked for the Palenski & Young Advertising Agency, where he illustrated ads for Karo Corn Syrup, Dodge Motors, and Florsheim Shoes.

Along with his staff job, he also worked free-lance to illustrate stories for Redbook, Collier's, Liberty, Harper's Bazaar, Pictorial Review, American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and The Saturday Evening Post.

He rented an art studio at 156 East 50th Street, and commuted to work from his family home at 100 Parkway Road in Bronxville, NY.

While in NYC he studied with Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central School of Art on the top floor of the famous terminal building at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. John Russell Fulton also exhibited his work at the 47th Street Gallery at 25 West 47th Street, between fifth and sixth Avenues. His work was also included in the prestigious annual shows at the National Academy of Art & Design on Fifth Avenue and 89th Street.

His major publisher was the McCall Publishing Company, which produced the woman's magazine, Redbook, and the men's adventure pulp magazine, Blue Book. Other artists who worked at Blue Book included Dean Cornwell, Herbert Morton Stoops, Raymond Sisley, Joseph Chenoweth, Frederic A. Anderson, Laurence Herndon, Margery Stocking, Manning de Villeneuve Lee, Monte Crews, Pete Kuhlhoff, Harve Stein, and Hamilton Greene.

John Russell Fulton also worked for the pulp magazine Argosy.

He also illustrated two books, "The Law on Horseback" by the silent film star, William S. Hart in 1935, and "Champion Caddy" by Marion Renick in 1942.

In 1942 King Features Syndicate published a series of newspaper comic strips that featured selections from the Book-of-the-Month Club, which included "Look To The Mountain" by LeGrand Cannon, Jr., and was drawn by John Russell Fulton.

During WWII the artist was too old to serve in the military, but both of his sons were drafted in the Army and sent to Europe. In October of 1944 his eldest son, John Russell Fulton, Jr., while serving as a combat bazooka-man in Belgium, was killed in action by a Nazi sniper in Belgium.

In the post-war period the magazine industry followed fashion tastes towards color photography and colorful graphic designs, so most illustrators who worked in a traditional style out were considered old-fashioned, and needed to find other sources of income.

In 1955 John Russell Fulton and his wife left NYC and moved to Hemet, California, to be near the family of his youngest son, Shaffer Fulton. While in California the artist painted scenes of the Old West, which were exhibited at the Cowle Galleries in Los Angeles.

According to the artist, "Although I stick very close to the traditional approach to painting in my own work, it is my good fortune to be able to get a thrill out of any work of art. I have seen inspiring beauty in just about every approach to art, non-objective, classic, traditional of primitive."

John Russell Fulton died in Anaheim, CA, on May 5, 1979, eleven days shy of his eighty-third birthday.

                              © David Saunders 2019

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