Matt Fox’s Inky Depths


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Matt Fox’s work (of which you can see more in Art in Time) has many virtues, not least among them his inking. Here’s a very nice scan (snagged from Heritage) of a page from Journey Into Mystery 101 (1964). This is Fox inking over Larry Leiber. Nothing against Leiber, but his work was never terribly distinctive. Fox takes a pretty generic set of panels and amps them up to operative heights. Look at that final panel — it’s grotesque and visceral. Something I’m struck by in his comics work is that he seemed to be drawing without thinking about reproduction; there’s a tremendous amount of detail here — textures, shadows, volumes — that would simply disappear in the printed piece. And while someone like Basil Wolverton compensated for his inkiness with broad comedic compositions, Fox just crams in the detail — each panel it’s own complete picture. This makes sense, as Fox came from the pulps, but it certainly is an awkward meeting of sensibilities. Fox was of the same generation as Virgil Finlay, and was coming at comics with a distinctly “old world” sensibility. I wish I knew more about him. I’ve heard his family is somewhere in the tri-state area, but I’ve never been able to locate them. If you’re out there, do drop me a line! And for you, dear readers, here’s some more Matt Fox. Bhob Stewart has the only recollection of the man himself that I’ve ever read, and there is tons of great art here.

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6 Responses to “Matt Fox’s Inky Depths”
  1. EH says:

    Holy fucking shit those panels are intense.

  2. EH says:

    Also, having just looked at the links, I really don’t like his work in color as much. Was that page above printed in color?

    In glorious B&W it brings to mind Jim Woodring.

  3. patrick ford says:

    What is very strange is Larry Lieber said this about Matt Fox.
    “I hated that stuff! Oh, God, and years later, I learned that Matt Fox is considered one of the greats by some people, and his artwork brings a buck or two. I hated his stuff because I struggled with drawing, and I was trying to make the drawings look as real as humanly possible, and I had a tough time. I remember I once had Don Heck inking me on a five-page western, and I remember saying, “My God, he’s good at making my stuff look better than it is,” and he was. Matt Fox – if my stuff was a little stiff, he made it even stiffer; he made it look like wood cuttings!”
    In a sense I agree with Lieber, in that it was a shame Matt Fox was inking Larry Lieber.
    Of course Stan Lee was Larry’s older brother and had Larry (who had no writing experience) filling in captions, and word balloons for Jack Kirby, a man who was easily one of the best writers in the history of mainstream comic books.
    Here is a link to all the Weird Tales cover paintings by Matt Fox, and several stories penciled and inked by him, including the sublime “The Hand of Glory.” Also in the link a story by Gil Kane inked by

  4. patrick ford says:

    The link to the Matt Fox work at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.

  5. Lane Milburn says:

    God, I’m so in love with Fox’s fusspot inking.

  6. wayne says:

    The intensity of it brings to mind John Osbourne, Glenn Head – and Rory Hayes, for some weird reason.

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