Don Wilcox

(August 29, 1905 — March 9, 2000)

Cleo Eldon Wilcox was born and died in Lucas, Kansas. In addition to Don Wilcox, his best known pen name, he used the pseudonyms of Buzz-Bolt Atomcracker (one story), Cleo Eldon, Max Overton, Miles Shelton, and Alexander Blade (a house name). His wife's maiden name was Helen Miles Shelton. He and Helen had a daughter, whom Wilcox described in an Amazing interview as “furnishing diversion” when he was trying to write.

Wilcox published most of his science fiction in Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures, when both were Ziff-Davis publications under the editorship of Ray Palmer. (Wilcox wrote once that he began writing science fiction after a chance meeting with the editor of Amazing Stories). At one time he was Palmer's most prolific and popular contributor, averaging over 40,000 words a month of published stories.

Wilcox also had stories published in Mammoth Western and Mammoth Detective, two other Ziff-Davis magazines.

Wilcox graduated from The University of Kansas, and then earned an M.A. in sociology. He taught English, creative writing, history, and sociology in several junior and senior high schools, at the Chicago campus of Northwestern University, and at The University of Kansas — and later he edited newspapers.

In 1932 he and his wife began writing plays for high school classes, and he began writing feature articles for the Kansas City Star. He was also a painter, but early in his career gave up painting in order to have more time to write.

Wilcox also wrote scripts for television programs, including Captain Video. In explaining his science fiction writing, he told genre historian Mike Ashley that he seldom read other science fiction authors, but got his ideas for stories from museums, planetariums, ancient histories, and sociology textbooks.

His only published SF novel outside of the pulp magazines was The Whispering Gorilla (World Distributors, 1950) [as by David V. Reed/reprinted with Return of the Whispering Gorilla by Gryphon Books in 1999].

Almost forgotten today, at one time Don Wilcox was a mainstay of the Ziff-Davis science fiction magazines and very popular with readers of both Amazing and Fantastic Adventures. He was said to write science fantasy rather than science fiction, but he had many readers who thought of themselves as science fiction fans. One of these fans was future science fiction writer and editor Terry Carr. “Give Us More Wilcox, Please!” begged Carr in a letter to Fantastic Adventures in the early 1950s.

When his writing career was nearly over in 1975, Wilcox retired to Florida and resumed painting. At the time of an interview with Mike Ashley in the late 1980s, he had created 300+ paintings, most of them portraits.

He will be the subject of a "neglected author" article in an upcoming issue of The National Fantasy Fan.

Fpr more on his career, see http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/wilcox_don

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