John Fleming Gould was born February 14, 1906 in Worcester, Massachusetts. His parents were Julia E. Gould and George M. Gould. The father was a plumber. They lived at 39 Richards Street. At first there were two boys, John, and his older brother George. George died of a childhood illness at the age of six in 1911.
In 1912 the family moved to Illinois, where their son Robert was born, and in 1915 they moved to Brooklyn, NY, where their daughter Marian was born. They lived at 1502 Bushwick Avenue. The father worked as a plumber throughout the neighborhood, and he was often hired by the janitor of the building two-doors away at 1498 Bushwick, named Henry Baumhofer. That janitor's thirteen-year-old son was Walt Baumhofer, who became John's best friend. They went to school together and played together after school.
Their lives changed abruptly during one of their escapades when they found a box of live ammunition. While attempting mischief one round exploded and blew off Baumhofer's thumb and parts of two fingers on his left hand. According Gould, "Up until then Walt was the musician and I was the artist, but after the accident I encouraged him to become an artist instead. What other work could he do with only one hand!"
They later attended Bushwick High School on Irving Avenue and Woodbine Streets in Brooklyn. There they met Frank Kramer and William Ralph Keifer, both of whose fathers happened to be janitors at other public schools. All four students were German-Americans with natural drawing talent and a shared ambition to become wealthy illustrators. In his senior year John Gould was elected President of the Class.
After graduation all four attended the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, where they studied under Dean Cornwell and H. Winfield Scott.
After graduating in 1926 he and Baumhofer, and seven other young artists, rented a Manhattan art studio on the top floor of 161 West 23rd Street. The monthly rent was ninety dollars. They soon met their new neighbors, George and Jerome Rozen, who rented the art studio next-door.
In 1927 J. F. Gould began illustrating interior stories for pulp magazines, such as Aces, Air Stories, Astounding Stories, Blue Book, Clues Detective, Cowboy Stories, Danger Trails, War Birds, and Wings.
In 1929 he was hired to teach art at Pratt Institute, where he continued to work for twenty-two years.
In 1930 he began a long and fruitful freelance relationship with Popular Publications drawing interior story illustrations for their pulp magazines, such as Detective Action Stories, Dime Detective, G-8 and his Battle Aces, Operator #5, Knockout, The Spider, and 10-Story Western.
In 1940 he married his wife, Mary Gould. They raised three sons, Robert, William, and Paul.
By 1942 he was selling freelance illustrations to higher-paying slick magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post, Country Gentleman, Redbook, Colliers, and Popular Science.
In 1951 John Fleming Gould began to teach art at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art.
Throughout the 1950s he worked for men's adventure magazines, such as Argosy,Outdoor Life, and True.
In 1957 he retired from illustration and moved to Newburgh, NY, to open his own private art school and art gallery.
John Fleming Gould died in New Windsor, NY, at the age of ninety on May 26, 1996.
© David Saunders 2009