Artist Gloria Stoll Karn to be PulpFest GOH

Feb 27, 2017 by

With 2017 being the year that PulpFest celebrates the hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and psychos of the pulps, we’re very pleased to welcome as our Guest of Honor, pulp artist Gloria Stoll Karn. In a field dominated by men, it was highly unusual for a woman to be painting covers for pulp magazines. But at age seventeen, Gloria Stoll began contributing black and white interior illustrations to pulp magazines. In a few years, the young artist was painting covers. How’s that for a dangerous dame?

It was Rafael DeSoto who inspired Gloria to become a commercial artist and introduced her to Popular Publications. A graduate of New York’s High School of Music and Art, Gloria Stoll began her career doing black and white interior illustrations for Popular. This evolved into painting covers for the publisher’s line of women’s pulps, particularly RANGELAND ROMANCES. She also did covers for Popular’s ALL-STORY LOVE, LOVE BOOKLOVE NOVELS, LOVE SHORT STORIES, NEW LOVE, ROMANCE, ROMANCE WESTERN, and Standard Publications’ THRILLING LOVE.

Beginning in late 1943, Stoll also began painting covers for Popular’s mystery and detective pulps. Her work was featured on BLACK MASK, DETECTIVE TALES, DIME MYSTERY MAGAZINE, and NEW DETECTIVE. In addition, she did interior illustrations for ARGOSY magazine. The artist continued working in the pulp field until 1949.

In Ms. Stoll Karn’s own words: “Pulp artists were required to come up with ideas for the magazine covers which reflected the general flavor of the stories within. Moving on to painting covers for mystery and detective magazines involved a radical conceptual switch. It was a surprise when I came up with gruesome ideas and concluded that, within the human psyche, there is a shadow side of which we are often unaware. I am grateful that my work struck a balance which uncovered the dark side within, along with the light side depicting the joys of romance.”

Gloria’s pulp artist career ended abruptly when she married Fred Karn in 1948. The couple moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they raised three children. In the 1950s, Stoll Karn began teaching art classes. Her work has been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum’s National Print Annual, and the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society’s International Exhibition. Her work is in the permanent collections of Yale University, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Westinghouse Corporation, the Speed Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Pittsburgh Department of Education. She is listed in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICAN ART. Her current work is in abstraction and draws upon her life experience.

PulpFest is very pleased to welcome as its 2017 Guest of Honor, one of the few surviving contributors to the pulp magazine industry, Gloria Stoll Karn. Pulp art historian David Saunders — winner of our 2016 Lamont Award — will be joining Ms. Stoll Karn to discuss her freelance career in the pulps and much more on Saturday evening, July 29, from 7:30 to 8:10 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry — just north of Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.”

We look forward to seeing you at the “pop culture center of the universe” from July 27 through July 30 at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton in Mars, Pennsylvania. Please join Gloria Stoll Karn — that “dangerous dame of pulp art” — and PulpFest for our celebration of the hardboiled dicks, dangerous dames, and psychos of the pulps. You can register for the convention by clicking one of the registration buttons on our home page. To make place a reservation with the DoubleTree, please click one of our “book a room” buttons.

Thanks so much to everyone who has reserved a room at our host hotel. By staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry, you’ve helped to ensure the convention’s success.

(DETECTIVE TALES was the number three title in Popular Publications’ detective pulp group. The publisher’s number one title was DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, which saved Popular from going under during the challenging years of The Great Depression. After that came BLACK MASK, the pulp where the hardboiled detective genre originally took form. Popular had purchased the magazine from Pro-Distributers Publishing in 1940. DETECTIVE TALES ran for eighteen years, mainly on a monthly basis, producing a total of 202 issues. Most of the issues offered twelve stories for ten cents. In 1953, Popular merged it with NEW DETECTIVE to form FIFTEEN DETECTIVE STORIES. Between 1943 and 1945, Gloria Stoll Karn contributed six covers to DETECTIVE TALES, including the July 1945 number.

Although it is best remembered for its action-oriented pulps — magazines such as DIME WESTERN, ARGOSY, G-8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES, and THE SPIDER — Popular also boasted a strong women’s line-up. Although it never approached the popularity of Street & Smith’s LOVE STORY MAGAZINE or Warner Publications’ RANCH ROMANCES, the Popular line featured a number of successful titles. RANGELAND ROMANCES — which debuted with its June 1935 number — was one of its leading pulps for the women’s market. It lasted into 1955 — when it was absorbed by DIME WESTERN MAGAZINE — and ran for over 200 issues. Between 1943 and 1949, Gloria Stoll Karn contributed forty-two covers to RANGELAND ROMANCES, including the July 1944 number.)