Happy Birthday Gloria Stoll Karn

Nov 12, 2018 by

In 2017, PulpFest welcomed pulp artist Gloria Stoll Karn as as its Guest of Honor. A resident of Pittsburgh, the artist is one of very few living individuals who worked in the pulp magazine industry. Tomorrow is her 95th birthday.

In a field dominated by men, Gloria Stoll was quite unique. At age seventeen, she began contributing black and white interior illustrations to pulp magazines. In a few years, Stoll was painting covers.

Rafael DeSoto inspired Gloria to become a commercial artist. A graduate of New York’s High School of Music and Art, Stoll became an interior artist for Popular Publications. This evolved into painting covers for the publisher’s line of women’s pulps. She contributed covers to ALL-STORY LOVELOVE BOOKLOVE NOVELS, LOVE SHORT STORIES, NEW LOVE, RANGELAND ROMANCES, ROMANCE, and ROMANCE WESTERN.

In late 1943, Stoll 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. She also did interior illustrations for ARGOSY magazine. Gloria 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 career ended 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, the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society’s International Exhibition, and the Norman Rockwell Museum. It 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. She currently works in abstraction and draws upon her life experience.

(One of Gloria Stoll’s cover paintings graced the March 1945 issue of Popular Publications’ BLACK MASK. Although tomorrow is Tuesday the 13th, we thought it was close enough. PulpFest wishes the best of luck to Gloria Stoll Karn on her 95th birthday.)