Happy Birthday Gloria Stoll Karn

Nov 13, 2017 by

PulpFest was extremely proud to welcome pulp artist Gloria Stoll Karn as our 2017 Guest of Honor. A resident of Pittsburgh, the artist is one of the very few individuals alive today who worked in the pulp magazine industry. Today is her 94th birthday.

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.

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. She contributed covers to Popular’s ALL-STORY LOVELOVE BOOKLOVE NOVELS, LOVE SHORT STORIES, NEW LOVE, RANGELAND ROMANCES, ROMANCE, and ROMANCE WESTERN, as well as 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 would like to wish Gloria a very happy birthday.

(One of Gloria Stoll’s pulp covers graced the December 1943 issue of Popular Publications’ LOVE SHORT STORIES. Painted during the Second World War, it was one of several covers depicting members of the United States military.

Gloria Stoll Karn was PulpFest’s 2017 Guest of Honor. Award-winning author Joe Lansdale will be PulpFest‘s Guest of Honor in 2018. The convention will begin on Thursday evening, July 26, and run through Sunday, July 29. We hope to see you at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh – Cranberry.)