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 John Cullen Murphy  (1919 - 2004)

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Lived/Active: New York/Connecticut      Known for: illustrator, cartoonist, portrait

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Ad Code: 3
John Cullen Murphy
from Auction House Records.
Prince Valiant Sunday Comic Strip Original Art, dated 11-1-70 (King Features Syndicate, 1970).
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Illustrator for 34 years of the comic strip "Prince Valiant", an Arthurian legend for King Features Syndicate, John Murphy was born in New York City and grew up in Chicago and New Rochelle, New York. In 1970, he took over the "Prince Valiant" saga from its creator, Hal Foster, and continued the series until several months before his death in Greenwich, Connecticut at age 85.

For the Murphy family, the comic strip was a family enterprise. Cullen Murphy, the illustrator's son and also managing editor of "Atlantic Monthly", did the story line and a daughter, Meg, did the lettering.

Murphy became aware of illustration art at a young age through his neighbor, Norman Rockwell, who used Murphy, age 9, for a "Saturday Evening Post" cover of a kid playing baseball. It was such a thrill for Murphy, and he credited that experience as setting his own course as an illustrator. Rockwell remained his friend and advisor and helped him secure a scholarship to the Phoenix Art Institute in New York. He also studied at the Art Students League with George Bridgman.

While in high school, Murphy sold his first illustrations, scenes of boxing matches. In 1940, he had his first cover artwork published, which was accepted by "Liberty" magazine.

He served in World War II in infantry and antiaircraft in the Pacific and earning the rank of Major, won a Bronze Star. He also did numerous portraits of Army personnel and sketches of life in Japan, and many of these drawings were published in the "The Chicago Tribune".

Murphy's magazine assignments included "Esquire" and "Collier's", and in 1949, he began the comic strip series, "Big Ben Bolt" that lasted 25 years. During the period he was cartoonist for "Prince Valiant", he mined his own imagination and added characters and situations that did not appear in the original stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

"The New York Times", Obituaries, July 8, 2004, Section A21

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