Murray Karn

Murray Karn began his career with Bell Features in early 1942 while the publisher was still under the name Commercial Signs of Canada. Only 18 at the time, much of his original work was done for the Thunderfist and Jeff Waring storylines.

Karn worked on ‘Thunderfist’ in Active comics and was the most consistent artist for the line. His talents were not overlooked at Bell Features; he also did several covers for Active Comics as well as working on the ‘Jeff Waring of the Amazon’ storyline of his own creation. It was released about a month after ‘Thunderfist’ in March of 1942 and was run in Wow Comics, Bell Features’ first comic title.

Karn continued to work regularly for Bell Features for the next two years as artist on these and other lines including Captain Red Thorton, Rex Baxter and Scotty MacDonald. He even contributed artwork to the narrative shorts in Triumph Comics, all under Bell Features. Within a couple years, Karn went into the Medical Corps but continued cartooning for the wounded troops to raise their spirits.

murray karnAs Bell Features continued to gain prominence in Canada’s comic book industry, Karn was easily accepted back into the ranks just shortly before the end of Canada’s Golden Age and finished the last two issues on Jeff Waring. Shortly after, Karn went to New York to pursue other opportunities.

His classic and realistic style make his comics very easy to spot and a pleasure to view. His characters, nothing short of perfection, are elegantly composed, both on the paper and in character. Karn’s style at this time was almost reminiscent of a twenties chic with his big eyed beauties and his men modeled much like Clark Gable. Specifically, Karn’s style was distinctive in such a way that his comics were of a much higher caliber.

Murray Karn currently resides in New York and is a part of the Southampton Artists Society. Find out more on his work in the upcoming documentary Lost Heroes.

7 thoughts on “Murray Karn

  1. Murray Karn, no kidding…that’s great.
    He did the cover of the first (& possibly only) full colour Bell comic with original Canadian stories in it – Slam Bang #7. Someone get that man up here for a Joe Shuster Awards ceremony!

    I say possibly ‘only original stories’ as I’ve never seen the two isssues of Bell’s F.B.I. comics that are in the National Archives and I don’t know what the contents are.

    You know his ‘Thunderfist’ was the inventor of the very first iPhone back in the forties! It’s shown in the story reprinted in The Great Canadian Comic Books.
    ~jim b.

    • Thanks Jim! I just re-read that story, what a great one. The portable television/radio set, does look and function like a smartphone

  2. On google to search for more Murray Karn I found a book with shared illustration work.

    “Discovery book to accompany Better Than Gold teacher’s edition
    Illustrations by: Murray Karn; Harry Rosenbaum
    Better Than Gold by Jo Ann Overberg & Celeste C. Peardon,
    …Macmillan, 1970”
    Is this the same Harry Rosenbaum that painted the iconic cover to the Spectacular Spider-Man magazine, ( ) and the pre-Ghost Rider “Hellrider” cover?

    It makes me wonder if Karn and painter Rosenbaum shared a studio for awhile.
    ~jim b.

  3. I see over on the LostHeroes facebook page (luckily it’s a public site) that there’s a plea for a copy of the Pen Portraits page for Murray Karn from Dime Comics.

    Well, it’s not in my Dime #2 or I would gladly share. I would venture that the most likely place to look would be in the run from Dime Comics issue #3 to #8, if this helps at all in finding one. I wonder if there’s a Pen Portraits for Fred Kelly, be nice to see that also. Heck it would be nice to see all of them.
    ~ jim b.


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