Paul Orban was born June 23, 1896 in Budapest, Hungary. Both of his parents were also Hungarian. He had an older sister, Margaret. His father was a blacksmith also named Paul Orban. His mother's name is unknown. She died around the time of his birth. His father married a second wife in 1900, Paulina Orban, who was his stepmother. A step-sister was born in 1901. That same year his father emigrated to the U.S. to escape poverty in Hungary. In 1902 he brought his son and daughter to live with him in Chicago, Illinois, and by 1904 he could afford to bring his second wife and step-daughter. They all lived at 2440 Clybourn Avenue.
In 1910, at the age of fourteen, he happened to sell a watercolor for five dollars, which convinced him to concentrate on a career as a artist. According to a friend of the artist, "he decided such "easy" money was for him!"
From 1913 to 1917 he studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. His first published assignments were pen and ink drawings for The Chicago Sunday Tribune in 1915, where he worked as a staff artist.
In 1917 he married Dorothy Orban, whose family was from Chicago. They moved to 4620 North Sheridan Road.
In 1918 he became a naturalized citizen and reported for draft registration. He was recorded to be of medium build, slender, with brown eyes and dark brown hair, with no disqualifiying disabilities.
After the war he became art director at a Chicago advertising agency, where he worked for most of the 1920s.
In 1921 they had a son named Paul John Orban. His wife died around the time of their son's birth.
In 1929 he married his second wife, Karin Anna Orban, who was a swedish immigrant. They moved to New York in order to pursue a freelance art career. They lived at 303 Sheridan Boulevard in Mount Vernon, NY, where they rented the apartment for $65 a month.
After 1930 he began to sell freelance interior story illustrations to pulp magazines, such as Golden Book and Clues. He was soon very busy doing interiors for Astounding, The Avenger, Detective Novels, Doc Savage, Exciting Western, Giant Detective, Horror Stories, Popular Detective, Popular Baseball, Popular Western, Rodeo Romances, The Shadow, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Ranch Stories, Thrilling Sports, Top-Notch, Triple Western, Unknown, and Western Story.
In 1952 he illustrated several hardcover books for the John C. Winston Publishing Company of Philadelphia.
In the 1960s he worked for the science fiction digest magazine, Analog.
He moved to Mount Kisco, New York, in Westchester County.
According to an editor of the Winston Science Fiction series, "Paul Orban is a pleasant, soft-spoken man with a deep enthusiasm for the difficult job of visualizing the vague descriptions of writers."
Paul Orban died at age seventy-seven in April of 1974.
© David Saunders 2009