Gloria Maria Stoll was born November 13, 1923 in the Bronx. Her mother was Anne Vera Finamore Stoll and her father was Charles Theophile Stoll. Gloria was their only child. Her father was a WWI veteran and had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross as well as the Croix de Guerre. He was a commercial artist and a graphic designer working in advertising. They lived at 2083 Davidson Avenue.
When the Great Depression came the father's advertising company closed and the family moved to 4136 Forty-Seventh Street in Sunnyside, Queens.
In 1936 she was among the first students to attend LaGaurdia High School of Music & Art.
In 1938 her father died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Her mother found work as head of the statistical typing department at Universal Pictures in the RCA Building in midtown.
In 1940 after highschool graduation she was awarded a scholarship to the Display Institute, but quit after a few disappointing months of labor. She then found work as a secretary at an insurance company.
One fateful day in April of 1941 she impulsively threw away all of her student artwork. The janitor rescued her portfolio from the incinerator room and showed it to another tenant in the building who happened to be the pulp artist, Rafael DeSoto. DeSoto asked to meet the discouraged seventeen-year-old art student, and inspired her to become a commerical illustrator.
With DeSoto's introduction she sold her first freelance story illustration to a Popular Publication pulp magazine. From 1941 to 1949 she sold story illustrations and cover paintings to All-Story Love, Detective Tales, Dime Mystery, Love Novels, Love Short Stories, New Love, Rangeland Romances, and Romance Western.
She and DeSoto shared a sixth floor skylit art studio at 28 West 65th Street. While earning her living as an illustrator she also continued to study anatomy, etching, watercolor and lithography at evening art classes at the Art Students League and the Society of Illustrators. She had one painting class with Harvey Dunn.
Her pulp artist career abruptly ended when she married Fred Karn on November 13, 1948. They moved to Pittsburgh, PA, where he worked as a scientist for the Bureau of Mines in coal-to-oil research. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
She continued to paint and to make etchings. In the 1950s she began to teach her own 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, the Pittsburgh Department of Education. She is listed in Who’s Who in American Art. © David Saunders 2009