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Prince Valiant cartoonist dead at 85


Prince Valiant Artist John Cullen Murphy Dead at 85

(NEW YORK -- July 2, 2004 ) Since mere mortals began to seek perfection and the Arthurian legend was born, humankind has strived for Camelot's ideals of chivalry: utter defeat for evil, loyalty to those who do right, and, through feats of sheer courage, justice for the common good. In a 21st century world, these lofty goals may sometimes seem out of reach, but they live on each and every week in the Sunday-only Prince Valiant comic strip. For nearly 34 of the 67 years that the Prince Valiant comic strip has been in syndication, John Cullen Murphy was the illustration master behind the strip. Murphy died today, at age 85.

During the summer of 1934, while playing baseball, he was approached by his neighbor Norman Rockwell, who asked him to be the model for a Saturday Evening Post cover. Murphy was so captivated by working with Rockwell, he decided then to become an illustrator.

Murphy entered the Army in 1941. He joined the 7th Infantry Regiment and was sent to Camp Stewart, Ga., where the unit was switched from infantry to anti-aircraft. Murphy went from private to major in two and a half years.

John Cullen Murphy immersed himself and completely inhabited the medieval world of Prince Valiant. He populated the strip with characters ranging far beyond those of the Arthurian legend penned and scripted by Hal Foster, the comic strip's original creator.

"John Cullen Murphy was an incredibly faithful steward of the legend of Prince Valiant," said Jay Kennedy, editor in chief of King Features Syndicate, which has distributed the comic since its creation in 1937.

Murphy won the National Cartoonists Society's Best Story Strip Award a record six times.  Murphy is survived by his wife, Joan Cullen, of Cos Cob, Conn., their eight children and 15 grandchildren.

Obituary from King Features