Smarty Pants Podcast

Funny Business


Cullen Murphy on growing up in the golden age of make-believe

Watercolor sketch for an unpublished Prince Valiant story, 1991 (Courtesy FSG)

By Stephanie Bastek

December 8, 2017


This week, we talk to Cullen Murphy, the son of cartoonist John Cullen Murphy, about growing up during the funnies’ midcentury heyday. Cartoon County is part memoir, part history of the giants of the comics world, who drew Superman, Beetle Bailey, Hägar the Horrible, The Wizard of Id … and a bevy of strips and gags read by millions of Americans.

Go beyond the episode:

Polaroid photographs of John Cullen Murphy, posing for scenes he would draw in Big Ben Bolt or Prince Valiant (courtesy Cullen Murphy and FSG)

  • A 1987 Prince Valiant strip drawn by Cullen Murphy (© King Features Syndicate, Inc., world rights reserved)

Tune in every two weeks to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.

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Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

Stephanie Bastek is the associate editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.

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