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Stephen Murphy is an American comic book writer best known for his work on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. He is also credited as Steve Murphy or simply Murphy, or by the pen name Dean Clarrain.


Stephen Murphy initially gained recognition for his work on the comic book series The Puma Blues along with illustrator Michael Zulli, from 1986 to 1989. It was originally published by Aardvark One International, but later became published by Mirage Studios.

Murphy was an initial signatory for the Creator's Bill of Rights, drafted in 1988.

In 1989, Murphy was brought in by friend Ryan Brown to help revamp the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures title for Archie Comics, beginning with issue 5, "Something Fishy Goes Down", which featured new original character Jack Finney (also known as Man Ray or Ray Fillet), co-created by Murphy and Brown. Murphy became the primary writer for the series through its run until its cancellation in 1996, during which time its independent continuity diverged greatly from the 1987 TV series upon which it was originally based, eventually more resembling Mirage TMNT comics. He created other original characters for the Archie TMNT series, including Jagwar, Nova Posse, Snake-Eyes and Sarnath. Murphy was credited as Dean Clarrain for all work on TMNT Adventures.

Also in 1989, Murphy became involved with Mirage TMNT and associated publications during the run of volume 1. He co-wrote "Sons of the Silent Age" with Jim Lawson, and he reunited with The Puma Blues veteran Michael Zulli to provide the script for Guest Era stories "A Splinter in the Eye of God?", "Failed Instant", "O-Deed" and "Souls Winter".

Murphy became a staff writer for the 2003 TV series and wrote many children's books tied to that series.

Murphy returned to Mirage TMNT comics work in 2004 as chief editor of Tales of the TMNT volume 2 for the first 37 issues, after which Dan Berger became the new chief editor. Murphy was a frequent contributor of stories and scripts throughout this series' run, leaving his biggest fingerprint on TMNT comics since his work on TMNT Adventures. Often, when Murphy wrote or scripted a Tales story that was illustrated by fellow Adventures veteran Chris Allan, he would once again be credited as Dean Clarrain.

In addition to TMNT stories, Tales of the TMNT also published a series of stories starring Murphy's character Professor Obligado, an Utrom adventurer. Though these stories were part of the Mirage TMNT continuity, Obligado's stories formed a separate, independent narrative only loosely connected to that of the turtles.

In 2006, Stephen Murphy again received recognition outside of TMNT for his work on the comics series Umbra, which became a 2007 Harvey Awards nominee for Best Continuing or Limited Series.

In 2014, Murphy, again credited as Dean Clarrain, reunited with artist Chris Allan to write a new TMNT Adventures short comic "Paper or Plastic?" as part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary Special by IDW Publishing.


Stephen Murphy is well known for incorporating certain recurring themes in his writing both in and out of TMNT, especially existential questions, social justice and environmental responsibility, the latter particularly in regard to global warming. These themes are usually framed through cautionary moral narratives woven into the story.



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2003 TV series

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