The Sports Cartoons Of Willard Mullin

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Detail from New York Yankees Sports Cartoon. Mullin's baseball cartoons are particularly sought after by collectors of original cartoon art. (Collection of Bob Staake) 

    The "Home Run" -- a re-occuring character in Mullin's New York Yankees sports cartoons (Collection of Bob Staake)

Comfortable working with a brush or simply pen and ink, this Mullin piece on "professional" wrestling includes virtually no grays -- yet he is able to suggest shading with well-placed, expressive linework. It is worth noting that most of Mullin's sports cartoons lack backgrounds -- and subordinate characters. Clearly by only focusing on central players, Mullin was able to complete a cartoon in faster fashion, but his lack of background imagery also allows for cleaner, easier to read, artwork.

  A strong draftsman, Mullin helped define the genre of sports cartooning by dually employing respresentative portraiture, and cartoonish playfulness. In this detail, it's apparent that Mullin was in top form while performing his aesthetic balancing act. (Collection of Bob Staake)

A study of Mullin's original artwork reveals that the cartoonist first sketched his drawing, very loosely but with intent, in pencil and then utilized very spontaneously applied, inked brushwork. Pen and ink was used as well, particularly to render text, and grays added to the pebbled coquille board by the use of conte crayon. The usual whited-out, corrected areas can be found in Mullin originals, though usually only to clarify a line. The actual size of the detail to the right is 5.25" x 9", the complete size of the full sports cartoon 14" x 16". (Collection of Bob Staake)


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