|Mullin was a keen observer of the human form
-- and of motion. By overexaggerating the action in this book
illustration, the cartoonist is able to heighten the drama of
a cleats-up effort to break up a double play. Always holding
a heroic view of sports, Mullin's art -- particualrly from the
1940s to the 1960s -- captures both the manlines, and the innocence,
of athletics. He once told an interviewer "I'm not an artist.
I'm a cartoonist."
The 'Brooklyn Bum', a creation of
Willard Mullin -- the term, and the character, stuck -- even
when the team moved from New York to sunny Southern California.
The Bum was as low-brow and working class a character as there
was one, still Brooklynites took weird pride in being represented
by Mullin's evocative caricature. It's noteworthy that this yearbook
cover is evocative of James Montgomery Flagg's classic 'I Want
You!' recruitment banner, even down to Mullin's use of red, blue,
black and flesh tones against a cream-colored backdrop. In all
probability, the allusion was intentional on Mullin's behalf.
|1955 College Football Program (Minnesota vs.
Iowa). Wokring beyond mere illustration, Mullin integrates the
visual dog-piled "gag" of the referee who still makes
an effort to grab his flag
|1954 -1955 New York Rangers program cover. Mullin created art
for all professional sports -- spoofing everything from boxing
to hockey, football to tennis, horseracing to professional wrestling.
1963 cover for the Harlem
Yearbook. The piece is unusual for Mullin in that the point of
view is distant rather than up close, but to worl in the globe,
Mullin would have found the need to render basketball players
who may be small in stature, but large on whimsy.
|1951 cover of the Brooklyn Dodger Yearbook. In the illustration, the
'Bum' character is pulling off, in love-me-love-me-not fashion,
petals from a flower -- each labeled 1950, 1949, 1948 and so
on -- to represent previous season years.
|To commemorate the newly-built Shea Stadium, Mullin depicts
a mischevious Casey
and youthful New
character ready to pull the rug out from an unsuspecting National
League. Even when creating illustrations, Mullin shied away from
a strictly decorative mindset by offering visual commentary --
much in the same way as an editorial cartoonist.