Monday, December 28, 2015

Eugene Mumaw (1930-2006)

Fred Eugene Mumaw was an artist almost unknown in his time and in ours. That was and is an unfortunate state of affairs, for he was a talented man with a unique style. Born on April 3, 1930, Mumaw loved cartoons and cartooning, evidently from an early age as so many cartoonists do. He graduated from Muncie Central High School in 1948 and worked in quality control for Ball Corporation for forty-seven years. Mumaw also created posters for the Muncie Civic Theatre for a quarter of a century. You can view them at the Ball State University Libraries Digital Media Repository, here. A member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Muncie, Mumaw died on September 12, 2006, in Muncie and was buried at Elm Ridge Memorial Park in the city of his birth.

Time was when kids who wrote to well-known cartoonists would receive in return a piece of original art. Here is an example from Eugene Mumaw's collection, a daily comic panel of Toonerville Folks, inscribed to him "with the compliments of Fontaine Fox."

Mumaw's cartoony illustrations are marked by simplicity, humor, and a sure touch. This and all the illustrations below were done, I believe, with gouache or opaque watercolor.

Mumaw's art has been selling on the Internet for some time. His undated pinup-type drawings are especially popular.

These might fall generally into the category of "good girl art," one that was popular in the 1940s and '50s among comic book artists and magazine illustrators.

The renowned "Vargas Girl" from Esquire magazine is an example of good girl art. Eugene Mumaw's pin-ups may have been his take on the Vargas-type girl.

To me, they are far more innocent.

And I think you an tell that the artist was having great fun drawing them.

Here's to remembering a nearly forgotten Indiana illustrator, Eugene Mumaw of Muncie.

Revised and undated January 12, 2020.
Text copyright 2015, 2020 Terence E. Hanley


  1. According to genealogy records, his name was actually Fred Eugene Mumaw and he was working as a lab assistant in Muncie in 1958 according to the city directory.

    1. Hi, Keith,

      And thanks for your comment. You have led me to look more closely at Eugene Mumaw. I found his obituary and will use it to revise and update my article.