Monday, December 28, 2015

Eugene Mumaw (1930-2006)

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 in 1930, Mumaw loved cartoons and cartooning, evidently from an early age as so many cartoonists do. He is supposed to have lived in Muncie, Indiana, for his entire life. From the 1970s onward, he created posters for the Muncie Civic Theatre. You can view them at the Ball State University Libraries Digital Media Repository, here. I know nothing more about him except that he died in 2006 and was buried at Elm Ridge Memorial Park in his hometown.

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 hoping more information will emerge on a neglected Indiana illustrator, Eugene Mumaw of Muncie.

Text copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

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