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Biography: Willard Mullin

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Birth:September 14, 1902
Death: December 20, 1978


American Sport Cartoonist

Bio Summary

Willard Mullin was born in Ohio, but raised in LA. He began his life as a cartoonist, moving from place to place drawing sport illustrations for variety of newspapers. Soon he became a freelance cartoonist and started doing pieces for sport publications, books, and magazines
Mullin greatly defined the modern sports cartoon, now a dying art form, by combining representative portraiture, cartoonish doodlery, and editorial commentary — part news account, part personal observation, Willard Mullin’s cartoons celebrated sport for its entertainment, cultural and artistic values.

Early Life/Family

Mullin, Willard was born near Columbus, Ohio, but grew up in Los Angeles, California. He began his professional career as a cartoonist


Career Outline

– 1923 working for the Los Angeles Herald first doing sport illustrations
– 1934 he then moved to New York, replacing Pete Llanuza as sports cartoonist for the New York World-Telegram.
– 1951 cover of the Brooklyn Dodger Yearbook.
– 1954 -1955 New York Rangers program cover.
– 1955 College Football Program (Minnesota vs. Iowa).
– 1963 cover for the Harlem Globetrotters Yearbook.
– 1966, Mullin began doing work as a freelance cartoonist — illustrating pieces for sports publications, books, and such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, TIME, and LIFE.

Comments On Style

-His work always conveys a delightfully playful sense of spontaneity and his uncommon ability to gesturally capture the poetry of sports
– Cartooning critic Maurice Horn stated that “Mullin’s love of his craft and of his subjects shone through in all of his cartoons: under the surface roughness lurked a strong undercurrent of affection and optimism.”


Mullin is generally regarded as the ‘Dean of Sports Cartooning’, an undeniable titan who inspired many a cartoonist — including Karl Hubenthal, Gene Basset, Jim Dobbins, Lou Darvas and Len Hollreiser. Hubenthal long considered Mullin his mentor (referring to him always — and affectionately — as ‘Uncle Will’). Indeed, Mullin used to kiddingly joke that Hubenthal’s work “looked like me on a good day”.


Always holding a heroic view of sports


He once told an interviewer “I’m not an artist. I’m a cartoonist.”




He received the Reuben Award for 1954 for his work, as well as the National Cartoonist Society Sports Cartoon Award for each year from 1957 through 1962, and again in 1964 and 1965.

Related Links

Bibliographic References

Williard Mullin’s Website

Contributors To This Listing

Quoc Nguyen
Bob Staake
Karl Hubenthal

To make additions or corrections to this listing, please click on COMMENTS below…

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