Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fred Humiston (1902-1976)

Commercial Artist, Illustrator, Writer, Author, Local Historian
Born July 20, 1902, Jersey City, New Jersey
Died March 27, 1976, Portland, Maine

Frederick S. Humiston, Jr., was born on July 20, 1902, in Jersey City, New Jersey, and grew up in Hillsdale, New Jersey. He graduated from Hillsdale High School in 1920 and went to work as a commercial artist at the Vitaphone Company in New York City. The young artist's uncle, Walter J. Rich, was president of Vitaphone at the time, and the company was engaged in developing sound for movies during the 1920s. In 1922, Humiston's parents purchased the Hotel Riverside in Popham, Maine. For many years afterwards, the family alternated between Maine and New Jersey, then between residence at the hotel and a house in Popham. After the deaths of his parents in the early 1940s, Humiston sold the hotel but still alternated between homes in Maine and New Jersey. He finally settled in Portland, Maine, where he wrote stories and drew pictures for the Portland Herald Press. He also wrote and illustrated Blue Water Men and Women, published in 1965.

Fred Humiston created illustrations for Weird Tales beginning with "The Crowd" by Ray Bradbury in May 1943 and ending with the poem "Suspicion" by Harriet A. Bradfield in November 1953. One of those illustrations was reprinted in the magazine in the Winter 1985 issue. Humiston also contributed to Short Stories, including a cover for the November 10, 1947, issue (shown below).

Fred Humiston died on March 27, 1976, in Portland, Maine, at age seventy-three.

Fred Humiston's Illustrations in Weird Tales
See the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, here, for a full listing.

Further Reading
See David Saunders' Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, here, for a more full biography of Fred Humiston. My article is merely a condensed version of his, and I am entirely indebted to Mr. Saunders.

Text copyright 2016 by Terence E. Hanley and based entirely on the research of David Saunders.


  1. Fred Humiston was one of those illustrators who seemed to feel that he had to fill every bit of the image with ink lines. His interior work is thus often busy and cluttered, yet strangely not confusing; there's a clarity through all the clutter, and a dark, evocative atmosphere that is well suited to the pages of Weird Tales.

    1. Mike,

      I agree with you: Humiston's work is busy but not confusing or overwhelming. He was a good choice for Weird Tales and a worthy addition to its stable of artists of the 1940s and '50s.