Jack Davis: America's Most Prolific Cartoonist
April 25, 2016 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Jack Davis, born in 1924 and still with us, is the last living artist who contributed to the legendary EC Comics horror titles. [much more inside]

Davis also did work on EC's war comics and their flagship humor comic, Mad edited by Harvey Kurtzman. He continued to work for Mad after it switched to magazine format following the the 1950's anti-comic book hysteria. After Kurtzman left the editorship of Mad, Davis created work for Kurtzman's short-lived Trump, Help and Humbug magazines.

In the 1968, Davis began doing covers for TV Guide and Time magazine. He was a prolific commercial artist throughout the 1970's and 1980's, illustrating dozens of album covers, movie posters, trading cards and children's books. An alumni of the University of Georgia, Davis produced a lot of artwork of his beloved Bulldogs.

Davis's retirement was prematurely announced in December 2014, but he says he's still working.

AV Club interview with Davis.

Huge Flickr album of Jack Davis's work.

A few pages from "Foul Play," Davis's most notorious EC horror story.
posted by marxchivist (19 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
If he's the one responsible for the insects swarming in & out of mouths imagery of my childhood I'm cursing his talent.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:28 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I vacillate over whether Jack Davis or "Ghastly" Graham Ingels is my favorite EC artist. Ingels' grotesque faces and spidery chiaroscuro (best enjoyed in black and white) are perfect for creating atmospheres of Gothic dread, but Davis's cartoony bigfoot style shines a light on the comedy underpinning the over-the-top Grand Guignol violence that was a hallmark of EC's twist endings. If anything, it's a credit to Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines that they were open-minded enough to give these two very different artists a shared home.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:43 PM on April 25, 2016


On a related topic if you're looking for horror comics The Horror of it All has an insane amount of them posted. It's a great place to lose an afternoon.
posted by Ferreous at 12:50 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


One of the few in Mad's stable who was not Jewish. If you read the AV article, he didn't think it was a big deal, and I agree. The Jewishness seemed to have seeped in, perhaps from years of representing faux-Yiddishisms and first generation smart alecks. I mean, this Woody Allen illustration is perfect. Look at how good this Odd Couple is.

He may not have been born to it, but he got it.
posted by maxsparber at 12:56 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Always my favourite of all the Mad artists. My copy of the Mad Magazine Board Game Jack did is a treasured, treasured thing.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:57 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Holy crap, I'd forgotten the Mad Magazine Board Game! It was my favorite game ever, and I hadn't thought of it in like 35 years!
posted by signal at 1:49 PM on April 25, 2016


Thank you for adding "still with us" .
posted by Splunge at 2:06 PM on April 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


Many more album covers here, one of the few things that'll make me stop while crate-digging and look closely at an orchestral or otherwise uninteresting record. So versatile, such an unmistakably unique style, I love Jack Davis.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:39 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


He really is the best. Check out these super awesome Valentines he designed.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:40 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Jack Davis, born in 1924 and still with us, is the last living artist who contributed to the legendary EC Comics horror titles.

*COUGH* *CHOKE* *GASP*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:47 PM on April 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


Kane Keen! I haven't seen that since probably '72!
posted by hal9k at 2:47 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Alvy, Marie Severin was the colorist. She's still around!
posted by marxchivist at 2:58 PM on April 25, 2016


Those Jack Davis movie posters are absolutely the best. :)
posted by Guy Smiley at 3:23 PM on April 25, 2016


Those Jack Davis movie posters are absolutely the best. :)

Fabulous but I always thought Mort Drucker's were just a bit better. That guy's still alive too!
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:22 PM on April 25, 2016


Some Youtube links I forgot to add to the post:

Davis did the character designs for the 1967 movie Mad Monster Party and the Jackson 5ive Saturday morning cartoon. He also did character design for the bugs in the classic RAID! commercials.
posted by marxchivist at 6:07 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm so happy to see Jack Davis get some of his due that I can almost restrain myself from insisting America's most prolific artist is Sergio Aragon├ęs.

Almost.
posted by AteYourLembas at 8:09 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of the great things about attending the University of Georgia in the '80s was frequent UGA fan art by Mr. Davis, a Georgia alumnus. I'm also pretty sure I sought out and skimmed the UGA library archives for his Bullsheet, a campus humor magazine he created.
posted by SubterraneanRedStateBlues at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Alvy, Marie Severin was the colorist.

Colourists are artists!

But I don't want this to turn into some sort of Kevin Smitheryesque nerd quibbery, so I'll shut my yap.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:09 PM on April 26, 2016


There's not denying Marie's artistry and contribution to the EC line. I was talking about the folks who drew the stories though.
posted by marxchivist at 7:41 AM on April 28, 2016


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