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Jack Davis (American, 1924-2016)

Comic Book Art

Jack Davis (American 1924-2016) was a prolific illustrator who could do just about anything in the world of art. Davis could draw everything, from magazine covers to record album art, there was nothing he couldn’t do.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Davis entered the world of comics at the mere age of 12, when he assisted with Tip Top Comics No. 9. After high school, Jack joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Navy News. Once his stint in the military was over, he enrolled at the University of Georgia and began working for the campus newspaper and a humorous off-campus publication called bullsheet, jokingly named after the school’s mascot, Uga.

After college, Davis did some minor work for the Atlanta Journal and the Mark Trail comic strip, but the real work began when he illustrated a Coca-Cola training manual. This job launched his career, because he made enough money to purchase a car and drive to New York where he found work at the Herald Tribune Syndicate. At the Syndicate, Davis worked on The Saint comic strip and Beauregard. On top of his work for the Syndicate, Jack freelanced for EC Comics on titles such as, Tales from the Crypt, Two-Fisted Tales, and Shock SuspenStories, to name a few. During this time, he also did minor work for Atlas’ Rawhide Kid, which was his last non-humor comic book.

Jack Davis’ quirky and zany style really blossomed when he joined the “Usual Gang of Idiots” at MAD Magazine in 1952. Jack’s art appeared in some form or fashion in the first 30 issues of the magazine, and went on to supply his work to Kurtzman’s other projects as well including Help! and Humbug. There was nothing off limits for Davis’ satirical jabs, such as sports, politics, and celebrities. He would go on to be a regular contributor to MAD for decades.

Aside from MAD and other magazines, Jack did advertising for film posters, sports articles, and album artwork. In 2003, he was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame, as well as a finalist for Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990, 1991, and 1992. After a lifetime of achievements, Jack Davis passed away at the age of 91 in 2016.

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