Jack Davis collection

Jack Davis collection

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Davis, Jack, 1924-
Title: Jack Davis collection
Dates: 1940s-2000
Quantity: 33.0 Linear feet (21 boxes, 1 oversized folder)
Coll. Number: ms2964

Biographical/Historical Note

Jack Davis was born in December 2, 1924 in Atlanta, Georgia, and still makes his home in the area. This consummate Southern gentleman has an easygoing personality and a relaxed attitude about life despite churning out dozens of illustration assignments every month, mostly for advertising and corporate clients, as well as magazine work.

Jack's art career started out early, doing illustrations for his high school yearbooks. Joining the U.S. Navy during World War II, Jack's talents helped the war effort, creating "Boondocker," a weekly comic for the Navy News. After the war, he entered college under the G.I. Bill at his beloved University of Georgia and continued cartooning, doing sports caricatures for the college newspaper and later, with some of his fraternity brothers, founding "Bullsheet," a short-lived humor magazine. While in college, Jack also did some freelance work--corporate training illustrations for Coca-Cola and background drawings for the syndicated "Mark Trail" comic strip. These jobs help provide Jack with enough money to buy a car and the ambition to travel to New York City after graduating. He was determined to make it in the Big Apple as an artist.

Arriving in New York City, Jack was accepted by the prestigious Art Students League where he studied by night and helped pay his expenses by inking and doing backgrounds for "The Saint" comic strip, which was illustrated by Mike Roy and contained serializations of the famed Saint stories by Leslie Charteris. Perhaps inspired by working on other syndicated cartoon strips, he created his own daily strip, "Beauregard," which was a Sad Sack-type character, set during the Civil War days. "Beauregard" was picked up by the McClure Newspapers Syndicate and although it only ran a short while, it did catch the attention of William Gaines, Harvery Kurtzman and the staff at EC comics, who were in the process of changing their name from "Educational Comics" to "Entertaining Comics" as they launched new comics such as "Two Fisted Tales," "Frontline Combat," "Tales from the Crypt," "Crime Suspenstories," "The Vault of Horror" and "The Haunt of Fear." Jack not only illustrated for EC, but also wrote a number of stories, particularly for the war books.

His tenure at EC comics lasted from 1950 to 1956, but Jack really found his stride in 1952 when they launched "Mad" comics--which later became "Mad" magazine. Jack illustrated the first story in the first issue of "Mad" (November 1952), which was a spooky old house parody called "Hoohah!" He stayed on doing "Mad" and other EC titles for years. During that time he also drew for other comics, including Stan Lee's pre-Marvel "Atlas" comics of the 1950s, such as "Rawhide Kid," "Tales to Astonish," "Journey into Mystery" and "Gunsmoke Western." In 1961, with the success of "Mad," Dell Comics approached Jack about doing a humor magazine, called "Yak Yak." It only lasted a few issues. Jack also illustrated for other humor magazines, including "Trump," "Humbug" and "Help!", as well as monster magazines like "Creepy" and "Eerie." Jack enjoyed doing these, especially as they offered plenty of opportunities to draw Frankenstein, his favorite character.

There's no doubt that one of Jack's favorite assignments ever was when "Famous Monsters" magazine commissioned him to draw the big green guy with too-many-stitches and a couple of electrodes in his neck for a six-foot, "Giant, Life-Size Frankenstein Pin-up" poster in 1962. In 1965, Jack returned to working on "Mad"--drawing stories and covers on a regular basis. He actively continued drawing for "Mad" up until a few years ago, although his earlier work shows up regularly in current issues of Mad, through reprints and re-use. At the same time, Jack also did freelance work for advertising agencies--sometimes doing illustrations for ad campaigns that weren't too different from some of the ad parodies he created for Mad, such as his poster for the classic film "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad. Mad World," which Jack reprised in parody form for the 1966 Mad paperback "It's a World, World, World, World Mad."

By then, Jack's work was everywhere and his distinct style was immediately recognizeable to a large segment of the population, especially with the dozens of movie posters, record albums, book covers, ads, and magazines covers and illustrations he developed for leading publications such as "TV Guide," "Time," "Life," "Playboy," "Ebony," "Esquire" and countless others. There were plenty of other (occasionally odd) projects along the way, including the "Wacky Plaks" card series, trick "Pip Squirt" squirting pens, game box covers (for Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers), the "Man from U.N.C.L.E." lunchbox, monster tattoos, greeting cards, "Red Lobster" restaurant placemats, and a 7-11 coffee cup giveaway. But nothing was stranger than the coloring book he was commissioned to do in the 1980's. The art was great, but unfortunately, the publisher printed the books on slick paper stock, so crayons couldn't stick to it. Yet through it all and over the years, Jack's inimitable style never became tired. In fact, in 2001, he edged out "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening for the coveted Reuben Award bestowed by the National Cartoonists Society. Crazy Campsongs website - Biography of Illustrator Jack Davis http://www.crazycampsongs.com/jackdavis.html (Retrieved September 24, 2009)


Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of originals and copies of some of Jack Davis' art.


Arrangement

Arranged by record type.


Index Terms

American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Cartoons (humorous images)
Football--Georgia--Athens.
Football--Georgia--Caricatures and cartoons.
Illustrations (layout features)
Illustrators--Georgia.
University of Georgia. -- Alumni and alumnae

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Jack Davis collection MS 2964. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 
BoxFolder
11Time Magazine photocopies
 
1Mad Magazine photocopies
 
2Articles/Magazine clippings
 
3"Hiptionary" photocopy
 
3"Going back to Athens" illustration
 
4"Bull Sheet" magazine and photocopies
 
5License plate featuring J. Davis' illustration
 
OS Folder
1AIllustrations- Georgia/Florida rivalry
 
Box
2Cartoons
 
Box
3Cartoons
 
Box
4Cartoons
 
Box
5Cartoons
 
Box
6Cartoons
 
Box
7Cartoons
 
Box
8Cartoons
 
Box
9Cartoons
 
Box
10Cartoons
 
Box
11Cartoons
 
Box
12Cartoons
 
Box
13Cartoons
 
Box
14Cartoons
 
Box
15Cartoons
 
Box
16Cartoons
 
Box
17Cartoons
 
Box
18Cartoons
 
Box
19Cartoons
 
Box
20Cartoons
 
Box
21Cartoons
 
Box
22Cartoons
 
Box
23Cartoons
 
Box
24Cartoons
 
Box
25Cartoons
 
Box
26Cartoons
 
Box
27Cartoons
 
OS Folder
2Cartoons