Posts Tagged ‘Jack Davis’

What could be better than an entire comic book illustrated by Jack Davis? A gold bathtub full of 100 dollar bills? Armenian spider monkeys trained in the deadly art of Yoga? The entire run of The Mike Douglas Show played on a loop while you are rubbed down with scented oils by Russian supermodels who may or may not posses the ability to travel back in time? Nothing, of course.

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Jack Davis, like the other Mad artists, was a jack of all trades. Not only did he produce a wealth of outstanding comic book material, but he also did quite a bit of other freelance work. Ads, album covers and probably most notable of all, movie posters. During the 60s and 70s, Jack Davis illustrated dozens of movie posters and his work is some of the most iconic, hilarious and visually stunning work in movie history. You can’t mistake a Jack Davis movie poster. Besides his signature style and caricature work, Davis designed posters that were overflowing with life, an anarchistic bent that made it impossible to take in all at once. Scenes and characters from the films filled the composition, pushing into the white boarders. The wackier the movie, the better reference for Davis. His poster for Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) might be his most famous: dozens of characters from the movie spilling forth from the cracked Earth globe, wrapping their way madly above the type face. It’s staggering to look at because, well, there is simply so much to look at. But it all works. The image may seem out of control, but the layout and composition isn’t. Another great example is Woody Allen’s Bananas (1971). Besides the dead-on caricature of Allen, Davis is able to sum up the entire film in a single illustration. Forget a trailer, I would rather have Jack Davis’ poster. Even when the film is utterly forgettable, Jack Davis’ art is not. It’s so fun and full of chaos, that sometimes the poster gives the film more credit than it deserves.

 Stay tuned for Part Two…

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It’s genuinely a hard task to pick my favorite cartoonist out of the original Mad Magazine crew. I admire Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Elder, Wally Wood and Jack Davis all greatly, and for different reasons. They were amazing draftsmen and funny as all get out. But I think Jack Davis would win out in the inking category. His inks are amazing to look at; the variety of line weight, the tangible texture of clothes and faces that he is able to create from the stroke of a pen, is not only instructive but really pleasing to the eye (much of this attention to detail is on display on the splash page of “Hoohaw”).

But the thing I notice most about a Jack Davis drawing: the shoes and hands. The men’s shoes have such great detail and specificity. And the hands, well, they may be, hands down (oi!), the best in the business; you can see every joint, how they all work together to form an actual, functional mechanism. Indeed, a Jack Davis comic panel is a treat to behold.

Long live Jack Davis, the King of Hands!

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