Friday, May 11, 2018
MAD's Original Idiots - Jack Davis!
There's little doubt in my reckoning that Jack Davis was the most successful of the artists to erupt from the pages of MAD. When I was a lad you couldn't read a magazine or nearly look at TV without encountering a Davis drawing or design. He was darn near ubiquitous in magazine ads and movie posters and whatnot, in addition to his work in comics from time to time found in reprints and such. Davis had an energetic style which demanded the eye attend to it, his muscular grotesques were oddly enchanting despite his own tendency to exaggerate the human form into all manner of weird distortions.
Davis has the distinction of having drawn the very first story in MAD, the notorious "Hoohah!" which was a spoof of EC's very own terror tales. Apparently his general disdain for these stories, which he had a talent for, was one reason he was so eager to tag into the MAD experiment.
Davis was tapped to draw the cover of the very next issue, though it would be his last for quite some time. But Davis was a regular contributor to the comic for its earliest Kurtzman led years. He left the book when Kurtzman did, but not before giving us some great funny artwork.
All the Kurtzman written and Davis drawn stories are in this handy paperback. The Lone Stranger rides and rides again in a delightful sequel. We meet Casey at the Bat and Alice in Wonderland among other literary classics. Davis was a powerhouse and his power would continue to bloom throughout his long career.