The Mad, Mad, Mad ‘Mad’ Artist: Remembering Jack Davis, 1924-2016
ComicsAlliance is saddened to report that Jack Davis, the legendary artist best known for his work on EC's Tales from the Crypt, MAD Magazine, and the incredible posters for films like The Long Goodbye and It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, has died. He was 91 years old.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1924, Davis was an artist from a young age, attempting to draw Bob Hope after hearing him on the radio, despite having no idea what the man actually looked like. In 1949, he used the money from illustrating a training manual for Coca-Cola to travel to New York, where he got a job working for Bill Gaines, and quickly became one of EC's most recognizable, influential, and imitated artists, both on their horror titles and MAD.
Davis's work was always marked by incredible detail and exaggerated forms, and while he flourished creating the lurid, shocking stories in EC's horror books, it was MAD where he developed the grimy, disheveled caricature style that would define his career for the next fifty years. His renditions of celebrities in MAD led him to work on magazines like Time, and he became a staple in advertising after drawing the poster for It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World in 1963, which perfectly captured the wild, wacky spirit of the film.
Unsurprisingly, given his long and influential career, Davis won the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cartoonist's Society in 1996, and was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2003. His influence goes far beyond awards, though, to multiple generations of artists inspired by the weight, humor, and incredible detail of his work.