FEAST YOUR EYES :: JACK DAVIS: DRAWING AMERICAN POP CULTURE

September 20, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Feast Your Eyes, Reviews

When you think of the comic artists with the most recognizable drawing style, the usual suspects immediately come to mind–Jack Kirby, John Romita, Neal Adams, et.al.
But there is one artist who  is recognizable to almost every American (okay–of a certain age).
Now, when I was 10 years old I was a huge fan of MAD Magazine — it was the late 60s and arguably at it’s second creative peak.  I was beginning to identify (and quantify) different art styles.  That  year, my father took me to a revival of his favorite comedy It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I loved the movie. (a three hour comedy–why not??–give me a break– I was only 10)
The very next day, as I was still buzzing from that comedic onslaught, I spotted the ad for the movie in the local paper and I noticed the caricatures of all the comedians who appeared in the film and (gasp!) I recognized the artist.
It was Jack Davis from MAD.  This changed everything!!!  (Well, not really, but give me some artistic liscence here.)  Once I saw this poster, I began to notice Davis’ art everywhere–More movie ads, Album covers, Magazine covers, cartoon advertisements.
And this book–Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture celebrates and showcases the drawings that made Jack Davis famous and even iconic to three generations of non-comic fans (civilians–bah!) who could recognize his art by sight but most certainly never knew his name.
And for over three decades, his art was everywhere–most notably– his regular gig as cover artist for TIME and TV Guide. This was during the years that they were the two best selling magazines in the world.  Millions enjoyed the Jack Davis drawings.
In addition to all the Jack Davis commercial art — the book includes a beautifully written and insightful biography by Fantagraphics Publisher Gary Groth–you may love him, you may hate him, but either way– he is a terrific writer who knows how to interview and his sentences just flow off the page. The book also includes testimonials from a number of iconic artists who laud Davis’ talent and influence.  My only caveat: The book is brimming with 200 large pages of Davis art and for $50.00, it is an ideal size and a reasonable price, but I came away from the book wanting more.  I would have loved to see more art from the MAD heydays like:
But the book could have doubled or tripled in size (and price).  What is included will certainly do–and do very well!!!
Now I know I’ve recommended a lot of high priced Comic Art Books, so the question you probably want answered is–how essential is Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop?
Simply put:  Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find is kind enough to loan me books so I can read, analyse, review and then return. Once I was finished with it, instead of returning Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop, I bought it.  I had to own it.  It is that good.
If the folks at IDW, Fantagraphics and other publishers continue to publish quality comic art books like this one –well, as Chief Brody might say–“We’re gonna need a bigger coffee table
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