"Political Parody"   Lot no. 4107

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By Jack Davis (1926-2016)

2009 (Estimated)
10.50" x 24.00;" Framed 15.00" x 29.50"
Watercolor on Paper
Signed Lower Right



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            Davis was born in Atlanta and studied art at the University of Georgia under the G.I Bill following three years in the Navy.

            After moving to New York in 1949 and studying at the Art Students League at night, he made his first entry into the art field as an inker for a comic strip, “The Saint.” He was soon heavily involved in comic art of every description, and became one of its top practitioners for Mad Magazine, Trump, Playboy, and many other publications.

Jack has illustrated more than 100 books. He is an award-winning advertising artist with countless print ads to his credit. He’s a much imitated comic book artist and a prolific magazine illustrator​ for Esquire, Playboy, LIFE, and many others​. He worked for MAD - off and on - for 46 years. He’s a world-renowned caricaturist. He has illustrated​ many magazine covers including 23 for TV Guide​ ​and for ​25 ​for ​TIME magazin​e. He has done ​more than 65 record album covers and more than 40 movie posters in addition to animation, games, calendars, greeting cards​ and ​t-shirt designs.

​Jack retired in 2014 at the age of 90.​           


Updated 6/28/16- Jack Davis, Part of Mad Magazine's Usual Gang of Idiots, Dies at 91- New York Times

Jack Davis, an illustrator who poked fun at celebrities and politicians in Mad magazine for decades and whose work appeared on the covers of Time and TV Guide, died on Wednesday in St. Simons Island, Ga. He was 91. The cause was complications of a stroke, his son, Jack Davis III, said.

Mr. Davis was a prolific artist, drawing posters for movies like “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and “The Long Goodbye,” as well as record album covers.

“There wasn’t anything Jack couldn’t do,” Mad’s editor, John Ficarra, said in a statement on the magazine’s website. “Front covers, caricatures, sports scenes, monsters — his comedic range was just incredible.”

He got his start in 1950 selling drawings to EC Comics, which published horror fiction titles like “Tales From the Crypt.” Two years later, amid an outcry over the potentially harmful effects of violent comics on children, the company started what became Mad magazine, edited by Harvey Kurtzman. Mr. Davis was a member of the “Usual Gang of Idiots,” the nickname for the crew that put out the magazine.

“There is not a humorous illustrator in the past 50 years who hasn’t been influenced by him,” the magazine’s current art director, Sam Viviano, said in its statement.

Gary Groth, president of Fantagraphics Books, publisher of “Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture — A Career Retrospective,” said Mr. Davis was known for his speed. 

”When he was drawing comics stories for EC Comics,’’ Mr. Groth wrote in an email, “he would draw a story in a week that would take other artists two or three weeks.” He added that Mr. Davis’s drawings “were often samples of controlled chaos — multiple, sometimes dozens, of figures, all of which were miraculously distinguished from one another.’’

Jack Burton Davis Jr. was born in Atlanta on Dec. 2, 1924, the only child of Callie Davis, a schoolteacher, and Jack Davis, a salesman. After high school, he joined the Navy, serving in Guam, where he drew a comic called Boondocker for The Navy Times.

He returned to his home state and enrolled in the University of Georgia, where he drew for the student newspaper. Before long, his teachers were encouraging him to go to New York to pursue his art career. He moved north and enrolled in classes at the Art Students League. 

His early work was dark, craggy, and high contrast, while most illustrators at the time used more realistic and flattering styles, said Chris Garvin, the director of the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. 

“He really looks like a painter in the way he uses a marker,” Mr. Garvin said. “That is something new for illustration at that time.” 

His work softened later on. He became known for drawing all sorts of characters with oversized heads and feet, and skinny legs between.

He established himself as a versatile artist known for producing distinctive work quickly. He soon expanded into movie posters, advertising, album covers and other promotional materials.

“I remember going into New York and seeing big, three-story posters, and he’d say, ‘I did that!’ ” Mr. Davis’s son recalled. “There was a time when every single day, you could go to the supermarket or train station, and you could see his work. Those were the glory years.” 

Mr. Davis and his wife, Dena, returned to Georgia from New York in the 1990s, settling on St. Simons Island in a house that their son, an architect, designed. 

The National Cartoonists Society honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 1996, and he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2005.

In addition to his son and his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Katie Lloyd, and two grandchildren.