Tuesday, August 16, 2016

RIP Jack Davis

On July 27, Jack Davis passed away. He was yet another artist featured by Atlas in the 1950s. My favourite Davis work at Atlas were his westerns - he did a few Rawhide Kid stories and drew the adventures of a lesser-known character the Gunsmoke Kid, who had an interesting backstory (I wrote up the Gunsmoke Kid's biography for Marvel Westerns: Outlaw Files). His loose, jangly style gave his western comics a little more jive than most. When his characters leapt into action, you felt the thrill.

But Davis isn't remembered mainly for his Atlas work, but rather his EC stories. Personally, I don't feel he entirely fits in with the other horror artists of the day - there's something a little too upbeat about his lines versus those of Graham Ingels or Bernie Krigstein. Still, he did produce one of the most notorious horror stories of the 50s - "Foul Play" - which, come to think of it, is probably more acceptable under his pen than most of the other EC artists ("Foul Play" is the story where a baseball player is torn up and his body parts used to decorate the ball field).

EC's Mad Magazine turned out to be the perfect place for him; in fact, even before I knew his name I associated his art with Mad (ditto Sergio Aragones). Whether it was a Davis-drawn commercial advertisement or motion picture poster, to me Davis was Mad. He was one of the first to join the Usual Gang of Idiots and he shall be missed.

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