Jack Davis, the prolific Mad magazine illustrator, cartoonist and movie poster artist, died July 27 in St. Simons, Ga. He was 91.
His son-in-law, Chris Lloyd, confirmed the death but did not provide a cause.
A transplanted Southerner, Mr. Davis arrived in Manhattan in the late 1940s and found work inking the strip “The Saint” at the New York Herald-Tribune. He struggled to sell his own strips and said he was “about ready to give up, go home to Georgia and be either a forest ranger or a farmer.”
Then, in 1950, he scored the first of many sales of his artwork to EC Comics, which published a line of horror titles including “Tales from the Crypt.”
He stuck with its editors — William M. Gaines, Albert B. Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman — when they launched the satire magazine Mad in 1952. He remained a member of “The Usual Gang of Idiots” (as the magazine billed them) for the next six decades. His far-flung illustrations poked fun at politicians and celebrities, and he drew countless portraits of the magazine’s perpetually grinning mascot, Alfred E. Neuman.
Mr. Davis also created covers for TV Guide and Time and provided artwork for books, record jackets and posters for comedy films, among them Stanley Kramer’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963), Woody Allen’s “Bananas” (1971) and “The Bad News Bears” (1976).
In 1961, he wrote, drew and edited his own comic book, “Yak Yak,” for Dell Comics.
While Mr. Davis was masterful at caricatures of recognizable figures, he took amusing liberties with all his subjects, endowing them with distinctly large heads, pipe-stem legs and snowshoe-size feet.
The National Cartoonists Society gave him its lifetime achievement award in 1996, and he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2005.
Jack Burton Davis Jr. was born in Atlanta on Dec. 2, 1924. As a child, he was an avid cartoon reader, displayed a talent for drawing and began entering (and winning) comic contests. After Navy service in World War II, during which he drew for a base newspaper on Guam, he attended the University of Georgia on the G.I. Bill and studied under artist Lamar Dodd.
Dodd urged him to move to New York to continue his education at the Art Students League. Although Mr. Davis never graduated from the University of Georgia, he continued to produce innumerable billboards and other artwork celebrating the university’s sports teams throughout his life.
Survivors include his wife, the former Dena Roquemore, and two children.
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