The Art Of Jack Davis! compiled by Hank Harrison (book review).

In case you think I only read serious books, I recently embarked on a private project to identify the work of American cartoonists from the 1960s-1970s. During this endeavor, I discovered “The Art of Jack Davis!” While I was primarily familiar with Davis (1924-2016) for his artwork in Mad Magazine, this book by compiler Hank Harrison reveals that his career spanned a variety of mediums. However, I do find it peculiar that the book cover is repeatedly used as section dividers within the book – a decision that seems fittingly mad.

Interestingly, Davis admitted that he struggled with drawing women, though perhaps he should have specified that he found drawing attractive women challenging. This seems like a peculiar weakness, as the secret to drawing women often lies in using fewer lines, as the human eye associates curves with the female form.

I was intrigued to learn that Davis’ film poster work began with a couple of British films. While his “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” poster is noted as one of his most well-known creations, it is not featured in the book. This omission could be due to difficulties in obtaining permission or issues with reproducing the highly detailed image in black and white at a smaller scale.

Davis attributed his prolific output to his ability to work quickly and draw well.

In many ways, this book serves more as a checklist of Davis’ work than as a comprehensive collection of his cartoons. While some of the jokes are discernible, others are not, resulting in an incomplete representation of his art. That being said, many of the original works are likely still available, so this book can at least guide enthusiasts in their search for Davis’ complete body of work.

GF Willmetts

March 2023

(pub: Binary Publications, 2012. 144 page illustrated large softcover. Price: . ISBN: 978-0-9854807-2-1)

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