Artist Jack Davis passed away on Wednesday at the age of 91, due to complications of a stroke, according to his son. If you don’t know the name of Jack Davis, you most likely know his work. You don’t even need to be a horror fan to recognize it, since it has been on everything from movie posters, TV Guide, Time Magazine, and of course, Mad Magazine.
After doing little jobs here and there early in his career, he started working for E.C. Comics near the end of 1950, with the story The Living Mummy, which appeared in the fourth issue of Haunt of Fear. E.C. owner Bill Gaines said that not only was Davis talented, but also very fast, something that really helps in the comic business. “He could turn out a seven-to-eight page story in two to three days if he really wanted to.”
His most infamous piece for E.C. was for the story Foul Play, where a team of baseball players take revenge on another player, in a very gruesome manner. This was written by Gaines and Al Feldstein, but illustrated by Davis. It appeared in The Haunt of Fear # 19, which was published in 1953. This issue in particular caused quite a stir during the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency at the time.
He worked with E.C., eventually working on Mad Magazine, before leaving with Harvey Kurtzman to create a project for Hugh Hefner. That didn’t last long and Davis was doing a bunch of different things from books and magazine covers, record albums, and even movie posters. He eventually made his way back to Mad Magazine in 1967 and worked there until he decided to retire from them in 1997.
There probably isn’t a horror artist alive that doesn’t know Davis and his work, and his contributions to those horror comics back in the ’50s really set the pace for a lot of future horror fans and artists. So while we morn his passing, he has left the world an incredible amount of art we can always visit, and still admire it and be amazed.
Gone, but never forgotten.