Just at the grocery store and received a text from my girlfriend Andrea telling me that Jack Davis had died.
There is one clichéd question every comic artist gets asked a million times. “Who are your influences?” My abbreviated answer is, “Will Eisner, Jack Davis, & Wally Wood.” That is the simplified list of my comic book heroes. The trifecta who's work I’ve endlessly stared at and have been jealous of. Jack Davis is without question one of the greatest cartoonist to have ever lived. His work on EC Comics, MAD Magazine, TV Guide and countless other commercial illustrations… what is there to say? It speaks for itself. I’ve always felt somewhat of an unsubstantiated kinship with Davis. Being that we are both southern boys who made it in comics. Both worked in horror and humor. We’re both football fans. Heck, our teams, his Georgia Bulldogs, which he did illustrations for, and my Green Bay Packers (proud shareholder) have practically the same logo. Georgia having the black “G” in the white oval and the Packers having a white “G” in a green oval. It’s that kind of dumb trivial stuff that you create in your head to link yourself to your heroes. It means nothing but just gives me more of an excuse to love him.
When Tony Moore and Rick Remender pulled off getting a Jack Davis cover for the premiere of their book Fear Agent, a love letter to EC Comics Sci-Fi if ever their was one, I was simultaneously thrilled and envious of them. I dreamed of getting a Davis cover for the Goon but thought the content was not something he would care for. Especially since I had heard he wasn’t particularly proud of his old EC horror stuff. Some years passed and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to at least ask. To my shock and amazement he liked the art in the books we sent him and agreed to do a cover. I gave him very little art direction other than to do whatever he wanted and to draw the Goon like a linebacker. A reference I knew he’d get. Because there was no story to go with the cover, I thought I would just do a one shot to fit. The Goon: One for the Road became my tribute to Jack Davis. I don’t think it’s a great comic, but it was done out of admiration and respect. The best part by far is the Jack Davis cover. Having him do a cover for me was one of my all time career highlights. Shortly after this cover he officially retired and I realized how extremely lucky I was to get it. It was one of his last illustrations.
So, I’m gonna crack open a bottle of bourbon, sit here staring at this Jack Davis Goon cover (of coarse I bought it!), and raise a glass to a hero.
Thanks for all the inspiration, Mr. Davis.
(Jack Davis Goon prelim sketches)