Thank you so much to everyone who made it out to The Strand last night as our own Gary Groth chatted with the legendary cartoonist Jack Davis! If you missed out, or you're just MAD for more, you're in luck!
In his first solo exhibition at the gallery, the iconic artist will present a collection of his ingenious drawings from across his half-century long career. Included are watercolors used on the cover of Time and TV Guide; comic book pages from MAD; Davis' famously gnarled football illustrations; and a rogue's gallery of cowboys, hunters and frustrated politicians. Plus, there will be a surprise or two from his classic Bill Gaines' 1950's EC ComicsThe Crypt of Terror and Two-Fisted Tales. This exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the process and career trajectory one of America's greatest visual commentators.
Jack Davis arrived on the illustration scene in the euphoric post-war America of the late 1940s when consumer society was booming and the work force identified with commercial images that reflected this underlying sense of confidence and American bravado. Advertising agencies were looking for new ways to tap a rich and expanding market, and there was a vast array of media that needed illustrations. Davis’ animated and exuberant images possessed a sense of spontaneous energy that proved to have universal appeal in every medium he worked in.
Beginning with his masterful pen and ink cartooning at EC Comics, he quickly forged a reputation as one of the most versatile artists in comics, drawing humor, horror, and war stories. In Harvey Kurtzman’s MAD, especially, Davis made a mark as a master of caricature, composition, and wild, anarchic crowd scenes, practically vibrating with energy.
After stints at MAD, Trump, and Humbug — three humor magazines that defined the satirical zeitgeist of the ’50s — Davis went on to become the most successful commercial illustrator of his generation, illustrating movie posters, magazine articles, magazine fiction, LP jackets, and more.
Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture is a gigantic, unparalleled career-spanning retrospective, between whose hard covers resides the greatest collection — in terms of both quantity and quality — of Jack Davis’ work ever assembled! It includes work from every stage of his long and varied career, such as: excerpts of satirical drawings from his college humor ’zine, The Bull Sheet; examples of his comics work from EC, MAD, Humbug, Trump, and obscure work he did for other companies in the 1950s such as Dell; movie posters including It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Bad News Bears, Woody Allen’s Bananas, The Party, and others; LP jacket art for such musicians and bands as Hans Conreid and the Creature Orchestra’s Monster Rally, Spike Jones and Ben Cooler; cartoons and illustrations from Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, Esquire, and many others; unpublished illustrations and drawings Davis did as self-promotional pieces, proposed comic strips that never sold (such as his Civil War epic “Beaureagard”), finished drawings for unrealized magazine projects — and even illustrations unearthed in the Davis archives that the artist himself can’t identify!
Much of the material will be scanned directly from original art, showing the painterly brush strokes and black and white pen work with far greater fidelity than any previous reproduction ever has. Many paintings and illustrations are accompanied by preliminary drawings that demonstrate the evolution of Davis’ drawing process.
In the back of the book you'll find a biography of Davis by Gary Groth, as well as tributes and testimonals written by a spectrum of Davis's cartoonist contemporaries and fans including Sergio Aragonés, Peter Bagge, Coop, Bob Fingerman, Drew Friedman, Bill Griffith, Al Jaffee, Joe Kubert, Peter Kuper, Tony Millionaire, Nate Neal, Spain Rodriguez and Jim Woodring.
Download a PDF excerpt (33.2 MB) with a smattering of 22 pages from the book.
• Review: "Shimura Takako’s story of two adolescents—a boy who wants to be a girl and a girl who wants to be a boy—isn’t exactly fast-paced in terms of plot, but [Wandering Son] book 2 continues the excellent work of book 1 and raises the emotional stakes a bit.... There’s... a slowly unfolding pleasure to Shimura’s story. Sensitive to the plight of young teenagers and potentially transgender youth alike, she’s managed to create a compelling story without including much that, considered in isolation, is particularly dramatic, which speaks to the realism of her efforts." – Hillary Brown, Paste
• Review: "This is really fantastic storytelling. Another review of this volume [Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes] compared it to Tintin, and I think that’s very apt. There’s the adventures in foreign lands, the constant peril, the occasional wacky gags thrown in to alleviate said peril, and of course good old American ingenuity that, thankfully, never verges on jingoism quite as much as Tintin sometimes did.... I picked this up thinking it’d be a good chance to see if I liked Carl Barks and what the fuss was all about. Well, now I get it – and I’m hooked. ...[T]his is well worth the purchase for any fan of classic comics." – Sean Gaffney, Manga Bookshelf
• Review: "Kelly’s genius was the ability to beautifully, vivaciously draw comedic, tragic, pompous, sympathetic characters of any shape or breed and make them inescapably human and he used that gift to blend hard-hitting observation of our crimes, foibles and peccadilloes with rampaging whimsy, poesy and sheer exuberant joie de vivre. The hairy, scaly, feathered slimy folk here are inescapably us, elevated by burlesque, slapstick, absurdism and all the glorious joys of wordplay from puns to malapropisms to raucous accent humour into a multi-layered hodge-podge of all-ages accessible delight.... Timeless and magical, Pogo is a giant of world literature, not simply comics, and this magnificent edition should be the pride of every home’s bookshelf." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...I was extremely impressed by Santiago's artistic abilities. He manages to shift the comic page in ways you'd never think of for a biography, using all sorts of layouts, from jagged panels to Family Circus ovals to standard grid formats. His characters wiggle their way through when in motion, show their feelings on faces that are slightly oversized and full of expression, and sometimes contort themselves into shapes that aren't quite natural. It's an artistic tour de force and shows that bio comics do not have to be the stolid, one step at a time narrative that we often see. ...21 is an excellent book... Clemente is every bit the important figure in baseball history that Robinson was, and more people need to know his story. 21 is an excellent place to start, either for you or the baseball fan in your life." – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
How often do you get the chance to hear Jack Davis speak about his extensive and influential career? And how often are we able to pair him on stage with our one and only Gary Groth leading the interview?
You can either buy the book or a $10 Strand Gift Card in order to attend this event, but I'm sure you've already done that, RIGHT? Both options admit two people.
So, join Jack and Gary for this exciting event Thursday night at 7:00 PM, in the Rare Book Room on the 3rd Floor of The Strand [ 828 Broadway (at 12th St.) ].
For the first time ever, Fantagraphics will be exhibiting at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival! Come visit us this Saturday, December 3rd from 12:00 - 9:00 PM for a wealth of debuts, artist appearances, and the great Gary Groth manning the table!
Gary will be joined by a truly all-star cast of artists for our first BCGF:
Where can you find all this awesome? Fantagraphics will be in the downstairs section at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church [ 275 North 8th Street ], at tables 31 & 32:
And finally, make sure you don't miss our artists in these panels! These will all take place at Union Pool [ 484 Union Avenue # A ], and the panels are free and open to the public:
1:30 PM // JACK DAVIS Q+A
Legendary cartoonist Jack Davis made his mark producing horror and war stories for EC Comics, before finding his métier in satire as one of the original (and longest running) artists for MAD Magazine. As a prolific illustrator, Davis defined the caricatural style of the 1960s and 1970s—and beyond. In this rare public appearance, Davis will discuss his career with Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth and illustrator Drew Friedman.
[ Jack Davis fans, please note: he will also be appearing on Friday, December 2nd at the opening of his exhibit at the Scott Eder Gallery! Don't miss it! ]
2:30 PM // GESTURAL AESTHETICS
As comics have evolved beyond their commercial roots toward more individualistic modes of expression, they have been infused with new influences from other fields of art including printmaking, collage and painting. Additionally, new printing technologies have permitted the reproduction of artwork that more closely shows the work of an artist’s hand. Austin English, Dunja Jankovic and Frank Santoro will discuss new aesthetics in comics with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.
6:00 PM // THE LANGUAGE IN COMICS
The recent embrace of graphic novels by the publishing industry has led to misguided attempts to evaluate comics according to the standards and conventions of literary fiction. The writing in comics occupies a more peculiar place, with its own constraints and opportunities. John Porcellino, Gabrielle Bell, and David Sandlin will discuss the particular demands of writing within a visually-driven form in this conversation moderated by novelist Myla Goldberg.
So, get ready! And we'll see you in Brooklyn this Saturday!
• Review: "The good news: it’s here, it’s real. The better news: it’s incredible. Walt Kelly’s lively, robust, and poetic world is faithfully and lovingly produced in this, the first of a proposed twelve volume series. The hardcover is printed horizontally, maintaining the integrity of the 'strip' format, with ample margins to avoid any gutter-loss. Fantagraphics knew this first volume would be scrutinized by hardcore Pogofans, and they’ve outdone expectations, dating each strip, providing historical context for the more esoteric 1940s references, and even reproducing the color Sunday strips.... Through the Wild Blue Wonder is one of our Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2011, and there might not be a better gift this holiday for the historical and literary comics fan." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Review: "The usually tight-gripped Disney empire agreed to turn over their most treasured property to Fantagraphics (yes, again!). The results are eye-opening, featuring a Mickey that might be unfamiliar to most present-day fans. The stories are dense, packing plenty of dialogue into the strips — and the themes are darker than the bright-eyed, factory-sealed tales of today. Mickey is multi-dimensional in the first volume, Race to Death Valley, making rash decisions without much concern for everyone’s safety. Thankfully, Minnie is by his side to both reign him in and sometimes encourage his recklessness. The reproduction is crisp — the black inks are meticulous in their separation, and the book is augmented with over 50 pages of essays and Mickey esoterica. Volume 2, Trapped on Treasure Island, published last month, and Fantagraphics has a gift edition slipcase that contains both volumes. This dynamic look is a revelation in the life of the character who started it all for Disney." – Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
• Plug: At Comic Book Resources' "Black Friday Comics Shopping Guide": "Fantagraphics is all over the legacies of some of the best artists ever to work for the Walt Disney company with Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse, vol. 1 ($29.99) and Carl Barks' Donald Duck ($24.99). Disney's most famous characters need no introduction, but their modern incarnations are so far from their roots that these collections will surprise anyone seeing these strips for the first time. Any of these volumes is a guaranteed smile."
• Plug: Deb Aoki's Manga Gift Guide at About.com Manga includes Wandering Son Vols. 1 & 2 by Shimura Takako: "This critically acclaimed series is available as over-sized hardcovers, which makes them especially gift-worthy, but the story is also charming and sensitive in a way that doesn't bash the reader over the head with a preachy agenda. Volume 2 is due out soon, so get that too if you can."
• Review: "...Kevin Avery’s Everything Is an Afterthought... chronicles the dramatic life of one of music’s keenest observers, Paul Nelson, and curates his finest critiques.... I read and adored [Nelson] growing up, but reading [him] in the context of today’s critical standards gave me the literary equivalent to the bends. It goes without saying that, in the age of the Internet, the whole idea of a critic has changed." – Jim Farber, New York Daily News
• Review: "It could well be ten years since I last read these stories [in Queen of the Black Black], and I’d either forgotten or never appreciated (my money’s on the latter) how astute and insightful they could be. Like a proto-Kevin Huizenga, [Megan Kelso] repeatedly turns up little rocks of human experience and chronicles what’s going on underneath, reintroducing us to feelings, sensations, and experiences we’d forgotten we’d had but recognize as if they happened this morning." – Sean T. Collins, The Comics Journal
• Review: "This collection of early stories from Megan Kelso shows a natural flair for the form, mixed with a self-critical determination to hone her craft, that’s helped her blossom into a master storyteller.... Anyone looking for a masterful example of the short story in comics would do well to give [Queen of the Black Black] a try. Beautifully written and well illustrated, this a wonderful portfolio of work from a creator showing a deep well of promise from the start." – Grovel
• Review: "...[E]asily... one of my favorite horror comics and one of my contenders for my Best of 2011 list.... Not only is the book carefully structured, it looks stunning.... The Hidden is a story that must be experienced to fully appreciate... There is an excellent story of slow-building despair to be found in its pages, with gorgeous depictions and coloring and a horror story that shocks, surprises, and entertains. Don't let this one get hidden on your shelves! It may not be Halloween, but I still give this book my highest recommendation!" – Rob McMonigal, Panel Patter
• Review: "Volume 2 of Fantagraphics' Gottfredson Library, which takes us up through the beginning of 1934, maintains the high production standards and copious ancillaries of the first volume.... Tom Andrae's opening essay emphasizes, with good reason, how Gottfredson "spun off" many of his early narratives from the plots of animated cartoons. IMHO, however, the Mickey strip truly became "great" once Gottfredson gained the confidence to craft his own plots." – Chris Barat
• Profile:Paul Gravett surveys the work of David B. and presents a transcript of his bookstore discussion with the artist this past summer (hat tip to TCJ.com's Tim Hodler)
• Plug: Pulitzer-winning author and known Love and Rockets fan Junot Díaz names Poison River by Gilbert Hernandez (collected in Beyond Palomar) one of his top 10 favorite books in an excerpt from Unpacking My Library: Writers and their Books posted at The Financial Times
• Plug:Oil and Water receives an excellent feature in the new issue of the Audubon Society of Portland Warbler newsletter, which can be downloaded here
• Tribute: At The Comics Journal, Bill Griffith remembers meeting, and later collaborating with, the late Bil Keane: "I was surprised when Bil told me he read Zippy in his local Arizona paper and liked it. He didn’t even qualify his opinion with the usual, “Of course, I don’t always get it.” Until then, I hadn’t paid much attention to The Family Circus, but I slowly began to see that you could read more into it than what appeared on the surface. This was before internet wise guys began mashing up random Friedrich Nietzsche lines for Billy and Jeffy’s and riffing on the strip as unconscious surrealism. But The Family Circus didn’t need hipsters to substitute incongruous dialogue to make the case that it was unconscious surrealism. It was unconscious surrealism on its own."
One of America's most beloved and best known cartoonists, Jack Davis, will make a series of extremely rare appearances in New York City and Brooklyn in early December, to promote his new art book, JACK DAVIS: DRAWING AMERICAN POP CULTURE (published by Fantagraphics Books). These personal appearances will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a living legend and one of medium's greatest practicioners.
On Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7PM, Davis will appear at New York's renowned Strand Bookstore, in conversation with Fantagraphics Books Publisher Gary Groth. The event will feature the world premiere of JACK DAVIS: DRAWING AMERICAN POP CULTURE.
On Friday, Dec. 2 at 6PM, Davis will be in attendance for an exhibition of his original art at the Scott Eder Gallery in Brooklyn.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, Davis will appear with Fantagraphics at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival, signing copies of JACK DAVIS: DRAWING AMERICAN POP CULTURE throughout the day and participating in a panel discussion with Gary Groth about his life and career (exact times t.b.a.).
Jack Davis arrived on the illustration scene in the euphoric post-war America of the late 1940s when consumer society was booming and the work force identified with commercial images that reflected this underlying sense of confidence and American bravado. Advertising agencies were looking for new ways to tap a rich and expanding market, and there was a vast array of media that needed illustrations. Davis' animated and exuberant images possessed a sense of spontaneous energy that proved to have universal appeal in every medium he worked in.
Beginning with his masterful pen and ink cartooning at EC Comics, he quickly forged a reputation as one of the most versatile artists in comics, drawing humor, horror, and war stories. In Harvey Kurtzman's MAD, especially, Davis made a mark as a master of caricature, composition, and wild, anarchic crowd scenes, practically vibrating with energy.
After stints at MAD, Trump, and Humbug — three humor magazines that defined the satirical zeitgeist of the '50s — Davis went on to become the most successful commercial illustrator of his generation, illustrating movie posters, magazine articles, magazine fiction, LP jackets, and more.
Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture is a gigantic, unparalleled career-spanning retrospective, between whose hard covers resides the greatest collection — in terms of both quantity and quality — of Jack Davis' work ever assembled!
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