The Great Jack Davis: From Tales of Crypt to Tales of Bulldog

People of a certain age first came upon Jack Davis on the pages of MAD, along with Tales of the Crypt and other comic books and magazines, where he was among the artists whose illustrations were so violent and gruesome that the publishers were set upon by a phalanx of congressional committees, hysterical parents, and a certain New York psychiatrist by the name of Frederick Wertheim.

His bestselling book, Seduction of the Innocent, caught the attention of the public to the point that the terrified comic book industry drew up a “voluntary” Comics Code that toned down Davis’s and other similar artists to the point where they could stay safely under the Congressional radar. Even MAD itself became but a shadow of its former self after an initial two-year run of being something really special.

And yet Davis himself, like most other intelligent artists and illustrators, never believed in putting all of his proverbial eggs in one easily smashed basket. After the Comic Code crackdown, he continued for many years to draw for MAD in a slightly gentler but equally maniacal style, somewhat altered for the G-rated audience but still the same Jack Davis underneath it all. He also worked for dozens of other magazines, ad campaigns, and pretty much anywhere else where his work could pay the rent. Such is the life of a lifelong freelancer.

But what interests us the most about Jack Davis’s career isn’t the human skulls that represented bases on a baseball diamond, or the bizarre tales spun by the hideous old witch who methodically emerged from the crypt every month. It’s those spectacularly ugly and yet beautiful Georgia Bulldogs that Davis has drawn for the football program covers of his beloved alma mater. This 1985 depiction of the fight to the death between Jawja Dog and Gainesville Gator is perhaps the most perfect example of his game day artwork we’ve ever seen, and we think you might agree..

Oh, and down on the field, the men in red and black must have been inspired by Davis’s depiction of mayhem, as they took a previously unbeaten Florida eleven and methodically ground them into a bloody pulp, a most fitting feast for a bulldog.

Click here to buy a poster of this program cover.

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