Jack Davis, a caricature artist and founding member of MAD magazine who designed covers for TIME magazine, died Wednesday. He was 91.
The Atlanta native started his career at the University of Georgia's campus publications before moving to New York City to take evening classes at the Art Students League. His freelance comic art for William Gaines' EC Comics helped earned him a place in the so-called "Usual Gang of Idiots," the group that started the humor publication MAD magazine in 1952. He went on to do the movie posters for the 1963 slapstick comedy It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and for '70s flicks, such as Woody Allen's Bananas and Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye.
But when the culture news outlet The A.V. Club asked Davis in 2011 what illustrations he's most proud of, the cartoonist said his TIME magazine covers —which, as seen above, spoofed the most influential figures and events of the '70s, from football's Joe Namath and the Super Bowl to U.S. presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. "The one I did of Ford rolling up his sleeves is about one of my best," he said. "And the one with Kissinger."
All of these illustrations were done with little "direction" from the editors, he added:
I think with TIME magazine, when I had an assignment to do the cover, I could get any type of a picture I wanted, whether it was a profile or a smile or anger, you couldn’t miss it. And I copied the photograph among the covers that I’d pick from, and I made up the rest, the body language and everything else...You’re on your own and there are editors to please, so you do what you can, and I’ve done what I could.
He received two of his profession's most prestigious awards — The Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 and the Reuben Award in 2000 — and the Society of Illustrators inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2005.