As a kid growing up in Georgia in the 1970s and 1980s, my first exposure to Jack Davis’ art was his University of Georgia Bulldog sports art. As I grew older, of course, I learned about the far-reaching variety of illustrations and stories he has produced throughout his career. Recently I discovered that cartoonist Patrick Dean had curated an exhibition of Davis’ career for the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens: “Beyond the Bulldog: Jack Davis,” which runs through Jan. 6.
Soon after the exhibit’s Nov. 3 opening, I lined up Dean for an interview, in which he discusses how much Davis’ family is involved with, and interested in, orchestrating exhibits of the artist’s work. He also talks about what makes Davis’ work resonate with him.
Tim O’Shea: How did you come to be involved as the curator of the project?
Patrick Dean: I majored in graphic design here at the University of Georgia, with a focus on illustration. In my senior year of 1998, Jack Davis, a UGA alumnus, visited the graphic design building. He stopped by a few classes, told stories, passed out sketches, etc. Ridiculously pleasant guy. My illustration professor, Alex Murawski, knew I was a big fan of Davis’s work. From that year onwards the department started the Jack Davis Distinguished Visiting Artist Lecture Series. The graphic design department would invite illustrators and cartoonists to visit, talk to the classrooms, and then wind up with a big talk in a lecture hall. They’ve had people like Sergio Aragones, Arnold Roth, Anna Kunz, Mike Luckovich, to visit, and every year Davis would be in attendance. After I graduated in 1998, Murawski would always keep me in the loop on these talks.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d settle in first with Dark Horse Presents #14 (Dark Horse, #7.99). This is no mere anthology: Dark Horses seems to be increasingly using it as an alternate means to serialize new single issue stories, especially with this new issue, as the publisher has expanded it to 100-plus pages. Nexus, Finder, a new Ghost series, AND the new Buddy Cops series by Nate Cosby and Evan Shaner? Sold! Moving on from that, I’d next get Saga #5 (Image, $2.99), which is completely not what I wanted this to be, and turned into something else I want even more. My third and final pick of this big week is Avengers Vs. X-Men #8 (Marvel, $3.99). I believe this is Bendis’ first issue as the lead writer post-Phoenix Force 5 and I’m interested to see him bring his dialogue to this. Seeing Adam Kubert on this brings up some questions for me, as I never really saw Kubert’s style fitting in with the overall aesthetic Marvel’s been pushing these past couple years.
If I had $30, I’d get a second anthology title – World War 3 Illustrated #43 (Top Shelf, $7.00). I’ve been remiss in buying this series for the past few years, but after stumbling over it in Previews a couple months back I made it a point to seek it out next time it came out. After that I’d get Glory #28 (Image, $2.99), Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell’s warrior-woman epic. Each issue manages to outclass the one before it, and I’m thrilled and surprised Ross has been able to do five entire issues with no delays or fill-ins. Finally, I’d get Daredevil #15 (Marvel, $2.99). The media-sensitive side of me is torn about this book now because for a time it was considered Marvel’s best kept secret, but now with the creative team coming out of the Eisners with a wheelbarrow full of awards I have to throw away my elitist mentality and fight off my expectations that the quality will drop now that it’s more well-known. Good thing Chris Samnee is on it, and they’re off to Latveria!
If I could splurge, I’d get Stuff of Legend Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Th3rd World Studios, $29.99). I remember reading a preview of this in a previous Free Comic Book Day sampler issue, but I seemed to have missed or forgotten about it in whatever single issues it’d been released in, so I’m glad I took notice of this. I’m a big fan of artist Charles Paul Wilson III, and this story of kids’ toys fighting in World War II sounds so crazily fun I’m excited to read it all in one sitting.
WonderCon opened its doors Friday at the Anaheim Convention Center, a first for the convention as it moves south from its usual San Francisco home this year. Will it be a permanent move? The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, who is at the show, has some thoughts on why that may not be a bad idea.
Here’s a round-up of news from yesterday at the show:
• Daredevil and Irredeemable writer Mark Waid announced several digital comics plans, beginning with a PDF comic available now on his website. The zombie comic, called Luther, is drawn by Jeremy Rock. It will be followed in May by a digital comics imprint. “In May, I’m rolling out a digital comics website where material will be going up in weekly or twice-weekly installments. But before that, on April 2, MarkWaid.com goes live again as a process blog for webcomics and what we’re doing. All throughout April, we’ll be giving sample material away for free, showing what the format can do, and I’ll be doing interviews with pioneers in this field. My own artists will also be there to talk about the projects we’re doing and how we’ll be building them.” Waid was also on hand for the Marvel House of Ideas panel, which went into detail on their recently announced digital and augmented reality plans.
Despite making its debut at shows like the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival last year, Fantagraphics’ Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture — A Career Retrospective has yet to be released to shops. If you’ve been wondering why it missed its December release date, Fantagraphics has posted an update on the book on their website:
…we noticed a quality control issue with this initial printing — namely, the covers were prone to warping — so we decided that the best course of action was to reprint the book. Of course, being the obsessive perfectionists that we are, we couldn’t resist making a few additional tweaks to the book first, including brand new cover art as shown above, which is why it’s taking a little extra time. The new improved version should be hitting the shelves in May or thereabouts. We certainly do appreciate your patience!
If you did buy a copy of the book already, Fantagraphics is offering to replace it for you with the new version–either with a one-for-one trade or, if you want to keep the one you have, they’ll sell you the new version for 50 percent off if you send them a picture of your copy.
I’d imagine Mad magazine artist Jack Davis isn’t the first thing you think of when Valentine’s Day rolls around. But in ’50s and ’60s, he produced a stunning set of Valentine’s Day cards that would make Hallmark blush. And now comics publisher Fantagraphics is honoring those with a holiday-timed exhibition featuring Davis’ work along with other artists inspired by it.
Set to kick off Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Fantagraphics Bookstore in Seattle, the exhibition will include works by Peter Bagge, Johnny Ryan, Jim Woodring, Matthew Southworth and others. Davis himself will appear live via Skype at 6:30 p.m. Saturday from his home in Georgia. The exhibit itself is set to run through March 7, so even if you miss opening night you have a chance to see this unique collection of heart-themed art.
So if you’re Seattle-based and looking for something special for your loved one, consider swinging by Fanta’s bookstore. While you’re there, the surrounding district is hosting a number of visual and performing arts presentations as part of Georgetown Art Attack.
Libraries | A committee recommended Monday that Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age, an anthology of comics about middle school edited by Ariel Schrag, should remain in the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School library in Dixfield, Maine, after the mother of a student challenged its appropriateness because of “objectionable sexual and language references.” The local school board will make a final ruling in January. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom sent a letter of support for the book prior to the hearing. A school board in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pulled the graphic novel from middle-school libraries in November 2009, but allowed teachers to continue to use it in class. [Sun Journal]
Digital | Charlie Sorrel looks at the iPad comic reader called, appropriately enough, Comic Reader. [Wired]
Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]
The featured guests for the third annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival have been announced, and whoo boy, it’s quite a line-up. And it runs the gamut, too: MAD Magazine legend Jack Davis, book-design kingpin Chip Kidd, The Diary of a Teenage Girl author Phoebe Gloeckner, Asterios Polyp/Batman Year One artist David Mazzucchelli, Providence artcomix vets CF and Brian Ralph, grossout-humor queen Lisa Hanawalt, and minicomics patriarch John Porcellino. An opportunity to encounter Gloeckner live and in person is not to be squandered, folks, and that’s just for starters.
Organized by publisher PictureBox Inc., retailer Desert Island, and scholar Bill Kartalopoulos, this year’s BCGF will take place on Saturday, December 3 from noon to nine at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with programming hosted at the nearby Union Pool. If the last two years are any indication, it’s the alternative comics show to beat.
On the same day that Fantagraphics announced The Complete Zap Comix, the publisher revealed it will bring yet another treasure trove of groundbreaking comics back to the stands. At its panel at Comic-Con International and in an interview with The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon, Fantagraphics announced it had acquired the rights to publish the EC Comics library from the representatives of its late publisher, William M. Gaines.
Known for pushing comics’ boundaries of formal innovation and craft as well as raw content before anti-comics hysteria and the creation of the Comics Code helped stifle the publisher in the mid-’50s, EC has generally been reprinted in formats that center on its (in)famous horror, crime, science fiction, and war anthology series, such as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, Crime SuspenStories, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Two-Fisted Tales, and Frontline Combat. What sets the Fantagraphics reprint project apart is that individual creators’ work will be culled from the series in which it appeared and presented in a series of black-and-white solo spotlight volumes. The first four books announced will collect war stories written by Harvey Kurtzman (Corpse on the Imjin and Other Stories, featuring art by Kurtzman, Gene Colan, Russ Heath, and Joe Kubert), suspense stories by Wally Wood (Came the Dawn and Other Stories), horror stories by written by Al Feldstein and illustrated by Jack Davis, and science fiction stories by Al Williamson.
Click on over to The Comics Reporter for more details, including an interview with editor and co-publisher Gary Groth.