Today's newspaper brought a pleasant surprise: a Loran Smith tribute to a friend of his, caricaturist par excellence Jack Davis. In it, Smith paints his own portrait of a Davis beset by physical ills-- the man is 85 years old, after all-- but still enthusiastic about life's little pleasures, still as nice and unaffected as he must have been as a young veteran at the University of Georgia on the G.I. Bill, or a naive would-be comic book artist pounding the sidewalks of New York City looking for work.
This jibes with my own brief contact with Mr. Davis, long an art idol of mine because of his hilarious work for Mad, movie posters, Time, TV Guide, album covers, games and so much more. As a foolish young graphic design student at the University of Georgia and a major fan of EC Comics, I took the opportunity to interview Mr. Davis by telephone for a class project. One of my professors knew him personally and gave me the man's number out there on St. Simons Island. I'd never been so nervous calling a girl to ask her out as I was dialing the great Jack Davis's home phone.
What I got was a brief conversation with the most avuncular voice imaginable, one that put me right at ease. We set a time for the actual interview-- he had me tell him when it was most convenient... for me. A true gentleman. The next day, I called him again and he patiently and cheerfully answered all my personal questions, my professional questions, my fanboy geekish questions (a brief reminiscing about Wally Wood ensued) and through it all was so blamed positive and life-affirming, I was literally high for two days afterwards. Two days in the best mood.
That's Jack Davis all over, man.