The Lost Album Art of Mad Magazine’s Jack Davis

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The Art of Jack DavisI was a big fan of Mad Magazine growing up, and as any Mad fan can tell you, long after you’ve forgotten all the gags and parodies and satires, the one thing you never forget about the magazine’s classic era is its artists. Over the years I’ve noticed the artwork of one Mad alum in particular — Jack Davis — popping up on the covers of a quite diverse collection of albums.

From Wikipedia we learn that Jack Davis had a rich career before and after Mad, which included extensive advertising work, movie posters, and more:

“…Davis also contributed to Rankin-Bass productions; his character designs are featured in Mad Monster Party, The King Kong ShowThe Coneheads and the cartoon series The Jackson 5ive. For Raid insecticide, Davis created the animated bug that screamed “Raid?!”

Who knew???

Well, actually it turns out someone knew, because l found a fan website dedicated to Davis’ artwork.

How many artists can you name whose drawings were just as likely to grace the cover of Time as the pages of Mad, as Davis so often did during the 1970s? Add Sesame Street into the mix, and his artwork was everywhere.

Jack Davis' cover for Sandy the Sound Man

Heck, you don’t even have to dig through the interwebs to see oodles of Jack Davis’ artwork; you can just browse through my record collection.

Sandy The Sound Man by The Honey Dreamers (1958) may be a children’s record, but what a great cover!

Sing Along With Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, cover by Jack Davis

Sing Along With Jonathan and Darlene Edwards — a follow-up to their “hit” comic album on Columbia featuring piano and vocal music delivered so intentionally badly that it’s astounding. The thing is, they were really supremely talented artists: conductor/arranger Paul Weston and his wife, singer Jo Stafford. Hopefully Davis’ artwork gave shoppers a less-subtle hint that this one was a joke.

Best of the Cowsills cover by Jack Davis

The Best of The Cowsills — I recently got this at a garage sale and it really captures the fun of this family band, which inspired the creation of The Partridge Family show. “The Rain The Park and Other Things” is an amazing song, far beyond anything The Partridge Family created — this is good stuff worth checking out, even without Jack Davis’ wonderfully Mad-like group-shot artwork.

Here are a few more fun ones that aren’t in my collection, but will be if I ever stumble across a copy in a record shop:

Johnny Cash Everybody Loves a Nut, cover by Jack Davis

I’ve never even seen this Johnny Cash album before! Apparently it’s a decidedly more lighthearted release from the Man in Black, which may have something to do with the fact that it isn’t available on CD or in downloadable form. That cover deserves the extra real estate afforded by vinyl, anyway.

Phantom Surfers cover by Jack Davis

This should be fun!  I have a couple records by Phantom Surfers, and yes, the title of the album — The Great Surf Crash of ’97 — is indicative of its release date. It’s really neat seeing such fun and interesting output from such a late period in Davis’ career.

Here is a neat compilation of Jack Davis commercials! Again, who knew?

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  • Steve Delmonte

    do you have an extra copy of Sandy the Soundman. I’m interested in find a copy. I love that cover.

  • LeenDee Webber

    Hi Steve

    My father in law has the actual johnny cash album cover that was produced by the creator of mad magazine that you were trying to find.