Georgia (and Jack) on My Mind

MARCH 16, 2014
For those of you who are in the Atlanta / Athens neck of the woods, please come on down to the University of Georgia at Athens this Thursday, where I will be presenting this years "Jack Davis Distinguished Visiting Artist Lecture".  Jack, as you all know, is the very embodiment of all things Mad in illustration. His  signature work lept out of the pages of Mad Magazine and onto the American scene, defining the shape and tone of humorous illustration for a generation. I was one of those Mad-reading kids who would continually ask the Brooklyn candy store owner if the new issue were in yet. I cut my eye teeth, as they say, on his work and the usual gang of . . . heroes. I am very honored to be asked by the school to come down. Jack is a gentle and generous soul. You would never guess at what zaniness lurks!
Here is the list of past honorees I am delighted and very grateful to join.
1998 Jack Davis
1999 Ralph Steadman
2000 Anita Kunz
2002 David Levine
2003 Gary Baseman  
2004 Arnold Roth  
2005 C.F. Payne  
2006 Peter de Seve  
2007 Mike Luckovich  
2008 Steven Heller  
2009 Sergio Aragones
2011 Mike Ramirez  
2012 Joe Ciardiello  
2013 Bill Mayer
Please come down and help me raise a toast to the great Jack himself, who we hope, will be feeling fit and in attendance.
Here's a little sketch I did of him for the occasion.
Here's an example of things Davis can do better than anyone else. He is a master of organizing great seething masses of creatures, usually in states of riotous calamity, to be not only readable as narrative, but also . . .  very funny. His caricatures are connected to, and never apart from, his narrative and his voice.
So what else is new?
Well . . .
Here's my latest spread for The American Prospect.
Perhaps a little Jack-inspired, my grouping of the Lehman Brothers gang having a reunion. With the exception of one or two, these barons of industry, who went on a binge and crashed the economy, never went to jail, paid a fine nor suffered any public humiliation. In fact they are doing very well indeed.
Here's the spread.
Here are some close up views of these characters. Dick Fuld, the ring leader, did take a hit. That is why he's sweeping up. (I also like the fact that I can put a label on him that says "Dick".) They each wear buttons that indicate where they very happily live ever after.
Another Christie? Well, you know you can never get enough of a bad thing. This for Tim Leoung at Fortune.
John Kerry, Unbound, for The National Journal. A fun assignment, cut, alas, because it was assigned by an editor who himelf was cut before the final arrived. Ever have one of those days?
Here's an ad for The Nation, where I have been a contributor since, well, never mind. Art director Robert Best asked me to do an ad for the new Nation Wine Club. I asked for payment in bottles by the way. Didn't get far with that. BTW : Here's the CLUB: 12 wines for 70 bucks.
Anyway, my idea was to get a grouping of long-time Nation writers. They picked the names: James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abbey Hoffman and Molly Ivins. The piece above was done and delivered. And then a problem arose. The magazine didn't want to depict Molly or Abbey with libations. It looked, they felt, like a mockery of addiction, which in their cases, contributed to their demise. So, thanks to Photoshop, the problem was solved by replacing Molly with editor emeritus Victor Navasky and current editor and Hoffman with current Editor-in-cCief and Publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel. This tough assignment finally went to press. And Victor (who recently wrote a book about caricature) and Katrina were great to work with.