Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jack Rickard's Movie Comedy Posters

Jack Rickard's first film poster, from 1963 
Throughout the sixties and seventies, Jack Rickard was a popular MAD magazine artist as well as one of the most prolific illustrators working in advertising.  In fact, whenever the "MAD Men" did a advertising/MADison Ave spoof, Jack was usually they're go-to guy for the art, satirizing what he knew best and happily biting the hand that fed him. Among "the usual gang of idiots", his name isn't perhaps as famous as, say,  Don Martin, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis or Al Jaffee, among others, but his work was consistently on-target, fun, clever, and always beautifully rendered. He's long been one of my MAD favorites.

Long-time MAD editor, and the author of the seminal "The Art of Humorous Illustration" Nick Meglin on Jack Rickard: "My appreciation of Jack Rickard's work was that he could do such terrific work in every medium to give us the special look we needed for each piece--line work here, a funny rendered "Ad" parody there, etc."

MAD writer Frank Jacobs on Jack Rickard: "Jack Rickard was a joy to work with and a talent like no other."
Alfred E. Neuman morphing into MAD publisher William M. Gaines

J.R. also enjoyed a career, (beginning in 1963), as one of the most in-demand film comedy poster artists, (at first exclusively with United Artists), lasting throughout the seventies and into the eighties. It's his film poster work I'm showcasing here. Along with Jack Davis, Frank Frazetta, Sanford Kossin (all of whose film poster work I've blogged about), and to a lesser extent Mort Drucker, J.R. turned out many terrific, fun and innovative movie poster images. Jack's career at MAD lasted only 22 years, beginning in 1962, with his last illustrated piece running in 1984. He died of cancer in 1983 at age 61. At that time, J.R. had become MAD's main cover artist, having taken over from the late, great Norman Mingo.

cover art by Jack Rickard

Enjoy Jack's terrific film poster art, (plus a few extra rare items that tie in), of the great illustrator Jack Rickard.

Some of the posters will be very familiar and some are rare and more obscure, and several might be new to you (many were to me).

Jack Rickard's first poster design for The Pink Panther in 1963,
before the film was cast, perhaps testing his poster art abilities.
via Alan Kaplan:
The poster is for the Pink Panther and was done before the final casting of the film. The women in the car is Janet Leigh, who was originally offered the part (she turned it down) that would eventually go to Capucine. She doesn't look very much like the Janet Leigh that we're used to seeing but she does look very much like the way she appeared in Bye, Bye Birdie released earlier that year. The guy "dressed like Pee-wee Herman carrying a saxophone" is the composer of the film, Henry Mancini. In front of him should be Inspector Clouseau in the suit of armor. This might have been based on Peter Ustinov who was originally cast in the part that later went to Sellers.
larger view of the actual poster

Spanish version of the poster
also from 1963, an Italian film comedy.  To play up the comedy, Mel Brooks narrated the trailer!

the original art...

Not an actual movie poster but a parody created for MAD in 1964
a forgotten caper film comedy from 1965 with a fun J.R. poster
from 1966, a Billy Wilder hit, poster art by Jack Rickard

Rickard's original art (in black and gray) created for the poster

Jerry Lewis/Tony curtis, together for the first and last time! "the big comedy from Nineteen Sexty Sex!" (1966)
from 1967, a great cast, and another " It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" inspired comedy, and J.R.'s most elaborate poster art to date. Produced by Moe Howard's son-in-law!

Trailers from Hell on "Who's Minding the Mint?"
a Bob Hope/Phyllis Diller "comedy" from 1968
Jack was hired in 1969 to do the original poster art for "Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice" which was ultimately not used. But he enjoyed the last laugh when MAD asked him to do their cover parody of the film in 1970.
the original J.R. art

and his preliminary painting
another popular Jack Lemmon comedy (based on the work of James Thurber) from 1972
the newspaper add for the film

the Belgian poster
from 1974, the sequel to "The Three Musketeers" (in case that needed to be explained)
the Yugoslav poster and a closer look at J.R.'s art... and Raquel Welch's boobs
from 1974, a Peter Sellers comedy, original title: "Soft Beds, Hard Battles" (Oy vey)
A second version with additional J.R. caricatures of 6 Peter sellers in various disguises.
J.R. created several versions of poster art for this popular Sidney Poitier comedy with an all-star black cast, also from his busy year of 1974
second version

a door poster
Jack's poster art for the sequel from 1975. Sanford Kossin also created a poster image for this film (see my blog on Kossin)

larger version

unused J.R. art for the Redd Foxx film adaption of Norman,  Is That You?

Art by J.R., unclear which film it was commissioned for but perhaps also for Bingo Long.
J.R. was hired to create the poster art for another all-star black film comedy, "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings" in 1976 for Motown films, which was ultimately not used 
more unused art created for "Bingo Long"
terrific artwork created for "The Ritz" (1976), not used for some reason 
J.R. art done in 1978 for the poster for "Movie Movie" starring George C. Scott, but not used
"From the MADman that started it all"... Not.

from 1980, and a legendary, clueless, godawful film disaster (directed by Robert Downey's dad!). MAD publisher William Gaines hated it so much he had MAD do a vicious satire of it. The film's Star Ron Liebman had his name removed from it. The only reason it was even made was an attempt to cash in on the huge success of "National Lampoon's Animal House" from two years earlier. It backfired and bombed. The only actual connections this film had to MAD was the large statue created of Alfred E. Neuman (Which Gaines acquired and sits to this day in the reception room at the MAD offices) and this poster art created by Jack Rickard.

Rickard's preliminary sketch

the original art
J.R. poster art created for the 1980 Martin Mull/Tuesday Weld/Tommy Smothers comedy "Serial" (directed by the legendary comedy writer Bill Persky), though finally not used.
Jack Rickard's final poster illustration, a Dudley Moore all-star "Dud", also from 1980.

Thanks to Nick Meglin, Sandy Kossin,  Justin Humphreys, Dale Johnson, David L. Steinhardt, and Alan Kaplan


  1. I think Rickard's are my favorites of the caricature artists' film posters, even above Frazetta and Elder.

  2. It was always fun seeing Mad artists infiltrate the “normal” world of pop culture. Rickard’s technique was so malleable that he was able to whip up a steamy cover for True Detective or Adventure and a breezy secret agent spoof called Pauline McPeril (written by Mell Lazarus) with equal aplomb. And is that his art gracing Mattel’s Lie Detector game?

  3. No, that doesn't look like his art on the Lie Detector box. Similar style, but the faces finally just aren't in his league.

  4. Thanks for posting these. I love Rickard's work and there's so much here I haven't seen before.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I think Rickard's underrated. He has a real appealing style, almost "cute." (I mean that respectfully.) His caricatures seem like he doesn't have a mean bone in his body. (John Kricfalusi would label him a "flatter-aturist.") He would've done great children's books.

    I haven't seen some of these posters in decades, and my memory's not too reliable anymore. I could've sworn some of 'em were Drucker's, or Mingo's. (I know Drucker did American Graffiti and The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight...)

  6. Between Rickard, Jack Davis and Frazetta, you've given us a complete history of the "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad" school of poster art. It's fascinating to see this style suddenly appear, catch on, and then almost disappear just as quickly.

    I have an "Up The Academy" poster, by the way. I wonder if it's valuable? I have fond memories of hating the movie.

  7. That foreign "4 musketeers" poster is the Yugoslav one (Zeta Film distributer).

  8. Thanks Drew! This was great AND you reminded me to go out and look for Movie Movie on DVD!

  9. Thanks for sharing these Rickards. I was unfamiliar with his poster work. I'm a Rickard fan.

  10. Hello! There doesn't seem to be a way to contact you directly, so I'll post here. My name is Diana Rickard and I'm Jack's daughter. Finding your post about his work means so much! What a great post showing the range of his talent. Did you ever get a chance to meet him? Thanks again, for posting, Diana.

  11. Thanks for sharing these. Jack was my Great Uncle and I have never seen most of these posters (many are older than I am). I have always followed and collected his MAD work, but never knew that he had worked on so many film posters as well. Thanks again!