Monday, June 6, 2011


In 1968, the ubiquitous MAD artist/cartoonist/illustrator/caricaturist (and master of crowd scenes), and EC comics legend Jack Davis was hired to create his first cover image for TV GUIDE magazine, depicting "The Wondrous Andy Griffith TV Machine".

Jack Davis's first assignment for TV Guide magazine was creating some huge interior B&W & Color promotional ads depicting new NBC shows in 1965, included below. TV Guide's art director's had a long track record of using some of the top caricaturists of the day for their covers and for interior work, including many assignments by Al Hirschfeld and later  Ronald Searle:

Davis's preliminary sketch for his first TV Guide cover
Jack Davis would eventually create nearly two dozen covers for TV Guide over the next dozen years, plus many interior drawings.

                           1965 Interior illustration created for NBC: "I Spy"

When I was growing up in the late sixties/early seventies, and as a long- time Jack Davis fanatic, via his work for MAD, EC comics, movie posters, album covers, and Topps bubblegum cards, It was always a particularly special treat for me to see his always humorous & beautiful watercolor paintings gracing a cover of TV Guide,  and I loved imagining that a crumpled, beer-stained version of his work lay on the couches of a huge percentage of American living rooms that particular week.
In anticipation of the long awaited Jack Davis career-spanning anthology appearing this fall from Fantagraphics books (see link below)...

Included here are all of Jack's covers created for TV Guide, and a sampling of some of his interior work from over the years...
Interior spot illustration depicting "The Man from Uncle"

cast of "Mission Impossible"

cast of "Pettycoat Junction"

1966 ad announcing the premiere of The Monkees

Interior art depicting the 1968 musical production of "Pinocchio", staring Herman's Hermit's Peter Noone in the title role, with Burl Ives as Geppetto, Jack Fletcher as the fox, and Mort Marshall as the cat.

Groucho Marx

"Guys & Dolls", 1966

James Arness, Gunsmoke
Rowan & Martin's "Laugh-In"


Laugh-in cast members

The 1969 cast of "The Today Show". Preliminary painting, recently auctioned
(note Jack's notation to
the art director: "I'll make Barbara W. prettier").

The finished cover. Barbara W. is indeed lovely!
Longtime Oscars host, Bob Hope

cast of "Bonaza"
Roy Clark of "Hee Haw"
Cookie Monster

1965 Interior art "Daniel Boone"

interior art: "Irma Davis"

1965 interior art for NBC: "The Wackiest Ship in the Army"

The cast of "All in the Family"
"The Odd Couple"

The cast of M*A*S*H

Cast of "McCloud"

Interior ad for the Jackson five cartoon show

sketch of the Godfather leads
The Godfather debuts on TV

Thriller Theatre ad

interior illo

Glen Campbell & Charlie Pride

"No Laughing matter"

Bob Hope, interior art...

NBC Interior ad
The cast of "Barney Miller"

Spot drawings: "Mary Tyler Moore Show" cast members

"Lavern & Shirley" rough sketch 
"Lavern & Shirley" finish

Interior art, "Meathead, Gloria, Joey"

Interior drawing of daytime talk show hosts vying for supremacy

interior art
interior art: John Denver
The cast of SNL

Davis's final cover for TV Guide

interior ad
Interior illustration from 1975: "What's on TV in One week"

Paul Anka

in 1965, NBC hired Jack Davis to created this poster image to promote there new comedy series "Get Smart". The image also appeared in B&W in TV Guide.
Interior illustration, 1965: "My Mother the Car"

1965 Interior Illustration "Convoy"

Another interior "Man from Uncle" from 1965

Interior illustration, 1965: "Get Smart" Jack's illustrations depicting new shows and movies on NBC were used throughout the year in TV Guide.

Original "Celebrate NBC Week" art, featuring Mort Drucker drawings pasted on.
In 1965, Jack Davis illustrated NBC's complete fall evening lineup for TV Guide. Mort Drucker's drawings of Sammy Davis Jr,  Danny Thomas and some groovy Hullabaloo dancers appear in the first 2 panels and his Frank Sinatra in the second to last (uncredited).
Read all about Jack Davis' first commissioned work for TV Guide here on pop culture historian Mark Evanier & MAD artist Tom Richmond's blogs:

1965-66 NBC fall preview

This epic, technicolor panoramic (a Davis specialty) illustration, running across 6 pages, 3 double-page spreads, was Jack Davis' very first assignment for TV Guide for their Sept 11-17 Fall preview issue. TV networks were trying to get the word out big time that they were switching over to color in 1966. NBC felt Davis was the right artist to convey that message.
A long awaited hardcover anthology of Jack Davis' incredible & varied career is coming out this fall from Fantagraphics books, and will hopefully include many of his best TV Guide covers:

Jack Davis in his studio

Thanks to John Wendler


  1. Drew, thanks for sharing! Jack Davis and David Levine were my first and biggest influences! My father in-law went to University of Georgia with Jack. He gave me a Davis pen&ink drawing from that period, circa 1946, that ran in the "Red & Black" the college newspaper. I treasure that piece!

    Cool new blog!

  2. Great stuff! Now do Ronald Searle! I am the editor of the Dutch Mad, by the way and I am very pleased to include som eof your always funny work in the upcoming first issue.

  3. Dear Lord, I am thunderstruck.

    Profound genius does grace this earth.

  4. God, I loved those covers and was always pestering my parents to but TV guide so I could pore over the illustrations, and yes Ronald Searle please!!!!

  5. I loved those covers and was always pestering my parents to buy TV guide so I could pore over the illustrations...and yes, Ronald Searle please!!

  6. Where was the Today Show prelim auctioned recently? I follow every comic and illustration art auction I can find, and I'm pissed I missed this.

  7. David was always great, although he's wasted on the Cookie Monster (a caricature of a puppet?). I started collecting TV Guide in 1966 so I guess I have all of Jack's covers. I'm proud to say I've got the Get Smart poster as well. Jealous?

  8. Wish you'd have run Davis' illoes of "Wackiest Ship in the Army" and "Camp Runamuck" from that '65 season, too... well, you can't have everything! :)

  9. Dave,

    "Wackiest Ship" art is included.

  10. Thanks for this comprehensive entry, Drew. As I read it and saw the covers, my childhood washed over me, rivulets of memory pooling in near-forgotten faces of pop culture. I await the book with bated breath.

  11. I saved a number of these myself! I was more excited seeing this art than the actual shows themselves! (And I was a TV nut back then!)
    Jack Davis was a big an influence on me as Miles Davis!

  12. Someone already did a complete Ronald Searle TV guide blog.

  13. Wow, Drew, thanks a million for this terrific post. Very generous. Davis is one of my all-time idols. I can't wait to meet him tomorrow. I used to clip all his work, especially in TV Guide. I wonder if I still have that folder at my mom's place.

  14. I enjoyed this immensely. Especially where Jack drew himself for you and he put flies around his head! Balahahaha!

  15. I always loved Jack Davi's art. When I was a student at Art & Design HS, his 1965 posters for NBC adorned the NYC subway cars and were treasured by us!

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  17. Love your blog Drew! Love me some Jack Davis as well.

    Just an FYI: the caricature of Ed McMahon and Dick Clark is by Dave Arkle. (see Bob Staake, "Complete Book of Caricature", p. 69)

  18. Thanks for pointing that out Steve, it's been removed.

  19. The panorama is stunningly beautiful.

  20. The interior art by Mr. Davis, including the panoramic 1965-‘66 NBC shows, was commissioned by the Art Director/Director of Design for NBC at that time, John J. Graham. He was the creator of the NBC Peacock, and the NBC “Snake” also.