The Georgia Museum of Art hosted a really pleasant opening reception for its exhibit "Jack Davis: Beyond the Bulldog" last Sunday, November 4th. It opened its doors to visitors at 1:00pm, finding a small crowd waiting outside to meet Jack Davis himself, who made an appearance for the show. Davis was signing books starting at 1:30, but he went ahead a few minutes after 1:00 and sat at a table outside the gift shop once a long line formed.
Reassuring to see such a large crowd turn out for this show. I had several friends from the Athens and Atlanta area show up, including several of the generous people who loaned out original artwork for the show.
The Georgia Museum of Art staff did a great job with making the exhibit look sharp. There's two full EC war stories lined up on walls across each other, "Tin Can" from Frontline Combat #3 and "Vengeful Sioux!" from Frontline Combat #15. Also featured in the show is the original cover for the spectacular Mad #27, the cover to Yak-Yak #1, several EC pages, some personal Civil War soldiers Davis did on his own, and several stand alone illustrations. It's really something to see these pieces in person.
As the curator, I gave a talk to a pretty full auditorium of visitors, including Jack Davis and his family. It's one thing to give a speech in front of a crowd of people, it's another if the subject of the speech is sitting in the audience. I was approached to curate this show as a member of the Jack Davis Foundation and my standing as a comics person in Athens, but talking about Davis's career and technique was from that of a giddy fan. After the speech, there was a Q&A that went on for awhile, with Davis happily answering questions about his life.
After the talk, he went upstairs to see the exhibit after signing books all afternoon. Davis grinned at the EC pages, which he probably hadn't seen since he handed them over to Bill Gaines for a check in the early 50's. Looking at the pages for "Tin Can", he told me Harvey Kurtzman, who did the layouts for the war titles, made him redraw the sailors caps since they were cut a very specific way. He and his family toured the exhibit, chatting about each piece. As he left, he said he really appreciated the show and that it looked classy. That meant a lot to me.
If you get a chance to visit Athens, I hope you can make it to this show. It runs from November 3rd, 3012- January 6th, 2013. Free admission, although you'll look like a sport throwing in a few bucks into the donations box.