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Resurrecting the Crypt Keeper

Collectors Weekly has an exclusive interview with Mad magazine illustrator Jack Davis. Davis drew for many of EC Comics' horror publications like Tales from the Crypt in the early 1950s. He talks about how EC publisher Bill Gaines gave him his start in comics in 1950.  

“I wanted to be a cartoonist and get syndicated,” says Davis, who worked as an assistant to Ed Dodd, creator of the syndicated “Mark Trail” comic strip, while he was in college. “I figured I had to go to New York City because that was where everything in publishing was, including the comics syndicates. I took a year at the Art Students League in New York, and I’d look for work. I’d go up and down Madison Avenue, where I was rejected at the syndicates and at a lot of the publishers.”

But not all of them. “I saw a comic book one day and went down to the offices of Entertaining Comics, where I met the publisher, Bill Gaines. My work was bad, and they liked it,” he says, laughing. “They gave me some stuff to work on right away, and I was very excited about that.”

Soon, Davis, who was sick of being a starving artist, developed a reputation for speed, as an artist who could sketch and ink sometimes three pages in a day. “I’d have to be fast, because when you turned them in, that’s when you’d get your money,” Davis says. “The faster you drew, the faster the money came in.”

The interview coincides with the opening of an exhibit at Mondo Gallery in Austin entitled "It Didn't Rot Our Brains," featuring the Crypt Keeper and other art from EC horror comics. Davis created the illustration you see here just for the event. It shows publisher Bill Gaines with the Crypt Keeper himself. Read the rest of the interview at Collectors Weekly, and enjoy a gallery of Davis' magazine art.  


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