The Comic Art professional Society honors cartoonists Jack Davis and Sergio Aragones with a new statue and tributes from former U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
On Saturday evening, October 21st, CAPS, the Comic Art Professional Society held their annual banquet at the Porter Valley Country Club in Northridge California. Each year the Los Angeles-based cartoonist organization honors an esteemed member of their profession with a banquet and award ceremony. Past honorees include Jerry Robinson, Ray Bradbury, Kelly Freas, Bill Melendez, and Will Eisner. This year’s recipient was legendary cartoonist and illustrator Jack Davis.
The banquet room doubled as an art gallery with a display of over thirty original Jack Davis Illustrations, all loaned from personal collections.
Jack Davis is world-renowned for his high profile cartoon and illustration work of the past six decades on countless projects including comic books, magazine covers, movie posters, and advertisements. In 1950, he began contributing to the infamous EC Comics line with stories and covers for Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Two-Fisted Tales, and the original comic book version of MAD. He later entered the field of illustration and over the years has produced thousands of amusing and memorable images for record jackets, movie posters, book covers, game boxes, trading cards, advertisements and magazines like Time and TV Guide.
Throughout his career, Jack Davis has been one of the most sought-after artists in the business. His client list reads like a Who’s Who of American commerce with names such as MAD Magazine, AOL, Arista Records, AT&T, Bell South, Capital Cities/ABC, Columbia Records, Dreamworks, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN, Ford Motor Company, Golf Digest, Kraft Foods, MCI, Mennen, Michelob, NBC, Nestles, Newsweek, Paramount Pictures, Parker Brothers, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Purina, Reader’s Digest, Spalding, Sports Illustrated, Topps, Toyota, USA Networks, Warner Books, Warner Brothers, and The U.S. Postal Service.
The National Cartoonist Society honored Davis in 2000 by giving him their highest token of esteem, The Reuben Award. In 2002, he had a retrospective exhibition of his work at the Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration in New York, and in 2005 he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.
This year, Jack Davis was the first recipient of a new CAPS award that was conceived by CAPS co-founder and cartoon master Sergio Aragones (MAD Magazine, Groo the Wanderer). Sergio’s drawing of a cartoonist standing on a laptop computer with an ink pen in hand and his foot stuck in an ink bottle was taken to Disney sculptor Ruben Procopio. Ruben transformed Sergio’s drawing from 2-D to 3-D with one main modification. He made the figure of the cartoonist look like Sergio’s well known self-caricature. Unbeknownst to Aragones, the CAPS board, lead by CAPS President and Disney artist Chad Frye, had decided to honor Sergio by naming the award after him.
Actor Daniel Roebuck (Matlock, The Fugitive, The Late Shift, Lost) hosted the evening as Master of Ceremonies and introduced tributes to Davis by animation character designer Stephen Silver (Clerks, Kim Possible, Danny Phantom), and Sergio Aragones. Daniel Roebuck then read aloud two personal letters of commendation to Mr. Davis from past Presidents of the United States of America. The first was from Jimmy Carter who wrote “Congratulations on being recognized by the Comic Art Professional Society for your outstanding contributions to American Art.” The second was from Gerald Ford who penned his letter just days after his recent hospitalization, saying “Your work has been at the forefront of your profession for many decades both entertaining and enriching Americans of all generations.” Then Chad Frye, Sergio Aragones, and Ruben Procopio unveiled the new statue and surprised Aragones by revealing that the award would henceforth be known as “The Sergio”. The statue was then presented to Jack Davis who graciously accepted it, saying “I am really speechless. I mean, what can I say after all this? I’m about ready to die! I’ve never, never ever had a tribute like this. I’ve won some things, I’ve done some things, people have always been good to me, but I’ve never had a reception like this. This is unbelievable!”
In an evening full of surprises, one more revelation was made when Chad Frye announced that Sergio Aragones was to receive “The Sergio” as well. Daniel Roebuck then introduced cartoonist Scott Shaw! (The Flinstones, The Simpsons, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew) who narrated a comical slide show tour of Sergio’s career. Then CAPS co-founder and television and comic book writer Mark Evanier (Welcome Back Kotter, Garfield and Friends, Groo the Wanderer) spoke of his longtime friend and collaborator with several hilarious anecdotes. The lights then dimmed for a surprise video clip from 1984 when Sergio was featured on the George Schlatter Productions television show Real People. Finally, Jack Davis returned the favor to Sergio by giving a heart-warming tribute to his fellow MAD artist and longtime friend.
Sergio Aragones was called to the podium and Daniel Roebuck read aloud letters of tribute for both Jack and Sergio from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. CAPS Vice President and cartoonist Bill Morrison (The Simpsons, Futurama) then presented a second statue to Mr. Aragones who humbly accepted it, saying “Mark Evanier came to me thirty years ago with Don Rico and said, “”We are going to have to form an organization to get all the cartoonists together.”” I cannot believe that was almost 30 years ago…and I hope it continues forever! Thank you very much. I love this!”
Both recipients of “The Sergio” were also presented with books of original drawings and letters of praise from fellow cartoonists and admirers such as Stan Lee (Marvel Comics), Joe Kubert (Sgt. Rock), Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey), Paul Coker Jr. (MAD Magazine), Greg Evans (Luann), John Reiner (The Lockhorns and Laugh Parade), Ron Ferdinand (Dennis the Menace), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Dick Clark and Jay Leno.