Monday, October 08, 2007
Jack Davis' Yak Yak #1
Yak Yak, published by Western Publishing under the Dell imprint in 1961, is one of those neither- fish-nor-fowl comic books/magazines. Is it a comic book? It's the same size, has a 15¢ price tag, and is part of the Dell Four Color series. It has unusual but attractive pastel coloring instead of the usual four color job. It's also typeset, not hand-lettered. In form it looks more like Humbug, which Davis worked on as part of a cooperative of artist-publishers.
Before his greatest success of the 1960s, and after Humbug folded in 1958, Davis did a lot of free-lancing for various publishers. I remember seeing his work all over the place, record album jackets, even on the cover of a horror digest called Shock! I picked up the first Yak Yak in 1961, and there was another issue later, #2, which I no longer own.
According to the Comic Book Price Guide, my version of Yak Yak #1 is missing three pages, taken up by ads in this variant edition. I haven't seen that other edition of Yak Yak. The artwork Davis did for Yak Yak is very good, just not his best. He reserved the best for Mad, Humbug and Trump. Yak Yak may be rushed in the art department, but that doesn't mean it's not a really fine job, because even lesser Davis is better than major most-other cartoonists.
There isn't any credit for writing.
In some ways Yak Yak anticipates the stylistic changes made to the Western Publishing comic books when they cut their ties with Dell and formed their own imprint, Gold Key. I read once that Western left Dell because Dell wouldn't let them make such major changes. Yak Yak could have been some sort of precursor to see how well the changes would be received. That's a guess, so take it for what it's worth.
My good friend David Miller provided Photoshop help with the centerfold for this issue. Thanks, Dave!