Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jumping on “Gunn”

My father made a good living as an architect, but what he really wanted to be was a cartoonist. Somebody just like Jack Davis, who was one of the founding illustrators of the humor magazine Mad back in 1952. As a boy, I remember my father reading Mad and laughing, occasionally pointing out to me spreads that lampooned TV programs I enjoyed. Eventually, I started looking through that bimonthly on my own, even saving a few issues I particularly liked, hoping my father wouldn’t spot my thievery. And always, because of my dad’s interest in his work, I was aware of Jack Davis’ many contributions.

What I didn’t know then, was that Davis also did some work for Cracked, a Mad-wannabe founded in 1958. Below I have embedded his three-page Cracked spoof of Peter Gunn, the jazz-infused, 1958-1961 TV series starring Craig Stevens as a suave private eye. Curiously, it emphasizes a ratings rivalry between Peter Gunn and the Western drama Gunsmoke, even though those two programs weren’t competing head-to-head for viewers (Gunn airing on Monday nights, Gunsmoke on Saturdays at the time), and Gunn probably had no chance of outshining James ArnessGunsmoke, which was the No. 1-ranked U.S. TV show from 1957 to 1961; Gunn’s only appearance among the top 20 programs was during its first season on the air.

By the way, I found this Peter Gunn parody of Davis’, which he titled “Peter Goon,” in the blog maintained by Michael Sporn Animation. There’s no specific publication date supplied, but I’d guess it appeared in one of Cracked’s 1958 or ’59 issues, when the Stevens series was most popular. Click on these pages for enlargements.

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