Monday, August 4, 2008


As a boy growing up in the Deep South in the mid-1950's, I first became aware of comic books
at the local sold fountain, "The Soda Shoppe" around the corner from
my house. In fact, they had a whole wall and racks of comics and magazines
near the black formica tables with the hundreds of pieces of bubblegum stuck to their undersides, and I thought that what you were expected to do was to buy a glass of coke (with
ice and a splash of cherry syrup) for a nickel and then go set it down on one of those bubblegum festooned tables and then go over to the rack and pick out a comic book and then go back, sit
down and read it. That's what every other kid seemed to do. I did notice that the comics had a price of 10 cents on the cover, a huge sum-- or so it seemed to me at the time. It never
occurred to me to buy one. And neither of the two men that ran the the store, Melvin
or Laird ever said anything to me about reading them for free. I put them back when I was finished. Besides, they were too busy tending to other matters. I liked the Classic Comics because the covers were like magnificent illustrations and seemed to be more appealing to me somehow. You could spend ten minutes just looking at the cover. It wasn't until I was visiting my cousin in Florida and saw a copy of Mad Comic Book around 1953 or 1954 that I got really hooked. There was something about this character of a humpbacked, stupid-faced guy in a green plaid suit and
a too-small derby hat that really made an impact on me. I saw that the artwork was signed
in the lower right-hand corner "ELDER", and I realized that this person
was responsible for the drawing.

The only other person I knew who was an elder was
someone who was important in the hierarchy of the church, so it made sense that
this person that drew the thing must be connected to God somehow. That explains
why it was so good, I reasoned. I was impressed. But the moment when I heard "the
calling" to become an artist, myself, was when I picked up a trading card from
the ground outside the Soda Shoppe. Someone must have bought it for the gum and
discarded it, no pun intended. It had this picture of a sexy blonde woman on it.
Her back was to the viewer and the caption read: "With a face like yours, you
ought to be in movies..." When you turned the card over, you saw this ridiculously-ugly
woman's face along with a caption which read: "Yeah, HORROR movies..."
It was signed by Jack Davis. When I heard he was from my own state of Georgia, I
knew that it was written in the stars for me to try to follow in his footsteps. Something
inside of me connected to that and from that moment on I wanted to grow up to be
an artist. I did get to meet Jack Davis once and told him how his work had influenced me. He received the information in good humor. There's more to the story, obviously, but I've gotta stop so that I will have time to do some drawing...

Rick Parker

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