Jack 'Jaxon' Jackson, father of Underground Comix and Master of Historical Comics passes...
Hey folks, Harry here... often times here at AICN, I'm called upon to eulogize the passing of a talent that had made films, cartoons, television shows or comic books that I was a fan of... or at the very least appreciated. Once in a very dark moon though... someone passes that I've known personally... and even worse, sometimes it's someone that I can't remember a time where I wasn't breaking bread with them and talking about the way of things.
Jack Jackson, sometimes known as Jack Jaxon has passed away. For the last decade or so, he'd been fighting a particularly cruel bone disease that gnarled up his hands, making it extremely painful to draw. Even still, he continued... every day to pencil, ink, write and research his historical comics. A field that too few ever actually explore, but if you know your old CLASSICS ILLUSTRATEDs and TRUE CRIME comics and History comics from the earliest days of the Golden Age of Comics, that he kept this tradition alive and vibrant with his books about Quanah Parker and his mother Cynthia Ann... or his story of Juan Sequin's part in the story of the Alamo. His histories were not for the faint of heart and not for those that believe the past was filled with kind and considerate polite people that cared for each others FEE-WINGS, no... he portrayed the past with all it's warts and boils. The fact is, the past is a history of liars, theives, rascists and rapists... as well as heroes and strong souls that fought all that, but even they were flawed.
Jack's been a friend and very near member of my family for nearly 40 years. My father was friendly with him back in his college years, then again when Dad was in the light show business - Jack was known as one of the co-founders of RIP OFF PRESS. He created the character of GOD NOSE in the University of Texas' RANGER magazine... an irreverant college comedy magazine. His GOD NOSE was the first Underground comic that was ever sold. THE ADVENTURES OF JESUS CHRIST by Frank Stack aka Foolbert Sturgeon - was technically the very first Underground Comic - but T.A.O.J.C. was given away, not sold. Jackson also was the founder of THE FAMILY DOG, which oversaw and was the group of artist responsible for the AVALON posters - the classic rock posters from San Francisco. The little "family dog" symbol that appeared on all of those posters was actually Jack's own work.
We have hanging in my house some of his stunning artwork for H. P. Lovecraft's THE HOUND which was the first story of Lovecraft's to deal with Cthulhu and the Necronomicon. BUT - he did this for an issue of SKULL COMIX that is just stunning. His pen and ink work is amazing. And it was really once Jack did COMMANCHE MOON that I feel Jack came into his own. His work on that, LOS TEJANOS, THE SECRET OF SAN SABA, INDIAN LOVER: SAM HOUSTON & THE CHEROKEES and LOST CAUSE... well that and the illustrations he did in Threadgill's Cookbook... it has cemented his significance within the historical community here in Texas. He'd spend months researching everything... examing the actual weaponry and costumes from the eras he was fanatical to capture all that detail. When Ron Howard was set to make THE ALAMO - I was desperate to get Jack and Ron in contact - because there was no visual expert on the Alamo with a better sense of historical accuracy alive. Ron unfortunately left the project before it got to that phase of production... but still - someone should make the great Alamo film that has still never been made - and they'd be a fool not to reference Jack's work. And a film version of COMMANCHE MOON would be astonishing.
Jack died at the graves of his parents. He was a deeply good person. Jack is gone. Austin has lost two of its greats recently. Clifford Antone, founder of the Austin Blues scene and ANTONE'S club. And now Jack Jackson. A big part of the musical and artistic history of Austin has passed away this month. My town is less and my life is definitely less for his passing, because so many of the great conversations that I've had, came at his table. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.