Tim “Spike” Davis may be the only guy who came to Uptown and learned to hunt and fish.
“That’s God’s sense of humor,” Davis said. “Move to inner city Chicago and get introduced to hunting and fishing.”
There’s Davis: God and humor mixed with hunting and fishing. Throw in cartoons, too.
“Draw a cartoon and make someone laugh, that is an open door,” he said.
Davis released his first book of outdoors cartoons, “Scattered Thoughts,” last week. The first printing sold out in half a day. The second printing arrived and back orders are being filled as fast as he and wife Amy can.
We talked Friday in a garden, yards from Wilson Avenue in Uptown. Sirens dotted our conversation. Davis wore a red, white and blue gaiter for a mask.
The pandemic matters.
When the lockdown came, they went through his cartoons with the idea of a book. They pulled out boxes and started with 900 cartoons. They winnowed them to 388.
You can’t get to Davis without going through God.
Davis came to Chicago at 16 from Boulder, Colorado, to work for a church and his life changed. “Spike” came from his hair in younger days.
The church had land Downstate, outside of Macomb, where an annual Christian music festival drew thousands. There two pastors helped Davis hone his outdoors skills.
His cartoons come from understanding hunting.
“ ‘Hey dude, I have had that happen to me,’ “ Davis said. “So many have told me that. You can only do that if you’ve been down in the trenches.”
That Everyman humility helps.
“I don’t claim to be a good hunter, but there is the old saying that good art comes from pain,” Davis said. “They come from a lot of pain: Missed shots and broken hooks.”
But he’s experienced like nobody I’ve met. He’s killed a wild hog with a knife, he’s known as “Rat Man” (I promised not to write it), his first deer came from an Osage bow he made. It took him six years to kill his first coyote.
His outdoors cartoons have been in Predator Xtreme , ARG&H, Heartland Outdoors, Xtreme Hog Hunter, Primitive Archer and Bear Hunting. His faith-based cartoons appeared in magazines as prestigious as Christianity Today.
He sold his first outdoors cartoons in April of 2011 to Mark Olis for Predator Xtreme.
Olis asked if Davis could do them regularly.
“I said, ‘Sure,’ “ said Davis, who had no clue if he could. “Now I do six cartoons a week.”
As to where he fits in the cartoon world, he said, “ New Yorker is MLB, I’m Little League. But I connect to my audience. Most hunting cartoons are not done by hunters.”
More broadly, he’s different.
“Most cartoonists I’ve meet are white-collar who don’t have much dirt under their nails,” said Davis, whose has been an auto tech for 35 years. “I have to bleed and get bruised for my living. I understand what a lot of [readers] are doing.”
Jesus consoles a coyote hunter who missed. The Grim Reaper is parodied in “Death in the Long Grass.” An educated coyote works on Einstein’s e=mc2 and other formulas.
“People who get it are belly laughing and others are like, `Hunh?’ “ Davis said.
WILD THINGS: Don Soucek was the first reader to note the Wild of the Week on Saturday was a black swallowtail, not a dark tiger swallowtail. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s Doug Taron confirmed that, “The unambiguous giveaway here is the orange spot with the black center. Nothing else in Illinois has this.”
STRAY CAST: Listening to Steve Stone and Jason Benetti sling words on the Sox broadcast is like watching bass corral and bust shad at Monster Lake.