May 30, 2023 posted by Devon Baxter

Farewell to Phil Davis: A Scrapbook from the Artists at Charles Mintz

Staffers at Charles Mintz, circa 1932. L to R: Clark Watson, Jules Engel, Felix Alegre, Rudy Zamora, Phil Davis, and Izzy Klein. (Courtesy of Ben Shenkman, published in Funnyworld #20 by Michael Barrier.)

In March 1933, one of Art Davis’ brothers, Phil Davis, left Charles Mintz’s studio in California to return to New York. His fellow artists gave him a scrapbook filled with caricatures and gag drawings. This treasure trove contains a “who’s who” of notable figures in animation that worked at Mintz during this period: Dick Huemer, Don and Ray Patterson, Al Eugster, Manny Gould, Preston Blair, Ray Patin, Bob Wickersham, Irv Spector, Milt Schaffer, Harry Love, Rudy Zamora, Irv Spence, Carl Urbano, Reuben Timmins, Ray Huffine, Ben Shenkman, Ed and Alice Rehberg, Lou Zukor, Sid Glenar and Ralph Somerville.

Born August 14, 1898, in Yonkers, New York, Philip Davis (original name: Davidovitch) became a young salesboy by 1915, according to the Yonkers census. He enlisted in the military on September 13, 1917, receiving a sergeant ranking on November 26. On February 8, 1918, Phil was ranked Quartermaster Sergeant in the Auxiliary Remount Depot #303 in Camp Dix, New Jersey. Davis was honorably discharged a few months later, on March 8, 1919.

Caricature by Bob Wickersham

One year passed, and Davis found a job as a stenographer for an oil company but soon became a sporting goods salesman five years later. By 1930, he continued to sell sporting goods in a partnership with his brother Sid. It is not entirely clear when exactly Phil Davis started working for Charles Mintz, but it might have been between 1930 and 1932.

Phil returned to California in 1937, when he married radio artist Jean Nedelman on December 17. Davis then found himself at Mintz/Screen Gems as the head of their in-betweening department. His youngest brother, Arthur, was fired from Screen Gems in late 1941 when production supervisor Frank Tashlin reorganized the studio—it is safe to assume Phil was one of the casualties of its restructuring. Unable to find work in animation, the two brothers managed a liquor store together. Then, suddenly, on May 20, 1942, Phil Davis succumbed to a heart attack, leaving his young brother alone with the business.

Decades later, Art Davis said about his brother in an interview: “Phil was a pretty personable guy, and everybody liked him.” These personal mementos presented here make this statement evident. These images are courtesy of Art Davis’ grandson-in-law Steve Marshall and his wife, Sharon Davis—one of Art’s granddaughters. (Please excuse the image quality and the cropping of the scans. Click each thumbnail below to enlarge.)

Artist unidentified

This post was previously published on my Patreon page in November 2021. That same month, a few drawings appeared in Harry McCracken’s “Scrappyland” blog.


  • What a wonderfully heartwarming collection of drawings. Phil Davis was obviously well-liked by his colleagues at the Mintz studio. It must have been great fun to work with such talented and creative people. I’m sure Phil cherished that scrapbook for the rest of his life, and I’m glad that Art and his heirs took the trouble to preserve it.

    Most of these drawings are dated from the middle of March, just days after the great Long Beach earthquake of 1933, which caused millions of dollars in property damage and killed over a hundred people. Several of the drawings allude explicitly to the earthquake, suggesting that this, at least, was one aspect of Southern California life that Phil might be glad to leave behind.

    Who is “Kentucky”?

  • I had never seen Phil Davis mentioned in all my reading about animation. Any relation to Basil Davidovitch who animated for WB under Clampett, Jones, and Phil’s brother Art?

    • Probably not. Basil Davidovich was born in Moscow, while Phil and Art Davis’s parents were from Hungary. Patronymic surnames typically have multiple points of origin.

  • Fabulous scrapbook images Devon! I especially like Irv Spence’s drawing, and Preston Blair’s drawing looks like one of the “animation problems” in Volney White’s original Foster animation book. Preston did the sequel to White’s book for Foster, “Modern Animation”.

  • Cool stuff. I’ve been researching Mintz Krazys and Scrappys, so this was a real treat. Long Live Yippy!

  • You sure don’t see indications of this talent and graphic sophistication in the actual Mintz cartoons.

    • Actually, it’s pretty clearly evident in the early ’30s output contemporaneous to these drawings.

  • Such a wonderful scrapbook collection! Thanks so much for posting these, Devon. It truly speaks volumes to how appreciated and respected Phil Davis was by his colleagues.

  • Awesome. My fav is the drawing that has Betty, Bimbo, Mickey, Mutt and Jeff, etc in addition to the Mintz roster. Looks to almost certainly have been drawn by Thomas Bonfiglio

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