You may have noticed the unique masthead that tops page one of The Ferndale Enterprise. It was drawn in 1998 by Ferndale’s “resident” artist, Jack Mays. Shortly thereafter, Mays began a weekly feature in the paper called “Jack’s Corner.” Some called Jack’s renderings cartoons. Others saw them as sharp political commentaries on the latest news in Ferndale. However you described them, his drawings each week on the bottom of page two encouraged discussion, review, chuckles and sometimes head-scratching. Over the years, Jack drew more than 500 cartoons depicting more than 400 Ferndalers, and he vowed he would eventually draw each one of the town’s citizens. Being featured in “Jack’s Corner” for some was an honor. For others . . . well, let’s just say Jack was still well-loved and admired around town.
Before becoming a regular at The Enterprise, Mays could be found drawing on Main Street. In 2006, he used his vast collection of color-pencil drawings, which he rarely showed or sold, to help seed a new foundation called the Amaysing Grace Foundation, dedicated to assisting Ferndale families who must travel outside the area for their children’s medical care. (More on that here.)
Jack’s decision to surface some of his rarely seen artwork and help start the foundation stemmed from a terminal cancer diagnosis he received in December 2004. After he was diagnosed, his friends rallied and put on a benefit evening for Mays, auctioning off 100 of his original cartoons.
Long-time fellow Ferndale artist Carrie Grant produced a documentary about Mays and his life, “One More Line,” in 2009. The North Coast Journal called it “a tale of two artists: the one determined to die without a legacy and the one determined to preserve it.”
“I’m not interested in making art for the art world, but in making art for Ferndale,” Jack said in an artist’s statement for the film.
Mays won four National Newspaper Association awards for editorial cartooning, including first place awards in the association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2010 and 2012. See the winning cartoons — and their backstories — here.
In addition to spending years drawing Ferndale, cartooning at The Enterprise and helping launch the foundation, Mays helped wage a 2010 campaign to preserve the historic Fresnel lighthouse lens at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale, the site of much of his artwork.
Mays died July 18, 2014, at the age of 76.
Jack in the news
Rare show of two decades’ worth of unseen Ferndale drawings to kick off Amaysing Grace Foundation (The Ferndale Enterprise, December 2006)
‘One More Line’: Jack Mays — capturing life on paper and on film (The North Coast Journal, October 2009)
Ferndale artist Jack Mays chains himself to lighthouse in protest; Coast Guard will move forward with lens removal (The Times-Standard, June 2010)
Out of the barn, into the sun: Jack Mays’ bronze sculptures to launch new Main Street ‘manufactory’ (The Ferndale Enterprise, November 2011)
Amaysing Grace Foundation
For more information on contributing to the Amaysing Grace Foundation, please contact The Ferndale Enterprise.
For-sale artwork by Jack that benefits the foundation can be seen at the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce’s website.
Ferndale Enterprise merchandise
Retail merchandise featuring Jack’s artwork is available in our merchandise section.