As 2018 comes to shut, a yr that has seen the passing of numerous comics figures, we want to keep in mind one of many greats we misplaced. Marie Severin died this yr on the age of 89, and we needed to offer her the obituary that she deserved.
Born in Rockaway, New York in 1929, she was the youthful sister of famous comics artist John Severin, who died in 2012. Their father was an artist, and whereas Marie all the time drew, she thought that she lacked the expertise to make it as knowledgeable. It was by way of her brother John that she acquired her first job in comics. In 1949 she was working at a financial institution when he requested for her assist in coloring when he labored at EC Comics.
It was at EC that she made her first vital contribution to comics. She turned the in home colorist for the corporate, which then was at its peak, additionally doing manufacturing artwork and different duties. Some individuals referred to as her the corporate’s in home censor, selecting colour schemes and manufacturing approaches to underscore a few of the gory and violent imagery within the firm’s comics. Al Feldstein referred to as her the “conscience of EC” however Severin herself thought that nonsense. A take a look at the breadth of labor she produced exhibits that whereas she did at time downplay violence – in later interviews she cited considerations over the content material and the battles over censorship and comics, which contemplating there Congressional committees and televised listening to means that she was simply smarter and paying extra consideration than most on the firm – her talent at horror was unparalleled. It’s arduous to think about horror and suspense in comics since then with out the affect of Severin. She sought to make use of colour to create environment, to spotlight the artwork, to play with the tone, in delicate and sophisticated methods.
From 1949 to 1955 she coloured a lot of the corporate’s output. When EC modified its strategy and commenced specializing in Mad Journal, Severin shortly turned one of many journal’s key contributors. She had drawn caricatures of the all boys membership that have been her co-workers at EC, which in addition to her brother included Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Wally Wooden, Jack Davis, Frank Frazetta, and different legendary artists. She was assigned a one web page story when a final minute fill in was wanted and the next day turned in a bit that she had rewritten and coloured.
That story, solidly within the Will Elder fashion full of motion, aspect gags, made an impression on others and she or he contributed to the subsequent 228 problems with Mad. This work was achieved at a time when the thought endured that ladies couldn’t draw and weren’t humorous – however her work demonstrated that such concepts have been nonsense and so was instantly judged for her work and never her gender. The incontrovertible fact that Severin was capable of produce nice cartooning with such ease and talent, meant that these irrational prejudices have been shoved apart and she or he was employed and continued to be employed.
Severin continued as certainly one of comics’ nice humorists for many years. Apart from her prolonged affiliation with Mad – collected lately in two volumes – she was a contributor to Cracked, Loopy, Assist!, Humbug, Nationwide Lampoon, Not Simply Model Echh, Panic, Plop!, Spoof, What The–?!, and for one problem, Spy Journal.
Like many different EC alums, Severin was recognized for working in quite a lot of types and genres. Although a gifted caricaturist and humorist, her science fiction and fantasy work stays beloved by style followers. Comics followers know her for her temporary run illustrating Physician Unusual within the pages of Unusual Tales for Marvel. She changed Invoice Everett, who took over for Steve Ditko, and co-created the Dwelling Tribunal. Previous to this and afterwards she was recognized for her work drawing covers of Galaxy and different magazines.
Her work in superheroes was restricted to her Physician Unusual run and a run of Hulk, which on the time appeared in Tales to Astonish and in his personal ebook. Her most notable superhero work was in humor magazines the place she often skewered characters and the style. Although she by no means wrote any of those tales, the hallmarks of her fashion of humorous cartooning and her understanding of superheroes and the superhero world have been unparalleled.
Kurtzman and Wooden are credited with the good superhero parody with Superduperman, which appeared in Mad, and none of Severin’s particular person tales ever had the identical influence. Partially as a result of parodying the X-Males of that interval or Magnus Robotic Fighter, whereas they continue to be distinctive works of cartooning, are merely characters few individuals knew or cared about. It takes a fan with information of the characters to understand and perceive all of the delicate references and particulars that she included into these tales.
Severin famously started her profession by caricaturing her fellow cartoonists and it was maybe the truth that she labored within the bullpens at each EC and Marvel, and was recognized to finish so many duties for each corporations that went far past coloring, that she had a familiarity with a whole lot of characters and approaches and regardless that she was not essentially thinking about superheroes, she understood them and had a information base that rivaled any of the writers or followers. These pages represented that uncommon event that the comics business laughed at itself.
After her time at EC, Severin labored within the bullpen at Marvel the place she was a fill in artist and drew format designs for canopy artwork which have been then handed alongside to the books’ common pencilers. She was given the work as a result of whereas Stan lee’s nickname for her was “Mirthful Marie” he like so many in comics understood that her sensibility and elegance performed a key position within the success of EC. Regardless of this work, Severin was by no means compensated for it, nor was she given and even provided the place of Artwork Director that John Romita had on the firm.
Consequently she left Marvel and principally left comics. As an alternative she discovered success in different fields the place corporations put her skills to good work and didn’t pay her much less or refuse to work together with her due to her gender. Her expertise at caricature and capturing likenesses which Mad and different publications had put to such good use meant that she discovered work in promoting and elsewhere.
Together with Mort Drucker and Jack Davis, Severin was one in every of a handful of figures who emerged from comics into the broader world of popular culture and American artwork and design. Notably within the 1960s and 1970s – in some ways a highpoint of illustration earlier than images took over to a higher diploma – the three of them have been drawing movie posters, journal covers, report albums, and promoting work. The attain and affect of Mad Journal on the time was such that their work served as one thing of a tryout for different industries.
Severin continued to work in comics in numerous methods, and attend conventions, although a lot of her later work was promoting or design work for comics-related merchandise. One thing which was famous paid rather more than she had ever made truly drawing Hulk and Physician Unusual and different characters years earlier than.
One in every of her remaining works was additionally considered one of her earliest works. In 2003, the e-book B. Krigstein was revealed by Fantagraphics, collected the work of the late artist and Severin recolored a number of the tales reprinted within the e-book that she had initially labored on, which led to a collection of interviews in numerous publications about her lengthy profession. The guide was awarded the Eisner and Harvey Awards that yr.
Severin suffered a stroke in 2007. The following yr she acquired the Reuben Award from the Nationwide Cartoonists Society, the third lady to obtain the prize and the fifth individual to obtain it primarily for contributions to Mad Journal.
In 2016 controversy erupted earlier than the annual Angouleme Pageant Worldwide de la Bande Desinée over the pageant’s lack of any ladies on the longlist to be awarded the pageant’s Grand Prix de la ville d’Angouleme. The prize, given to a cartoonist for his or her physique of labor, had given to solely a single lady within the pageant’s historical past. Many creators initially up for the prize boycotted and withdrew their names from consideration. The committee finally awarded that yr’s prize to Ms. Severin.
Solely the fifth American to obtain the award – after Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Artwork Spiegelman and Invoice Watterson – the choice to award it to Severin was on the time controversial. Since then it has come out that a variety of males have been put ahead, however individuals have been unable to return to a consensus. When Severin’s identify was put ahead, the vote was unanimous.
Severin was chosen for her physique of labor. For her connection to EC Comics, to Mad, to Silver Age superhero comics. Her work represents the ways in which comics managed to penetrate the counterculture and rework it and society at giant. She represented the ways in which the medium has its connections to illustration and design by way of the work she and her contemporaries had been doing in current many years, but in addition by way of the affect of her father, who was an illustrator, and that early custom of illustration that so influenced early comics.
Furthermore the choice of Ms. Severin was extensively seen to symbolize the ladies of her era, and ladies in comics extra broadly. She stood for the ladies with expertise – extra expertise than numerous males who got alternatives – however who have been shunted apart to coloring or manufacturing work. She represented the ladies whose work editors wouldn’t even think about due to their gender. She represented the ladies who have been shut out of comics, shut out of illustration, shut out of promoting, and so many different fields. Ladies who some individuals proceed to erase from historical past, claiming that that they had no expertise or didn’t apply or didn’t even exist.
She represented the ladies whose expertise exceeded their alternatives. Ladies for whom regardless of how nicely they did a job, have been by no means provided the probabilities that males got who lacked the identical monitor report. Ladies handed over again and again, first as a result of they have been too younger to be value contemplating, after which as a result of they have been too previous to be value contemplating.
Marie Severin’s work and life represented comics. A beat up, stepchild of a medium not taken critically, not given respect, however who labored and toiled and put out work which can or might not have been acknowledged. Marie Severin didn’t simply characterize comics, she represented what comics might have been, and maybe, what it nonetheless might be.
Relaxation in Peace, Ms. Severin.