Marie Severin by Michael Netzer
August 21, 1929 |
|Area(s)||Penciller, Inker, Colourist|
|Notable works||Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Not Brand Echh|
|Awards||1974 Shazam Award: Best Penciller (Humor Division); Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame, 2001|
Early life and career
Marie Severin was born August 21, 1929. She grew up in an artistic household where her father, a World War I veteran, eventually became a designer for the fashion company Elizabeth Arden during the 1930s. In her teens, Severin took "a couple of months" of cartooning and illustration classes, and attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York "for one day and said, 'This is a college', and I wanted to draw and make money".
Severin was working on Wall Street when her comics-artist brother, John Severin, needed a colorist for his work at EC Comics. Marie Severin's earliest recorded comic-book work is coloring EC Comics' A Moon, a Girl... Romance #9 (Oct. 1949). She would contribute across the company's line, including its war comics and its celebrated but notoriously graphic horror comics. She has repeatedly refuted the often told tale that she colored especially gruesome panels a dark blue as a sign of protest.
At EC, Severin worked on the comics' production end, as well as "doing little touch ups and stuff" on the art. When EC ceased publication in the wake of the U.S. Senate hearings on the effects of comic books on children and the establishment of the Comics Code, Severin worked briefly for Marvel Comics' 1950s predecessor, Atlas Comics, until an industry downturn circa 1957 prompted her to seek work with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She recalled in 2001, "I did a little bit of everything for them — I did television graphics on economics [and] I did a lot of drawing. I did a[n educational] comic book that my brother did the finished art on... about checks".
In 1959, when the industry had picked up again to during the period fans and historians call the Silver Age of comic books, Severin again worked for Marvel Comics in production. Severin recalled in 2001 that when Esquire magazine requested an artist to illustrate a story "on the college drug culture", Marvel production manager Sol Brodsky offered Severin rather than one of the regular artists, all on deadline. Her illustration for the magazine led to Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee assigning her to replace Bill Everett, who had succeeded character co-creator Steve Ditko on the feature "Doctor Strange" in Strange Tales.
Severin continued to expand from colorist to do penciling and inking, and occasionally also lettering, on various titles. She drew stories of the Sub-Mariner and the Hulk, and the covers or interiors of titles including Iron Man, Conan the Barbarian, Kull the Conqueror, The Cat, and Daredevil. Additionally, she worked on Marvel's satiric humor magazine Crazy, as well as the company's self-lampooning comic book, Not Brand Echh.
Later life and career
In 1976, Severin co-created Spider-Woman, designing her little-used original costume. She co-created the popular villain Doctor Bong in 1977. In 1979, she provided the art for the Spider-Man and the Hulk toilet paper
In the 1980s, she was assigned to Marvel's Special Projects division, which handled non-comic book licensing such as from toy maquettes, film and television tie-ins, and the short-lived children's book imprint, Marvel Books.
During the 1990s, Severin penciled the "Impossible Tale" of the "Li'l Soulsearchers" in issue #31 (Aug. 1998) of Claypool Comics' superhero-humor comic Soulsearchers and Company, inked by fellow Silver Age veteran Jim Mooney; and she inked Dave Cockrum's penciling in issue #43 (July 2000). She also inked Richard Howell's pencils on the story "Favor of the Month" in Elvira #144 (April 2005).
Severin retired sometime afterward, but continued into the mid-2000s to make occasional contributions, such as recoloring many of the comics stories reprinted in the EC-era retrospective books B. Krigstein and B. Krigstein Comics. The former won both the Harvey and Eisner comic-industry awards in 2003.
Awards and honors
Severin won the Best Penciller (Humor Division) Shazam Award in 1974. The following year, she was nominated for both Best Inker (Humor Division) and Best Colorist.
Severin spoke at a 1974 New York Comic Art Convention panel on the role of women in comics, alongside Flo Steinberg, Jean Thomas (sometime-collaborator with husband Roy Thomas), Linda Fite (writer of "The Claws of the Cat" and a few other Marvel titles) and fan representative Irene Vartanoff. She also participated in the Women of Comics Symposium at the 2006 Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon.
Roy Thomas: "Marie Severin is a triple threat. She can color, she can draw superheroes, and she's all but incomparable at humor. She is, quite possibly, one of the most underrated people in the history of comics...."
Artist Mark Sparacio: "I met Marie Severin up at the Marvel offices when I was 15. I had sent some drawings of some characters that I had worked up to the art editor and asked for an interview. I received a letter saying that they weren't interested in my characters but I could come up to the offices and speak with someone about my work. It was Marie Severin and she gave me about 40 minutes of her time, discussing my artwork, explaining to me how I could improve and showing me around the offices. She was great and that left an indelible mark on me".
- "Marie Severin" at Askart.com
- Michael Pinto. "Meet a Real Life Comic Book Superhero: Marie Severin" fanboy.com; August 20, 2009
- Sequential Tart (n.d., circa 2001): "The Chromatic Queen" (Marie Severin interview)
- Geissman, Grant. Foul Play! The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics (Harper Collins, 2005) p. 239
- Comics Bulletin: Past Masters (column; n.d.): "Marie Severin: Comics' First Lady", by Clifford Meth
- Johnson, Dan (August 2006). "Marvel's Dark Angel: Back Issue Gets Caught in Spider-Woman's Web", Back Issue Magazine Vol. 1, No. 17, pages 57-63. TwoMorrows Publishing.
- Field, Tom (2005). Secrets in the Shadows: The Art & Life of Gene Colan. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 116.
- Saffel, Steve (2007). "Licensing Galore!". Spider-Man the Icon: The Life and Times of a Pop Culture Phenomenon. Titan Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-84576-324-4. "To many fans the Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk toilet paper is the ultimate '70s oddity, coming as it did at the tail end of the decade. For long visits to the bathroom, the roll actually featured a comic strip with art by Marie Severin - no doubt something she kept on her résumé for years."
- Lamar, Cyriaque (June 23, 2010). "This Hulk toilet paper comic is the apex of bathroom reading". io9. Archived from the original on February 3, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013. "In 1979, Oh Dawn! Inc. released "The Amazing Spider-Man & the Incredible Hulk" in "The Gamma Gambit," a short comic printed entirely on toilet tissue."
- The Lambiek Comiclopedia: Marie Severin
- Comic Mix (Oct. 16, 2007): "Comics Great Marie Severin Suffers Stroke", by Mike Gold
- Lovece, Frank (1974 (fanzine published by Paul Kowtiuk, Maple Leaf Publications; editorial office then at Box 1286, Essex, Ontario, Canada N0R 1E0)). "Cons: New York 1974!". The Journal Summer Special.
- The Village Voice (July 6, 2006): "Best in Show: Women's Work", by R. C. Baker
- DD Resource: Daredevil Creator Biographies — Marie Severin
- Comics Bulletin: Silver Bulletins (Oct. 17, 2007): "Marie Severin: Comics First Lady," by Clifford Meth (different from similarly titled article above)
- Scoop (April 3, 2004): The Main Event (column): "Better Late Than Never, Kid!" (interview with Mark Sparacio)
- Comics Bulletin: Silver Bulletins (Jan. 7, 2005): "A Voyage Of A Million Miles", by Mike Storniolo
- Bubblehead Publishing: Lost in Space: Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul
- The Silver Age Marvel Comics Cover Checklist: Marie Severin
- Fortune City (n.d.): "Marie Severin: First Lady of the Silver Age" (unbylined)
- Archive of Shaw, Scott. "The Story Of Checks" [penciled by Marie Severin], "Oddball Comics" (column) #1097, December 2, 2005
- Comic Book Artist #18 (April 2002): Marie Severin interviewed about Flo Steinberg