2018-08-30 17:07:49 UTC
Spider-Woman Co-Creator Marie Severin Dies At Age 89
1 hour ago
by Brian Cronin
in Comic News
Spider-Woman Co-Creator Marie Severin Dies At Age 89
1 hour ago by Brian Cronin
in Comic News
Updated at 10:57 AM to reflect Marie Severin’s passing
Longtime Marvel Comics artist and colorist, Marie Severin, who was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2001, has passed away at the age of 89, following a recent stroke.
Former Marvel staffer and close friend to Severin, Irene Vartanoff shared the news of her passing on her Facebook page.
Severin broke into the comic book industry in the late 1940s when her older brother, comic book artist John Severin (1922-2012), asked her to color one of his stories for EC Comics. She did such a good job that she was soon the regular colorist for EC Comics. When EC Comics’ comic book line went out of business following the institution of the Comics Code Authority (which seemed almost designed specifically to put EC Comics out of business), Severin worked for Atlas Comics a little bit before leaving comic books entirely to go work at the Federal Reserve.
In the late 1950s, Severin began to get back into comic books, working for Atlas again doing some production work. As Atlas turned into Marvel and began to expand, Severin’s work for them expanded, as well. By the end of the 1960s, Severin was the main colorist at Marvel while also doing the occasional penciling job. When the Hulk gained his own series, Incredible Hulk, Severin was the penciler for the first five issues of the series.
Severin was a particularly gifted artist when it came to likenesses, so she was a perfect artist for Marvel’s parody comic book series, Not Brand Echh. In the early 1970s, Severin gave up her job as Marvel’s lead colorist (handing the assignment over to comic book veteran George Roussos, who continued in the role until the 1980s) so that she could do more penciling work.
She co-created Spider-Woman in 1976, designing her iconic costume. In the 1980s, she began working in Special Projects for Marvel, doing a lot of licensed work (again, her likenesses were always amazing). She was let go by Marvel during their restructuring following their late 1990s bankruptcy. She continued working as an artist until retiring in the mid-2000s.
Marie Severin, R.I.P.
Published Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 9:48 AM.
It's one of those sad double-obit days at newsfromme.com — and they were both mainstays of Marvel Comics from the sixties onward.
One of the world's great cartoonists, Marie Severin, has died at the age of 89. She had been in poor health for some time and only days ago, suffered a stroke which put her in hospice care. So this was not surprising but it's still a bit of a shocker. Let me say this clearly up top: This lady was one of the most delightful, funny and talented people who ever worked in comics. You will find no one who ever knew her who will disagree with that statement.
Marie was born in Rockaway, New York on August 21, 1929, the younger sister of John Severin…so, two great comic book artists in one family. Their father was an artist, working mostly in fashion design but Marie, at first, did not pursue a career as an artist. She had talent but, she thought, not enough. She was working for a bank in 1949 when John tagged her to do some coloring on work he was doing for the E.C. company. The folks at E.C. liked what she did and liked the idea of having an in-house colorist, as opposed to jobbing the work out to strangers. So she joined the E.C. crew and also did production art and other tasks.
She was also at times, an in-house censor. The E.C. books sometimes featured gore and a wee bit of sex and when Marie was called upon to color such scenes, she made her disapproval felt by coloring those panels dark blue or dark red, minimizing what was seen. Some called her "The Conscience of E.C."
When E.C. folded its comic line and concentrated on the (then) black-and-white MAD magazine, John helped her get a job at the company we now know as Marvel. But then they had major cutbacks and she went back into the banking industry for a time. As Marvel rebuilt, there was eventually a time when her services were needed again. Some sources say this happened in 1959 but I believe it was closer to 1964. In any case, she rejoined the firm, working there until another cutback around 1998. After that, she freelanced all across the business until her health failed.
While at Marvel, she headed up their coloring division and colored hundreds of comics and covers herself. She did production art and corrections, and you can often spot her popping up for a few panels or faces in comics drawn by almost anyone else. She did cover designs and drew many comics including notable runs rendering Dr. Strange, The Hulk, King Kull, Sub-Mariner and so many others. On a few joyous stories, her pencil art was inked by her brother John — and she also secretly assisted him on some of his non-Marvel jobs, such as his work for Cracked magazine. She also did a lot of work on merchandise art for Marvel.
As good as her super-hero work was, I'll betcha a lot of her fans prefer her "funny" work for comics like Not Brand Echh and Crazy. Even better, though it did not reach a wide audience, was her skill at drawing hilarious (and insulting) cartoons that were posted on walls around the Marvel offices. She had a wonderful, scathing sense of humor and a terrific eye for caricature. Among the many cosmic injustices of the comic book industry is that while the E.C. staff occasionally called on her coloring skills for some MAD project, they never hired her to do the kind of actual drawing jobs that went to guys like Mort Drucker and Jack Davis. This may just be my opinion but I thought she had the necessary talent; just not the right gender for that company back then.
There's a photo that I took at a New York Comic Con in either '75 or '76. The gent with Marie is my great friend Tony Isabella. We had a wonderful time at that convention. At one point, an extremely rude (and unshowered) fan shambled up to Marie and demanded (not "asked" — demanded) a free sketch. Marie told him to get lost. Five minutes later, a polite fan asked in a charming way if Marie could draw a little something in an autograph book he was carrying around. Marie asked, "What would you like me to draw?" and the kid replied, "Anything you like. Maybe a silly monster?" Marie, in about eight seconds, drew a great likeness of the rude, unshowered comic fan.
Everyone loved this woman and those who never got to know her loved her work. Never mind that she was one of the first great female comic artists. She was one of the great comic artists, period.