Remembering John Severin

A portrait of John Severin by his equally renowned sister, Marie. The image is taken from the TCJ site but originally appeared in Graphic Story Magazine #13.

John Severin, who passed away earlier this week, wasn’t as celebrated by fanboys and girls as Jack Kirby, Neal Adams or Wally Wood. Yet, his work easily belongs alongside those individuals and select others as among the best oeuvres to ever grace the medium of comic books.

His easily recognizable style served gritty realism and outré humor equally well, a feat that seemed effortless in Severin’s hands but was never really equalled by his contemporaries or successors.

How many other artists can you name who could master media parodies for humor magazines like Cracked, brutal war adventures for such titles as Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos and Blazing Combat and memorable chillers for Warren’s famed Creepy and Eerie publications.

Severin also maintained a strong work ethic throughout his entire career – which spanned a good 60 years or so –  without a notable drop in quality.

You’d think an artist with such a resume would only be discussed in hushed tones, but the sad fact is the genres where Severin left indelible marks don’t quite carry the same cachet in the Direct Market as funny-books featuring mutants in long underwear.

Fortunately, the sheer amount of quality work Severin left behind coupled with the sincere expressions of appreciation found throughout the Blogosphere and Twitterverse the past few days ensure his efforts will never truly be forgotten.

From Prize Comics Western #110 (Prize, March-April 1955), American Eagle tackles “Red Slavers” in a amazingly non-stereotypical Western drawn by Severin early in his career.

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Let’s jump ahead a few years for a tale about an “Abominable Snowman” from Creepy #6 (Warren, December 1965). This story was written by Bill Pearson and illustrated by Severin.

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Finally, here’s a parody of Alien from the magazine where I first encountered Severin’s work, Cracked. The humor may not have aged particularly well – it was a bit of a hoot when I was 17 – but I still find the Severin’s art as captivating as ever.

“Allien And How To Watch It” originally appeared in Cracked #149 (Major Publications, November 1979).

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