Legendary artist Marie Severin passed away a few weeks ago, and I wanted to take a moment to share some of her works that are available at the Library of Congress and highlight her decades-long career in the comic book industry. Marie began working as a colorist for EC (Entertaining Comics) in the 1950’s and continued in the industry through the 2000’s. Some of her earliest work was on titles like this issue of Weird Science Fantasy no. 23 (1954):
Not only was Marie Severin an early female comic artist working in a male dominated industry – but her early roles as a colorist and inker in the comics industry meant that she was often less well known than the scripter (writer) or the pencils artists. The nature of the comic book industry requires the division of labor to produce a high volume of publications. So while many readers may know individual creators long associated with a particular character or certain celebrated figures in the industry, most of the comics you read include the work of numerous individuals who have historically been uncredited. Yet oftentimes it is the colors and inks that can visually convey emotion, heighten the drama of the story, or make character costumes more memorable.
Marie was credited with her work more than many other artists though, and as her career progressed she wrote and penciled issues, co-creating characters such as Spider-Woman (above). She is especially known for her work on the Incredible Hulk and we are fortunate to have one of her original drawings for the first interior page (also known as the splash page) to Incredible Hulk no. 104 (June 1968) here at the Library of Congress as well as the original issue:
I love that this image combines two of the items I work with – newspapers and comics. Severin’s references are brilliant – creating a publication within a publication and cleverly alluding to other newspapers featured in comics (Metropolis’ Daily Planet, for example).
She also worked on such diverse titles as Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Fraggle Rock, Kull the Conqueror (above), Conan the Barbarian, as well as many of the EC comics like Tales from the Crypt or Shock Suspenstories. She was particularly known for her work on the parody comic Not Brand Echh, where her skill with likenesses shined:
Among her many awards and accolades, in 2001, Severin (along with Dale Messick) was one of the first women to be inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. In 2017, Severin was named a Comic-Con International Icon. She was a truly influential artist who deserves to be more widely known.