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Marie Severin, First Lady of the Silver Age
November 30, 2009 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Starting her comics career as a colorist, Marie Severin was largely responsible for the distinctive color palette of EC Comics, where her brother Johnny Severin also worked. She later worked in the Marvel Bullpen, drawing just about everything, including many well loved staff caricatures. She turned 80 this year; here are a few of her Marvel covers from the 60s and 70s.
posted by interrobang (18 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, thanks interrobang. This one is particularly nice, I think.
posted by emjaybee at 8:38 AM on November 30, 2009


The main reason I never buy any of the nice, hardcover black and white EC reprints (despite desperately wanting to) is the lack of Severin's work. I think they've since been reprinted in color, hardbound, but I now have many elegantly fading pulpy paperback editions. Her colors even look great as they decay!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:38 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, thank the gods; when I saw her name in the FPP I thought she had passed away. Here's to many more colorful years, Marie!
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:42 AM on November 30, 2009


Oh, and SmileyChewtrain, it's true that Severin's colors are missing in the black-and-white reprints, but it only makes it easier to admire Graham Ingel's amazing inks. It's a trade-off.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:44 AM on November 30, 2009


Wonderful stuff, thanks. I didn't know about her until this post, shame on me.
posted by Iosephus at 8:48 AM on November 30, 2009


it's true that Severin's colors are missing in the black-and-white reprints, but it only makes it easier to admire Graham Ingel's amazing inks. It's a trade-off.

Faint of Butt - on that count, I have to agree. Ghastly Graham's art and inks are so grotesquely terrifying! He's an interesting character unto himself, more or less renouncing his work in horror comics for years.

It's amazing that EC could hold such eclectic art styles under one umbrella and yet have them all feel like they naturally belong together. Johnny Craig was so sleek; Graham Ingels, grotesque; Al Feldstein, humorously chilling; etc - I think Severin's colors are probably a big part of the glue that bound them all together.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 9:19 AM on November 30, 2009


Not to mention when Frazetta jumped in there and took a few swings. Man, all these EC comics talk is making me want to bust them out again!! Great post!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 9:20 AM on November 30, 2009


I haven't really seen much EC stuff in color before, and I can't believe how nuanced the color is compared to silver-age Marvel and DC. Huh.
posted by COBRA! at 9:29 AM on November 30, 2009


Sounds like someone needs to receive some EC reprints in the mail!
posted by interrobang at 9:33 AM on November 30, 2009


Great post! What books would you recommend picking up for someone who isn't that familiar with EC, (but wants to be!)?
posted by hector horace at 9:41 AM on November 30, 2009


Great post, I was actually thinking of doing a similar one last week! I read somewhere last week she had stopped taking commissions from fans. I always hear about these things when the people STOP doing them.

What books would you recommend picking up for someone who isn't that familiar with EC, (but wants to be!)?

I see lots of the pricey hardcovers on Amazon. I remember back in the 1980's Gladstone was printing them in regular old comic book format, I think two issues in each for $3 or $4. Maybe look around for those. For me, the horror titles were my first love with the science fiction a close second. But 20+ years later, I find the ones that hold up the best are the war titles, particularly Frontline Combat. I believe in retrospect that was the best EC comic.
posted by marxchivist at 9:58 AM on November 30, 2009


A good example of the nuance and restraint with Marie's coloring for EC are the infamous last panels by Jack Davis from Foul Play in Haunt of Fear #19. Instead of detailing every drop blood and gore with brilliant color, the scene is just lit in subtle blue and yellow. Which makes sense if it is a ball park at night. I think part of the reason these panels were colored that way was to lessen the gross-out factor. Nevertheless, this sequence was featured prominently in Dr. Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent.
posted by marxchivist at 10:11 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yay, well-deserved appreciation! (I had always assumed that Marie and Johnny Severin were spouses, not siblings, which now makes me feel silly.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:00 AM on November 30, 2009


I was just re-reading Dorkin's "Bill and Ted" books yesterday, and noticed the inks for at least part of the run were Severin, and was wondering if there was anything she couldn't do.
posted by Shepherd at 11:20 AM on November 30, 2009


If this awe-inspiring link is already in the post, forgive me.
posted by jeffen at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


What books would you recommend picking up for someone who isn't that familiar with EC, (but wants to be!)?

The Gladstone reprints have two issues in each, but the ones from Gemstone are higher quality overall—better paper, printing, and so on. They're not that rare. Just avoid the hardcover reprints, unless you like Photoshop gradients in every panel.
posted by interrobang at 11:28 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool stuff. I was doing a little bit of research on her this weekend and I'm amazed by her career. She seems sadly under-collected, though, from what I can tell.
posted by darksong at 3:30 PM on November 30, 2009


I met her at the Motor City Comic Con about five years ago. Easily one of the nicest (and talkative!) pros I've ever come across! Publisher Bill Gaines once said that she was E.C.'s "conscience". If she felt that things went overboard taste-wise, she would color that page or panel very dark to blunt the goriness.
posted by TDavis at 6:55 AM on December 1, 2009


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