Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame member and co-creator of Spider-Woman Marie Severin has passed away at the age of 89.
Severin passed away Thursday evening, August 29, 2018. Her passing was announced by Irene Vartanoff who was her caretaker.
“I’m very sorry to report that Marie Severin, the funniest and nicest woman in the comic book biz ever, is no more.”
Marie Severin broke into the comic book industry when her brother John Severin needed a colorist for one of his books at EC Comics. Her earliest recorded work was the in Modern Love #2 in a story called “I Craved Excitement” back in August and September of 1949.
In an interview with Sequential Tart, Severin discussed how and why she broke into the industry:
“Money. My brother was in comics and he needed a colorist, and I was working on Wall Street. I didn’t know what I wanted to do — I was going to go to art school, and then I wasn’t going to go, and then this and that. I became a colorist at EC and I discovered that I was in it and storytelling and it was fun.”
She went on to describe her work at EC:
“Yes, for all the war books at EC with [Harvey] Kurtzman. I went on to color all their books, they were happy with it, and I learned a lot about production color and how everything worked. They were a wonderful crew because they were all excellent at what they did.”
She even explained her process back then:
“I believe the color chart for the printed pages had a range of up to 48 colors. I had the full range; I would mix colors — golds, greens, blues, and so on — and you would intensify them so that the separators could see the difference. They never printed quite as vivid, because remember in those days the paper was almost a tan to begin with, and if it wasn’t, it would turn so in about six months. Any way, the whole process was very primitive. That’s why the artwork looked that way, because it had to be thick and thin, easy to print on cheap paper, and colorwise, too, so it was a cheap medium, a ten cent item, and you made the best of it with what you had.
What they liked is that I really studied which colors looked best and sharper next to one another, the subtleties of it. I would also proofread the colors. They would send a “flat” they called it, of the books, the whole book, and you would check that the color was in the line, that they interpreted it correctly.”
Severin would eventually begin working for Marvel Comics and landed an illustration position after working on an illustration for an Esquire story about the college drug culture. Stan Lee would give her duties on Strange Tales working on Doctor Strange and eventually co-create the Living Tribunal.
Severin would go on to become Marvel’s head colorist only giving up her duties in 1972 to focus on penciling. She would go on to work on Namor, Conan the Barbarian, Kull the Conqueror, The Cat, and Daredevil.
Severin would continue working with Marvel co-creating iconic characters like Spider-Woman and Howard the Duck villain Doctor Bong.
In the 1980s she would work on Marvel’ Special Projects division where she handled non-comic book licensing like Fraggle Rock and Muppet Babies. She would work with cartoonist Nate Butler on Marvel’s Star Comics imprint to create Muppet coloring books and Crocodile Kermie comics.
Severin would retire in the mid 2000s, but not before winning both the Harvey and Eisner awards for her work on coloring B. Krigstein. She would also win the Shazam Award in 1974 for Best Penciller. She would win an Inkpot Award at San Diego Comic-Con in 1988 and was abducted into the Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame in 2001. Just last year she received Comic-Con International’s Icon Award in 2017.
A number of comic book professionals remembered and honored Severin.
RIP Marie Severin. One of the great cartoonists in comics and likely the greatest colorist in the history of comics. We stand on the shoulder of giants. pic.twitter.com/0ycrjVDd2F
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) August 30, 2018
Rest In Peace, Marie Severin. Uber talented, trail blazing Marvel artist has passed away at 89 years old. Her work is stunning and had tremendous impact on Marvel in the late 60’s early 70’s! pic.twitter.com/IJc311BASX
— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) August 30, 2018
Those overlays were the work of Marie Severin, who redrew a couple of figures and shifted some storytelling errors. Brilliant stuff, and a gesture I’ve long appreciated. May she rest in peace. 2/2
— Dan Jurgens (@thedanjurgens) August 30, 2018
Ah, RIP Marie Severin. Another legend goes. Met her when I was 19 and drawing She-Hulk, flown out to the Marvel offices. Listened to her stories for hours. 29 years ago now.
— BRYAN HITCH (@THEBRYANHITCH) August 30, 2018
Marie Severin was a true comics icon. She used to do cover layouts for Kirby because he thought she was better at it then himself. He was right. pic.twitter.com/fsckl4nYtb
— Dave Acosta (@davedrawsgood) August 30, 2018
Sorry to hear we’ve lost Marie Severin. A great artist, colourist and cover designer. The Kull issues she drew with her brother John are amongst my favourite comics ever.
— Dave Gibbons (@davegibbons90) August 30, 2018
Thank you, Marie Severin. Thank you so much. pic.twitter.com/tz0zoO6CZr
— Javier Rodríguez (@javiercaster) August 30, 2018
Marie Severin’s work had such incredible flow and energy. She could do comedy, she could do drama, she was a fantastic layout artist for many Marvel covers. And she drew a helluva King Kull. pic.twitter.com/iwIL1Q7W4p
— J.M. DeMatteis (@JMDeMatteis) August 30, 2018
So sorry to hear about the passing of Marie Severin.
It was a privilege and honor to work with her.
She was funny, tough, always professional, and a fantastic artist.#MarieSeverin pic.twitter.com/TmxeCzioD0
— Fabian Nicieza (@FabianNicieza) August 30, 2018
I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that any of us who was lucky enough to edit comics would never have had the chance if it wasn’t for people like Marie Severin. Rest in peace. https://t.co/kj8NSMa7ZD
— Tom Brennan (@Brennanator) August 30, 2018
So sad to hear of the passing of Marie Severin. She was an integral part of Marvel comics in the 60s and by all accounts a lovely person. https://t.co/vfuWcABoCr
— Karen Walker (@Walker_KM) August 30, 2018
This was the first superhero comic book I ever bought. 25 cents in a Chatham, Cape Cod, beach snack shop.
BOTH the writer, Gary Friedrich, and the artist, Marie Severin, passed away today.
(cover art by Jim Sterenko, face redrawn by MS) pic.twitter.com/YVSu0CwE0y
— Tom the Dancing Bug (@RubenBolling) August 30, 2018
What a tough week for comics.
On top of everything else going on, three comic book legends left us this past week. RIP Russ Heath, Marie Severin, and Gary Friedrich. Thank you for your work and contributions to the things we all love so much.
— peter simeti will see you at GraniteCon! (@petersimeti) August 30, 2018
— Alex Ross (@thealexrossart) August 30, 2018
RIP to an incredible artist and trailblazer, “Mirthful” Marie Severin. Artist and Colorist of EC Comics, HULK, Daredevil, Conan, Sub Mariner, Dr. Strange. Co-Creator of Spider-Woman and countless more. #comics #marieseverin pic.twitter.com/sZ85UmelUb
— Dave Scheidt (@DaveScheidt) August 30, 2018
Marie Severin will definitely be missed, but her impact on the comic book industry will always stand!