John Powers Severin is an American comic book artist noted for his distinctive artwork with EC Comics, primarily on the war comics Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, and for Marvel Comics, primarily on its war and Western comics. Severin was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2003. He is the brother of artist Marie Severin.
Severin began drawing professionally at the age of ten, when he contributed cartoons to The Hobo News. After high school, he worked as an apprentice machinist and then enlisted in the Army during World War II. In the post-WWII years, he entered the comic book field working for several publishers, including stories for Crestwood's American Eagle. At EC, Severin initially worked in tandem with Will Elder, penciling stories that Elder inked, and both were among the original five artists who launched Harvey Kurtzman's Mad, along with Kurtzman, Wally Wood and Jack Davis.
In addition to his position as the lead artist for Two-Fisted Tales, he was its editor for its final issues in 1954. For years, he was a major contributor to Cracked magazine as cartoonist on the Cracked television parodies and other features. With Warren Publishing, he drew for Blazing Combat and Creepy.
Severin did extensive work for Marvel Comics, including The Hulk, The 'Nam, Conan, Captain Savage, What The?! and Semper Fi. As inker, he teamed with penciler Dick Ayers on an acclaimed run of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos that won the Alley Award for Best War Title of 1967 and 1968. Active into the 21st Century, he illustrated the controversial 2003 Marvel limited series The Rawhide Kid, a lighthearted parallel universe Western that reimagined the outlaw hero as a kitschy, though still formidably gunslinging gay man.
He collaborated with his sister, Marie Severin, on Marvel's King Kull. As a comics artist, caricaturist, cartoonist and colorist, she is best-known for her Marvel Comics work on such characters as the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Strange.
Awards and Honors
Severin artwork has been exhibited three times at the Words & Pictures Museum in Northampton, Massachusetts — in the grand-opening group show (October 9, 1992 - January 5, 1993), the group exhibit "War No More" (May 18-August 8, 1993) and the group show "Classic Comics - A Selection of Stories from EC Comics" (December 7-February 11, 1996).
He was was nominated for a Shazam Award in 1973, for Best Inker (Humor Division) and was among the winners of the Cartoon Art Museum's 2001 Sparky Award.
- I was in the Bullpen with a lot of well-known artists who worked up there at that time. We had our Bullpen up there until about 1958 or 1959. [sic; the Bullpen staff was let go in 1957] The guys... who actually worked nine-to-five and put in a regular day, and not the freelance guys who'd come in a drop off their work ... were almost a hall-of-fame group of people. There was John Severin. Bill Everett. Carl Burgos. There was the all-time great Joe Maneely... We all worked together, all the colorists and correction guys, the letterers and artists... We had a great time.
- --Stan Goldberg, Atlas/Marvel artist and colorist
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