John Severin.

I hate to continue to report about dying artists, but this man is truly of personal note. I was probably 10 or 12 years old when I wrangled my first issue of Cracked, Mad magazine’s chief competitor. Therein I came upon probably the first profound influence on my own art, John Severin.

Unlike Mort Drucker, Mad‘s resident head artist, Severin’s style was cleaner, less exaggerated and stylized, but undeniably his own. I was particularly drawn (har) to his inkwork, which always produced an crisp and precise render, with loving amounts of hatching. It was that sort of style that ultimately led me to the likes of Jean “Moebius” Giraud and R. Crumb, the other two main influences on my art. John Severin died last week on the 12th at the age of 90.

Aside from his influence on me personally, Severin was a profound part of modern graphic art. He worked alongside greats like Wally Wood, Will Elder and (another fave of mine early on) Jack Davis on Harvey Kurtzman’s original Mad comics (from which the later Mad magazine would come), as well as many other EC titles which shaped the early world of comics. His later work involved many Marvel titles, such as The Incredible Hulk (a giant-sized issue of which I got one Christmas) and King Kull, loosely based upon the Robert E. Howard Character, and created with the assistance of his sister Marie.

An entertaining and insightful interview with Severin is to be found here. It also features a good deal of his work. He’ll always be honored as one of the greats.


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