Wednesday’s Heroes: Marie Severin

She was just one in a lineup of artists, but when it came to Marvel’s classic “Incredible Hulk” tales, she was the irreplaceable one. Paging through backissues or a Marvel Essentials trade, the green behemoth pencilled by Marie Severin is the one that appeals to me most. Her Hulk — square-headed, thatch-haired, more broadly emotive — was always a welcome relief from page after page of Herb Trimpe’s Hulk, an unchanging mask of constipation with a simian nasolabial trough. If she’d done nothing else, I’d thank her for that.

But Severin — sister of fellow artist John Severin, who died in February — did so much more. She was in the vanguard of the EC Comics revolution of the 1950s: Crime SuspenStories, Haunt of Fear, Shock SuspenStories, Crime SuspenStories, Panic, and Weird Science-Fantasy. She drew or inked or colored every genre of comics art, from romance to Westerns to sci-fi to superheroes. She joined Marvel when it was still Atlas Comics, in 1959. And for my money, she regularly showed up a lot of the male artists she was paired with.

The Quarter Bin‘s old “Talent Pool” feature (hosted now as orphan pages on FortuneCity) boasted a March 2000 post about Severin that does the best possible job of boiling down her career into its distinct segments. Chopped by Marvel in 1996 — in the same casual bloodbath that left Trimpe jobless — Severin seemed to shrug it off. While Trimpe wrote desperate letters to Marvel offering to take on any work, Severin told him, “Why bother?” Her past came calling instead, when she was asked to do color consultation on reprints of the EC books that she had, in fact, colored in their original, lurid issues. She’d outlasted her male peers in that regard.

And on the matter of the Hulk, while Trimpe’s take gets called “definitive” a lot, that’s arguable. For instance, I’m pleased to note that movie versions of the Green Goliath have to this point hewed a lot closer to Severin’s design.

Wait, can we go closer on that?

Crap. That’s Trimpe’s nasolabial trough right there. Men win again.

Santogold — Les Artistes
The L.A. Carnival — Color (Original 7″ Version)

What else is going on: I wrote a thing for Hearingade about indie-rock folker (rather than the obverse) Ezra Furman.

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2 Responses to Wednesday’s Heroes: Marie Severin

  1. Andrew Wahl says:

    Soul Smithy:
    A fine post on one of the finest ladies in comics history. As you know, I’m not the biggest Hulk fan. But is there a Bronze Age issue with Severin art that you’d suggest if I want to get a taste? Perhaps you can point the way when we meet up at Emerald City next month?
    Cheers!
    AW

  2. Amie says:

    WOOT! Thanks for profiling an important lady in the world of comics. You rock, Soul Smithy.

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