John Severin (born December 26, 1921, Jersey City, New Jersey) 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.
Early life and career
Severin began drawing professionally at the age of ten, when he contributed cartoons to The Hobo News. Severin attended the High School of Music and Art in New York City, together with future Mad artists Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Al Jaffee and Al Feldstein. 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 Comics, 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 on the series The Incredible Hulk, The 'Nam, Conan the Barbarian, 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, comic-book artist Marie Severin, on Marvel's King Kull.
Post 2000, he's contributed work to Desperadoes, Suicide Squad, American Century, Caper, Punisher, Conan, Bat Lash and B.P.R.D..
Other family members in publishing and entertainment fields include his sister Marie Severin, also a comic book artist; his son John Severin, Jr., the head of Bubblehead Publishing; and his daughter, Ruth Larenas, a producer for that company.
Awards and honors
Severin's 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 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.