Marie Severin: Comics First Lady
Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Posted By: Clifford Meth
By Clifford Meth
News spreads fast in our industry but especially when it’s bad news about someone as beloved as Marie Severin. I took the call from Gene Colan late Monday night and spent the rest of the evening on the phone with our common friends. It’s a strange ceremony at times like these, everyone joining hands and sharing concern. Johnny Romita was the bright light, saying the doctors were using words like “miraculous recovery” and promising she’d be home soon, but it was still hard to go to bed without knowing for certain.
Two days later, I got up the nerve to call the hospital. Marie answered. “I’m fine and I’m going home in a few days!” she promised. “I wish people wouldn’t worry.”
That’s Marie Severin—-always upbeat and shunning the spotlight, forever downplaying her role as the First Lady of Comics, or even as an important part of an important time in Comics history. “My brother,” she says, “now that’s an artist!… Buscema! Ooo! Now that’s figure drawing.” Couldn’t get Marie to talk about herself much, despite our friendship of many decades. We talk about her trips or her projects or the things she finds funny (which is just about everything), but you’ll never catch Marie plugging her career or her influence on the industry or her achievements. The EC books. The satire books. Incredible Hulk. Any of it. She just says, “Oh, that was fun.”
“Sev is sick?” yelled Paty Cockrum. “Oh my gawd! You can’t get sick, Sev! You’re he best and the brightest in the lot… Talk about tough, you know what a boy’s club Marvel is today—-imagine what it used to be like. Imagine how talented and flexible Marie had to be to make it in that environment. Sev taught me more than anybody else. Tell her to get well now or else!”
“Marie Severin has mastered every skill connected with comics as no one—-man or woman—-has,” Johnny Romita said upon reflection. “I was lucky enough to have worked with her for many years at Marvel Comics… Her EC years speak for themselves. She could do humor better than most; did powerful pencils from plots; inked and colored stories and countless covers with personality and clarity, as well as any colleague I ever worked with. And then there were those barbed but sensational birthday cards she dashed off, which are among the most prized art I still have in my studio.”
“Marie is one of the nicest people I've ever met!” said Gene Colan. “She always puts a good positive spin on things. The first thing I noticed about Marie was her sense of joy, always joking and laughing and never to busy to speak with you. Her art was singularly her own. Very original. She was and remains a great cartoonist. I always felt her art reflected her outlook on life. All of us in the industry love Marie and she has always been there for her colleagues! Best wishes and regards to you, Marie. You're the best and my personal sweetie!"
Herb Trimpe couldn’t find a few words for Marie. So he found many: “Marie, here's hoping you get well and I confess to being an asshole for not contacting you sooner, among other things as you well know. There's a guy in Charlotte, NC who wants me to talk you into coming to his show. I don't know if that's an incentive or a reason to hide behind a rock, but I wish you'd go. Anyway, I think the thing about which I feel the most privileged in knowing you, was to be able to provide for you the material for some of the funniest drawings ever--you know, those quickies in the bullpen, sometimes in full color that immediately found a spot on the wall for all the world to see--or at least 8 or 10 of us. I still have them, and they are still a helluva good way to brighten up the day. And as much as I love your brother John, me being an EC fan first, I don't think he ever overshadowed you in the least--taller maybe, but that ain't what I'm talking about. You were the best among us then and always will be the best, no matter what. This here is the truth, so help me Stan.”
Speaking of Stan Lee, “Calling Marie the best woman artist in the business is an injustice,” he said. “Marie was one of the best artists in the business, period.”
"Marie Severin is a triple threat," said Roy Thomas. "She can color, she can draw super-heroes, and she's all but incomparable at humor. She is, quite possibly, one of the most underrated people in the history of comics-but not by those who know and have worked with her!"
Harlan Ellison added, “Marie and I have worked together on perhaps half a dozen occasions and every day that we’ve been in touch has held cupped in its flower a little more sunshine than all the days on either side. To be specific, I adore Marie Severin.”
I’m fine, said Marie. I’ll be home in a few days.
Okay, lady. We’re holding you to it. From your legion of fans and friends: Please, Marie—please come home soon.
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