Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Monday, August 06, 2012
Source: Mania.com

The comic book business has always been a male-dominated industry.  Even in today’s modern society where we have a plethora of females in traditional male roles such as the military and law enforcement, there is still only a very small amount of women working in the comic book business.  This makes what Marie Severin did all the more incredible, having flourished in the business during the less politically correct eras of the 1950s and 1960s.  This book is a fitting tribute to Severin, widely regarded as the first lady of comics.  Severin’s story is told through a book length interview with writer Dewey Cassell, as well as through the comments from her many peers.  And it’s all published by TwoMorrows, simply the best publisher of books about the history of comics.

Severin relates growing up in New York during the 1930s in a creative household.  Unlike a lot of comic artists of the period, Severin’s parents encouraged her creative inclinations.  By the early 1950’s she had followed her older brother, and fellow comic artist John, to fabled publisher EC Comics where she worked as a colorist and doing touch up work on many of EC’s notoriously graphic horror titles.  Marie at one time was coloring every EC title including the covers.  Legendary EC editor Harvey Kurtzman wanted a more realistic looking coloring to EC’s books and he got that with the talented Severin.  

For those who are interested in the history of the comic business, Marie goes into great detail into how the creative process worked at EC and the tools of her trade.  She also provides many great memories about the EC office and working with the many incredible talents like Jack Davis, Al Feldstein, Graham Ingels, Johnny Craig, and of course eccentric publisher Bill Gaines.  

When EC was forced out of business in the wake of the U.S. Senate hearings on the effects of comic books on children and the establishment of the Comics Code, Marie went to work for Atlas, the predecessor to Marvel Comics.  Marie discusses working with some of the early Marvel greats including Steve Ditko, John Romita, Herb Trimpe, Roy Thomas, and of course, Stan Lee.  When Steve Ditko left Marvel it was Severin who took over as artist on Dr. Strange in Strange Tales.  Marie would later go on to work as an artist on The Hulk, Sub-Mariner, King Kull, and Marvel’s parody book, Not Brand Ecch, as well as contributing numerous covers.

In addition to interviewing Severin, there are interviews included with many others who knew or worked with Marie including her later brother, John, various childhood friends, Stan Lee, John Romita, Gene Colan, and Joe Sinnott.  The book is filled with dozens of photos from Marie’s life and career and also includes a color gallery of her work and an index to her credits.  This is an incredible book that details a woman who was not only a pioneer in the industry but also a vastly underrated talent.


Mania Grade: A
Title: Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics
Publisher: TwoMorrows Publishing
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