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RIP John Severin

One of the finest western and military comic book artists of all-time, John Severin, passed away Sunday at the age of 90.

RIP, John. Our condolences to his family.

Severin and his sister, Marie, were longstanding artists for Marvel Comics, drawing a variety of projects. He worked for many other companies, though, including Warren, Charlton and DC.

Severin is most well-respected for his work on military comics (here is a sample of his work from Warren’s Blazing Combat)…

and western comics (here is a sample of his work from the Two-Gun Kid)…

Severin was also a masterful humor artist, working extensively for Cracked and Mad. Here is him doing a parody of Shane from the pages of Mad…

One of his most amazing skills was his work with faces, both expressions on original characters (how strikingly powerful is just the work on the EYES in the Blazing Combat piece!!) and in drawing likenesses of famous people for humor parodies.

Severin was also a well-respected inker, and his powerful inks are what most superhero comic book fans recognize him from. Here he is inking Herb Trimpe on the Incredible Hulk…

And here he is finishing Jack Kirby’s layouts on Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD in Strange Tales…

He continued working in comics until just last year. His career is nearly unparalleled in its length and continued high level of skill. Here is a page from his Witchfinder mini-series last year for Dark Horse…

Amazing work for a man nearly 90 years old at the time. As our pal Dan Bailey says in the comments, he somehow managed to never lose it. He was just as good in 2011 as he was in 1961. Stunning.


Wonderful artist. I very much enjoyed his art, though I discovered his work far too late for such a long career.

This is really sad. He was a great artist.

As the regulars on CBR’s Classic Comics board know, John was my favorite artist ever. I first encountered his work in my first issue of SGT. FURY — #48, shortly before I started 3rd grade back in 1967, & along with the wonderful characters, the nonstop action & of course Gary Friedrich’s sterling dialogue, in retrospect it’s quite clear that John’s masterful pencils over Dick Ayers’ dynamic inks had a lot to do with its becoming the first Marvel I ever bought regularly.

It’s still my favorite series ever. Take away John Severin’s inks, & it isn’t. Simple as that.

What an incredible talent. Just Sunday I read through what I gather is the last work he ever did, the 5-issue WITCHFINDER: LOST & GONE FOREVER for Dark Horse. He never, ever lost it.

Me too Anthony, and what little I’ve read by Severin I’ve LOVED. I had no idea he was that old!!!

Recently I bought online an old issue of CRACKED, the one spoofing the Empire Strikes Back. I remember reading it as a kid a hundred times. To my surprise the amazing cover and the adaptation were both by Severin! :-)

Crack’d was my introduction to Severin many years ago. I read them for years as a kid (mid-80’s), and I could always pick out his work and loved it. He was a master. RIP.

He was also one of Marvel’s best inkers! Herb Trimpe’s work on Hulk was always good, but when Severin was on inks it would be totally transformed into something amazing.

Yeah, Matt, I was just about to edit in some of his inks. He was a powerful inker.

John Severin was always one of my favorites. As a kid I was always a Marvel loyalist, but I bought every DC war comic I could find if it had Severin art. I recall being very unhappy when Jack Kirby took over The Losers and cut off the Kanigher/Severin storyline then in progress. His work with his sister Marie on Marvel’s Kull comic was simply beautiful. He will be missed.

I’ve loved his work since I was a kid. A true legend.

No! Oh, man… what an awful Valentine’s day. I (like several of the other commenters so far) have been a fan of his since I was a kid, and this is devastating. I used to get every issue of Cracked, and my eyes would light up every time I got to the part of the magazine that he drew. If I can ever be half the artist he was, I’ll be proud.

I guess we should be thankful. 90 is a great run, and he left behind so much art. Goodbye John.

Honor his legacy – order the upcoming Showcase volume of The Losers – you really can’t go wrong with the art from that part of the series – and the stories were pretty good too

What a great artist. RIP, John.

I associate his work so much with MAD that when I looked at that first combat page I kept expecting it to take a humorous turn. But alas.

And yeah, his work was splendid.

I was just reading his BPRD issue. Man, he was on my top 10 list

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Cracked from a reading perspective, it must be said that his art did keep drawing me to it. He was unquestionably the best thing about it. His style was both distinctive and eye appealing, and well suited to a wide range of genres. Like another great artist who recently passed away, Gene Colan, sometimes you didn’t want to simply read the story but rather spend a moment just taking in the artwork.

I would definitely recommend anyone with other comic news to hold off a day because there is simply no bigger news that is likely to happen in the comic world today. No lawsuit, no sales gimmick matters as much as the passing of this incredible talent.

That sucks. Severin is one of my Top 10 artists. Like many others, I first discovered him in Cracked as a kid, and years later was super excited when I discovered he had done so much work in comic books. His inking over Trimpe’s pencils in the Hulk was great, and I love all his western and war stuff. As mentioned, the Witchfinder mini he just did last year was still just as good as if he had done it 40 years ago. It’s sad we won’t ever get any more new artwork from him, but fortunately he left plenty behind.

John’s inks over Herb Trimpe in the Hulk series is superb work. Such a lengthy and distinguished career.

Cracked was probably the first place I saw his work but it was his inking on Sgt. Fury that made me a fan.

Definitely one of the greats. And, as others have said, he maintained his artistic chops right until the end.

He was in his artistic prime for decades, and not many artists can match that kind of career.


February 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm

John Severin was one of my favorite artists. I admired how he continued to create outstanding drawings into his late 80s. His art just kept getting better and better. He left behind a legacy will be treasured for generations to come.

A master has passed on to the great Bullpen in the sky :(

I’ve always been a huge fan, but I hadn’t seen his recent work at 90 years old before. That art is incredible even for an artist in his prime of youth! Most of my other favorite artists deteriorated a lot by the time they hit old age, but he was as good as ever.

Sad news. I, like several others, did not realize he was 90, and am amazed also at the quality of his work right to the end. He was truly one of the greatest, and he’ll be missed.

T. —

Actually, he was a mere 89 when he did that art (maybe even 88, depending on lead time); he didn’t turn 90 till Dec. 26. But still, what incredible artistry.

I’ve long thought it was a shame that he was never the subject of a book-length examination & appreciation from TwoMorrows or some other publisher, the way seemingly every flash-in-the-pan artist with about 10 comics under his belt is today, but no doubt that’s just me being bitter — something I do very well. (I *am* every pleased to note that Dewey Cassell, author of THE ART OF GEORGE TUSKA, is working on a volume on John’s remarkably talented younger sister, Marie. )


An absolute master, the first artist whose work I sought out regardless of the title or character he was working on and, maybe most importantly, the one who sparked what has become a lifelong interest in military history. I couldn’t agree more that he’s an artist who deserved to have a deluxe best-of package to call his own. If it happens now, it’ll just be a shame that it didn’t come out during his lifetime. In the meantime, if anyone knows of a comprehensive online checklist of his work, kindly post it here.

@John — The closest thing, AFAIK, is to go to the GCD & search for his credits as, respectively, a penciler & inker.

John was a great talent and a very nice man, GOD bless him and his family. Jack

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