Tuesday, February 14, 2012

RIP John Severin

If you're familiar with this blog, then you've noticed my increasingly hostile reaction to the comic book industry. Certainly these past few weeks have been enough to try anyone's optimism; first DC announces Beyond Watchmen; then Marvel sues Gary Friedrich; now word is in about John Severin having died two days ago.

It amazes me that Severin was ninety years old... not that he should have lived so long, but that he could be such a vital talent at his age! His art was simply forever young; with so many artists there's a definite peak in their energy - you might, for example, find the Gene Colan of the 1970s to be his peak and the Gene Colan of the 1990s far from it; Severin seemed to hit his peak in the 1950s then stayed there for sixty years.

As an enormous fan of Atlas Comics, it's sad to have lost yet another of those talents, Severin ranking amongst the most prolific and beautiful of the Atlas artists, easily a peer to Atlas' Joe Maneely and Bill Everett. I love the detail Severin brought to his western and war comics; he composed his pages with such great detail and designed such expressive characters that a Severin feature is always a welcome diversion while rifling through the Atlas catalogue.

I love that Severin had the chops to draw stark and realistic, lush and colourful or cartoonish. I suppose he'd be better-known in today's fandom if he'd spent more time on the super heroes. For years I've thought he deserved more recognition for his work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 1960s; I loved how his S.H.I.E.L.D. technology was a shade more believeable than Kirby's; check out the design of the I.B.P. for an example of what I mean.

There was only one John Severin; this fan misses him.

1 comment:

Colin Smith said...

Well said. I retain so much respect for Mr Severin's achievements. For me, and in addition to your entirely appropriate examples, I'll always treasure his work with his sister Marie on Kull, and his inking for Marvel, especially on Herb Trimpe's pencils for the Hulk. Nothing taught the young and stupid-headed me the value of having a fine inker as those comics.

That he could still be producing work of such quality in his late eighties. Oh for that much talent and that capacity to defy the years.