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Trailblazer: The Marvel Art of Marie Severin

 

Marie Severin was a woman in comics in an era when a woman in comics wasn’t even considered a thing to be. She got her start as a colorist at EC Comics in 1949, and worked there until they were largely driven out of business by the Comics Code in 1955. A narrative emerged in the years since, probably mostly because she was the only woman around, that she objected to EC’s extreme violence and deliberately used her coloring to downplay it. But Severin herself disputed those claims, saying she was trying to set a mood with her colors, and any attempts to downplay the violence were just in the hopes of avoiding the wrath of parents who might flip through the books.

But that attempt ultimately failed, and EC comics bit the dust. Severin left comics behind, but she returned to Marvel in the 1960s. There she worked in production and did more coloring, but when Bill Everett left the Dr. Strange feature in Strange Tales, she got her first regular gig as a penciler. In that role she co-created the Living Tribunal, a three-faced judge who’s become one of the mainstays of Marvel’s cosmic mythology.

For this tribute gallery, I’ve focused on her pencilling work at Marvel. As a penciler, she’s probably best remembered for working on Dr. Strange in Strange Tales, Incredible Hulk, and Namor the Sub-Mariner, but she drew fill-in issues and covers for many, many books. She’s inked here by a variety of classic Marvel inkers, from Herb Trimpe, to Joe Sinnott, to Dan Adkins. But whoever she’s working with, Severin’s highly illustrative style shines through. She’s great at drawing crowds, and she was a pioneer of letting the cover art on a book interact directly with the logo. She also drew what might be the best-looking Rhino of all time.

 

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