John Severin: 1921-2012

February 14th, 2012 | Posted in News

The Comics Beat is reporting that legendary comic book artist John Severin passed away on Sunday, Feb 12th in his home in Denver, Colorado, surrounded by family. John had one of the longest and well-respected careers in comics we will probably ever see. He was one of the early artists for E.C. Comics, and one of the first artists for MAD, doing work for the first several issues under Harvey Kurtzman from 1952-1954. The above image is his first appearance in MAD #1. He did so much comic work over the years it’s almost impossible to list it all. He eventually became the main artist for Cracked Magazine’s parodies, which he continued to do for 45 years until Cracked changed hands and eventually stopped publishing.

I never met John, but his sister Marie, who was also a very talented comic artist, inker and colorist, inked a mini-series I pencilled for Marvel called The Coneheads back in the 90’s. I never met her either, but we spoke on the phone a few times and she was a really nice lady. Also her inks made it look like I actually knew what I was doing.

John’s place in the pantheon of comic book history is secure. A sad loss for comics but he leaves behind a legacy of work that few other artists can or will ever equal. Rest in Peace, Mr. Severin.


  1. Brent Brown says:

    A terrific artist. My very favorite Cracked guy. RIP.

  2. Mark Engblom says:

    Wow! I loved his Cracked parodies as a kid, actually preferring them to Drucker’s MAD parodies until I started learning more about cartooning/caricature as I grew older. His comic book stuff was solid, too, but he had pretty much moved on from monthly comics when I started reading them (early 70’s). He’ll be fondly remembered!

  3. JWB says:

    Of course I’ll always think of John’s version of Cracked’s mascot Sylvester P. Smythe, but I also enjoyed his work as an artist / inker at Marvel Comics over the years. He did terrific finishes over Herb Trimpe’s pencils on and The Incredible Hulk in the early 70’s, and with Dick Ayers on Sgt. Fury and many Western titles. But his best collaboration may be with sister Marie on Marvel’s adaptation of Robert Howard’s King Kull stories. Let’s hope those will get the deluxe reprinting treatment very soon! What a great career!


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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