If you’re anything like me, you’ll consider the first 28 issues of the comic book version of MAD the best comic book ever published. John Severin was one of the main contributors to that notion.
And the main contributor to Mad's main rival "Cracked" for most of its print run.
There was no one like him for inking and rendering the real world as easily as breathing. His sense of gray tones, textures, light and shadow and human expression were unparalleled. When I teach inking classes at the TCW, John Severin is mentioned at least once an hour as one of the best who ever did this comic book stuff.
I first encountered Severin’s work on his stellar run of Sgt. Fury comics. John was inking over Dick Ayers at the time, but the inks were so distinctive, Severin was the leading hand in the look of that title. From there I discovered Cracked Magazine and John’s mind-boggling skill at likenesses. Once I had found a reprint of an early Mad Comics spoof of Melvin of the Apes, I was hooked for life. Without a word of exaggeration, I was reading a John Severin comic book yesterday, and marveling at how perfect every line was, every stroke of that pen or brush.
Damn this deal with the universe that guys like Severin don’t get to go on forever.
Ty the Guy OUT!
When I put up those Harvey Pekar sketches last week, I mentioned that neither of the drawings were in my “usual” style of doing a likeness. At this point in my career, I’m not sure I have a style, but I do have some vague idea of what sort of final drawing will look right to my eyes, and these ideas are usually rooted in Mort Drucker and John Severin…two of the great Mad artists of my youth.
As you can see by the drawing of a young Jay Leno (done for a Canadian TV Guide some years ago) and the Movie Spock (done for my own amusement last year), my line work tends towards Drucker’s when I’m just trying to make a portrait.
Oddly enough, when I fit a likeness into a story (as I did with these panels from various editions of the Factoid BIG BOOK series, or as I’m currently doing with my fun Dexter gig), I find my line work and sensibility tends towards John Severin. Probably because Severin was slavishly realistic, and Drucker was more playful.
Either way, when you add the Jack Davis influence in the Pekar drawing below (coupled with a blatant attempt to inject a little R. Crumb in there, another Harvey Kurtzman protege), I’ve obviously never gotten over my early crush on Mad Magazine.
And I ain’t never gonna.
Ty the Guy
Posted in American Splendor, Dead Celebrity Jokes, Harvey Pekar, Mad Magazine, Ty Templeton
Tagged American Splendor, cartoons, comic art, Dead Celebrity Jokes, Frank Sinatra, Harvey Kurtzman, Harvey Pekar, Jack Davis, Jay Leno, John Severin, Leonard Nimoy, Mad Magazine, Mia Farrow, Mort Drucker, Orson Welles, Portraits, Robert Crumb, sketches, Spock, Star Trek, Woody Allen