Comics Herstory: Marie Severin

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 9.04.26 AMMarie Severin is a comic artist from New York. She first began her career as a colorist for Entertaining Comics (EC) in the 1940s when her brother, an artist, needed someone to color his work. Severin then continued working for EC as a colorist on several books. She became a pioneer in coloring, mixing and using all forty-eight available colors to create a wide range of colors in the final comic. Her fellow staff called her EC’s conscience, because she tended to downplay the often gruesome violence of EC’s books, muting the colors so it wouldn’t be so shocking to readers.

Severin returned to work in comics in the late 1950s, after the economic downturn had lessened. Her talent doesn’t lie only in coloring, and she was assigned to draw the Dr. Strange feature after starting at Marvel. She continued to both color and draw for Marvel, working characters like Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Iron Man, and Daredevil. One of her most notable Marvel legacies is co-creating Spider-Woman and designing her first costume in 1976. She has said that she draws “for the color of it” and was Marvel’s head colorist until 1972.

Throughout the 1980s, Severin worked in Marvel’s special projects, designing film and television tie-in merchandise. She worked at Marvel until 1996, when the company went bankrupt. However, Severin continued to work in comics coloring reprints of old EC comics. She worked into the mid-2000s, when she was well into her seventies.

Severin’s body of work is an important one, and she has won numerous awards for art and coloring. She has also spoken about being a woman in comics, and was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2001. Colorists are often credited less than they deserve, but Severin set a precedent in comic coloring by mastering color mixing and using color to set the mood and tone of the story.