The celebrated Mr. K pays birthday tribute to the late comics stalwart, who was born 102 years ago…


John Severin (December 26, 1921 – February 12, 2012) wasn’t an easy artist to categorize. In the late-1960s when I first became aware of his work, I thought of him as a “war artist,” because of all his work on the classic 1950s EC war titles and his then current stint on Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos and Captain Savage and his Battlefield Raiders for Marvel. Then he confounded my expectations by showing up on superhero titles like The Incredible Hulk, in sword and sorcery strips like Kull the Conqueror, and, once I started learning the history of this business, I discovered there wasn’t anything that John Severin couldn’t and hadn’t drawn in comics.

Severin got his start in the late 1930s in the famed Will Eisner and Jerry Iger studio, but the young artist didn’t really hit his stride until the 1950s, when he joined publisher Bill Gaines on the now legendary EC Comics line. His early experiences laid the foundation for a remarkable career that would see him become one of the most versatile and respected artists in the field. His work in Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales showcased his ability to capture the gritty realism of war stories, earning him acclaim for his attention to detail and dynamic storytelling. His skill in illustrating military themes was further solidified working on DC Comics’ 1950s war comics like Our Fighting Forces and All American Men of War, as well as humor work for Mad, where he contributed to the magazine’s irreverent humor with his unique style.

The 1960s saw Severin transition to Marvel Comics — where he became an integral part of Stan Lee’s revolutionary new Marvel Universe of heroes — as well as to the pages Mad competitor, Cracked, where he would remain a contributor for decades. Severin was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2003 for his body of work in the comic book industry and his legacy lives on through his thousands of peerless pages in countless comics.


Boy Commandos #30 (November/December 1948). “The Triumph of William Tell,” inked by George Klein.

Two-Fisted Tales #19 (January/February 1951). “War Story!” inked by Will Elder.

Two-Fisted Tales #23 (September/October 1951). “Dog Fight!” inked by Elder.

Strange Tales #138 (November 1965). “Sometimes the Good Guys Lose!” over Jack Kirby layouts.

Blazing Combat #4 (July 1966). “The Trench.”

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #74 (January 1970). “Each Man Alone!” inking over Dick Ayers. Cover by Severin.

The Incredible Hulk #147 (January 1972). “The End of Doc Samson!i” inking over Herb Trimpe.

Cracked #98 (January 1972). Cover.

Our Army at War #272 (September 1974). “The Bloody Flag.”

Creepy #100 (August 1978). “Professor Duffer and the Insufferable Myron Meek.”

The Unknown Soldier #261 (March 1982). “Death of a Double, Part 2!”

Conan #18 (July 2005). “Helm”

Bat Lash #2 (March 2008). “A Flower for Dominique!”


— THE 13 WARS OF JOHN SEVERIN: A Birthday Salute. Click here.

— JOHN SEVERIN Gets His Due — Illustrated Bio Coming This Fall. Click here.

PAUL KUPPERBERG was a Silver Age fan who grew up to become a Bronze Age comic book creator, writer of Superman, the Doom Patrol, and Green Lantern, creator of Arion Lord of Atlantis, Checkmate, and Takion, and slayer of Aquababy, Archie, and Vigilante. He is the Harvey and Eisner Award nominated writer of Archie Comics’ Life with Archie, and his YA novel Kevin was nominated for a GLAAD media award and won a Scribe Award from the IAMTW. Now, as a Post-Modern Age gray eminence, Paul spends a lot of time looking back in his columns for 13th Dimension and in books such as Direct Conversations: Talks with Fellow DC Comics Bronze Age Creators and Direct Comments: Comic Book Creators in Their own Words, available, along with a whole bunch of other books he’s written, by clicking the links below.



Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Wow, that’s a wide range of work over a very long period. That Sgt Fury cover is iconic, but the baby crying really exemplifies the reality and horrors of war.

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  2. Awesome list. Was there such a thing as a bad John Severin story? From the art side of things, I don’t think so…

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