MARIE SEVERIN, CARTOONIST AND ILLUSTRATOR

Marie Severin artistI was saddened to hear about the recent death of Marie Severin. She was 89. Marie was a great cartoonist and illustrator who worked for Marvel comics in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. She illustrated many well-known characters including The Sub-Mariner, The Hulk and Doctor Strange. Marie was also the co-creator of Spider Woman. But, it’s for her humorous work that she is perhaps best remembered.

Marie drew for the now classic comic book, Not Brand Echh, which was a parody of Marvel superheroes as well as those by other companies. Brand Echh was published from 1967 to 1969 and was ground-breaking in many ways. In those days (as now) humor in comic books was a rare occurrence. (Ironic, since the word comic means humor.) Here was a whole comic book dedicated to making fun of superhero comics. It’s hard to imagine, in a world before the internet and thousands of cable TV channels, how much of an impact this had. Marie’s drawings were beautiful and funny. She had the ability to capture the expressions of characters including those of her co-workers, fellow artists and writers who made appearances in Not Brand Echh, breaking the fourth wall at a time when you could almost hear the pieces shattering.

When Marie was at the height of her career there were almost no women in comics. (Ramona Fradon is another artist who comes to mind, working for Marvel’s rival, DC.) Marie’s drawings were whimsical, good-humored, poking fun at a genre she clearly enjoyed, and a business she obviously loved. Without doubt, her gender contributed to her lack of recognition. But, to anyone who saw her work, her style was beautiful and unmistakable.

Marie Severin artist

She entered the comic book business through her brother John Severin, another immensely talented artist, known for his swash-buckling adventure and war comics. He hired Marie to do coloring on a romance comic published by EC comics in 1949. From there she went on to color the whole EC line including their very gruesome horror comics. She then moved to Marvel comics where she continued as a colorist, also doing production work, and then eventually, inking, and penciling. In addition to Not Brand Echh, she drew for some of Marvel’s other short-lived humor comics, Spoof, What The—, and Arrgh! (I’d hate to ask for that title by name over the phone.) Marie was reportedly loved by those who knew her and warm to all her fans. A kind-hearted and whimsical woman who will be remembered not only because she was a pioneer in a male-dominated industry, but because her work was extraordinary. The world has lost a great artist.

Sam Gross – Cartoonist

Sam Gross (who signs his work S. Gross) is a legendary cartoonist. Sam’s single panel cartoons have been appearing in magazines for over fifty years. And he’s still at it! His odd, weird and wonderfully strange cartoons have been featured in many publications including Good Housekeeping, Harvard Business Review and The New Yorker. His most famous cartoon was published in the National Lampoon and involves a legless frog at a French restaurant. The subjects of Sam’s cartoons range from daily life to characters from fairly tales, talking animals and sex. Often his cartoons are in questionable taste, which, of course, makes them even funnier. Imagine Charles Addams on LSD.

Sam is a native of the Bronx, New York and started his professional life as an accountant. After a few years of being bored doing other people’s taxes, he was able to pursue his real calling, cartooning. Sam has also taught cartooning and continues to be an inspiration to younger cartoonists.

Sam’s numerous published collections of cartoons are much sought after by collectors of great comic art. His books include, An Elephant Is Soft and Mushy, Catss by Gross, Your Mother Is a Remarkable Woman, and, I Am Blind and My Dog Is Dead.

 

"Cats! You can't live with them and you can't live without them!"

If you’re not familiar with Sam’s work, go to Amazon and seek out his books. But be warned, these are not for children. They have adult subjects and themes. If you’re easily offended, Sam’s cartoons may not be for you. For everyone else, Sam Gross is one of the funniest single panel cartoonist ever to put pen to paper.

Cartoon Blogs

If you like panel cartoons, comic strips and comic books, here are a few great blogs and websites you might want to check out.

    1. original new yorker cover eustace tilleyInkspill – Is a blog about cartoonists whose work has appeared in The New Yorker Magazine. There are posts about and interviews with cartoonists past and present. There are also lots of cartoons. Inkspill is run by Michael Maslin, whose wonderful cartoons also run in The New Yorker. Michael is married to another excellent New Yorker cartoonist, Liza Donnelly.
    2. Stu’s Comic Strip Connection – is a website that lists and links to just about every syndicated comic strip there is. He has most current ones and many past ones too. If you like comic strips, this is a site well worth going to.
    3. Attempted Bloggery – This is another blog devoted to New Yorker cartoonists, however it’s not maintained by a cartoonist, it’s run by a doctor. Stephen Nadler, MD is a huge fan of cartoons. He lovingly posts rough drafts of cartoons, notes and letters from many well known cartoonists, plus articles about cartoonists. Did I mention that there are also many cartoons? A very thoughtful and intelligent blog with a different perspective on this popular art form.
    4. Andertoons – This is the website of cartoonist Mark Anderson. Mark is a very prolific cartoonist who licenses his cartoons for newsletters, textbooks and anything else that you can put a cartoon on. Or in. He also has a very good blog which is usually about cartoons and cartooning. His cartoons are very funny too.andertoons cartoons
    5. Hairy Green Eyeball – This blog is devoted to  vintage and obscure comic books, and other kinds of cartoon art. Often this includes strange comic books from the 1940s, 50’s and 60’s. This blog is always interesting, diverting and entertaining.
    6. Mike Lynch Cartoons – Yes, I’ve plugged this blog before and, darn it, I may do it again. Mike Lynch, aside from being a great cartoonist is also a great blogger. This site is about all kinds of cartooning, including, panel cartoons, comic strips, comic books, animation, illustration and graphic novels. If you’re interested in any form of cartooning check out this site.

     

ABNER DEAN, CARTOONIST

amber dean cartoonist what am i doing here bookHow forgotten is Abner Dean? If you Google, forgotten cartoonists, his name comes up. (Really!) I hope the reprinting of his 1947 book, What Am I Doing Here? will change that.

Abner Dean drew cartoons for the New Yorker in the 1940s, and also did illustrations for advertising. But it’s his eight published books that merit attention. What Am I Doing Here? re- published in 2016, by New York Review, is a collection of cartoons. Though, to call it that is something of a misnomer. His style has elements of Peter Arno (who himself is the subject of a recent biography), but Arno’s cartoons were humorous and light, whereas Dean’s are dark and serious. What Am I Doing Here? is a strange, existential and philosophical look at death, war, class, and the meaning of life. And it’s not supposed to be funny!

I'm looking for someone with a mole on her elbow

I’m looking for someone with a mole on her elbow

Dean uses the panel cartoon format to examine these and other very somber themes. His odd characters wander around surreal landscapes naked, yet have the anatomy of Barbie and Ken dolls. This book is definitely not for kids. But who is it for? Anyone who likes their social commentary served up with a hearty helping of Kafkaesque, Orwellian flavor, with a side order of Salvator Dali and Hieronymous Bosch, in a post-apocalyptic world. To say that Dean’s work was ahead of his time would be an understatement. But is the world ready for him now? I hope so, as his art and writing is quite amazing. He belongs right up there with Charles Addams (he actually makes Addams look tame), James Thurber, Saul Steinberg, George Price, Mary Petty and all the other greats of the panel cartoon. What Am I Doing Here? is available on Amazon and sells for $19.00.

MARIA SCRIVAN – CARTOONIST

scrivan snowman selfieMaria Scrivan’s cartoon panel, Half Full, was recently syndicated by Tribune Content Agency. Maria’s cartoons are a rare combination of cute and funny. Maria’s single panel cartoons are about daily life, including such subjects as dating, marriage, doctors, pets, all written and drawn in her unique style and voice. Maria also has lots of cartoons about technology and how people deal with it, adapt to it or have problems with it. Then there are her animals. These include flamingos, penguins, cats, caterpillars, butterflies, and a variety of insects. Usually they are juxtaposed into ordinary human life.

scrivan pavlovs puppy Maria’s cartoons are filled with bright, primal colors. This mirrors her outlook on life which is clearly upbeat, positive and dare I say it, happy. Her cartoons are witty, clever, and optimistic but never cutting or cruel. This is in sharp contrast to much of the cynical and dark humor often found in today’s world. Maria’s work is life affirming. She laughs with us, not at us. Her view is that we’re all in this life together so we may as well have some fun along the way. Maria’s cartoons have a universal quality about them. They’re easy to relate to. Anyone of almost any age or background can see themselves or someone they know in them. Maria’s depiction of suburban life will be instantly recognizable yet curiously funny. But she also does cartoons about urban and rural life too.

scrivan way too young Maria’s panel cartoons have appeared in many magazines including, Mad, Parade, Prospect Magazine, Highlights, and Funny Times. She’s also been on Salon.com and Mashable. And let’s not forget about her greeting cards, such as Recycled Paper Greeting and Nobleworks.

If you read newspapers on paper, look for her panel, Half Full, in The Los Angeles Times and many other papers across the country. But the easiest way to see Maria’s cartoons every day is to head to Gocomics.com and also check out her website, mariascrivan.com. for some cool merch.

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scrivan drink me alice in wonderland