Marie Severin, a multifaceted comic book artist whose confident hand drew most of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Comics pantheon at a time when women were rare in that field, died on Wednesday at a care facility in Amityville, New York. She was 89.
She had a stroke, said Scott Edelman, a friend and former Marvel colleague who confirmed the death.
Severin was a consummate comic book artist, engaged in most parts of illustrating a comic book, which involves penciling outlines of the characters and scenes, finalizing the images in ink and then coloring them in.
She started in the industry in 1949 as a colorist for EC Comics, working with her brother, John Severin, an artist known for his realistic war and Western comics. She was one of a handful of female artists who gained prominence during comics’ so-called Silver Age, from the mid-1950s until the early ’70s.
In an interview for the book “Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics” (2012), by Dewey Cassell and Aaron Sultan, Severin said that even though she had felt welcome at Marvel, “you had a separation.”
“I just didn’t feel like one of the guys, and I didn’t want to,” she continued. “It’s not that I was put in that position; it was just the way I felt, too. When we were working together, fine, but no socializing.”
Severin’s career at Marvel gathered steam in the mid-1960s, after Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko introduced superheroes like the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. She drew covers for Marvel titles like Daredevil, Iron Man, Captain America and often amended, retouched or updated other artists’ work.
The comic book writer and scholar Mark Evanier described Severin as a “utility infielder” who contributed to Marvel in innumerable ways, often with little recognition from the public.
“A lot of the great Marvel covers of the ’60s and ’70s were her design, and nobody knew it,” Evanier said in a telephone interview.
Marie Anita Severin was born on Aug. 21, 1929, in East Rockaway, New York. Both of Severin’s parents encouraged her and her brother to draw, and she became an avid reader of adventure books by authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs. She grew up on Long Island and in Brooklyn and graduated from an all-girls Roman Catholic high school in Brooklyn before briefly attending Pratt.
Severin’s brother died in 2012. She has no immediate survivors.