Marie Severin is the Latest Comic-Con Icon Award Recipient!
by Daniel L. Friedman
Each year Comic-Con bestows upon a member of the comics and entertainment community its prestigious Icon Award.
This year is unique in that, for the first time, Comic-Con has conferred two awards. The first 2017 Icon Award was presented posthumously, to legendary comics artist Jack Kirby, coinciding with his 100th birthday. A regular guest at Comic-Con beginning with its inception in 1970, Kirby was a familiar face to people who attended the convention until his passing in 1994. Members of the Kirby family were on hand to accept the award at Comic-Con this past summer.
Comic-Con also wanted to honor a living individual who deserved this special recognition. So, on November 2, before an audience of more than 200 people in Long Island, New York, renowned Marvel Comics artist and colorist Marie Severin was presented with the Icon Award by Comic-Con's Chief Communications and Strategy Officer, David Glanzer. He happily informed those present that Marie had been named this year's recipient for her pioneering work in creating awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular arts. Marie’s introduction to the comic book industry began eight decades ago when her talented older brother, the famed artist John Severin, suggested she take a job as a colorist for EC Comics. At EC, her natural adeptness with coloring enabled her to blaze the trail for women who wanted to enter what was then an almost exclusively male field.
Ten years later, Marie joined Marvel Comics, where she continued to thrill the imagination of the public for more than 40 years. Her eye-catching covers helped rekindle interest in an industry that had seen some hard times. Her unique ability to convey motion and transformation to her illustrations established what still remains the standard of excellence for the field. Marie's witty-yet-biting humor was on the pages of Marvel's satirical Crazy and its self-lampooning Not Brand Echh. It was Marie Severin who introduced us to the evil Doctor Bong and to that cosmic entity, The Living Tribunal. She was recognized with the Shazam Award in 1974 for her prowess as a penciller, and just a year later, the versatile Mirthful Mistress of Comics was nominated for Shazam Awards in two entirely different categories: inking and coloring.
As a tribute to her phenomenal intellect and adaptability, Marie was selected to head Marvel's Special Projects Division in the 1980s. In this new role, she successfully negotiated non-comic book licensing agreements, designed toy statues and coloring books, and conceptualized commercial goods. In 1985, Marie worked with Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock and Muppet Babies in Marvel's newly formed Star Comic division. She went on to receive the Comic-Con Inkpot Award in 1998, and in 2001 Marie was inducted into the Will Eisner Comics Industry Hall of Fame.
Marie’s 2017 Icon Award puts her in an exclusive pantheon of entertainment immortals that includes Stan Lee, George Lucas, Ray Bradbury, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, and June Foray, to name just a few. It is only fitting that Marie Severin, the First Lady of Comics, should receive this important award from Comic-Con. And it is Marie's hope that the doors will open even wider for other talented women like herself.
Daniel L. Friedman is a pediatrician and assistant clinical professor at the Northwell-Hofstra University Medical School. He is the co-author of The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle and a singer/songwriter/bass guitarist for the Friedman Brothers Band. He is grateful to count Marie as one of his favorite longtime friends.