I really wish Whitney Houston was still alive. Hearing her songs on constant loop anywhere I go is fine tribute for her fans, but brutal for innocent bystanders like myself. But now I can relate a bit to the neighbor who blasted I Want To Dance With Somebody all week. For after hearing comic book artist John Severin passed away I was looking all over to see if I still had any of my old issues of Cracked Magazine.
Severin’s clean, detailed art in Cracked is probably as responsible as anything for getting me hooked on my comic book reading habit. Cracked was a gateway drug, a magazine sized humor comic for those not yet sophisticated enough for Mad Magazine. Every month each issue of Cracked was filled with movie and tv satires, puns, and gross out humor. I unfortunately did not keep any of my old issues from the now defunct magazine. Looking on the web I can now see it wasn’t the height of clever wit. A lot of the jokes were based on racism, sexism and other pillars of comedy we’re too evolved to be joking about now as evidenced in the below cover.
But you can’t blame Severin, he didn’t write the jokes, he just drew them, and man did he bring it. He took every panel seriously even for a hackish send-up on a mediocre TV show like Mork & Mindy. He would get each character looking like a facsimile of the subject. He wouldn’t skimp on the backgrounds either, meaning you got your money’s worth as you might have to reread the magazine to see if you missed any jokes in a hidden corner of a panel. Severin’s amazing art served as a dignified straight man making any number of awful jokes seem palatable (and probably helped mold my awful sense of humor by dressing up bad jokes with a pretty picture).
So rest well, John Severin. I know if there’s an afterlife you’re drawing it in stunning detail, pie fights and people slipping on banana peels included.