Wednesday, February 15, 2012

John Severin's CRACKED Paperback covers

The late John Severin was a legendary comic book artist who's work appeared regularly in a wide variety of comics publications for more than half a century.

He was an artist for EC comics in the early fifties, mainly for their war titles such as "Two-Fisted Tales",  and was also one of the five original MAD artists (along with Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Wally Wood and Jack Davis), contributing art to nine of the first ten issues, and later he became the main artist for the MAD imitation magazine, the much maligned "Cracked".

 When I was a kid in the sixties, I was never much of a fan of Cracked (nor the other MAD imitation magazine "Sick"), realizing the writing was usually weak and unfunny, and the artwork was below par. I vastly preferred (and collected) the essential MAD...

"No one was ever a fan of Cracked. We would buy Mad every month, but about two weeks later we would get anxious for new material. We would tell ourselves, 'OK, we are not going to buy Cracked. Never again!' And we'd hold out for a while, but then as the month dragged on it just became, 'OK, I guess I'll buy Cracked.' Then you'd bring it home, and immediately you'd remember, 'Oh yeah, I hate Cracked!'"
- Dan Clowes, former Cracked artist 
"Are you kidding? Was Cracked anyone's first choice?"
- Peter Bagge, former Cracked writer

 ...But I WAS a fan of John Severin's artwork, so I would pick up an occasional issue of Cracked over the years.

What I DID enjoy the most about Cracked though, and collected, were the sporadic paperbacks that featured beautifully painted covers by Severin, featuring their own Alfred E. Neuman imitation, side-splitting Cracked Mascot, janitor Sylvester P. Smythe:

John Severin did only five of the Cracked paperback covers, all of which I've included here:


my portrait of John Severin created for "Heroes of the Comics" (Fantagraphics)

Monday, February 13, 2012


Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis
Beginning in the early fifties, renowned LIFE magazine photographer Philippe Halsman would ask his portrait subjects to pose "jumping" for his camera for a series of photographs he called "Jumpology".  He managed to amass 178 photos of movies stars, politicians, statesmen, dancers, artists and comedians all posed in the act of defied gravity. The photos were collected in "The Jump Book", published by Simon & Schuster in 1959. The book is long out of print.

Here are the "Jumpology" photos of the comedians/comic actors/comic performers, all captured in mid air:

Original ad for "The Jump Book"

Danny Kaye
Phil Silvers
Milton Berle

Milton Berle

Ray Bolger

Ray Bolger
Philippe Halsman with Ray Bolger
Jackie Gleason
Bob Hope
Martin & Lewis

Martin & Lewis
Harold Lloyd

Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx
Shirley MacLaine
Jacques Tati

Jimmy Durante
Peter Ustinov
Donald O'Connor
Lucille Ball

Dennis Day

J. Fred Muggs
Richard Nixon