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Saturday, March 13, 2010

POST # 34 - "CREEPS" by Wally Wood and John Severin

Here we have a fascinating exhibit of two legendary EC Comics artists with widely divergent styles coming together in a once-in-a-lifetime mixture  --   Wally Wood pencils and John Severin inks!

I have stated on previous posts how much I respect each of these talented artists. What is unusual here is that it is Severin inking Wood. Both artists have a strong stamp of individuality in their respective styles, and usually any story where they ink another artists pencils, it is their own style which ultimately shines through and stands out. Severin inks over Dick Ayers, looks like Severin...Severin over Trimpe looks like Severin. But, when the pencil artist is as strong as the inker, the result is an exciting blend. For instance, Wood inks on Bob Oskner was to me a joyous blending of styles. So was Wood inks over Gil Kane pencils. Both artists shined through and the individual talents unique to each formed a synergy that was the best of both worlds.

Is that the case here? You tell me.

In the end, the result is astonishing, and the art is excellent. While I love the strange hybrid art that these masters created here, the truth is that the marriage of styles was ultimately not in the best interest for either artist. Personally, I would loved to have seen more from this unlikely team.

This is classic CREEPY, from issue # 91, 1976. Written by Archie Goodwin, this story remains an intriguing study of a collaboration of giants.



*note - originally there was confusion as to the artwork attribution, namely the fact that Severin's name was listed before Wood's (see at bottom of page 1 below)by Warren, which led myself to falsely conclude originally that Severin had penciled and Wood had inked. A closer scrutiny of the artwork and eagle-eyed viewer comments(thank you Tamfos) have, after the fact, resolved the individual art attributions, and I have since updated my original post to reflect the same. Interesting back and forth in the comments section reflect this earlier original misrepresentation. Thank you!


Alright, friends!
Do you like black and white horror comics?
Sure you do!
I have been busy as usual, and haven't had the time to tell you about
my good buddy Mykal Banta's  latest blog

which focuses on some of the
grisliest, goriest, and grittiest black and white  horror mags
ever produced, Myron Fass' EERIE Publications of the 70's!

If you haven't already done so, go drop on by,
and tell Mykal that The Apocolyte sent you!



  1. Gorgeous art gorgeous scans. Some of Wally's inks on Severin has an overall effect that reminds me of Terry Austin inks on Paul Smith~!

  2. Not necessarily the most remembered Creepy or Eerie yarn,but one of the best drawn though.The team up of Severin and Wood together is one of the best things to happen in comics.Too bad that they didn't hook up for a science fiction/fantasy story or better yet,an epic sword and sorcery/sandal tale.A history or classics Illustrated adaption would have been good as well.And of course,even a war story could have been nice,but at least we got this comic for an example.Hope to see "Prelude to Armageddon" soon.Budd

  3. Even stranger, I 'm pretty sure I detect touches of Ralph Reese in there, also. Reese, of course, was a comics artist and sometime Wood collaborator whose own unique style could actually sometimes overpower that of Wood!

  4. Apocolyte: Thanks for the nod! Myron Fass lives.

    I still see about 80/20 (or more) Wood here. One or two well-know Wood flurishes go a hell of a long way to overpowering Severin. Beautifully done whatever the mix of artists! -- Mykal

  5. Apocolyte: Make that 60/40 - ;-) -- Mykal

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Warren made a lot of mistakes over the years as to attribution. This is an example. "Creeps" was originally published in Creepy #78 and those are not Woody's inks. There's lots of evidence to tell you who is inking who here, but the last panel perhaps provides the best example. All that crosshatching by Woody? Not a chance. And everybody who sees Ralph Reese's work here, you're right. The pencils are actually mostly by Reese.

    Still, this is a wonderful story. It's not as if Sev inked Woody all the time, and he never inked Reese again. All in all, quite a rarity.

  8. Wow. It's funny how this kind of think seems clear once someone else says it (the stuff about the cross hatching seems particularily clear as a bell once pointed out). I am confused, though. I still see some of what looks like Wood (last panel, page 3 for instance. That face looks like Wood to me). This is the Reese influence, then?

  9. Wow!
    Thanks everybody!
    I have to admit, I screwed up!

    Tamfos' comment made me aware that I must've done this post's commentary with one eye shut.

    This story did originally appear in CREEPY #78 ( I knew that but forgot to change the issue number, as the scans were taken from the reprinted issue 91).

    And while the art credits on the story read simply: art by John Severin and Wally Wood, it was my error to assume who did what (though it's easy to see how I may have,half asleep, assumed penciller's name would precede the inker's, I do stand corrected). The truth was found in an interview John Severin gave that appears in Bhob Stewart's Wood volume, "Against The Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood"...
    Severin: "The only contact I ever had with him (Wood) business-wise was the one job we did together in which I managed to screw up his pencils. Totally.

    "It wasn't for EC. It was "Creeps" for Warren. Wood did the pencils. They were looking for some bums to do the inks, and they gave it to me. I don't mean that you'd look at it and throw up, but when you realize it was Woody, it was no longer Woody when I got through with it. Nor was it me. Which might have been a little help. I had done about three jobs with, I think it was Infantino, and the editor sent me a "Woody". Would I like to do it? Sure. Be interesting. But Woody didn't put it on the right kind of paper for me; he had a tooth on his paper. I like slicker paper...Starting with the wrong kind of paper, I managed to goof it. I would have liked to see a good Woody job come out of it. Be nice. But I didn't even do a good Severin inking job, if there is such a thing. It didn't come out Severin; it sure wasn't Wood -- but you can see the two of us are there. And maybe that's the problem. Two people who are too strong for one another. Or something. Maybe too much alike. He and I aren't alike at all, as a matter of fact."

    Well, I believe John Severin was being overly critical of his own work, his self-effacing humility belying the man's obvious talents.

    As to whether Ralph Reese had any involvement in the story, that is certainly plausible. Reese or any other of Woody's assistants/pupils may have had their hands in any or every story within a certain time frame, I suppose. If so, it would be nice if the assisting artist(s) came forward and shared that information now, as we can no longer ask Mr. Wood to answer these questions.

    Until then we have to go with what has been written. I wouldn't doubt that a Wood student may have been involved. Severin's interview didn't imply that it wasn't anything besides Wood's pencils, though that in itself is inconclusive. Seeing that Severin is the inker and not the penciller explains the detailed cross-hatching that otherwise may be evidence of Reeses' hand. Whoever did the pencils, be it Wood alone or with assistance, the inks are Severin's and the result is a visually fascinating and breath-takingly detailed masterpiece.

    Thank you everyone for your informative and enthralling comments! Thanks, Tamfos!

  10. After looking again, I too can see what appears to be, what can be called, 'hints' that Ralph Reese did have a large hand in the pencils (many of the faces, especially the mother, as well as certain panel designs, and figures). What intrigues me more when I consider it, is that Reese's finished art usually has a detailing similar to Severin, and might therefore have a style more suited to Severin's inks than Wood himself!

    Again, whoever did the pencils, be it Wood, Reese, or whoever, the result is memorable, even glorious.

  11. Glad I was of some use. And yes, Sev is incredibly humble, but while this story is pretty, the inking is uneven in spots evidencing what Sev said in the interview. At times he was just lost. Other times, though, some really strong work totally in concert with the pencils. A master of anything he attempts and, God bless him, still working!

    It certainly would be nice if we could get Ralph Reese's input on this, but there are so many, many specific clues of his involvement. I won't go into them. I think we all are seeing the same things now, after all.

  12. PS: If I may, I'd just like to add how happy I am that you're giving this work such a wonderful showcase again. I lost quite a large chunk of my collection a while back in a "tragic" storage space incident, so I have not seen a lot of this stuff in years. This story in particular has been a marvelous rediscovery for me and has sparked some really riveting conversations with a friend of mine that has allowed both of us to plumb the wealth of creative genius spilled across these pages. Thanks so much. You're doing all of us a great service by bringing this material back into the light.

  13. Okay, you want "Ralph Reese's input": Ralph says he had nothing to do with this story.

  14. Bhob,

    Thank you, and thank Mr. Reese for clearing up any misconceptions regarding the pencils, and I apologize for adding to the confusion! I feel foolish for remarking about seeing what looked like elements of his style in the story, yet there is something about the finishes of Mr. Severin on Mr. Wood that is reminiscent of Mr. Reese, to a degree, as I am not the only fan who had such speculations. Please excuse the ignorance, and forgive the clumsy attempts to rewrite history. Speaking for the contingent of rabid fans of EC, Warren, Wallace Wood, Ralph Reese, Bhob Stewart, Dan Adkins, comic art, and comics, etc...
    I would like to say two things:

  15. Wow! Wood and Severin -- What a great team-up! Thanks for sharing this great comic art

  16. I bet who ever was helping him on Cannon at this time help on this job, but ever know and then Wood most of the work on his warren jobs. That Cleopatra job comes to mind.

  17. Sherm,

    Thank you both for your comments. I am just a humble fan, posting these stories and art is my pleasure.

    Wood and Severin! Two of the all-time greats!While Mr. Wood is no longer with us, Mr. Severin is, and I extend all the best wishes to him, and thank him for all the incredible art he has provided us all over his amazing career!

    Might I add, both of you are excellent artists as well, and everyone should go check out your blogs/sites to see what I mean.

    Thanks again!

  18. Wow. Intense. Fabulous B&W art. didn't see where this was going at first. Can you imagine if the story had just ended on page 5?

    By the way, the guy on the subway with the beard reminds me of Tom Sutton. Meanwhile, the face all the way on the right at the top of page 2 looks like Sylvester Stallone! He played a subway mugger in Woody Allen's BANANAS.

    1. Henry,
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry it took me so long to reply...I was away from the blog for a long time....back now! If I'm not mistaken, I've seen your name more than once in the letter sections of the WARREN books! I hope you can continue stopping by, I'm going to try to keep posts more current/regular now...