(New Bedford, MA/USA–February 26, 2022) The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit devoted to promoting the art of comic book inking, has announced the winners of their lifetime achievement awards, The Joe Sinnott Hall Of Fame and The Stacey Aragon Special Recognition Award (SASRA). Again due to the Covid pandemic, results are made online rather than at the show’s host convention. Founder and director Bob Almond said, “Starting this season, we decided to split up the committee-chosen lifetime awards, chosen in December, from the publicly-voted ballot awards, which take much more time to tally.”
Winners of the SASRA, in alphabetical order, are Gene Day, George Pérez, John Severin, and Dave Stevens
Gene Day‘s widow, Gale Erslavas, shared the following statement:
“When I was 13, I had a friend a little older than me who had a boyfriend. One day I was hanging out at her house when she said she was going to see him and some of his friends and asked if I wanted to come too. We arrived at his place and my friend introduced me to him and his friends. One of them was Gene. I took one look at him and said to myself that one day I was going to marry him. And on September 20, 1975, at the age of 21, I, Gale Jack, married Gene Day and found my soulmate. Unfortunately, Gene died three days after our seventh wedding anniversary at the age of 31 from a congenital heart defect that had never been detected.
“Thinking back, when we were still dating, Gene was constantly what I called doodling. He would get quite annoyed with me for calling it doodling and would clarify that he was ‘honing his craft.’ He always had some kind of writing implement in his hand, a pen, a pencil, a piece of chalk, a hunk of coal, and even the smallest scrap of paper; he was drawing, inking, sketching. He said that he had always wanted to be a comic-book artist and he was constantly practicing. He was a workaholic and thought eating and sleeping was a waste of time and talked about how much more he could get done if he didn’t have to eat and sleep.
“I can’t remember exactly how he got involved with Marvel but at some point, Gene received some penciled pages that they wanted him to ink, probably to test his inking style. When he got the package and opened it, he paused for a few minutes and then said “Oh…wow” in an astonished voice. He had told me years ago that he had a dream in which he was inking a pencil drawing of the Silver Surfer. He held up one of the pages that were sent to him and it was with the Silver Surfer.
“Gene was always practicing his inking style because he said an inker could make or break the comic book process. A good inker could make a mediocre penciler great and a bad one could ruin the pencils. I know I’m biased because I thought Gene was a great inker, but I believed his pencils were even better. Ultimately, he achieved his dream job but, unfortunately, his time at Marvel was not to be a long one. I am very pleased to receive this lifetime achievement award, one that recognizes Gene’s work in the art form of inking. I can only wonder had Gene not died how much more he would have accomplished. I truly believe he would have reached the stars and beyond. Thank you so much!”
In December of 2021, George Pérez publicly announced that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and would be living out his final months connecting with and/or visiting community friends and fans while time allows him to. George could not be reached for a statement but Jess Harrold, author of The Marvel Art of George Pérez made the following statement:
“Very little has been left unsaid about George Pérez. Which is the first problem you face when you are asked to write an art book about him. Thankfully, George’s artwork speaks for itself –and then some. A measly thousand words? Any comic devotee knows a Pérez piece paints far more than that. Then, you talk to the great man himself – and he regales you with such eloquence, such devotion to his craft and warmth for his collaborators, such staggering, mind-boggling, pinpoint powers of recollection, and such genuine humility and gratitude for the career he has enjoyed, that you just let George tell the story, and try to keep up. That’s before you even get to all the writers and artists and editors who have worked with him or been inspired by him, all eager to share their memories, their tributes, their love for him. Turns out, writing about George Pérez is easy. Stopping writing about George Pérez, that’s the hard part.
“These last few months, it seems that everybody is writing about George –and rightly so. The outpouring of praise, well-wishes, and heartfelt thank-yous prompted by his health announcement has been staggering; and long may it continue. He deserves every accolade. This award is far from the first George has received, and it won’t be the last, but I have no doubt it will mean a great deal to him.
“George knows the value of a good inker. He is effusive in his praise of those who, early in his career, made him a better artist, and those who, as time went on, we’re able to match him for sheer enthusiasm, hard work, and painstaking detail. As an inker of other pencilers, George brings all of that to the table, with an innate recognition of comic books as a unique medium of collaboration. He will elevate your artwork to the best it can be – and you know he absolutely will not skip a single line. And when Pérez inks Pérez? Hold onto your hats. Just take a look at his magnum opus, JLA/Avengers–not least the cover to #3 that almost broke him. For that one, single image, George deserves all the comic book awards going – hell, give him an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize to boot.
“Such is his heroic contribution to the industry, so prodigious are his powers, that he would be a worthy Avenger or Justice Leaguer. He is Fantastic…Incredible…a Wonder. He has captured the Infinite, twice over…and united the champions of multiple earths. George Pérez is a true Titan.”
John Severin‘s daughters, Michelina Severin Van Gemert and Ruth Severin Larenas made the following announcement not just for John but also for his sister, 2019 SASRA recipient Marie Severin because the Inkwells did not have contact info for the Severin Estate at the time:
“On behalf of the family of John Severin and Marie Severin, we are very proud and honored to accept this Inkwell Awards SASRA lifetime achievement award for them. They were both pioneers in the comic book industry and we wish to thank everyone involved in bestowing this well-deserved award. John E. And Marguerite Severin had only two children: John P. Severin and Marie A. Severin, both born with amazing artistic talent. Dad and Aunt Marie were unique in their work and in themselves. They were good, honest, loyal, and hysterically funny human beings. We will miss them always.
John Severin: “Our Dad’s career spanned 60-plus years. He was referred to as an ‘artist’s artist’ known for his historical knowledge and accuracy, especially in western and military genres. As writer Mark Evanier recalled, ‘Jack Kirby used to say that when he had to research some historical costume or weapon for a story, it was just as good to use a John Severin drawing as it was to find a photo of the real thing. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.’ And to quote Stan Lee, ‘The minute you looked at his artwork you knew you were looking at a John Severin illustration, it could be no one else.’
“ Our father’s exceptional, diverse talent spanned from monster comics such as Warren Publishing’s Creepy to satirical humor such as MAD and Cracked magazines to western, military and Native American comic titles, to superheroes, and even baseball cards and military prints for The Military Historian Society, of which he was a member. Severin began his career in the 1930s, drawing cartoons for NYC’s The Hobo News while attending The High School of Music and Art with Harvey Kurtzman, Al Jaffe, Al Feldstein, and Will Elder. From there he began working for EC Comics becoming the sole artist and later co-editor of Two-fisted Tales. His career brought him to Atlas Comics, a precursor to Marvel Comics. Severin then became co-contributor of MAD magazine along with Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Will Elder, and Wallace Wood (the original “usual gang of idiots”).
“Subsequently, he found himself at Marvel Comics where he penciled and inked for many titles such as The Hulk, Conan the Barbarian, Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos, the renowned Semper Fi series, Kull The Conquerer, and was co-creator of the American Eagle series. Severin also co-created Marvel’s Rawhide Kid, and 50 years later found himself drawing the ground-breaking new character Slap Leather, an effeminate version of the Rawhide Kid. At the same time as working for Marvel, he became the lead artist and cover artist for Cracked magazine, a position he held for over 40 years. Severin also penciled and inked many titles for Dark Horse Comics, including the series Witchfinder.
“Our dad was a good, caring, and faithful father and husband, successfully juggling his family life and his long hours with his pencil and ink. He was someone we could always count on no matter what. He was a great soul…and friend to man and beast. John Severin died at the age of 90 at his home, surrounded by our family, with a partially-drawn story on his drawing board for Dark Horse’s George Armstrong Custer: The Middle Years.”
Marie Severin: “Our Aunt Marie was a pioneer, being one of the first female creators in the comic-book industry; a mentor and encouragement to future women comic-book artists. Her career spanned 50-plus years. She began her career as a colorist for her brother’s work, John Severin, at EC Comics. Her talent became obvious, and she began to do penciling and inking for Marvel Comics, with a knack for caricature.
“She went on to work as the ground-breaking female head-colorist and was known endearingly to Stan Lee as “Mirthful Marie”, due to her humor and demeanor. The breadth of her work included being the co-creator of Spider-Woman for Marvel, for whom she designed the original costume, and drew and/or inked stories of the Sub-Mariner, the Hulk, and the covers and interiors of series that included Iron Man, The Cat, Daredevil, Conan the Barbarian, Kull the Conqueror (the latter two collaborating for a period with her brother, John).
“Having a flair for children’s comics, she worked with the Marvel Books imprint on children’s coloring books and stickers; and she drew and inked Fraggle Rock, Muppet Babies, and The Smurfs series for Marvel’s Star Comics. Marie also co-created the character Doctor Bong, antagonist to the Howard the Duck character. She was assigned by Stan Lee to be the feature artist of Doctor Strange in Strange Tales. She also was a colorist, artist, and inker for DC Comics, EC, Atlas, and Dark Horse.
“Among the many awards she received, Marie Severin’s work was included in the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art exhibition of women comic-book artists. She was listed as one of 12 women cartoonists by the organization ‘Comics Alliance,’ deserving of a lifetime achievement recognition. This led to her receiving Comic-Con International’s Icon Award in 2017. Marie was inducted into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame and the much-coveted Will Eisner Comics Hall of Fame with her brother, John Severin. She was one of the first two women artists to be inducted into this Hall of Fame, alongside Dale Messick, creator of Brenda Starr.
“Aunt Marie was a fun and loving aunt to us. She was one to never forget our birthdays, and always gave us a much-anticipated laugh. She was a joy in our lives. Marie Severin passed away at The Huntington Hospital in Long Island, NY at the age of 89. She and her brother, John Severin, were extraordinarily proliferate artists whose entire profiles of work and awards cannot possibly be listed here.”
“Both John and Marie Severin (Dad and Aunt Marie), despite their enormous successes in the industry, were modest and charmingly unpretentious people, who would have been both grateful and humbled by this award. Our family appreciates the Inkwells for this and we extend our warm thanks.”
Dave Stevens‘ sister and trustee of The Rocketeer Trust, Jennifer Stevens-Bawcum, made the following statement on behalf of her brother:
“I would like to thank the Inkwell Awards’ nomination committee for this posthumous award to Dave. Thank you for keeping his memory alive and acknowledging the phenomenal talent that he possessed. His talent was apparent even in his teenage years without any professional training. Seeing his art in person, even in his early years, is something to behold. Flawless is an understatement as I still am taken aback when I look at his work. I know that he touched many lives and inspired many to enter into the art field or continue in it when doubts crept in. He left an indelible mark on the world and we are the richer for it. Thank you again!”
Former SASRA recipients and info on this award can be found here.
This year there are two new recipients of the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award: Brett Breeding and Bob Wiacek. Each generously provided a statement:
“Thank you to everyone who voted for me for this year’s Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award. I am humbled and honored to receive it. I’ve always thought this type of an award was a double-edged sword. Although being recognized for your body of work is a nice thing, being entered into a Hall of Fame of any kind usually suggests your career is behind you. Just so there’s no confusion here, I’m not going anywhere just yet! I expect to be producing more work for many years to come, but now I will have this award bearing Joe Sinnott’s name watching over me while I do so. How great is that?
“As a young fan, Joe Sinnott was a favorite artist whose work consistently captivated my attention. His inking style had a huge impact on my wanting to become a comic book artist and was a major influence early in my career. In the very early days of my venture into comics, I was given the opportunity to work for Joe as his background assistant, and though it only lasted a short time, it provided me the chance to meet and visit Joe in his home, one of the biggest thrills of my early days in comics. He was not only an incredibly talented artist but a genuinely, magnificent human being.
“It has been one of the many honors of my career in comics to know Joe and, even more incredibly, to call him my friend. I greatly miss visiting Joe and all the time spent listening to his stories of his life, in and outside of comics. I think of him frequently and carry a small part of him with me every time I sit at my drawing board and start dipping ink. Having an award that carries his name will be a daily reminder of this giant of a man. I could not be more honored.”
“Having known Joe Sinnott since 1968, I never thought I’d be receiving an award in his name, and for that I thank you. Though there are others who deserve this award more than I, like Reed Crandall, Bob Powell, George Roussos, and Bernie Sachs, who perfected the art of inking in their own way. If not for them and many others in this business, I would not have the job I love. I must also take this opportunity to thank Dick Giordano for giving me the chance to work with him and, more importantly, for opening my eyes as to what inking is all about. Thank you, Dick, and I will never forget you.”
On behalf of the Joe Sinnott Estate, son Mark Sinnott expressed his reaction upon hearing the results:
“We are delighted and honored to welcome the two newest members into the Inkwell Awards Hall of Fame class of 2022 and recipients of the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame award. Joining this elite group are Brett Breeding and Bob Wiacek. Both have contributed so much inking talent to the comics industry throughout their illustrious careers. They both have certainly improved upon and enhanced the work of many pencilers.
“Many years ago when they were both up and coming artists, they would visit my dad, Joe, from time to time at his home in Saugerties, NY. Both of these fine gentlemen would continue to visit my dad, even in his later years. Joe was always so grateful for that. He always had a great time spending the day with them. Whenever he got a chance, Joe would always ‘check out’ the work of all the artists that would visit him at his studio. He liked to see what they had accomplished over time.
“As many of you know, Man-Thing is my favorite character. My dad, in knowing that, would always say to me each month when the complimentary books would arrive from Marvel: Mark, let me see Bob’s Man-Thing comic. And Brett as you know, had the pleasure of inking Ron Frenz’s Mighty Thor just before Joe took over again with issue 400. Dad always enjoyed seeing both of their finished products.
“In keeping with the tradition that my dad started many years ago, it is a pleasure to welcome Brett and Bob as the newest members of the Inkwell Awards Hall of Fame. They both bring a world of talent and class and are two of the nicest guys in the comics industry. I am proud to call them my friends. Joltin’ Joe would also be so proud of them, knowing that they have been selected as the newest members of this elite group. As always, keep slinging ink and never let your inkwell run dry. Congratulations on a fantastic career, Brett and Bob, and a job well done.”
Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame runners-up in alphabetical order: Sy Barry, John Beatty, Chic Stone, Reed Crandall
The Inkwell Awards is the only official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and educate regarding the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize the best ink artists and their work. Established in 2008, the Inkwells are overseen by a volunteer committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.