Comic Legends: Marie Severin and the Craziness of the First Hulk Annual

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundredth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

As part of our celebration of SEVEN HUNDRED of these things, this will be a special holiday weekend where we honor seven comic book greats that we lost this year with a legend devoted to each one of them (Steve Ditko, Russ Heath, Gary Friedrich, Marie Severin, Norm Breyfogle, Carlos Ezquerra and Jim Novak). As I add the legends, you can click on the given person's name and it will bring you to their legend!

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Marie Severin re-drew the face of the Hulk on the classic Jim Steranko Hulk Annual




Marie Severin had to draw a 52-page Hulk Annual based on a plot of less than a paragraph.



1968's Incredible Hulk Annual (labeled as a King-Size Special at the time) is famous for the iconic Jim Steranko cover for the book...

It's one of the most homaged covers in the history of comic books.

However, the inside of the comic is a bit less famous. Credited to Gary Friedrich and Marie Severin, the story involves the Hulk taking on Maximus the Mad and his new group of evil Inhuman subjects who try to trick him into helping them take over Inhuman Society after the bad guys were banished by Black Bolt...

Black Bolt fights the Hulk, but realizes that the Hulk isn't really a bad guy and he offers Hulk a place with the Inhumans but the Hulk turns them down.

The issue has some cool action scenes by Severin, but for the most part, the story didn't have a huge impact on the Marvel Universe.

The reason for that, likely enough, is due to HOW the comic book was produced. As you likely know, Marvel did something called the "Marvel Method," where the artist is given a plot and then they draw the book based on the plot and then the writer adds dialogue to the penciled pages.

Some Marvel artists liked this more than others. For some, they struggled with coming up with the pages because that wasn't how they were trained. They were trained to be told what to draw by a script. Plus, they weren't getting paid to basically WRITE the comic, ya know? They were coming up with the story a lot of the time and they were only being paid to draw it! Meanwhile, there were writers who struggled with the approach, as well, as they were all about doing character work and that's harder to do when you're giving a basic plot and then adding dialogue based on what the artist draws. There's a reason why Alan Moore does meticulous plots, ya know?

So, this combination led to a disaster when Gary Friedrich and Marie Severin got together. Friedrich hated coming up with plots and Severin didn't typically work that way, either.

In a roundtable with other female creators in Comic Book Artist #10, Severin recalled the situation:

I remember getting a paragraph - they were doing The Hulk annual thing and it wasn't reprints, it was an annual, and the writer, he gave me a paragraph and disappeared! I had to draw it, and I had a whole book, and he said, "Hulk lands on this other world," and I had to make up a bunch of characters. I did it, barely. But it was terrible, and I wasn't compensated for that, but how I fixed it was I did a lot of it on staff, and the heck with them!

[Severin had a staff gig at Marvel on top of her freelance art work, so she's saying she spent the time that she was getting paid to do her office work to plot and draw the annual - BC]

That's an amazing story. Jon B. Cooke asked Friedrich about it, and he said he thinks it was more than a couple of sentences, but he essentially admitted to the basic story, noting that he hated writing plots.

Okay, so that's already a cool bit about this story, but here's the other one. The cover is iconic, right?

However, Severin had to make a major alteration to Steranko's original cover!

Here's the original...

Here it is with the alterations...

Marvel thought that the Hulk's face was too intense for the Comics Code, so they had Severin alter it. Hilarious.

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Discover the major change that John Carpenter did to Halloween after a film executive that he screened an early version of the film criticized the film!

Still a lot of legends left for this week's edition!

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