Thursday, April 16, 2009

Severin's Lewis and Clark: Living history

John Severin illustrated just one hard cover book for young readers, THE ADVENTURES OF LEWIS AND CLARK, in 1968. He was interviewed by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., for SQUA TRONT #11, 2005. Jim asked, "Have you done any other hardback book illustrations along these lines?"

Severin's answer: "No. The experience taught me that if you're going to be an illustrator, you're going to have to have book after book, and I'm not that exciting that people are going to give me that many books to illustrate."

Severin is being modest. I'm sure he would have been in demand for many things had he opened himself up to them. There are things Severin is known for: his accuracy in costuming, his ethnic authenticity, and the look of an era. He did it with the Lewis and Clark story, including pictures of landscapes, uniforms and clothes of the men in the party, and also the looks of the Indians that Lewis and Clark encountered, including Sacajawea.* The illustrations for this book are terrific.

*Severin's book would hopefully give the readers a more accurate look at Sacajawea than the 1955 movie, THE FAR HORIZONS, starring Charlton Heston, with Donna Reed as Sacajawea.

THE ADVENTURES OF LEWIS AND CLARK by Ormonde De Kay, Jr., illustrated by John Severin. Copyright © 1968 Random House, Inc.

TOMORROW: Severin in black and white.


Mr. Door Tree said...

Many thanks for posting these...I hadn't seen most of these before! Severin is a terrific artist!

Harry Lee Green said...

It's really too bad he didn't do more books. I wonder, for instance, why he didn't do any of the historical Random House Landmark books during the 1950s. There were dozens of titles and they all had illustrations. He would have been a natural. But we can only go by what he did, not what he could have done. And what we have with Severin is a rich legacy of comics and humor.