Increasingly, however, Severin became identified with that most stubbornly durable of all Mad imitators, Cracked magazine. Cracked was happy to assign him as much work per issue as he could deliver—and Severin liked to work. Over the course of a 45-year association with the magazine, he turned out hundreds of pages for them, becoming firmly established as their chief cover artist, as well as illustrator of the movie and TV parodies that were the bread and butter of any Mad clone. He also exercised the chops he'd developed at EC by drawing war and horror stories for Warren Publishing's black-and-white comics magazines Blazing Combat and Creepy.
Born in 1921, Severin first sold his drawings to The Hobo News—a monthly paper "of the hoboes, by the hoboes, and for the hoboes"—when he was just 10 years old. After a stint in the Army during World War II, he joined Kurtzman and Will Elder at the Charles William Harvey Studio, doing advertising work and commercial designs. In 1947, he broke into comics when he was hired by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby to work for their Crestwood Publications imprint Prize Comics, where he came to specialize in Western comics. In an obituary post at his blog, Mark Evanier writes, "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."
In the past dozen years, Severin had begun to do more comic book work again, after several years of focusing on Cracked. He returned to an industry that had begun to see his steady stream of dependably solid, if unflashy work—which he had produced in almost every genre over the course of more than half a century—as a legendary achievement. The list of projects he worked on in his 80s includes Howard Chaykin's American Century, DC's 2008 reboot of Sergio Aragones' Western hero Bat Lash, and Marvel's notorious 2003 Rawhide Kid miniseries—which, in the name of cheap laughs, outed the classic gunfighter hero as gay. His surviving family includes his sister Marie Severin, another distinguished cartoonist who did time in both the EC and Marvel bullpens. In 2003, John Severin was named to the Will Eisner Award Hall Of Fame.