Comic Book Artist Marie Severin Photographed for "The Artist Within"

A tough week! RIP Marie Severin and Russ Heath

Good morning~can we talk? As of April 1st this year, our studio Sampsel Preston Photography, has been in business for 30 years, and also for about that same amount of time I have had the pleasure of working on my personal project photographing some of the most amazing comic book artists, cartoonists, animators and illustrators in their studios, And, for the most part it has been joyous! We have had the best time. Raising our kids in the studio, traveling a lot, getting 2 books of my artists photos published. I mean sure, we have had our ups and downs in business, old reliable clients leaving, but new ones coming on, recession, health problems, etc.., but this week has been exceptionally hard.

Every one who knows me, knows that I am comic book insane, I just love everything about the art, the creators, the collecting, and I have gotten to meet and photograph many of my art heroes. And 30 years ago, I would have given my right arm to have one of my photos published in the NY Times or the Washington Post. Well, both of those things happened this week, and it makes me a little sad. The world lost 2 Amazing Comic Book Creators this past week: Russ Heath and Marie Severin. They both lived remarkable lives, and I was honored to have my photos of those artists used in these publications as those papers celebrated their life stories.

Time is just moving too fast now, the comic creators of my youth are passing on and while I am so glad I had the chance to meet and document so many of these artists, unfortunately many of them "last photos". I was reminded this morning about a conversation I had with Russ Heath when I first reached out to him, over 20 years ago about including him In my project. I remember so clearly calling him and going into my spiel about how I'd love to include him in my photo project, and he said no. Not giving up, I pressed on. He said "I don't want to be included in your project because after you photograph people, they die!" And I guess at the time it was funny-he did say that in a humorous way, like he was pulling my leg. Well, sure, I had taken the last photos of a couple of artists at the time , Jack Kirby, Burne Hogarth, but I had no idea I was being thought of, even jokingly as kind of the "Grim Reaper". Me:"I'm here to take your photo", The Artist "Noooooo, I'm not ready!" Funny I guess, as we have had many artists call out the fact that a certain photo of someone we shot was the last one. Now so many of these amazing creators are passing, inevitably, it just makes me sad. Grateful that I got a chance to have a couple of hours with each of them and talk with them in a way that many fans never get to, but still, sad. Like when a friend passes, and the world is somehow a lesser place without them.

Rest in Peace guys.

Cartoonist, Comic Book Artist , and Illustrator Russ Heath

Russ Heath