Today's comic book artists honor the greats by using their art supplies

comic book artifacts
The legendary Joe Kubert's drawing desk (Image credit: Adam Kubert)

Any artist will tell you that a trip to the art supply store is like a trip to the candy store. It's a wonderful feeling, a rush, to load up on new supplies, full of fresh possibilities.

But there's a deeper rush to be had, for a few. Maybe you can use the exact same supplies legendary EC and Marvel Comics artist Marie Severin used, or even (someday!) sit at Joe Kubert's drafting table.

Colleen Doran feels the rush. The creator of A Distant Soil (opens in new tab)and recent Bram Stoker Award winner for her work on Snow, Glass, Apples (opens in new tab), creates with the tools used by Marie Severin. She lucked into the supplies when Severin retired in the early '00s.

"Marie was getting older, and decided she would be better off living in a senior facility," Doran recalls. "She ended up getting a really nice place, but it was a downsize in space. All of her things couldn't go in there."

Doran's agent hipped her to the fact that some of Severin's supplies would be available. She got a treasure trove.

"She never threw anything away!" Doran exclaims. "She had art supplies that were 100 years old, multiples of the same thing; 20 compasses, boxes, and boxes of pencils, pens, and brushes. I have her X-acto knife kit, some of her drafting supplies."

The bounty ran so deep, Doran decided to spread the love.

"Some of her Dr. Martin's (dye) bottles came to me as well, so I put the call out to a bunch of colorists to give them a little memento of Marie. I sent them some bottles of her Dr. Martin's to keep."

'Artifact' supplies are cool and practical. Some can even connect generations through time. 14-year-old aspiring artist Lucas Kosa draws on the same table used by his great-grandfather. His great-grandfather just happens to be legendary DC Comics war artist Russ Heath (opens in new tab).

comic book artifacts

Lucas Kosa at the same drafting table used by his great-grandfather, the legendary Russ Heath (Image credit: Lucas Kosa)

Heath passed away in '18, and his son arranged to send some belongings to family members. Kosa got the table (opens in new tab) and has been using it where, yes other family members point out a family resemblance.

"When I use this table, there's a little bit of inspiration that comes with it," Kosa says. "It represents his work, and when I look at his work…I mean, he was the master. So yeah, it motivates me to work better, work harder, work longer."

And we'll see where the work leads.

"I certainly am looking at art as a career that I could go into," Kosa says. "I have a bit of time to decide. It could be."

With a little luck, a broad range of people might be able to find similar inspiration in the drafting table—and more—of legendary artist Joe Kubert. Joe's son Adam Kubert donated his desk and everything in his office to the Rochester Institute of Technology, the younger Kubert's alma mater. The hope is that with funding, a future Joe Kubert Library at RIT could show off these artifacts, and also house a maker's space and highlight Kubert's artwork and rich contribution to comics.

Collectors are on the bandwagon, too. Legendary writer Denny O'Neil's desk, electric typewriter, and even Batman mousepad are being auctioned (opens in new tab) by Metropolis Comics at ComicConnect. And when DC Comics romance artist Elizabeth Berube passed away recently, her son decided to gift her supplies to other artists. Her drawing table will take on a new life as well, soon to arrive at Samurai Comics in Phoenix where it will become a "community art table" for their artist-in-residence program and kids' art lessons. A small plaque on the table will note that the table came from Elizabeth Safian Berube.

Doran is keeping the beat going as well. She drew the bulk of Amazing Fantastic Incredible (opens in new tab), the Stan Lee comic biography, with Marie Severin's old pens.

"You get that 'it' feeling," Doran says. "I have some of them sitting out from time to time just so I can look at them. The packing on some of them is so pretty on the old stuff. But yeah, it gave me a wonderful feeling to use some of her old stuff. And the connection can go back through generations. I'm going to keep doing it."

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