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Trimmings: John Severin
By Gary Groth

SEVERIN: I can tell you the first movie I ever saw, but I can't remember when I started going to the movies regularly, because it started rather early. By the way, the first movie I ever saw was Wings. My parent's brought me to see that.

GROTH: Who was in Wings?

SEVERIN: Gary Cooper, Richard Arlin, Buddy Rogers, and... who the hell was the girl? There's always a girl. But she was, in a western, sort of unimportant. We didn't pay attention to girls much... well, not too much. I would say, when I was in grammar school, I started collecting coke bottles and tin foil from cigarette packs, and when the junk man came around every week I'd sell it to him and end up with enough money to go to the movies. All you needed was a dime.

GROTH: So that would have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 1930?

SEVERIN: Yeah. And it was mostly, naturally, double features, and one of them was bound to be a western.

GROTH: I assume you came to love westerns?

SEVERIN: Absolutely. I've got almost a complete collection of John Waynes.

GROTH: Does it matter who directed it, or is it just John Wayne that you're...

SEVERIN: No. Sometimes it does. If somebody asks, "Which are the better John Waynes?" the ones that I'll name are the one's that were directed properly. Most of them are sophisticated old westerns, if you disregard his early stuff.

GROTH: Because there are better and worse John Wayne movies.

SEVERIN: Yes, there are. [Both laugh.] There are some clinkers in there.

GROTH: Yeah, there are. I just watched a pretty awful movie, but I rented it because I saw it as a kid. It was called The War Wagon.

SEVERIN: Oh, my God, with Kirk Douglas. What a terrible movie. [Laughs.]

GROTH: It was really pretty terrible. But, you know, I didn't remember it as being terrible...

SEVERIN: No, not as a kid.

GROTH: ...because I saw it when I was about 10. I'll tell you a funny story. When I saw it when I was tenä I don't know if you remember this, I don't know when you last saw it - I hope it was a long time ago - but there was a scene where John Wayne knocks on Kirk Douglas' door. Douglas walks out of the bedroom, and you can see he's bare-chested. He straps on his gun belt and he opens the door, and John Wayne walks in. And they talk for a couple of minutes, and it's just typical John Wayne/Kirk Douglas talking, and they don't show Kirk Douglas from anywhere but the waist up. They finish talking, John Wayne leaves, and Kirk Douglas walks away, and as he walks away you can see that he never had any clothes on.

SEVERIN: Really?

GROTH: Yeah. You don't remember that?

SEVERIN: No. I'll have to get that down off the shelf.

GROTH: I remember that so vividly when I was a kid, because it was just a shock to see his bare butt. And, of course, it was supposed to be a very funny moment in this silly western.

SEVERIN: I wonder if they deleted that from the...

GROTH: Well, you know what?


GROTH: They did. I saw it on a laser disk, and they actually faded it out. As he was starting to walk away, they faded the scene out.

SEVERIN: That would have been funny.

GROTH: I couldn't believe it! I was so annoyed.

SEVERIN: Those were the days when...

GROTH: Now if you have it on a video, maybe they didn't do that, but I'd be very curious.

SEVERIN: I don't know. I'll have to take a look and find out, though.

GROTH: It was one of the main reasons I rented it! [Severin laughs.]

SEVERIN: Oh, lord. Well, that's an interesting story. I never heard of that.

GROTH: Well, we'll have to talk about westerns a little later, because I want to get into that.

Trimmed from The Comics Journal #215

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