Dave Stevens 1955-2008

One of my favorite comics artists ever, Dave Stevens, died today, after an apparently long and secretive battle with leukemia. I say secretive 'cause I read message boards and comic websites constantly, and I didn't even know he was ill. I never met Dave, as I seldom trek to the West Coast for conventions, and he seldom came east... but his effect on my drawing ability and interest in comics is so immense that it almost can't be described.

It's late and I gotta go to sleep, but I have a ton of thoughts about Dave Stevens rolling around in my head and I plan to write 'em down as soon as I feel confident elaborating upon them.

'Til then, I'll leave you with this: A scan of Dave's drawing of the obscure character Dolphin, from DC's encyclopedic Who's Who series from the 80s. I first laid eyes on this image when I was 14, and it just about made my mind explode.


Rich Dannys said...

That was another one of his very best, Rob.. Nice post!

Shon Richards said...

Looking back, it's easy to see how those old Who's Who were my first purchases in pin up art. I didn't realize that was a Dave Stevens drawing but looking at it now it seems plain as day.

I discovered Dave through his Rocketeer comics and I just remember him raising the bar for my expectations for art.

jnavarra said...

omg I still have that issue of Who's Who!!

Anonymous said...

I remember the Dolphin comic very, very - very - well. I bought it from a kid who was in my class; unfortunately I was reading it in class when it was confiscated by the teacher. First year I ever got a mark against me for deportment. But it was worth it.

Anonymous said...

Galen wrote to me about this the other day--I somehow missed it on Cartoon Brew. I was really rather broken up about it. I'd kind of forgotten what an artistic hero he was to me--right up there with Chuck Jones. I was glad to know his illness had been a secret, because at first I felt really bad I hadn't written him to tell him the effect he's had on me.

The Dolphin pinup reminds me of a time in high school when I collected every odd drawing and cover by Stevens that I could get my hands on. One aspect of his low output was that even discovering a single drawing, like this and the other Who's Who pinup (Catwoman), seemed a really exciting find. Every drawing he did had such life and vitality.

Last night I was looking through the Dark Horse collection of the last three Rocketeer comics (this has an unforgiveably bad cover--it looks like they recycled it off a coloring book from when the movie came out). Much of the third issue was drawn by Art Adams and Sandy Plunkett, and boy, can you see a difference (esp. in the Adams stuff) between two really, really good artists and...Dave Stevens. Then you turn to the last two pages of that issue, all done (presumably) by Stevens. One page is a simple dialogue exchange between Cliff and Goose, and God, it just knocks me out. Those last pages are more exciting than the twelve pages of two-fisted action that came before.

I look forward to reading your further thoughts on Stevens, Rob. Please don't let the opportunity slip away.