DAVE STEVENS 1955-2008


March 13, 2008

Dave Stevens, artist, writer, illustrator, comic-book legend and creator of "The Rocketeer" character, died March 10th, after a long illness, (which has recently been revealed to be Hairy Cell Leukemia). We have lost a great talent, but those who were fortunate enough to know him even a little all knew Dave as a charismatic, gentle and quick-witted guy who always seemed years younger than his age.

Mark Evanier has written a piece on Dave you can see here:

Dave took me by surprise in 1990,when he presented me with the Russ Manning Award (the same award he'd won himself in 1982, as the first recipient and a former assistant to Russ Manning himself)where he revealed himself to be a personable and enthusiastic supporter of my work. I couldn't believe he not only knew of my work at that point (I'd only had one mini-series out) but praised it. This meant more to me at the time than winning the award, which I had never heard of prior to the event. In the years that followed Dave and I spoke occasionally, but he always treated me with respect. I remember his enthusiasm over my work so many times, which really made an impression on me as a young artist all the way up to the present- his affirmation of my work was very important and I know many artists feel the same way. He was extremely hard on himself when it came to his own work and it boggled my mind he was so complimentary when he wasn't satisfied with his own work a lot of the time.

He was also funny and sort of dashing character at times. I didn't know him well enough to say for certain, but you got the idea he just Loved women. I mean this in a classic sense. I got the sens Dave respected, reveled and celebrated the Female in life, not just his art. His work touched the fan and the artist in the same way. He was one of the great pin-up artists of our day and a superb comic book artist. His style was luscious and bold and captivating. He inspired and informed the work of a great many artists who themselves went on to inspire even more. I can name a dozen or so artists all working and living well because of Dave's influence is so strong in their work. I'm not even sure if half of them even realize it.

Dave was very taken with Chartruz and wanted to draw her portrait- I shot photos of her especially for this, and later Dave told us he'd started one (for inclusion in one of his wonderful self-published sketchbooks) and discarded it because he didn't like how it was coming out. We were pretty disappointed, I mean, I'm sure it was gorgeous, but what can you do? He set himself to extremely high standards, and it showed in each drawing and every panel and cover of a book he did. His select body of work seems to me a testament to his dedication to making his work the best it could be. I just hope he enjoyed those victories he worked so hard for. I really hope he knew how wonderful he was.

Dave's illness took me by surprise. He was the last person I would have thought of as not being in good health. I didn't know he was ill for most of the time I knew him (A close friend of mine who was a close friend to Dave took me into his confidence a few years back). I remember hearing how Dave had undergone a blood transfusion before Comic-Con one year. It chilled me to think he couldn't simply enjoy the show, in the days when it was still enjoyable, in the way most of us did. I also realized at that point how mortal he was- and one day we would lose him. A sober, alien thought.

I've been thinking a lot about Dave in the last month. It bothered me not seeing him at Comic-Con last summer and I realize now his presence there was a large part of what made the show special for me. I hadn't reached out to him or close friends to inquire about him, and I'd meant to. Such a simple thing, I didn't do it and I think perhaps deep down I was afraid to hear what would have turned out to be not great news.

Chartruz and I mourn his passing. I can't imagine what its like for his family and close friends. Our thoughts and warmth go out to them.

I'll miss you Dave.