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12 March 2008

Anyone who reads anything connected with comics knows by now the sad news that artist Dave Stevens died two days ago of leukemia.
There are a lot of comics artists that I like. There are fewer that I consider great. There are a very few that I consider a strong influence. They're the ones whose art would always arrest my eye and force me to linger and admire. The ones who would cause me to buy a book on sight, even if they only did the cover. The ones who I would gladly pay for the privilege of working with.
Dave Stevens was one of those artists. Best known perhaps for his creation The Rocketeer, nearly as much so for being instrumental in the revival of Betty Page fandom, he was also, in my opinion, a driving force behind the modern pulp revival. Growing up as I did in the company of Doc Savage and The Shadow, it was no wonder that his work caught my eye; every line of his work was everything that was good about the golden age of pulp. He was, with Olivia de Bernardinis, the latter 20-th and early 21st Centuries best heir to the idea of "cheesecake", with a sense of form and clarity of line that were second to none.
Like the recently deceased Steve Gerber, I always thought that he did not receive the respect he deserved among comic readers, mostly due to the fickle ways of popularity. As artists with lots of flash and little substance came and went, Dave seemed to be continually refining his own instantly recognizable style, surfacing occiasionally with the odd book or issue, but seen more often in his influence on the work of others.
I don't need to say he'll be missed. The tributes to him I have been reading all day are proof enough of that. Saddest for me is that, as I continue to hone my own craft, I know that he's one of the greats that I'll never get to meet or work with.*
Still, here's my small tribute...a little color job on a very low-rez sample of Dave's work. I don't know if this is kosher to use the piece this way, but frankly, I don't care. This is as close as I'm going to get....



What with Mike Wieringo, Steve Gerber and now Dave Stevens all within the past year, this is happening too often. Just stop it now guys, OK?

*FYI, if anyone's interested, some of the other big names on my "wishlist" are:

-Frank Cho
-Dave Sim
-Brian Bolland
-Bart Sears

None of whom need any help from me, but hey, you gotta dream big, right?

Update: For anyone who's not familiar with Stevens' work, there's a fantastic gallery of his art online at "Golden Age Comic Book Stories". Go check it out, and while you're there, check out the massive gallery of pulp and comic art that this blog's author has collected.

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