‘Rocketeer’ Creator Dave Stevens: 1955-2008

Rick Marshall

Rick Marshall was Online Managing Editor for ComicMix before joining MTV's SplashPage. Previously, he was Online Content Manager for Wizard Entertainment. He has written for several daily newspapers, alternative weekly newspapers, trade magazines and online media, and was named "Writer of the Year" by the New York Press Association in 2005.

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8 Responses

  1. Rick Taylor says:

    I'm so sorry to hear this.Dave was a great guy to work with, a real pro and no ego.Imagine that.

  2. Glenn Hauman says:

    A tragic loss. Didn't Dave also design the suit for the Flash TV show? Mike?

    • Mike Gold says:

      Wow. That's possible. I gotta think on that some.Losing Dave sucks. Rocketeer made his debut in the back pages of Mike Grell's Starslayer, and I've been a fan of it — and him — ever since. We even visited the movie set (oddly, the movie theater scene) when we were out in Hollywood working on that Flash teevee series. "We" being Robert Greenberger, Brian Augustyn and me. Glenn, Martha Thomases and I heard about Dave's death while at Cosmic Comics in Manhattan this afternoon — I had received about a half dozen emails, the first from our pal Rich Pachter. It hit us all like a ton of bricks.Despite his small volume of work, Dave Stevens has been and will always be regarded as one of the medium's masters.

      • Rick Taylor says:

        Martha called me when she got home yesterday and she cited 'how odd I mentioned the Rocketeer' when I posted to Denny's column.When I asked why she broke the news to me.I'm still in shock.Working with Dave on Rocketeer Adventure Magazine when I was art director at COMICO was one of the highlights of my career. Last week when I was going through some old clothes I found the Bulldog Studios t-shirt he gave me at ChicagoCon that year. 'Welcome to the team' was what he said as he handed it to me.I'm too fat to weat that shirt anymore but I think I'll just hang on to it.Godspeed, my friend.

  3. Andrew Pepoy says:

    I hope no one will mind me repeating what I'd posted elsewhere:I knew this day was coming, but it's always a shock when it finally happens. I only met Dave a few times, but he was always such a nice guy and had kind words for my work no matter how bad it really looked. I was such a fan. Just the other day I was oooh-ing over a couple pieces of his that were recently reprinted in Ron Goulart's "Good Girl Art" book. They were scanned from the originals and printed so you could really see every little brushstroke and the flow of the ink. His drawing ability, his ink line, and his wonderful cheesecake are all amazing. I'm honored to even be mentioned in the same book as someone as talented as Dave. I remember buying that issue of Star-Slayer with the very first Rocketeer story when it first came out when I was a kid. I was inspired then, and his work has continued to inspire me over the years, as it has so many comics artists that came after.

  4. Larry Shell says:

    My first reaction at seeing the ComicMix heading was "Oh My God!" Back in the 80s, Dave and I were very friendly and I used to call him up from here in NJ all the time. We shared a common interest in Betty Page, Rondo Hatton and various other cool subjects. I couldn't have been happier for his success, especially when The Rocketeer movie came out, albeit not an exact adaption, it was still a fine effort. We sort of drifted apart as friends do and up until 5-6 years ago, my sole contact for many years was seeing him at the San Diego Comic-Con. I didn't knew he'd been ill and this is indeed a shock. To echo the other posters, Dave was a great guy, a great artist and was taken from us way too soon! Rest in peace, Dave, I'll miss you! Now I'm gonna sign off before I start to bawl!

  5. Michael H. Price says:

    Dave Stevens became a familiar and friendly presence during the 1980s and earlier '90s at Texas' Dallas Fantasy Fair — often seen at work on a page or a painting during the festivities, but never for the sake of showing off. Dave seemed, rather, to be his own most severe critic, and his approach to the creative process was delightful to behold. He could hold an easygoing conversation while working away, undistracted, at the Strathmore, and the genial camaraderie seemed to bring out the best in his drawing hand. He could make an illustration appear as if by magic or time-lapse animation, and many of his tentative sketches conveyed the smoothness that one associates with his finished pieces.Dave's body of work, quality-over-quantity and well balanced between substance and style, represents one of our sturdiest practical links to first-generation comic-book influences — while advancing a combination of Modernism and Traditionalism comparable with those of Jim Steranko and Neal Adams and Bernie Wrightson.

  6. .j. christopher greu says:

    Dave Stevens.What can I say about the man, that could possible add to those who have already spoken so well of him.I have spent the last few days rereading the Rocketeer and watching the movie with my 3 boys. I think it is very important for them to know and understand the work that creates such inspiration in their father.And there is a story.I was 14 years old when I first encountered the Rocketeer. I had been collecting comics for 3 solid years, not counting the sporadic issues that I got when I was around 6 years of age. Fresh after seeing Dick Tracy brought to life via the big screen, and riding my bike five miles to the nearest grocery store, with my best friend, to collect the trading cards to the movie, I was floored by the prospect of this new movie coming out from Disney. The Rocketeer. Everything a boy needed to fancy himself a hero. Yes, I was another one of those introverted souls that spent most of his time in his head. My best friend and I embraced this new-to-our-minds hero and bought up all of the collector cards that we could get our hands on. Sadly, we never completed a run, and to this day I wish I had them all.I did not see the movie at this time. I grew up in a rather modest household, and we never went out to many movies. But, promptly after the release of the Rocketeer on video, I received it as a Christmas gift. I still have that old VHS tape, it is beginning to skip.I bought the back issues of the Rocketeer at my LCS in the year of 1996. I bought them all, the Starslayer issues, the special edition, and the Comico editions. Then, last but not least, that final issue of Rocketeer Adventure Magazine put out by Darkhorse. I also bought the collection from Darkhorse, and at a comic show a few years later; I bought a hard cover of the first story arc of the Rocketeer.I met Dave in the spring of 1999. He was guesating at the Motor City Comic Con. I was friend with one of the long time workers of the show, and was there as a volunteer. While the rest of the volunteers had specific shifts and tasks, I was given the opportunity to wander the show for free, and only work on special activities, like watching over Dave’s art and booth as he was on panel. In return for this, Dave gave me several prints that he was selling for free. He signed the all, “Thanks, Josh”, and was ever courteous. I spent several hours with Dave over the course of that weekend. He gave me quite a lot of advice about art and life in that short span. The one thing that stands out the most was when I asked him about overcoming colorblindness in the arts. His response, word for word, was, “Brother, I don’t know what to tell you. You should go ask Kaluta. He’s colorblind, and he is a beautiful painter.”I followed his advice and talked with Kaluta. I learned much from that weekend, now almost 10 years ago. And to this day, “Brother…” has forever been burned into my vocabulary.I can only hope that some day we will see The Rocketeer again. We were all given a special treat when Dave showed us the first few illustrations of Mimi Rodin, In Darkhorse Presents. I hope someday we will see the fruition of Dave’s vision.I truly loved the man. For his kindness. For his personality. For his professionalism. For his talent.Dave. Brother, I’m gonna miss you..j. christopher greulichIf anyone wants to discuss Dave, I would always be happy to do so:jchristophergreulich@hotmail.com <a href="http://www.fadingsunstudio.blogspot.com” target=”_blank”>www.fadingsunstudio.blogspot.com