Remembering My Friend Dave Stevens
Every once in a while, you think you’re over your sadness from the death of a friend, and then you read something that catches you unaware and that lump in your throat returns unexpectedly. Today I was reading Ken Tucker’s review of my friend Dave Stevens’s graphic novel in Entertainment Weekly. In a few short words, Ken did a great job of explaining Dave Stevens to those who may not have known of this quality person and brilliant illustrator.
Apparently they’ve reissued his book “The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures” by Dave Stevens. You see, Dave was the creator of “Rocketeer.” I have the limited edition collector’s version of this book. If you don’t already have a copy, run out and get one, and be sure to get it from art book dealer Bud Plant – they are the best. You’ll be so glad this is part of your art collection. Dave was also a famed storyboard artist in L.A., doing everything from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. When I win the lottery someday, I will pay to have those storyboards in my collection.
Dave Stevens and I became friends back in 1987. We were always together at San Diego Comic-Con, we hung out together and we shared painting techniques. In 1989, Dave sent me his sketch for “Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #2” for me to paint. (Now I wish I’d kept the sketch, but I sent it back with the artwork.) It was an honor to be involved in his project. I painted that cover and when you see it in the book, those of you who really know my style will recognize that it’s me. After that, Dave, whose medium of choice was acrylic, would hang out with me and I would help him understand how to paint with oils and create the look and feel he wanted to achieve. Again, it was an honor to be in the same constellation with this shining star.
There was a palpable pall over San Diego Comic-Con in 2008 for those of us who knew Dave Stevens. That was the year he died from leukemia.
One of the greatest disappointments for all of us illustrator’s was watching the evolution of Dave’s relationship with Disney. That which held such promise resulted in such colossal waste and disappointment. Dave never recovered from it. He even wrote about it in his book (another one you must add to your collection) “Brush With Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens” by Underwood Books.
When I start my podcast (be patient, folks, it’s coming…), I will share some of my memories of Dave Stevens and interview those who shared those fond memories with me.
Thanks for reading,