Looking back, remembering the artists whose work I’ve loved, it’s usually very difficult for me to be sure of the first time I saw someone’s work; most blur into a steady haze of images that don’t correspond to time or place. But I very clearly remember the first time I ever saw the art of Dave Stevens. It was in Starslayer #1, back around 1982. The Rocketeer began as a back up series in the second issue of Starslayer, but the first one had this image on the back cover (although this version is from the next issue, with slightly different text):I was floored by it. Here was an artist I had never heard of, one who captured many of the styles that I loved while not aping them. The piece had elements of Frazetta, Eisner, Crandall, and Wood. But it also had its own new twist. And, man, it was just pure excitement! I don’t ever remember buying a comic before only for an ad, but I did with this one.
I didn’t know Dave particularly well but in all our dealings he was a straight shooter and a nice guy. A few years ago I tried to intervene on his behalf to get a Rocketeer/Superman mini-series going after it had stalled out at DC years before. Dave mentioned it to me at a show and then sent along his initial proposal. It was, as you would expect, a fun period piece, involving the Mercury Theater’s famous War of the Worlds broadcast. Dave was going to write it and draw the covers. unfortunately it was not to be, the project fizzled again, this time for good.
I would suggest all of you click here to read a fine remembrance by Mark Evanier, someone who knew Dave far better than I. And, lastly, here’s a great cover by Dave from the final issue of DNAgents. Its elegant simplicity has always made it one of my favorites by him.