Monday, October 22, 2007

Whatever happened to Dave Stevens?

During the early 1980's independent comics explosion, a wonderful artist by the name of Dave Stevens introduced his cool, retro character, The Rocketeer, at Pacific Comics.

The Rocketeer was actually 1930's aviator Cliff Secord, who discovered a futuristic jet pack and then launched his high-flying career as the heroic Rocketeer - all the while being chased by various crooks, federal agents and even the very mysterious creator of the jet pack (who bore a small resemblance to a certain "Man of Bronze" from the era of the pulps). Secord seldom had two nickles to rub together and this made his efforts to woo his hot-as-a-pistol model/girlfriend Betty a bit problematic. The character jumped to another publisher (or two) when Pacific folded, but then he got the public's attention by scoring his own Walt Disney produced motion picture in 1991.

Creator Dave Stevens was a like a breath of fresh air to the comics industry, hitting fandom just as hard as Adam Hughes would almost at the same time. But Stevens, other than producing some truly beautiful covers for several publishers, pretty much dropped out of comics for good in the wake of the Rocketeer movie.

He regularly works in the film industry as a storyboard artist and also - if rumors be true - makes a living doing advertising work and limited commissions. Stevens himself is an affable sort. I met him once, around the time the Rocketeer was filming, when he took a break to appear at a Parts Unknown weekend convention in Greensboro, NC.

The world of comics really lost a potential giant {though some would argue that his limited comics work grants him such status} when Dave Stevens flew the coop. I think that his last published work was issue #3 of the Rocketeer Adventure Magazine from Dark Horse, which was released in 1995 [later collected with a new cover in '96]. The issue itself required several artists assistance to complete as Stevens had pretty much "left the building" and was struggling to finish Cliff Secord's swan song. Artists Art Adams & Jaime Hernandez, at least, helped out on the last hurrah of the Rocketeer.


Anonymous said...

Dave Stevens was one of my absolute favorite artists. His style matched the "retro" feel of the time period he was illustrating perfectly.

And he drew beautiful women. :)

Jeff Wetherington
The Comic Guide at Athena Guides

Anonymous said...

Stevens used to be at San Diego every year, usually pushing a new sketchbook, but this year, when there was supposed to be a Rocketeer 25th Anniversary panel moderated by Mark Evanier, Dave didn't make it.

It's really a bummer.

Anonymous said...

Dave has been ill for several years, keeping him from getting out much. He's a very private person, but from what I hear he's still creating art and in good spirits.