Monday, November 30, 2015

1980's Flashback: The Rocketeer

Pacific Presents #2 (Apr.1983)
The Rocketeer is a fictional character created by writer-illustrator Dave Stevens. The character first appeared as a backup feature in the Pacific Comics series Starslayer in 1982, and is an homage to Saturday matinee serial heroes of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

The Rocketeer was the secret identity of Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovered a mysterious jetpack that allowed him to fly. His adventures were set in Los Angeles and New York in 1938, and Stevens gave them a retro, nostalgic feel influenced by the King of the Rocket Men and Commando Cody movie serials (both from Republic Pictures), and pinup diva Bettie Page. The title also uses fictional pulp heroes of the period such as Doc Savage and The Shadow, plus real life horror film icon Rondo Hatton inspired one of the books notable villains.

Dave Stevens passed away in 2008 at the age of 52. I’m glad that I had a chance to meet him in person back in the early 1990s.


Kid said...

He died far too young. I'm glad I have his Rocketeer series as a testament to his talent.

Brad Rader said...

I am now 56, and bought StarSlayer #1, expecting another so-so Mike Grell art job (sorry if your a fan of Mr. G.) and was flabbergasted by the back up strip (you know the one I mean). It was the same artistic ass-kick I got reading the first issue of Love and Rockets, around this same time.
I never met Dave Stevens, though, being mostly an animation storyboard artist out here in Los Angeles, I know people who worked with him at Filmation Studios in the late 70's/early 80's. He was infamous, even at that time, for being extremely slow, painstaking.

Arte de Ácherre said...

Likewise, I also have a copy of Star Slayer #1 and was stunned at his meticulous artwork that left me craving for more of Dave. What a shame of a talent lost. It is also very interesting that not long after the the Rocketeer came to light, he also got a movie! How quick is that?! I think Stevens was also instrumental in making Betty Page a once again iconic personality of sexuality, long forgotten by the generation of the day.