I heard the news of Dave Stevens passing first a day ago with great sadness. Not that I knew him or had even met him, but just sadness that, at 52, he was far too young to leave us.
Possibly my first memory of his work was the day I went into Nostalgia & Comics to start my job there at the tender age of 16. On the wall of the office was this beautiful bit of artwork:
From then on I kept seeing and getting his work. Although god knows there was precious little of it. Stevens was the slowest of the slow and an absolute perfectionist it seems. But what he did do was gorgeous.
I'll remember him best for his one real stab at a continuing series; The Rocketeer. Over many, many years the issues slipped out, to much acclaim. The basic story was simple yet good, but the art was spectacularly honed. A delight on every page. The hours spent on it could really be seen.
And despite the movie being one of the best superhero movies I've ever seen, and keeping pretty much true to the source material, Stevens didn't return to the character after that. His output turned from slow to glacial, illos and pin-ups with the occasional cover.
It seems he'd been suffering from Leukaemia for a number of years. He's gone far too young.
Mark Evanier has his obit.