Movie News

Dave Stevens - Father of the Rocketeer - has passed away...

Published at: March 11, 2008, 7:59 p.m. CST

Hey folks, Harry here... I'm a bit under the weather... took a big dose of Nyquil and woke up 15 hours later in a daze. It's a beautiful day outside and as I've been going through the 800 or so messages that have accumulated since I last logged in - I read a notice from a friend of mine, Michael Kaluta. He received a call from Dave Stevens' mother that Dave passed on yesterday. She said it was a blessing, as Dave had been suffering a lot of pain, due to chemo and had no prospects for it "getting better". Stevens' ink work was some of the absolute most elegant and confidently rendered art in the comic's professions. While some artists have to resort to paint, Dave's inked characters seemed to leap off the page at you. That Dave created the Rocketeer - and then populated his world with Betty Page and the creeper, Rondo Hatton - well - for vintage film geeks - his comics allowed characters to give another performance for all of us greedy enough to want them to live on. Dave also was a brilliant master of PIN UP ART. Cheesecake, good girl and bad girl poses that never dived into raunch, but titillated and thrilled. In person, Dave was a gas to be around. Talking about movies, pin-ups and specifically one of my favorite subjects... Commando Cody. We've lost a master, too early in his life. Best wishes to his family.

Readers Talkback

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  • March 11, 2008, 4:09 p.m. CST

    So Sorry to Hear...

    by Jonas Grumpy

    I wrote this on Peter David's site, and I'm copying and pasting it here: Damn shame. The one and only time I ever got to meet Dave was back in '94 at a con on Portland, OR. He informed me that, in the movie, he played the German Rocketeer in the black & white footage. He also told me that various crew members played the other Nazis, and that some of them seemed just a little too comfortable in those uniforms. I always wished that I'd get to meet him again. Rest in peace, pal.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:10 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Dave

    by Zardoz

    The man was a genius and a gentleman. I met him at Wondercon many years ago and he signed my copy of Rocketeer #1. Such a great talent. I'm sure he's soaring in the heavens, now...

  • March 11, 2008, 4:14 p.m. CST

    It's all part of the show...

    by Pipple

    I wish. I grew up (still growing?) loving rocketeer. Damn sad news, harry.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:16 p.m. CST

    What? How old was he?

    by BenBraddock

    Fucking cancer.RIP Dave

  • March 11, 2008, 4:19 p.m. CST

    Sad news indeed

    by Bot-Bot

    The Rocketeer inspired many of my sketches. I was a great admirer of his fine draftsmanship.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:21 p.m. CST

    Wow. I really liked the Rocketeer movie

    by skywalkerfamily

    It had great visuals and some nice characters. The music score was brilliant.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:21 p.m. CST

    He was 53, BenBraddock

    by Multiplex

    He had been struggling with leukemia for a long time.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:22 p.m. CST

    This sucks!!!

    by superhero

    I've got a Rocketeer poster in my cube here at work. Sucks big time. Such a great talent.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:25 p.m. CST

    His artwork was fantastic.

    by godhatesyou

    You can fly like the Rocketeer now. R.I.P

  • March 11, 2008, 4:27 p.m. CST

    I have a numbered print ...

    by banditmania

    ...Dave did of the Rocketeer.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:29 p.m. CST

    Whoa, for sec I thought you meant Alan Arkin

    by Orionsangels

    From the movie. This is sad news. His work is stunning. Rest in peace

  • March 11, 2008, 4:29 p.m. CST

    Into the sky...

    by christian66

    Rest in Peace. One of the great illustrators.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:30 p.m. CST

    Raiders Of The Lost Ark

    by SergioLeone

    Dave should also be remembered for being the key story board artist on Raiders of The Lost Ark. We'll miss you Dave.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Bettie Page

    by Sithdan

    I have to admit, Betty Page was quite the hottie in her day. Didn't Dave Stevens' wife pose as Betty Page in his artwork?

  • March 11, 2008, 4:33 p.m. CST

    His artwork IS fantastic!!

    by Missing Dink

  • March 11, 2008, 4:40 p.m. CST

    Just Got Rocketeer Score Yesterday...

    by Buzz Maverik

    Soundtracks, my one lapse into full fledged geekdom. And this is a great soundtrack...<p>This is sad news about Mr. Stevens, a gifted man. He was indeed a brilliant artist with an eye for pop culture that kept alive forgotten treasures.

  • March 11, 2008, 4:45 p.m. CST

    yes - Dave Stevens' ex wife

    by HEADGEEK

    Brinke Stevens posed for his Betty Page pinups. They were married for 6 months. <BR><BR> H

  • March 11, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Buzz Maverik

    by kwisatzhaderach

    The Rocketeer score is immortal, one of Horner's very best!

  • March 11, 2008, 4:59 p.m. CST

    tooo fuckin young

    by bacci40

    one of the greatest artists of my generation....and brought bettie page back to prominence...guess gerber needed an artist for his next project....christ, this sux

  • March 11, 2008, 5:05 p.m. CST

    Sorry to hear this.

    by mrfan

    RIP

  • March 11, 2008, 5:12 p.m. CST

    evanier has a nice obit...and another rip

    by bacci40

    http://www.newsfromme.com/....

  • March 11, 2008, 5:12 p.m. CST

    A sad day for fans of comic art and The Rocketeer

    by Reel American Hero

    I still remember that iconic poster for The Rocketeer back in the summer of '91. Already a huge superhero fan, there was no way I was missing that one. Saw the movie, loved it, and was intrigued that it was based on a comic book not published my Marvel or DC. I'd loved the art that Stevens (I believe it was him anyway) did for the cover of the movie adaptation comic book, which led me in a vain attempt to find anything else Rocketeer related. I found an issue years later at a mall comic show, was never able to find any of the others. I'm hoping they republish the series in trade paperback form at some point, it was a great story.

  • March 11, 2008, 5:40 p.m. CST

    I will miss Dave, he was a good man, and a hero to me...

    by BIGFANBOY

    Dave Stevens was our guest of honor at the very first Dallas Comic Con in 2002. I even printed a tribute program and produced a special print for him at that show. That's how much THE ROCKETEER meant to me. Since then we had been trying to get him back here, but his health just wouldn't allow it. He was actually feeling the effects back then, but never wanted to show it. Dave was always nice to his fans, and so incredibly talented. It was as if a classic artist from the 1940's had jumped through time to hang out with us. As an artist myself, he was a big inspiration to me. He was a hero. I miss Dave.

  • March 11, 2008, 5:43 p.m. CST

    Noooo!

    by Wonderboys

    That's horrible news. He was too young. I love his work, I bought all the Rocketeer comics I could find (here in Spain, very dificult). Loved the character, I remember looking at pictures of Stevens and realizing Cliff Secord was kind of his alter-ego. Then I loved the film, I even bought that 3D adaptation that the clones of Neal Adams did, I even had a customized Rocketeer figure. I always felt deep simpathy for Stevens, he seemed a nice guy, and all this years I was hoping he would return to The Rocketeer. I hope he is rocketing his way up to the sky...

  • March 11, 2008, 5:46 p.m. CST

    He was good.

    by rev_skarekroe

    Rocketeer was a great design. What had he done since then?

  • March 11, 2008, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Oh my God this is horrible news.

    by Blue_Demon

    Dave Stevens' work was beautiful. I've collected it in comics and posters for years ever since I read The Rocketeer back in the early 80s. You can see his love of drawing-just the physical part of it, brush strokes, curves, etc.-in every frame of his books. There are very few artists in the comic book industry who draw as well and as beautiful as did. <p>I remember seeing an obituary for Doug Wildey written by Dave a few years back after the great creator of Jonny Quest passed away. It showed a photo of the two of them at a booth in a restaurant. Doug was chatting away and Dave was smiling at him, clearly enjoying the man's stories. Under the picture Dave wrote something along the lines of "Adios, Amigo. Until we meet again."<p>I like to think that they're picking up where they left off.<p>God bless you Dave, and thanks for your wonderful art.

  • March 11, 2008, 5:53 p.m. CST

    RIP Dave

    by 11dayempire

    The Rocketeer was one of the greatest comics - and films - ever made.

  • March 11, 2008, 5:56 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Dave

    by Uncapie

    Some of us in the loop heard it was leukemia and Dave was starting to get better. He was looking forward to San Diego Comic Con this year. Sad news indeed.

  • March 11, 2008, 5:59 p.m. CST

    That's nice, Blue_Demon

    by Wonderboys

  • March 11, 2008, 6:16 p.m. CST

    God. That's a real shock.

    by Laserbrain

    Too soon. Way too soon. Dave maintained a commitment to excellence that I have always admired. A fine, fine illustrator. Rest in Peace, mate.

  • March 11, 2008, 6:18 p.m. CST

    Goodbye

    by Harlow

    I grew up with Dave Stevens' comics. I was always a more writer orientated comic book reader until I saw the work of Dave Stevens. And his work eventually led me to Mark Schultz and Frank Miller as well. But Dave was the king in my eyes. There aren't many like Dave and he will be sorely missed. Thanks for the memories. I hope you realized the impact you had. Goodbye.

  • March 11, 2008, 6:26 p.m. CST

    Rest in Peace Dave Stevens..

    by CeejayNightwing

    I was a huge fan and the Rocketeer comics were one of the few i was buying when i decided to get back into the business. Took ages for the final issue of Cliff's New York Adventure to finally come out but it was worth the wait. Loved the Movie, shame it came out a week before Terminator 2 or it would have made a whole lot more box office, definitely deserved a sequel. God bless you Dave, you made an everlasting contribution to my world!

  • March 11, 2008, 6:27 p.m. CST

    D A M N I T ! ! ! !

    by Bumpasses Dawg

    Dave was a special talent. The Rocketeer movie was decent, but never touched on the magic that flowed from his imagination, through his fingertips to the page - and then directly from the paper to us. His Bettie Page made me love Bettie Page all over again. His heroes seemed to be cut from the same All-American stuff that young Jimmy Stewart was. His work was ALIVE. So alive, that even now it is impossible to think of him being gone. And as long as his work makes the imagination soar, Dave Stevens will live on, flying high beside his Rocketeer. Thank you Dave. Thank you for transfering your joy so effectively to others. May the place you're at now be equally as inspiring.

  • March 11, 2008, 6:32 p.m. CST

    Stunned!

    by 60091

    I'm a big admirer of his work and it's just horrible news to hear of another great artist passing on suddenly.

  • March 11, 2008, 6:37 p.m. CST

    This sucks

    by F69

    I remember seeing the Rocketeer movie as a kid and was gutted they never made a sequel to it. I think it was probably ahead of its time, if you look at the trailers for it you can see that the marketing department didn't really understand the movie and tried to make out it was some sort of Diehard/Terminator style action movie with loads of guns and shooting. If it was released today in this time of superhero/retro popularity then I think it would've done much better business. After hearing this sad news I went on YouTube to find some Rocketeer videos and I came across this one which was quite cool... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-qe1sScyjk

  • March 11, 2008, 6:47 p.m. CST

    WHAT?!

    by bonkers

    good God, you're not joking...Jesus H. Christ, that guy had talent, he could communicate facial emotions better than any other comics guy, ever, and his women...daggum, what a lousy day

  • March 11, 2008, 6:48 p.m. CST

    Good anecdote Blue Demon

    by BranMakMorn

    I remember that obit that Stevens wrote. Dave Stevens was a great talent, he shall be missed.

  • March 11, 2008, 7:08 p.m. CST

    Sad day

    by webslinger48

    Here's a touching obit written by comic historian and writer, Mark Evanier, about his friend... http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2008_03_11.html#014911

  • March 11, 2008, 7:12 p.m. CST

    Rest In Peace Mr.Stevens.

    by travis-dane

    Cancer sucks!

  • March 11, 2008, 7:24 p.m. CST

    That's Commando Cody.

    by Dave Bowman

    And as excellent as Stevens's artwork was, it's silly to imply that other artists "resort to paint" because their inking isn't as good.

  • March 11, 2008, 7:41 p.m. CST

    Great Artist

    by Pariah74

    He'll be missed. Rocketeer Adventure Magazine was one of my favs.

  • March 11, 2008, 7:42 p.m. CST

    R.I.P.

    by theonecalledshoe

    while not knowing a lot of what went to creating the Rocketeer, it's one of my faves for comic book movies. RIP mister.

  • March 11, 2008, 7:45 p.m. CST

    Damn!!

    by ericinwisconsin

    The one time in his life he wasn't late with a deadline... Much too soon, Mr. Stevens

  • March 11, 2008, 7:55 p.m. CST

    Horrible news

    by judge dredds fresh undies

    I recently saw the Rockerteer movie again and this led me to Dave Stevens website. His artwork blew me away. I can't believe I only discovered him a few months ago and now he is gone.

  • March 11, 2008, 9:44 p.m. CST

    Wow...

    by Frankenbastard

    um...wow. I've talked to the Dave more than a few times in the past, he was one of my favorite artist. Rockets away Dave, helmet up, you will be missed.

  • March 11, 2008, 9:54 p.m. CST

    horrible news

    by BrowncoatJedi

    What a great artist and creator.

  • March 11, 2008, 10:06 p.m. CST

    That's right Locke played Howard Hughes

    by skywalkerfamily

    I forgot about that.

  • March 11, 2008, 10:26 p.m. CST

    Harry, are they taking donations?

    by Pixeldriver

    For cancer or something? I feel like I should do something. He was a great artist, a good man and very inspirational.

  • March 11, 2008, 10:27 p.m. CST

    hey haters final WALL·E trailer is up!!!

    by ludmir88

    apple hd

  • March 11, 2008, 10:42 p.m. CST

    An inspiration...

    by BrooseTheScharuk

    Truly a gifted artist with an unbelievably sure hand. I could only dream of inking half as well ever in my life. Iconic. He should still have a lifetime of love and respect to look forward to from admiring convention attendees and grateful, starstruck young artists. Way WAY too soon.

  • March 11, 2008, 10:49 p.m. CST

    Findadeath.com just did "The Creeper" Rondo Hatton

    by Crimson Dynamo

    http://findadeath.com/Deceased/h/rondohatton/creeper.htm

  • March 11, 2008, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Not Locke. The Stepfather.

    by Ommadawn1959

    I miss Dave already. He was a wonderful artist. I still have his "just teasing," signed print and all.

  • March 11, 2008, 11:38 p.m. CST

    Friend & Teacher

    by Alen Smithee

    He once took the time to show a stupid young kid how to paint animation cells, and show me how to draw Bettie. You will be missed Dave.

  • March 11, 2008, 11:40 p.m. CST

    Dave is the man..

    by ironic_name

    You will be missed.

  • March 12, 2008, 12:45 a.m. CST

    Dave Stevens was one of the Greats.

    by LoneGun

    His work was immediately distinctive in the comic book world. It was sexy, classy, fun and incredibly beautiful to look at. It was magical. For years, I had his art taped to my bedroom wall. Rest in peace, Mr. Stevens.

  • March 12, 2008, 2:33 a.m. CST

    Leukemia's a real bitch

    by SpencerTrilby

    RIP Mr Stevens. A guy drawing such sexy girls as well as retro flying machines deserves a place of choice up there.

  • March 12, 2008, 3:39 a.m. CST

    Awful news

    by Droogie Alex

    The movie was fun enough, but just didn't reach the heights of the comics. What isn't in the movie is that the rocket pack was invented by, and stolen from the pulp hero; Doc Savage. He, Monk and Ham spend most of the books chasing Cliff to get it back before it ran out of fuel. Beautiful work.

  • March 12, 2008, 4:25 a.m. CST

    I love the Rocketeer

    by Steve Rogers

    Both the comics AND the movie. I think the flick is an underrated classic. They were never going to get Doc Savage into the movie! I especially loved how Timothy Dalton played it at the end, with his encroaching German accent. "Hand over the rocket! Or I'll blow her brains... all over zee cabin!"

  • March 12, 2008, 4:36 a.m. CST

    THE ROCKETEER!

    by messi

    I loved the movie as a kid and the comic.

  • March 12, 2008, 4:40 a.m. CST

    Dave Stevens was a true gent and a terrific artist

    by KillaKane

    Very sad to hear of his passing, one of my all time favourite artist/writers, and a very approachable and good humoured individual. Condolences to his nearest and dearest.

  • March 12, 2008, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Great guy and great artist

    by Rupee88

    When I was about 14 and the first Rocketeer preview appeared in Starslayer, I wrote a letter to Dave Stevens, telling him I enjoyed it and hoped to see more of the character in the future. He sent me back a personalized thank you postcard, the entire thing written in longhand, thanking me for my note and telling me that the Rocketeer would have his own comic shortly. That was a great way to communicate with fans and showed that he would take the time to answer "fan mail" like that. His work speaks for itself...just lots of fun and bursting with life.

  • March 12, 2008, 8:21 a.m. CST

    He married Brinke Stevens?

    by Billy The Fish

  • March 12, 2008, 8:22 a.m. CST

    Then I guess he went with a smile on his face...

    by Billy The Fish

  • March 12, 2008, 8:48 a.m. CST

    If my post above sounded disrespectful...

    by Billy The Fish

    ...apologies, it wasn't meant to be. I saw Rocketeer on TV a few years back and enjoyed it immensely. I went strainght out and bought the DVD. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why it did so poorly at the box office. Then I found out what it was up against that summer... Shame, it should've been HUGE, it was great fun!

  • March 12, 2008, 9:36 a.m. CST

    I remember seeing the rocketeer comic

    by ironic_name

    and not being sure if the painted image on the back was a real photo or not

  • March 12, 2008, 9:40 a.m. CST

    he was the man.

    by ironic_name

  • March 12, 2008, 10:08 a.m. CST

    a great loss

    by duanejones

    i had great hope for the rocketeer movie since the comic was such nostalgic fun and gorgeously rendered by mr. stevens. a shame it sucked and a greater shame we won't be getting more exquisite work from one of comics' true originals. peaceout, davey....

  • March 12, 2008, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Today is depressing

    by zombiemaster

    2 death notices, 5 minutes apart. I've met Dave a number of times, very nice man. I'm sorry to hear he's gone. This with the news of a personal friend passing of cancer last night makes today suck.

  • March 12, 2008, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Jennifer Connelly in The Rocketeer

    by Osmosis Jones

    = the most beautiful woman of all time. I wish she still looked like that now. :(

  • March 12, 2008, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Dave was great

    by stamper

    he shagged every Hollywood pin-up that ever graced the horror / b movie silver screen. Kudos to a full life. He won't grow old.

  • March 12, 2008, 12:46 p.m. CST

    bettiepage.com/blog has a tribute

    by stringcheese2008

    There's another Dave tribute on Bettie Page's site. http://bettiepageblog.blogspot.com/

  • March 12, 2008, 1:38 p.m. CST

    Osmosis Jones...

    by Billy The Fish

    You still would though, wouldn't you?

  • March 12, 2008, 3:54 p.m. CST

    I Stand Corrected...

    by Jonas Grumpy

    In my previous post, I made it sound like I had met Dave only once. Earlier today, a friend reminded me that we had seen Dave at a comics shop book signing, back in the early '80s, shortly after the first issue of the Rocketeer comic was released. So, it turns out that I DID get to meet Dave twice. Apparently the first time wasn't as memorable. I blame it on youthful indiscretion. Sorry, Dave!

  • March 12, 2008, 3:57 p.m. CST

    PS: OT

    by Jonas Grumpy

    When I said "previous post," I was referring to the uppermost post in this talkback. Hopefully, everyone here appreciates that I chose not to use the dreaded F-word in that post. (I won't even use it now, for fear of retaliation.) Obits don't deserve that crap. But, boy was I tempted. Especially as it was only my second time ever having the lead spot in a talkback.

  • March 12, 2008, 6:15 p.m. CST

    He went with a smile

    by stamper

    None of us here will shag as much starlettes as he did. Way to go kiddo. I hope you left a lot of illegitemate childs out there.

  • March 13, 2008, 2:23 a.m. CST

    Ya know...

    by 23GreatWoundsAllGotInBattle

    He was a supremely talented artist, but I thought the movie was an improvement on the comic...RIP though. Would have liked to have seen more of his work.

  • March 13, 2008, 1:39 p.m. CST

    I just read this.....and it is sad news, indeed.

    by JDanielP

    I enjoyed his art. He was a talented man.