Nicely done, but I don't know if I can agree with your appraisal of Russ Manning's line as "inorganic". It seems to have a lot more in common with the Burne Hogarths and Frank Frazettas than it does the Kirbys and Sekowskys, and Stevens' work has always reminded me of Manning's circa his early 60's Magnus salad days.
Well, Stevens denied (in his Comic Book Artist Magazine interview) that Manning was an influence on his style.
I think Manning's lines, though more fluid than those of Kirby et al, tend to have a geometric look, and to have uniform lineweights. I'd say the same of Hogarth, too.
Hm. I read that interview, but I don't remember him saying that. Of course, I also have a less than photographic memory, too! Oh well...
Yeah, that interview
was pretty packed.
The relevant line:CBA: Would you consider Russ Manning an influence on your artistic style?
Dave: Not so much, but in terms of ethics and practical working methods, yes, absolutely.
But whether Manning influenced Stevens or not, he did fine work. Coincidentally, he also died of cancer at age 52.
Great stuff, Jesse!
Any idea how much of Stevens's comic book work (not counting the covers) is actually available to readers? I've got the Rocketeer graphic novel that covers the origin story, but I've seen miscellaneous other covers posted in the past few days, so I'm guessing that I've got a few more books to track down.
Hm, that's a tough one. He did a 15 page story when he was around 22 that is reprinted in Alien Worlds #2, and he inked/finished a 4 page story drawn by Bruce Jones for Alien Worlds #4. I think that was his only non-Rocketeer comics work (not counting assistant work on backgrounds for Russ Manning in '75 or so).
For The Rocketeer, I think he did a little over 100 pages. There were back-up stories in Starslayer #2 & 3, two issues published by Pacific ("Pacific Presents" #1 & 2), and a one-shot published by Eclipse ("The Rocketeer Special Edition") -- all of which I *think* was collected in Eclipse's a 63 page graphic novel, "The Rocketeer." (Which is probably what you have.)
Then there were Comico's two issues of "The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine," plus a third issue of the same series published by Dark Horse, which was all collected in Dark Horse's "The Rocketeer: Cliff's New York Adventure." Some of that material was pencilled by Kaluta, Plunkett, Jaime Hernandez, and Art Adams, and inked/finished by Stevens. (You know you're slow when you must rely on Art Adams to pick up your slack...)
So as a sequential artist, he clocks in at well under 130 pages. His popularity-to-output ratio is probably the highest of any cartoonist.
(There was also a Rocketeer movie adaptation drawn by Russ Heath. It's not Stevens, but if you're hungry for more Rocketeer comics, you can't do better than Heath!)
Were the movie adaptation and the 3-D special different projects? I know that I bought at least one, and seem to remember Neal Adams drawing one of them...maybe he drew the 3-D and Heath drew the regular adaptation?
What's Frank Frazetta's total comics output? I know that he ghosted for Al Capp for a while, but the few full comic book stories that he drew are really highly regarded, too. Alex Toth was more prolific than either of them, but he'd still be on my short list on that popularity-to-output list.
Yeah, the 3-D book by Neal Adams was different from the movie adaptation by Heath, though they both came out the year of the movie. (I think Heidi MacDonald featured Adams's Rocketeer in her Stevens obit. D'oh!)
Frazetta did various short pieces here and there during the late '40s and early '50s, including 5 romance stories I can think of offhand, some White Indian stuff, an EC crime story called Squeeze Play, some Shining Knight for DC, a one-shot called Thunda, several funny animal stories, a kiddie comic called Snow Man, and various odds 'n' ends, plus occasional collaborations with other EC guys like Williamson. He also drew a short story for Warren in the '60s, and drew a newspaper strip called Johnny Comet for a year or two in the '50s, along with 8 or 9 years of drawing Al Capp Sundays. I'm sure he drew more comic pages than Stevens even without the strip work, but not by a wide margin.
Toth was actually pretty prolific. Apart from his two years in the army and his years spent in and out of animation, he did about as much as the average full-time cartoonist. The reason he's less visible than his contemporaries is that he rarely worked on characters that publishers see fit to reprint. But he drew thousands of pages.
*I just checked; Heidi removed the Adams pic.
Thanks for the clarification. You're absolutely right that I think of Toth's body of work being smaller than it is due to the lack of reprints available. I remember seeing a Toth-drawn "Real McCoys" comic at Shaenon's uncle's house a couple of years ago, and I'd bet that there are plenty of other books he drew for now-defunct properties featuring now-unmarketable characters. Aside from Manuel Auad's books, the occasional Zorro collection, the "Ghost of the Killer Skies" Batman story, a story in a recent SuperFriends comic collection a couple of Black Canary stories in the Black Canary Archives, there's not a lot of Toth work that's readily available.
The admiration for Toth and Stevens based on pages that you can actually see on any given trip to your local comic shop is pretty impressive, in that regard.
2008-03-14 11:40 pm (UTC)
Steranko might give him a run for his money in having high popularity and relatively low output.
And in answer to my own question, the follow-up to the original storyline was collected in a severely out-of-print book called "Cliff's New York Adventure," which is available used from Amazon.com for $90. I think I'll try to track down the individual magazines from the early 1990s to see if I can get those a bit cheaper.
Yes, that 1991 film was quite a good surprise for me. I didn't know that it was an adaptation of a US comic. I don't follow the big-output US comic scene much. I just learned this week that Dave Stevens existed. I know about Russ Manning because of my love of science fiction (I'm slowly trying to collect the entire original run of the Robot Fighter series) and I can see the places where they come near and go apart, with the Stevens examples you put up.
I only know Bernie Wrightson thru his captain Stern adventures, which were translated in French and published in a costly hardbound BD, and I loved it, all of it, but I don't see much in common with Stevens in there, art-wise. It was probably not typical Wrightson output?
Wrightson's '70 output had more carefully feathered inking than his Stern stuff. For instance, here's a sample of his Swamp Thing:http://comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=6098&GSub=776
His Frankenstein illustrations are also incredibly detailed, though he mostly used hatching on those, rather than feathering.
"Stevens did just the opposite."
Excellent. I never thot of it that way. Of course you are correct.
But how do you see these things?
I was late 20s, newly Christian. I remember being at Golden Apple Comics on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, flipping through the new issue of Starslayer from Pacific Comics (issue #2), not liking the Mike Grell, but loving anything by Sergio Aragonés. It featured the 2nd appearance of Groo (he had first appeared in Destroyer Duck #1, which I had previously bought). The first chapter of The Rocketeer must have looked good to my art-discerning eye. I bought the comic. Still have it.
I never thot of it in the context of what was popular at the time. The sort of stuff that made money for Marvel and DC was one thing. Then there was the phenomenon of new companies proliferating, all about that time.
Pacific Comics, Eclipse Comics, First Comics and Comico were all new comics companies at about that time, and these were indie companies (as they were then called) producing a host of amazing things. MAC & Beatty's Ms. Tree was a private eye series at a time when private eye comics were mainly an artifact of the '40s and '50s (Kitchen Sink in 1982 had a couple of years or so earlier taken over from Warren the task of reprinting The Spirit). Doug Wildey's Rio was a traditional cowboy comic at a time when the western genre, sans gimmicks (e.g. Jonah Hex), was history. Chaykin's American Flagg, rather than "techno-centric" (as you call it), was using SF to comment on politics, sex, the media, sex, race/religion, sex, and Hollywood. Hunt & Dixon's Evangeline was a killer nun. Mage was boring and pretentious. Morrow's Edge of Chaos was a new take on Hercules. Alien Worlds and Twisted Tales were E.C. knock-offs. Gerber & Kirby's Destroyer Duck was satire. Staton's E-Man revival was satire humor. The Spirit monthly included a feature segment of new realism by Will Eisner which would soon morph into Will Eisner's Quarterly and end up collected as reality-based graphic novels. And Pekar, whose reality-based autobiographical American Splendor I didn't glom to until years later, was cranking out one issue a year from Cleveland.
Their market share was small, but, as a comics fan, I was looking at what *I* liked. Sure, DC was doing amazing things with Swamp Thing then, with Alan Moore. X-Men was still hot stuff from Marvel. But these small companies were giving comics creators the opportunity to produce different kinds of comics. Dave Stevens.
Dave Stevens helped make an amazing time in comics history all the more amazing.
"Stevens did just the opposite."
Yes, he did.
I guess sometimes one can't see the forest for the trees. I suppose I was too close to what was happening to notice the larger context. A young man like you, Jesse, looking at it as history, can see it with fresh eyes that those of us who lived through it don't necessarily have. (Plus, you are brilliant.) All I knew then was that Dave Stevens was a major talent, a new discovery for me, and I was happy to have found such great comics.
"A welcome nostalgia"? I understand true "nostalgia" as a feeling for a past one has actually experienced, and which one may remember selectively. I don't believe that nostalgia is the right word for period comics, any more than it is the right word for my enjoyment of music from WWII. I wasn't there. it's not true nostalgia. But it is a common phenomenon, and Dave Stevens participated in it, whatever one wants to call it.
An enjoyment of what has gone before.
Ellison, in his foreword to the original collected Rocketeer, remarked that Stevens could identify a 1930s jazz recording and the musicians playing on it, just by listening. I don't call that nostalgia. I call it a love of great OLD STUFF. Heh.
Dave Stevens was one of US! He liked the good OLD STUFF. And he brought us comics that evoked/portrayed a past time, fictional, as he saw and felt it.
We still have that.
Having a guy like Dave Stevens (and the art he produced) in our lives gives us all something to aspire to.
Dave marched to his own attractive drummer, thank god.
2014-05-07 05:53 pm (UTC)
Dave was a nice guy, and a fabulous artist, but that and a quarter won't buy you a cup of joe. He had enormous talent. His work was polished and professional at every stage and you can tell that he studied every nuance of the figure, every lie of the face. And more, he had a balanced style, a firm grasp on the line and it's varying weight being SO important. He is, without a doubt one of, if not the best, inkers that ever lived.
Great guy, great artist, and great God, died WAAAAAAAY too soon,
God Bless you Dave,
Thanks for commenting, Mark. Yeah, his inks were wonderful. Not only skillful but full of panache.