Monday, 27 February 2017

DAVE STEVENS' THE ROCKETEER...


Images copyright relevant owner

It was in Glasgow's VIRGIN MEGASTORE in 1982 that I saw PACIFIC PRESENTS #1, and probably bought it primarily for STEVE DITKO's The MISSING MAN strip.  However, there was really only one star of the mag, and that was The ROCKETEER by DAVE STEVENS, which had first appeared as a back-up in STARSLAYER #s 2 & 3.  (Never bought them and therefore missed Rocky's debut.)

After two issues of Pacific Presents (dated October '82, and April '83 respectively), The Rocketeer next showed up in the November '84 dated Special Edition, The Rocketeer #1 (published this time by ECLIPSE) - only to promptly vanish again. The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #1 (dated April '88 and published by COMICO), was the next venue for Stevens' high-flying hero, with a 2d issue the following year (dated April '89).  Six years later, a 3rd (and final) issue, this time published by DARK HORSE, hit the stands, dated January '95.

In '85, Eclipse published a collected edition of the first five chapters, and IDW followed suite in 2009, with a very handsome, recoloured hardback volume of all eight chapters.  Sadly, Dave Stevens died in 2008, aged only 52, after suffering from leukemia for several years.  His Rocketeer series remains a high benchmark in the world of graphic storytelling, and it's certain that this very fine artist will not soon be forgotten - if ever in fact.  Here's to you, Dave.

******

And now a word from our sponsor - namely me.  I kept the first two issues of Pacific Presents in the drawer of the writing bureau beside my bed, where they remained in the new house my family moved into in 1983.  Subsequent appearances of The Rocketeer have joined those two issues over the years, though I missed the 3rd issue of Adventure Magazine in 1995.  However, I managed to track one down and it arrived today, and has now joined its companions in that drawer.

As regular readers know, I returned to my former home after four years, so it gives me a glow of satisfaction to know that The Rocketeer's comics journey eventually ended in the very same drawer of the same desk, in the exact same room of the same house in which it began, 35 years before.  That's what you call full circle, eh?

Now, check out Dave Steven's great art, and then leave a comment of appreciation for the man and his work in the you-know-where, if you'd be so kind.




Apologies for the intrusion of my personal address label (sans address)





One of those pesky labels obscuring part of the art again - apologies 













DAVE STEVENS

10 comments:

moonmando said...

Amazing talent.

Kid said...

Yeah, I know - but that's enough about me, what do you think of Dave's work?

paul Mcscotty said...

A wonderful artist - I picked up quite a few of the issues you have here and some of the more recent ones as well by (some) lesser hands - saying that I loved Chris Samnee's version - the Rocketeer film was also a pretty enjoyable romp. I have been on the look out for that Ditko "Missing Man" strip (on and off) for a few years (hint for a wee blog post!!)

Kid said...

I've got all four issues of Pacific Presents, PM, which contain The Missing Man (I assume he appeared elsewhere after PP's demise), but I'd have to say that it's hardly Ditko at his best. Nevertheless, your suggestion has been noted.

Phil S said...

One of my regrets is not talking to Dave Stevens in San Diego. I thought oh he's always here. Then of course he wasn't. He didn't look ill at all. When am I going to learn to talk to people whose work I admire instead of just thinking catch them later? Same thing happened with Herb Trimpe, he had a line of people. I didn't want to wait.

Kid said...

Sadly, PS, if you won't wait for them, they can't always wait for you. Death has a way of tapping people on the shoulder when they least expect it.

Rip Jagger said...

I haven't read Rocketeer again for several years now. It might be time for yet another spin through that delightful throwback yarn by the truly great Dave Stevens. He tapped into something special, almost ineffable with this character. I was a Commando Cody fan apart from the Stevens material, but it's in no small part due to the Rocketeer that I glommed onto all of that weird serialized pure wonky joy.

Rip Off

Kid said...

I don't think I've ever seen the Commando Cody serials, RJ, but I saw King of the Rocket Men (which pre-dated it, and from whom Cody nicked his outfit) on BBC TV back in the early '80s. Stevens was clearly giving a nod to these great serials, and his love for them shines through. (As does his appreciation for Bettie Page.) I think I'll have to re-read all eight chapters of Rocky as well.

Phil S said...

I just realized I don't have a copy of the Rocketeer collection. I gave one to my bro. And now I don't have one.

Kid said...

Better call the A-Team and start organising that dawn raid on your brother's house right away, PS. (Or get onto eBay.)

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