Gone To Texas (Remembering Steve Dillon).
It has been a tough year for that kind of thing. Too tough. I’ve met a large number of my favorite comics creators. I never had the privilege of meeting Steve Dillon, but by all accounts, he was an excellent person.
Normally, I write some sort of long, pseudo biographical article about a creator that I like and respect, who has passed away. I’m not going to do that today. I spent my time on the art, instead. Above, we have Cap and Jesse Custer (from one of Dillon’s better know works, “Preacher”) walking away from a probably stolen pickup truck. That’s the sort of simple, brooding composition that was easy for Steve Dillon, and I wanted to get the tone right. I won’t be seeing that any longer in comics, and that’s a sad thing.
Dillon’s art style was distinctive, and his involvement could get me reading a project that I normally wouldn’t be interested in. Simple, bold line work with clear facial expressions and detail without being busy. It’s hard to do, and the style of his lines themselves immediately told you when he drew something.
For those of you readers unfamiliar with his body of work, here’s the Cliff’s Notes Version: Steve Dillon was an English comic book artist, best known for his work with writer Garth Ennis on “Hellblazer,” “Preacher,” and “The Punisher.” He also did work on “2000 AD” a British Comic, most notably on the Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper features.
In my first year of teaching….I was under a whole lot of stress. It wasn’t what I had signed up for. It was violent, the kids had pretty dark, depressing backgrounds, and every day was a struggle. The admin at that school were WEAK, and the inmates ran the asylum, as it were. At the time, I was reading really upbeat comics, like “Robin,” “Superboy,” and “Young Justice.” Grant Morrison’s “JLA”, and the recently repaired “Avengers” by Kurt Busiek and George Perez.
None of it seemed to work. Mentally, I mean. I wasn’t in a head space where I could connect.
On a whim…I picked up one of the Ennis/Dillon “Hellblazer” paperbacks. I loved the art, and the darker, meaner content spoke to me. After burning through that, I picked up “Preacher” which was already in progress, and had been for a long time. That book was mean, and satirical…it hit the right stride with me. Soon after, I followed the team to Marvel, for the Punisher story, “Welcome Back, Frank.” I was just rereading that this week.
Dillon’s work…it helped me out. His odd humor, his satirical depiction of the kinds of dark circumstances that sadly were my day job at the time…they kept me in my profession. They kept me going to work, and trying to do the job. I never met the man, but I owe him a lot.
Even the hard bitten Judge Anderson looks upset by Dillon’s passing, in the artwork above.
I’m going to sit down with some of his work…maybe some Judge Dredd, and take while to appreciate his body of work. He died young, and unexpectedly, in New York. Apparently, that was his favorite place in the world…so hopefully, that made it easier.
2016 has been a rough year.