Dave Stevens, R. I. P.

On Sunday I drove up near Modesto to attend the memorial service for my friend Dave Stevens. I brought my long time friend Mark Evanier with me, so between the two of us there was no shortage of comics or show biz related stories. It made the four hour drive pass very quickly. It was a clear, beautiful drive up, through snow-covered mounts in the Grapevine, past the green rolling hills and flatlands of America’s bread basket and farmland fields filled with thousands of cows.

We met Richard and Alice Hescox in Modesto for lunch, prior to the services. It was Richard (a talented paperback cover painter) who brought Dave into our studio on La Brea Avenue. Those of you who know me well know that I have a deep, critical and obsessive passion for good BBQ and Mexican food. I had previously sleuthed out a potentially great BBQ place on Trip Advisor, Doc’s Q’in Pit Stop (Trip Advisor’s #1 restaurant in Modesto: 421 Maze Blvd.; look for the big smoker in the parking lot). The sides were OK (my black-eyed peas arrived cold, actually; the buttery corn bread and desserts were terrific, though), but the meat was phenomenal. Mark said it was the best BBQ he’d ever had in his life. We had a great time with Rich and Alice. Although I hadn’t seen them in decades, it seemed like we’d just seen each other yesterday — except for the addition of many pounds (probably due to the BBQ and Mexican food) to my once skinny frame.

I won’t go into the details of Dave’s service, who attended, etc. — I’d like to protect his family’s privacy — except to say that it was sweetly beautiful, tasteful and respectful. It all performed a really nice job of honoring our Dave. Jim Silke spoke especially eloquently about how Dave became his best friend and Dave’s love of people.

The pain of losing Dave hasn’t subsided for me one bit. I’m doing what I usually do to cope with an event like this; I’m burying myself in my work. This time it’s just not helping very much. I’m still just sad, sad, sad.

Dave would have loved the subject matter of the new painting I’m doing for Ray Harryhausen, a poster for the old Willis O’Brien project, War Eagles. It’s got the 1930s New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, a giant white eagle perched on her shoulder with a 30s pilot on its back holding Old Glory, and a Nazi zeppelin in the sky. Every once in awhile I think, “I can’t wait to show this to Dave!”

And then I remember…

4 Responses to “Dave Stevens, R. I. P.”

  1. The song that got left off at the top (under "Music") was one of Dave’s favorites: "Nature Boy."

  2. Benno Rothschild says:

    Nice to see such a heartfelt series of entries about Dave’s passing. For most of us he was a great artist-for you a great friend. I met Dave several times along the way and he was nothing but gracious, though I know he was more than a little unhappy that I lost (or had stolen, it has never been conclusively determined) a wonderful color piece of Betty Page that I bought from him in 1987. I am glad you convinced him to do those sketchbooks Bill, they are wonderful and, at least for the present, will have to substitute for a full size book of his work-one that I understand he had been working on for some time and which I hope will eventually see the light of day. None of us get to live forever, but some are lucky enough to have work that will-Dave is one of those and that is a blessing to all of us. Benno

  3. Scott Foster says:

    As only a fan of Dave Stevens,and having never met him, I find I am missing him more with each passing day.

    It is becoming clearer the more I think of him, about what kind of talent we’ve lost. I never saw a piece of art by Dave that I didn’t like. Thanks to these anecdotes shared by his friends, I am learning that he was a quality person.I wish I could have met him, & shook his hand.

    Thank you for the splendid art Mr Stevens.

    It will live on.

    R.I.P.

  4. Benno says:

    Hey Bill, I just got a copy of Dave’s obituary in the NY Times and its clear that you were pretty involved in helping them with background information. It was a nice piece and I was particularly pleased to see they used a piece of his art and not just a photo to go with the article. We should all have such good friends who want to see us well remembered.

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