This week saw the release of The Rocketeer–The Complete Adventures by Dave Stevens.
This is a magnificent book, beautifully designed by my favorite go-to design guy, Randy Dahlk. The early stories have been magnificently re-colored by Laura Martin (Dave’s personal pick) so the book maintains a high, classy quality all throughout.
My (and Dave’s) friend Thomas Jane wrote a wonderful, heartfelt introduction that gives the readers a tantalizing and warmly human peek into Dave’s very guarded private world.
There are two versions of the book. I know the economy is tough right now but, if you can spring for it, go for the boxed Deluxe Edition. It adds more than 130 extra pages of sketches, rare obscurities, pencil drawings, layouts, notes, etc. that are very well worth the extra coinage of purchase. It gives readers a rare glimpse into Dave’s methods and thought processes, a window into how he created The Rocketeer.
That section brought back a lot of memories, as I was there for the comic’s creation. Dave was working in my studio at the time, subletting a chunk of Richard Hescox’s space. Richard and I were often grabbed to pose for Dave’s photo reference. Not mentioned in the book is Richard’s wife Alice, who posed for Millie, the waitress at the Bulldog Café. Dave was never a slave to his photo reference, as you’ll see when you compare the photos he took to the finished art. Dave always made everything he did his own.
In the later stories I was surprised to learn that some of the penciling and inking were done by other artists (whom Dave obviously trusted with his baby). One of Dave’s best friends, Mike Kaluta, drew a lot of the latter books’ layouts.
As fussy and particular as I knew Dave to be, I think he would have heartily approved of this fine book collection…after a bit of grumbling and grousing about elements of the reproduction that only he could see, of course.
If you’re looking for Christmas gifts, you can do no better than this fine book.
And that’s coming from a guy who has got some new books out of his own!
Merry Christmas, Dave.