FANGORIA’s Comic Expert Svetlana Fedotov Remembers Steve Dillon (1962 – 2016)Books/Art/Culture,News Svetlana Fedotov
There are few creators who can be recognized on their artistic style alone, and there are even fewer whose personal style helped mold some of the biggest works in their industry. Steve Dillon did both. Famously known for co-creating PREACHER, Dillon’s contributions to the world of comics has helped move the medium from throwaway entertainment to the endless potential that it is today. Along with his collaborative partner Garth “The Menace” Ennis, Dillon and Co. reworked THE PUNISHER and HELLBLAZER, while personally contributing to ANIMAL MAN, JUDGE DREDD, X-MEN, and others. That being said, it’s no surprise that with his passing this past Saturday, bothth comic and art fans have raised a toast to the legendary giant in remembrance of Dillon.
Steve Dillon started like most people, a baby, but soon became a teenager where he did his first professional work for Marvel UK. Though only 16 at the time, he already had a remarkable grasp for comic anatomy and followed up his success with a NICKY FURY strip. This led to full time gigs at Warrior, 2000 AD, and the DOCTOR WHO magazine for whom he did a substantial amount of work for in the ’80s. Along with his work for those publications, he also started the comic magazine Deadline in 1988 which featured unknown and underground artists and musicians such as Blur and Jamie Hewlett (TANK GIRL). Deadline success was spurned by its commitment to bringing new faces to the world of entertainment and came to be considered one of the most influential early magazines of the modern British comic and music counterculture scene.
Though relatively successful in the UK, it was until 1992, when he met his future creative partner Garth Ennis, did Dillon gain international fame via DC/Vertigo on Ennis’s HELLBLAZER run. Something about Ennis’s words and Dillon’s art meshed so well that after wrapping up HELLBLAZER, they collaborated together on what would become the pinnacle of their careers, PREACHER. With its philosophical leanings and delightfully offensive content, the work launched both of the creators into superstardom.
The wandering adventures of Jesse Custer brought a new generation of readers who were looking for something new after burning out on the ’90s superhero revival. The two followed up on the success with a healthy re-telling of THE PUNISHER, pinning the hulking vigilante against myriad villains properly stapling themselves into comic legends.
Even when he wasn’t working with Ennis, Dillon carried his own weight as he flitted between different companies over the past fifteen years, never happy to stay too long in one place. He contributed greatly to Marvel’s MAX Line and was co-executive producer in AMC’s PREACHER adaptation. As of his death, he was collaborating with writer Becky Cloonan on another PUNISHER with a graphic novel scheduled to be out early next year.
With Steve Dillon’s passing, we are left with a human shaped hole of who Dillon was and collection of works of who he is. He has left a legacy that few can touch while managing to inspire others to pursue their own creative freedom. His fluid imagery and drive to push the line of creativity became something wholly on its own and even on his last tweet, where he asked fans to meet him at Comic Con and help raise money for the Hero Initiative, he proved that on top of it all, he was a very sweet man. Though he may not have lived long enough to see AMC’s PREACHER come back for a second season or finish off the latest PUNISHER run, we can rest assured that he would’ve been proud of whatever happened. He was pretty cool that way.