Dave Stevens, creator of the magnificent comic series, The Rocketeer, has passed away. The Rocketeer, with its unnamed but crystal clear cameos by pulp heroes Doc Savage and The Shadow, was the very first story that got me started thinking in terms of an expanded Wold Newton Universe that had a continuity and character list which went beyond Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Family tree. The Rocketeer was without a doubt the very first entry in what would become the Crossover Chronology, which will see print next year from MonkeyBrain Books. Steven's artwork was absolutely gorgeous, a retro merging of photo-realistic and Golden Age comic-booky that I have rarely seen elsewhere. His good girl art is spectacular, and he almost single-handedly responsible for the pop-cultural resurgence of Bettie Page.
Stevens was a comics hero of mine, probably THE comics hero, although he was never prolific. With The Rocketeer, he taught me there was a lot more to comics, a lot more potential there, than superheroes. He reinvigorated the interest of my adolescent self in the pulps (of course my love for the pulps was originally inspired by Phil Farmer) at a time when I was being distracted by superhero comics.
The closest I came to Stevens was at Comic-Con International 2005, when Savage Chuck Loridans saw him at his booth. At least I got to shake his hand and thank him for his influence.
It's just depressing to see someone go who is so young and talented.