The world of comic arts has grown so huge over the years, with the rise of independent publishers and self-published works, that it can be hard for truly talented artists to stand out from the crowd. Some, however, are simply too talented to go unnoticed, as was the case for Steve Dillon. The British artist got his big break at the ripe old age of sixteen, when he was hired to draw for Marvel UK’s Hulk Weekly. Dillon then went on to have a prolific, decades-long career working with both DC and Marvel Comics.
We are sorry to report that this talented storyteller’s career has ended much too soon — Steve Dillon has reportedly died at the age of 54. Dillon is survived by his younger brother, Glyn Dillon, who followed in Steve’s footsteps as a comic artist before going on to work as a concept artist and costume designer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Glyn Dillon broke the news of his brother’s death via Twitter, with the following message:
Sad to confirm the death of Steve, my big brother and my hero. He passed away in the city he loved (NYC). He will be sorely missed. Cheers x— glyn dillon (@glyn_dillon) October 22, 2016
A Luton, Bedfordshire native, Steve Dillon first realized his artistic potential in high school while working on a comic book with friends. His first strip, “The Space Vampire”, introduced the young artist to a new creative world, one in which he quickly earned a place. Dillon went on to work on British titles like Doctor Who and Judge Dredd throughout the eighties, before he landed his first job drawing The Wanderers for DC Comics’ DC Focus imprint in 1988. Dillon drew for the wildly successful Hellblazer, Vertigo’s longest-running title, in 1992, before going on to co-create Vertigo’s Preacher with Garth Ennis and Glenn Fabry in 1995. He worked on several titles for Marvel throughout the 2000s, most notably The Punisher.
Dillon was thankfully alive to see the AMC TV adaptation of Preacher premier earlier this year. The series, which follows preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) and his vampiric best friend, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), received critical acclaim for its expert blend of gore and humor and has been renewed for a second season. Seth Rogen, who helped develop the Preacher on-screen adaptation, was among those who took to social media to pay tribute to the late artist:
Devastated by the loss of Steve Dillon. My favorite comic artist who drew my favorite comics. RIP.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 22, 2016
Eric Kripke also expressed his sorrow at the news, and called Dillon one of his chief inspirations when creating cult fan series Supernatural:
RIP Steve Dillon. An astoundingly talented artist who greatly influenced #SPN and everything I've done.— Eric Kripke (@therealKripke) October 22, 2016
Numerous creators, like writer Mark Waid (The Flash, Captain America, Daredevil), screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra), and writer Kieron Gillen (Uncanny X-Men, Young Avengers), joined Rogen and Kripke in voicing their devastation at Dillon’s loss.
It’s clear that Dillon made a lasting impression on the artistic world, both inside and outside of the comic book world, and was personally admired by both his colleagues and fans. It’s terrible to see such a bright person and talented creator leave us so soon, especially since this means that both co-creators of British comics magazine Deadline — Dillon and Brett Ewins — have left us. However, Steve’s legacy will undoubtedly live on in the works of those he’s influenced personally and stylistically, and he will not be forgotten. Our deepest sympathies go out to Dillon’s friends and family as they cope with this loss.
R.I.P. Steve Dillon: 1962-2016