Once upon a time my favorite living comic book artist was Steven Hughes. Some of you kids might not remember him, but he was primarily known as the co-creator of Evil Ernie and Lady Death along with writer Brian Pulido. Hughes was a fucking rock star. He was a wonderful horror/fantasy artist. He could do anything. One of my favorite images in comics history is when Evil Ernie ripped off both of Dr. Price's arms and shoved a mop handle through the stumps to prop him up. It's a wonderfully horrific scene, and Hughes pulled it off like a champ. I only wish he could have been there for Ernie's final battle with Price.
I got to meet Hughes once. I was surprised at how frail he seemed. He had a weak handshake. I was shocked that such powerful art could come from a guy like that. He couldn't have been nicer. He was one of the most quiet, polite guys I've ever met. I didn't know at the time. I guess no one did except his close circle of loved ones.
I walked into my comic book shop one day, and my dealer gave me the bad news. Steven Hughes had passed away. Cancer. Fucking cancer. He had it when I'd met him. Goddam, that was his strength. He was dying before my very eyes, and he still did the show. Do you realize how much strength that takes?
Fast forward to earlier today. Steve Dillon is my favorite living comic book artist. And then I turned on fucking Twitter. Jesus Christ. We don't have a cause of death yet, but he was a young guy. A lot of people are suggesting it was booze related. I don't know the truth. Whatever killed him is horrible. He was a talent taken from us waaaaaaaay too soon.
He co-created my favorite comic book of all time, PREACHER. If you doubt his talents, pick up an issue. Or go for HELLBLAZER. Or PUNISHER. Fuck.
I never got to meet him. I had a chance at this year's C2E2. I was super excited for it. And then . . . then I got sick, and I had to skip it. I regret that from the very bottom of my soul.
A while back I had a conversation with a fellow horror/bizarro author. I won't mention who in case that person doesn't want it to be public knowledge, but we were talking about the death of Nick Cave's son. It sounds horrible, and I realize it, but I pledged to be completely honest with all of these GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS. We were in agreement: Nick Cave's next album would be really fucking good. I haven't gotten SKELETON TREE yet, but I feel that his son's death would have a profound effect on his work.
Yeah. I know. That's a shitty thing to say or think. And I'm about to say something else that's also shitty, but I'd be less than honest if I didn't say it.
We are never going to get Ennis and Dillon's dream project now. Some of you might remember that they were planning an epic for Vertigo called CITY LIGHTS. I've been salivating for that thing for years, and we're never going to get it. Maybe Ennis could get someone else, but it wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be the vision.
So I went into my comic book shop today. I asked my dealer, "Did you hear about Steve Dillon?" He said he didn't, and I told him about it. He was shocked. I hadn't realized how much this had mirrored our earlier conversation about Steven Hughes until this very moment as I'm writing about it. He reacted the very same way I'd reacted to him years before.
I can't believe Steve Dillon is gone. I can't believe we're never going to get another Ennis/Dillon series. He really, truly was one of the best. Now he has entered the pantheon of greatest comic book artists. I'd put him in the top 5. I'm not sure yet where, but he's up there.
It's so unfair. The life of a comic book artist is not very financially rewarding, especially now. I'm sure he did all right, being an artist for both DC and Marvel, but still. He had AMC money rolling in now. It's not right.
Rest in peace, Steve Dillon.
If you want to know who my favorite living comic book artist is now, I haven't decided. It's either Gabriel Rodriguez or Darick Robertson. If you haven't, hunt down LOCKE & KEY, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW, TRANSMETROPOLITAN and THE BOYS to see why. Just fuckin' do it, all right?