I read this morning that Steve Dillon has died. You might not know that name. To be honest I wouldn’t have recognized it if he hadn’t been identified in the headline by one of his more well-known books, Preacher. He was a comic artist who worked quite a lot with Garth Ennis. They worked on Hellblazer together, another favorite of mine. I’m not a dedicated reader of comics or graphic novels but I do like the ones I like, even if I haven’t read them from beginning to end. Years ago a friend of mine who works in the comic industry suggested I read Preacher. He said he thought it was something I would like considering something I was writing at the time. So I picked up Book One which included the first twelve issues of the comic. It was gritty and darkly funny with a foundation of anger and melancholy. That appealed to me. So when I had to fly up to Oregon to visit my parents I took the book along and was happily reading it on the plane. One of the flight attendants stopped by my seat at one point and quietly asked what I was reading. I smiled and told him and he gave me a conspiratorial grin, telling me it was one of his favorite series. He then told me a story about a flight that Garth Ennis was on and how he was the only person who realized who Ennis was and totally fanboyed out. We laughed and enjoyed connecting with a fellow lover of comics in an unexpected place.
Steve Dillon adapted Preacher for television recently and the first season is out with a second season having been ordered. That’s a wonderful bit of unexpected success for a comic regardless of what you might think from the giant Marvel and DC movies. Books like Preacher are deserving of the same level of attention and respect but they are not quite as mainstream ready if you will. I haven’t watched the show so I don’t have any opinion about it but I had this quiet little feeling of happiness for the book creators that it was made at all. These people are astoundingly talented and they work so freakin’ hard for very little monetary success and often not a lot of public credit. Clearly it’s changing but most of them are still living pretty tight and only known within the subculture of comics (yep, still a subculture when you compare it the world at large).
According to Garth Ennis in the NY Times Steve Dillon died of a burst appendix. This is absolutely tragic and heart breaking. He was only 54 years old. A bright and creative light has gone out.