This is one of those columns I dread writing. Dave Stevens, one of our industry's brightest stars, died in March. Dave was a very special talent, but what's more important, he was a very special person. As an illustrator and writer, he created one of comics' great characters, The Rocketeer, a series that spawned a movie as well as renewed interest in '50s pinup queen Bettie Page. Dave was a private person who chose not to share his illness with the public, and, as a result, his death came as a shock to many. Sadly, this meant that he did not get a chance to see the degree to which he was loved by his friends and fans. Blessed with movie-star looks, Dave was a perfectionist in both his appearance and his work. Professionally, he refused to compromise his art, taking painstaking care in the creation of each painting or comics page. This was an approach that certainly cost him a fortune in potential fees and commissions, considerations which, to Dave, were secondary to the work itself.
Dave went to Madison High School here in Portland. It was during this time that I first stumbled into him at a local comics shop, Old Weird Herald's. He had been commissioned to re-create a Bernie Wrightson Swamp Thing cover. Though based on an existing work, that one painting made it clear that Dave was going to be a major talent. As the years passed, I was lucky enough to become one of his publishers, as well as one of his friends. All of us who knew him will miss him dearly. Our only consolation is that he will live on in the work he left behind.
Goodbye, Dave. You are truly one of the greats.
Dark Horse Comics
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY put the spotlight on a new law in Indiana that could have a chilling effect on literary expression of erotica or sensuality of any kind.
If you're reading this blog, chances are you have an appreciation for "cheesecake", at the very least, and are able to understand that a book with some photos of Bettie (or paintings by Olivia, Jim Silke, etc.), don't belong ghettoized in "adult" bookstores. Well, in Indiana, to buy LET THEM EAT CHEESECAKE: THE ART OF OLIVIA at a Barnes and Noble, the bookstore will need to register with the state government!
Alison Morris, blogger on PW, explains:
One of the big topics in the bookselling world recently has been the news that the state of Indiana has put a new law on the books that will require any businesses that sell "sexually explicit material" to register with the state government. To quote from PW's article on this subject, "'Sexually explicit material' is defined as any product that is 'harmful to minors' under existing law. There is a $250 registration fee. Failure to register is a misdemeanor."
Indiana booksellers...are concerned that the state's vague definitions of "sexually explicit material" could get them into trouble for selling books on health and human sexuality, many titles considered classic literature, and who-knows-how-many young adult novels.
...How many art books can you think of that DON'T contain nudity? Or, to play the opposite end of the age spectrum, how many potty training books avoid images of naked toddlers?
...The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression has condemed the law on grounds that it is a violation of Indiana booksellers' (and customers') First Amendment rights and therefore unconstitutional. They are considering filing a legal challenge to the law.
The Bettie Page Blog would appreciate a "scene report" from Indiana. We'll help raise hell any way we can.