The Storyteller: Remembering Steve Dillon (1962-2016)
Steve Dillon, well known to comics fans the world over for his work on two continents and across many decades, passed away on October 22, 2016.
Dillon grew up in Luton, Bedfordshire, and started to become a staple of the UK comics scene as early as 16, drawing for Marvel UK, Warrior and 2000 AD. One of his earliest creations was with Steve Moore, for Doctor Who Magazine: Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer, an amoral mercenary leaving a trail of dead pepper-pot shaped monsters in his wake that to this day remains a cult favorite.
From the very beginning, Dillon’s skill at composition and storytelling was apparent, and Dillon’s star rose fast, working on a slew of UK comics properties from Judge Dredd to Rogue Trooper. He then started to work at DC Comics and began work on such titles as Animal Man and Hellblazer --- the latter of which teamed him up with Garth Ennis, one of his most frequent and noteworthy collaborators.
After Hellblazer, Dillon and Ennis moved on to Preacher, the landmark series about a man of God looking for God because God has an ass-kicking coming. Preacher will most likely be what Ennis and Dillon are best remembered for. Over its half a decade of life it saw Dillon’s style evolve into a more clean, stripped-down style, as his skill as a storyteller grew.
Based on their work on Preacher, Ennis and Dillon were recruited to the Marvel Knights imprint to revamp the Punisher for Marvel Knights: The Punisher, distilling the character to his basic elements and adding a dose of malevolent humor that the character had often lacked. Ennis and Dillon’s work on the character touched off a renaissance for the series.
The Punisher is the superhero character most associated with Dillon, as he returned to the character many times, most recently with Becky Cloonan as his collaborator. He also illustrated many other Marvel projects, including Wolverine: Origins and Supreme Power: Nighthawk, with Daniel Way as a frequent collaborator.
Dillon was a storyteller with few peers, able to render everything from a bloody confrontation to a quiet conversation, from moments of gut-busting comedy to the most crushing heartbreak imaginable. He could tell a story with everything from expansive four-panel pages to this underlooked one-page story with writer Max Landis, recounting the origin of the Parasite in 12 perfect panels:
Steve Dillon was a gift to comics, and blessed us all with so much beautiful work. Our condolences to his friends and family. He will be remembered, and his work and his influence will endure.