Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

R.I.P. Steve Dillon, 1962-2016

Steve Dillon has died at the age of 54, according to his brother, Glyn:

Dillon was best known for Preacher (1995-2000), which he co-created with Garth Ennis and which, presumably, got him a lot of new fans when it was turned into a television show earlier this year. He also drew critically-acclaimed stories on The Punisher, also with Ennis, and he was currently working on a reboot of the title with Becky Cloonan. He began his career at age 16 and was an influential force in the British comics scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. For me, the height of his career didn’t come on Preacher, but on Ennis’s Hellblazer (1992-1994), which is an amazing run of stories. Dillon was particularly good at drawing real people, whose gruffness hid their real emotions, which came out at infrequent but powerful times. He was less successful with actual superheroes, but he still was able to ground them in a way that not many artists could. Plus, he created Dogwelder, who is perhaps the greatest character in DC’s long history, so there’s that.

Raise a glass of lemonade to Dillon today!


  1. I was just sitting here at my desk in shock, thinking we should put something up, but frankly I was still at the FUCK 2016 HAS BEEN BRUTAL stage of grief.

    I was never a big PREACHER fan but I loved Dillon’s work on HELLBLAZER too, again, for the same reason: the humanity he gave everyone. He had a sort of early-undergrounds thing going on, like Sheridan and even a little bit of Crumb the way he rendered things, he gave everything that great texture and weight. It was like nothing else anyone at DC or Marvel was doing.

  2. Louis Bright-Raven

    His Hellblazer work was all I really was into, but Steve contributed so much more to the industry over the years. Reputedly he had been ill for quite some time so as jarring as it is it wasn’t completely unexpected, but it’s still sad to see a good chap like him pass on early.

  3. Simon

    Untimely, as too often for comics creators. On seeing a photo of him last year, I remember thinking he looked like someone who fights cancer and knows it? After the untimely death of Coil singer John Balance (1962–2004), they played his song “Fire of the Mind”:

    “Does death come alone
    “Or with eager reinforcements?

    “Death is centrifugal
    “Solar and logical
    “Decadent and symmetrical
    “Angels are mathematical
    “Angels are bestial
    “Man is the animal…

    “The blacker the sun
    “The darker the dawn

    “Flashes from the axis
    “On the hummingway to the stars

    “Holy holy
    “Holy holy
    “Holy oh holy”

    – “according to his brother, Glyn”

    Keeping up the Dillon fire with his great graphic novel, THE NAO OF BROWN.

    – “Raise a glass of lemonade to Dillon today!”

    Getting lemons don’t mean we can’t raise a pint of brew!

    1. Simon

      – “Raise a glass of lemonade to Dillon today!”

      P.S.: I had wondered whether “lemonade” was what the Guiness-drinking Dillon may have called U.S. beer… but I’ve now read at BC about his going “teetotal” and his “glass of lemonade”. (Sorry, but that ref was as impenetrable to me as a Disney-Warner comic, Greg! Though I understand your not dwelling on it, I appreciate Rich’s tactful candidness.)

      Make mine a lemonade shandy!

      1. Greg Burgas

        Simon: I’ve been super-busy over the past few days, so I didn’t get a chance to respond to you, but yeah, I read (I think on BC first, but there and a few other places) that Dillon had quit drinking the past few years, which is why the lemonade!

  4. John King

    I first encountered Dillon’s work as he emerged in 1979 working for Marvel UK drawing Nick Fury in Hulk comic and a Cyberman story in Dr Who Weekly
    The Nick Fury was okay (especially for a 16-year old who had just started in comics) but was no indication to how good he would get in the 80s
    He did good work on 2000AD on Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper and other series
    Plus Laser Eraser and Pressbutton for Warrior

    In the 90s onwards he was doing great work in American comics
    he will be missed

    I hadn’t realised he had created Dog-Welder – so now I know the answer to “Who?”
    I still don’t know the answers to “What?”, “How?” or “Why?”

  5. Jeff Nettleton

    Laser Eraser and Pressbutton would have been my intro, plus Rogue Trooper. Never got into Preacher. 54 is way to young, especially when I am looking at 50, in 3 weeks.


  6. DAMN. That’s…phew. Has there been any goddamn ray of hope in this lousy year? Fuck.

    I always liked his stuff, but he was definitely ill-suited for superheroes. I hope they at least paid the bills.

    I wish he’d gone ahead with Ennis and done City Lights like they’d promised back in ’03 or so. Sigh.

  7. John King

    adding to my earlier comment
    the Dr Who back-ups beginning November 1979 were where his style first shone.
    (I don’t believe it is accurate to say he was influential before that)
    the stories introduced popular characters such as Kroton (the cyberman with a soul) and Abslom Daak, dalek-killer (whose image briefly appeared in one episode of the TV show).

    after that he went off to 2000AD and turned Judge Dredd into a werewolf.
    His Rogue Trooper work (including Cinabar) was noteworthy
    as was the debut of Tyranny Rex

    Laser Eraser/Pressbutton stories were his first that were published in America without first neing printed in the UK as Warrior had ended mid-story and the 3D special contained a new story.

    His first published Punisher image was (probably) the cover of a 1982 British Spiderman special which was reprinting Amazing Spiderman annual 15

    in the 90s he started work for DC’s vertigo line on Animal Man before moving to Hellblazer and later Preacher

  8. tomfitz1

    Well, damn. Another fine artist has been taken from us.

    I have long enjoyed his works that was associated with long-time collaborator, Garth Ennis. As well as with Jason Aaron.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to read his current series with Becky Cloonan, which is something I’ll have to rectify soon.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if AMC and the showrunners of the tv series PREACHER acknowledged Mr. Dillon’s passing at the end of the second season premiere.

    He will long be missed.

  9. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

    Fuck 2016.

    We just lost of the few artists who could make it a competition with Darwyn for the biggest loss to the medium this year.

    For all the “same face” criticism rendered unto Dillon, no two faces he drew have had the same expression.

    The man was absolutely masterful in his ability to have his characters “act.”

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