The comic book world lost a titan today. Steve Dillon has passed away. He was 53 years old. No details of his death are available at this time.
Dillon was a true comic fan from early on, scoring his first gig at 16 years old. He illustrated the title story for the initial issue of Hulk Weekly. From there, he went on to help define the iconic British sci-fi magazine 2000 AD. It would be his eventual pairing with Garth Ennis that would bring his work into the mainstream with their collaboration on Hellblazer. However, it would be a later project that would turn Steve Dillon into one of the greats.
Ennis and Dillon created Preacher, a hard-hitting black comedy/supernatural action book that would become one of the most pivotal graphic stories of the ’90s. The recent AMC television adaptation has brought Preacher back into the spotlight. That’s great because the book should be mandatory reading for any self-described comic fan.
Dillon would continue to carve out influential work thanks to his further collaboration with Ennis on Marvel’s Punisher character. The 2000 story arc “Welcome Back, Frank” is heralded as the storyline that revitalized Frank Castle for a new generation. Large chunks of that story were lifted for the 2004 film, The Punisher. Dillon would also conclude another Punisher series, Punisher MAX, with writer Jason Aaron. Recently, he contributed to one of the best Superman stories of all time, Max Landis’s American Alien.
The lasting influence of Steve Dillon will is never going to leave the world of comics. New comic fans will continue to discover his groundbreaking work. Thankfully, there are plenty of titles out there to introduce to new readers. If you start anywhere, start with Preacher. That book is necessary. If anything positive can come out of this tragic news, it should be that more people read Preacher. Dillon’s artwork helped shaped characters that are immortal. In that way, Steve Dillon will outlive all of us.