I love Dave Stevens.
He is one of the best artists/creators that the comic book industry has ever seen. He has also had a heck of a career in other fields (storyboard artist/ animator amongst others.) He shined no matter where his artistic pursuits took him.
His love for his work showed in everything he created.
My first introduction to Dave Steven’s work came in the form of the 1991 Disney film of his comic work, The Rocketeer.
Directed by Joe Johnson and written by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo. That film captured my 14-year-old imagination in a way I couldn’t explain.
I went and tracked down the comic books from which the film were based on. That’s when I fell in love with Dave Stevens and the work he created.
I followed his work everywhere. His work was amazing, flawless, impeccable, no matter what he was creating.
At the very first San Diego Comic Con I ever attended, I even got a chance to meet Dave, very briefly. Sadly, it was the last San Diego Comic Con at which he was a guest.
Dave died on March 11, 2008 of Uncommon Hairy Cell leukemia. He was 52 years old. After his passing, I did a lot of reading into Dave’s life, hoping for a comprehensive biography.
One came in the form of the biography of Brush With Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens. It’s great book, but it left me with even more curious about his life and work.
Luckily, documentary filmmaker Kelvin Mao has created this unbelievably comprehensive documentary about Stevens.
Let me be clear when I say this: this is a definitive documentary. The 35 interviewees knew Dave personally. We get everyone from ex-wifeBrinke Stevens to Bruce Timm to Thomas Jane and more. Each of them share their stories about Dave, some of which we have been privy to before, but there are gems that we haven’t heard. They are all well informed, funny and even sweet.
We get to see what Dave was like as he was growing up. We also see what life was like for him as he was just starting out as an artist. There is plenty of archival footage of Dave to be found in this film, a lot of which I personally hadn’t seen before.
The film also guides us from Dave’s perspective as the production of The Rocketeer feature film was taking shape. It takes us through the production and shows us just how involved Dave was in the making of the film. It’s a magnificent section.
We also follow the film as Dave’s health was on the decline. This part is extremely moving as the viewer can clearly see just how many lives he impacted, and in such a positive way. By the end of the film, you have a clear and concise idea of who not only Dave Stevens was as an artist but also as a human being.
Drawn to Perfection ranks amongst the best documentaries ever produced about an icon in the comic book community. It is a well observed documentary from start to finish and I cannot recommend it enough. I love Dave Stevens. I am happy this film exists, not just as a documentary of who he was, but as a celebration of his life.
* * * * *
Produced by Rob Chatlin and Kelvin Mao
Directed by Kelvin Mao
Featuring Jennifer Bawcum, Danny Bilson, Bob Chapman, Geof Darrow,
Olivia De Berardinis, Chris Donio, Scott Dunbier, Jackie Estrada, Mark Evanier,
Nathan Fowkes, Thomas Jane, Jaime Hernandez, Richard Hescox, Jessie Horsting,
Adam Hughes, Joe Johnston, Michael William Kaluta, John Koukoutsakis,
Riki LeCotey, Jewel Shepard, David Mandel, Kelvin Mao, Laura Martin,
Glen Murakami, Maria Laura Sanapo, Bob Schreck, Billy Campbell