Over the weekend, the news broke that comic book artist Steve Dillon passed away.
I never met the man, nor exchanged words. We didn’t know each other at all, but he influenced the path of my life like few others have.
I read comics as a kid. GI Joe was the big one for me, but I eventually branched out into superhero books like Spider-Man and X-Men, and then the Image revolution hit and I got into everything that had the Image ‘I’ on it.
But as I got older, I started to fall out of love with comics. The same old superhero books just weren’t doing it for me. I still picked up Wizard magazine each month though, just to see what was going on in the industry. And around late 1995, early 1996, I remember starting to see a lot of stuff about this comic called Preacher. Wizard was all over it, how crazy it was, how different, how dangerous.
I remember going to the comic store near my house and picking up Preacher issue 6.
That’s the one, there. And goddamn, I was hooked.
I’d never read anything like Preacher. It was smart, and funny, and scary, and disturbing, and foul and genuine and adult. It was unlike anything I’d ever read before. And it opened my eyes to the true possibilities of comic books. You didn’t have to do superheroes. You didn’t have to recycle old stories over and over. You could create something new, something grown-up. You could do anything you wanted, tell any kind of story you had locked away in your head.
And it made me want to write. Before this, I’d wanted to illustrate comics, but after Preacher, I realized you could write anything. It was a truly freeing and moving experience and it set me on a path that would, for all intents and purposes, dominate the rest of my life.
I love to write. I love to write comics. I love to create. And a lot of that comes from my experience reading Preacher. And half of that credit goes to the dearly-departed Steve Dillon, a man I never knew and will never know, but a man who’s legacy is that he inspired me, and probably thousands of others, to create, to run with that crazy idea, to make that thing a reality – because you could.
Rest in peace, Mr. Dillon. You’ve most definitely earned it.