Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dave Simons: 1954 - 2009

I hate this. Seriously I do. It's been no secret that Dave Simons has been seriously ill for a number of years now and it's with the heaviest heart of them all that I sadly have to report that Dave passed away tonight. He was 54 years old.

In his career Dave worked with some of the giants of animation and comic books. He was one of the best inkers to work with Gene Colan since Tom Palmer, a fact that Dave was damned happy to hear, especially when that praise came from Gene. He worked with Bob Budiansky on one of the best runs seen on Ghost Rider in the books life, and beyond. He worked with almost anyone you care to mention. His attention to detail and apparent inability to turn in a bad job held him in excellent stead and made him one of the go-to inkers of his generation. His generosity to others was known amongst his peers and there's several inkers and artists who'll happily tell you that Dave helped them along their way and gave them a start in their comic book careers.

Dave was a true visionary who never really got his due amongst the comic book buying public at large. Dave moved from comic books into animation and move through the ranks at a surprising speed into direction and production, along the way he was able to hire people he knew to be out of work and as such was able to provide an income for them. When the animation wound down Dave moved back to New York.

Dave was diagnosed with cancer a few years back and, Dave being Dave, told everyone who'd listen how he'd beaten it stone cold. Sadly that wasn't the truth and he emailed me earlier in the year to tell me some crushing news - the cancer was back, with a vengeance and the doctors had given him anywhere from six months to two years to live. Dave thought this was incorrect and decided to beat them at their own game, but, again Dave being Dave, he never once let on to anyone as to exactly how ill he really was.

Early this year Dave mixed his medication up and fell into a coma that he very nearly didn't recover from. This woke him up to an extent and he began to make moves as to what he was going to do next. He wanted to move out of where he was living and provide a better environment for both himself and his cat, Smokey. Again, Dave was thinking more of Smokey than himself, but Dave's heart was always strong and bigger than most. Ironically it wasn't the cancer that claimed Dave, he'd been fighting an infection that developed into pneumonia. Dave's immune system, already weakened by his constant battles, simply couldn't cope.

My own memories of Dave are varied. I won't post all of them here, as they're very personal at the moment. I contacted Dave in 2004 and interviewed him because I wanted to speak to the guy who made me happy as a lad reading Ghost Rider. Dave warned me that he wrote better than he spoke, but then said he wasn't all that interesting. Sure he wasn't. I later reconnected with him and began to assist him by buying his art and establishing his web-site, which he once said brought him a lot more money than he ever expected. Typical of Dave he never once accepted my offer to do his site out of love and insisted on sending me as many rejected commissions and preliminaries as he could stuff in a package. Working with Bob Shaw, we established the Dave Simons Appeal and it was through the generosity of the comic book community that Dave's last few months were as good as they were. Dave wasn't one to take all of this lying down and kept working on commissions right up to the end. That was Dave. He'd have hated to think that someone had ordered a commission from him and never gotten it. That was typical of Dave and his respect for being such a hard worker carried him through. Says Walter Simonson, "Dave was a good guy, a hard worker, a fine inker, and more than that, he was Inherently Notable! I’m delighted we had a chance to hang out a little at the last NYCC. We swapped sketchbooks, and I very much regret that we won’t be able to hang out and do the same thing the next time around. He’ll be missed."

I was honoured that Dave not only wanted me to write about him on his site, but also on other sites. Indeed we had just begun working on the story of his life and his last email to me was to pass on a lot of names and suggestions. His energy was infectious and we'd also started working on a project that we'd both developed called Donna Thyme - Dave had done the illos and we'd bashed out the concept together. He wanted a script before the end of June so he could start pencilling.

Our last great battle was with the Wikipedia people. Dave asked me to get him onto that site, being the self-promoter that he was. I did so only to see the entry removed as they deemed Dave not to be 'inherently notable'. That fired me up and, fueled by Dave who watched on with a large sense of amusing, although he exhibited public outrage, we got both the Wiki entry up, with assistance from Michael Netzer, and began the Dave Simons Appreciation Society on Facebook. Dave was so tickled that he began to use the term 'Inherently Notable' in everything that he did, although he'd not admit it.


In my last interview with Dave I asked him what his perfect comic book would have looked like. His reply, "Conan The Barbarian. Figures by John Buscema, backgrounds by Barry Smith, costumes by Steranko and the whole thing inked by Wally Wood. Written by Roy Thomas, of course. Wouldn't that have been great?" Like anything that Dave did the answer was yes...

I'll miss Dave...I'll miss his laughter, his joy, his light and his sheer energy. Nothing got Dave down, even at his lowest moments he never showed it. And I know, I spoke to him at his lowest moments.

As time passes and arrangements are made, details will be posted on this blog. In the meantime, if you have a message that you'd like passed on to Dave's family, or a memory, or a tribute that you'd like to make public then feel free to email me and I'll be sure to get it into the right hands.

For now I'll leave the last words to a person who knew and worked with Dave since the 1970s. Says Gene Colan, "Dave was a young man full of life. I was on the phone with him the night before last. His voice was very weak and he mentioned he might go down to Tennessee and be with his Sister. I strongly encouraged him.

"In all the decades I've known Dave and worked with him, he never complained once. Never...about anything. Even with last year's diagnosis, he remained spirited and helpful to his fellow artists, me among them! Adrienne and I loved Dave's art. He had a thorough understanding of pen and ink. There was a joy in his art that beautifully transferred to the board.

"We're very very sad and will miss Dave deeply. I need to believe in Heaven. Perhaps we get all the art assignments we want, with no deadlines and anything we decide to draw is received with joy and celebration. A 'bullpen' where all we do is clown around and draw what we want. I think Dave would love that!"

31 comments:

Richard Oh said...

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of this legend, and even sorrier I never got the chance to meet him. My condolences to all his friends and family during this difficult time.

Joe Rubenstein said...

Dave Simons had a harder life than most of us. Without getting too much into his personal business, Dave had the kind of stress for decades in his personal life(compounding of course the stress of trying to make a living as a commercial artist) that would have broken most of us, or at the very least would make a person lay down in a fetal position and just give up. But he never stopped just being a nice guy. The life BS never turned him bitter,amazingly enough. When I think of Dave I always see unfortunately the cigarettes that probably killed him (accelerated by the stress) and that always easy to get shit eating grin that wrapped clear around his head.

Twobyfour said...

Dave was a more than a great inker, he was a wonderful person. I'm amazed at the strength of people who manage to keep on fighting especially when the odds seem against them. Dave will stand as an example of life worth living and worth fighting for.

Tim said...

That's really too bad. Like Dave, I am a veteran of the US Coast Guard, and struck up an email accuaintence with him based on that and our mutual love of comics. He will be missed.

Peter Ward said...

I am so very sad to hear this news. I am thankful that I was blessed enough to be able to get a few lovely pieces of Dave's work. He was a favourite of mine from day's gone by and I will always look upon his sketches fondly. He join's a great bullpen in the sky where he'll be able to draw all day and talk all night with his fellow comic creators. God Bless Dave, and rest easy.

CLIFFORD METH said...

I'm sorry, Danny. I know how hard you worked to help Dave. We're here to help each other get through this thing--whatever it is...and you did. Take solace in that.

bimjales said...

I had the good fortune to stay with Dave at his beloved studio on Bethune Street in the Village for
6 weeks while I was studying in Manhatten. I had known Dave from Los Angles where we became friends in the early 90's.
That studio was his world and oh how he loved it. So many memories and such views out the windows.
It should have a placard on the door to his apartment as a memorial to a great artist that worked on many masterpeices within.
I look forward to finding Dave again one day.
Thankyou for this excellent tribute to Dave Simons

Gerry said...

Having known Dave for 27 years made him more than just another professional associate. He was a great guy. And I loved to make him crack up about something. He had this unique laugh and amiable disposition. I must credit him for paving the way for my entry into the professional realm of comics. He hired me to assist him on backgrounds for the original Ghost Rider series. Since then our careers often meshed as we both worked in some of the same animation studios and comics together. Dave knew a lot about a lot of things. We were never at a loss about any subject matter to gab about. I could never understand why he didn't treat himself better than he did. He owed it to himself. He deserved better. Much better. He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Dave Simons.

Jubb3500 said...

Thanks for the kind words about Dave and all the help you've been to him over the last few years, Danny.

I was fortunate enough to know and work with Dave extensively in the animation industry beginning in the later 80's and continuing up to last year.

And whenever I needed an inker for comics work, or presentation or advertising, Dave was the MAN. As an inker, he really was a full collaborator, making my pencils look much better then they were. If the budget was big, he gave it his best. If it was small, he still gave it his best.

And his best was...gorgeous. It felt like I was working with Wally Wood at his peak in the late 50's.

And always with that mischevious grin and that damned cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Dave was unique. Salty, spirited and very "old school", East Coast.

I'll miss him.

fullbodytransplant said...

He will be sorely missed, and his work will live forever.

Joe Jusko said...

I posted this over on THE BEAT but thought it appropriate to post it here, too;

When I was in high school back around 1976 I worked at Black Star Comics on Manhattan’s lower east side. There was guy with a buzz cut who would always stop in dressed in his Coast Guard whites, talking about how he wanted to work in comics. He was a really nice guy with a very unique laugh (those who knew him will know what I mean) and we spent a lot of time talking about our mutual desire to break into the industry. Flash forward some years later; I’m up at the Marvel offices and from behind me I heard that unmistakable laugh and spun around to see a guy I had never seen before. The sailor now had jet black wavy hair, an earring and was all decked out in black leather, looking every bit of 1982! It took a few seconds to remind him where we had met and we had a good laugh over the fact that we were both now standing in the Marvel offices! I only ran into Dave sporadically over the years but we always had the memory of that old comic store to bind us. I wish him well on his journey.

Rafael Ruiz-Dávila "Fali" said...

Adiós a una de las grandes leyendas del cómic, cada vez quedan menos y los más grandes se van. El mundo del cómic y el arte llorarán esta pérdida durante mucho tiempo.

D.E.P

Anonymous said...

This is very sad news. I am going to pull out some of his comics and relive some good memories.
George "The Stooges"

Anonymous said...

I only knew Dave through Facebook for several months but he was a deceny guy who replied to any comments/chat.

I was impressed with his Ash/Evil Dead covers and have to admit it wasn't until this point that I'd heard of Dave.

R.I.P. my friend

Anonymous said...

Here's to a great artist and a great friend. Let's not leave out his wicked sense of humor.

I feel like a piece of my heart has been torn off.

Dave is a giant and he lives on. We'll see you again!

Barbara said...

Dave was the first person I met when I moved to New York. He was a young punker kid with a lot of great energy. His insight and good sense gave me the information I needed to live safely in NYC for many years to come. We only recently reconnected through Face Book. It is wonderful to know that my guardian angel was loved by so many people.

Anonymous said...

He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.

You will be missed, Dave. God Bless.

Randy Belaire

Borderkingdom said...

Here’s to Dave Simons, friend to imagination and creativity, all around good guy, and an inherently notable person (at least in my world), for the last 20+ years.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about this. He was a very cool guy. On the other hand, I'm also glad that he's no longer suffering (I know he was having some serious health issues). I remember seeing his work when I was growing up in the 1970's and saying to myself, "I wish I could do that". Now I am, and it's because of great artists, illustrators & "dream-makers" like him who have laid out the path before us to inspire the new breed...

Rest In Peace Dave. You will be missed & are very loved. And I know you're carrying that with you now for always...

Michael Tierney said...

This is sad news.

Because he was so well respected as a fine inker, one thing that gets overlooked about Dave Simons' artistic talents is that he was also a skilled penciller.
Dave provided the pencils for the majority of the graphic novel Wild Stars: The Book of Circles -- Recalibrated, and the new 25th Edition features brand new artwork by Dave.


Much of the work he'd produced for Wild Stars was absolutely brilliant, with excellent panel arrangement skills that he'd refined from his years of animation storyboarding, and his spotting of the solid blacks gave his illustrations weight and definition that made them spring off the page. He deftly handled challenging scripts that featured a wide cast of characters, constant scene changes, and transitions.

Dave Simons was massively under-rated as a comics illustrator, a good guy, and a friend.

He will be missed.

Michael Tierney -- Little Rocket Publications

Spunky said...

Dave was great and a great talent. He will surly be missed.Condolances to his loved ones.
Richard A. Scott

Steve Ringgenberg said...

I didn't know Dave as well as I would have liked, but I remember him as a nice guy, one of the few nice people I met in the 80s who were associated with Marvel. Dave was a just an unpretentious nice guy who was fun to hang out with or to talk to at parties. Still, I'll miss him.

Steve Ringgenberg

Jerry said...

Dave, we didn't know each other very long, but I'm going to miss seeing you on my facebook and talking with you.I hope you are now pain free and with your other loved ones. We'll all miss you. Sorry, but I just had to say goodbye again

BRIAN POSTMAN said...

even though i met dave about 4-5? years ago,i remember him from the marvel offices in 1982-83,when he was doing ghost rider....he was dressing "punk rock" in those days,and he'd always have that big smile when i saw him up there.i formally met him through gerry acerno about 5 years ago,and worked with him and gerry on a "biker mice" animation storyboard at his loft in the village,and a couple of other things...he was always a friendly guy,never said a bad word about anyone...i'll miss him.....best,brian....

Tom said...

I remember talking to David about a trip I was planning to San Diego and he said "Oh, you're going to the Con" meaning the Comic Book Convention. The comics were not only his vocation, Dave made it a lifestyle. I'll remember him sauntering down the street, hat tilted at a rakish angle - he was an original character in his own mag and he'll be missed.
- Tom Jacoby

Revangel said...

Unfortunately I have met Dave Simons just online on Facebook...but he immediately seemed a real friend with his precious suggestions about the american company, market and style in comics industry.

He was a GREAT artist and a REAL special guy.

- Alessandro Borroni

Mark Landgraf said...

I first met Dave in the late 70's while visiting my brother Ken at the 21st Street Studio. I recall walking 'round Greenwich Village with Dave talking comics, swaping life stories & so forth. Dave even took me up to the Sciencetology Headquarters to check it out. I will miss Dave...a Great Artist and Person. Hopefully, we will all met up with Dave again in the Golden Kingdom.

HoldyourfireAl said...

Dave Simmons was the inker of Ghost Rider during my favorite run on the series. He also pencilled & inked the one really good issue of Team America. I was fortunate enough to not only witness him getting reaquinted with Ghost Rider penciller, Bob Budiansky at Feburary's NY Comic Con, but I was also able to shake his hand, tell him how much his work had meant to me & I wished him luck in his battle with cancer.



It kinda hit home with me, as my best friend, who is only 41 has cancer as well & now it looks like Dave died of cancer at the same age as my Pops.

Because of Dave, I have started two sections on my site, www.statuemarvels.com...one to honor the great creators who have left us & another to help out creators that are in need.

Thank you, Dave, for some of the best comic book memories of my childhood.

Al

Geof Isherwood said...

I met Dave back in '83 when I was starting out. We met in Larry Hama's office, when he was editing the Conan titles, and I wound up inking an issue of Conan the King over Dave. It was fun, with a quirky girl sorceress that I'm sure Dave designed that way. He had a Wally Wood sensibility, but with a humorous element that brought the ultra-serious barbarian title down to earth. I did correspond with him via email the last couple of years, and am sad to hear he didn't make it past this bout with pneumonia. I had an uncle who just died a month ago with the same thing. my wife Sonja is also battling recurrent cancer now, and has the same attitude Dave did, that it will not claim her. There's too much of this big C around, too much stress upon peoples' systems.

I raise my hat to Dave, and hope his example continues to enthuse others in their art and in their relations with others.

Bob Budiansky said...

I have to speak about Dave mostly from a purely selfish point of view. In all my years in comics, it was only during my collaboration with Dave on Ghost Rider that I realized--in retrospect--the artistic heights that could be accomplished in comic book art, at least when I was the penciller. Dave threw himself into the work with such spirit and abandon that I couldn't wait to see what he would turn in for the next issue. I learned an awful lot just examining how he interpreted and inked the pencils I gave him. When he left the book, I missed his contribution every day for the rest of my run, and never failed to remind him of that whenever I would see him at the Marvel offices. Recently, I had the good fortune to run into him again after many, many years. It was nice to get reacquainted, and we even had the opportunity to collaborate on an art commission. And we talked about the possibility of doing other work together. I'm glad we were at least able to do that one piece; Dave did a great job on it. Dave was a true professional, a dedicated artist, and I feel lucky to have known him both professionally and personally. And I'm really sorry that he's gone at such a young age, and saddened that, after all those years we lost touch, the time since we reconnected has been cut so short.

Bette Simons said...

Dave was my only brother and he was also my very dear friend. He called me his "baby sister". I adored that.

I visited with him during the last week of April this year. I am grateful for the time that we were able to spend together just enjoying life and having fun in the city. Dave loved NY and knew so much about the history and loved sharing his knowledge. As we strolled around the village he would point out buildings and just start spewing information about what it was and how it had changed from it's original state.

I could go on and on because I have so many stories and memories.

My heart is heavy and the tears fall uncontrollably at times but I am eternally thankful for all of the wonderful people that surrounded Dave. I want to thank each and every one of you for all of the beautiful posts, condolences and comments.

Dave will live forever in my heart and in the hearts of all of the people that knew and loved him. His incredible art is his legacy but beyond that is will be his kind demeanor, generous soul, contagious laugh and infectious spirit.

Rest in peace, Dave. I love you.
Your baby sister.