The man behind the hugely influential and popular Preacher comic book, which became an AMC series earlier this year, has sadly passed away. Artist Steve Dillon, who co-created Preacher, was 54 at the time of his death. No cause for his death has been announced at this time.
Steve Dillon was found dead in New York City early Saturday, it was confirmed by his brother. The man was known for his iconic collaborations with comic book writer Garth Ennis. Other legendary titles that he worked on include DC/Vertigo's Hellblazer, which became an NBC series in 2014, and Marvel's The Punisher, which is getting its own Netflix show in 2017. Preacher is being called his most seminal piece of work.
Dillon's brother Glyn confirmed the man's untimely passing on Saturday morning via Twitter. Steve was born in Luton England back in 1962, and he started his career in comics at a fairly young age, breaking into the business in 1980. His first job was providing art for the official Doctor Who comics. But it was in the pages of British comic anthology magazine 2000 A.D. that he really soared, gaining lots of attention for his unique and vibrant work.
Related: Preacher Renewed for Season 3 on AMC
Deadline notes that from 1981 to 1991, Steve Dillon worked on some of the most iconic titles in the 2000 A.D. line-up, including Rogue Trooper, Bad Company, and Judge Dredd, the last of which has seen two different movie versions starring Sylvester Stallone and Karl Urban.
Keven Dillon is considered one of Britain and Ireland's most prolific comic book artists, and he was recruited by DC Comics following Alan Moore's acclaimed release of Watchmen and his run on Swamp Thing. He is included in a group of luminaries that emerged at the time to change the comic book landscape forever, including fellow artists Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Glenn Fabry and Garth Ennis. They helped establish a more adult fan base amongst comic book readers, redefining a medium which was, at the time, considered juvenile in the States.
Steve Dillon's first work with DC Comics was the Skreemer miniseries, which hit newsstands in 1989. In 1990, he began a 15 issue run on the DC series Animal Man. And then in 1992, he paired with Ennis for the first time on Hellblazer. For two years, the duo collaborated on 24 issues, all of which are considered classics. This led directly into the creation of Preacher.
Before becoming an AMC drama, Preacher ran for 75 issues from 1995 to 2000. It was an instant hit amongst readers as it explored American pop culture while profanely blasting 'religious fundamentalism and governmental oppression, and celebrating outright blasphemy', as per Deadline. Preacher was known for tackling taboo subjects and is considered a 'button pusher' as it went about mining the decade's obsession with conspiracy theories.
Preacher featured the bright colorful art of Dillon matched by great scripts from Ennis, and it managed to spoof a number of what would be considered horrible atrocities. For years, many different filmmakers attempted to bring the comic book to the big screen, but failed. Finally this past year, Series creators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were able to figure out a way to make the title work as a TV series, collaborating alongside Sam Catlin. The pair paid tribute on Twitter earlier today after hearing the news of Steve Dillon's passing. Those statements are collected here along with words from some of the artist's other collaborators and friends.
Devastated by the loss of Steve Dillon. My favorite comic artist who drew my favorite comics. RIP.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 22, 2016
One of comics greatest artists, creator of Preacher Steve Dillon has passed away. I grew up worshipping his work. Still do. He'll be missed— Evan Goldberg (@evandgoldberg) October 22, 2016
Steve Dillon drew my first Marvel script:Thunderbolts 12. Couldn't believe it; Dillon out of the gate? Felt so incredibly LUCKY - and I was. pic.twitter.com/htN3C0luwD— Charles Soule (@CharlesSoule) October 22, 2016
Just heard about Steve Dillon. Enormous loss. One of the most gifted comic storytellers I've ever seen.— Kieron Gillen (@kierongillen) October 22, 2016
Worked with Steve Dillon on a single page of American Alien. Admired him for two decades before that. A genius has left us. RIP— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) October 22, 2016
He was the best. RIP Steve Dillon. https://t.co/mgjddaKz1F— Declan Shalvey (@declanshalvey) October 22, 2016
Steve Dillon was a master storyteller. PREACHER, PUNISHER, all of it done with so much exceptional skill + magic. We lost one of the greats.— Mitch Gerads (@MitchGerads) October 22, 2016
Oh no. Steve Dillon was a true legend of comics.— Sexy Jamie McKelvie (@McKelvie) October 22, 2016