In Review: The Steve Dillon Exhibition at Lawless

James Bacon stepped away from the main events of last weekend’s popular Lawless convention in Bristol to check out a very special temporary exhibition…

A wonderful and thoughtful selection of incredible art, it really was so delightful to get the opportunity to see original Steve Dillon art at Lawless this year, and speak with Steve’s family, who really are sharing an incredible legacy with fans as they work to bring his work to conventions and galleries.

I was surprised by the first piece I saw, from Marvel UK’s Hulk Weekly, a page of the short-lived original “Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D” strip, some of Steve’s earliest work, grouped with some Doctor Who drawings. Steve’s distinctive drawing style is there to be seen from the get go: the eyes, faces, clarity of line and action, all visible in this early page.

This display included early work by Steve Dillon – a page of “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.“, from Hulk Weekly, Doctor Who, and more. Steve once drew a page of “Nick Fury” leaning on his fridge, while Paul Neary waited for it, to meet a deadline…

It was followed by more exhibits, representing Steve’s art across several decades.

The pieces were grouped nicely, allowing one to see a full episode of “Emerald Isle” – six pages in all, along with the cover for 2000AD Prog 727, featuring Judge Dredd and Judge Joyce.

With this were some classic covers, Maximan on the cover of Prog 558, a cover for “Cry of the Werewolf”, the cover of 702 with Yassa on the cover, the fallout from the Necropolis event reverberating still in the stories.

We were also treated to two pages of Preacher; the first, the one where Genesis enters Reverend Custer while presenting his Sermon, and connects to his soul with a release of lightening It’s an iconic moment in the story.

With this is a fabulous page of Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip in a diner, being the wonderful characters that they are. These two pages were set either side of a promotional piece with the three main characters, and one really got the feeling for the story.

We were also treated to the cover of the Warrior Summer Special, featuring Marvelman, Laser Eraser, Axel Press Button and V for Vendetta; as well as pages from “Absolm Daak – Dalek Killer”, from Doctor Who Weekly, and two really strong splash pages of John Constantine, Hellblazer.

Two pages from the second series of “Abslom Daak – Dalek Killer” story to feature in Doctor Who Weekly, and two Hellblazer artworks for DC Comics by Steve Dillon. Photo: James Bacon
Various Steve Dillon artworks at Lawless 2023, including a cover for Warrior. Photo: James Bacon

The Hulk and The Thing fighting was quite an image, too, along with art featuring Marvel’s The Punisher, Spider-man, Deadpool, Storm, Wolverine, and more. It really was quite impressive to see these rarities, and the stunningly good quality of the work.

Various Marvel Comics work by Steve Dillon. Photo: James Bacon

Steve’s family have some amazing pages, really iconic and singularly brilliant pages, and it is a joy to see them. I was just so pleased to see the breath of the selection.

There is quite the interest in Rogue Trooper at the moment. Garth Ennis began a 13-episode run in April this year in 2000AD, entitled “Blighty Valley“, and it is truly wonderful, and is proving very popular. Patrick Goddard, who is on art duties, was busy all day at Lawless, drawing Rogue sketches for fans, and I know that his artwork for this series is very popular.

With Dave Gibbons, Mick McMahon, Chris Weston, Henry Flint and Paddy on a Rogue Trooper panel during the weekend, as well as other activities around the character, it was brilliant that Steve’s family had a large selection of “Rogue Trooper” art on display.

There were five original pages of “Rogue Trooper”, as well as an unexpected full colour pin-up of Rogue and the cover for Prog 598, beautifully tying in with the convention, and reminding us of just how dynamic and skilful Steve was.

As if this wasn’t enough, there was also the first page of “ABC Warriors – Red Planet Blues” from the 1985 2000AD annual, in its full glorious colour. We see Hammerstien, contemplating the melancholy of the planet, and the depression that humans suffer, and attesting that as a Robot he doesn’t feel that, yet the narrative and imagery stop the reader, as we see Alan Moore and Steve Dillon bring a simple story brilliantly to the page, in vivid colour and thoughtful rendition.

“A.B.C. Warriors – Red Planet Blues”, art by Steve Dillon. Photo: James Bacon

If this page wasn’t enough, there was then a huge “Judge Dredd – Block Mania” double page spread, classic Judge Dredd and classic Steve Dillon.

James Bacon with members of artist Steve Dillon’s family at the exhibition of art at Lawless 2023

This is such a very kind undertaking by the family, and Tanya and Mark, and Emma and Jamie were delightful in their welcome, and so happy to hear memories and moments of Steve. You could see the impact it was having on fans at Lawless, all of whom seemed to have a Steve Dillon moment, or favourite character, or fond memory.

It is a powerful thing to do and wonderful to see this art and meet such a lovely group of people keeping the legend that is Steve Dillon in our minds and hearts.

James Bacon

In Memoriam: Comic Artist Steve Dillon, A True Legend of Comics

Read Garth Ennis tribute to Steve Dillon on downthetubes

Categories: 2000AD, Art and Illustration, British Comics, Comic Art, Comics, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions, Features, Other Worlds, Reviews

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