The publishing history of the late Dave Stevens’ most famous creation almost takes longer to tell than it does to read, but even though the volume of the output is relatively small, its impact on the imaginations of its readers has been just the opposite.
The Rocketeer first appeared on an ad on the back of Pacific Comics’ Starslayer #1. The feature itself ran in Starslayer #2-3, and Pacific Presents #1-2 before Pacific went under.
The Rocketeer Special Edition #1, which had been intended to be Pacific Presents #5, was published by Eclipse, as was an album-format collected edition of those installments.
The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #1-2 were published by Comico, and then #3, the final issue, was published by Dark Horse Comics, which subsequently collected the three issues into the a second album-format graphic novel subtitled “Cliff’s New York Adventure.”
The story, of course, spawned the 1991 feature film and sparked the renewed interest in pin-up Bettie Page, but it became a cherished favorite of many of its readers.
For those who have never experienced it, the tale of pilot Cliff Secord and his friends is steeped in pulp and classic adventure strip style. It’s set in the rip-roaring 1930s, with aerial circuses, tough guys, heroes, Nazis, and more, including Cliff’s beautiful girlfriend, Betty.
The Rocketer: The Complete Adventures collects all of the previous installments in a single, hardcover volume. The work has been completely re-shot from Stevens’ original art pages, giving it the best reproduction it has ever had. The beautiful paper stock combined with all new coloring by Laura Martin, who Stevens picked before his untimely death due to Leukemia, makes the book a treasure that is hard to put down.
There are two editions, both in hardcover. The standard edition is beautiful .
The deluxe edition is simply dizzying. Larger and including more than 130 pages of supplemental material, it’s actually hard to describe how cool a package this slipcased version is. The extra contents include rough pages, earlier versions, revisions, script notes, cover roughs, interviews with various contributors, unused covers, and more. For Rocketeer fans, it’s not to be missed.
Bravo to editor Scott Dunbier and everyone at IDW Publishing for presenting this important portion of Dave Stevens’ legacy in such stunning fashion!