We Found It On Streaming: DAVE STEVENS: DRAWN TO PERFECTION (2022)

Dave Stevens
Image via Samuel Goldwyn Films

You know the film. It’s a film you have never heard of. The cast might be composed of actors you know and love or complete unknowns. A documentary that sounds interesting about a topic you might like. You stumble across it on streaming and wonder if it will be worth two hours of your time. This series will be devoted to reviewing films like these, the strange items that pop up when you are looking for a flick on the streaming service of your choice. This is “We Found It On Streaming

Dave Stevens Drawn to Perfection poster
Image via Samuel Goldwyn Films

FILM: Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection

Release Date: December 2, 2022

Run Time: 99 Minutes.

Streaming Service(s): Amazon Prime Video, Tubi, Pluto TV

Rating: Not Rated 

The hottest thing in comic book collecting as I write this is Dave Stevens. If Stevens provided art for a cover of a comic, a pin-up in its pages or a story inside it, the comic will go for top dollar, much more than the same item would go for a few years ago.

The reason for the price increase? Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection, a lovingly made documentary on the legendary comic book artist that was made in 2022 and introduced him to a new legion of fans.

Some of you non-comic book literate fans might be familiar with Stevens as the creator of the Rocketeer, the character that was adapted into the 1991 Disney film The Rocketeer. But Stevens career inside and out of comics goes far beyond his most famous creation. His art has graced comics strips, cartoons, film storyboards, fine art pieces. and advertising art. He was the prominent “good girl” artist of his era, earning comparisons to talent like Alberto Vargas and George Petty. He helped rediscover famous pin-up model Bettie Page and even took care of her in her old age.  Even if you were familiar with Stevens going into this documentary, you are bound to find out something new that you haven’t learned before. The documentary traces his life from his birth in 1955 to his untimely death from blood cancer in 2008.

Michael Kaluta
Image via Samuel Goldwyn Films

Documentaries like this live and die by the talking heads they have talking about the subject of the doc. This one knocks it out of park in that regard. The filmmakers tap Stevens’ friends, contemporaries and artists he influenced. These people just happened to be the most legendary names in all the various and sundry industries Stevens worked in. Names the like of William Stout, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Jaime Hernandez, Adam Hughes and Jim Silke, with legends Harlan Ellison and Bernie Wrightson adding their two cents in archival footage.  Nothing sells the fact that Stevens was a legend in his field when it is other legends in the field telling you that.

If there is a flaw to be found in the film, and it’s not really a flaw, per se, but rather an issue of personal reference, but the film moves really quick, especially in the beginning. It’s not that we are missing any part of the story. The film covers just about everything you need to know about Dave Stevens. But it does it with a ruthless efficiency. And there are parts of Stevens’ life that I wish the spent a little more time on.

For example, Stevens worked as a storyboard artist on Raiders of the Lost Ark. The film devotes about a minute to this, including relating a juicy anecdote about how George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were having a difference of opinion about the amount of detail–and time–Stevens was putting into his storyboards. It’s a great story, and a whole documentary could be written about that part, but I wish I knew more about the entire experience. But in the economy of trying to cover Stevens’ 52 years in the span of 99 minutes, that little segment was all we got. Like I said, it doesn’t make it a bad film, just an at times slightly disappointing one for me.

Thomas Jane Dave Stevens
Image via Samuel Goldwyn films

But the film does do a good job of telling us who Dave Stevens the man was. All those legendary names up above aren’t in the documentary to add star power. They all knew Dave Stevens, worked with him, and loved him as a friend. Their remembrances are warm and loving, and you often feel like you are sitting at a communal dinner table listening to them talk about their old friend.

This does make the period when they are talking about Stevens’ illness an emotional viewing experience. If you don’t get a little bit misty eyed during this segment, you might have to see a cardiologist to see if your heart is working correctly. I was moved, and it really drove home the point of what a legend we lost on that day.

Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection is a well-done portrait of one of the greatest artists to ever grace the comic book page. Not just that, it is a glimpse of a kind man told by the people who loved him. The documentary has already raised Stevens’ profile among the comic community that did not know him. Hopefully, it could also do that with the rest of the world.

Have you found a film on streaming that you’d like us to look at? Leave it in the comments and it might appear in a future installment of this feature. 

Avatar für Bill Gatevackes
About Bill Gatevackes 2040 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.
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