Marvel comic genius Steve Dillon from Luton - who worked on Judge Dredd and Preacher - celebrated in exhibition

The work of a celebrated Luton comic book artist, famous for his drawings on Judge Dredd and Preacher among other Marvel characters, is going on show in the town from Thursday.

By Lynn Hughes
Monday, 30th May 2022, 3:21 pm
Updated Monday, 30th May 2022, 3:21 pm
Comic book iconic artist Steve Dillon
Comic book iconic artist Steve Dillon

The Culture Trust Luton is hosting an exhibition of over 50 original works spanning four decades, by Steve Dillon, who died in 2016.

The oldest of three siblings, Dillon’s first success as a serious comic book artist came at Icknield High School, with the production of Ultimate Sci Fi Adventures comic book, with school friends Neil Bailey and Paul Mahon, aged just 14.

The exhibition shows some of his earliest works dating back to 1978, aged 16, drawing Nick Fury for Marvel UK’s Hulk Magazine. He went on to produce artwork for Dr Who Weekly, Wolverine: Origins and many more. He won ‘Best Artist Award’ at the National Comic Awards in both 1998 and 2002.

One of Steve's most memorable characters Judge Dredd

Dillon’s daughter-in-law Tanya said: “Steve would have agreed with Luton being described as a humble town, proud of its industrial roots. Most who knew him would believe the same of Steve, extremely humble and proud to be from Luton. Steve would rarely talk about himself and not many people actually knew how successful he was in the comic world.”

She continued: “Steve was a Luton Town Football fan, so sometimes he would hide subtle references to the club in his work, for example, on one of his “Punisher” pages, he had written “LTFC” in the graffiti on the walls - he was very proud to be from Luton.”

Steve Dillon has also left a legacy in Luton, Tanya explained, “When he passed away, Mark Rivers a good friend of his, was a local councillor at the time, managing a new housing development in the Round Green area. He dedicated two road names in Steve’s memory: Preacher Close (named after the show itself) and Cassidy Close (named after one of the main characters).”

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Steve’s talent for drawing compelling characters is evident in this breath-taking exhibition, his work has inspired comic readers, cosplay enthusiasts and Sci fi lovers all over the globe. For Dillon, the most important aspect of drawing, was the story itself and acting of the characters portrayed though detailed facial expressions and vivid scenes.

He also co-created Deadline Magazine, a platform for up-and-coming artists, to get recognition, and get published.

Local artist Karl Brown, who has pioneered the successful regular Drink and Draw events at the Hat Factory said: “Having the opportunity to see Steve Dillon’s work exhibited in Luton is truly something special. In 2014 I had the pleasure of meeting Steve in person, it was amazing to speak to him and get to know the Comic book legend. He gave me his advice and his time and through speaking to others who knew him in the town, it was clear he was a very much adored by all.”

Entry to the exhibition is free, but advance booking is required due to a limited number of tickets available for each time slot. Opens Thursday 2 June, 5pm ‘til 9pm as part of Hat District Lates, then every Thursday and Friday 5pm ‘til 9pm, and every Saturday 10am ‘til 2pm until Thursday 7 July. Book tickets online www.culturetrust.com or call the Box Office on 01582 878100.