TURLOCK, Calif., March 31 (UPI) -- Comic book artist Dave Stevens, who created the character the Rocketeer, has died in Turlock, Calif., of complications from treatment for leukemia.
William Stout confirmed his friend's death at the age of 52 to The New York Times.
Stevens' love of the 1930s, early aviation, film hero Commando Cody and 1950s pinup model Bettie Page inspired him to created the Rocketeer and his world in 1982, Stout said.
Tom Spurgeon, a comic book critic, noted on his Web site comicsreporter.com that "Rocketeer proved to be one of the first sensations of the independent-comics movement."
Stevens, a Lynwood, Calif. native, began his career by contributing drawings to the program book for the San Diego Comic Convention. He got his first paying gig in 1975 as an assistant to artist Russ Manning, who penned the newspaper comic strip "Tarzan."
Stevens also worked on Hanna-Barbera's animated shows "Super Friends" and "Godzilla." In addition, he helped create the storyboards for the classic film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and Michael Jackson's groundbreaking "Thriller" music video, the Times said.
Stevens is survived by his mother, two sisters and a brother.