I was reminded by Facebook that today, May 14th, would have been the birthday of artist Dave Hoover. Tragically, Hoover passed away on September 4, 2011 at the much too young age of 56. I was always a fan of his artwork, and so I wanted to write a few words to remember this talented individual.
Hoover, who came from an animation background, entered the comic book field in 1987. One of his first assignments was for DC Comics, where he penciled Wanderers, a spin-off from Legion of Super-Heroes written by Doug Moench which lasted 13 issues. After that, Hoover had a year-long run on Starman, paired with writer Len Strazewski.
Moving over to Marvel in the early 1990s, the character who Hoover probably became most identified with was Captain America. He penciled the Star-Spangled Avenger’s monthly title for a year and a half, drawing Mark Gruenwald’s final stories on the title. Unfortunately, I think that Gruenwald, after nearly a decade on the book, was running out of steam at this point in time, and these issues are not generally well regarded. Nevertheless, Hoover’s art on these was certainly good. Hoover also drew Cap in the pages of a four issue Invaders miniseries. This was an exciting World War II adventure penned by original Invaders scribe Roy Thomas, and Hoover’s artwork was a perfect match for it.
While at Marvel, Hoover also drew the Night Thrasher: Four Control miniseries, as well as numerous fill-in stories. He worked on issues of Wolverine, Punisher, Quasar, and Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, plus stories featuring She-Hulk and Iron Fist in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents. In an animation-inspired style, he was the penciler on several issues of Uncanny Origins, wherein he got to recount the early histories of several of the X-Men.
One of my favorite issues penciled by Hoover was Excalibur #40, “The Trial of Lockheed.” Writer Scott Lobdell revealed the previously untold origin of Kitty Pryde’s little purple alien dragon. Hoover’s art style was perfectly suited for this whimsical story.
After the comic book industry had its major downturn in the mid-1990s, Hoover returned to the animation field. He still occasionally worked on comic book material, such as “The Parchment of Her Flesh,” a story that appeared in the fantasy anthology The Forbidden Book, published in 2001 by Renaissance Press. Hoover also drew a number of illustrations inspired by the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
In the mid 2000s, Hoover very effectively remade himself as a “good girl artist,” drawing numerous cute, sexy illustrations of women which he posted in his gallery on Comic Art Fans. I really enjoyed his work in this vein. Unlike a lot of “bad girl” artists, Hoover drew beautiful females in a tasteful manner. There was a charming playfulness to his pin-up drawings.
Along those lines, Hoover was the artist on the first few issues of a comic book based on the Charmed television series that Zenescope published in 2010, along with a handful of stories for their Grimm Fairy Tales anthology. He also worked on Paula Peril, a series about a sexy, intrepid reporter who always seemed to get tied up by the bad guys during the course of her investigations.
I was fortunate enough to meet Dave Hoover on a few occasions. He was a guest at the 2001 Pittsburgh Comic Con, and a few years ago made a surprise appearance at one of the Big Apple shows here in NYC. I’m glad I had the opportunity to tell him how much I had enjoyed his work and get one of his Captain America issues autographed. I also purchased a nice pin-up he had drawn of Cap with his teen protégé Free Spirit, as well as one of the original pages of artwork from his run on the series. I really wish I’d been able to get a commission done by him, maybe of Cap’s girlfriend Diamondback, who he drew so well. But the opportunity just never seemed to come up.
In any case, here is a scan of that Captain America & Free Spirit illustration I acquired from Hoover. Sorry I don’t have a better quality pic of it.
If you are not familiar with Dave Hoover’s amazing art, I certainly urge you to seek his work out. His Invaders miniseries was collected as part of the Invaders Classic Vol. 4, and most of his Captain America issues are contained in the two Fighting Chance trade paperbacks. You can find pics of many of his pin-up drawings online. And it’s well worth a search through the back issue bins to search out some of the other comic books that he illustrated.