To use a time honoured cliché, a person like Dave Simons comes along once in a generation. Dave was one of those rare people, he loved to draw and more importantly, he loved to talk to people and loved to help them. From the start of his career at Marvel to the end of his days, Dave was always there, hustling away to see not only what kind of a deal he could get but how could it benefit others. But I digress, but only slightly.
Dave didn’t explode onto the scene more than he just appeared and made his way into people’s minds by osmosis. Dave’s first job was inking Sal Buscema, a job that didn’t really faze him; after all he had spent time studying at the feet of Sal’s older brother, the more famous and better artist, John Buscema. Studying with John gave Dave a sense of confidence that he always knew was there but needed to have brought out to the fore. Dave once remarked that if he could impress John Buscema then there was nothing he couldn’t do. That was clearly evident by the penciler that Dave was next assigned – Gene Colan.
People have run screaming from Gene Colan pencils, not Dave. Not only did he plunge right into the inking, he was that good at it that Colan himself kept asking for Dave to continue. Indeed, in later years, Gene would remark that Dave was one of the few who actually knew how to ink his pencils. High praise indeed from a master of the medium.
When Dave found himself in a position to assist people then assist he did. Over the years a number of talented people, from Mike Mignola through to Armando Gil through to Gerry Acerno all benefited from Dave’s largess and they never forgot it, and neither did Dave. Even towards the end, when he was struggling with life itself, he was thinking of others and recommending as many artists as he possibly could to Rittenhouse because he knew that the work involved in pencilling trading cards compared to the reward was substantial. It might not have been easy money, but it was money. One of Dave’s last emails to Rittenhouse was to ask for more work, and to put forward a name of a well known, and out of work, artist. At no time did Dave ever consider that, by putting names forward, he might be placing his own position at risk. Such thoughts simply weren’t Dave.
When we approached Dave to join the Inkwells his first response was to ask what he could bring to the table. It was explained to him that his sheer presence would be more than enough and that it would be a great privilege to have him on board. Dave accepted and contributed when he felt it appropriate. Dave wasn’t merely a name on a site; Dave was hands on, as health permitted him and his input was both insightful and greatly appreciated.
When Dave fell ill the Inkwells and the industry as a whole gathered around to assist him. Dave was reluctant to accept such aid, but eventually felt that he was due – after all he’d always contributed to other such fundraisers. Due to the generosity of the industry Dave’s last months saw him debt free and able to live without the worry of financial stress. Dave’s courage in the face of adversity was an inspiration to all that knew him. Even though he was ill, Dave managed to contribute to the Inkwells, giving one of his last ever interviews as part of the 2009 Inkwell Round Table Interview. Dave’s comments in the interview are typically Dave, insightful yet quirky and when he wanted to be, totally irrelevant. That was Dave.
When Dave passed away, we were devastated. The Inkwells had lost more than a committee member; we’d lost an integral part of our family. We’d lost our brother, our friend and colleague. As a committee we knew that something had to be done to commemorate Dave, but a simple tribute wouldn’t be enough. Something tangible and concrete would have to occur.
Bob Shaw was the first person to put forward the idea of a Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship, but it was quickly ratified and set into place. Each year the Joe Kubert Art School will select a promising student who submits organic inks – inking with a pen or a brush, nothing digital – and that student will be granted $1,000 to assist in their tuition, in Dave’s name. This will be an on-going affair, and the first series of funds have already been handed to the Kubert School and the current round of auctions will see funds handed over after this years Inkwell Awards for the 2011 intake.
All of the money for the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship is supplied by the sale of donated art. We ask people to donate items because we know that by doing so we can easily hit our goals. Donations come from all sources and from all kinds of people. This is what Dave would have wanted, and part of me thinks he’s amused to bits knowing that he’s still helping people advance their craft even after he’s left this physical plane. As Dave would say, “Great moogly googly!”
— Daniel Best, 6/10/2009
2010 award recipient: Carli Ihde
2011 award recipient: Angela Fernot
2012 award recipient: Kristoffer Sorensen
2013 award recipient: Ji Wook Moon
2014 award recipient: Ayşegül Sınav
2015 award recipient: Idan Knafo
2017 award recipient: Brian Benjamin