January 1, 1955 – December 12, 2016
FLORENCE, S.C. – Legends Comics store owner and Florence Comic-Con forefather Denny Stevenson will be remembered by his friends and loved ones as a man who had an unrelenting love for art, comic books and the city of Florence as a whole.
Stevenson, 61, died Monday after suffering two massive strokes.
Stevenson owned Legends Comics, located at 702 S. Irby St. in Florence, for 34 years, making it the oldest operating comic book store in South Carolina. Stevenson also founded Florence Comic-Con, an event that has drawn thousands of people to the Florence area each year for the past four years.
Gaye Ham was a close friend of Stevenson’s, and they had partnered together to help make Florence Comic-Con a reality. Ham said Comic-Con was a way for Stevenson to promote both the Florence area and young artists looking to break into the comic book scene.
“Comic-Con was his baby,” Ham said. “He was real proud that he could bring something to Florence that could draw thousands of people.”
Ham said Stevenson was a fan of comic books since he was a young boy, and reading the comics helped Stevenson first learn to draw and develop his own skills as an artist.
Many of Stevenson’s close friends knew about his passion for art and his impressive painting skills.
Comic artist and cartoonist Gregbo Watson said he envied Stevenson’s artistic abilities, especially when it came to painting landscapes. Watson said some of Stevenson’s works can be seen on display in businesses in both Florence and Myrtle Beach.
“He was a tremendous artist,” Watson said. “I wish I could’ve painted landscapes like he did.”
Stevenson earned a Master’s degree in Fine Arts after studying at both Coker University and USC. Watson said Stevenson helped him grow as a cartoonist as they worked together during Comic-Con over the past four years. Eventually, Stevenson became one of Watson’s agents and helped him promote his work across the nation at various Comic-Con events.
“He really came along and turbocharged me creatively,” Watson said. “He really inspired me and pushed me forward with my art. He’s the one that had more faith in me than I had.
David Rast has been a customer of Stevenson’s since he was 12 years old and recalls coming into the store on Irby Street and talking about various comics books with him. Rast said he cherishes one comic book in particular that Stevenson sold him in college: “Fantastic Four No. 1,” autographed by none other than Stan Lee.
“He had it saved just for me,” Rast said. “I paid $75 dollars for it then. It’s worth around $1,500 now.”
Rast said Stevenson was always someone he looked up to as a young kid. Thirty-seven years later, Rast said he still idolizes Stevenson, but for different reasons other than his massive collections of collector comic books.
“He was able to do what he wanted to do and enjoy life and make others happy while he did it,” Rast said. “That’s the definition of success for me.
“Being successful doesn’t mean making a million dollars. It really means enjoying what you do every day, and I think he did that.”