February 24, 2011
Not much to say that hasn't been said already, but legendary comic writer Dwayne McDuffie passed away at the age of 49. It's always sad and unfortunate when things like this happen, but there's not a lot of people that have done what he's achieved in comics with the skintone he had.
Dwayne and I share mutual friends, and I've shared pleasantries with him, and finally meeting him face-to-face at the ECBACC show in Philly a few years back - I was a little stunned by how tall he was, and how . . . chill Dwayne seemed to be. It was that professional, mainstream polish that I hadn't seemed to have mastered - how to walk among us but be totally in your own space, clearly comfortable with yourself to the point you made others smooth down their shirts. Something that I didn't understand at the time, but that something makes people call you 'sir' to your face. Respect? Reverence. Somewhere in there.
I sometimes went to his website forum and marveled at how many people came to him just to listen to his words. But it wasn't like he was trying very hard to make people think he was interesting - he just did his thing. Like I have aspired to do my whole career.
Most importantly, Dwayne opened up doors for people who look like me in comics. He fought battles on muddy slopes for people who try to do what I'm trying to do in comics. He clicked on a flashlight and ran it over the dark corners of the bias, ignorance and head-scratchingly dense world of comics and asked questions that we all wanted answers to - and wouldn't leave until he got an answer, or until they made him leave.
That's a swagger that I'd love to wear into a room like Dwayne did. He lifted us on his shoulders and carried us, even if it wasn't his full intent. I believe he just wanted to tell a good story, by any means necessary.
Thanks for Doing Your Thing, Dwayne.