TO BE CONTINUED… was Dwayne’s weekly opinion column on the comic book industry, hosted by Psycomics.com from October 1999-February 2000. Pasted below was his second column, “Introducing the author and his comic book resume, as fan and creator.” Read on-
To Be Continued #2
I was at the corner store with my Dad. I’ve never liked candy but he was determined to get me something. He picked out a SUGAR AND SPIKE comic book. I don’t remember ever seeing a comic book before then, much less showing any interest in one. But as long as Dad was offering, I decided I prefered ADVENTURE COMICS, featuring the Legion of Super Heroes. My reasoning, as I recall, was that it contained more superheroes and therefore was a better value (in addition to which, the big fat guy who bounced like a ball seemed… intriguing). Anyway, Dad buckled under the pressure and bought both. By the time we got back to the car, I was hooked for life. And that’s when I fell in love with comic books.
I learned to read from comics. I learned to dream.
I imagined that babies could talk to each other, that men could fly. That good does triumph, inevitably, over evil.
When I got older, I wanted to be Spider-Man, because all the other kids thought he was a geek, too. Then I wanted to be the Black Panther, who possessed a dignity and strength that I wished were mine.
Comics took me to places that never existed and made me believe in things that could never be true.
But should have been.
Most of my old comics are landfill now. Although to be fair, Mom did warn me she’d toss them if I didn’t clean up my room that very moment. But it doesn’t really matter that I lost them because I remember. Those dreams will always be with me.
And then I got a chance to share my own dreams. Thanks to Greg Wright, I got a chance to pitch some SOLO AVENGERS stories to Marvel Comics. A few weeks later, I created and wrote DAMAGE CONTROL, a sit-com set in the Marvel Universe about an engineering firm who cleaned up the debris left behind after all those senses-shattering battles. A little later, I joined Marvel’s staff as an assistant editor to Bob Budianski. I worked on Movie tie-ins, Marvel Press Posters, trading cards, toys, licensing guides -pretty much anything that wasn’t a regular monthly comic. While I was there, I continued to freelance as a writer, turning in scripts for SHE-HULK, IRON MAN, DOUBLE DRAGON, AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT, MARVEL SUPER HEROES, POWER PACK, GIANT MAN, ST. GEORGE, HELLRAISER, CAPTAIN MARVEL, WHAT IF?, WEST COAST AVENGERS and several SPIDER-MAN “custom comics,” (you know, like SPIDER-MAN AND WHITNEY HOUSTON FOR UNICEF). I also got to write my personal favorite, DEATHLOK.
After leaving staff, I kept working doing freelance for Marvel but I also branched out to do work for other companies. I wrote PRINCE and THE DEMON for DC Comics; MONSTER IN MY POCKET, BACK TO THE FUTURE (where the movie’s screenwriter, Bob Gale had the annoying habit of correctly pointing out which of my jokes were lame) and ULTRAMAN for Harvey Comics; and SOLAR, THE TICK and X-O MANOWAR for Valliant/Acclaim. In-between, I wrote and edited comics for several other companies, too.
I’m probably best known for teaming up with Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and Michael Davis to form our company, Milestone Media, Inc. I served as Editor-In-Chief and created or co-created ICON, HARDWARE, STATIC, BLOOD SYNDICATE, XOMBI, SHADOW CABINET, DEATH WISH, WISE SON, HEROES and the rest of the Dakota Universe for Milestone. Milestone was an attempt to have greater creative control over our work and to increase the number of minority characters and creators in the field. These goals were widely, and sometimes willfully, misunderstood. I’m sure I’ll talk about this some more in future columns. For now, I want to focus on the pleasant side of it all. Over the course of Milestone Comics’ four-year run, I was privileged to work with dozens of terrific creators, making some damn fine comics. With any luck, we’ll see those characters again one day. As rough a run as it was for me personally, I’m still in love with comics and making them for Milestone is still the most fun I’ve had in my entire professional life.
Almost as much fun as reading SUGAR AND SPIKE.
I guess the point of all that was to demonstrate that when I talk about comics, I can speak from any of a number of different perspectives. I’ve been a fan, who couldn’t understand why the companies were doing such awful things to my favorite titles. I’ve been a writer, who was sure that my editor was screwing up my work on purpose, simply to torture me. I’ve been an editor, frustrated by the unreasonable and incomprehensible demands of my publisher on one side, and the petulant refusal by my creative team to do anything I asked them to do, ever, on the other. I’ve been a publisher, trying to make payroll while wondering why my editors seem determined to run stories that drive away advertisers, while refusing to take the very sensible action of doing a company-wide crossover every month. Whichever hat I’m wearing at any given moment, I think the other three guys are the worst possible combination of insane and incompetent. It’s probably not that simple. On the other hand, I’ve been wrong before. We’ll talk it over in the weeks and months to come.
Next time, I’m going to tell you about an endless summer, blacks in comics, the Incredible Hulk vs. the Mighty Thor, a trip to the “good comic store” and most importantly of all, how Don McGregor’s BLACK PANTHER changed my life. Until then, this is TO BE CONTINUED…
Dwayne McDuffie, creator of DAMAGE CONTROL, ICON, XOMBI and STATIC, has gone to comic stores hundreds of times since that first one but he never again brought home so much good reading for a quarter. Or bought gum for his cousin Raynard with the change from the quarter.