Once Dwayne and I were just chatting about various topics and I mentioned a recent survey regarding American attitudes towards interracial dating. The discussion turned specifically to the survey’s findings regarding the views of African-American women towards interracial dating.
Then Dwayne dropped this great story on me.
He was living in New York and was walking on the street with his girlfriend, who was white. Walking in the opposite direction were three friends – young African-American women. As they passed Dwayne and his girlfriend, one of the women muttered loudly, “So sick of brothers and their jungle fever.”
Dwayne stopped, turned around, and said, “Excuse me?”
The three women stopped. Two of them were clearly embarrassed by the actions of their friend, but the woman wasn’t backing down. She stood there and glared at Dwayne.
What to do? Dwayne did the only thing that seemed appropriate.
Dwayne exclaimed, “Oh my god, you’re right! I’m black. I need to date a black woman.”
Dwayne turned to his girlfriend and said, “I need to break up with you. I’m sorry.”
Then Dwayne turned to the black woman and asked, “So do you want to move into my apartment? Or should I move into yours? My place is pretty small, so we should move into yours.”
The woman’s glare disappeared. It was replaced by a stunned expression.
Dwayne continued, “It’ll be fine. Because you’re black and I’m black. Oh, and my mother will be really happy. I can’t wait for you to meet her. I’m sure you two will get along great.”
The woman tried to speak, “But… but…”
Dwayne continued, “Oh, and I hope you like [particular sex act]. Because I just LOVE [particular sex act]. I can’t get enough of it. I need [particular sex act] all the time. Like ALL the time. But I’m sure it’ll be fine because you’re black and I’m black.”
The woman didn’t know what to say and stood there dumbfounded. Her two friends were laughing hysterically – pointing at her and egging Dwayne on with, “Yeah!” and “You tell her!”
Dwayne paused, but the woman had nothing to say, so he decided it’d gone long enough.
“On second thought, I don’t think it’s going to work out. I’m going to stick with my current girlfriend. I hope you understand.”
The woman nodded, then left with her friends – who were still laughing at her.
I don’t know why I’m writing this story up, except that it’s a story that Dwayne told me. I suppose this story sticks with me because it started out as an intelligent discussion with Dwayne about attitudes towards race… and it ended with a joke about getting a lot of [particular sex act].
EDGEWISE is my late, lamented (well, I miss the checks, anyway) Science Fiction and Fantasy column, hosted by the good folks at FantastiCon.com.
Edgewise #1 – Dwayne launches his sci-fi media column and confesses his affection for a scary Libertarian fascist author.
Welcome to the first installment of Edgewise, a regular column by yours truly, wherein I spout off profoundly about all things fantastic. Or spout off fantastically about all things profound. One things for sure: I’ll be spouting off. Our topic of discussion will be fantasy and science fiction in the media, including film, television, books and comics. Since I’m doing this on a web site, I suppose I’ll also comment on the bewildering mass of converging technologies that some folks call “new media.” So yes, the continuing adventures of Laura Croft will be addressed at some point, should I ever manage to get out of the practice room in her house. Or work the controller (Don’t give up hope; my ten-year-old nephew has promised to tutor me, in return for my arcane knowledge of long division. I have already learned how to hold the controller right side up. Stay tuned).
So who am I to be telling you what I think about Science Fiction? For one thing, I’m a fan. Ive been hooked since that day in second grade I discovered the “Heinlein shelf” of juvenile novels in my school and read them all “in order” (for some reason, these generally unrelated novels had numbers on the spine. I knew what I had to do). Even today I occasionally discover one of Heinlein’s creepy, right wing ideas, still lodged in my head, imprinted on my innocent young mind while I was only trying to find more stories about kids in space. Brrrr. But I’m okay now, a card-carrying member of the liberal media. You know about us, right? The internet is just crawling with us lefties. Anyway, shortly after my Heinlein gorge, I hit the motherlode. A friend of the family gave me a whole grocery bag full of science fiction paperbacks; Ace Doubles; novels and short story collections by Asimov, Clarke and Bradbury; A wonderful stack of Robert Sheckley; an anthology called DANGEROUS VISIONS, that we’ll come back to when I have more time; a bunch of adult Heinlein novels (including FARNAM’S FREEHOLD, a book so paranoid and racist that it would have driven me to join the Black Panther Party in retaliation, if they’d taken eight-year-olds); Hal Clement’s A MISSION OF GRAVITY; “Doc” Smith’s purple cosmic sagas; and a lot of André Norton. Can’t win ‘em all. I began a love affair with written Science Fiction that lasted until STAR WARS redefined the genre into stuff that I’ll look at in a movie theatre but certainly won’t waste my time reading.
Speaking of crap I enjoy looking at, I haven’t yet touched on the TV and film of my youth, a dark age so primitive that science fiction fans watched the Six Million Dollar Man on TV because that’s all there was! Unfortunately, I’m running long, so that’ll have to wait until next time. Also next time, I’ll talk about some stuff that came out after you were born, good stuff like BUFFY and BABYLON 5 and stuff I can’t believe they didn’t cancel already, like NIGHTMAN.
Dwayne McDuffie is a founder of Milestone Media and has written more comic books than you’ve read, unless you’re something of a social misfit. If so, that’s okay, he loves you anyway. But go outside, get some sun, meet some people. You’ll be glad you did.
These are pages 1-6 from the first draft of Dwayne’s script for the Marvel comic book Damage Control #1 published in 2007. The script had to be converted to post online, so any typos are probably my fault.
DAMAGE CONTROL: AFTERSMASH #1
"Whatever Happened To All The Fun In The World?"
Script for 5 Pages
First Draft, 08/27/07
Exterior SHIELD HELICARRIER, in flight.
Nice place you have here--
A HUGE, Hi-Tech SHIELD CONFERENCE ROOM. TONY STARK is
greeting ANNE MARIE HOAG and ALBERT CLEARY, who are
flanked by two very serious uniformed SHILD officers.
Stark has taken Hoag's hand.
--how much did it cost,
Tony? 20 Billion
That's classified, Anne.
Favoring wryly smiling Hoag. Tony's smiling too, but
In any event, it cost
enough that I daresay
budget isn't going to be
That's what we're here
Hoag indicates Albert, standing beside her.
Speaking of which, Have
you met my CFO?
Charming Tony shakes hands with Albert, who is not a
Albert Cleary. We worked
together once, years
Of course, on the LBO.
All are seated at one end of the huge conference
table. There is a bit of a spread. Coffee and fruit,
Stark is helping himself, Hoag has a cup. Albert is
opening his portfolio.
So. Manhattan is in
crisis and you need
The first thing I need
is a number.
Favoring Hoag. Stark doesn't like what he's hearing.
164 Billion Dollars.
Albert looks up from his papers.
That's a bargain. It's
assuming only a three
percent margin of error.
Much too thin for my
On Stark, not liking it. Hoag is dismissive.
I can't sell this. The
administration wants to
give this contract to
My mistake. I thought
they wanted New York
Favoring Albert, coolly explaining. Hoag is giving him
a warning look.
This isn't Baghdad, Mr.
Stark, or even the Ninth
It's not enough to
shovel money to the
President's buddies, the
work has to get done.
Hoag has put her hand on Albert's wrist, a signal for
him to calm down. She looks directly at Stark.
This isn't a negotiating
tactic, Tony. It's what
the job's going to cost.
Tony is looking at Albert.
Okay. Break it down for
me. But spare me the
editorial, if you don't
Starting with the good
news; There's been so
much damage caused by
superhero battles over
the years, The City Of
New York was legally
declared a perpetual
And that's the good
Tony listens as Albert explains.
Yes. Because concurrent
with that declaration,
Congress created a
Federal Insurance Fund
to cover superhero
Albert is looking down at his papers again, reading
There's currently 128
billion dollars in that
pool. We'll need it all.
Can we pick up the rest
from private insurers?
They won't pay. They
consider The Hulk's
rampages "acts of god."
Big panel. Tony is thoughtful, close on his face as
he's remembering his battle with Hulk. The background
is a shot of Hulk smashing into his heavy-duty Iron
Man armor as seen in World War Hulk #1.
He's vengeful, but he's
Hoag touches Tony's shoulder to break his reverie.
We need another 36
billion in Federal
Favoring smirking Albert. Hoag scowls at him.
Less than the cost of
four months in Iraq.
What do you say?
"The opinions expressed
in this conversation are
not necessarily those of
Damage Control, Inc."
Favoring Tony. He's standing now, looking out of the
BIG window and leaning on the "sill." Hoag is standing
I'll have to take this
Oh, please. You already
ran these numbers. And
you wouldn't be here at
all if you didn't have
So what's the decision,
Tony? Do we fix your
city, or not?
Page 5 & Page 6
DOUBLE PAGE SPLASH
I'm assuming there's either a recap page on page one,
or an ad page somewhere in the first 4 pages, to make
the spread come out right.
It's a disaster scene. Looking down on Lower
Manhattan. The great orange scar through midtown is
visible (see WWH #5 for reference), as is as much
wreckage as you can draw. World War Hulk has pretty
much trashed the city.
Get to work, Mrs. Hoag...
"Whatever Happened To
All The Fun In The
Dwayne’s last DCU animated project – JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM – is available in stores today (2/28) on DVD/Blu-Ray. The special edition includes the documentary, “A League of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story.”
It was one year ago when Dwayne McDuffie unexpectedly died. Many great tributes were written about him by professional peers, friends, and fans. Those who knew him were stunned and saddened, and even those who just knew him through his work suffered a great loss.
Reading those tributes made me want to write one, too. After all, I was lucky. I was a fan of his before I got to meet him, then I got to be his friend. Surely I had some insight that should be written down and shared with everyone.
Here was the problem. I didn’t have anything insightful. Other than to write, “Gosh, it really sucks when your friend dies.” True statement? Yes. Insightful? Not really.
It’s been a year now. I still don’t think I have anything insightful to write, but the difference is that now I’m not going to let it stop me. Dwayne’s absence in my life has been on my mind lately, and I thought I should put some thoughts down. If this seems particularly rambling or boring or too “look at me! look at me!” – then I apologize.
Okay, expectation-lowering disclaimer over. Let’s talk about Dwayne.
I was a fan of Dwayne’s writing before I met him. In 1989, I bought Marvel Comics Presents #19 that had the Damage Control preview, and then ended up buying the mini-series because I loved the concept and the writing.
The first time I met him was at the Hamburger Hamlet in West Hollywood – probably in 2004. The Writer’s Guild Animation Writers Caucus used to have monthly get-togethers there, and he was at one of the first ones I went to. I approached him and talked about Damage Control with him. We exchanged cards and I tried to schedule lunch with him, but our schedules never meshed.
It must’ve been 2005 or 2006 when I carpooled with him to the Hamburger Hamlet with our mutual friend, Matt Wayne. As Matt drove, Dwayne made me laugh for the first time-
The state of Michigan is shaped like a human hand. So people from Michigan, when they want to show what part of Michigan they’re from, they’ll point to their hand.
Now people from Florida...
First time he made me laugh. First of many times.
That’s one of the things that people didn’t always know. Dwayne was funny. Like REALLY funny. He knew his stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, classic television comedy, film. He was a student of comedy. Well, I mean he was super smart, so he was a student of everything. But he could converse about comedy and had a biting quick wit.
Maybe you knew that already. But there are things about Dwayne that you may not have known-
-Dwayne was an amazing conversationalist. Quick phone calls with him would turn into hour-long conversations. He was so well-read and well-versed in everything that he could tell you about various topics, but he was also just so damn funny. All that put together made him a masterful story teller – whether it was writing Justice League stories or just telling you what happened when he went to buy office supplies and got stuck in line behind Cylon #6.
-Dwayne was great with kids. Dwayne never had kids of his own, but he was so naturally good with kids. It’s one of those things where kids can tell who has a good heart. I have some wonderful memories of Dwayne entertaining my kids – making them laugh, playing soccer with them, laughing because of something my kids did.
-Dwayne loved animals. He loved dogs and cats. He even owned cats when he was single, even though he was allergic to them. I never saw him more upset than the time we saw a dead dog at the side of the road.
-Dwayne had the best Christmas tree ever. Take my word on this. His Christmas tree was intense. A blinding work of art.
-Dwayne was a Mac early adopter. He was the first person I knew to get an iPhone that summer of 2007. MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iPads, every new iPhone. He was always the first to get one.
-Dwayne would help you, even when you didn’t expect it. I had a problem with a job once – not a big deal, but I vented that someone had messed up and made my life more difficult on a project. The next morning he called me out of the blue, told me he’d been thinking about my problem, and had a great solution for me. He was right – it was a great solution, and it was totally unexpected.
-Dwayne was the best gift giver. He really thought about things. When he learned about you, he would file away details that would make it easier for him to pick out amazing gifts later. One year for Christmas, he bought me a set of comic trade paperbacks that I had wanted but never spent the money on. Somehow he knew. He figured out that I loved that comic book growing up, he saw that I didn’t have them on my bookshelf, and he got them for me.
-Dwayne spoke up for his friends. Along the same lines of the way he’d remember things about you for gift purchases, he would remember you when opportunities arose. Dwayne was unavailable to write a particular animated movie project, but he remembered that I was a huge fan of the property as a kid and put my name in. I wasn’t qualified, but he spoke highly enough of me to get me considered for a dream project – all because Dwayne could remember these details about his friends.
There are probably more bits about Dwayne that I’m forgetting, but these are the ones that jump immediately to mind.
I suppose I should mention the last time I talked to him. It was a week or so before his death. It was just a short phone call that turned into a great conversation about politics, his family, the current state of comic books. He would then leave for New York for the premiere of All-Star Superman. I told him I wouldn’t be able to make it to the L.A. premiere because I was going to be in Las Vegas to play in a hockey tournament. I posted a picture of my hockey sticks on Facebook. Dwayne, who was rarely on Facebook, “LIKED” my photograph.
It seems silly to feel emotional over someone clicking LIKE on Facebook. So just call me silly.
The last time I saw him was that night in the hospital. It’s been a year since that night and I still can remember every detail like it just happened. I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse.
What is unquestionably a blessing was that I got to be Dwayne’s friend.
I guess I should finish with the first time that I knew that Dwayne and I would be friends for life. It was a Sunday morning brunch at the Daily Grill in Burbank. Several friends of author Nancy Holder had gathered there to hang out with Nancy. Dwayne was there with his then-girlfriend. Dwayne and I chatted about various topics, then I mentioned that I had re-watched Woody Allen’s Love and Death
That’s where I learned how much he loved Woody Allen. We cracked each other up repeating back many of our favorite lines from that film. “Polish conscientious objector!” “Wheat!” “What is this, slap Boris day?” “Socrates was a man.” “I got screwed!”
I sometimes wonder what Dwayne would think of all this. I think he’d be happy with the out-pouring of love and respect he got from his friends, peers, and fans. I think he would like how he got the WGA Animation Writers Caucus Lifetime Achievement Award. I think he would be annoyed with how DC cancelled the Static Shock comic book the way it did. I think he would be happy with how Justice League: Doom turned out.
In that sense, I think Dwayne would be happy that he left behind a great lifetime body of work.
But beyond all that, I think what would have made him really happy would have been to see more inclusive stories. Boys. Girls. Black. White. Gay. Straight. Adults. Kids. Comic books, television, movies, and books that inspire everyone to be better than they are.
In that sense, I think we all have a lot more work to do.
An insignificant side story that Dwayne told me once that still makes me laugh.
At one point, Dwayne was dating a girl from Germany. Things were going well, until Dwayne made a joke that Germans aren’t funny.
His girlfriend was deeply offended.
Dwayne explained that Germans have made many huge significant contributions in the worlds of science, technology, math, literature, theater, music, philosophy, history, religion, politics, sports, art, EVERYTHING… but not comedy.
Despite her unhappiness with him, Dwayne stuck by his belief that Germans had made no significant strides in comedy. So as a gift, she gave Dwayne a book to prove him wrong : the Encyclopedia of German Comedy.
It was the thinnest book he’d ever seen. They couldn’t even write the book’s title on the spine.
Dwayne wrote the weekly TO BE CONTINUED… column on the comic book industry, hosted by Psycomics.com from October 1999 through February 2000.
This is To Be Continued… #1 – introducing the column, what to expect, what’s coming up. It also is where Dwayne presented what he called “The McDuffie Genius Grant”.
To Be Continued… #1
Well you’re here, so either you like comics as much as I do or you haven’t the slightest idea how to use a search engine. A hint for those of you in the second category: if you’re looking for Kurt Vonnegut, try searching for “comic novels,” instead of “comic books.” One last tip before you go, if you’re considering reading GALAPAGOS? Don’t bother. It’s just more evidence that anybody’s capable of a bad outing.
And speaking of bad outings, now that we’ve ditched the Lit Majors, I want to welcome the rest of you to the first installment of my column. I’m Dwayne McDuffie and this is TO BE CONTINUED…
Okay, here’s the premise, “TO BE CONTINUED…” is a weekly opinion column on comic books and related topics. My opinion. Frankly, I’m biased as Hell. Hope you’re okay with that. Every week, I’ll ramble on for a thousand words or so about anything crossing my mind that I can remotely connect to comics. I’ll gush over my favorite titles and creators. I’ll discuss comic adaptations to other media (“BATMAN AND ROBIN baaad. BLADE goood”). I’ll regale you with inside stories on how comic books are created. I’ll tell tales out of school about some of the people who make comics (for starters, I’ve seen some of the biggest names in the industry, very, very drunk). I’ll talk about my personal experiences with comics, as plain old reader/fanboy, as writer, editor, publisher of my own comics and eventually, as DC Comics’ whipping post. I’ll also bitch about the state of the industry. Probably a lot. And while whining isn’t ever pretty, it can be pretty entertaining, at least when I’m doing it.
What I won’t be doing is reviews, because this site already has at least two of the best reviewers in the business. I hate not being, you know, the best there is at what I do. Besides, if I did reviews, I might have to lie to you about how much I like the work of friends of mine. Actually, even the converse can be a problem. For instance, the phenomenally talented writer/artist Ho Che Anderson is one of the biggest pricks I’ve ever met. If I reviewed his work, I might be tempted to lie to you and say it’s awful, just because he’s awful. But that would be wrong, his stuff is uniformly wonderful. I’m going to try very hard not to tell any lies in this column. Feel free to remind me I said that whenever you catch me in a whopper.
While I’m being all truthful and whatnot, you should know that the only thing I like more than love or money is free stuff. I do a science fiction column on another web site and I’ve learned to my great pleasure that sometimes when I mention something, I get sent free stuff by the people who make it. I intend for that to be the case here as well (especially since I’ve unaccountably dropped off of all of the major publishers’ comp lists).
I think I’ve come up with a way to improve the whole “getting free stuff” process. Here’s the deal: If you’re a comics publisher who wants some electronic ink, e-mail me. I’ll send you an address and you can send me your books. If I like them, I’ll gush about them. Example: “Everybody should go out right now and buy Kyle (WHY I HATE SATURN) Baker’s latest graphic novel, YOU ARE HERE. Kyle draws better than everybody who can outwrite him and writes better than everybody who can outdraw him. In fact, no self-respecting comic library is complete without all of his graphic novels. And while you’re wallet’s out, the outrageously gifted Kris (MANYA) Dresen has just released a collection of her exquisitely-drawn and extremely funny MAX AND LILY strips. Surf over to Manya.com right now and pick up a copy or three, or I’ll come over to your house and hit you.”
Now, if I don’t like your stuff, relax, I’m not going to embarrass you. I’ll still mention your book, I just won’t gush. The educated reader will quickly come to understand what that means.
The good news is that at TO BE CONTINUED… the graft works both ways. In order to solicit mail from you guys, I’ll periodically have contests and the like. in addition, Every six weeks or so, I’ll devote this column to answering your letters. Whenever I do that, I’ll pick a winner and give away something cool, like hardcover collections (I’ve got some doubles), signed comics, or original art. Maybe I’ll use this to unload the box of hand-autographed Stan Lee photos I recently turned up. I must have cribbed those from Marvel when I worked there many years ago.
Finally, The McDuffie Genius Grant is a cash award of one dollar American that I give solely at my own discretion to anyone who does something that I think is particularly bright. Today I’m promoting a special McDuffie Genius Grant to anyone who can figure out a plan to prevent the seemingly inevitable extinction of the comic book industry. If you can save comics, I’ll pay you five bucks cash money from my own pocket. Serious inquiries only. And hurry, SPAWN’s under a hundred thousand copies a month, we can’t have much time left.
And I don’t have any time left, either. Next week, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself and answer the burning question, “Who the Hell does this guy think he is to be telling me about comic books?” If you can’t wait a whole week to find out, you can jump over to my home page right now and learn more about me than either of us will be completely comfortable with.
But for now, this column is TO BE CONTINUED…
Dwayne McDuffie is the creator of Marvel Comics’ DAMAGE CONTROL and Milestone Media’s ICON and STATIC. He’d like to remind you that the opinions expressed in this column are solely his own and do not necessarily represent those of Psycomics or Psylum.com, particularly the cheap shot at Ho Che Anderson.
Every New Year’s used to bring a fun annual event. No, not fireworks or a party or resolutions.
Dwayne’s fake birthday.
When Dwayne signed up for Facebook years ago, it wanted him to give them his birthday. He didn’t really celebrate his birthdays and didn’t want to give it to Facebook, so he just entered in January 1st. And that was that. Or so he thought.
The following year, January 1st rolled around. Now all his friends and fans were told by Facebook that it was Dwayne’s birthday. So his wall got flooded with Happy Birthday wishes.
Dwayne didn’t want to correct anybody. Since he didn’t really make a big deal out of his birthdays, he preferred everyone have a wrong birthday than his real one. Plus I can’t help but think that he got a good chuckle out of seeing all his friends and family wishing him Happy Birthday on the wrong day.
So thank you Facebook. For giving Dwayne a second birthday.
Dwayne told me that growing up in a suburb in the Midwest, he grew up not seeing the big fuss over gun control. He grew up knowing many people who owned guns. Completely ordinary normal people who owned guns, went shooting with their friends and families, didn’t commit crimes.
People just assumed because he was African-American and politically liberal, he HAD to be in favor of gun control. But because he had no bad experiences with guns growing up, he was very “live and let live” about private gun ownership.
That was until he moved to New York.
It was around 1986 – after Dwayne had graduated from NYU Film School but before he’d started at Marvel Comics. He was working at Investment Dealers’ Digest in New York City and one fateful night, he had to head home very late. Dressed like an investment dealer in a business suit and carrying his briefcase, he headed down to wait for the subway on the platform.
There was one other person on the subway platform that late at night – an elderly woman clutching her purse. Being a 6’7″ African-American male, Dwayne knew to stand far away from her, since there was a chance the woman might freak out over being alone on a platform late at night with a (gasp) black man.
Dwayne had to always be keenly aware of the way people reacted to him being a 6’7″ African-American. He knew from personal experience that standing in line to use the ATM could be an ordeal because people would call the police and report him as being “suspicious”. Never mind that he was in a business suit and carrying a suitcase.
So the two people waited for the subway. Dwayne at one end of the platform, the elderly woman at the other end.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the woman fumbling with her purse but didn’t think anything of it. Dwayne was really tired and hadn’t eaten, so he was thinking about whether he had food back at his apartment.
The woman had pulled a GUN from her purse and had taken a SHOT at Dwayne. Dwayne dove to the ground, thinking for sure he was going to die. The woman aimed carefully and squeezed off a second shot.
At this point, the subway pulled into the station. As Dwayne kept his head down, the woman stepped on the subway and a few seconds later she was gone.
Dwayne got up and immediately tried to report what had happened, but it was late at night and there was no one else around. He finally found someone who worked for the Transit Authority and tried to explain that some woman had tried to shoot him, but the guy shrugged and asked, “What do you want me to do about it?” After all this, Dwayne just wanted to go home. The incident wasn’t reported, nothing came out of it, and nothing changed.
Except Dwayne’s views on gun control. For the rest of his life, he was a big supporter of gun control.