The annual Comic Con International in San Diego starts later this week. It’s one of the times of year when Dwayne’s presence is missed the most. So many great memories of buying books, meals, parties, panels, signings. Even just sitting in the lobby of the San Diego Marriott to stay up late and talk and tell stories.
Trying to think of the “best” Dwayne/Comic Con story to tell, but this is the one that pops to mind. It happened way before I met him. It took place when Dwayne was working for Marvel Comics – I’m guessing around 1987. It was when the San Diego Comic Con was nowhere near as big as it is now, and it was held back in the old San Diego Convention Center.
Dwayne told a story of a bunch of fans who came down to hang out at the Marvel booth – just wanting to talk Marvel comics. On Thursday, these fans had the greatest time simply chatting with anyone and everyone who made Marvel Comics. Most of them were fine, but there was one comic book fan in their group that had a problem.
His breath. His breath was awful.
It was so bad that no one wanted to speak to him. When he’d come around to talk, the person on the receiving end would immediately cringe and try to get away from him. It was just rancid. And he was apparently completely oblivious. It just made everyone who was working the Marvel booth miserable.
And that was just Thursday.
He came back on Friday. To chat and talk and ask questions and spend time around the entire staff of Marvel Comics. And his breath was just unbearable. Saturday rolled around, and sure enough, he and his friends came by to spend time with the people at Marvel – most of whom they knew now from three days of conversing with them.
On Sunday he returned. But this time Dwayne was ready for him. Before the guy could talk, Dwayne immediately shoved a toothbrush in the guy’s face.
The guy was stunned. He tried to stammer that he already had one, but Dwayne interrupted him and said, “You’re clearly lying.” Dwayne told the guy to take the toothbrush and use it.
The guy didn’t know what to say, so he looked to his friends to say something. Dwayne responded, “They know. Your friends know. They’ve just been too polite to say anything about it to you.” The friends turned red and looked away or down. Dwayne was right.
Dwayne continued, “Now it’s going to bleed the first time you do this. That’s normal because you haven’t been brushing regularly. But you have to brush your teeth. Twice a day.”
With that, the guy took the toothbrush and left. Since it was Sunday, we’ll never know if the guy took Dwayne’s advice. But I personally like to think that somewhere out there is a comic book fan who has better oral hygiene thanks to Dwayne McDuffie.
Okay, one last memory from Dwayne’s last Comic Con in 2010. It was late Friday night in the lobby of the San Diego Marriott. Dwayne was hanging out with Charlotte and Tom Kenny when they got a text from Yuri Lowenthal (voice of Ben 10) that he was coming by with a friend. Yuri showed up along with actor Aaron Douglas, aka Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica.
Dwayne was excited about getting to meet him. He was genuinely excited to chat with an actor from one of his favorite sci-fi tv shows.
With all the work Dwayne did over his career, he was such a giant in comics and tv. But even for a pro’s pro like Dwayne, there were times when it wasn’t just work. There were times when it was okay for him to just be a fan.
Even if it was only once a year every summer in San Diego.