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What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Dwayne's friends answer your questions about Dwayne McDuffie, his legacy, and his work - and also your questions about comics, television, animation, Ben 10, and more.

What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby mattwayne on Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:10 am

I've debated airing this in public for two months now.

Comic-Con International is printing tributes to Dwayne in the San Diego Comic-Con program this year, and they approached me to write one. What I came back with was my sincere feelings, and something that I feel the industry needs to understand about itself: Dwayne should have been running the comics business, and instead he was barely tolerated.

I ran my tribute past Dwayne's wife before I sent it, and she dubbed it "perfect." But the people at Comic-Con asked me to change it, and I decided to just let it go. I'm worried that Dwayne is going to be the industry's "proof" that we're all post-racial and chummy, now that they can't be embarrassed into hiring him anymore, and I don't want to contribute to that absurd but inevitable narrative.

So, here's the McDuffie tribute you won't see in the Comic-Con program:



I miss Dwayne every day. It’s still inconceivable that he isn’t around to appreciate the world with me.

When my son gets another baby tooth, or I see a new episode of Doctor Who, I still have the urge to call him. Given the chance, I’ll talk about my late friend for hours at a time. I find myself making lists of McDuffie facts—not wanting to forget any more than I already have. And one of the things I’ve thought about most while mourning him was his long struggle for recognition from the comics industry.

Dwayne loved comics, both the superhero and non-superhero varieties, long before he made them for a living, and he continued to love them till the end. Our last conversation was about the Masterpiece Comics collection I’d given him for his birthday, which includes a pastiche of his beloved Little Lulu.

That said, I don’t know that the comics business loved him back.

Here’s a trivia question for you: Aside from the titles he published himself, what was Dwayne’s first monthly comics writing assignment? Believe it or not, that was Justice League of America in 2007. “But what about Deathlok,” you ask? Sorry, that was co-written with the redoubtable Greg Wright. “Fantastic Four?” Nope, it wasn’t open-ended. Dwayne knew that was a finite assignment when he took it. “X-O Manowar?” “Firestorm?” Same deal.

The majors never appreciated Dwayne’s writing enough to grant him a steady job of it. Not until there had been a Static cartoon, and the Justice League cartoon. And Beyond! And Fantastic Four. And Milestone, of course. By the time he landed that regular monthly, Dwayne was already in the history books of two media.

Now, naming no names, think of how many not-so-good writers you’ve seen blunder from one long-term monthly comic assignment to another. (And sure, who qualifies as a hack is subjective. You and I might not be thinking of the same names.) Each of those writers got more of a shot than Dwayne did.

We all know how good he was. And again, what Dwayne made of such opportunity as he did get is now a matter of history. He always counted a great number of People Who Oughtta Know among his fans, including Comic-Con International, the ones who give out Inkpot Awards.

Still, there’s no question in my mind that, given the finite length of Dwayne’s career, he would have been better off both financially and creatively to have never worked in comics at all, and gone straight into animation instead.

But that’s not how love works, is it?

Matt Wayne
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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby Invictus on Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:44 pm

a very incisive tribute.

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow

- Friedrich Nietzsche
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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby Geoff Thorne on Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:23 am

I honestly can't believe they had the nerve to ask for changes.

Thanks for that, Matt. And Charlotte too.
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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby mutate20 on Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:22 pm

Thanks for the message and the heads-up about the narrative. Wish I could do more to keep them honest.

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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby jashro on Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:38 pm

Good tribute I don't know why they asked you to change this...
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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby mattwayne on Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:49 pm

mutate20 wrote:Thanks for the message and the heads-up about the narrative. Wish I could do more to keep them honest.

Stephanie


Stephanie, you do as much as anyone could. Thank you!
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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby madmonq on Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:21 pm

Does anyone know if Matt Wayne has a twitter feed? What about any of the other Milestone principals? I'm already following Mr Dingle and Mr McDuffie's old feed. Denys Cowan maybe?
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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby mikechary on Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:13 pm

I remember one time after San Diego, Dwayne called me or I called him, and the first thing he told me was the John Barrowman was a fan. A fan of what? Of his. Well, so you know what? If San Diego wants to publish a memorial, they print the stuff as submitted. Otherwise they are playing off his good name and good will. And some of their celebrity guest know who he is and might think well of Comicon for the memorial. The phrase "grave robbers" comes to mind.

I liked your piece, but it did make me sad, because I used to give Dwayne crap about the monthly book thing, and I can't do that anymore. DC should have just given him Legion of Super-Heroes and let him write it until Levitz wanted it back.
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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby Evan Skolnick on Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:12 pm

Matt, this was a very touching and on-target tribute. I first met Dwayne while working at Marvel back in the late 80s and early 90s and I was so frustrated watching HIM be frustrated at almost every turn there. He was one of the smartest people I've ever met and frankly I think that fact intimidated the powers that be.

One quick correction, though: I was the editor on X-O Manowar who hired Dwayne on as the full-time writer of the series. It was always intended to be an open-ended assignment, but unfortunately flagging sales caused the series' cancellation after only a few issues (along with several other titles). So it was a finite run, as you said, but it was not intended to be so.
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Re: What Comic-Con International Wouldn't Print

Postby PDStorrie on Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:48 am

Thanks for sharing that, Matt. It's a shame that Comic-Con didn't run it as is. Can't think of a better tribute to Dwayne than acknowledging the realities of his relationship with the comics industry, rather than trying to sanitize it for the industry's protection.

Best,
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