Tuesday, February 22, 2011

RIP Dwayne McDuffie

I only had the good fortune of chatting with Dwayne McDuffie a couple times not over e-mail, but he left a great impression.

A couple days before Christmas in 2007, I was home in Boston and only a month or so removed from starting my job with Marvel.com. I was set to mostly spend the next week relaxing and not worries about work, but had some quick "housekeeping" to do first in the form of chatting with Dwayne McDuffie about the World War Hulk: Aftersmash - Damage Control limited series he was writing.

I kind of felt bad reaching out to Dwayne (who I had only very briefly dealt with while I was at Wizard) at somewhat the eleventh hour both because it was the holiday season and because I figured he likely had better things to do than promote a three-issue Damage Control project. In order to put that last bit into perspective, you have to keep in mind that towards the end of 2007, Dwayne was not only still working hard and heavy in animation, he was also simultaneously writing Fantastic Four and Justice League of America; I said at the time and maintain today a big enough deal has never been made that somebody was the writer on the books that essentially launched Marvel and DC's respective Silver Ages at the same time, and his stuff was good to boot!

Anyways, I figured Dwayne might have had Superman and The Thing or perhaps Ben: 10 and/or spending time with his family on the brain as opposed to wanting to talk Damage Control, but I could not have been more wrong.

Dwayne was incredibly excited to talk about the project, as he had in fact created Damage Control back in 1989 (a fact I didn't know going into the interview and thus definite punt to my pride in thinking of myself as a thorough researcher) and had great affinity for the characters. If anything, he was disappointed to only have three issues to revisit them, but was determined to make the most of the opportunity (and if you haven't read the series, I think he absolutely did--it was a really fun, engaging little story).

It was a great way to kick off my holiday as Dwayne was kind, enthusiastic and gracious. It really struck me that here was a guy who had enormous success in animation, was writing two of the most storied comic series of all time and also had loved ones flying in that night, but he was thrilled to knock off a half hour chatting to a 25-year-old kid about Damage Control (and then indulging said kid as he wanted to talk Justice League Unlimited for a bit).

But then, if you look at the professional career of Dwayne McDuffie, you'll see a guy who has always done things that appeal and matter to him and achieved success along the way not necessarily because he always made the decisions would necessarily make the most money, but because he was so talented you couldn't stop him. Read any interview with Dwayne about the creation of Milestone and you'll have little doubt it was an endeavor he embarked upon because in his mind it needed to be done and there was creative potential there, not because it was going to make him rich.

I'll remember Dwayne McDuffie as the immensely talented creative genius who brought super heroes to life as few others could with Justice League Unlimited and wrote some fine comics along the way. Personally, I'll also remember him as the writer of Justice League of America and Fantastic Four who was much more excited to talk about Damage Patrol.

Rest in peace, Dwayne, my thoughts are with those who knew you far better.

No comments: