Back in February, the entertainment industry lost one of the greatest. Dwayne McDuffie was a comic book writer, creator, animation producer and industry legend. Tributes to Mr. McDuffie are set to run in Comic Con International’s Souvenir Book by industry creators. Except for one creator that is, Mr. McDuffie’s long time friend, Matt Wayne. Apparently, CCI felt that Matt Wayne’s tribute would embarrass some in the industry and asked him to change it. Instead, Matt Wayne declined to contribute all together. Here is a quote from Matt Wayne:
“I ran my tribute past Dwayne’s wife before I sent it, and she dubbed it ‘perfect,’” he wrote in his forum post. “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.”
Here is Matt Wayne’s tribute, released by Matt himself, over at the Dwayne McDuffie Forums
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?
Now, a little known fact about the comics industry(unless you work in it) is that its “behind the times” compared to other entertainment brands. Apparently Matt’s tribute to his late friend highlighted that fact, and CCI felt it would embarrass too many people. Now however, they’re “apologizing”:
David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for CCI, said that the book’s editors asked for the piece to be “celebratory” in nature, in keeping with other pieces in the book.
“As you know we held Dwayne McDuffie in high regard as he was a past recipient of our Inkpot award. Most recently we held a tribute panel for him at WonderCon . The changes requested were never meant to slight him or his family, and we really are truly sorry for the anguish this has caused,” Glanzer told Robot 6. “In the future we will try to prevent a similar situation as this from occurring by having a larger circle of people weigh in on any potential changes or edits to In Memoriam pieces.
“Again we offer our heart felt apology to Matt Wayne and the family and friends of Dwayne McDuffie.”
Too little, too late in my book, as the disrespect is already done. CCI should be ashamed of themselves. What do you think HHD readers? Do you think CCI was correct in asking for Matt Wayne’s tribute to be changed? Please voice your opinions in the comments.
Below is some information on some of Dwayne McDuffie’s finest work in comic books and animation for your edification. Seek them out. Show them to your children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren as they are truly some great works of entertainment and a piece of history. Hardware and Deathlok are some of my personal favorites. As well as his Fantastic Four run. And the Justice League Unlimited animated series?… Classic! More information can be found at www.dwaynemcduffie.com.
Some of Dwayne McDuffie’s finest works include creating Damage Control for Marvel Comics and redefining Deathlok for Marvel as well. Later on for Marvel he wrote some of the best issues for Marvel’s long running Fantastic Four series. Mr. McDuffie also wrote the Justice League for DC Comics as well as co-founding Milestone Media in 1993, with creators Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle. Milestone’s mission(besides producing some of the best comic books and characters ever created like: Hardware, Icon and the ever popular Static Shock) was to expand the role of minorities in and out of comics. Mr. McDuffie was always a voice for diversity in the industry, fighting against stereotypical portrayals of people of color in comic books.
Mr.McDuffie’s other mainstream work included Saturday Morning cartoons such as Static Shock which earned him the Humanitas Prize in 2003 for a Static Shock episode dealing with gun violence. Other animated series’ he worked on included the Cartoon Network’s Justice League Unlimited and Ben 10 series, for which he served as story editor and writer. Mr. McDuffie also wrote many of DC Comics’ direct to DVD animated films, including All Star Superman.
RIP Mr. McDuffie. You will forever live on through your wonderful works.