This is so strange for me. The man who has been an inspiration to me since my early teens has died. If you are not into comics or cartoons, you may not know him, but this man was amazing. Dwayne McDuffie wrote so many things that touched me and many others. You can google him to find out his history, and go to Amazon to find books or DVDs of his work, and you'll be glad you did. If you watch or have children who watch the hugely popular Ben 10: Alien Force, or Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, which he was executive producer of, I can guarantee you've seen his work. I just want to talk about my personal experiences with him.
I never got to meet my hero in person. However, thanks to the Internet, I did get to converse with him. In 2001, he did an email interview for my degree dissertation. On his online message boards, I was one of the people who discussed comics, science, politics and religion with him. A couple of years ago, a friend asked him to sign something for me as a birthday present - Dwayne signed a copy of his graphic novel Icon: A Hero's Return, and a massive Justice League poster, a title he was working on at the time, where his Milestone characters were receiving a new lease of life in the DC Universe, with a personal message telling me how important fans like me had been to Milestone. And he sent it for free, even insisting on paying the postage.
People who know me, especially my fiancée, will tell you how much I can talk about Dwayne, his work, the personal and professional struggles he's been through. It's because he is my hero. Two of my proudest moments were when Dwayne asked if he could steal a phrase I coined to describe how 'gangsta rap' described urban life, as opposed to how artists like himself portrayed it ("the ghetto as a playground"), and when he said he liked a drawing I did of one of his characters (below). Those memories will now be that little bit more treasured.
Rest in peace, Dwayne, and condolences to your wife and family.
And thank you.
©2011 James Mathurin