Yesterday’s news of Dwayne McDuffie’s death hit me pretty hard. I wasn’t friends with the writer, but we had corresponded a few times online and I had sat down with him just last week at the world premiere of All-Star Superman to talk about his work on the animated film. I had been a big fan of his starting with the Justice League television show and growing from there so I could hardly consider the interview work. McDuffie was one of the nicest creators I ever had the pleasure of interviewing. Like most of you out there, to say his passing was a shock is an understatement.
The outpouring of love and respect for this man online following the news was overwhelming (we saw a record 2000+ facebook recommendations here alone). McDuffie has certainly been applauded for his work throughout his career but this was something else entirely. However, several people also made a point of remarking that we need to show the same type of gratitude to the people that are still here. It’s something we usually think of when a friend or relative dies, “From now on, I’m going to tell people I love them whenever I can because you never know when that person may not be here.” But for most people, that mindset usually doesn’t last long and we go back to our routine of taking people for granted. I’m not naive enough to think I’ll be immune to it this time around but it did make me want to act in some way.
For my column this week I decided pretty quickly I wanted to highlight some of my favorite creators and show them I appreciate what they do on a daily basis. I started making a list and easily had 30 names on it before I stopped myself. I realized I could never cover them all appropriately in just one column. The last few years I’ve started some great friendships with comic creators; I’ve also come to admire so many more for their never-ending talent. So instead of attempting to do them all justice in one short space, I decided to pick a few of them at random and go from there.
James Robinson. His Starman run was one of the first complete series I read straight through in trade paperback form instead of issue by issue. It remains one of my favorite series to this day and I know for a fact I’m not alone in that. I first met Robinson and got to tell him so at New York Comic Con a few years ago. I hadn’t seen pictures of him previously and my first thought was he looked like an ex-rock star. I wasn’t sure what kind of guy he was at that point but I soon found out he was a go-out-of-his-way-to-be-friendly kind of person who was beyond passionate about the characters he works with and the colleagues he associates himself with.
Alex Sinclair. I sought out Alex Sinclair at my first San Diego Comic Con. I loved the work he was doing on Blackest Night at the time and wanted to see if I could get him to do a little something in his sketchbook. Twenty minutes later and I had met his beautiful children and talked with him about his past work as a caricature artist. It was great getting to chat and learn more about him and his career. Colorists don’t get the recognition they deserve a lot of the time and Sinclair is one of the best in the business.
Jill Thompson. I can’t remember exactly how Jill Thompson and I first became aware of each other but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with us sharing the same first name and the fact that we’re both redheads. Thompson has one of the most unique art styles I’ve ever seen and it’s no wonder her Sandman work, as well as her own Scary Godmother, have been so successful. Not to mention she’s an absolute joy in person and online. My niece is just getting to the age where she’ll be able to appreciate Scary Godmother and I can’t wait to introduce her to Thompson’s world.
Dan Slott. Before I met Dan Slott just over a year ago, I had never read a comic of his, although he had mentioned he read my work. I quickly took some courses in the School of Slott and found myself becoming a fan of some characters I had previously never had an interest in. He puts every bit of himself into his work and it clearly shows. His dialogue is some of the most natural I’ve ever read. I’m honored to call Dan a friend, not only because of his talent but because he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet inside or outside of the comic industry.
Amanda Conner. A big fan of comic books herself, Amanda Conner is beyond skilled at her craft and cute as a button. Hers is some of the comic art I first coveted. I practically cried when she went off Power Girl. No offense to anyone else who has illustrated PG but a more perfect fit you could not find over Conner. I’ll pretty much read anything with her art in it because it’s that delightful to look at. Conner is also super friendly and gracious. She takes the time to talk to each and every fan that stops by her table at conventions.
There can be so much negativity in this industry from fans, I occasionally wonder why creators even bother creating. I don’t think the criticisms outweigh the accolades but it sure does feel that way sometimes. Of course, not all creators read their criticisms online but a good chunk do and it can’t feel good. It would be nice if we could skew things on the positive side more often instead of always tearing things down.
I’m not asking us to have national holidays to celebrate creators in the comic book industry, I’m just suggesting we give credit where credit is due and let them know just how much their work means to us when something strikes a cord. To continue what I’ve started here I plan to contact the rest of the people I had on my list (and then some) and give them a positive comment about why I’m happy they do what they do. Take a few minutes and do the same. Find their website or Twitter and say thanks at the very least. We are very fortunate to take pleasure in a medium where those whose work we respect are just a click away. And unlike most celebrities, comic creators are able to read what we have to say and usually reply to us personally. Everyone likes to hear their work is appreciated, show them that it is.
Want to show your appreciation? Tweet with tag #CreatorLove and tell us who you dig and why. It'll show up in the box below. Add an @ to your fave creator for good measure, if you know their twitter handle.