Comic book and animation writer Dwayne McDuffie has passed away, according to reports on all the major comics news sites. This is unexpected and tragic — McDuffie scripted the All-Star Superman animated movie that comes out today and appeared last week at the movie’s premiere event.
McDuffie also was the first comic book professional I got to interview for an article. In my first job out of college, I worked as the special sections editor at the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, Ariz. One of the special sections I was in charge of was a weekly tabloid section called Sundial. It was a weekly tabloid section that included the TV listings and about 13 pages of editorial content for arts and entertainment news. This was the only regular arts section of the paper, for which hard news and sports were the main focus. I wrote each week a couple of features and a bunch of shorter articles and a calendar for this section, filling the rest with relevant wire copy about what was going on in the TV, movie and book worlds.
I was totally into comics but felt my primary focus had to be on local arts. I didn’t write anything about comics for almost a year, until the Death of Superman became a super hot topic everyone in town was talking about. So I dove in and wrote a long piece on the history of Superman. I was in touch with Martha Thomases, who was in charge of publicity at DC Comics at the time, and she helped me out with some reference materials and even a few advance copies of issues in the Death of Superman storyline. She refused my interview requests, however, saying the writers and editors were all off on retreat figuring out the next steps in the Superman story. I relate this only to explain how I got on the DC press list, so that when Milestone Media was launching a few months later, I got the press kit and thought it would be fun to fill my writing quota with a story about this new line of comics.
So Thomases arranged a phone interview with McDuffie, who I recall as being a very good interview in that he knew what he was talking about and very easy to talk to. We took a couple of diversions to talk about other things he had done and what was going on in comics in general. And the resulting article was published in the Feb. 20, 1993, edition of the Sun.
I have scanned in the story and present it below as a PDF. There are a couple of typos and punctuation errors, but re-reading it stands up pretty well overall. Read and enjoy.
There is a post-script to this story. That year was the first year I made the trip out to San Diego for Comic-Con. And while I was there, I ran into Thomases at the DC booth and she introduced me to McDuffie, who was signing Milestone trading cards. We had a nice little chat, he talked about how well Milestone was doing (so far) and he handed me a couple of signed cards to take away (I still have it, somewhere).
I’ve sort of bumped into Dwayne or seen him from across the room at many cons since then. As I’ve written more about animation, I’ve seen some of the shows he’s written and enjoyed them. I’ve also been impressed by his ability to stand up and tell the truth about the portrayal of minorities in comics and the way the business operates.
I’m sorry to hear he’s gone. He’ll be missed.