Hi. So, two years ago today we lost Dwayne McDuffie. I still find it hard to think about, much less post about. And I don’t want to, I don’t know, cash in on our friendship. But it’d be equally awkward to just let the day go by without recognizing it.
So, here’s picture of Dwayne, his wife Charlotte Fullerton and my son Riley from Comic-Con in 2010. Here, Dwayne was trying to entertain Riley, who was exhausted from posing for pictures (“Hey, Ultra Boy! Over here!”). I’m posting it because in most of Dwayne’s pictures he looks so wise and intelligent and dignified. And he was all those things.
But he could also be goofy and hilarious… and kind.
He was kind to me again and again. When my old MAC used to crash, Dwayne would be on the other end of the phone, walking me through restarting my computer from the discs, not unlike Charlton Heston walking Karen Black the steps of landing a 747 in AIRPORT 1975.
When the WGA strike hit in 2008 and I, with a family to support, panicked over losing my live action work, Dwayne immediately gave me work on Ben 10: Alien Force. Whenever I had a pitch to work out, I would ride my bike over to Dwayne’s place and pitch it to him first. He’d listen patiently and give me brilliant pointers. Or just tear the thing down and help me build it up again from scratch. Yes, I know. How great was it that I had a story genius in my neighborhood who I could impose upon like that?
I met Dwayne 20-some odd years ago through his best friend Matt Wayne who, like Dwayne, is always ready with sound advice and a patient ear. Matt tells me that it was Dwayne who suggested the “pinhole” instead of a black hole for the fourth GL episode.
Sometimes I would call Dwayne and ask how he was doing and he’d tell me, “Swamped. I’m late on everything.” Then, tell him I was driving over to Fry’s Electronics and ask if he wanted to come. “Yeah, sure. I’ll come.” It was like his kryptonite.
I met with Dwayne and Charlotte at a diner just before I went in to Warner Brothers Animation to pitch my Green Lantern take to Bruce and Sam Register. Who better than Dwayne to give me insider advice about pitching Bruce? I won’t tell you what he said. But I will tell you I got the job.
I nicknamed Dwayne “The Maestro” because, even though we were friends, his talent and brilliance put him on a whole different level. I thought he deserved a title. He was my friend and he was my mentor.
He was The Maestro.
And I miss him every day.
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