As the producer of the 2014 Governor’s Awards, I talked with Turner Classic Movies about the four honorees receiving Oscars that night. These aired the week of the Oscars. A lot of people saw them on air, but I’m just seeing them!
Here I am talking about Maureen O’Hara. Maureen has some great things to say about Maureen as well.
Pixar visionary James Lassiter and I talk about what makes Hayao Misazaki a cinematic genius.
I could praise Harry Belafonte all day.
Jean-Claude Carriere is flat out brilliant. So happy to celebrate his work.
This was my third year producing the NAACP Image Awards and it’s so nice to hear ‘this was the best year ever’ from all quarters. Here’s some highlights from the Red Carpet Show. I never understood why didn’t have one before, so I was glad to institute one last year.
Here are clips from the main show. We’re already planning how to make next year’s show the best yet!
The inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity was awarded Saturday at Long Beach Comic Expo to Nilah Magruder, creator of “M.F.K.”
Writer, director and producer Reginald Hudlin, former “Black Panther” writer and one of the co-founders of the new incarnation of Milestone Media, delivered the keynote address at the event. Hudlin shared the text of his speech with CBR, and it follows in full.
Text of Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity keynote speech by Reginald Hudlin
Karl Marx said, “All that is solid melts into air.”
To put it another way, stuff be changing.
Remember the Berlin Wall? People were shot for getting too close to it. Now it’s gone… chunks of it on display at art museums.
My 10-year-old daughter has only known a Black president. She knows some white guys had the job before, but that’s as far back as powered wigs for her.
We’re here to celebrate Dwayne McDuffie. I was a fan of his for a long time. One of the nice things about being quasi-famous is that people you don’t know take your call. I was a fan of Dwayne, so I called him and got invited by the Milestone offices. I met Denys [Cowan], Dwayne, Derek [Dingle] and a lot of the other staffers.
Dwayne told me about getting a phone call from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was a fan of their character Icon. It is a testimony to the talent of Dwayne that he could write a character that would have such appeal to someone so ideologically opposite himself.
Dwayne McDuffie was one of my mentors in the world of comics. He did that for a lot of people. We’ll never know how many because of his humility and generosity. I was able to give back a little when I pleaded with him to move to Los Angeles. He had been forced out of comics by an industry that he turned their collective backs on him. Some might say it was because he was difficult, others might say it was because he stood up and spoke out if he saw something was unfair.
He was in Tampa, living with his family, basically shut down. I told him anyone who could write as well as he did, and as fast as he did, would always have a job here. The lack of certainty concerned him. I pleaded with him to trust me. I’m mainly right about these things. And I was right!
He got a job right away writing in animation, and never stopped until he stopped.
He had finally pushed past all the haters. The marginally successful Black comic book creators who attacked Milestone for having distribution through a major company. I told him they will be forgotten and he would be remembered because he made great product and people saw it. I was right about that too.
He never got what he deserved in the comic book world, despite his great work in television. The fans that hated my work on “Black Panther” attacked his work on the “Fantastic Four” even more, which is hard to imagine. Heavy editorial interference blocked him from writing the “Justice League” storylines he had planned, which were all brilliant.
But none of that matters. Because the work endures and his influence on the industry endures. It’s very chic to celebrate Dwayne now that he’s gone. With the current trendiness of diversity, knockoffs of his work are popping up everywhere. Pretty ironic that white writers would rip off Black creators to tell stories of racial injustice.
Dwayne was a certified genius, a brilliant writer, a giving friend, a loving husband, brother and son.
Dwayne would be very excited by all the nominees for the Diversity Award in his name. They are all terrifically talented authors, and I think he would certainly support the idea of celebrating good work that improves the industry and inspires the fans that have been without representation for far too long. Cause things be changing.
I want to thank Matt Wayne, Charlotte Fullerton and the Long Beach Comic Con for making this happen.
The Dynamic Creative Duo that are Reggie Hudlin (writer, film director, and producer) and Denys Cowan (comic book artist and television producer).
Tamara Brooks, Guest Contributor, Comic Book Resources
At the Long Beach Comic Expo in Long Beach, CA, creators and fans gathered to celebrate and name the winner of the first annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity. Phil LaMarr, who served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies, explained how the late creator affected him on a personal level, showing the actor that the “funny books and kid shows” they both worked on were art. They could be “smart and funny,” be “work that reflects the lives of people of color and have universal appeal.”
Martha Donato, Executive Director of LBCE, explained that it took about two years to put the McDuffie Award together, but she was “immediately hooked” on the idea because she liked everyone who was planning it. She noted that as a female owner of a convention and mother of three daughters, diversity is important to her, and as such, she’s incredibly happy to host the award.
LaMarr then introduced Matt Wayne, the Director of the Award, as a very loud, “Hi Daddy!” rung out from his son in the back of the room. Wayne remarked that he was encouraged by how many “groundbreaking comics” came out in 2014. “I think diversity is becoming important in the comics industry,” he said, pointing out what a marked difference it is from twenty-five years ago.
Wayne introduced the selection committee, most of whom were present — writer Neo Edmund (the McDuffie Award was his idea initially), Producer/Supervising Director Glen Murakami (who worked with McDuffie on “Ben 10″ and “Ben 10: Alien Force”), William Watkins (writer, former owner of Chicago’s first Black-owned comics store), Eugene Son (comics writer/Story Editor, “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series); unable to attend were Joan Hilty (Nickelodeon Comics Editor, Creator of “Bitter Girl”), Heidi MacDonald (Editor in Chief, The Beat), comic creator Len Wein and editor/writer/columnist Joseph P. Illidge. Wayne thanked the LBCE for jumping on the idea and the PR team for doing a great job in getting the word out.
The nominees were then introduced by LaMarr — “Hex11″ by Lisa K. Weber and Kelly Sue Milano (HexComics), “M.F.K.” by Nilah Magruder (www.mfkcomic.com), “Ms. Marvel” by G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel Entertainment), “The Shadow Hero” by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew (First Second Books), and “Shaft” by David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely (Dynamite Entertainment).
LaMarr introduced Denys Cowan to the audience, who spoke about how he first met McDuffie, working on Marvel’s “Deathlok” with Greg Wright. They connected immediately, Cowan said, and achieved a lot on the book because, quite simply, “we didn’t know enough not to do it… The critical reception of the book was pretty good but the personal satisfaction I felt is what lead to Milestone Comics. Deathlok was basically the first Milestone character.”
“Well, it’s impossible to know what he’d really do, but I can guess,” Cowan said, hypothesizing about what McDuffie would think about the Award and the push for diversity in the comics industry. “First, he’d think it was good. And then the next breath he’d say, ‘Let’s see how this all works out. We’ll see what Hollywood does with all this diversity stuff.’ And then the third thing he’d do would be, make it his mission to make it work like he always did… he would push to make sure the best possible people would be there to push the message no matter how cynical he felt about it.”
Though unable to attend the ceremony, Yang, who will be writing “Superman” for DC Comics later this year, sent a statement that read, in part, “Dwayne McDuffie was a real life superhero. I’d loved his stories since I was a kid, and now I’m sharing them with mine. Sonny and I are honored to be a part of it.”
Magruder addressed the audience, stating, “I grew up on Static Shock and Justice League — I knew about Dwayne McDuffie before I knew about him.” She recognized the diversity in every facet of webcomics, and always knew that’s what she wanted to do — put out a comic that’s open to all. She thanked the committee for including her and recognizing the diversity of webcomics.
LaMarr recognized Milano and Weber for “Hex11,” next. Each expressed how honored they were, and recognized the importance of the Award, and Milano mentioned that she was once told that she’d never get hired in comics because she was a woman over twenty-five years old. This experience stuck with her for many reasons, including “how many gorgeous voices will never be heard because of these misplaced ‘industry standards.'”
Walker, who will be writing “Cyborg” for DC Comics this summer, was next to speak. “I met Dwayne the first time in the ’90s, but I’d known about him for years. I’d always looked up to him, and, despite his height, he’d never looked down on anyone.”
When he looked at the list of nominees, Walker said, “I heard Dwayne’s voice saying, ‘Now, this is a diverse lineup’… We use that word a lot, but if it’s going to have any meaning, it’s got to have a capital ‘D.'”
“Karl Marx said, ‘All that is solid melts into air,'” keynote speaker Reginald Hudlin said, opening his address to the crowd. “In other words: Stuff be changing… My 10-year-old daughter only knows a black president… That kind of change is what comes to mind when I think of Dwayne McDuffie.”
Hudlin said there was a culture shift going on in the late-’90s that was palpable. “He was a mentor to me in the world of comics. I liked them, but didn’t know much about them. And we’ll never know how many people he mentored, because he was so humble… [McDuffie] had been pushed out of comics. Some might say he was difficult, some would say he stood up for things he thought was wrong.” Hudlin eventually convinced McDuffie to move to Los Angeles, where he immediately got a job writing in animation and “didn’t stop until he stopped.”
“It frustrated me that Dwayne never got what he deserved in comics. There are people who hated me for writing ‘Black Panther,’ but people hated him writing ‘Fantastic Four’ even more. That’s a lot of hate… [But] it doesn’t matter. Because his work endures.”
Like all the other special guests, Hudlin ruminated on what McDuffie would think or say about the current state of the industry. “I think — he’d be excited about all you guys. That’s what he did. He supported people. He would love the idea of celebrating great work. He would love that there are now images and representation that wasn’t there previously.”
LaMarr then introduced Charlotte McDuffie (“Ben 10: Omniverse”, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic”). McDuffie said she was “hesitant to put words in my husband’s mouth,” so she opted instead to read the inscription of the award — “From invisible to inevitable,” a quote from Dwayne — before announcing Nilah Magruder and “M.F.K.” as the winner, to a standing ovation.
“You’re going to have to indulge me for a minute, because I promised my mom I’d take pictures,” Magruder said, before taking photos of the waving and applauding audience. She thanked all the people involved in the Award, as well the other nominees for the important work they do. Magruder said that every year there is a new slate of comics get an audience, and more and more people area able to see themselves in them.
“It isn’t going away, we’re not going away,” She stated. “We are not a risk — we are an asset. And the industry will be better for our presence. The industry is cynical, but I’m an optimist, and the fact this award exists means it’s getting better.”
By Michael Cavna, The Washington Post, March 1
A decade ago, Nilah Magruder was attending Maryland’s Hood College and contributing comic strips to the campus paper, The Blue and Grey Today.
Now, life as a comics-maker has taken Magruder to a new pinnacle. At this weekend’s Long Beach Comic Expo, she has received the inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, for her action-adventure webcomic, M.F.K.
“I’m still in shock,” Magruder tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “It’s so exciting for a webcomic to receive this award.
“The nominees are all amazing artists and creators,” continues Magruder, now an L.A.-based storyboard and concept artist and book illustrator. “I’m humbled to be in such good company.”
Magruder, who launched M.F.K. in 2012, topped some high-profile comics. The other finalist works were: “Hex11,” by Lisa K. Weber and Kelly Sue Milano (HexComics); “Ms. Marvel,” by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel Entertainment); “The Shadow Hero,” by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew (First Second Books); and “Shaft,” by David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely (Dynamite Entertainment).
“Nilah Magruder’s M.F.K. is a great read,” Matt Wayne, director of the McDuffie diversity award, says in a statement. “Nilah created an incredibly engaging post-apocalyptic fantasy world peopled with a broad array of characters. In terms of both excellence and inclusiveness, this is just the sort of comic the award was created for.”
“I grew up surrounded by trees and wildlife and loving nature,” Magruder, who was born and raised in Pasadena, Md., tells Comic Riffs.
“I do believe much of the fantasy in my storytelling comes from my memories of home,” continues Magruder, who received her B.A. in communication arts from Frederick’s Hood College, graduating in 2005, before getting her B.F.A. in computer animation from Ringling College of Art and Design.
“It was a wonderful event and her speech was great,” writer-producer Reggie Hudlin, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, tells The Post’s Comic Riffs.
“I’m online about to check out her webcomic!” notes Hudlin, who recently announced that he was co-leading the relaunch of Milestone Media, of which the influential cartoonist/animator Dwayne McDuffie was editor-in-chief. McDuffie, whose work (including Static and the Emmy-winning “Static Shock”) featured diverse characters, died in 2011, at age 49.
Magruder received the honor from Charlotte McDuffie, Dwayne’s widow.
“This award isn’t about honoring Dwayne,” Wayne says in his statement. “Dwayne wouldn’t have stood for that. The selection committee had to choose between five worthy nominees, and those works and their creators are what we celebrate today.”
“I think this award is the start of something great,” Magruder tells Comic Riffs, “and I’m truly honored to be a part of it in its first year.”
‘I do think pop culture needs to diversify itself and I think that’s already in progress,’ says Brandon Thomas, creator of ‘Miranda Mercury.’
by Danica Davidson, MTV News 2/25/2015
In honor of Black History Month, MTV spoke to four black comic book creators who are not only changing the demographics of the characters in comics, but also opening the doors for future comic book creators to tell diverse and inspiring new stories.
Reginald Hudlin is the president of Hudlin Entertainment, producer of “Django Unchained,” former President of Entertainment for BET, and has written Marvel’s “Black Panther.”
MTV: What first got you interested in comics?
REGINALD HUDLIN: My older brothers read them so why not read comics? Great stories, great art… I feel like the world is catching up to what fans have always known.
My parents were supportive of us reading and never threw comics out. I still have our collective collection, which now has its own room.
MTV: How does African-American culture and identity shape your comics?
HUDLIN: The best comics were always culturally relevant in the times they were created, just like music. You plug into universal relatability by working out of your specific experience…because people aren’t really that different.
MTV: Have you faced prejudice for being African-American in the comics medium?
HUDLIN: The majority of my encounters have been very positive. Part of that comes from me entering the business when there was a changing of the guard at the top, and part of that comes from me entering comics after having a successful career in movies and television.
It’s more about overcoming historical challenges in the marketplace when it comes to black characters. Any time you do a book that reaches beyond the existing comic book fanbase, it’s a problem for publishers because they don’t know how to connect to that bigger audience who likely doesn’t know there are comics that they would like if they knew they existed and knew where to buy them.
MTV: Superhero movies have been doing really well lately. Do you think more black superhero movies can help make a paradigm shift for comics and movies culture?
HUDLIN: Sure. I think seeing President Palmer on “24″ helped a lot of Americans visualize what a successful presidency by an African-American would look like, making it easier for them to vote for President Obama.
There are plenty of white, Latin and Asian people who grew up loving “Black Panther” and “Static Shock.” When those characters are seen in live action movies and TV shows, we can’t really measure how big the global impact of that positive imagery will have on people.
MTV: What do you want people to take away from your comics?
HUDLIN: They should have fun. If you read a comic and get pumped, have a laugh, feel inspired and get hit in the feels, that’s a total entertainment experience!
MTV: What advice do you have for a young person looking to break in to this medium?
HUDLIN: There are way too many people doing derivative work. Ironically, I see it a lot in creator-owned work. Folks are either trying to knock off their favorite comic, or they are being “different” in the same ways everyone else is.
Check out the other interviews here.