Last night, I met my friend Amy Berg (who created Cha0s on Leverage, and brought me into Eureka as Dr. Parrish) down in Hollywood for dinner. Traffic was horrible (surprise) so she'd been waiting almost 20 minutes when I finally walked into the restaurant.
While I scanned the crowd to find her, a familiar voice broke through the cacaphony of diners and 90s rock that filled the room. "They'll let anyone in here, I guess."
I turned toward the voice, and saw my friend Yuri with his wife Tara and one of their friends. As it turned out, Amy had chosen a table that was right next to theirs, and though she knew Yuri via Twitter, didn't realize that she had been sitting next the The Amazing Yuri Lowenthal, Close Personal Friend of Me Wil Wheaton. We all talked for a few minutes, and then sort of retreated to our own tables and conversations, separated as they were by just a few feet.
Shortly after we finished eating, the restaurant kicked us all out to make way for a private karaoke party, so we walked next door to this cantina for a beer.
While we waited for our drinks to arrive, we talked about writers and writing. Just as our drinks were put down, Yuri said, "Speaking of great writers and great writing, I'd like to toast to Dwayne McDuffie."
We held our glasses up and were silent for a moment. "To Dwayne," I said. We clinked glasses, took a sip, and set them down.
"That was a good call, Yuri," I said, and took a couple of deep breaths so I wouldn't dilute my beer with tears.
For those who don't know, Dwayne McDuffie died suddenly this week, from what I understand were complications following emergency heart surgery. Many people who know of Dwayne's work knew him as a truly outstanding comic creator whose legacy is felt throughout the comic industry by creators and readers alike.
I knew Dwayne because I worked with him on Teen Titans around 2003. Recently, I'd worked for Dwayne and Titans creator Glenn Murakami on Ben Ten: Alien Force. I didn't know him as well as I wanted to, because the nature of animation puts a thick pane of soundproof glass between the actors and writers and producers, and the nature of television leaves little time for hanging out once the work is actually done.
What precious little time I did spend with him, though, was awesome. Dwayne was kind, he was supportive, he was incredibly creative, and he genuinely loved what he did. He loved to talk about comics with me, frequently asked me what I was reading, and if I could suggest anything for him to pick up. He always took a moment or two to thank me for coming in to play Aqualad or DarkStar, and whenever I left the studio he told me, "I'll see you next time," because he was always looking for ways to bring me back into his shows.
Dwayne was Good People, and everyone who worked with him loved him. When I found out — via Twitter, no less — that he had died, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach and submerged in ice water. It's been three days, now, since I heard, and I still have a knot in my stomach that doesn't seem all that interested in going anywhere very soon.
I'm having a hard time fully accepting that I'm not going to see Dwayne next time, so maybe you'll join me in a moment of silence and rememberance for a truly great person, who gave the world many wonderful things.
Here's to you, Dwayne. Thank you for everything.