Yesterday, G. Willow Wilson won the Second Annual Dwayne McDuffie Awards for Diversity in Comics for her work with artist Adrian Alphona on Ms. Marvel. The ceremony was held at Long Beach Comic Expo and began with a speech by Khary Payton (Teen Titans), host of the awards and long time collaborator with the late Dwayne McDuffie (Static Shock). He recounted several memorable anecdotes about his time working with McDuffie before introducing Martha Donato, Co-Founder and Director of Long Beach Comic Expo. Donato thanked the judges and introduced Nilah Magruder (M.F.K.), last year’s McDuffie Awards honoree. Magruder spoke about how she never expected to receive recognition for web comics as well as how winning the McDuffie Award changed her life.
William Watkins, a writer and judge, was introduced to the panel. Following this, a video presentation by writer G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) was screened at the ceremony where she thanked the judges for her nomination and recounted a dispute between her and McDuffy about the DC hero Vixen. Brandon Easton (Shadowlaw) came to the stage to talk about the process of animation pertaining to diversity. Emet comics publisher Maytal Gilboa spoke about her comics imprint, which spotlights female creators.
Khary Payton continued the proceedings by summarizing the events that led McDuffie towards comics and ultimately inspired him to create Milestone Media. Payton also lauded McDuffie’s extensive list of works as a writer, including Justice League of America, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Hellraiser, Ultra-Man, The Tick and Back to the Future. “We can all use a little bit more perspective from Dwayne McDuffie,” said Payton before introducing the next guest.
Marc Bernardin (Genius) was the keynote speaker for the evening. “When I walk through a comic book store looking through the shelves, I don’t see a lot of faces that look like mine,” he said. Bernardin also clarified that he has seen progress in the industry with titles such as Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Fresh Romance, Zana and others. He spoke briefly about the challenges he faced during his brief run on the New 52 reboot of Static Shock. Finally, Bernardin advised the audience to “tip your waitress” before leaving the stage.
Payton thanked the judges of the awards including Matt Wayne, former Managing Editor of Milestone Media, Joseph Phillip Illidge (The Mission), Heidi McDonald (The Beat Herself), former comic store owner and writer William Watkins, director Neo Edmund and Nickelodeon Comics Editor Joan Hilty. Charlotte Fullerton (Ben 10: Omniverse), fellow comic book writer and Dwayne’s widow, took to the stage to mention to the audience that it was McDuffie’s birthday and acknowledged that today, February 21st, is the fifth anniversary of his death.
Finally, G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) was honored with the award. She spoke about a time paradox in the video that was recorded in case she won– thus the paradox begins!
Here is the full list of McDuffie nominees:
Writer: G. Willow Wilson Artist: Adrian Alphona
Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur
Writer: Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare Artist: Natacha Bustos
Andre The Giant Closer to Heaven
Writer: Jean Barker Artist: Joey Granger
Editor: Janelle Asselin