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As announced this weekend, the first Dwayne McDuffie Diversity Award was given out, and the winner was Nilah Magruder for her webcomic M.F.K.

Disclosure: I was one of the judges for this award. And I couldn’t be happier that Magruder won.

I wasn’t familiar with her work before, but as a professional animator, she has the lively page layouts, great character designs and emotional range you’d expect from someone with that background. The story is a fantasy, about Abbie, a young girl who sets off to scatter her mother’s ashes over the Potter’s Spine mountain range. Things don’t go so smoothly, adventures ensue and there you have a webcomic, which has been running since 2012. There’s world building, there’s drama, and imagination. It reminds me a bit of Finder.
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Magruder was presented with the award by Charlotte McDuffie at this weekend’s Long Beach Comics Expo in what sounds like a gala event. After the win she got a profile in Hero Complex where she talks more about it.:

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“I feel like it means that I’m doing something right,” she said. “Because I do this alone, and I just do this in my spare time — I have a full-time job — I’ve been second-guessing myself a lot. I have no editor, I have no collaborator, so I’m always thinking ‘Am I portraying these characters the right way? Is this story making sense to people?’ It’s just exciting that so many people understand it and appreciate it and see the value in it.”


Here’s another profile in WaPo. And her own reaction at her tumblr.
All the McDuffie award nominees were strong—even important—books: Hex11 by Lisa K. Weber and Kelly Sue Milano, Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew , and Shaft by David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely. They all deserve to be applauded for living up to ideas of diversity and equality not as textbooks, but as living, breathing stories that matter to all kinds of people.


But all that said, with M.F.K.’s win, I suspect it is just the beginning of recognition for Magruder—I hope so anyway. She is so enormously talented. A star is born.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! Thanks for your glowing report. After high school, an advisor at AIW, Arlington, VA appraised her work as raw talent. I was impressed but not convinced that art could become a profession. She has pursued without too much support. Nilah’s mom.

  2. Learning about Nilah Magruder’s work & recognition is bringing a much needed smile to my day! Looking forward to reading M.F.K. & supporting Ms. Magruder.

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