2020 Great Graphic Novels for Teens: They Called Us Enemy

The winner of the 2020 Wayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics was announced Saturday and it is They Called us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker, the graphic memoir about Takei’s experiences as a child in a concentration camp for Japanese Americans.

The winner was announced in a FB video which you can watch here. The date was also the 10th anniversary of McDuffie’s very untimely death at age 49.

Host Phil Lamarr noted the great human themes in McDuffie’s comics work and urged readers to seek it out. “If his name is on it, you will be happy you read it.”

The entire They Called us Enemy team also gave thank you speeches, noting the work of Top Shelf’s Leigh Walton and Chris Staros as publishers, and Charlotte Fullerton McDuffie’s work in keeping McDuffie’s legacy alive.

I’m thrilled to win,” said Takei. “It’s especially meaningful to receive this award on the 10th anniversary of untimely passing, a life interrupted. They Called Us Enemy is also about life interrupted but in a different context.”

The other finalists were:

written by Brandon Thomas
illustrated by Khary Randolph

From Truth With Truth
written and illustrated by Lawrence Lindell

Angola Janga: Kingdom of Runaway Slaves
written and illustrated by Marcelo D’Salete

Iyanu: Child of Wonder
written by Roye Okupe
illustrated by Godwin Akpan

Lamarr noted that he enjoyed participating in the award every year as it helped him discover new work. As one of the judges myself, I’ll echo this. Reading through the submissions and finalists for the DMADs every year is always a reminder of the joy of finding new creators and stories, something Dwayne would very much have supported. It’s also a privilege and joy to me to take part every year in honoring Dwayne and his work.

You can also help that mission by supporting the Dwayne McDuffie Foundation: 

Today, a Dwayne McDuffie gofundme campaign exists to continue his legacy. The funds raised here by his widow, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie, are to help establish The Dwayne McDuffie Foundation, which will be a non-profit organization for awarding academic scholarships to diverse students. This gofundme also contributes to keeping Dwayne’s vision alive by, among other things, establishing and continuing prestigious awards in his name; creating, managing, and maintaining an archival website for research purposes; and providing artifacts for display in the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

And please remember to submit your work to the 2021 DMAD awards! We’ll keep you posted here at the Beat on when and how to submit when the process begins.