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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dylan Williams

That's him, second from the left. This is the only picture with both me and Dylan that I could find. ©David King.
Yesterday afternoon my friend Dylan Williams passed away after a long fight with cancer. He was the cartoonist behind Reporter and was the publisher of Sparkplug Comic Books. I really can't say much about him that hasn't been already said better elsewhere. I just wanted to share some of my Dylan observations from over the years. 

I can't remember the first time I met Dylan. I almost always saw him in the context of a comic convention. He'd share a table with Tom Neely, and Tom would let me have a spot at his table, so we'd spend most of the weekend together. Comics folks, no matter how well adjusted they are at home around their friends, become socially awkward and dysfunctional when they are in the same room together. It happens to me, still, and it's hard to not blame myself for not being congenial enough or saying the wrong thing. Dylan didn't seem to have this problem, but he was really good at spotting it. He had this particular sidle he'd do, that always made me secretly smile. If you ever saw Dylan at a convention you'd know what I'm talking about. He'd spot you having an awkward moment with another comics person, or with a customer, and he'd sidle over and interrupt, and make a recommendation or compliment one of the people or jokingly insult one of the people or just say whatever needed to be said, and everyone would be at ease.

When we visited portland years ago, Lila and I stayed with a friend who didn't have a car so we walked everywhere, and even though we didn't plan on it, we kept running into Dylan all over the city. Any time he saw us walking around, he'd make a crazy U-turn and drove us to wherever we were headed even though he didn't know me that well at that point. 

He encouraged me to make comics, and said nicer things to me than I ever felt I deserved. As a publisher his attitude seemed so insane to me at times. He built the careers of so many great cartoonists, but never strived to make a name for himself off of their efforts. He just loved the work. 

His absence at San Diego Comic-con this year was really felt hard by me. In all that insanity, he was a center of gravity. Without him, it was just too crazy. I won't be going to Comic-con next year. Goodbye Dylan, I love you.

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