Milestone Media co-founder Michael Davis braved choppy waters to talk with CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland aboard the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego. They discuss the untimely passings of both Dwayne McDuffie and Robert Washington III and their legacies, as well as why McDuffie was far more than just a great black comic book writer. Davis also shares how he felt upon meeting Jack Kirby for the first, as well as how comics changed his life and made him a better reader. He also tells a story from his youth, about his mother throwing away his copy of “Action Comics” #2.
On Dwayne McDuffie being more than just the preeminent black comic book writer: Dwayne hated that stuff. Dwayne would have defined his blackness to and for everyone, but as a writer he was just a great — you could put him in any category with anybody. For whatever reason, he was overlooked for a whole long time. Dwayne was… he was a bonafide genius. They call people geniuses all the time now — he literally was a genius. He’s my favorite writer. Not my favorite comic book writer. My favorite writer. Quite literally it’s Dwayne McDuffie and Ernest Hemmingway. Because he could tell a great story.
On his first comics and how the medium improved his reading level: I couldn’t read very well. I was a latchkey kid. I got locked out of my house so I went to the store to sort of hang around so I wasn’t sitting in front of my house. You don’t wanna do that when you’re in the projects and you’re 8, or whatever the heck I was. I just picked up the book. I picked it up because I thought it was “The Avengers” TV show, but it was actually the “Avengers” comic book. It was the Red Guardian — I think it was “Avengers” #66, I could be wrong. Or #43. Damn it, I went to public shool! I took it home and I just flipped [through it] and looked at the pictures and [snaps fingers] I was done in a second. Then, I’m still sitting outside my house, so now I’m like, I still got time, I don’t wanna look at school books because who would be that stupid? Why do homework? So I started trying to read. There were a whole lot of words I couldn’t get. When my mother finally came home, I would bring the comic book to her and point to words. She would first tell me what it is, then a light bulb went off in her head. Then she said, “Any time you don’t know a word, go to the dictionary and then look it up.” I forget what grade — I was in the 5th grade, but at a 3rd grade reading level. That summer, my reading level jumped to the 9th grade.