It feels impossible to think about this year's SPX without thinking about Dylan Williams. I knew him less than a lot of people, so it feels almost wrong for me to write anything about his too-early passing. But it also feels wrong to say nothing. I didn't know Dylan outside of conventions and I can't relate the same stories that some of his friends in comics have written about so eloquently. Nonetheless, he stood out as a model to the rest of the medium. He was fiercely devoted to the art of comics in a way that very few people I've ever met have been. And of those people I've met who seem as fiercely devoted to comics as Dylan, many have been influenced and/or directly impacted by him, and would happily admit as much.
In 2007, after I had completed my first two mini-comics, I sent them to Dylan, completely unsolicited, for feedback. By all rights, he should have ignored me, a dumb kid who thought he knew more than he did. But Dylan responded to my feeble submission with words of encouragement and direct, honest, valuable criticism that I hadn't heard in other places. After that he was always friendly and kind to me at comics shows when I saw him. One time at MoCCA he told me that I didn't have to buy his comics, we could trade because he liked my books (a story I've seen repeated several times recently). It was one of the first times I felt like I was a real cartoonist.
For the past few days I've been reading every rememberance of him and thinking about his impact a lot. As a cartoonist who needs to work a full-time job to make ends meet, I think it's incredible and admirable that Dylan was able to commit fully to everything he believed in and loved and make it work as his full-time life. That takes an incredible amount of courage, and I know a lot of my fellow cartoonists have that courage and I admire it completely. The thing about Dylan is that he also encouraged others to make that same leap and have that same faith - because what they were doing mattered. A friend of Dylan's told me that one of his beliefs was "do what you love and make it work." It's a simple but bold statement. It's what I aspire to. Dylan and a lot of cartoonists he published are beacons for me, lighting the way. As my pals Melissa Mendes and Joseph Lambert said, it's an honor to be part of this community. It's the best community. It's incredibly sad that we lost one of our very best far too soon.
My heart goes out to Dylan's friends and family.
If you want to help (and find some amazing books), please buy some Sparkplug Comic Books. There are also awesome art auctions going on at Divine Invasion that will help.
Because it felt like the only thing I could do to try to help, other than buy some Sparkplug Comics, I did a drawing for Divine Invasion which you might be able to bid on at some point. If you bid on it, everything will go to Dylan's loved ones to help with the bills and stuff. Okay. :(