We all knew it was a possibility, certainly, but I don’t think any of us really expected it to happen — I know I certainly didn’t. After asking cartoonists to recommend their favorite Sparkplug titles (which we continue to whole-heartedly recommend, of course), we got a note from Dylan Williams’ close friend, cartoonist Tom Neely, letting us know that Williams was doing well, was in good spirits, and was genuinely touched by the outpouring of support and love directed toward him and Sparkplug. And besides, Williams had already tackled this before, and was seemingly stronger before it.
Most of us heard the news on Saturday night, as many of our friends and colleagues were prepping for the Ignatz awards, a celebration of the industry to which he’d devoted his life — an event it no doubt pained Williams to have to skip. And despite all the evidence, disbelief was my first reaction, finding out the news in Twitter of all places.
There’s just not enough space to list the reasons why Williams was important and well-loved–in an industry so fueled by internal drama, it’s hard nearly impossible to find someone who’s managed to come out of the relentless gossip unscathed, but I can honestly say that, in all of my years in comics, I’ve never heard a negative word spoken about Dylan Williams. He was, so far as I can tell, universally loved in this world. Williams devoted his life to alternative comics and his love for the medium shone through some of the most important indie titles of the past decade and projects like the Portland Zine Symposium.
Williams seemed a perpetual positive character both at shows and through all of our interactions online as a supporter of what we do here, and, as evidenced by Neely’s note, it was a positivity that Williams carried with him until his much too early end.
Baffled by how to approach such a loss, I reached out to some mutual friends (Williams had plenty of those), asking for stories and remembrances to help us drive home just how important he was to all of us and the community we love. There was, not surprisingly, an outpouring of grief on the subject — also not surprising is the fact that many folks are still processing the whole thing and attempting to figure out how to address the matter. We’ve collected a few responses below, plus memorials from cartoonists’ personal blogs.
And for those still looking for the right words, we’ll continue to build out the list for as long as people have additions. Please add your own in the comments below.
Leigh Walton: I only interacted with Dylan a little – when I did, of course, he was always helpful & kind. I find myself shocked, wishing I had connected with him more, humbled by the love that binds together our indie comics family, and determined to try to live up to Dylan’s example and be for others what he clearly was for so many people. We’re all so lucky to be a part of this. Dylan, rest in peace.
Tom Hart: Dylan was super generous to me when I was starting my school. He gave me a lot of advice from his experience at IPRC and was very enthusiastic on my behalf. He also published great great books and I am deeply sad about losing him.