I feel absolutely crushed by this news.
I can only imagine what his family and close friends may be going though, but my thoughts are with them. For now, all I can seem to dwell on is the initial bout of panic I felt when I heard the news. It’s like one of those tragic events that occurs in which you’ll always remember where you were. I was standing in a crowded room full of 300 people who were laughing and drinking and having a great time. It was one of those moments of intense focus, where I blocked everything else out. The room went quiet around me. I don’t know what they were saying. I only remember staring blankly at the text message on my phone. I felt like I was going into shock. My chest tightened. I got tunnel vision. Time slowed and I ran that damned gamut of emotions. Disbelief, because I didn’t want to accept it as truth. Anger, because I was mad this could happen, it seemed so unfair. Sorrow, because I selfishly thought about how I’d never see him again. Fear, because it seemed so sudden, because he’s only two years older than me and it made me think about my own mortality. Guilty, because I thought about what would happen to the company, to the creators he provided an outlet for, about how I’d need to do this post for my own catharsis, all that instead of first thinking about the personal loss. Confusion, because I didn’t know what would happen next…
Personally, Dylan was merely a friend of a friend to me. I only got the chance to hang out with him a couple of times, every second of which is now etched into my memory. We were much closer professionally, emailing often, as I reviewed dozens of Sparkplug Comic Books over the years. Dylan was gracious enough to put me on the comp list at Sparkplug. I remember the first time I met him. I remember talking comics with him. I remember handing him a copy of my first mini-comic, and the warmth and elation he showed. That genuine interest is something I bet a lot of creators felt so encouraged by…
Dylan created a publishing company out of thin air. He did what all parents tell their kids to do, even if they couldn’t attempt it themselves for more pragmatic reasons. He followed his passion. He contributed something so unique to the industry. He tried to create an audience for the types of books that he wanted to read. There was something so admirable and selfless about that to me. To stake your reputation, your financial means, all on that singular belief. That’s what people mean when they talk about having vision. It felt like Sparkplug was just finally hitting its stride, with so much momentum having reached a crescendo, that maybe the best was yet to come. Sparkplug Comic Books were often, regularly, consistently, on my best of the year lists, and one need only look at the recent round of awards nominations to see the type of brand recognition he’d built. This is a loss that feels immensely consequential. There is a gaping hole in my heart because I’ll miss the guy. There is a gaping hole in my brain where I will miss the intellectual artistry he was responsible for guiding into the world…
Timing is a weird thing in life. It’s a little tangential, but I’ve worked in security and emergency management before and after 9/11. I worked for a company that was directly impacted by 9/11. I thought I’d be spending the 10th anniversary remembering that day, and those immediately following it. Retracing my steps, replaying the events of the day, reliving the decisions I had to make, and wondering about how the events of that day changed my world. It seems that now this horrible date will be colored by another tragic event. In addition to everything else, every 9/11 from this point forward, my thoughts will now wrestle with the loss of Dylan Williams.
Again, timing is a weird thing in life. I keep thinking about DC Comics and their New 52 for some dumb reason. That’s not really what will fix the industry. I always had the feeling that if there were a hundred guys like Dylan doing what he did, following their creative vision, with a transformative agenda, operating with style and influence, that the industry could probably be “fixed” in short order. We didn’t have a hundred guys. We only had one. We had Dylan. The world is better for it.
I’ll miss you, Dylan.