Thank you, Dylan Williams.
There aren’t words to express how much Dylan Williams meant to me, yet I have trying to find them since I heard the news of his passing on Saturday.
As a friend, Dylan was kind and honest. He was able to say the things that I would offer to friends but had trouble remembering for myself, the things I needed to hear in a way that I actually heard them. There are so many examples I could give about this throughout our friendship, I can hardly figure out where to start. Instead, I will say that I always took his words and advice to heart and his support and encouragement changed my life. When Dylan confided in me about a couple situations with his friends asking what I thought, I felt like I had one a special prize of maturity, since I so deeply looked up to him.
There was so much I turned to him for, that we commiserated about, that we laughed about, that we worked on… He was vegan, he published, he taught, he created, he organized, he had similar parental issues as I did, he got mad about the same things I get frustrated over (but acted WAY more diplomatically about it). Often, the times when I was confiding in him were when I was trying to reel in my confrontational nature or to channel it more constructively. Conversely, often the times when he confided in me was to determine a way to be more confrontational or direct with someone about something. I laugh and cry just thinking about all of it.
As I search for photos of us together, I see countless emails between us over the years and it breaks my heart that I will never have a chance to work on anything with him again. I wish that I could call him and ask him what he thinks the best way to deal with any of this is right now. If you want to see a really amazing photo of Dylan, check out Theo’s blog about Dylan here.
So many times before I got to know her, I thought how lucky Emily must be to be Dylan’s partner. As I got to know her better, I realized it wasn’t luck at all, it was because she is completely amazing as well. I got to know Emily more and more working on the Portland Zine Symposium together and I can’t imagine what she has been through or is going through because I saw so much love and support between the two of them. They worked on projects together (like PZS and Sparkplug) and supported each other in a way any of us would be fortunate to have with anyone. Knowing Dylan was an inspiration, but knowing Emily and Dylan and watching them care for each other was also a great personal inspiration to me.
When I talked to Emily on the phone yesterday, I felt helpless because I wish I could somehow make everything better. She is such a wonderful and strong person, I know she will get through this, but please consider buying comics from Sparkplug, contributing to any of the many benefits in Dylan’s honor, or showing her some kind of love. Alex Wrekk and I were talking about doing a Delivered Dish Certificate for her, I have been thinking of just cooking some food and bringing it to her, and stuff like that.
Even in the midst of Dylan being in the hospital, Emily still helped with PZS. We all felt a gaping hole not having Dylan there this year, as he was in the hospital. We passed around a giant card for people to sign (you can see it in this video: http://youtu.be/dytCOyE3tNA, but let me know if you have a photo of that card), but I didn’t imagine he would not be there next year. Thinking of the Portland Zine Symposium without Dylan there breaks my heart. Like most things Dylan worked on, he brought so much to it.
As a role model to me, Dylan was hardcore. Dylan got shit done. Dylan was an inspiration to see because he followed through on his ideas with action. Dylan was an inspiration to me because we had so many similar values and passions, he embodied those values and passions through his work, successfully. His work and his life showed me what was possible in helping others, building community and being a good friend. I am passionate about many ideas and projects, I try to act constructively and follow through on those ideas and projects. So often, I feel I see people talking about values and ideas without action to back their words up. Dylan didn’t just talk about comics, he made them. Dylan didn’t just support others’ comics, he published, distributed and taught comics. Dylan was an alternative before there was much of an alternative and he didn’t buy into any ideas about how comics should be, he supported anyone in making comics in their own way. He didn’t view anything as “more legitimate” just because it was mainstream, he truly found value in comics as art and supported artists making what they were inspired to make. Dylan didn’t just show compassion, he was kind to people he didn’t even agree with, something I struggle to do in my own life and often fall short on. Knowing and talking to Dylan about such conflicts has helped me improve on that and I can try to continue improving on remembering how he approached those he didn’t agree with. Even when he saw people in the Portland comics scene abandoning more independent, community-driven roots, he was thinking about starting a new independent fest. He could have just complained, but he was starting to think of new ideas to grow something instead. Dylan built community, attending zine and comics fests across the nation, contributing to other’s zines and more. When I started Stumptown Underground, his support meant so much to me. Then, when he contributed, despite all the other shit he was working on, I felt like I must be doing something worthwhile.
I also volunteer at IPRC, where Dylan taught as well. I watching him treat his students with such encouragement and dignity. His teaching philosophies were so spot on and it was reflected in I saw his students’ work grow while working with him. Always bringing people together, he would get on them to submit to Stumptown Underground or table at PZS, too.
And, you know, that’s the thing about Dylan. He could make you feel special, he could make you laugh, he could put things in perspective with no bullshit, he could give support in a way that made you feel like what you were doing mattered. Why? Because it does matter! Dylan was genuine and it mattered to him in a real way.
Humbly, without ego and without selfish ploys for credit, Dylan pushed forward ideas, compassion, support and projects for the sake of doing it, because he believed that was the way to be.
And, damn, is he right. Reading posts by others who knew him, it all shines through. It is only sad to lose Dylan because knowing him was such joy and inspiration. That his life was cut short is only a loss because he gave so much.
I could go on and on, but I am still processing. One of the ways I deal with pain is through creative expression. I want to thank everyone who has written about Dylan so far (I have already personally emailed some, I imagine I will have more people to thank soon). All your positive and loving stories are amazing to read and it makes me want to figure out a way to preserve a lot of this for each other, for those who may not have known Dylan as well, or for those who will never get the chance to know him in person.
I have started sending out emails about doing a zine dedicated to / in remembrance of Dylan. I am not sure what direction it will take, but maybe it will just be really loose, anything people who have known him would like to contribute, stories about him, his ideas, his work, etc. I would like help putting it together and help giving the whole idea shape. I think I would like to make it something widely available for free, leaving it in comic book stores around Portland and taking it to conventions, etc. Or maybe continually printing and supplying the to Sparkplug and letting Sparkplug sell it? I am not sure. One of the many values Dylan and I shared was a passion for collective, equal organizing. I would love the organizational help in an equal way from anyone who is interested. If you want to help me organize it or just to contribute, please email me at lovemotionstory [at] gmail [dot] com, I would love to hear from anyone who knew Dylan about this. I also am thinking about starting another independent comics fest in his honor, as we’ve seen more indie comics people coming to PZS looking for a place to express their voice.
Thank you for everything, Dylan Williams. You lead your life in such a kind, sincere and active way. We are all so lucky to know you.
Alex Wrekk – http://alexwrekk.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/1576/
Tom Neely – http://www.facebook.com/iwilldestroyyou/posts/10150296855268051 – “he was better than all of us. and he only wanted us to be ourselves. that’s all i can say right now.”
Tessa Brunton – http://tessab.net/2011/09/11/in-peace/
Gabby Playhouse – http://www.gabbysplayhouse.com/?p=1934
Austin English – http://dominobooksnews.com/2011/09/11/
Elijah Brubaker – http://elijahbrubaker.com/?p=1311
David King – http://www.reliablecomics.com/2011/09/dylan-williams/
2D Cloud – http://2dcloud.blogspot.com/2011/09/dylan-william-publisher-at-sparkplug.html
Katy Ellis O’Brien – http://blog.trumpetflower.net/?p=725
If you are interested in reading more about Dylan and all the wonderful things people have to say about his life, you can check out The Comics Reporter page of the collective memory of Dylan Williams: http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/collective_memory_dylan_williams_rip/