Just over a year ago, I was invited to the season finale of the HBO show ‘Treme’ at the Maison du Monde. My friend and colleague, Dwayne McDuffie, asked me to write an intro paragraph for the blog post for his new book, “Treme: Music, Memories and a New Orleans Renaissance”.
The first season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” was absolutely fantastic. It was also a great way for the world to learn a lot more about the teams that made the playoffs. It was so great that HBO show producers decided to do it again, this time focusing on the Jacksonville Jaguars training camp. It was awesome, because we got to learn a bit more about the team and it was even more awesome because it was a chance to hear from some of the players that you may not have known as much about. Player interviews are great for fans, but they are also great for the teams themselves.
For me, the greatest influence on my life has been the most well known in the world of basketball. For me, that man would be the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets, Dwayne “The Rock” McDuffie.
Hardware: Season One #1 debuted this week, an explosive first issue that reintroduces Curtis Metcalf/quest Hardware’s for the contemporary era. The game is the last installment in the first wave of Milestone Returns games, and fans have been enjoying it for all of the ways it pays tribute to the character’s initial run by Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan. I recently had the opportunity to attend a virtual press conference with Cowan and Hardware: Season One writer Brandon Thomas, where the two discussed their experiences working on the show — as well as paying tribute to McDuffie’s work, who died in 2011.
Working on the series is “a humbling, sort of somber experience,” Thomas remarked. “Even today, seeing Denys’ Hardware pages appear in the inbox makes me wonder, ‘Wow, did I create this?’ It’s almost like having an out of body experience at times. Obviously, I try my hardest on every job I work on, but this one is a bit more… It’s a bit heavier, takes a little longer, and requires a little more thinking because I just want to make a fantastic job. Because there’s an added degree of responsibility for this project, these characters, and this universe now that Dwayne is no longer with us.”
Cowan, who returned to work on the series as an artist, said, “I had totally forgotten how to draw it, what he looked like.” “To go back into that universe, I had to buy some old Hardware comics. It hasn’t been nostalgic in the least. It was like seeing an old acquaintance through fresh eyes. Brandon’s writing has given it a fresh spin, and I’ve had to approach the tales differently as a result. I’d say that’s the same energy that Dwayne brought to it, multiplied tenfold by Brandon. It’s just fantastic writing. It’s been a fun experience sketching Hardware again, but in a manner I didn’t anticipate. I had no idea it would be so difficult and yet so rewarding. So, going back to the narrative, that’s how it’s been. It’s been a fantastic adventure.”
A reference to the famous parakeet metaphor from the original Hardware series is included as part of the tribute to McDuffie.
“If it isn’t mentioned, it isn’t Hardware,” Thomas asserted. “It didn’t seem right that I wasn’t a major part of the first issue. I was considering someone who hadn’t read it yet. I didn’t want to claim credit for something I didn’t do. It has to be there since this is Dwayne’s speech and Hardware.”
“There’s no way to really grasp Hardware’s viewpoint without that narrative, without that metaphor,” Thomas said. “I wanted to convey the sense of betrayal and anger that this black guy felt when his white mentor informed him that he was the one who made Curtis important. That was very emotional for me since I believe many of us have had similar feelings in our lives. Those emotions have to remain with this character, and I’m very pleased with how it all turned out.”
“It was a metaphor for our experiences as Black creators in the comic industry,” Cowan explained. “It’s not to put anyone down; it’s really to tell the truth as we saw it about the glass ceiling that existed, about the way we were treated, about exploitation, and about, you know, using one’s talents and abilities to one’s best advantage.” “All of those traits are at the heart of the characters’ personalities, therefore they’re all the same. Are we bringing that same anguish, or whatever you want to call it, to the literature now? In some ways, I’m not the same person I was 30 years ago. So the things that used to irritate me are now making me more angrier [laughs]. So, yes, we’re bringing back the same stuff. We’ll continue to discuss all of this until society changes, right? Because it’s all significant. It’s all crucial. So, although I’m not looking at everything the same way, I’m looking at certain things far more closely. More a result, creating his book is as important as ever, since all of the things that irritated Dwayne and me still exist in society and in the comic book industry.”
Season One #1 of Hardware is currently available everywhere comics are sold.
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