I didn’t know Dylan like many of the people offering heartfelt tributes did. I knew him to say hello, and we exchanged emails about Sparkplug’s releases from time to time. But I didn’t need to know him to be stunned by this news and to mourn this loss.
Only recently, as Sparkplug has published more work and I’ve read more of it, did I realize how valuable that publisher is to alternative comics, and how singular a role it plays. The visual style of most of the Sparkplug releases I’ve seen is demanding of the audience, and not in any kind of fashionable way that could help get them over. And the intelligence of the writing behind them, even the ones that didn’t necessarily click with me, is really incandescent; more thought and effort has gone into it than might instantly be reciprocated or rewarded by the reading and buying public.
Simply put, I don’t think a home for many of these creators and comics would have existed anywhere if Dylan Williams hadn’t created it. That’s not something I would say about very many other publishers today, even publishers I really love. Sparkplug is one of a kind, and it’s no great leap to suggest that the man behind Sparkplug must have been one of a kind as well.
Chris Mautner has an obituary. Tom Spurgeon has an authoritative list of links. Austin English, Levon Jihanian, Minty Lewis, John Hankiewicz, and Brett Warnock offer moving testimonials to their colleague and friend.