Black History Month 2011: Dwayne McDuffie

February 11th, 2011 by | Tags: , ,

(pencils by powerful paul pelletier, inks by rocking rick magyar, colors by preening paul mounts)

Dwayne McDuffie
Selected Works: Hardware: The Man in the Machine, Icon: A Hero’s Welcome, Static Shock Vol. 1: Rebirth of the Cool

Just by a happenstance of birth, I was the perfect age for Dwayne McDuffie’s work to have an effect on my, what, mental growth? Racial consciousness? Whatever smarty art type of word you want to use. Spike Lee’s Malcolm X was a watershed moment for me. Less watershed, but still important, was the formation of Milestone Media, courtesy of McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T Dingle.

In hindsight, the Milestone books I was really checking for as a kid (Static, Blood Syndicate) weren’t McDuffie joints. He was working on Icon and Hardware, which I tend to think of being more adult oriented rather than teen. I didn’t read all the way through those until I was grown. Despite that, the fact that Milestone existed was big for me. It showed that there coule be actual black people in comics. The company was full of people who looked, acted, and talked like people I knew. This is a big deal, believe it or not.

Years later, McDuffie helped shepherd Static Shock to beating Pokemon in ratings on TV. After that, he helped make me a believer in the JLA by way of the cartoon. Still later came a sequel to Secret Wars called Beyond! and his all-too-brief run on Fantastic Four: The New Fantastic Four and The Beginning of the End. He did all of this while maintaining a career making successful cartoons.

McDuffie did the job, and he kept doing the job. He’s built up a body of work that most people in his field should be jealous of and that fans should be thankful for. I’m thankful for the fact that he’s cognizant of his power as a creator, and simply tries to create worlds that reflect the ones we live in now. That was a big help as a kid, and his career has been an inspiration as an adult.

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

10 comments to “Black History Month 2011: Dwayne McDuffie”

  1. As a well-meaning white nerd, I think the clearest example I have seen of institutional racism in comics was the way DC treated Mr. McDuffie during his run on the JLA comic. Here is a writer who has brought these characters to what is, I believe, their largest audience and done so with stories loved by fans old and new. I was thrilled when they gave him the wheel. Then they just inexplicably undermined him editorially and professionally at every turn. If this had been in DC’s interests, then it would have been understandable. But sandbagging a proven JLA writer in service of the Tangent universe?!? Ultimately, only a lack of appreciation and respect seemed to explain it, and racism was left as the likeliest origin of such disrespect for such a successful writer. Still, he seems to be doing better than DC lately (I certainly have more interest in his output, generally, than I do in theirs), so, hopefully, a happy ending.

  2. @Rob: I wouldn’t blame it on racism, exactly. McDuffie inexplicably doesn’t command the numbers that certain writers do, and there’s a culture at DC of all of the comics serving the, or a, greater story, rather than just their own tales. I do feel like there was a definite lack of respect, but I wouldn’t leap directly to racism as being at fault.

    McDuffie won in the end, anyway. DC Comics let him go and Warners put him on several of their animated movies.

  3. Damage Control was great stuff too.

  4. The fact that he wrote so much of all the Diniverse cartoons shows that he has a much better grasp of those characters than just about anyone in a format that infinitely more people would see than actually writing JLA, so I guess that’s kind of bittersweet revenge.

  5. Thanks you for adding a writer to the Black History Month industry profiles.
    Hardware totally rocked my world after I bought issue one when I was 16.
    I agree that it was more adult-oriented and I’d say more of a sci-fi drama than a superhero tale. That’s what makes the character a rougher fit for the main DCU universe than Static IMHO.
    Hopefully, the character finds its way to Vertigo (where Xombi belongs as well) or some other off-shoot line.

  6. Seconded on Damage Control, plus he deserves major props for Deathlok; his revision of the character was maybe the best super hero origin story of the 90s.

  7. DMcD wrote a shoutout to you on his Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dwayne.mcduffie?sk=wall 4th post down

  8. @Lugh: Well dang, that’s pretty awesome.

  9. I hate to be the first one to post this on the site but Mr. McDuffie passed away today from complications from a medical procedure. He was a talent who will be missed especially by all of us who enjoy a good story.

    RIP Dwayne


  10. @Jason: I already posted about it.