The comics and animation worlds are in shock today with the news that writer and producer Dwayne McDuffie has died from complications following a surgical procedure on Monday evening.
McDuffie got started in the comics industry as an assistant editor for Marvel Comics in the late 1980s, before becoming a freelance writer responsible for creating such well-loved series as Damage Control, Icon, Hardware and Static Shock, the latter of which he adapted into an animated series that lasted four seasons. That experience brought him into the world of animation, where he worked on fan-favorite series such as Justice League/Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans and Ben 10, juggling that work with runs on comics including Fantastic Four and Justice League of America.
Perhaps his most lasting contribution to either field was his part in the creation of Milestone Media, a company formed with the express intent to expand the role of minorities in comics, both on the page and behind the scenes. As he explained at the time, Milestone was created to offer a more realistic view of multi-culturalism than was available in mainstream comics at the time:
If you do a black character or a female character or an Asian character, then they aren’t just that character. They represent that race or that sex, and they can’t be interesting because everything they do has to represent an entire block of people. You know, Superman isn’t all white people and neither is Lex Luthor. We knew we had to present a range of characters within each ethnic group, which means that we couldn’t do just one book. We had to do a series of books and we had to present a view of the world that’s wider than the world we’ve seen before.
Even outside of Milestone projects, McDuffie pushed for a more inclusive fictional world, bringing Hawkgirl and John Stewart to prominence in the Cartoon Network Justice League series, and bringing the Black Panther and Storm onto the Fantastic Four during his run.
McDuffie is survived by his wife.
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