Compiled by Arturo R. García
There is a hardcore piece of the audience whose back goes up whenever you go into these issues, and they don’t even realize it. What kills me about it is, when they’re writing about it, they’re always hyper-rational: “Look, the fact is there are more white characters, and if you pick randomly, you would end up with all-white teams, and the fact that there are three black people on this team is statistically ridiculous. It’s obviously a quota.” And the quota arguments on fictional teams crack me up. I’m sorry, is somebody losing a job here? Which fictional character is losing a job? They’re not talking about what’s going on in the comic books – they’re talking about what they think is going on in their lives, and that’s not really going on, either.
– Dwayne McDuffie, in the video above (starts at 1:57)
The word “loss” encapsulates a lot of concepts, large and small. You lost that receipt with an idea on it — an irritation. You lost a job — financially crippling. You lost your mind at that club — not so shabby.
It is difficult to describe what it’s like to lose a person to the gaping chasm of death when you didn’t know them all that well. That’s some of my challenge with the passing of Dwayne McDuffie.
Dwayne McDuffie left a lasting legacy on the world of comics that many writers can only aspire to. He will not only be remembered as the extremely gifted writer whose scripts have been realized as comic books, in television shows and on the silver screen, but as the creator or co-creator of so many of the much-loved Milestone characters, including Static Shock. The industry has lost a true talent.
He was very interested in creating a wider range of multiculturalism in comics, having been profoundly affected by the example of the Black Panther when he was growing up, and wanting to give that same opportunity to others of all races, creeds and religions, which is one of the reasons he left Marvel and co-founded Milestone,” Brevoort told the AP. “And he eventually came back to write both Beyond! and Fantastic Four for me.
It was never Watchmen or Dark Knight that opened up the possibility of superhero comics for me, but Dwayne McDuffie’s Damage Control, the Marvel series looking at the people who cleared up the physical and legal damage done by superhero actions. It was genuinely witty, self aware and just so well written. At the time I knew it was something special. It remained one of my favourite comics. And it kept me reading the genre until everyone else could catch up.
And he did it again years later over at DC, co-founding Milestone Media, writing Static, Icon and Hardware, books that challenged so many assumptions about character and race, dispelling assumptions of tokenism over ethnic characters in comics by creating rich and multilayered ensemble character books.
I do get frustrated, but it comes with the job. The nature of monthly comics has changed drastically over the past 20 years. JLA used to be THE place to go to see the big guns together, dealing with the gravest threats in the DCU. Now there are several big event crossovers a year, and those titles are where the huge stories happen. So I have to tell stories that feed into and come out of those events. I’d prefer if, as on Justice League Unlimited, I could tell stories that were at the center of the characters lives, but that was a very different circumstance. JLA the comic is part of a larger patchwork, and my mandate is to support the bigger story of the DCU.
– Dwayne McDuffie, as quoted in Lying In The Gutters, May 2009
In my readings, Milestone Media was cited by scores of comic scholars and culture experts as the most prominent efforts to bring multicultural heroes into the mainstream comics. I enjoyed his thoughtful representations of minority characters in all walks of life, from the ghetto to the penthouse. More impressive still was his ability to bring all such character into superhero genre without missing a beat. Icon, Raquel, Hardware, Static—these were superheroes through and through.
Today should be a day of reflection and appreciation for one of the greatest names in comics, and one where we can look at all of the amazing influence that Dwayne McDuffie has had on this industry, Today, take a moment to read a comic by Mr. McDuffie or go out and buy your copy of All-Star Superman. Celebrate his life, work and legacy, and let him not be forgotten.
Tributes to Dwayne McDuffie will be held Wednesday night at 8pm at Golden Apple Comics at 7018 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038, and as part of a panel in his honor Saturday at 7pm at the Emerald City Comic-Con, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA. Racialicious.com sends its’ condolences to Mr. McDuffie’s family, friends and fans.