Voices: Remembering Dwayne McDuffie


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.

Hannibal Tabu, Operative.net

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.

– Dan DiDio, co-publisher, DC Comics

Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

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.

– Tom Brevoort, senior vice-president for publishing, Marvel Comics

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.

– Rich Johnston, Bleeding Cool.com

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.

– Sirui Huang, PopCultureShock.com

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.

– Sara Lima, ComicVine.com

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.

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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  • PatrickInBeijing

    I had pretty much stopped reading superhero comics, they were all too much the same. Marvel had turned its characters into shallow two dimensional action beings (less dialogue, less thought, less to write). DC was showing moments, but only. Then my comic store folks said, hey, you have to try this, Milestone, it’s new, and well written. I was hooked from the first issues. They were certainly about race, and it’s impact on their characters, who were fully developed, not the two dimensional beings we often find. But they transcended everything (without leaving anything behind) becoming the kind of mythic folks that comic book buyers read for. Dwayne McDuffie should have lived longer than Stan Lee! He was an amazing talent, and everyone who loves literature loses with his passing. Pace.

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  • http://poetactics.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    I’m so sad to hear about Dwayne McDuffie’s passing. He was an amazing writer who created so many great characters. He’s really going to be missed by fans & readers. Static changed the way I thought about comics – it was gritty and real and relevant in a way I had never seen before. Actually, Static was the first comic series that I read from beginning to end. My thoughts go out to his family & friends.

  • Anonymous

    one of my faves and a great in the industry. He did so much and fought the good fight while still entertaining the fans. This is sad and my heart goes out to his family and friends.

  • Dr. Ivo Robotnik

    I’m heartbroken- McDuffie was one of the few comic guys I actually wanted to meet…

  • http://www.marcuskwame.com marcus kwame

    This is a big loss. As a black man with a life-long love of comics the genius and importance of Dwayne McDuffie is undeniable. My respect for him goes far beyond the fact that he wrote comics with people of color. I also respect him for insights like the ones he voiced in the video above. Milestone came out during my senior year of high school and I felt like I’d been waiting for those comics my whole life. Not only was he a great writer but he also knew what time it is.

    Rest in Peace, brother