Why Isn’t DC Comics Doing A Dwayne McDuffie Tribute?

By Arturo R. García

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, Feb. 22, 2011

This June, Felicia Henderson, Denys Cowan, Prentis Rollings, Eric Battle, John Rozum, Matt Wayne, John Paul Leon and others will contribute to a STATIC SHOCK Special, with a cover by JH Williams III.

This Special is our way of acknowledging the industry’s loss. It is not a tribute comic intended to raise proceeds for charity.

We regret if there was any confusion regarding our intentions caused by the solicitation of this project.

- DC Comics statement, March 16, 2011

The short answer is, DC Comics doesn’t have to do anything to honor Dwayne McDuffie, who suddenly passed away last month. But the disconnect between the two statments above show that, even if the company’s intentions are good, its’ approach in this case came off as tone-deaf.

Word about the special issue got out this week following this tweet from comic-book artist Tommy Lee Edwards, which was picked up by David Brothers at 4th Letter:

Two days later, statements from McDuffie’s family and Milestone Media President Derek T. Dingle were posted on McDuffie’s website:

From Dwayne McDuffie’s family-

Dwayne’s family would like to publicly thank DC Comics for their plans to publish a special homage issue to Dwayne – STATIC SHOCK SPECIAL. Not only is it a kind gesture, but we feel it is a fitting tribute to Dwayne’s memory and his legacy.

While some have questioned DC’s motives or actions, Dwayne’s family does not share those sentiments.

Dwayne’s family supports the project.

We want to thank Dwayne’s friends who are contributing their skills to the project, Dwayne’s fans for their support over the years, and the editors and management at DC Comics. Dwayne was extremely proud of the Milestone line. We look forward to the comic and many more DC Comics featuring the Milestone characters.

From Derek T. Dingle-

As President of Milestone Media, I thank DC Comics for initiating the development of Static Shock Special #1 to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary work of Dwayne McDuffie. We are honored to have the assemblage of so many creators and colleagues that he worked with and, in some cases, mentored, to serve as contributors. We look forward to the release of Static Shock Special #1 and our ongoing relationship with DC Comics with the creation of future titles featuring the Milestone characters.

The fact that McDuffie’s family and collaborators are behind the project is somewhat reassuring; since he created Static, one would presume McDuffie’s estate would receive royalties every time the character is used. But when placed in the context of how DC treated the writer in the past – the promised and nearly-discarded integration of the Milestone characters into the “proper” DC Comics universe; his firing from the Justice League of America book for daring to speak out about his creative frustrations; the company’s subsequent white-washing of that book’s cast; and the micro-managing and cover-altering of his Milestone Forever mini-series – while continuing to cite his name in defense of diversity … I don’t know Dan DiDio enough to question his intentions. But I’ve read enough about the comics business over the past few years to believe Brothers when he cites “Industry Rule 4080″: Record company people are shady.

  • Blue-13

    From Marvel’s weekly roundup posting at http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31377 , the question and response:

    “Is Marvel doing anything to Honor the late Mr. Dwayne McDuffie and his work at the company?”

    Brevoort: We just posted some nice reminiscences about Dwayne over at Marvel.com, including a particularly lengthy and lovely one from Greg Wright.

    Beyond that, though, in terms of publishing stuff, I don’t know that we’re doing anything more specific. And to be honest, I think that’s just as well. Suddenly releasing a bunch of new collections or something “in Dwayne’s memory” would start to feel uncomfortably close to profiteering from his passing, for me.

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