This post is one that I write with both deep respect for its subject, as well as a great sense of loss. His impact on the world of comics is greater than many realize, and it was a truly tragic event when he passed away on February 21st of last year due to complications from emergency heart surgery.
While I didn’t know it at the time, McDuffie had a huge influence on my becoming a fan of comic books. Growing up in the Philippines, my dad got his hands on a bunch of trade paperbacks, one of which was Static [now Static Shock]. The series was one of many that was published my Milestone Media, a comic company co-founded by McDuffie and three others. Their aim was to “express a multicultural sensibility” that he felt was missing from the industry, and they succeeded.
The titular Static was the electric alter-ego of African American teen Virgil Ovid Hawkins, and continues to be one of my favourite comic characters ever. One of the many created by McDuffie for Milestone, he embodied the awkwardness of adolescence and the effects of vigilantism on one’s personal life. His world was realistic and gritty without succumbing to the darkness that other such worlds do. Static was well-written, action-packed, and, most importantly, relatable.
After Milestone had stopped publishing new companies, McDuffie went on to enter the world of television. He was hired as a staff writer for the Justice League animated series, and was promoted to both story editor and producer as the show became Justice League Unlimited. Of the show’s 91 total episodes McDuffie wrote, produced, or story-edited 69. McDuffie also did extensive work on continuing the Ben 10 series, wrote for the Teen Titans show, and scripted a number of DC’s direct-to-DVD animated films.
Dwayne McDuffie also had an extensive career working for both DC and Marvel, and earned three Eisner Awards. In addition he was awarded many others, including Comic Con International’s Inkpot Award. Above all, he was able to affect the entire industry for the better. It’s just a tragedy that he left us as soon as he did.