Last week on the Black Geek Spotlight, science fiction author Octavia E. Butler was profiled. The spotlight shines now on the late comic book author Dwayne McDuffie, whose career in the comic book industry spanned over decades.
Born Dwayne Glenn McDuffie on February 20, 1962 in Detroit, Michigan, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and later a master degree in physics at the University of Michigan before studying film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. It was while working as a copy editor that McDuffie got an interview with Marvel Comics, where he was eventually hired as an editor.
During his tenure at Marvel, McDuffie worked as editor Bob Budiansky’s assistant on special projects. McDuffie had several writing gigs, two Captain Marvel one shots (single issues), a She-Hulk miniseries, and “Damage Control”, which focused on a team that cleans up the mess left after the heroes and villains do battle.
At the start of the 1990’s, McDuffie become a freelance writer for several comic book companies, among them DC Comics. In 1993, McDuffie joined with fellow professionals Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and Michael Davis to form Milestone Media, a comic book company that had the goal of bringing more diversity into the comic book industry. Milestone gave the comic book industry characters from various ethnic backgrounds such as the Asian American Xombi, the multiethnic super-group Blood Syndicate, and perhaps McDuffie’s well known character, the African-American superhero Static.
McDuffie would eventually venture into television and film, his first show being “Static Shock”, a cartoon loosely based on his character Static debuted on Kid’s WB! in 2000. Lasting 4 seasons, McDuffie served as a writer for several episodes of the show. He was later hired to work on several other shows, including “What’s New, Scooby-Doo”, “Justice League”, “Teen Titans” and “Ben 10: Alien Force”. He wrote screenplays for three animated movies: 2010's "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" and 2011's "All-Star Superman", and 2012's "Justice League: Doom".
McDuffie did return to comics, writing the 2006 miniseries “Beyond!” for Marvel, as well as writing on DC’s “Firestorm” line and scripted some issues for “Fantastic Four” as well. In 2010, he wrote “Milestone Forever” which focused on the fates of characters from Milestone Media.
On February 21, 2011, just a day removed from his 49th birthday, McDuffie passed away due to complications from emergency heart surgery.
McDuffie earned several awards and nominations throughout his career among them the Golden Apple award in 1996 (from the Roeper School, which he attended), the Humanitas Award in Children Animation in 2003, the Inkpot Award for the International Comic Con in 2009, and three Eisner Award nominations and a pair of Emmy nominations.
For more information on Dwayne McDuffie visit his website. Be sure to check back for important figures on the Spotlight!