The author of a popular comic and animated features, Dwayne Mcduffie has died Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at the age of 49. Dwayne Glenn McDuffie was born in Detroit on Feb. 20, 1962. Growing up, he later said, he encountered few comic-book characters who looked like him; he encountered fewer still who were simultaneously black, heroic and even remotely authentic. Mr. McDuffie, a resident of Sherman Oaks, Calif., died of complications from heart surgery. McDuffie wrote comics for the New York-based DC and Marvel. His works include runs on “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight”, “The Fantastic Four and the Justice League of America”. The animated features credited to his talents are “All Star Superman”, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths”, and two animated TV series - - “Static Shock” and “Ben 10: Alien Force”. Mr. McDuffie was best known as a founder of Milestone Media, described by The Plain Dealer of Cleveland in 2000 as “the industry’s most successful minority-owned-and-operated comic company.”
An independent company whose work is distributed by DC Comics, Milestone produces comics with ethnically diverse casts. Among its major characters (all of whom Mr. McDuffie helped create, in collaboration with illustrators and other writers) are Static, Icon and Hardware, all of whom are African-American; Xombi, who is Asian-American; and the Blood Syndicate, a crime-fighting group of men and women that includes blacks, Asians and Latinos.
Static, perhaps the most famous, is the alter ego of a mild-mannered teenager, who uses secret electromagnetic powers to do valiant things. Mr. McDuffie named Static’s alter ego Virgil Hawkins, after the black man who waged a midcentury fight to be admitted to law school at the University of Florida, a process that eventually led to the desegregation of Florida’s public university system. That comic inspired the animated television series “Static Shock,” originally broadcast on the WB television network from 2000 to 2004, for which Mr. McDuffie was a creator, story editor and writer.
Mr. McDuffie received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan, followed by a master’s in physics there; he later studied film at New York University. After a stint as a copy editor at Investment Dealers’ Digest, he took a job as an editor with Marvel Comics in 1987.
At Marvel Mr. McDuffie helped develop the company’s first line of superhero trading cards and wrote for established series like Spider-Man and Captain Marvel. He also created Damage Control, a mini-series published at intervals from the late ’80s to the present. Mr. McDuffie devised the series to address a long-overlooked but perennially nagging question: Who cleans up the comic-book universe after the preternaturally messy battles between the forces of good and evil?
After leaving Marvel in 1990, Mr. McDuffie did freelance work for DC and other comic publishers before founding Milestone with three partners in the early ’90s. The company’s first comics appeared in 1993 and were published regularly by DC until 1997 and in reprints afterward; two new Milestone series, Xombi and Static Shock, are scheduled to be published by DC this year.
Mr. McDuffie’s honors include a Humanitas Prize in 2003 for an episode of “Static Shock” about gun violence.
Mr. McDuffie’s first marriage, to Patricia Younger, ended in divorce. He married Charlotte Fullerton, a writer of comic books and animated TV shows, in 2009. She survives him, as does his mother, Edna McDuffie Gardner.
To those who thought comic books unlikely vehicles for advancing social justice, Mr. McDuffie’s reply was simple.
“You don’t feel as real if you don’t see yourself reflected in the media,” he told The Chicago Sun-Times in 1993. “There’s something very powerful about seeing yourself represented.”