Dwayne Glenn McDuffie (February 20, 1962 – February 21, 2011) was an American writer of comic books and television, known for creating the animated television series Static Shock, writing and producing the animated series Justice League Unlimited and Ben 10, and co-founding the pioneering minority-owned-and-operated comic-book company Milestone Media.
McDuffie earned three Eisner Award nominations for his work in comics.
Early life and career
Dwayne Glenn McDuffie was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Leroy McDuffie and Edna McDuffie Gardner. graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English, then earning a master’s degree in physics. He then moved to New York to attend film school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. While McDuffie was working as a copy editor at the business magazine Investment Dealers’ Digest, a friend got him an interview for an assistant editor position at Marvel Comics.
Marvel and Milestone
Going on staff at Marvel as editor Bob Budiansky’s assistant on special projects, McDuffie helped develop the company’s first superhero trading cards. He also scripted stories for Marvel. His first major work was Damage Control, a miniseries about the company that shows up between issues and tidies up the mess left by the latest round of superhero/supervillain battles.
After becoming an editor at Marvel, McDuffie submitted a spoof proposal for a comic entitled Ninja Thrashers in response to Marvel’s treatment of its black characters. Becoming a freelancer in 1990, McDuffie wrote for dozens of various comics titles for Marvel, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. In addition, he wrote Monster in My Pocket for Harvey Comics editor Sid Jacobson, whom he cites on his website as having taught him everything he knows. In early 1991, he divorced his first wife, Patricia D. Younger, in Seminole County, Florida.
In the early 1990s, wanting to express a multicultural sensibility that he felt was missing in comic books, McDuffie and three partners founded Milestone Media, which The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio, described in 2000 as “the industry’s most successful minority-owned-and operated comic company.” McDuffie explained:
If you do a black character or a female character or an Asian character, then they aren’t just that character. They represent that race or that sex, and they can’t be interesting because everything they do has to represent an entire block of people. You know, Superman isn’t all white people and neither is Lex Luthor. We knew we had to present a range of characters within each ethnic group, which means that we couldn’t do just one book. We had to do a series of books and we had to present a view of the world that’s wider than the world we’ve seen before.
Milestone, whose characters include the African-American Static, Icon, and Hardware; the Asian-American Xombi, and the multi-ethnic superhero group the Blood Syndicate, which include black, Asian and Latino men and women, debuted its titles in 1993 through a distribution deal with DC Comics. Serving as editor-in-chief, McDuffie created or co-created many characters, including Static.
Movies, television, and video games
After Milestone had ceased publishing new comics, Static was developed into an animated series Static Shock. McDuffie was hired to write and story-edit on the series, writing 11 episodes.
His other television writing credits included Teen Titans and What’s New, Scooby-Doo?.
McDuffie was hired as a staff writer for the animated series Justice League and was promoted to story editor and producer as the series became Justice League Unlimited. During the entire run of the animated series, McDuffie wrote, produced, or story-edited 69 out of the 91 episodes.
McDuffie also wrote the story for the video game Justice League Heroes.
McDuffie was hired to help revamp and story-edit Cartoon Network’s popular animated Ben 10 franchise with Ben 10: Alien Force, continuing the adventures of the ten-year-old title character into his mid and late teenage years. During the run of the series, McDuffie wrote episodes 1–3, 14, 25–28, 45 and 46 and/or story-edited all forty-six episodes. McDuffie also produced and story edited for the second sequel series Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, which premiered April 23. 2010. He wrote episodes 1, 10, 11, 16, 30, 39 together with J. M. DeMatteis and 52.
McDuffie wrote a number of direct-to-DVD animated films featuring DC Comics characters – including Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Justice League: Doom. He scripted the direct-to-DVD adaptation of All-Star Superman, which was released one day after his death. Justice League: Doom was released posthumously in 2012.
McDuffie’s work was also seen on Ben 10: Omniverse, having shared story by credit on the first two episodes, “The More Things Change, Parts 1 and 2.”
Return to comics
After his popular work in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, McDuffie returned to writing comic books. He wrote the Marvel miniseries Beyond!.
In 2007, McDuffie wrote several issues of Firestorm for DC Comics, starting in January through to its cancellation. Later that year, he became the regular writer on Fantastic Four, scripting issues #542–553 (cover-dated Dec. 2006 March 2008). As well, he wrote Justice League of America vol. 2, writing virtually every issue from #13–34 (Nov. 2007 – Aug. 2009). He was fired from that series following a Lying in the Gutters compilation of his frank answers to fans about the creative process.
He married comic book and animation-TV writer Charlotte Fullerton in 2009.
McDuffie wrote Milestone Forever for DC Comics, a two-issue, squarebound miniseries chronicling the final adventures of his Milestone characters before a catastrophic event that fuses their continuity with the continuity of the DC Universe.
On February 21, 2011, one day after his 49th birthday, McDuffie died at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, due to complications from emergency heart surgery. He lived at the time in nearby Sherman Oaks, California. He is survived by his wife and his mother.
The 2012 film Justice League: Doom was dedicated to the memory of Dwayne McDuffie, and the Blu-ray and 2-Disc DVD editions of the movie included the documentary, A Legion of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story. That same year, a diner named “McDuffie’s” was depicted in the Green Lantern: The Animated Series episode, “The New Guy”.
Also in 2012, the Ultimate Spider-Man episode, “Damage”, was dedicated in memory of Dwayne McDuffie. In the episode, a new character named “Mac” was introduced as the CEO of the Damage Control, the fictional company created by McDuffie.
In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien in 2012, the final episode “The Ultimate Enemy: Part 2”, the crew of the series dedicated the episode in his memory in the credits. The same tribute appeared in the race video game based on the series, Ben 10: Galactic Racing.
In the 2011 Static Shock comics series, Virgil Hawkins’ new high school is named after McDuffie.
Awards and nominations
In 1996, McDuffie won the Golden Apple Award from his alma mater the Roeper School for the “use of popular art to promote and advance human worth and dignity.”
In 2003, McDuffie was awarded the Humanitas Prize in Children’s Animation for the “Jimmy” episode of Static Shock, about gun violence.
In both 2003 and 2004, McDuffie was nominated, with other Static Shock creators, for daytime Emmy awards.
In 2005, he was nominated for the Writers Guild of America award in animation, with Rich Fogel and John Ridley for the “Starcrossed” episode of Justice League.
In 2008, McDuffie was voted Favorite Breakout Talent in the Wizard Fan Awards in Wizard Magazine.
In 2009, McDuffie won Comic Con International’s Inkpot Award.
In 2011, posthumously McDuffie was awarded by the Writers Guild of America, West its Animation Writers Caucus’ annual Animation Writing Award.