Dwayne McDuffie on the realities of the Black writer in the comic book industry

Dwayne McDuffie is an American writer of comic books and television. His notable works include creating the animated series Static Shock, writing and producing the animated series Justice League Unlimited, and co-founding the comic book company Milestone Media.

McDuffie was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended Roeper School. He attended the University of Michigan studying physics, graduating with an undergraduate degree in English, and a graduate degree in physics. He then moved to New York to attend film school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

He co-hosted a radio comedy program, and also wrote under a pseudonym for stand-up comedians and late-night television comedy programs. While working as a copy-editor for a financial magazine, a friend got him an interview for an assistant editor position at Marvel Comics.

While on staff at Marvel as Bob Budiansky’s assistant on special projects, McDuffie also scripted stories for the company. His first major work was Damage Control, a series about the company that shows up between issues and tidies up the mess left by the latest round of superhero/supervillain battles. While an editor at Marvel, he submitted a spoof proposal for a comic entitled Teenage Negro Ninja Thrasher in response to Marvel’s treatment of its black characters. Becoming a freelancer in early 1990, McDuffie followed that with dozens of various comics titles for Marvel comics, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. 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 1992, wanting to express a multi-cultural sensibility that he felt was missing in comic books, McDuffie co-founded Milestone Media, a comic book company owned by African-Americans. 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 debuted its titles in 1993 through a publishing deal with DC Comics. Serving as editor-in-chief, McDuffie created or co-created many characters, including Static.

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 eleven episodes.

His other television writing credits included Teen Titans and What’s New, Scooby-Doo?.

McDuffie was hired to write for the animated series Justice League. He was soon 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 and/or story-edited all forty-six episodes. McDuffie is currently Producing and story editing a second sequel series Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, which premiered in April 2010.

After his popular work in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, McDuffie returned to writing comic books. He wrote the Marvel mini-series Beyond!, a pseudo-sequel to Secret Wars.

In 2007, McDuffie wrote several issues of Firestorm for DC Comics, starting in January through to its cancellation. Later that year, he started a regular writing duty on Fantastic Four with issue 542, as well as Justice League following Brad Meltzer’s run, with issue 13. He was later fired from Justice League following a Lying in the Gutters compilation of his frank answers to fans about the creative process.

McDuffie recently wrote Milestone Forever for DC Comics, a two-issue, prestige format mini-series chronicling the final adventures of his Milestone characters before a catastrophic event that fuses their continuity with the continuity of the DC Universe.

Since 1997 McDuffie hosts in his Official website the Dwayne McDuffie Forums, which feature threads revolving around his works and their related and diverse fields. The longest thread is Ask The Maestro (that’s Dwayne), in which he answers questions from his fans.

In 2003, McDuffie and co-writer Alan Burnett were awarded the Humanitas Prize in Children’s Animation for the “Jimmy” episode of Static Shock. In both 2003 and 2004 he 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.