Dwayne McDuffie: A Due Spotlight
By Gabrielle Gonzalez
When we hear about animators of the 90s we hear about Bruce Timm, but few talk about Dwayne McDuffie. Only recently has representation has been seriously brought into the comics world. Dwayne McDuffie felt this almost 25 years ago and made his own comic book company, Milestone Media, for this purpose. He felt that he and a lot of racial minority groups had been excluded from mainstream comics. Milestone Media created or co-created the characters of Static Shock, Icon, Hardware, Rocket and many more. Static Shock is the one of the only African-American supheros to have their own series either live-action or animated. He wrote for many animated series including Static Shock, Teen Titans, What’s New Scooby Doo?, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Ben 10. He was the staff writer, story editor, producer of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. He wrote, produced, or story edited 69 out of 91 episodes of Justice League TV series. He wrote arguably the best episodes or the most memorable episodes of Justice League with “Wild Cards”, “The Great Brain Robbery”, “The Once and Future Thing Part 1 and 2”, “Question Authority”, “Starcrossed”, “Epilogue”, and many more episodes. He has been nominated for Eisner Awards, Emmy Awards, and Writers Guild of America awards in animation.He has been awarded the Humanitas prize in Children’s Animation for the episode “Jimmy” of Static Shock about the dangerous nature of gun violence. Dwayne sadly passed away in 2011 from open heart surgery complications.The Writers Guild of America posthumously awarded him Animation Writing Award. McDuffie bluntly explained that comic book industry’s problems with race and identity:
“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.”
As of right now, the comic book industry stills needs a lot of work on representation in the comics and outside of comics. How can we have the superheroes that represent us as a culture if the comic book industry does not hire people of color? We cannot let only a certain group of people dominate in an industry. If we want fleshed out characters from all walks of life, then we need all kinds of people to work in the comic book industry.