Pioneering Comic Creator Dwayne McDuffie Dies

The comic world lost a truly important figure today. Find out what made him so great.

Dwayne McDuffie, a pioneering African-American comic creator who wrote for Marvel and DC, co-founded his own publishing company, Milestone Media, and also tackled the world of television and animation, passed away today. Comic Book Resource reports that he died of complications due to a surgical procedure he underwent Monday. McDuffie, who had been a prevalent voice in the comic world since the '80s, produced not only great comics but also called out his industry for the stereotypical and limiting ways in which minorities were portrayed in comics. For a better sense of who McDuffie was and why he is so important, read Percy Carey's 2008 Complex interview with him and our rundown of his most important contributions to the comic world.

Damage Control

McDuffie’s first major contribution to the comic world was the creation of the superhero insurance company called Damage Control in 1989. The book centered on a company that was in charge of reconstructing all of the buildings that got destroyed during superhero battles. This concept was unique to the world of superhero comics and showcased a sense of humor that would become one of the trademarks of McDuffie’s writing. This was McDuffie's breakout book and laid the groundwork for the rest of his career. He also worked on the Avengers, She-Hulk and Deathlok during his time at Marvel. His last notable work at Marvel came in 2006 when he added Storm and the Black Panther to the Fantastic Four roster after Sue Storm and Reed Richards took a leave of absence.

DC Animation

While Bruce Timm and Paul Dini are often viewed as the "Godfathers" of DC Animation, Dwayne McDuffie has contributed just as much, if not more, to the brand. Coming onboard to the Justice League animated series in the 2nd season and continuing through till the end of the revamped Justice League Unlimited, McDuffie infused the show with more intricate plots, deeper characterization and a blockbuster scope. He was the writer, producer and story editor on over 60 episodes of the show and was without a doubt a fan favorite. His crowning achievement on the show was the season long Cadmus story arc that took place during the 1st season of Justice League Unlimited and received ravenous praise from fans and comic insiders. McDuffie proved so popular on the cartoon that DC had him write some Justice League comics in the late 2000's.

Duffie’s next work for DC Animation was writing the scripts to a series of direct-to-DVD films such as Justice League: A Crisis on Two Earths and All Star Superman, which was released on the day of his death. Both of these works were well regarded among fans and critics alike and helped propel these DC properties to new heights.

Milestone Media

McDuffie’s greatest achievement wasn’t writing about the Justice League stopping an alien attack or editing the script to a Batman cartoon, it was how he created awareness of stereotyping in comics. McDuffie co-founded Milestone Media in 1992 so African-American writers and artists could have their voices heard and portray the diversity of their culture from an insider perspective. McDuffie always felt that minorities were portrayed poorly in comics and even took Marvel to task for it in a satirical letter to the company. McDuffie’s work for Milestone Media is best known for giving birth to the Static Shock and Xombi, popular minority characters, the former of which became an animated series that he helped write and produce.

Dwayne McDuffie was a comic book creator who looked beyond the capes and masks and focused on the humans underneath. During his career he entertained us and helped make the comic culture more accepting and better educated towards minorities. We here at Complex send our deepest condolences out to the McDuffie family.

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