Comics and television writer Dwayne McDuffie changed the comic book world by making it more diverse. McDuffie grew up as the eldest of two sons in a middle-class Black family in Detroit, Michigan. He demonstrated a love for science fiction and comics at an early age. His talent was noticed early on as his parents worked extra shifts to cover his tuition for the private school Roeper School, where he cultivated his artistic talents. He studied at the University of Michigan as a teen.

McDuffie’s love for writing and science saw him return to U of M, where he double majored in English and Physics. Another passion of his – filmmaking – led him to New York, where he attended the Tisch School of the Arts for a brief time. After securing a less-than-desired job in NYC, McDuffie landed a position at Marvel Comics as a special comics editor in 1987. While at Marvel, he spearheaded the first superhero trading cards and the limited series Damage Control.

A few years later, McDuffie became a freelancer, working for various companies like DC and Archie Comics. His knack for storytelling and quest for diversity led him to co-found the multimedia outlet Milestone Media along with Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle. He served as editor-in-chief and co-creator of several multicultural characters, including the beloved Static. The success of Milestone opened the writer up to television and film work after Static became the first Black superhero to lead an animated series. His work on the show earned him a Humanitas Prize for the episode “Jimmy.” His work led to writing and producing several animated shows, including the Ben 10 franchise and What’s New, Scooby-Doo?

In his later years, McDuffie returned to the comics world, writing for titles like Justice League of America and Fantastic Four. He released his comic series, Milestone Forever, in 2010. The publisher passed away on February 21, 2011, following complications from emergency heart surgery.

During and after his lifetime, Dwayne McDuffie left the comic book world more diverse than when he came into it. His quest for a multicultural industry spawned a revolution that still reverberates today with the increase in BIPOC writers and characters across multiple universes. His contributions as a writer and creator across different mediums may not get the attention they deserve. So, I say, “Mr. McDuffie, thank you for all you did to create a space for Black and brown voices.”

Milestone Media founder Dwayne McDuffie

You don’t feel as real if you don’t see yourself reflected in the media […] There’s something very powerful about seeing yourself represented.

Dwayne McDuffie