RIP Dwayne McDuffie

Well, here’s some deeply depressing news.

Comic writer Dwayne McDuffie has died much, much too young of unspecified causes.

McDuffie’s work is what got me reading comics again while I was in grad school. I had a friend in the dorms who was reading Milestone Media’s comics — which McDuffie helped found back in the early ’90s — and I got hooked hard on the “Blood Syndicate” series.

He wrote all the first few issues of all of Milestone’s initial releases, including “Blood Syndicate,” “Static,” “Icon,” and “Hardware.” He also wrote comics ranging from “Fantastic Four” and “Justice League of America” to “Deathlok,” “Damage Control,” “X-O Manowar,” “Legends of the Dark Knight,” and “Beyond!”

In addition to comics, he was also a writer and producer for animated cartoons. He developed his Milestone character Static into a TV star in “Static Shock.” He also wrote tons of great stuff on “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited.” He worked on the “Ben 10” cartoons and wrote the script for the animated adaptation of “All Star Superman.”

Obviously, you don’t go and found a company like Milestone — dedicated to furthering a multicultural and multiracial approach to comics — without caring a lot about racial relations in America — and that both helped and hindered him. He got lots of positive press and was very well respected by people who cared about diversity in comics. But it made him a target for other people who liked to see comics as a “Whites Only” zone.

The last of his work that I got to read was his run on “Justice League” a few years back. It started off great and got derailed by editorial mandates from on high. I think DC didn’t treat him right — gave him the title just so they could get their hands on Static and a few other Milestone characters, then ran him off when they had what they wanted.

I never knew him personally, but I loved his work. He’s got my thanks forever, because he got me back reading comics again.

Raise your mugs high, people. To Dwayne McDuffie.

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