Prolific writer Dwayne McDuffie, a veteran of the comic book and animation industry, has died from unexpected surgical complications, Comic Book Resources is reporting. A distinctive voice both on the page and behind the scenes, McDuffie’s comics credits includes runs on the quirky cult favorite Damage Control and such well-known titles as Justice League Of America and The Fantastic Four. His script work included a stint on Ben 10 and various animated series and DVD movies set in the DC Universe, including a fondly remembered run as story editor of Justice League Unlimited.
From the start of his career, McDuffie advocated for less stereotypical, and more prominently used, minority characters in comics. This included a famous leaked 1989 parody pitch for a series called Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers, inspired by the paucity of black heroes who didn’t use superpowered skateboards. In 1993, McDuffie cofounded Milestone Media, a creator-owned comics imprint featuring African-American characters. Milestone’s most notable titles included Hardware, Icon, and Static, the lattermost adapted into the animated series Static Shock.
McDuffie also maintained an extensive online presence both on his own website and elsewhere. A 2002 column for Slush Factory sending up fans obsessed with comic book continuity forwarded the radical notion that, in McDuffie’s words, “The last five minutes of St. Elsewhere is the only television show, ever. Everything else is a daydream.” It was a joke, but like McDuffie’s best work, it challenged assumptions and made it hard to accept that the way things look now is the way they always have to be.