Dwayne McDuffie, Rest In Power
Dwayne was a giant.
He was a physically big man, tall, solid, imposing.
His mind, immense. His heart, gigantic.
After my first film, HOUSE PARTY, I met him and the Milestone crew. I loved what Dwayne, Denys Cowan and Derek Dingle were doing because they were smart, socially conscious, organized and using their success to make a difference by providing building an institution to rectify a gross injustice in their industry. They were creating black heroes like Icon, Static, Xombi and Hardware…some of the coolest superheroes ever created. They also were creating jobs for talented people that were not getting opportunities.
I felt a great kinship with them. The same way Spike and my other colleagues were breaking through barriers in film, and hip hop was turning the music business upside down, they were doing it in comics. The 80s was a time where it looked like we really were about to overcome…not someday, but next month.
But the revolution never came. Black filmmakers didn’t start their own studio, hip hop got co-opted by corporations, and Milestone closed up shop. The comic book industry wasn’t embracing Dwayne’s talent and he left New York and moved to Florida.
Dwayne has done so much to mentor me in the art of writing comics, in the business of comics, but this was one time I was able to do something for him. I told him to move to Los Angeles. I knew this town needs writers as talented, professional and fast as him. He had a few freelance offers but I promised if he came out here he’d never be without work.
And he wasn’t. He found the respect for his talent in Hollywood that the book industry didn’t recognize. STATIC SHOCK, like BLADE, had a much bigger fan base with mainstream audiences than it did in the narrow comic book market. Eventually, the comic book world invited him back. I’m glad Dwayne got to write the Fantastic Four and the Justice League both in the same year.
Dwayne was a great writer and editor. He built a successful company and created characters that are popular to this very day. He successfully transitioned to film and television and the day after his birthday, on the day before the debut of what promises to be his most successful project yet, he was taken from us.
Dwayne’s fans called him the Maestro. That’s a tough moniker to pull off. But he could, because he was that good, and humble enough to wear it well.