Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Comic World Suffers A Death That Wont Promote Sales

Comic World Suffers A Death That Wont Promote Sales

It's said that in the comic world death means very little. Oh how wrong that statement is. Today saw the shocking news that a great comic writer has passed away. Via Comic Book Resources:
CBR News has learned that comic writer, animation producer and respected industry veteran Dwayne McDuffie passed away. The cause of death and specific details are unknown at this time.

A native of Detroit, McDuffie officially joined the comics industry as part of Marvel Comics editorial in the late '80s. While working on special projects for the publisher, he quickly made his name as a writer creating series such as "Damage Control" and helping to redefine the Deathlok character to fan and critical acclaim. He soon left the staff to become a full time freelance writer, becoming a voice in the industry for diversity, particularly fighting against stereotypical portrayals of people of color on the comic book page.

In 1993, McDuffie co-founded Milestone Media along with creators Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle. The company's mission statement involved expanding the role of minorities in comics both on the page and off, and they launched (through DC Comics) a line of superheroes that included "Static," "Icon" and Xombi" – all of which McDuffie had a hand in creating.

Over the years, the writer contributed to scores of notable comic book launches and series, always with a keen eye on character, regardless of race. In 2000, his character, Static, made the leap totelevision in the Saturday morning cartoon "Static Shock." In 2003, an episode of the show dealing with gun violence earned the writer the Humanitas Prize.

In recent years, McDuffie pursued dual tracks in animation and comics writing. He served as story editor for the popular "Justice League Unlimited" animated series and wrote a number of DC's recent direct-to-DVD animated films. McDuffie had notable runs on comic series "Fantastic Four" and "Justice League of America," often incorporating Black characters into the core of the fabled franchises.

McDuffie's latest work was the script for the "All Star Superman" animated adaptation, which went on sale today in stores across America. CBR ran a lengthy interview with McDuffie about that project last week and caught up with him, looking in good health and acting jovial, last week at the Paley Center's Los Angeles premier for the film. McDuffie's last known public statement was a post to his Facebook page Sunday at 12:17 PM Pacific. He was scheduled to sign at Golden Apple Comics tomorrow evening as part of Reggie Hudlin's Reggie's World launch party.

The writer is survived by his wife, though at this point no further details are available on what exactly happened to McDuffie. The staff of Comic Book Resources offers our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
In an industry where comic deaths are used as a ploy to boost sales or to be shocking, I have to say, this news is most shocking of all. I've enjoyed his work throughout his run and though Milestone books were a great contribution to the industry, one that had very little in the way for the black readers. So much so that he wrote this internal memo...

It turns out that he apparently died due to complications from surgery he underwent last night. This is a huge loss for the industry as a whole and a loss for the comics and animation community.

I had very little atachment to Firestorm before his envolvment in it. You can forget Ronald Raymond, I never even enjoyed that character. But you put Jason Rusch in the role and McDuffie behind it and I was sold.

I loved his work on the Justice League (Unlimited) cartoon. He's got some good episodes:

Hereafter: My favorite JL cartoon. A group of villains seemingly 'kill' Superman, only to actually send him into the distant future. In this future, the only human alive is Vandal Savage, who successfully defeated a Superman-less Justice League, but only to destroy the rest of the world in the process. Savage is repentant for what he's now done, and he befriends Superman and attempts to send him back to the present.

The Once and Future Thing: Chronos is a flake from the time of Beyond Batman, who uses time travel to steal artifacts from history. When he uses it to steal things like one of Batman's belts from the satellite, Batman and John Stewart chase him down in the past (with Jonah Hex and friends) and the future (with Terry McGinnis and Warhawk, son of John Stewart and Shiera Hall). Notable scene is when time fuckery causes John to be replaced by Hal Jordan.

The Luthor/Brainiac saga: The end of the first season of JLU ended with a four episode story concerning Luthor's master plan. My favorite part of this entire series. We've got a lot of awesome Question moments, we have Supergirl and Steel defending a watchtower under siege, and we ultimately have Wally West coming of age and saving the world in one of the series' best moments.

Epilogue: The final episode of the first season of JLU actually serves as the 'epilogue' of the 'Diniverse' DCAU. Terry McGinnis confronts Amanda Waller, and learns who is real father is. A great Bruce Wayne moment is had as he confronts a dying Ace (of the Royal Flush Gang, not Bat-dog). Lots of great callbacks, including the old Gray Ghost B:TAS episode and the Mask of the Phantasm movie.

The Great Brain Robbery: The funniest episode of the series by far. Lex Luthor and Wally West have their minds switched, and hilarity ensues.

Lex-as-Flash is leaving the bathroom.
Dr Polaris: "Well?"
The Flash: "What?"
Dr Polaris "Aren't you going to wash your hands?"
The Flash: "No. ...'cause I'm EVIL!"

The Flash: Hmm... if nothing else, I can at least learn the Flash's secret identity.
[Lex unmasks and looks in the mirror, then frowns]
The Flash: I have no idea who this is.

He will be missed by the community, by his friends and family and the world is a little less entertaining today.

Rest in Peace.

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