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Posted at 4:53 PM ET, 02/22/2011

RIP, DWAYNE McDUFFIE: Shocked fans, friends mourn the comics/animation force [UPDATED]

By Michael Cavna

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Tomorrow, Dwayne McDuffie had written on his blog, he planned to be celebrating the launch of Reggie Hudlin's new website at a signing alongside such Hudlin friends as Rashida Jones, Eriq LaSalle, Ziggy Marley and McDuffie's Milestone Media co-founder, Denys Cowan.

Now, the comics-shop event will become a wake of sorts for heartfelt remembrance.

McDuffie, a Detroit native and a powerful comics talent, died Monday, according to Comic Book Resources. A cause of death was not immediately known. (Update: Several sources are reporting that he died from complications after a surgical procedure; one source told Comic Riffs that his death followed emergency surgery.)

According to Reuters, McDuffie was 49.

The prolific McDuffie wrote dozens of books for Marvel and DC -- including Damage Control, the Fantastic Four and the Justice League of America -- and co-founded Milestone Media in the early-'90s as a means to express greater multiculturalism in comics. (To make his point about the state of diversity of comics, he also famously mock-pitched a series in 1989 with this internal Marvel memo.)

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As he transitioned to screen, McDuffie's animated work included the series "Static Shock" and "Ben 10: Alien Force," as well as the just-released "All Star Superman." "Static Shock" garnered multiple Daytime Emmy nominations and also received the Humanitas Prize in 2003 for Children's Animation, for an episode concerning gun violence in schools.

"For Marvel, Dwayne will likely be best remembered as the person who came up with Damage Control, the firm that cleans up the city in the wake of superhero battles," Marvel honcho Tom Brevoort tells Comic Riffs. "In general, Dwayne will probably be better remembered as the story editor for Justice League Unlimited, Static Shock and Ben-10, as well as other WB animation releases.

"But I think he'd probably most like to be recalled as a guy who struggled mightily to open the gates wider to multiculturalism within comics," Brevoort tells us, "he himself having been profoundly inspired by the example of the Black Panther when he was young, and wanting to pass that same sort of experience on to the next generation, regardless of their particular race, creed or background."

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"He was a consummate craftsman and an innovator," Hudlin tells Comic Riffs. "There were so many notable things about his career: He was a great comic writer and editor; and then to be a successful businessman and launch the first black comic-book company with Milestone Media and to create characters that have a huge cultural footprint. And now he was finally getting recognition with all his animated shows."

"He was at a career peak," says Hudlin, noting that McDuffie had just celebrated a birthday Sunday. "His life was hitting on all cylinders. ... That is the tragedy of it."

On the popular Dwayne McDuffie boards, his fans were sharing their shock and expressing their grief over "Maestro's" death.

On Twitter, DC chief creative officer and fellow Detroit native Geoff Johns posted: "R.I.P. Dwayne McDuffie. Great writer, great guy and a huge loss." All-Star Superman writer Grant Morrison wrote on Twitter: "Very shocked by the sad death of Dwayne McDuffie. Condolences to his family and friends. His voice lives on in the work he leaves behind."

And on its Source blog, DC Entertainment co-Publisher Dan DiDio wrote:

"Dwayne McDuffie left a lasting legacy on the world of comics that many writers can only aspire to. He will not only be remembered as the extremely gifted writer whose scripts have been realized as comic books, in television shows and on the silver screen, but as the creator or co-creator of so many of the much-loved Milestone characters, including Static Shock. The industry has lost a true talent.

"Our sincerest condolences go out to the family and many friends he leaves behind."

Next month's Emerald City Comicon in Seattle announced Tuesday that it would hold a panel in remembrance of McDuffie.

And Hudlin tells Comic Riffs that at his website-launch event Wednesday at L.A.'s Golden Apple Comics, those gathered indeed will pay tribute to the memory of Dwayne McDuffie.

"I talked with Denys [Cowan] and we said: 'We have to do it,' " Hudlin says. "We have to have people together and give them a chance to celebrate his life. At 8 p.m. [PT], we will stop and give testimony and raise a glass -- to let the world know."

DWAYNE McDUFFIE:


By Michael Cavna  | February 22, 2011; 4:53 PM ET
Categories:  General, Superheroes, The Comic Book  | Tags:  DC Entertainment, Damage Control, Dan DiDio, Dwayne McDuffie, Marvel Entertainment, Milestone Media, Reggie Hudlin, Static Shock, Tom Brevoort  
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Comments

Milestone comics were eye opening for me. He was a cool guy.

Posted by: hesaid | February 22, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

This makes me very, very sad. He had ability and helped change the culture.

Posted by: gbooksdc | February 22, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I loved 'Static Shock' but had no idea who was it's creator. He was very talented.

Condolences to his family.

Posted by: rlj611 | February 22, 2011 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Damage Control was one of the great, truly original ideas to come along in comics. Dwayne's talent was one of a kind.

Posted by: jsutliff | February 23, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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