My Influences #1 - Dwayne McDuffie (a continuing list...)
I have had many influences over the years, usually in comic books, but this also extends to movies (both animated and live action), TV Shows (again both animated and live action), plays, music, books and on and on. I'm going to start this list and see where it takes me...
My favourite TV series of all-time is Justice League Unlimited. I LOVE that show. I'll watch it over and over, whether happy or sad, doesn't matter...it just works. According to his Wikipedia page, Dwayne McDuffie wrote, produced or story-edited 69 out of the 91 episodes.
The final run of the "Cadmus" storyline, in particular, saw McDuffie write or co-write the last seven episodes of the season, from "Clash" (where a jaded Superman encounters a naive Shazam) to "Hunter's Moon" (an underrated team-up of Hawkgirl, Vixen and the awesome VIGILANTE) to "Question Authority" (The Question becomes a legendary character) to "Flashpoint" (Superman is a badass and so is Amanda Waller) to "Panic in the Sky" (every character in the JLU is given a moment to shine) to "Divided We Fall" (wrap up to the whole storyline) and then finally "Epilogue" (a crossover with Batman Beyond starring an elderly Amanda Waller that is one of the best Batman stories ever!).
I can't sufficiently explain how much these stories mean to me. I watch them for entertainment, for the wow factor, to see how these characters can be brought to life on my TV screen if done properly. I also dissect them, specifically the writing, how the characters' personalities are shown through actions and dialogue...I could go on but I'm not as good a writer as Dwayne McDuffie so it would be futile. In the last season of JLU, McDuffie brought us "I Am Legion", "To Another Shore", "The Great Brain Robbery", "Far From Home" and the season finale "Destroyer". Sadly, a show that should have gone on forever stopped there.
McDuffie wasn't done though, continuing on writing the Justice League movies "Crisis on Two-Earths", "All-Star Superman" and "Justice League Doom". Even the first two seasons of Justice League, where the creative team was trying to find their footing before JLU, there are great episodes, usually with McDuffie involved. My favourite is "Hereafter", a touching Superman story that I highly recommend to anyone.
After learning who McDuffie was thanks to the Special Features on the JLU DVD's, I wanted to learn more about him.
I learned that he was one of the people behind "Milestone Comics", a 90's minority-owned comic studio that sought to bring african-american super heroes to the world.
He brought us Static Shock the animated series. And worked on the Teen Titans and Ben 10 animated universes as well.
He brought us Marvel's Damage Control.
He had a run on the Justice League comic book and was fired after being honest with fans online about the creative process.
He wrote a PRINCE comic book!
*Fun facts: McDuffie was Prince’s cousin and half-brother to Keegan Michael Key of “Key and Peele”.
Unfortunately he passed away on February 21st, 2011. I can only imagine what his talents would have brought us in those intervening years. What would he have thought of the New 52, for instance?
If you've never heard of Dwayne McDuffie, look him up. Start with the JLU episodes I mentioned above. Then check out the documentary "A Legion of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story" included on the Justice League Doom DVD and Blu-Rays. He's definitely worthy of the name "legend". And his influence will continue, both in the written word, but also with "The Dwayne McDuffie Fund".
From the GoFundMe page:
"Today, a Dwayne McDuffie gofundme campaign exists to continue his legacy. The funds raised here by his estate and handled by his widow, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie, are to help establish The Dwayne McDuffie Foundation, which will be a non-profit organization to award academic scholarships for diverse students. The fund will also continue to keep Dwayne’s vision alive by managing and maintaining an archival website for research purposes, and applying on behalf of Dwayne’s fans for his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Diversity in entertainment is an on-going effort, more important now than ever. In his all-too-brief lifetime, Dwayne McDuffie had only just begun his meaningful work that is left for us to continue.
Thank you all in advance for your contributions and for sharing Dwayne’s vision."
I've donated to the cause, and you should too! Here is the link to the GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/DwayneMcDuffieFund
And while you are in a reading mood, here are some great articles about Mr. McDuffie...enjoy!