Legendary Comics Creator Dwayne McDuffie #BlackHistoryMonth

Today we celebrate Dwayne McDuffie, an American writer of comic books and television, known for creating the animated television series Static Shock, writing and producing the animated series Justice League Unlimited and Ben 10, and co-founding the pioneering minority-owned-and-operated comic-book company Milestone Media home of the amazing Milestne Comics!

When I was a kid there weren’t very many superheroes in comic books who looked like me or like the people I lived with or the kids I hung out with. The superhero thing wasn’t just aspirational, it was an impossible distance away, an ideal land where everyone was built perfectly and had white skin and straight hair. Then along came Milestone Comics.


Dwayne McDuffie reached a deal for DC to publish four superhero comics titles under the Milestone Comics label — all featuring African-American superheroes, casts, and supporting characters. It was unprecedented. His heroes were a response to what was happening in black America at the time, raw and unfiltered, all about the world he lived in.

Look at those tag lines. An anti-corporate tech warrior: “A cog in the corporate machine is about to strip some gears.” A riff on Superman told from a young black girl’s perspective: “She’s got your hero right here.” A super-powered street gang: “America eats its young.” America eats its young? On the cover of a comic book — generally considered a kids medium? With no mature reader label? The comics world could barely handle it back then, and frankly it would be shocking today.

For me, living in the inner-city, in Richmond, CA, on the wrong side of the tracks, it was a total revelation. Here were heroes I could relate to. Especially the skinny little 15 yead old Virgil Hawkins and his secret identity, the electricity slinging Static, with the all-time classic tag line: “You don’t start none, there won’t be none.”


In a sense, Static was a riff on Spider-Man. Geeky kid, great power, great responsibility, etc. In Dwayne McDuffie’s own words, “Like any other awkward 15 year-old, Virgil Hawkins worries about pocket money, getting beaten up, and drugs. But recently he’s had even more on his mind: stuff like his powers, his secret identity, and drugs. Because when innocents are in danger, and Virgil can slip away from class, the geeky youth becomes Static.”


But that was only a part of it. Virgil lived in a neighborhood that I could recognize, and had problems that made sense to me. His father wasn’t a perfect and honorable man who died a tragic but inspiring death — Virgil’s dad was a bad role model, an absentee father who inspired nothing except self-doubt. I’d never seen a superhero like that before.


Static and the other comics in Milestone also had a profound social conscience. Addressing social issues was part of their basic DNA. Virgil rescues a friend from gay-bashing, super-powered gang-member protect neighborhoods, and corporations are framed as bad guys. Milestone in general was ahead of its time in dealing with corporate consciousness and the notion that if they existed in our world, superheroes would need to carve out space in which to retain their identity. Punching bag guys in the face isn’t enough. Dwayne McDuffie’s comics suggested that a black superhero would need to fight against the cultural current in order to be seen as a hero. Static faced that struggle and more.


Dwayne McDuffie passed away, suddenly, in 2011 at the age of 49. The comics world mourned him, and those of us who found solace and hope in his vision of what a black superhero could be thanked him for his work. Static will always be one of my favorite superheroes.

Dwayne McDuffie

Milestone Media

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org

Maker Business — Philips, an electronics giant, has faded from its former glory

Wearables — You’re a gem

Electronics — Copper keepout!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: 100 CircuitPython Community Libraries, a New Arduino UNO and much more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Boxing Glove Tracker, Disconnecting Smart Appliances, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — New Products 3/31/2023 Featuring Adafruit Feather RP2040 RFM69 Packet Radio – 868 or 915MHz – RadioFruit and STEMMA QT! (Video)

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.