11 Black comics writers to read, from DC to Marvel and beyond

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Dwayne McDuffie

Dwayne McDuffie is another one of those comic book writers where, regardless of the kind of list you’re compiling, you’ve got to talk about his work. He is also, sadly, the only writer on this list who has since passed away. Though McDuffie left us in 2011 after complications from emergency surgery, his work remains a testament to his outstanding talent and achievements in the field.

At first, it didn’t exactly look like McDuffie was going to work in comics. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English first, then with a master’s in physics. That wasn’t quite right for him, apparently, as he went on to film school as NYU’s famed Tisch School of the Arts. Eventually, he ended up as a copy editor for a magazine, where he was still working when a friend secured him an interview for an assistant editor position at Marvel.

As you may have guessed, McDuffie got the job. He helped with a number of special projects, including developing the company’s first trading cards. His first scripts debuted in the Damage Control miniseries, featuring a construction company that’s tasked with cleaning up after all of the superheroes go home.

McDuffie was not content to sit with the way things were. Early on his career, he submitted a satirical proposal as a protest against the lack of diverse representation in comics. Even after he became a freelancer and was writing for Marvel, DC, Archie, and other comics, he kept bringing attention to the issue. He co-founded Milestone Media in an effort to bring more diverse perspectives to comics.

Given just how many stories were written by McDuffie throughout his career, it’s a little hard figuring out where to start. Of course, you’d be remiss if you didn’t read at least some of Static, his Milestone character and series that eventually became the Static Shock TV show. Over at Marvel, his run on Fantastic Four (#544-550) featuring the newly-wed Storm and Black Panther filling in on the team. If you’re feeling yourself in more of a DC mood, then he also wrote for Batman in Legends of the Dark Knight #164-167.