First comic award to honor the late Dwayne McDuffie announces nominees

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Feb 19, 2015, 8:00 PM EST (Updated)

Though his name might not be as big as someone like Grant Morrison or Brian Michael Bendis, the late Dwayne McDuffie remains one of the most important figures in the last 25 years of American comics. He wrote and edited numerous titles for Marvel and DC, worked on television shows including Static ShockJustice LeagueJustice League Unlimited and Ben 10 and was one of the founding members of Milestone Media, a company dedicated to increasing diversity in the comic book world that brought us characters like Static, Xombi and the Blood Syndicate. His far-reaching influence on comics, animation, videogames and more, combined with his tireless advocacy for diversity in superhero media, made him not just an important voice, but a fan-favorite creator.

McDuffie passed away in 2011 at the age of 49, but his legacy is still ringing in the comic book world in a number of ways, including a potential revival of Milestone. Now his work for diversity is being honored with an award named after him. On Feb. 28, at the Long Beach Comic Expo, the first-ever Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity will be presented, and this week the nominees for the honor were revealed. If you've been following diverse superhero media over the last year or so, you'll likely recognize a few of these.

  • Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel Comics)
  • The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew (First Second Books)
  • Hex11 by Lisa K. Weber and Kelly Sue Milano (HexComix)
  • M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder (mfkcomic)
  • Shaft by David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely (Dynamite)

The titles range from widely distributed work from major comics publishers to creator-owned and -distributed books, and according to award director Matt Wayne, it's easy to see why indie comics made the cut.

“Who gets to be the hero, and how readers get to see themselves reflected in the hero are complex matters that Dwayne thought about often. As editor in chief of Milestone Media’s original run of comics, he used terms like ‘multi-experiential’ to describe what we were doing,” Wayne said. “Independent publishing by its nature is more inclusive, so it’s no surprise that a number of the nominees are indies or even self-published. We hope that the DMAD will help these comics find new readers. The major comics publishers need no help from us, but whoa, ‘Ms. Marvel’ deserves every plaudit the world can work up!”

The winner will be decided by a committee made up of McDuffie's friends, close colleagues and fellow advocates for inclusivness in comics. McDuffie's wife, Charlotte, has also given her blessing to the award.

“I am so proud that my husband’s personal mission to include a more diverse array of voices — both in content and creators — is able to continue now through this award in his name, by encouraging others who share his vision of comics, characters, and the industry itself better mirroring society,” Charlotte McDuffie said.

So, four years after McDuffie's untimely death, another piece of his legacy will be added, and it's proof that his dream of a more diverse, inclusive world of superhero media is something many haven't given up on. In fact, it's only growing stronger.

(Via Hero Complex)

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