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DCU: Next Generation >> Interviews

A DCU: Next Generation E-View with ... Dwayne McDuffy
(November 2000)

Sean: What first got you interested in comics, both as a hobby and as a career?

Dwayne: It wasn't so much a hobby as an interest. I read casually for a long while and in junior high, I became more hard-core, discovering writers like Don McGregor, Steve Gerber and Steve Engelhart. I was hooked. Career-wise, I sort of fell into comics. I was working in a magazine job I hated. One of my friends who worked at Marvel (Greg Wright) told me there was an opening there in editorial. I applied and got the job. I'd already been doing a bit of writing at Marvel for fun, once I was there, I started doing quite a bit more.

Sean: What was your first professional work in comics?

Dwayne: First published was DAMAGE CONTROL, a comedy series I created. Before that I'd sold a couple of stories to SOLO AVENGERS with the aforementioned Mr. Wright, but they didn't see print until later.

Sean: Since this site focuses on young heroes, let's find out your feelings on some of Milestone's teen characters such as Static, Rocket, Members of Blood Syndicate, others.

Dwayne: I think teen characters are individuals just as rich and varied as adults, merely lacking adult experience. They're more fun to write, as they don't have to be as fully formed, morally speaking. Their youth makes their mistakes and shortcomings more forgivable, so you can often do more interesting stories with them than you can with their adult counterparts.

Sean: What is your take on the success or failure of African-American characters in mainstream comics? Have they been too stereotypical (Luke Cage) or too bland and out of touch with their ethnicity (Storm)?

Dwayne: I don't have criticism of any individual character. The problem is that there are so few black characters of any kind that it magnifies the importance of anything that any one of them does. For white males, there's an enormous range of character types, from Superman to Doctor Doom, and every shade in between. No single characters' actions are taken as representative of the white race. This isn't true for minorities or women. Similarly, there are very few attempts to launch new titles with black characters, as the vast majority of all new books fail, it's no surprise that there aren't many black success stories.

Sean: Tell us a little about the creation of Static? Did you ever think he'd become the fan fave he is now? Or a TV show for that matter?

Dwayne: Static was my attempt at doing a teen hero in a contemporary setting. I was a big Spider-Man fan, and was disappointed that the nerdy high-school loser I grew up with was suddenly married to a super-model and living in a loft on the upper west side. I pitched Marvel on an earlier version of Static back in 1989 and they were interested, but nothing ever came of it. when we were putting Milestone together, somebody said, "We need a teen hero" and I dusted him off and threw him in the pot. After everyone else added their input, Static as you know him was born. I always thought we could do a good little book with Static, but I never thought he'd make it to Saturday morning. I'm thrilled to get him out there in front of that many people.

Sean: Say we wanted to get into the head of Static. Since you created his psyche, what's going on in there?

Dwayne: Static is a lot like me at that age, a science fiction and fantasy fan with his head in the clouds, a smart mouth who thinks he's cooler than he actually is, and deep-down, basically a pretty good guy. I think lots of comic book fans can relate.

Sean: Same thing, but for Rocket?

Dwayne: Rocket is the embodiment of my interpretation of Humanism. As the book develops, she'll grow closer and closer to my ideal. Big secret: "She's" the Icon.

Sean: The Dakota-verse is the best example of a multi-ethnic "real world" comic book setting to date. Obviously that was intentional, but was it a hard sell? Was there a lot of flack for it being "too black" or even "not black enough"?

Dwayne: Both. But it's not something I can worry about. My loyalty has to be to the work. I can't do my job if I'm overly concerned with how people with various agendas choose to interpret the work, or my motivations. Multiculturalism is a natural outgrowth of my life experience and my world view. When I wrote Avengers stories, they were multicultural too.

Sean: A few years back, there was some fan push for DC to bring Static over into the core DCU and have him join Young Justice. In your opinion, would that have been a good idea? Would there still be any chance of them crossing over, especially since he is known to Superboy from the World's Collide crossover?

Dwayne: I told Todd DeZago, who was supposed to write it at the time, that if he could work out the continnuity problems, he was free to use him. I think he planned to, had he written the series, but you'd have to ask him. Crossovers remain a possibility, there's a story that DC Editor Dan Raspler and I have been planning to do for a few years now that may yet happen.

Sean: With the success of Static Shock so far, does that mean a possibility of a return in print for the Milestone core books?

Dwayne: We hope so. Sales of the comic books have to hold up too. If they do, we've got tons of stuff planned.

Sean: Which of the Milestone books were your favorite to write? Your least fave to write? Fave to read? Least fave to read?

Dwayne: Don't ask me to choose among my children!

Sean: Any teasers as the what's coming up on Static Shock? Any chance of seeing Icon and Rocket (please!), Hardware, Blood Syndicate, or (wouldn't this rock!) Xombi?

Dwayne: Almost all of the above will appear before the end of the mini series.

Sean: Tell us a little about the way you approach a comics story and the process of writing it. Is there a "method to your madness"?

Dwayne: I start with the characters. A story where you can substitute one character for another and the events would work out the same is a bad story. The individual traits of the characters have to drive the action. Daredevil and Batman shouldn't approach a situation in the same way, they're different gus, or they should be. The other equally important piece for me is the meta narrative. In addition to the obvious, Hardware was really about me leaving Marvel, Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool is about the return of Milestone to comics and our sometimes problematic relationship with, ah, let's say the industry.

Sean: Which comics or characters would you most like to have a chance to write?

Dwayne: I used to say the Fantastic Four but I've given up on the dream.

Sean: Which creators would you most like to have a chance to work with? Who are your faves to work with so far?

Dwayne: Favorites I can go on about all day, there are so many terrific people, i'd be afraid of forgetting somebody. I've been fortunate enough to work with just about everybody, in one capacity or another, who I'd like to work with next depends on the project.

Sean: Any future plans or projects we should be looking for?

Dwayne: I'm writing a weekly column about comic books called BROUGHT TO YOU BY, every week at Psycomic.com. I'm doing a flash animation show called SUPER MODELS at Icebox.com that I think people should check out. I'm writing episodes of Static Shock, the animated series on every Saturday at 11:00 AM on the Kids WB. For more info on my, I invite your readers to visit my web site dwaynemcduffie.com. Thanks for the chance to chat.

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