The 8th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics finalists have been announced. With the slogan “From invisible to inevitable” (McDuffie’s own words), the award is given to a comic book that has shown a commitment to diversity and inclusion. The prize is named in honor of Dwayne McDuffie, a creator known for writing, editing, and producing comics and animation.

8th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for DiversityThe nominees for the 8th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics are:

Writer & Artist: Lawrence Lindell

Clock Striker
Writer: Frederick L. Jones, Artist: Issaka Galadima

The Man in the McIntosh Suit
Writer & Artist: Rina Ayuyang

Ripple Effects
Writer: Jordan Hart, Artist: Bruno Chiroleu

Young Men in Love: A Queer Romance Anthology
Writers: Various, Artists: Various

The committee is led by industry legend, Marv Wolfman and consists of 10 prominent comics and animation professionals who personally knew and worked with McDuffie and/or have demonstrated a commitment to his vision of excellence and inclusiveness both on the page and behind the scenes. 

The committee consists of:

Colleen Doran is a cartoonist, writer/artist whose works include writing/drawing  Sensational Wonder Woman, the multi-award winning adaptation Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples, and art for The Sandman, The Vampire Diaries, The Clock, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, The Walking Dead, and hundreds of other comics. She also illustrated  Stan Lee’s New York Times best-selling autobiography Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible Stan Lee. Among her numerous awards and nominations are Eisner awards, the  Harvey Award, The International Horror Guild Award, the Ringo, and the Bram Stoker Award. 

Heidi MacDonald is the editor-in-chief of and has edited comics for  Disney, DC Comics, Vertigo, HarperCollins, and Z2. She can be heard on Publishers  Weekly’s weekly podcast More To Come and found regularly on the Beat’s YouTube channel.  

Jamal Igle is the writer/artist/creator of Molly Danger for Action Lab Entertainment, the co-creator/artist of The Wrong Earth for Ahoy Comics, co-creator of Dudley Datson and the Forever Machine for Comixology, and the penciller of the critically acclaimed series, BLACK from Black Mask Studios, as well as many titles for DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse.  He’s been a storyboard artist for Sony Animation and is also a popular guest lecturer on the subjects of comics and animation. 

Joseph Illidge is the Executive Editor for Heavy Metal, the leading illustrated magazine and company for science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Joseph’s first job in the comic book industry was at Milestone Media, the groundbreaking publisher responsible for the popular teen hero “Static”. The first editor of color for DC Comics’ Batman franchise,  Joseph is the founder of Illuminous, LLC and is co-producing the film “Xero” with 50  Cent’s G-Unit Film and Television, writer Christopher Priest, and Color Farm Media. 

Nilah Magruder is a writer/artist and the inaugural winner of the Dwayne McDuffie  Award for Diversity in Comics for the graphic novel M.F.K. She wrote and illustrated the  picture book How to Find a Fox, and has also written for Marvel Comics, illustrated  children’s books for Disney-Hyperion, Scholastic, and Penguin, and worked as a writer  and storyboard artist in television animation. She is currently illustrating Creaky Acres, a middle-grade graphic novel about horseback riding. 

Kevin Rubio is a writer/producer who has contributed to Justice League  Action, Avengers Assemble, Thunderbirds Are Go!, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. He is also the creator and writer of the Star Wars graphic novel, Tag & Bink Were Here, and Red 5 Publication’s Abyss Vol.  I & II. He is an inaugural recipient of the George Lucas Film Award for his Star  Wars short film, TROOPS, is a Promax Award winner, and is an Emmy nominee. 

Geoffrey Thorne is the writer/creator of Mosaic for Marvel Comics, Prodigal for Genre 19, and writer of Green Lantern for DC Comics. He was also the head writer and showrunner of Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest as well as a writer-producer on such hit series as Leverage, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Power: Book II: Ghost, a co-executive producer on Magnum P.I. and executive producer of the podcast sci-fi anthology series Geoffrey Thorne’s Dreamnasium. He is also the writer of the upcoming  Blood Syndicate comic book reboot for Milestone Media. 

Will J. Watkins (Director of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics) is a  freelance TV, film, and animation writer who is also a comic book story/world-building consultant on The Protectors graphic novel published by Athlita Comics. He had a stint as an assistant editor at DC Comics and, before moving to LA, he co-owned Chicago’s first African-American-owned comic book shop. He’s currently a writer on Freeform’s  Motherland: Fort Salem

Matt Wayne has written for many highly-regarded animation projects, including Samurai  Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, Cannon Busters, Niko and the Sword of Light, the Emmy-nominated Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms, and Hello Kitty: Supercute  Adventures. His comics work includes Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Static/Black  Lightning, and writing and editing for the original Milestone Media comics line. 

Marv Wolfman is a multi-award-winning writer who created Blade for Marvel Comics,  The New Teen Titans for DC Comics, and legions of other iconic characters and stories. In addition to comic books, he’s written for animation, video games, novels, and more. It’s been said that he’s created more characters who’ve made the jump to movies, TV shows, toys, games, and animation than any other writer save Stan Lee.

Magruder said in a statement: 

“I’m thrilled to join the judging committee for this year’s Dwayne McDuffie Awards and  be a part of elevating underrepresented voices in comics. Being recognized and  meeting so many of Dwayne’s friends and colleagues was a huge moment in my career.  I’m happy to be a part of bestowing that honor on more creators.” 

The winner will be announced in a virtual ceremony next week on The Beat‘s YouTube channel by returning MC, actor Phil LaMarr, who voiced both heroes Static/Virgil and John Stewart/Green Lantern in the animated Warner Bros.’ series Static Shock and Justice League Unlimited. Both were written and produced by McDuffie.

LaMarr stated:

“It is important right now to acknowledge and reward artists who strive to tell the stories of diverse experiences and points of view. When you know someone’s story, you cannot dehumanize them.”

DMAD Director, Will J. Watkins added:

“This award in (Dwayne’s) name, its significance, and impact, has never been more important. So what might Dwayne say in the midst of such unsettling times? I believe the same thing he’s still saying through this award—he’d encourage diverse creators that their art, their voices, and their lives do matter.”

McDuffie’s widow, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie said in a statement:

“It is my honor, through this award in my late husband’s name, to shine a spotlight on outstanding diverse, inclusive content and creators. Dwayne always said he wanted to see ‘all kinds of different stories being told by all kinds of different people.’ Make him proud.”

Past Winners:  

2021 – Adora and the Distance, written by Marc Bernadin & illustrated by Ariela  Kristantina (Dark Horse Comics) 

2020 – They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and  Harmony Becker. 

2019 – Archival Quality, written by Ivy Noelle Weir & illustrated by Christina “Steenz”  Stewart (Oni Press) 

2018 – Leon: Protector of the Playground, written & illustrated by Jamar Nicholas  (Kids Love Comics) 

2017 – Upgrade Soul, written & illustrated by Ezra Claytan Daniels 

2016 – Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson & illustrated by Adrian Alphona (Marvel Entertainment) 

2015 – M.F.K. written & illustrated by Nilah Magruder (

Stay tuned next week for the winner of the 8th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics.