Today is not only the final day of my series of tribute posts to writer and my personal hero Dwayne McDuffie, but also the 7th anniversary of his untimely passing. This last piece is something that’s been the hardest to write. A quality of Dwayne’s that I particularly admired and envied was his ability to to write amazingly high quality material at a fraction of the time it would take a normal person. Apparently it took Dwayne less than a day to write his first episode of Static Shock, which also happened to be his first script for animation. Eat your heart out, George R.R. Martin. Frankly, even one week is near impossible to encapsulate just how much McDuffie means to me, but that won’t stop me from trying.
Right now Black Panther is the #1 movie around the world, obliterating that outdated misconception that a project with a predominately black cast won’t have mainstream appeal. This is unequivocally a watershed moment and the sad part is that Dwayne is not around to see it firsthand. The tragedy of those who bring about real and significant change is that they don’t live long enough to see the far-reaching impact they had on the world. There’s not a doubt in my mind that Dwayne McDuffie brought about monumental positive influence both on the entertainment industry and society itself. The past year has been a dark time for many and not to get too personal but I’ve had my own moments of depression questioning my self-worth and even struggling to find a reason to keep going on with nothing going right. Being part of preserving Dwayne McDuffie’s legacy, a man I truly admire, has given my life meaning and for that I’m eternally grateful to Dwayne’s widow Charlotte Fullerton for entrusting me with such an honor.
I devour everything I can find about McDuffie’s writing process. Not too long ago I discovered something that struck a chord with me.
I like to reveal character through action; I like you to figure out who somebody is by what they do. The example I would use is Casablanca, where Rick would just say, “I stick my neck out for nobody,” but that’s not who he is and you see that by what he does. And that’s why you like him, not because of what he says but because of what he does.
On a fundamental level, this is how Dwayne lived his life. There’s no shortage of creators who claim to be champions of diversity, but time and time again Dwayne stuck his neck out for his beliefs and unfortunately was often chastised for it.
I think it’s fitting to end this tribute week to Dwayne McDuffie with a page from Icon #20 that especially resonates with me and encompasses everything I love about Dwayne and his work. It’s a profound scene that marries real scientific concepts like Planck’s Constant with Dwayne’s trademark humanism that can be found in the majority of his writing. This is on the level of Doctor Manhattan’s Thermodynamic Miracle explanation in Watchmen, and I don’t make the comparison to Alan Moore lightly. Fun tidbit, Alan Moore was actually going to write an Icon Annual and you can see why from this scene. As Static explains, human consciousness in small ways does affect reality.
As clichéd as it sounds, even the smallest person can in fact change the course of the future. In spite of everything, Dwayne’s faith in humanity never wavered. As long as there are people around to continue his legacy, Dwayne McDuffie will have attained a kind of immortality and truly become like one of the superheroes he admired and wrote about during his career.
Taimur Dar is the Digital Media Producer and Marketing Expert for the Beat. He has earned a master’s degree in marketing intelligence from Fordham University and has provided branding strategies for various companies and organizations. His name is pronounced like the first two syllables of “tomorrow” in case you were wondering.