The portal has just opened for submissions for the 2019 Dwayne McDuffie Award For Diversity In Comics, and this year’s judging panel has just been announced, with the addition of Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Geoffrey Thorne.

For the last four years, I’ve has the honor of being a judge for this award, and I will be returning this year.  The fifth annual award will once again spotlight five finalists whose commitment to excellence and inclusion both on the page and behind the scenes exemplifies the late McDuffie’s own career producing entertainment that reflects a wide scope of human experience, created by an equally wide scope of human beings. Or as Dwayne put it ““From invisible to inevitable.”

Comics have certainly seen a surge in representation, and reading the rich array of submissions each year has been a pleasure that has introduced me to a host of cartoonists I was not aware of before.

In the words of Charlotte McDuffie: “Excellence and inclusiveness. Dwayne held his own work to this dual high standard and accepted no less from others. Our past winners and nominees all continue to make me proud to have their names and careers forever associated with my late husband’s legacy. I eagerly look forward in this 5th submission season to hearing from an even more varied chorus of creative voices ready to share their own outstanding visions with our world.”

“I wish Dwayne was still with us,” said awards administrator Will J. Watkins. “His voice is sorely missed, especially now. As we go into the 5th year of this award, its significance and impact is more important than ever. I’m excited we can again open the door a bit wider for more diverse creators to have their voices heard.”
“As I reflect on the course of the DWAYNE McDUFFIE AWARD for DIVERSITY, I’m immensely proud of the way the larger community has accepted and embraced the mission. It’s been a tumultuous five-year period in the industry, and to be a small part of a movement for change and acceptance for all creators has been rewarding, to say the least,” said Martha Donato, President & Founder of MAD Event Management LLC, producers of Long Beach Comic Expo and C3. “I’m grateful to Charlotte [McDuffie] for including me in the award program and look forward to watching its evolution over time. I firmly believe Dwayne’s legacy is secure in her capable hands. For the nominees and winners of the Award past and future, you exemplify all that he stood for and believed in.”
“Dwayne McDuffie was a friend to me both personally and artistically for over a decade. He gave me my first job writing in animation,” said Geoffrey Thorne. “This award serves as an ongoing ambassador of his worldview (and mine.). Everybody who can play should get to play. I’m humbled to have been asked to judge this award that honors his legacy.”

You can read all the info on the judges and previous winners below, but here’s how to submit:

The deadline for completed submissions to be received at [email protected] for the 2019 DWAYNE McDUFFIE AWARD for DIVERSITY in COMICS is December 31, 2018. Visit the portal  to get started. Please complete all fields fully and consider your answers before clicking Submit. Examples of the prospective award recipient’s work should be sent in an email to [email protected] with McDuffie Award Submission in the subject line. Please attach a link or a 15mb PDF file of the work to be considered. When submitting work, we strongly suggest sending the first issue of a series. If submitting anything other than the first issue, a one-page synopsis of what came before must accompany the submission. Also, we suggest sending the first 25-30 pages or first chapter of a graphic novel. We cannot guarantee anything more will be considered. If one is available, please also attach a JPG photo of the entrant to the email. Please do not include any further attachments. Submissions will be accepted until December 31, 2018.
The winner will be announced at a reception to be held on February 15, 2019 in Long Beach, CA during the Long Beach Comic Expo and C3: Comic Creator Conference.
List of past winners:
2018 – Leon: Protector of the Playground, written and illustrated by Jamar Nicholas (Kids Love Comics)
2017 – Upgrade Soul, written and illustrated by Ezra Claytan Daniels
2016 – Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel Entertainment)
2015 – M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder (
This year’s judges are:
Cheryl Lynn Eaton is a pop-culture commentator and writer of comics. Her creative work can be found at publishers such as Image Comics, DC Comics, and Humanoids. Links to her non-fiction work are available at
Jennifer de Guzman is a freelance editor, comic book marketer and veteran of the comics industry. She was formerly editor-in-chief at SLG Publishing, a regular columnist for Publishers Weekly, Director of PR and Marketing and Director of Book Sales for Image Comics. Her writing has appeared in the anthologies, Womanthology: Space, This Is a Souvenir, and, Put the Book Back on the Shelf.
Joan Hilty is Comics Editor at Nickelodeon and editor-in-chief of Pageturner, a boutique comics/graphic novel production house. She was formerly a Senior Editor at DC/Vertigo and syndicated cartoonist. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and co-chairs comics programming for Brooklyn Book Festival and Miami Book Fair.
Jamal Igle is the writer/artist/Creator of Molly Danger for Action Lab Entertainment 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.
Mikki Kendall is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Swords of Sorrow (Dynamite), Bitch Planet (Image), Spitball 2 (Columbus College of Art and Design), and the Princeless Charity Anthology(Action Lab). Her non-fiction work has appeared in outlets including the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and Time. Her books Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight For their Rights and Hood Feminism will be published by Penguin Random House in 2019 and 2020.
Heidi MacDonald is the editor-in-chief of and a former editor for Disney and DC Comics. She can be heard on Publishers Weekly’s weekly podcast More To Come and the Beat podcast Three Women in a Hotel Room.
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, a Promax Award winner, and Emmy nominee.
Geoffrey Thorne is the writer/Creator of MOSAIC for Marvel Comics, PRODIGAL for Genre 19 and JOURNEYMEN for Dark Horse Comics. He is 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 and THE LIBRARIANS.
Will J. Watkins (Director of the DWAYNE McDUFFIE AWARD for DIVERSITY in COMICS) is a freelance film and animation writer who is also comic book story/world-building consultant on The Protectorsgraphic novel published by Athlita Comics. He had a stint as an assistant editor at DC Comics and before moving to L.A. he owned Chicago’s first African American-owned comics store. Most recently he was writer’s assistant on Facebook Watch’s SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS.
Correction: in the original post a quote was misattributed and is from Will J. Watkins.

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