Saturday, March 5, 2011

Remembering Dwayne McDuffie | Marvel Heroes | Comic News | News |

Marvel has posted a great article on the life of Dwayne McDuffie in his honor. They published a few words from people who worked with him and knew him. One was from one of corroborators Gregory Wright. Wright recounts a behind the scenes incident that I had no idea about. Back in the early 1990's, Captain America had a sidekick named "Bucky" - who happened to be black. The writer Mark Gruenwald had no idea how offensive a term "Bucky" was for black people (at the time I didn't know the history either) and after speaking to McDuffie, Gruenwald changed the character's name to Battlestar. For the first time I now know why the change was made.

Gregory Wright said:

While we were both assistant editors, Dwayne quietly pointed out to me that my boss Mark Gruenwald had written something particularly racially offensive. He had created a new partner for the wannabe Captain America, USAgent. He was an African-American Bucky. At the time, I didn't quite get what the problem was, but Dwayne explained it to me, and said that this made him lose some respect for Mark. I explained that Mark couldn't have done this on purpose, and would be very upset at this mistake. Dwayne was dubious. Mark was far too intelligent to not know what he was doing. So I decided that Dwayne should speak to Mark.
Dwayne was not thrilled with this, as he was already that subversive guy to some. And this could get him in labeled something else. I told him Mark was different, and besides, he didn't think DAMAGE CONTROL was subversive. He loved it. Dwayne very calmly expressed his view to Mark, who was absolutely horrified. He had no idea that “Bucky” was an offensive term. He quizzed Dwayne for a while on the history of the offensive nature of the term and asked him to help him solve this problem in the most sensitive way possible. So the very next issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA that Mark wrote, Bucky became Battlestar. And Mark and Dwayne had a newfound respect for each other.

I also enjoyed reading the remarks from Reggie Hudlin. He and Wright had the most to say about who McDuffie was as a person and some of the trials he had to face and how he overcame them. From their recollections, I think his life would make an interesting book and movie.

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Remembering Dwayne McDuffie | Marvel Heroes | Comic News | News |
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