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A so-called tribute becomes an estate dispute

During his career, Dwayne McDuffie was considered a pioneer of comic books with African-America heroes. While he gained initial fame writing for Marvel and DC, he made his mark in the industry when he started Milestone Media in 1992. It served as a launching pad to provide greater representation of black super-heroes.

Milestone soon secured a publishing agreement with DC Comics where McDuffie created characters Icon and Static while producing “Static Shock,” a TV show that aired on the WB network.

His untimely death at 49 from complications following heart surgery in 2011 left a significant void in the industry. Four years later, McDuffie’s former business partners Derek Dingle and Denys Cowan relaunched the company with new partner Reginald Hudlin, producer of Django Unchained and Marshall.

They claim that the revival was a tribute to the late Dwayne McDuffie.

That tribute resulted in a lawsuit filed in L.A. Superior Court. McDuffie’s widow claims that the revived company deliberately excluded his estate. According to Charlotte McDuffie, McDuffie owned 50% of Milestone Media at the time of his death with Dingle owning the other half.

In addition, the new trio of partners failed to buy out McDuffie’s share of the company. Instead, they formed a new company, Milestone Media Company LLC, and took control of the old Milestone’s intellectual property.

Charlotte McDuffie alleges that her inquiries about the new company were met with “stalling and stonewalling tactics.” “Milestone 2.0” is using her husband’s creations to expand their relationship with DC Comics and open doors for new projects with other publishers. Yet, Milestone’s relaunch is happening without compensation for McDuffie’s estate.

Milestone’s partners have denied the estate’s allegations. While the parties entered into settlement talks, those negotiations broke down, resulting in the filing of the suit.

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