Dwayne McDuffie And Earl Kress Receive Animation Writing Awards

By Danica Davidson

Last night Dwayne McDuffie and Earl Kress were awarded for their animation work, but the real shame was that they weren’t given these awards sooner. The Writers Guild of America, West announced that both men were co-recipients for the Animation Writing Award, which is a great honor. But it’s also tinged with sadness, because both McDuffie and Kress passed away this year.

“This year, animation lost two talented, hard-working people who have given much of themselves and their talent to our field. Dwayne McDuffie was a talented writer and creator of comics and animation who worked hard for others, particularly for minority writers,” said AWC Chair Craig Miller, as posted on the WGA website. “Earl Kress was a writer whose career included both feature and TV animation and hard work on behalf of all animation writers as a member of the WGA Animation Writers Caucus and the Animation Guild Board of Directors. Both were people I was glad to call friend and colleague, and whose efforts, it can truthfully be said, made all of us the better for them. They left us much too soon and too young, and I'm pleased we can commemorate their work and their memory with this year's award.”

Dwayne McDuffie (photo credit Kevin Parry)

McDuffie co-founded and created Milestone Media and worked as editor-in-chief for the company’s line of comic books. He co-created Static Shock, was a producer and story editor for the cartoon Justice League, and was an editor for Marvel Comics. As a writer, he worked on Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Spider-Man, and Hellraiser, among others. But don’t think McDuffie only wrote about others’ creations when he was in the comics field. He additionally created and co-created such series as Static, Damage Control and The Road to Hell .

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Earl Kress (photo credit Louis Raynor)

Kress wrote for a number of cartoons, including Krypto, The Superdog; Kim Possible; Pinky and the Brain; and The Animaniacs. In terms of movies, you see his writing credits on Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes, Little Go Beep and Wakko’s Wish. Turning to comic books, he worked on graphic novels of The Simpsons, Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo!

Both men were highly respected in their fields. McDuffie passed away last February from complications after receiving emergency heart surgery. A few months later, this past September, Kress passed away after battling cancer.

Since the recipients themselves could not attend, the award was presented to their widows.

“Earl Kress spent 30-plus years working tirelessly to improve the lot of animation writers,” said AWC member Stan Berkowitz. “He leaves behind a legacy of iconic cartoons and well-deserved awards, along with scores of fellow animation writers who have health and pension benefits because of Earl, and Earl alone.”

Berkowitz went on to say, “Dwayne McDuffie came to L.A. to work on Static Shock, the animated adaptation of an African-American comic book hero he co-created, and it wasn’t long before he was one of the leading lights of superhero animation. Though his stories were often set at the edges of the universe and in other dimensions, they invariably reflected Dwayne’s all-encompassing humanity.”

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