Dwayne McDuffie, a comic-book writer known for diversifying the pantheon of superheroes, creating popular black characters in print and on television, died in Burbank, Calif., on Monday, the day after his 49th birthday.
Mr. McDuffie, a resident of Sherman Oaks, Calif., died of complications from heart surgery, said Matt Wayne, a longtime friend.
Mr. McDuffie was best known as a founder of Milestone Media, described by The Plain Dealer of Cleveland in 2000 as "the industry's most successful minority-owned-and-operated comic company."
An independent company whose work is distributed by DC Comics, Milestone produces comics with ethnically diverse casts. Among its major characters (all of whom Mr. McDuffie helped create, in collaboration with illustrators and other writers) are Static, Icon and Hardware, all of whom are African-American; Xombi, who is Asian-American; and the Blood Syndicate, a crime-fighting group of men and women that includes blacks, Asians and Latinos.