Announced last week, Dwayne McDuffie and Earl Kress are set to receive the Writers Guild of America, West Animation Writers Caucus 14th annual Animation Writing Award posthumously. The honor recognizes their animation writing work and their efforts to organize animation for the guild. McDuffie worked on plenty of high-profile animation projects, including Justice League Unlimited, Static Shock, and the All-Star Superman animated feature. He passed away earlier this year. Continue below for the official press release.
Animation writers Dwayne McDuffie and Earl Kress have been posthumously named co-recipients of the Writers Guild of America, West Animation Writers Caucus (AWC) 14th Annual Animation Writing Award, recognizing their outstanding contributions to the craft of animation writing, as well as their work with the Writers Guild in organizing animation.
The AWCs lifetime achievement award will be presented to McDuffies and Kress widows, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie and Denise Kress, at the AWCs 2011 meeting, reception, and awards ceremony held tonight at WGAW headquarters in Los Angeles. 2003 honoree Mark Evanier will present this years award to Kress, and AWC member Matt Wayne will make the presentation to (Fullerton) McDuffie. WGAW Vice President Howard A. Rodman is set to introduce the evening.
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. 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, said AWC Chair Craig Miller.
Earl Kress spent 30-plus years working tirelessly to improve the lot of animation writers. 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, commented AWC member and 2009 AWC Animation Writing Award honoree Stan Berkowitz.
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 wasnt 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 Dwaynes all-encompassing humanity, added Berkowitz.
Born on August 22, 1951, and a WGAW member since 1994, Kress recently died on September 19, shortly after turning 60, of complications due to liver cancer.
Launching his career in 1975 with The Oddball Couple, his cartoon adaptation of The Odd Couple, Kress animation writing credits over four decades include Transformers, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain, Tom & Jerry Tales, The Smurfs, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Little Rascals, The Berenstain Bears, Ghostbusters, DuckTales, Pound Puppies, Tiny Toon Adventures, Kim Possible, Krypto the Superdog, and the memorable, final Road Runner Looney Tunes short Little Go Beep (co-written with Kathleen Helppie-Shipley), among many other animated programs. Kress animated feature co-writing credits include story work on Disneys The Fox and the Hound (1981), as well as several direct-to-video animated features such as the recent Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes (2010) and Wakkos Wish (1999). His live-action TV writing credits include Down to Earth and Wally and the Beaver.
In 1998, Kress earned an Annie Award for his work on the Pinky and the Brain episode The Family That Poits Together Narfs Together (shared with co-writers Charles M. Howell IV and John Ludin). A five-time Emmy nominee, Kress shared two Daytime Emmys over the course of his career, one for Pinky and the Brain in 1999 (Outstanding Special Class Animated Program, the other for Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain in 2000 (Outstanding Childrens Animated Program).
Over the course of his career, Kress worked at studios such as Warner Bros., Universal, and Disney, and animation production companies including Hanna-Barbera, Marvel, DePatie-Freleng, and Filmation.
In 1995, Kress joined the Animation Guilds executive board and was elected vice president of the Animation Guild (Local 839) in 2004, a position he held until his death earlier this year.
In addition to writing comic books for The Simpsons and Looney Toons, Kress most recently ghostwrote Life is a Pic-a-Nic: Tips and Tricks for the Smarter Than Av-er-age Bear with Yogi Bear, published in 2010 as a tie-in for the recent big-screen animated feature Yogi Bear. He also co-authored the 2009 autobiography of voiceover legend June Foray, Did You Grow Up with Me, Too? with co-writer and close friend Mark Evanier.
A man of diverse talents, Kress worked as a voice actor and a puppeteer for The Muppets, in addition to serving as a sought-after animated programming historian, playing a key role in producing several DVD box sets of classic Warner Bros. cartoons and contributing special feature supplemental materials to many animated TV series DVD collections, as well as working with Rhino Entertainment to release several CDs of vintage Hanna-Barbera cartoon soundtracks, among other animation-centric industry projects.
Well-respected comic book and animation writer McDuffie, who died at age 49 this past February 21 of complications after undergoing unsuccessful emergency open heart surgery to repair a ruptured aortic aneurysm, was co-founder of Milestone Media, a ground-breaking company that created multi-cultural comic lines which introduced black superheroes such as Hardware and Static.
As a comic book author, McDuffie contributed to Marvels Fantastic Four and DCs Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Justice League of America, among other popular comic book titles. As a television animation writer, story editor, or producer, his animated series writing credits include Static Shock (which he co-created with Christopher James Priest), Justice League, Ben 10: Alien Force, and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Whats New, Scooby Doo?, Teen Titans, and Friends & Heroes, among other animated programs. McDuffie also penned the 2011 animated feature All-Star Superman, based on the comic book series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, as well as several animated features in the DC Animated Universe Original Movies franchise series, including the upcoming Justice League: Doom, McDuffies adaptation of Mark Waids Tower of Babel JL story slated for release in 2012, and the videogame Justice League Heroes. McDuffies final work was developing the latest version of his global hit Ben 10 franchise for Cartoon Network, set to premiere in 2012.
Born on Feb. 20, 1962, and a WGAW member since 2003, McDuffie attended the Roeper School for gifted children in the Detroit suburbs of Bloomfield Hills. Later, he earned a bachelors degrees in both Physics and English, as well as a Masters degree in Physics, at the University of Michigan and attended film school at New York Universitys Tisch School of the Arts.
Launching his career in 1987 as a special comics editor at Marvel Comics, McDuffie wrote for Spider-Man and other major Marvel characters, and co-created the limited series Damage Control, centering on the novel idea of a firm that repairs property damages caused by epic battles between super-heroes and super-villains.
In 2003, McDuffie shared a Humanitas Prize for penning the Jimmy episode of Static Shock (teleplay by Dwayne McDuffie, Story by Alan Burnett, Dwayne McDuffie), which explored the topical issue of gun violence in schools. Over the course of his TV animation writing career, McDuffie earned two Emmy nominations, including a Daytime Emmy Award nom for Static Shock in the Outstanding Special Class Animated Program category (shared with Sander Schwartz, Alan Burnett, Denys Cowan, Swinton O. Scott III, John Semper, Len Uhley, and Andrea Romano), and in 2005 McDuffie shared a Writers Guild Award nomination for co-writing the Justice League episode Starcrossed (Written by Rich Fogel, John Ridley, Dwayne McDuffie, Story by Rich Fogel).
After several years spent freelancing as a comic book writer, in 1992 McDuffie co-founded Milestone Media, whose comics were distributed by DC Comics. The company, like McDuffie himself, championed a more multicultural and inclusive approach to comics.
The WGAWs AWC Animation Writing Award is given to members of the Animation Writers Caucus or Writers Guild who have advanced the literature of animation in film and/or television throughout the years and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the animation writer. Founded in 1994, the WGAWs Animation Writers Caucus represents over 600 animation writers and works to advance economic and creative conditions in the field. Through organizing efforts, educational events, and networking opportunities, the Guilds AWC is a leading proponent for animation writers. Recent AWC Animation Writing Award honorees include Mike Scully, Al Jean, Michael Reiss, Brad Bird, Linda Woolverton, and Stan Berkowitz
The posthumous award was announced late last week. Click here for further coverage.
McDuffie wrote the recent direct-to-video All-Star Superman animated feature for the Warner Home Video “DC Universe Animated Original Movie” line, released in February 2011, which has moved more than 400,000 copies on DVD and Blu-ray since its release.