I don’t work 9+ hours a day/5 days a week solely for the press badge that I get every year at SDCC, but it does feel like something of a reward for all of the hours spent when I get to witness real-life milestones in the comic book world. Such was the case this past weekend at the final press breakfast for DC Comics, where legends such as Jim Lee, Grant Morrison, and Dan DiDio spoke on the coming events in DC’s post-Convergence world. Morrison’s wide-range storytelling is being held together as a web of worlds inside of his brilliant noggin, and I cannot wait to read some of the new titles, especially Titan Hunt.
But the real highlight of the breakfast (with love for DC and the amazing bacon strips that the hotel staff served, respectively) was the amazing return of Milestone Media, the trailblazers of the 90’s that were responsible for the creation of Static Shock, Icon, and Hardware. Milestone stood for diversity and representation throughout the 90’s, and their return brings promise of diversity not only in their heroes, but their creators as well. The company’s focus on stories told from the perspective of LGBT heroes, heroes of color, and superheroines makes them a valuable imprint for DC, in a time where the demand for diversity from fans like you and I has been amplified to a point where it can no longer be ignored.
I was so ecstatic to speak with Milestone co-founder Derek T. Dingle, who spared the time to share insight on what the company is looking for in new creators, and their goals for the future.
Fast-forward to 4PM that day, when the hilarious and talented Orlando Jones took the stage in Room 9 to introduce the founders of Milestone once more. The panel, open to the public this time, took fans through the history of Milestone Media, detailing the tragic story that led to the company’s revival. Original co-founder Dwayne McDuffie, whose career spanned such a good deal of my younger years (from Static Shock, to Justice League Unlimited, to Teen Titans and so much more), passed away in 2011 at the young age of 49. The devastation of this loss left a company in limbo until McDuffie’s memorial service (attended by company heads Dingle, Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan), when a fan approached the co-founders and explained how much Milestone meant to them as a person of color.
The realization hit them like a brick wall: Milestone could not just disappear. It was needed, important, and as relevant as it had been back in the 90’s. With that in mind, Milestone began building their foundations in silence, and four years later, their grand return is one of the most highly anticipated “milestones” in modern comics.
As relevant as it was before, Milestone is, in my opinion, especially needed now. In an amplified society like ours, where the subjects of diversity, bigotry and acceptance are a constant talking point, Milestone stands firm for people that still find themselves underrepresented, disrespected or made mockery of in modern-day comics.
Milestone serves to show fans that everyone can be a hero, regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, or identity. But, what’s almost more important, is Milestone’s style of honesty: the stories of their heroes reflected the real world around us, and along with supervillains, many of Milestone’s flagship title leads struggled with actual problems that real people face on a daily basis. Milestone flies us away into fantasy, but does not create a world where the issues that surrounded us are overlooked for the sake of anyone else’s comfort.
For their part, the company is opening it’s doors to new IPs “down the road” and reviving beloved characters as well as introducing a wide range of new heroes for people from all walks of life to adore and identify with. The honest, iconic, human stories of Milestone’s past once again have a home, and yes — the figurines are already on their way. Overall, I absolutely cannot wait to see what becomes of Milestone Media over the next few, likely explosive years.