WHAT IS THE MILESTONE INITIATIVE?
Superman wasn’t just the first superhero; he was an immigrant, an American, and an enduring symbol of our shared ideals. But as an explosion of comic book heroes took place over the second half of the 20th century, there was something missing. Despite a substantial fanbase of Black readers, it took decades before the first Black heroes appeared, and once they did, they were often outliers in the larger super-hero discussion. Even the most prominent Black heroes usually appeared in stories written and illustrated by white creators.
Enter Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle. With talent, vision, and tenacity, these four Black creators carved a place for themselves in an industry that didn’t always welcome them or understand their work. Despite their success, they were frustrated by the lack of other Black creators in their field, and the resistance they met in trying to tell stories that reflected their own experiences and perspectives.
So they founded Milestone Media: a company that placed Black and diverse superheroes at the center of the action, and that would carve out a space for Black and underrepresented comic book creators to flourish and succeed.
The debut of Milestone and its heroes represented a seismic change in comic books—and its impact continues to be felt to this day. Now Milestone Media is helmed by Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan, and DC is relaunching Milestone Comics and reintroducing its characters to new audiences. But we understand that there’s still much more work to be done to continue the mission of Milestone’s founders.
That’s why—with Ally as our partner—we’ve created The Milestone Initiative. While Milestone Media is about telling the stories of Black heroes, The Milestone Initiative is about empowering the creators who can tell those stories in ways that are resonant, real, and revolutionary. The program is part of DC’s Talent Development Program, Next Generation DC (NGDC), and is designed to identify, educate, spotlight, and empower the next generation of Black and diverse creators in our field so that the stories of the next century are truly reflective of the world around us.
Throughout American history—in the comic book industry as well as in other creative fields—Black and other underrepresented creators have been consistent innovators and visionaries despite systems that work to exclude them. As comic books take center stage in popular culture, DC, WarnerMedia, and Ally want to change that. The Milestone founders started the mission. Now it’s time for the rising stars in The Milestone Initiative’s first class of participants to pick up the mantle. They’ve already shown us their raw talent. We can’t wait for the world to see what they’ll do next.
Learn more about the latest class of the Milestone Initiative here!