UPDATE: This morning it was announced that Michael Davis had died. This is not true. The original article runs below, you can read what happened over here. Just know this, Michael Davis is alive and well and I could not be happier.
Will great sadness, we have to inform you that Michael Davis, co-founder of Milestone Media, co-creator of Static Shock, former president and CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks at Motown Records, studio owner, comic book publisher, writer, artist, graphic designer, mentor, archivist, curator, regular keynote speaker and occasional Bleeding Cool columnist took his own life yesterday, the day before his birthday.
After working as an artist for DC Comics on Wasteland, ETC and more, he created and ran Bad Boys Studio which saw many big comics industry names get their first work. He poured his own life's backstory into the lead character Virgil from Static and later Static Shock, from the comics publisher he co-founded Milestone that, through DC Comics, injected much-needed diversity not just in cast but in storyline into superhero universes in the nineties. And when Milestone ceased publication, he kept its memory and its influence alive with his Milestones gallery which he curated and exhibited around the world, celebrating black culture in comic books.
And he couldn't have been more proud of the success of Static as Static Shock in animation, though he baulked at the way DC Comics treated the character, when decades before the Black Panther movie and even before Blade, Static was a genuinely mainstream black superhero success with his own TV show – and Michael couldn't get a comic published and the character couldn't even get an action figure made. Greenlit deals from a publisher were suddenly rescinded in mysterious circumstances. And when it was announced that Milestone was returning as a publisher, he was not invited to return and his name was not on the publicity materials.
So, when he felt the comics industry, colleagues and friends had let him down cruelly, with broken promises, deals and downright betrayals it was hard to argue with, he started his own deal one more time, a new publisher called Level Next with comedian Wayne Brady and financer Don Johnson, due to announce its first projects at San Diego Comic-Con this year at his annual Black Panel which, over the years, featured stellar African American names from comics, film and TV. Bleeding Cool always tried to cover the panel, it was guaranteed to be one of the most entertaining events of the show.
Those of you who have read Michael's work on Bleeding Cool, in his From The Edge column, or his words over at ComixMix will recall the times he talked about coming close to taking his own life before. We would talk on the phone for hours, he knew I had been there in the past, and we would somehow come out of the call together. This time, he didn't phone.
We offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends, especially his sister. And I'm sorry, Michael, I wish I could have been a better brother to you.
I hope someone will step up and continue The Black Panel this year. I hope Level Next can continue its trajectory. That we all remember Michael Davis, the man, his mission, his achievements and his legacy. And if you feel in a similar place, please, talk to someone. And keep talking.
He called me his brother – to be fair he called lots of people his brother – and I am going to miss him greatly. I will try to live up to his expectations of me.
You can read his Michael Davis' columns for Bleeding Cool here. We'll be picking some of our favourites over the next few days in memory of the man.