Maddie Blaustein would have turned 57 today. But she passed away on December 13, 2008. Over the course of her life, she had been a comic book editor, a writer, an artist, a voice actor, a Democratic Socialist, and a transgender activist. A lot has happened in the trans community since the time of her passing, and trans visibility has increased. For that reason and many others, I feel it’s important that we reflect on and remember Maddie Blaustein today.
Maddie Blaustein was born on Long Island in 1960 and attended SUNY Purchase in pursuit of an art degree. Though best known for her voice acting, Maddie Blaustein got her start in comics. By her mid-20s, she had landed what many comics fans would consider a dream job: Associate Editor in Marvel's Spider-Man group. This was nearly a decade before Rachel Pollack would get her start in comics writing Doom Patrol, and even longer before Caitlín R. Kiernan wrote for The Dreaming at Vertigo.
Maddie worked on Spider-Man stories with Group Editors like Jim Owsley and Jim Salicrup during Spider Man's black costume period, which is still considered one of the high points in all of Spider-Man comics. She was credited at the time under the name Adam Blaustein, and to this day Marvel does not seem to have updated that information in subsequent reprints or online information.
After editing (as well as a couple of penciling and writing credits under her belt) at Marvel, she went on to Milestone Comics, an imprint of DC Comics focused on promoting diversity, in the mid-90s, where she would go on to get the bulk of her writing credits in comics. The titles she wrote for included Dwayne McDuffie’s Static, Hardware, and a four issue mini-series Deathwish that featured a trans character named Marisa Rahm that Maddie had created — the second and last trans character created by a trans writer at DC Comics. None of her work at Milestone has ever been reprinted by DC Comics. She did, however, remain a senior digital artist at DC Comics until shortly before her passing.
Maddie Blaustein moved on from writing comics to focusing more on animation, and her voice acting career. Her impressive list of credits in voice acting include roles in One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Sonic The Hedgehog, and most notably, the voice of Meowth in Pokémon.
Of equal importance to her as all of her nerdy endeavors was her activism. She actively supported Democrats through her life and once even called in to The Mike Malloy Show during the 2004 US Presidential primaries as Lord of the Rings villain Gollum to announce a satirical bid for the White House. Between that anecdote and her comics and voice acting work, it’s enough to give anyone a nerdgasm.
Though she passed away in 2008, only some of her legacy still remains. Her voice work is still well preserved as shows like Pokémon are still very popular. But her comics work is another story. Much of what she wrote has never been reprinted and some of her credits are still under the name Adam Blaustein. And she's not the only trans creator to have this problem in comics either. As we continue to move forward and progress, we must not only help bring more trans creators into comics and other geeky media, but we have to go back and do what’s right for the queer pioneers that came before us. Let's continue to support queer creators and our future, and always remember people like Maddie Blaustein who helped make it easier for everyone who came after her.