Saturday, July 21, 2018

BLACK LIGHTNING: COLD DEAD HANDS

This is an ALL HANDS ON DECK request for your assistance in keeping intact the core values and integrity of Black Lightning in the current DC Comics comic books. I need your help on this.

The trade paperback collection of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, the six-issue series that updated my greatest creation for 2018 and beyond, will be published in mid-October. This volume reprints all six issues done by me and artist Clayton Henry and includes a new afterword written by me. It is a story of which I’m immensely proud and which is arguably my best Black Lightning writing ever. Besides updating Jefferson Pierce, the series also dealt with some serious real-world issues in the context of a super-hero universe. It was praised by most of the critics and readers and, naturally, vilified by the usual right-wing commentators.

The Previews ad you see at the top of today’s blog seems to be the extent of DC’s promotion of this book. Half a page in the middle of their monthly solicitation. No mention in their DC Nation magazine. Just this.

The Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands mini-series did not sell what I’d hoped it would sell. I can’t fault DC’s publicity department; they did a tremendous job setting up interviews and sending out all sorts of press releases. However, there could and should have been more support from upper editorial management.

At a time when it has become fairly common for most DC titles to have variant covers every issue, Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands had one. Just one. Given the chance, I could have provided DC with an all-star line-up of artists for additional variant covers.

When Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 sold out - and it did so quickly - DC did not publish a second printing. That hurt the sales down the line. The last word I had on this was that the first four issues of the series have sold out.

Even before Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands had finished its six-issue run, a run which firmly established Black Lightning as a headliner and not a sidekick, DC commissioned a Detective Comics series that turned my creation back into a Batman sidekick. On my watch, you’d never see Black Lightning subservient to any other DC super-hero. That’s not Jefferson Pierce.

Rumors abound that Black Lightning will be part of a new Outsiders title and, once again, be reduced to Batman’s sidekick. Even more offensive is the rumor that Batman won’t be leading the team. That Nightwing will be leading the team. In short, Black Lightning would be the former Boy Wonder’s sidekick.

If you want to see more Black Lightning comic books written by me, if you want to see Black Lightning treated as the headliner and the iconic hero he is, you need to send DC Comics a message they can’t easily brush aside. You need to order lots of copies of the Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands trade paperback.

Don’t wait for the book to come out. Pre-order it from your local comics shop or subscription service. Pre-order it from Amazon and other online sellers.

Pre-order copies to give out as gifts to comics-reading friends and family members. Pre-order copies to donate to your local libraries and schools.

I have been saying for decades that nothing would make me happier than to be writing and publishing Black Lightning stories until the day they pry my keyboard from my cold dead hands. I truly believe my vision of Black Lightning is far superior to any nostalgia-laden attempt to take the character backwards.

I am very grateful to Geoff Johns for reaching out to me and making these past couple years so wondrous. I am grateful to editors Jim Chadwick and Harvey Richards for their tireless efforts to make my story better. They never tried to make it their story. Everything they did, all the notes they gave me, was to make my story better.

I am grateful to primary artist Clayton Henry, helping us make the deadlines artist Yves Guichet and colorist Peter Pantazis for the dedication they showed in every page they did. I’ve never had such an excellent creative team as these guys and my editors. They have set the bar very high for my future works.

I am grateful to DC’s publicity department for all their hard work promoting Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. That gratitude extends to everyone who is part of the Black Lightning TV series. That TV series maintains the core values of my creation and tells stories that are important in today’s world. Their work inspires me to do better in my work. Always forward.

I am grateful to Dan DiDio and Jim Lee for not flinching as I wrote some very difficult scenes in Cold Dead Hands. Scenes that held up a mirror to terrible situations in our own world. That took guts, the same kind of guts I’d like to see in the form of their giving a green light to more Black Lightning comic books by me. Because I will never give Black Lightning less than my all. My creation will always be my top creative priority.

As always, I am grateful to the fans who have supported my efforts for closing in on five decades now. I’ll always do my best for you as well.

There’s lots going on with Black Lightning. Once I get some other things off my crowded desk, I hope to post “Black Lightning Beat” on a weekly basis. But, for now, I ask you to pre-order copies of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands and to let DC know that you want more Black Lightning stories by his creator.

Thank you.  
 
© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 19, 2018

FOR THE RECORD

Legal considerations will always keep me from agreeing to requests like this one:

"I am a young writer and artist and have been in process of writing a series of graphic novels over the past few years. I have been struggling with the visual presentation of it, though I have gotten better, and finding an audience for my work that will enable me to focus on writing graphic novels as a career. I would very much appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and share my work to date. I am sure that any advice you give me will help me along my way."

I wished the young creator well, but that's all I can do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

WHAT'S UP WITH TONY?

Just some quick updates.

There will be no Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale this Friday and Saturday. I took a look at all the things I have to do before the end of the month...and some upcoming opportunities to spend time with my family...and decided to give myself a break.

I was interviewed last night on the nonsense from that sleazy website. I think the interview turned out well and will share the link when it posts.

I found the special Comic-Con issue of TV Guide with Black Lightning on the cover at our local Giant Eagle. I bought three copies, which is all I need. 

However, I'll still take all the Black Lightning bags and pins and Lego figures people want to send me. Let me know what you want for them and we'll make it happen.

Here's wishing safe travels and many happy moments for everyone attending Comic-Con this week. I wish I could be with you. Maybe next year.

I'll be back soon with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

Dateline: New York City. Friday, June 22.

Between attending the special Marvel family screening of the first two episodes of Luke Cage’s second season and our subway ride to Queens for the evening’s New York Mets baseball game, my son Ed and I went to the Regal Cinema “E-Walk Stadium 13 and RPX” on West 42nd Street. There weren’t movie theaters like this when I lived in the neighborhood in the 1970s. I enjoy going to them when I visit the city. Their high ticket prices aside, both this theater and the AMC 25 across the street provide a most enjoyable viewing experience. I recommend them.

There were several movies we wanted to see that afternoon, but the only one that fit our schedule was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). That was at the bottom of our list because Ed hadn’t liked 2015's Jurassic World as much as I had. His taste in movies is more refined than my own. I go easier on movies and TV shows than I do comic books because I know how to make great comic books. With the possibility of my making movies in the near future, that might well change. But I hope it doesn’t. I like a little cheese with my cinema.

Fallen Kingdom is kind of sort of two movies in one. Directed by J.A. Bayona and written by Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, the “first” is a survival tale. Owen Grady [played by Chris Pratt] and Claire Dearing [Bryce Dallas Howard] are on a mission to save the dinosaurs from the about-to-explode-in-volcanic-armaggeddon island home of the former Jurassic World. Also on the island are hunters with a very different agenda in mind.

The “second” movie is all about ruthless businessmen trying to make big bucks selling the dinosaurs and their DNA to equally ruthless politicians while scientists salivate over continuous opportunities to play God. Oh, the folly of man!

Ian Malcolm [Jeff Goldblum] returns to the franchise in two scenes that bookend the movie. Dr. Wu, he of no moral boundaries, is also back to cook up new dinosaur stew. Between Wu and Hugo Strange on Gotham, B.D. Wong is getting typecast as mad scientists. Though he does play them very well. The velociraptor Blue also returns for a reunion with Alpha Male Owen.

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


The rampaging dinosaurs are familiar but fun. The exploding island bits are properly pyrotechnic with some chills. Even with all that, the “first” movie just isn’t very good.

Honestly, the “second” movie isn’t very good either. The auction of the dinosaurs goes exactly where you would expect it to go. There are the usual gory deaths. Even the special effects are all things we’ve seen before. However, there is one element in the second part of the movie that intrigued me mightily. I only barely saw it coming.

Plunky young heroine Maisie [Isabella Sermon] is introduced to us as the granddaughter of Sir Benjamin Lockwood [James Cromwell], the unbelievable rich former partner of John Hammond, the visionary who first conceived of Jurassic Park. Hammond and Lockwood had a major falling-out before the original Jurassic Park movie. We don’t learn the reason for this until one of the bad guys reveals Maisie isn’t really Lockwood’s granddaughter. She’s a clone of Lockwood’s dead daughter. Even Hammond thought cloning people took their research too far. This revelation is one of the two elements that, while it doesn’t come close to saving Fallen Kingdom, makes me eager for the next chapter in the series.

The other element? The dinosaurs are loose in our world. Those of the auction animals who weren’t already removed from the sprawling estate where they were sold have escaped to take their frightening place in our world. Those that were removed can be studied by their new owners, turned into weapons or war and replicated the same way you can mass-produced conventional weapons.And what if scientists like Wu decide to clone and improve on human beings. Man’s place at the top of the food chain can no longer be taken for granted.

While you’re waiting for that next movie, you probably should see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Because you’ll want to be caught up on the continuity and because even bad movies featuring rampaging dinosaurs are still kind of sort of cool.

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


Come back tomorrow for the concluding part of my “Coast to Coast with Marvel Comics” series as Saintly Wife Barb and I travel to Los Angeles for the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp. With surprise guest stars and celebrity interactions. See you then. 

© 2018 Tony Isabella

TONY'S TIPS #266

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Scooby-Doo! Team-Up Volume 5, Gumballs by Erin Nations and the movie Accident Man based on the comics series by Pat Mills and Tony Skinner!

Monday, July 16, 2018

ON TREVOR VON EEDEN AND BLEEDING COOL

San Diego’s Comic-Con International kicks off this week. Thanks to a friend’s betrayal and the machinations of an unethical website, I find myself in the unique-for-me position of being somewhat glad I won’t be there this year. People being people, and the majority of them being good people with good intentions, would want to talk to me about things I’d rather not talk about at this point, or, at least not at the biggest event in comicdom.

There will be a virtual tsunami of comics news coming out of Comic-Con. This statement will doubtless be swept away in that tsunami. But I felt the need to make my preliminary positions known before Comic-Con. It’s not intended to be my final word on these subjects.  Indeed, I have decided to grant an interview to a reputable comics website at its convenience. It will be the only interview I give on these matters.

Saturday afternoon, Bleeding Cool ran an article discussing what they and Trevor von Eeden, the original artist of Black Lightning, falsely claimed was my payment for the first season of the Black Lightning TV show. Von Eeden supplied them with a scan of the check he received. There were serious errors of facts in the piece, not surprising given Bleeding Cool’s nature.

Von Eeden’s posting of the check and Bleeding Cool’s report on what they claim the check represents, both for Von Eeden and myself, is an unconscionable invasion of my privacy. I was literally stunned that Von Eeden did this and did this without consulting me. I have tried to keep him in the Black Lightning loop as much as I was able to do so without violating my agreements with DC Comics. I stuck my neck out on numerous occasions, much to the consternation of my DC associates, in attempts to involve him. In the wake of his actions, I am withdrawing from further communication with Von Eeden and will no longer appear with him at conventions.

As for Bleeding Cool, I was not surprised by its action. Where it once did good work, it has devolved into a morass of ill-sourced gossip and churlish attempts to pit comics creators against each other for its amusement and that of its visitors. “Let’s you and he fight” is BC’s Wimpy-like mantra.

I am loathe to discuss my business dealings with DC Comics in this statement. If there are differences between DC and myself, I have access to discuss them with DC. But I feel I must state the check as shown on Bleeding Cool does not represent what I received for my participation on the TV series. That claim is inaccurate and, quite frankly, simplistic. My relationship with DC is too complicated to be summed up by the amount on a single check. If Bleeding Cool did not engage in cheap-seats, hit-and-run pseudo-journalism, it would have the capacity to understand that.

I will have more to say on the above. In this blog, I will soon address the simplistic convenience of how creator credits are being determined in modern comic books and comics-related efforts. I will discuss the historical listing of credits. I will discuss my own credits situations. I will discuss how there are credits that are historically accurate and those which are the result of comics industry policies. It’s not a discussion I want to have more than once, so understand it will take me considerable effort and time to get it right.

In the meantime, enjoy Comic-Con and the wondrous news that comes out of it. If you get a chance to meet the cast, show runners and writers of the Black Lightning TV show, please give them my love. They have enriched me and my family in so many ways.

If you get to meet Jim Chadwick and Harvey Richards, my terrific editors on the award-deserving Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, thank them for everything they did to help me make my story better. I’d jump into the fire with them again any time.

If you meet Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, tell them you want to see more Black Lightning stories by me and that, like me, you never want to see Jefferson Pierce shown as subservient to any other super-hero. My creation is one of the most iconic black characters in comics.. He is a headliner and not a sidekick.

When the interview mentioned above goes online, I will alert you to its availability here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 15, 2018

NEXT GARAGE SALE

My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales will be Friday and Saturday, July 20 and 21, at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The sale hours will by 9 am to 1 pm each day. More details will be announced later this week.