Thursday, July 12, 2012


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing: For three days now, I
have been writing about Black Lightning, debunking the falsehoods
being spread by DC and various online jerks.  This has depressed me
more than not being at Comic-Con with my friends, but I’ll soldier
on for this last bloggy thing on the subject.  Do I have to add the
“for now” qualifier?  I didn’t think so.

Let’s talk about Jim Starlin and Thanos...because a friend asked for
a comment on the former’s rumored lawsuit against Marvel over his
creation of the latter.  I prefer to respond to this request in my
own house. 

I have no specific comment on this alleged lawsuit.  It’s none of
my business unless, for some reason, Starlin requests my assistance
in some way.  He’s a good guy and I’m in his corner if he needs me.
I’d rather address the larger issue of why such lawsuits should be
unnecessary and why comics publishers should make their creators so
happy that it never comes to this point.

Because it’s good business.

We have a comics industry where almost no creators have come close
to receive the financial benefits they deserve from their creations
or the respect that should come with those creations.  Having that
as such a major part of comics history, why would anyone ever want
to create something new for DC or Marvel? 

If it’s possible to create a “Superman” or a “Spider-Man,” or, for
that matter, a “Black Lightning” or a “Thanos,” it won’t happen at
DC or Marvel or any other work-for-hire publisher failing to reward
creators properly.  Creators shouldn’t be plantation workers.  Not
if a publisher wants them to do more than pick the crops.  Not if
a publisher wants new creations.

I was thrilled with my partnership agreement with DC Comics until
the company chose not to honor it.  I would’ve happily worked with
DC for the rest of my professional life, creating new characters,
developing new concepts, making both DC and myself a great deal of
money.  That agreement, had it been honored, would have been about
the most motivating force I could imagine.

Moving on...

I was going to write further on the estrangement between Trevor Von
Eeden and myself, which is not based entirely on our disagreements
on matters concerning Black Lightning.  Without going into detail,
I’ll simply say there were plans for us to work together and that
didn’t happen because a) I didn’t like the way the publisher kept
changing what I’d originally agreed to and because b) Trevor hated
the alternate project I proposed.  Trevor took this more personally
than I did and I didn’t think continuing the discussion would be of
benefit to either of us.  If that’s my bad, then it’s my bad and I
won’t put it on anyone else.

Having written about this stuff for four solid days, I’m all done
answering Black Lightning questions for a while.  If I didn’t get
to what you wanted to know, well, I probably answered it somewhere
before.  If I didn’t, you’re out of luck for the next few months or
so.  Mister Tony needs a break.

We’ll close with some fantasy speculation...

I don’t expect there will ever be anyone running DC Comics who is
smart enough to reunite Black Lightning and his creator, that would
be me, and to let me redevelop the character in a way that retains
his essential strengths and fits in with modern times.  And I sure
don’t expect to regain my ownership of the character.  However, in
that wondrous alternate universe where, through some miracle, I do
regain my ownership of Black Lightning, here’s what I would strive
to accomplish...

I would recreate Black Lightning without any connections to the DC
Universe.  He would still be a man of faith and a reluctant warrior
who fights because it’s the only way he can protect his community.
He would still be a positive role model in his civilian and heroic
identities.  But the new series, while still filled with exciting
action and human drama, would delve more deeply into the political
and social issues that concern me.  So I’ve probably already lost
the red states.

My first choice to draw my new Black Lightning series would be Eddy
Newell because he’s the finest artist who ever drew my character.
Eddy would do as much of the art as he wanted and, from the get-go,
he would receive 10% of any money made from the character.  That’s
how highly I value his work.

Eddy is no speed demon.  There would be room for other artists to
draw Black Lightning as well.  My next choice for this assignment
would be Trevor Von Eeden.  Regardless of whether or not he would
be willing to work with me again, Trevor would continue to receive
the 10% he currently and allegedly receives from DC.  While I may
not consider him Black Lightning’s co-creator, I see no reason he
can’t make some money in reward for his work on the first series.

I’d contact some of the Hollywood folks who wanted to work with me
on Black Lightning projects only to be turned away by DC Comics and
see if they would still be interested in doing so.  I thought some
of these folks would have done wonderful things bringing Lightning
into other media.

While I would not allow DC Comics further use of my creation, I’d
allow them to reprint his existing appearances in exchange for the
company allowing me to use their characters in reprints of my own
Black Lightning stories.  There would be a fair standard royalties
agreement that worked both ways.

Eventually, if the character became successful enough, I would love
to establish some sort of Jefferson Pierce Foundation to encourage
the work of comics writers and artists of color.  I’ve wanted to do
something like this since the first time I attended the East Coast
Black Age of Comics Convention.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.   
© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. As Spock would say, fascinating!

    Although you said that you're done answering questions for a while (can't blame you), these past few days stimulated my curiosity, but for only one question: How was it decided at DC Comics to not honor your agreement with them? By one person? Or several (i.e., board of directors)? (Oops! I guess that makes it three questions.)

  2. I honestly don't think DC and especially Sol Harrison ever intended to honor our agreement. After that, those in power merely continued and enhanced that initial treachery. And that's really it for the Black Lightning questions, though I will be discussing other DC-related matters in my next blog.

  3. Can I edit it?

  4. Thanks for the in-depth recounting over the last few days, Tony. I'm sure it wasn't easy to relive DC's treatment of you or your character.

    Of course, I won't be reading the new Black Lightning series, just as I'm not reading the Before Watchmen offerings, and for the same reasons.