Thursday, July 13, 2017


When I started considering what kind of bloggy thing I could post today that would keep you bloggy readers satisfied until I return from G-Fest, I looked at blogs and websites I visit on a frequent basis to determine the secrets of their success and how to do the same thing. The answer came to me swiftly.

Click-Bait! It’s the online equivalent of sleazy reality TV shows. You know it’s bad for you, but you get drawn into it. So, when you could be researching the vital issues of the day, you are instead consumed by the “15 Spider-Ham Recipes That Will Make You Not Care That You Are Eating a Sentient Being” or “The 15 Times Male Writers Had Comics Heroines Use the Word ‘Dick’ in a Sentence and Giggled Uncontrollably” or “15 Reasons Comic Book Resources Can’t Count Any Higher than 15.”

How could I not want part of that action? We begin...

1. I have a mild, self-diagnosed and a bit unique case of Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. Before the invention of the personal computer, I used to self-justify my articles and scripts. Editors would tell me I didn’t need to do this. I still did it. Mostly automatically, but, sometimes, to make the spacing work, I would misspell a word on purpose.

2. I don’t like Krazy Kat. Yes, I know it’s a work of genius, but it leaves me cold. When I’ve mentioned this to trusted friends, a number of them have told me they feel the same way but are afraid to admit it publically. Strangely enough, though Krazy Kat leaves me cold, I am very interested in Geo. Herriman, the creator of the strip. He was a fascinating individual.

3. The most hurtful (to me) thing I ever read online was at a site devoted to female cartoonists of color. I visited that site daily. Until one writer, discussing Black Lightning and the importance of my creation, added she knew I “was a white man who probably didn’t think he was a racist.” I’ve never been able to visit that website since.

4. We are the heroes of our own stories. When people write or talk about their history, they inevitably slant things so they come off better in the retelling than they did in the actual. When I write about my history, I get a little crazy intense trying to verify my memories so that I do this as little as possible.

5. For years, I have been dragging my heels on a major interview with me for one of my favorite magazines because I’m paralyzed by my dual desire to tell the truth and not hurt anyone needlessly. Even those who hurt or tried to hurt me over the years. As soon as I finish my current comics project, I’m determined to find the gumption to do that interview.

6. I forgive you. If you’re one of those people who did me wrong, I forgive you. It doesn’t mean I’ll forget what you’ve done or that I would trust you in the future or that I have any desire to hang out with you. It means I forgive you and I’m only going to think about you in the context of telling my story. Even then, I’m going to be as charitable as possible.

A while back, one of the worst human beings I had ever known died. He was my ex-lawyer and, before long, he became an ex-lawyer period as his crimes caught up with him. He tried to cause me serious trouble on numerous occasions. He never succeeded. I beat him time and time again.

He supposedly went to AA and turned his life around and became some sort of drug counselor. I wasn’t happy for him, just relieved that he probably wouldn’t be coming after me any more. Maybe he figured he'd paid too dear a price for that. But...

I never really believed he had changed. Because one of the twelve steps of every AA program I had heard of involved making amends to those you had wronged. A simple apology would have done that with me, but I never got even that.

If he didn’t think he’d wronged me, he was in denial. If he knew he had wronged me and didn’t care to make amends, then he clearly had not changed. And he died.

I felt nothing. I wasn’t relieved because he hadn’t ever been able to do more than inconvenience me and cost me some money to pay for my lawyers. Just disappointed that his redemption story was every bit as false as virtually everything else he did or said.

That’s when I realized. I didn’t need his apology. I didn’t need an apology from any of those who had wronged me. Because, ultimately, my very good life is not dependent on or hurt by them. They have no power over me.

So why not forgive them? Which I have done.

7. I really don’t like Mystery Science Theatre 3000. If I want to listen to churlishly snarky comments from people who think they are comedy geniuses, I’ll start reading the comments on comic strips. I’d rather just watch the movies, good, bad, or really bad. I can make my own jokes in my mind. Even the presence of Felicia Day, a geek goddess if ever there was one, can’t convince me to check out the new version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

8. The official Black Lightning credit is: “Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden.” I wrote that new credit. I agreed to that new credit. DC agreed to that new credit. I think Trevor Von Eeden is okay with that new credit, but I now realize I have never asked him, even though we e-mail each other on an almost daily basis. Anyway...

Why is it so hard for comics news sites to get this right? This is the official credit. It recognizes my role as the primary creator of Black Lightning - it’s fact that I created everything important to the character before I brought him to DC - while recognizing the key role played by Trevor Von Eeden in contributing to the costume design of the original version and, working from the descriptions in my scripts, visually designing the supporting cast and villains. I expect mainstream media sites to get it wrong, but I expect more from the comics sites.

9. I’m looking for a comics news site I can call my own. Because I have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the four I visit daily. Some ignore large areas of the comics art community while focusing on their particular favorites. Some seem to relish sensationalism more than actual news or commentary. Some seem to live and die by their click-bait. I’m not naming names here, but I trust there will be speculation as to which ones I’m talking about.

Have fun.

The older I get, the more my interest in all kinds of comics grows. I’m interested in the big publishers. I’m interested in small press creators. I’m interested in Asian and European comics and graphic novels. I’m interested in comics by creators of color and creators who represent the vast diversity of both our creators and our readers. I’m interested in comics history. I’m interested in what creators of my generation are doing. I’m interested in creator rights. I’m interested in comics that address real-world issues. I’m interested in the whole wonderful world of comics in print and in movies and anywhere else they appear. I’m interested in the art and the craft and the entertainment of comics.

If you know of a comics news site that comes remotely close to the above, please send me the link. I could stretch my Patreon budget to help support it.

10. I confess part of my disillusionment with those comics sites is that they don’t seem interested in my work. I thought it was very cool that I was invited to speak with the writers of the new Black Lightning show coming to the CW. I didn’t think respect like that had become commonplace in our industry.

I also have this new book out - July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella - that I think is a fun read even if you are not intensely interested in the comics of that era. My Sainted Wife Barb is enjoying it and she doesn’t read comics at all. Okay, she might be biased on account of she loves me.

11. Outside of my personal venues, I feel uncomfortable promoting myself. I wonder if I need to be sending out press releases, but I fear that would make me come off as needy.

12. I need an assistant. By the time I finish writing the six-issue comics series I’m currently working on, I want to have my stuffed-to-the-rafters office turned into a more functional space that can include an assistant. What holds me back is time and money. If I’m writing, I don’t have time to renovate my office. As for the money, I don’t know if I can afford to pay an assistant a wage I would be comfortable paying. I believe in the $15 per hour minimum wage. That just strikes me as the right thing to do.

13. I have pretty much lost all patience with comics readers that only like one kind of comic book or only comic books like the ones they read when they were twelve. I love the comic books I read when I was twelve, but if they were the only comics out there, I know my passion for comics would wither and die. old fogeys make me look bad. Editors and publishers see this 65-year-old dwarf and they think I can’t keep up with the young pups. I reject that stereotype.

14. Just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s good. I don’t have one set of standards for traditional comics and one for alternative works. No matter which group your comics fall into, I look for clear and expressive storytelling in both the writing and visuals. I look for interesting characters and situations. I’m not going to praise something just because it’s different. It has to be good, too.

15. I believe news stories about comic books becoming movies or TV shows should always mention the creators of those comic books. I’m not naive enough to think that mainstream media news outfits give a rat’s ass about those creators, but it’s sad most of the comics news people don’t care either.

It’s my hope that what I’ve written here today gets some readers to think. It’s my expectation that some who read today’s bloggy thing will be pissed about what I’ve written and hurl insults my way from their anonymous bunkers. But I’m gonna be at G-Fest for the next four or five days. So nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear you. At least until I return to my office late Monday or early Tuesday.

This has been my first venture into knowing click-bait. Should it bring me fame and fortune...or a butt-load of new views...I might take another crack at it. Feel free to send suggestions for click-bait articles you’d like me to write. Now scoot along while I finish reading “15 Comic-Book Pros Who Are Bad in Bed.”

See you next week, my friends.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


  1. Tony:

    I would be interested in knowing the four comic websites you visit regularly. I'll trade you my three for your four.

    Allan Rosenberg

  2. These are the comics news sites that I check regularly:
    - The Beat. Good general coverage with special attention paid to female creators, creators of color and related issues.
    - Bleeding Cool. Click-bait central?
    - Comic Book Resources (a.k.a.
    - ComicMix. More blogs than news.
    - Comics Continuum. It is what it is.
    - Newsarama. Comparable to CBR?
    - The World's Finest. Focus on DC Comics animation.

    Maybe you will find this slightly useful.

    - Andrew Laubacher

  3. I thought I was the only one who didn't get Krazy Kat. Glad it's not just me.

    We'll agree to disagree re: MST3K.

  4. I'm kind of meh on Krazy Kat; Pogo is more my style.

    When MST3K hits with me, it hits big. But then I did all those posts with Raven and Waldo.

    So tastes differ. One of my favorite webcomic creators admitted to me that she couldn't stand Animaniacs, of which I never missed an episode.

  5. OK, well do you like Felix (the Cat)?
    As far as Black Lightning goes, that is DC's first and highly underappreciatred iconic black character, with a cool costume and the coolest powers. DC really missed the boat by pushing Cyborg over BL for their JLA push in New52 and the upcoming movie. Even so, I was delighted that Brad Meltzer and Dwayne McDuffie appreciated the character in their JLA stories.
    The flood of pop cultural interest in comics is not very good for real comics, as far as I can see. I'm just waiting it out.
    Maybe get DC to let you do a new Black Lightning book?