Monday, September 2, 2013


Here’s the thing.  I’m not a jerk, except maybe in the way I just
used that headline to get your attention.  I think I’m a perfectly
fine fellow and, thankfully, most of my readers seem to agree with
that self-assessment.  Most, but not all.

I receive maybe one over-the-top-ranting-and-raving-hating-on-Tony
comment or email for every 300-400 positive messages.  Most of you
like me.  You like me and I like you right back.

Some of the ranters are regulars.  I can count on one anonymous guy
from the Cleveland area to attempt in vain to post his bile to the
bloggy thing.  He averages about once a month. I have suspicions as
to his identity, but all I know for sure is that he’s too terrified
of me to ever sign his name to these comments.  Because I’m a 61-
year-old, 5'3", overweight can of deadly whoop-ass.  No wonder he’s
scared of me.

Some only go off on me when I burst their particular bubble, be it
in the area of comics or politics.  I’m endlessly amazed by what I
call the fury of the uninvolved.  My pal Harlan Ellison, arguably
our greatest living writer, quotes me on that one often.  I confess
I giggle with joy like a schoolgirl when he does that.

For no particular reason, other than I came up with that headline
and wanted to use it, today’s bloggy thing will be a quick look at
things that some people believe make me a jerk and why they are so
terribly wrong in believing this.  Consider this a sort of FAQ of
recurring animosity.  I considered handing it out at conventions,
but then realized my detractors never have the cojones to approach
me face-to-face.  They fear the whoop-ass.

I wrote out a list of seven recent cases of someone either calling
me a jerk (or some less gentle disapproval) or otherwise making it
fairly clear they believed I was being a jerk (or some less gentle
disapproval).  I’m literally going to write about these at random
until I think today’s bloggy thing is getting too long.  If I don’t
get through all of them, I’ll write a sequel.  Heck, I may even add
things to the list if they occur to me as I write today’s bloggy.
I am chaos in a fun-size can of whoop-ass.


Tony Isabella is a jerk because...I don’t consider Trevor Von Eeden
to be the co-creator of Black Lightning.

I am the sole creator of Black Lightning.  Everything that’s vital
to the character was created by me before I ever brought Jefferson
Pierce to DC Comics.  My solo creator status was recognized by DC
in the credits throughout the first Black Lightning series and in
subsequent appearances, right up to the nanosecond when I inquired
about buying out DC’s interest in my creation. 

Trevor was the first Black Lightning artist and a key contributor
to the design of the hero’s first (no longer used) costume.  But he
was neither the co-creator of the character nor the solo designer
of the costume.  He has benefited from his inaccurate co-creator
designation because, when DC bothers to pay on my creation at all,
Trevor gets half my money.

I think Trevor has developed into one of the best artists in comics
today.  I was one of the first backers of the new Sabre project he
is drawing for Sabre creator Don McGregor.  I urge everyone reading
this bloggy thing to support that project via Kickstarter because
I really want to read that graphic novel.  However, my admiration
for Trevor’s work doesn’t change the facts and doesn’t change the
history of Black Lightning.

I am such a jerk that I’m on the record saying that, should I ever
regain full ownership of Black Lightning, which was never a work-
for-hire creation, I would continue to pay Trevor the percentage of
Black Lightning profits he currently receives from DC.  But I don’t
recognize Trevor as a co-creator because he isn’t. 


Tony Isabella is a jerk because...I get books and movies from the

The anonymous coward from the Cleveland area had that in a recent
attempt to post a comment.  I’m not sure what his point was.  I’m
mean, his usual insults are along the lines of my being short and
smelly and a plague on society...and that I conned Comic-Con into
giving me an Inkpot award by calling a former convention official
and pretending to be my wife Barb and telling him I was dying of
cancer.  Oh, yeah, and that I’m delusional.  It’s like he can see
right into my soul or something.

But the library bit threw me.  I have been a supporter of my local
library for decades.  I was a very vocal supporter when the local
Christian Coalition tried to force its views on everybody else in
the community.  I raised money for the effort that saw the library
overwhelmingly pass a levy and, in doing so, break the back of that
Vicious Coalition of faux-Christians.  I have continued to donate
to the library and voted for every subsequent levy since that one.
I frequently praise the library in my writings and the fine people
who work there.  On countless occasions, those folks have saved me
hours of research by finding that elusive information I needed for
a story or article.  Facts are somewhat more important to me than
they are to my secret admirer.

Getting books and movies from the library saves me money and space.
I can read and watch them without breaking my entertainment budget
and without adding to my Vast Accumulation of Stuff.  As near as I
can figure from my frightened little devotee’s comment, this makes
me a horrible person. 

Don’t try to make sense of it.  That way lies madness.

Tony Isabella is a jerk because...When I’m asked to be a guest at
s convention, I require hotel and travel expenses plus a booth or
table from the convention.

Conventions are expensive to put on and most of them are expensive
to attend.  There are a very few conventions I’ll attend on my own
dime.  I go to PulpFest because I see old friends that I never see
anywhere else there.  I’d like to go to G-Fest some year because I
am the pastor of the First Church of Godzilla and I should be among
the faithful in person as well as online.  There are a couple other
exceptions to my expenses rule.

As I lurch towards retirement age, not that I ever plan on actually
retiring, I am more cautious with my money.  I’m not promoting any
new projects at present, so I can’t justify the expense of doing a
convention without support from the event. 

I’m fully aware I am not a big name in the current comics industry.
While there are fans who will attend a convention to see me and get
me to sign their books and listen to my nostalgic tales about the
dawn of comics civilization, I doubt I sell enough tickets to cover
the event’s expenses in having me at said convention.  I completely
understand if a convention doesn’t want to incur that expense and
hope they understand my financial situation as well.  I’m not being
a jerk.  I’m being practical.

If a convention wants me as a guest, and, by “convention,” I mean
whoever is paying the bills for the event, they need to contact me
directly by e-mail and be ready to meet my conditions from the get-
go.  My conditions are not a negotiating strategy; they are what I
need to accommodate the convention’s request for my appearance at
the event.  Haggling will never be part of the process.

Other tips for getting me at your convention:

Have your dates firmly in place.  With rare exception, I won’t do
more than one convention in any given month and, during the summer
months, I have to factor my garage sales into my schedule as well.

The person who contacts me should be the person who can agree to my
conditions.  By all means, talk to your promoter friends about me.
I’m happy for the word-of-mouth.  But I can only make the deal with
the person who pays the bills for the convention.

Once a promoter has agreed to the conditions of my appearance as a
guest at the convention, the event should publicize that as soon as
humanly possible.  With rare exception, I don’t start publicizing
my appearance at a convention until the event has start publicizing
my appearance.  Once the convention starts doing that, then I will
promote their event here and in the other venues available to me.

Sometimes things change after such promotion has begun.  Sometimes
it’s on the convention, sometimes it’s on me.  I’m not such a jerk
I don’t realize stuff happens.  It just happens.

If/when it does, all I ask is that the convention stop promoting my
appearance as quickly as possible.  When I canceled my appearance
at Wizard World Ohio, the convention site removed by name from the
guest list in about an hour.  That’s reasonable and responsible all
around.  No one wants a fan disappointed because a guest they were
hoping to see isn’t at the convention.


Tony Isabella is a jerk because...he went on and on about how he’s
not a jerk and didn’t cover all seven examples of why people might
erroneously think he’s a jerk.  That means he’s going to continue
this when the bloggy thing returns later this week.

What a jerk!

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. Tony,
    I am a teacher and I get the "you're a jerk" thing when I do my job. Often times when people do their job, and do it well, the "also-rans" or the people who want a break or the jealous types will resort to name-calling. I have read your comics and your books, and I think you do your job very well; hence: you must be a jerk to someone.

  2. Yeah, but you're my kinda jerk, Bubba. Love you long time.

  3. Tony, may I offer you a pat on the back? Or an e-hug?

    Don't let the bastards get you down. And don't waste your time defending yourself from them, or trying to understand them. Life is too short. They are their own worse punishment — they get to make themselves miserable all day long!

  4. Yer a good egg, Tony. Sorry you have to contend with the occasional nutjob, but that's why most of us don't blog. Well, in my case, that, paranoia, laziness, and a limited skill set.
    But hey, I live next door to a guy that screams all night for no apparent reason. Whuddayagonnado. M.P.

  5. Don't waste your time with these people. You're one of a dwindling number of talented writers and artists who gave me enormous pleasure in my youth (many are unfortunately no longer with us).