Sunday, April 2, 2017


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Bloggy Tony and Sainted Wife Barb are in Pensacola, Florida for the second day of the award-deserving Pensacon 2017, which took place Friday through Sunday, February 17-19.
Saturday is generally a convention’s busiest day and that was the case with Pensacon. Barb went out for a morning walk and came back with breakfast sandwiches from Whattaburger.

My original plan had been to partake of the continental breakfast in the Pensacon green room at the Pensacola Bay Center, which I did on Sunday. Before I get to the actual Saturday stuff, I should say a few words about that green room. Or maybe just one:


Pensacon has the nicest green room of any convention I’ve attended. Over the course of the weekend, we had BBQ pulled pork and chicken, macaroni and cheese, cookies, brownies, grilled and fried chicken, roasted potatoes, broccoli, meat and vegetable lasagna, sauteed vegetables, tossed salad, rolls, muffins, bagels, fruit, pastries and all kinds of snacks and beverages. If we couldn’t get away from our Artists Alley tables, volunteers would bring meals and snacks to us. The food was always delicious. The green room is one of the reasons I will return to Pensacon anytime the show invites me.

The show opened to the public at 10 am. I did some podcasts from my table, but the only one I remember clearly is the one I did with my longtime friend Julio Diaz. That’s Julio and me in the photo that leads off today’s bloggy thing.

I did two panels on Saturday. The first was “Diversity in Comics” with comics artist Rodney Ramos, concept artist and illustrator Nen and comics writer Jeremy Whitley. The convention shuttled us over to the Saenger Theatre. We had an enthusiastic audience and I hope someone recorded the panel because some smart stuff was said during it. Maybe even by me.

My current position on diversity is that comic books should include all the kinds of people who read them: women, men, straight, LGBTQ, black, white, Asian, liberal, conservative, Christians, atheists, Muslims, Jews and so on. This doesn’t mean representing everyone in every comic book because then we would be doing Legion of Everyone and never have room for actual stories. This doesn’t mean that we need to portray every person of every group as a paragon of virtue. Perfect people are not as interesting as flawed people...and we’re all flawed in some manner.

Some of the comments from my fellow panelists and the audience were challenging. I like having to think about my positions. To repeat some of what I said at the panel...

I will defend the name “Black Lightning” to the deal. Besides that it’s a cool name, it’s a source of pride for Jefferson Pierce and, I add, no one knows Jeff better than I do.

I don’t think there’s anything remotely wrong with a straight white male writing characters who aren’t straight, white and male as long as he respects those characters. Good and bad alike. Comics would be lessened if writers could only write about characters who were like them. I don’t think I’d even buy a comic about a 65-year-old man who spends most of his time writing along in his office. Okay, I would, but I do have an ego.

If and when I am no longer able to write Black Lightning, which I hope won’t be for decades, I will do everything in my admittedly-limited power to have my replacement be a person of color, male or female. I do understand what my creation means to comics fans and professionals of color. I respect that more than many realize. For now, I still have Black Lightning stories to tell. That’s probably won’t always be the case.

Later on that day, Nen gave me a signed print of her Misty Knight cover for Captain America: Sam Wilson #7. Jeremy gave me a couple of Marvel comics he’d written. I traded a copy of Black Lightning Volume One for his Princeless Volume 3, which introduced the very cool Pirate Princess.

The Black Lightning collection was a solid seller for me. Barb and I sold almost every copy we’d packed. I also signed way more comic books and other books than I could keep track of. My rough guess is that I signed well over 500 items during the weekend.

I had a great time talking to the fans and other guests during the show, especially the two Scotts: Steve Scott and Scott Shaw! These are two of the swellest and most talented guys in the comics biz. I love them madly.

As is now my custom at conventions, I designate my table as a safe space and display a sign to that effect:

I received a great many compliments on the sign and only one snort of derision. A woman attending the show with her autistic children loved the sign. Another fan just wanted to shake my hand for that sign and for creating Black Lightning and Misty Knight. These are the fans and people I remember, long after the right-wing and other trolls have been forgotten.

There was a lot of wonderful cosplay at the convention. One of my favorites was the woman dressed as Lady Killer. She was impressed I recognized her as the character from the wonderful comic book by Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich and published by Dark Horse. I think I have a photo of her and I somewhere and, when I find it, I’ll include it in some future bloggy thing.

Note: Lady Killer is one of fifty different comics characters who are eligible for my “earn a dollar, get a certificate” promotion at the conventions I attend. If you cosplay as one of these characters and come to my table for a photo, you will receive an actual dollar and a spiffy certificate. You can see the entire list and further details here.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more Saturday fun in part four of my five-part Pensacon 2017 report...which features a white Luke Cage. Sweet Christmas!
© 2017 Tony Isabella

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