Monday, January 29, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Silver Age Classics: Out of This World Volume One, which reprints the first six issues of the 1950s Charlton title, including 13 stories drawn by Steve Ditko; Scooby Apocalypse Volume 1; and Marvel's Not Brand Echh #14!

Sunday, January 28, 2018


The bloggy thing is still on hiatus, but I want to share my 2018 appearance schedule to date. This is going to be an extremely busy week for me. Don't expect any answers to questions until next weekend earliest.

Almost all of these events are open to the general public. Obviously, the public school appearance is not open to the public. That one is for the students.

Comic-Con International is far from definite. I'm hoping either the convention or one of my clients brings me in for the event. If that doesn't happen, don't try to contact me during those dates. I'll be sitting alone at home, stuffing my face with donuts, watching old monster movies and sobbing softly. It's not going to be pretty.

Here's the schedule...



Sunday, February 18: Action (St. Clair College; Windsor)

Friday, February 23: Pensacon

Saturday, February 24: Pensacon

Sunday, February 25: Pensacon

Friday, March 9: Cleveland ConCoction

Saturday, March 10: Cleveland ConCoction

Sunday, March 11: Cleveland ConCoction

Wednesday, March 21: East Clark Elementary School

Saturday, March 24: Cleveland Public Library Coffee and Comics

Friday, April 27: East Coast Comicon

Saturday, April 28: East Coast Comicon

Sunday, April 29: East Coast Comicon

Saturday, May 5: Toys Time Forgot (FCBD)

Friday, May 18: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

Saturday, May 19: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

Friday, June 8: Fingerlakes Comic Con

Saturday, June 9: Fingerlakes Comic Con

Sunday, June 10: Fingerlakes Comic Con

Friday, July 13: G-Fest

Saturday, July 14: G-Fest

Sunday, July 15: G-Fest

Thursday, July 19: Comic-Con International

Friday, July 20: Comic-Con International

Saturday, July 21: Comic-Con International

Sunday, July 22: Comic-Con International

Friday, August 17: TerrifiCon (Connecticut)

Saturday, August 18: TerrifiCon (Connecticut) 

Sunday, August 19: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted)

Friday, September 8: Hall of Heroes Museum

Saturday, September 9: Hall of Heroes Museum

Saturday, November 3: Akron Comicon

Sunday, November 4: Akron Comicon

Friday, November 9: Grand Rapids Comic Con

Saturday, November 10: Grand Rapids Comic Con

Sunday, November 11: Grand Rapids Comic Con

Saturday, November 17: Great American Comic Convention (Las Vegas)

Sunday, November 18: Great American Comic Convention (Las Vegas)


Saturday, January 27, 2018


Yesterday afternoon, I get a Twitter message from the comedian Sinbad. He played Black Lightning in a Saturday Night Live skit on the death of Superman, a skit I contend is the funniest skit ever to appear on the show. 

Sinbad was appearing at the Cleveland Rocksino Friday night and invited me to his show. We've spoken on the phone a few times on account of he and his now-adult sons are huge Black Lightning fans, but have never met. How could I refuse this invitation?

I had a great time at Sinbad's show and visiting with him for a bit after the show. I couldn't stay as long as I would have liked, because my shoulder was acting up and I knew I still had a 35-40 minute drive ahead of me. But it was well worth it to finally meet him. The man is so cool and talented. If you ever get the chance to see him perform, go for it. Kudos also to his great opening act Chase Anthony - I hope I got that name right - who also did a great job as Sinbad's straight man during Sinbad's set. Wonderful evening all around.

Culminating with Sinbad posting this:

My life is amazing. I am so grateful to the universe.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Effectively immediately, Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing is going on hiatus. My schedule, personal and professional, has blown up in my face. Something has to give. This hiatus is part of my overall plan to get back on track..

Also, effective immediately...

Unless we are already discussing an interview, I will not be agreeing to or doing any more interviews until I get my schedule under control. The only way around this is if you sweet-talk Clark Bull at DC Publicity into setting something up. I trust his judgment.

I will honor all of my existing convention and other appearance agreements. It's not impossible that I will add some conventions to my 2018 schedule. However, with just one exception I can think of, any additional conventions or other appearances must meet my requirements for such appearances. Which include an appearance fee. 

I'm not happy about any of the above. But, as of today, I'm about six weeks behind where I wanted to be on my overall schedule. I need to get it together so I can work on some new projects. New projects which hopefully include many more Black Lightning stories as well as several other things I've had in the works.

For the time being, except when I'm on the road, I'll be posting all my usual Facebook page stuff. I'm hoping that won't change.

The bloggy thing will return as soon as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience and support.

Best wishes,

Tony Isabella 



The cowled Black Bat is one of my favorite pulp magazine crime-fighters. He’s part Batman and part Two-Face and part Matt Murdock of Marvel Comics fame. Attacked with acid while prosecuting a vile criminal, District Attorney Tony Quinn is known to be scarred from the attack and thought to be blind. But his vision was restored to him and enhanced. Now he fights murderous evildoers with his aides Carol, Silk and Butch.

The Black Bat #4: The Black Bat’s Crusade and The Black Bat’s Flame Trail [$14.95; June 2016] has two book-length Black Bat adventures from the May and July 1940 editions of Black Book Detective. The first is written by the prolific Norman Daniels as house name “G. Wayman Jones” while the second has been attributed to the equally prolific Norvell W. Page. Here are the back cover blurbs for each of these novels.

The Black Bat’s Crusade:

Voodoo drums sound across the nation as a wave of mysterious murders fueled by ancient magic takes a terrifying toll.

The Black Bat’s Flame Trail:

The Black Bat’s Flame Trail leads to a sinister arsonist who wields a deadly torch of terror as New York tenements burn in a tale by The Spider’s Norvell Page!

In Will Murray’s “The Belfry” column, the author and pulp historian shares some thoughts on the possible roles future DC Comics editors Whitney Ellsworth and Mort Weisinger might have plated in the Page-attributed novel. He then outlines his reasons for naming Page as the author of The Black Bat’s Flame Trail. These historical essays are as intriguing as the novels themselves.

Editor and publisher Anthony Tollin again discusses the remarkable Kin Platt, who worked in animation, comic books and even newspaper strips. Platt drew and probably scripted the six-page comics story that appears in this volume.

The Mask is the comic-book incarnation of the Black Bat. It’s part of the deal made with DC Comics to avoid legal entanglements when DC’s Batman appeared on newsstands just prior to Thrilling’s Black Bat. The agreement was Batman wouldn’t appear in pulp magazines and the Black Bat wouldn’t appear in comic books, at least not under his pulp-magazine moniker.

“The Mask, Enemy of Corruption” is from Exciting Comics #4 [July 1940]. It features the Mask battling a Mask impersonator. For its six pages, the tale has quite a bit of action, drama, mayhem and murder. Note: this Sanctum Books edition has incorrect information as to where this story first appeared.

The front cover art of this volume was by Rafael DeSoto. The back cover art is by Rudolph Belarski, Rafael DeSoto and Kin Platt. The interior illustrations are by Harry Parkhurst and V.E. Pyles.

Sanctum always delivers considerable bang for your bucks. It’s why I recommend their books so highly and so often.

ISBN 978-1-60877-207-0

Keep reading the bloggy thing for more information on Sanctum Books publications.


Today's bloggy thing will post this afternoon. I'm still catching up from a few days of being under the weather. Eventually, I'll get back on schedule.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


RESOLVED: The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  This is why I’ve written over a hundred columns about him. Something about his short stature, but large courage, honor and fighting skills speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I decide to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them. We’ve reached the title’s extended twilight.  We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the now-bimonthly reprint series. This is the 133rd installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.

The Rawhide Kid #146 [July 1978] has a cover by Tony DeZuniga and, unlike previous new covers for this title, it actually illustrates the cover story.

This issue reprints “Day of the Outcast” from The Rawhide Kid #94 [December 1971]. The cover was pencilled by Larry Lieber with inks by Frank Giacoia. The 14-page story was written and drawn by Larry Lieber with inks by George Roussos.

I like this story a lot. I wrote about it on June 15, 2016. You can read that entire column here.

The inside front cover of the issue is for Universal’s free booklet on seeing your muscles grow every day. It’s a come-on for a course that would cost a customer far more than the 25-cent postage costs of the booklet. Most of the issue’s ads are just as common to the comics of the era: Nash skateboards; Slim Jim meat snacks (with a Jack Davis vampire we’ve seen before); Grit newspaper looking for salespeople; a contest for buyer of Sugar Babies and other candy with the prizes being free bikes, Burger King hamburgers and more candy bars; Mike Marvel’s $3.98 book on strong arms; Nirsek fishing outfits; and a Jack Davis-drawn ad for Spaulding basketballs with “autographs” of star players.

Heroes World’s usual full-page ad offers all sorts of Marvel stuff. A set of MarvelWare (mug, glass, juice glass and soup bowl) is just $4.14. The individual items are $1.68 each. Giant coloring books of Spider-Man or the Hulk are $3.19 each. Then there’s Marvel Jewelry featuring your choice of Spidey, the Hulk, Thor or Captain America. The rings are $1.68 each. The bracelets are $2.37. The pendants are $2.18 each. The belt badges are also $2.18 each. I’m interested in seeing what these items looked like in real life, so I guess some web-searching is in my future.
The most interesting ad in this issue is a four-page centerspread for “Famous Clark Bar Superhero Sweepstakes!” The winner would win a trip to New York and appear in a Marvel super-hero comic. Second prize winners would receive a super-hero watch. Third prize winners would receive a year’s subscription to their favorite Marvel or DC comic. Plus there was all kinds of super-hero swag that you could buy with a combination of candy-bar wrappers and cash. I think this is a subject I need to research further, but, in the meantime, here are all four pages of the centerspread. 
There’s another ad for Pizzazz magazine in this issue. There are no Marvel Comics images in it and the copy is mainstream dull. On the plus side, a 12-issue subscription to Pizzazz comes with a six-issue subscription to a Marvel comic-book title of your choosing.

We’re down to two pages of classified ads this issue. There are 22 ads for mail-order comics dealers (down just one), a new ad for The Buyer’s Guide For Comics Fandom and a ad offering 3 mil comics storage bags for three bucks per hundred.
Elsewhere in the issue, there’s a half-page ad for Marvel t-shirts at four bucks each. There are three shirts: Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain America). The shirts come in three sizes: Small (size 8), Medium (10-12) and Large (14-16).

The Outlaw Kid debuts as the regular back-up feature in Rawhide Kid with “Stand Up and Fight!” from The Outlaw Kid #10 [March 1956]. We don’t know who wrote the four-page tale, but it was drawn and signed by the great Doug Wildey. The cover of the issue was drawn by the equally great John Severin.


Loud-talking bully Gus Barrow calls out the Outlaw Kid who quickly out-shoots him. When Barrow challenges the Kid to fisticuffs, the Kid refuses:

A man doesn’t prove his courage by his fists or by guns! It’s something far more subtle than that...something you haven’t learned yet!

Barrow, not the sharpest spur on the boots, thinks he’s shown the Kid to be a coward and expects respect from the townspeople. When he doesn’t get it, he plans to ambush the Kid outside of the town.

Barrow’s horse, sensing danger ahead, stops abruptly. Barrow gets thrown into quicksand and is sinking to his death as the Outlaw Kid shows up. Risking his own life, the Kid lassos Barrow and, with the other end of the rope tied to his horse, enters the quicksand and pulls Barrow to safety.

Barrow has learned his lesson. He’s done being a bully and a fool. He’s a changed man, thanks to the Outlaw Kid. The story ends with the two men shaking hands.


The Outlaw Kid had his own (almost entirely) reprint comic book in the 1970s. This tale was reprinted in issues #3 [December 1970] and #19 [December 1973] before being reprinted in this issue of Rawhide Kid. Three reprints in less than a decade. The folks at Marvel must have really liked this short and straight-forward morality lesson. I like it, too.

This Bullpen Bulletins” page has gone through a design change and no longer lists the editorial staff. “Stan’s Soapbox” announced a changing of the guard as Archie Goodwin steps down from editor-in-chief to return to full-time writing and Jim Shooter takes over the top editorial spot. In some ways, this was good for Marvel creators and staffers. In many other ways, it was not. Most certainly, this will continue to be debated by fans and professionals.

In other news that month...

Richard Marschall and Bob Hall joined Roger Stern as new associate editors. Mark Gruenwald was the newest assistant editor, joining Ralph Macchio, Mary Jo Duffy and Jim Salicrup.

Lenny Grow was named production manager. Dave Cohen moved from the British department to become assistant production manager.

The live-action TV series of the Amazing Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk were described as smash sensations. Though the former had good ratings, CBS cancelled both it and Wonder Woman to avoid getting a reputation as “the superhero network.” But it kept the Hulk for 82 episodes and a couple of movies. A Doctor Strange TV movie was said to be due in April. Despite the claim that it was sure to be terrific, that one movie was all that was done.

Another item promised a Savage Sub-Mariner special in early spring. That never happened.

Roy Thomas would be taking over The Mighty Thor from writer/artist Walt Simonson, said to be working on other secret projects. John Buscema and Tom Palmer were the artists.

Marv Wolfman was reported to be chained to his typewriter, writing Nova the Human Rocket and Spider-Woman. Fake news. Except for his writing those two titles and many others.

Another item debated Chris Claremont’s proper Marvel nickname. Was it “Cheerful” or “Charismatic” or “Carefree?” This debate led to a plug for a Star-Lord special by Chris and Carmine Infantino.

A following item debated the correct pronunciation of “Magneto.” I always went with Mag-Neato.

Another item plugged The Defenders by David Anthony Kraft and Ed Hannigan, followed by an item about Hannigan writing Power Man and Iron Fist.

The penultimate item was about Dave Cockrum hanging photos clipped from magazines or newspapers for “caption contests.” It’s like my old friend Dave invented the Internet before the Internet existed.

The final item was a plug for the Dave Kraft-edited FOOM Magazine. The fall issue of the magazine would be the last.

This month’s comic-book style Hostess ad was “Spider-Man Meets The Home Wrecker.” Once more, a villain was defeated by a Hostess tasty treat. This time around, humanity owed its salvation to delicious fruit pies. Yummy.

That wraps up this installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” We have five more issues to go until we reach the end of the trail for this title. Look for the next installment in seven short days.

If all goes as planned, tomorrow’s bloggy thing will be all about the premiere episode of Black Lightning. After that, I’ll likely be alternating “Black Lightning Beat” columns with other stuff. I’ve got a lot to say about my creation.

Have a great day. See you tomorrow.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, January 23, 2018



Having successfully navigated past Scylla and Charybdis to actually get to Washington, D.C. for “DC in D.C." (aka the hottest ticket in town), my son Ed and I spent several enjoyable hours at the Newseum portion of the event. You can read about our Friday night travels and Saturday afternoon in the bloggy things I posted last Tuesday and yesterday. We continue...

Saturday evening.

Shuttles were ready at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel to take us to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for the world premiere screening of the first episode of Black Lightning. The evening started with a cocktail reception where the drinks and hors d’oeuvres came with Black Lightning napkins like the one shown above. Okay, not every napkin had the logo, but I managed to grab a few unused ones to I could have a memento of the event and scan one to share with you here.

Full disclosure. Much of the evening was an exciting blur for me. All I recall about the hors d’oeuvres is that they were delicious and there were lots of them. I didn’t eat lots of them. I was way too overwhelmed for that. But I know I ate enough of them to keep something in my stomach beyond whatever I drank. It might have been wine or it might have been champagne. I probably had both between the cocktail reception and the premiere after-party. I probably had a Pepsi or two. Excited. Overwhelmed. I was lucky just to remember my name at that point.

At some point, Larry Ganem, one of my favorite vice-presidents of all time, handed me over to one of the many helpful members of the DC Entertainment team to walk me down the red carpet. The nice lady who escorted me across the carpet made sure I looked okay - nobody was expecting miracles - and was probably ready to sedate me if I said anything stupid. I confident I didn’t say anything stupid, so some miracles do happen.

Most of the red carpet attention was deservedly on the great Black Lightning cast. By now you have come to realize that I am over the top in love with these actors. When I see my creations brought to life so wonderfully, when I see the characters I didn’t create come to mean as much to me as those I did create, it takes effort not to let the happy tears flow down my plump little cheeks.

I think I spoke to three of four reporters, one of whom might have been from the local NBC affiliate. I don’t know if anything I said made it to the airwaves or online or to print. If anyone has links to my red carpet comments, I’d love to check them out to find out if I owe anyone an apology. I don’t think I do, but I don’t recall what I was asked or what I said in response.

I’m going to assume I said nice things about how well Salim Akil, Mara Brock Akil, Cress Williams and the cast had brought my Black Lightning core values to reality. I hope I said that their work on the character inspires my current comic-book work on the character. I hope I conveyed how much Black Lightning means to so many comics fans around the world and that knowing that is a responsibility I will never take lightly. I hope I just didn’t go all Frankenstein Monster and just say “Arrh...Black Lightning good...arrh!

Not-so-sudden realization. I need someone to follow me around when I do things like this to take notes for me. Or maybe I should start wearing a body camera.

My comments on Black Lightning’s premiere episode deserve a bloggy thing of their own, which will be coming your way within the next few days. I’d already seen the episode before the premiere, having been sent a link to a not-quite-finished version of the episode by my friends at the CW. I watched the episode at home with my Sainted Wife Barb, Ed, Kelly, “other daughter” Giselle and Kelly’s future roommate Lauren. This not-quite-finished version did not have any credits. When I saw this on the big screen...
                                                                     heart darn near burst with pride and joy. This was what I had spent decades fighting for and, thanks to the current management at DC Entertainment, there was proof of my victory over those who had tried to keep me and my creation down.

The episode itself? Even better the second time around. Even better the third time around when we watched it with friends and relatives at the somewhat smaller Casa Isabella Black Lightning watch party on Tuesday, January 16. I’m looking forward to the remaining twelve episodes of Black Lightning’s first season.

After the premiere, Orlando Jones hosted/moderated a question-and-answer session with Salim and Mara Brock Akil and the cast of Black Lightning. The esteemed actor expressed his love for the character and the show, making thoughtful comments and asking some terrific questions of the panelists. Any success I’ve had writing Jefferson Pierce, his supporting cast and their lives is because I’ve always listened and learned from insightful and instructive conversations like this one. I have listened to people in the neighborhoods of Cleveland, at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention and other comics cons, in online forums and podcasts, and anywhere else where I could gain knowledge of the subjects I’ve been passionate about my entire career.   

After the Q&A session, there were shuttles waiting to ferry us to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture for the premiere after-party. The guide shown above was in the gift bags that guests received as they left the party.

The party itself was wondrous beyond my expectations. In addition to the amazing people at the party and the phenomenal food, drink and entertainment, guests were allowed to wander freely through the museum’s several floors of exhibits. Ed and I took some advantage of this, but hope to return at some later date to really check out everything the museum has to offer.

Ed and I had an incredible time at the party. He’s used to seeing excited fans come up to me at conventions. He’s not used to seeing actual celebrities wanting to take selfies with me. I scored a few “Dad points” that evening.

There’s no chance of me remembering everyone I spoke with at this event, but I’ll mention as many of them as I can before my ancient brain starts to boil.

Cress Williams and I had met and chatted at the Newseum, but things were slightly less hectic at the party. This photo doesn’t really do justice at what a heroic figure he cuts and what a tiny “stout” man I am.

Orlando Jones and I had exchanged Twitter messages over the years, but this was my first time meeting him. I love that he’s a comics fan and I love his work. Given the crazy twists my career had been taking, I hope to someday get a chance to work with him on a movie or TV project. All I have to do is learn how to write screenplays. Which I’m working on.

Christine Adams and I had a few fun moments together. Earlier, I’d said her natural voice had inspired me to make Lynn Stewart British in my new Black Lightning comics. Stunned by Christine’s beauty - she’s right up there with my wife and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man - I told her there was more to the comic-book Lynn and that I would be hinting at just that in Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #6. She smiled and proclaimed “Spinoff!”

Confession. I probably told her more about Lynn that I should have, but I was intoxicated by her and the party.

I made new comics friends, meeting writers Julie Benson and Shawna Benson. I’ve enjoyed their work on Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, and was excited to hear about their next gig. Thom Zahler, one of my dearest friends and a top-notch writer and artist, was there with lady friend Emily Whitten. She is a comics journalist, most recently contributing to the ComicMix site. Thom was her arm-candy.

Journalist and old friend Michael Rapoport was there. He’s going to do another interview with me in the near future.

I met the cool Jamie Broadnax, editor-in-chief of Black Girl Nerds editor-in-chief. I’ll be doing something with Black Girl Nerds as soon as we figure out the logistics. I love them madly.

One of the highlights of the party was getting to spend time with Dan DiDio, who has been a strong advocate of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands and the trade paperback collections of the character. We talked about all sorts of stuff, some of it relating to more Black Lightning comics written by me, some of it about forthcoming trade collections, some of it about our mutual love of Godzilla. I knew there was a reason I like this guy. I also learned some things from him which gave me some new insights into DC Comics. I hope to get to see him again soon.

One of the other big highlights of the evening was finally getting to meet Geoff Johns. Geoff and I have exchanged emails and talked on the phone. We’re are fans of each other’s writing. But this was our first-ever face-to-face moment and it was an emotional one for me. I’ll tell you why.

After decades of - let’s face it - anomosity between DC Comics and myself - it was Geoff who reached out to me and started the company and I on the path to the relationship we enjoy today. He is a hero to the Isabella family. If you’ve been enjoying my current work for DC, it all started with Geoff.

My only regrets about this party is that I didn’t get to meet some of the people I would have loved to meet. There were cast members from Gotham, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, all shows I enjoy. There were comics creators whose work I enjoy. There were DC folks whose behind-the-scenes work makes terrific stuff like this happen. It was a magical night.

When we left the party, Ed and I got our afore-mentioned gift bags. Besides the museum’s office guide, there was a copy of the newest edition of Black Lightning: Year One and a spiffy “Get Lit” shirt. My shirt was just a bit too small for me, but daughter Kelly wore it during our Casa Isabella cast party.

As for Black Lightning: Year One, it’s no secret that I’m not fond of that book. But, what’s also no secret is that Black Lightning is bigger than just me. Every version of the character has its devoted fans and, for those fans, I would be thrilled to see all the Black Lightning stories back in print and kept in print. Just because I don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean others won’t.

When Ed and I got back to the hotel, we were too pumped to go right to bed. He were also feeling a bit peckish. So we ordered some room service and packed our bags for a Sunday morning flight back home. After the nightmare of our flight to D.C., we were glad our return flight was as smooth as could be.

I want to again thank everyone at DC Entertainment for making this weekend happen for me. I want to thank Salim and Mara and the cast of Black Lightning for making me feel so respected and so welcome. I want to thank all the comics fans and pros who have expressed how thrilled they are with my good fortune. It was the best weekend of my 45-year career in the comics industry. Thank you.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the latest installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” Then, following that rooting-tooting excitement, I will share my comments on the Black Lightning premier episode.

Thanks for visiting the bloggy thing.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


A computer glitch ate the last half of today's bloggy thing. I'll rewrite what I lost and get the column posted as soon as possible.


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Zander Cannon’s Kaijumax Season One: Terror & Respect; Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9-14 by Kieron Gillen and Kev Walker; and Valiant's War Mother by Fred Van Lente!


Today's bloggy thing will post this afternoon.

Monday, January 22, 2018


I seriously underestimated how much the extraordinary premiere of the Black Lightning TV series would impact my schedule last week. Which is why I’m here Sunday with a bloggy thing that should have been posted last Tuesday. To refresh my memory...

I was invited to last weekend’s DC Comics in D.C. event that would include the world premiere of the Black Lightning TV series. I went with my son Ed. Because our Friday flights kept getting cancelled, we missed a screening of the Batman: Gotham by Gaslight animated feature and dinner with Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and others. We also had to spent Friday night in the Cleveland Airport, which is not even a one-star accommodation. We persevered and arrived in D.C. around eight or so on Saturday morning. Our adventure resumes.

DC booked us at the Willard Continental on Pennsylvania Avenue. Because of my well-known liberal leanings and our proximity to the White House, I was strip-searched and probed by Stephen Miller. I’d rather not talk about it here, but I’ll be in therapy for the rest of my life. Indeed, I think my eventual grandchildren will be in therapy for the rest of their lives due to my DNA memory, which is a thing I just made up. Fake news.

Seriously, the Willard is a lovely hotel. Our room was large and, though we didn’t get to sleep until after midnight Saturday night, very comfortable. Our bathroom was bigger than my whole room at the Econo-Lodge where I’ve stayed on recent trips to New York City. No knock on the Econo-Lodge, which I do like, but I’m trying to give you a sense of the size of our Willard room.

After freshening up from our stay at the Cleveland Airport, Ed and I went to the lobby, got our passes for the “DC in D.C. event” and went to breakfast with Larry Ganem, DC Entertainment Vice-President Talent Relations and Editorial Administration. On a vice-president  scale of one to ten with Mike Pence being a one, Larry scored about a million. He is a charming, funny and terrific guy who took great care of me at the event.

I wore a Black Lightning t-shirt at breakfast. One of the servers spotted it and ask if I knew there was a Black Lightning TV series. I told him I’d heard something about that. Larry chuckled and told  the guy I was the creator of Black Lightning. The server said how happy he was to meet me. It’s as I’ve been saying, Black Lightning means a lot to a lot of people. It’s a honor and a responsibility to be associated with the character.
From the hotel, we headed over to the Newseum, the location for the daytime “DC in D.C.” events. This is a stunning building dedicated to free expression and the First Amendment. It was a great choice to host DC’s presentations on such topics as “The Many Shades of Heroism: DC Heroes Through the African-American Lens,” “The Pride of DC: The Art of LGBTQ Inclusion,” “Wonder Women” and more. I wish I had been able to attend all the panels.

In addition to the Newseum’s other exhibits, there were autograph sessions for the various comics creators and the stars of the shows featuring DC characters and, just outside the museum, a DC pop-up store selling Funko figures, shirts and trade paperbacks. Even with the chilly weather, the store did a brisk business.

Every one connected with DC treated me with great friendliness and respect. Larry introduced me to Diane Nelson, the President of DC Entertainment and the President and Chief Content Officer of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It was a short conversation, just long enough for her to thank me for coming to the event and for me to thank her for the invitation and for all she’s done to make DC a company I’m delighted to be once again associated with. I hope I get a chance to speak with her again soon.

Larry, Clark Bull of DC Entertainment’s publicity department, and several other DC staffers always made me feel welcome and - this is important - always made sure I was where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there. I wish I had written down all of their names because I’d love to thank them all personally.

SIDEBAR. If those other DC staffers will send me notes reminding me of our meeting and how they kept me from looking or saying anything foolish, I’ll praise them in a future bloggy thing. I owe you folks at least that and much more.

“The Many Shades of Heroism” was the one panel I was able to enjoy in its entirety. Moderated by David Betancourt (Washington Post), the panelists were Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave); Candice Patton, who plays Iris West on The Flash; Black Lightning star Cress Williams; BL’s executive producers Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil; Chris Chalk, who plays Lucius Fox on Gotham; legendary comics artist and Milestone Media founder Denis Cowan; Milestone writer Alice Randall; Black Girl Nerds editor-in-chief Jamie Broadnax; and, from Supergirl, David Harewood, who plays the Martian Manhunter on that series. It was a great panel and, as with great panels, it gave me things to consider as I continue to write Black Lightning and other comics.

After the panel, while waiting for a scheduled photo shoot with the cast and creators of the Black Lightning TV series, I had a chance to chat with David Harewood. I love his performance as a surrogate father to Kara and Alex on the show and we talked about parenting and such. That Kara and Alex are his character’s surrogate children makes their dynamic all the more realistic. I’m the proud father of a dynamic young woman and Harewood’s J’onn speaks to me. Plus, he was rocking a cool Black Lightning t-shirt.

The photo shoot was a dream come true. I got to speak with most of the cast for a few minutes. Cress Williams had this big grin on his face and seemed as excited to meet me as I was to meet him. James Remar thanked me for creating Peter Gambi. I thanked him for doing such a great job with the character.

Christine Adams gushed a bit when I told her I loved her natural voice so much I decided the Lynn Stewart in my new Black Lightning comics would be British. China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams were delightful. I might not have created the Pierce daughters, but their trailer performances made me know I wanted them in my comics. Even though they are Jefferson’s cousins in those comic books, I’m inspired by their work.

Marvin 'Krondon' Jones III is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, but his Tobias Whale is incredibly menacing. Damon Gupton’s Inspector Henderson impacted me with his performance as a hard-as-nails cop concerned about his friends and fellow officers.

I got to say “hey” to Salim Akil again and finally got to meet Mara Brock Akil. My respect for them is off the chart.

After the photo shoot, the cast sat down for an autograph session. The DC Comics crew handed me a Black Lightning poster and allowed me to be the first to get it signed by the entire cast. It will be framed and hanging on my wall soon.

I lost track of all the great conversations I had at the Newseum. Artist extraordinaire Shawn Martinbrough was there and took a photo of the two of us plus my son Ed and Larry. Someday, somehow, I have to work with this man.

SIDEBAR. If anyone has photos of me from the event, please e-mail them to me or send me links to them. I’d love to put them together for a bloggy thing photo album of the day.

Michael Tune, a PhD student of African American women's history at George Washington University in D.C., was at the event. We’d talked some time back about Misty Knight. This time, he had questions on all sorts of other comics I’d written. It was a great conversation, not to mention a chance to get off my feet for a spell.

Ed decided to catch some of the remaining panels. Since I was going on no sleep, I opted to go back to the hotel and relax a bit. The world premiere of Black Lightning was scheduled for a couple hours later at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. It would be preceded by a cocktail reception and red carpet arrivals, then followed by a question-and-answer session moderated by Orlando Jones. I figured my falling asleep during the premiere - as if that were possible - would send the wrong message to the audience and to everyone who had worked so hard on the show.

After the Q&A session, guests would be bussed to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture for a very cool premiere party. Besides the party itself, the Museum would be open for guests to explore at their leisure. Have I mentioned this day was the best day of my 45-year career?

I want to do justice to the Black Lightning premiere and the events surrounding it. So let’s say we all come back here tomorrow for the next installment of my adventures. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, January 19, 2018


I seriously underestimated how much the extraordinary premiere of the Black Lightning TV series would impact my schedule this week. I should be back with new bloggy things in a couple more days. Thanks for understanding.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Mark Vogel’s psychedelic Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture; Babes in Arms: Women in the Comics During the Second World War by Trina Robbins; and The 1964 New York Comicon: The True Story Behind the World’s First Comic Convention by J. Ballman!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


If I were reading this bloggy thing, what I would most like to read about today would be the star-studded DC Comics in D.C. event held this past weekend in our nation’s capital. The keystone of that stellar event was the world premiere of the Black Lightning TV series. And I am going to write about the huge deal that was. But I’m going to write about it tomorrow. get a Black Lightning mission statement and an amusing in the “It’s funny because it happened to someone else” school of comedy telling of the journey my son Ed and I took in traveling to Washington, D.C. We’ll start with the heavy stuff, work our way to the funny stuff and, hopefully tie it all together so that you’ll be slapping your foreheads and saying “I saw how he did that.” Or maybe not. This isn’t an exact science.

Black Lightning is much bigger than Tony Isabella. Black Lightning is bigger than the comic books, the TV series and all the talented  people who have worked on the comics and the TV series. All these people, myself most especially, must recognize that and recognize the great responsibility that comes with being associated with this character. The question we must always ask ourselves is not what we would do, but what Jefferson Pierce would do. I think of Jefferson as the man I want to be. The TV show’s Salim Akil has said this as well. We didn’t share that thought with one another. It was simply the unspoken engine which drives us both.
I began to recognize and understand and embrace this mission when I started attending the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia. It started when black readers would come up to me, sometimes hugging me with tears forming in their eyes and tell me Black Lightning was the first comic they ever bought for themselves  because it’s the first time they saw themselves in a comic. In all fairness, for other readers, they can probably say the same for the comic books featuring the Black Panther, the Falcon or Luke Cage. But, as the creator of Black Lightning, it was a profound moment to realize how important my character was to so many readers. It was a life-changing moment.

I have told the tale of how, growing up in the very segregated city of Cleveland, my first black friends were comic-book fans met when they attended meetings of the Graphic Arts Society comics club I’d founded and which held monthly meetings at the Cudell Recreation Center. Yes, the same place where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by police officers who should not have been police officers. The horror of Tamir’s slaying will never diminish and, even when I think of those fun meetings, I can never forget the terrible crime that was committed by those officers and the loss of a young life that should not have ended there.

Those three comic club friends - Bruce Burke, Leroy Crayton, Dennis Knowles - were the start of the journey that has defined much of my comics career. “Diversity” wasn’t in my vocabulary back then. But I thought there was something fundamentally unfair about the lack of black comics heroes for my friends. When I started working for Marvel Comics in 1972, I eagerly embraced assignments on Hero for Hire and Black Goliath.

My work on those Marvel heroes was why DC Comics wanted me to write a black super-hero for them. They handed me two completed scripts of an amazingly offensive title called Black Bomber. I refused to “punch up” those scripts and take over writing the series with its third issue. I convinced DC to kill the series and created my own super-hero. Black Lightning.

There have been ups and downs with my relationship with DC Comics. There was an unintentional glitch in inviting me to the “DC Comics in D.C.” event. But, once DC was aware of that glitch, the company and its representatives bent over backwards to include me and make me feel like an honored guest. I’ll tell you that story in my next bloggy thing. Or maybe, given how long-winded I can get, I’ll start telling that story.

The mission statement:

Everyone working on Black Lightning, whether it be in the comics or on the TV series recognizes the importance of Jefferson Pierce and his story. Everyone working on Black Lightning is 100% committed to  bringing their dedication and talent to the work. It is a honor to be part of this. It is a responsibility to always give our best to this work.


Now that you have the mission statement, let me tell you how much it took to get me and my son Ed to the “DC Comics in D.C.” event. It was a harrowing adventure lacking only in Nazis for me to punch and snakes for me to dread.

Okay. That might be an exaggeration.

DC booked us for a noon-ish flight on Friday. We would have arrived in plenty of time to see a special screening of the Batman: Gotham by Gaslight animated feature and enjoy dinner with Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and others. Then United Airlines canceled that flight, putting us on a flight scheduled to leave at eight in the evening. So the movie and dinner were off the table, but we would still get to D.C. in time to get a full night’s sleep.

Because the snow-covered roads weren’t being cleaned efficiently or at all, my daughter Kelly drove us to the airport hours before our flight was due to leave. When we checked out bags, we learned that our flight had been delayed by an hour.

We had a nice meal at The Pub, one of the better restaurants at the airport, then headed to our gate. Where we learned our flight had been delayed again. This would keep happening for the next couple hours. Finally, the gate attendant told us we would be departing at midnight. The crew on the plane, which was coming from New Jersey, were going to fly us to Washington D.C.

Two things you should know. Just to build suspense. We were flying United, which is far from my favorite airline at the best of times and, besides us, there were only two other passengers booked on the flight. Both were young women, one of whom had been waiting for a flight since nine in the morning.

The weather was much improved by the time the flight arrived at our gate. The arriving passengers deplaned. We had been told the crew was good to go. Then, just as we were waiting to board, we learned the flight was cancelled. We would not be able to leave until six in the morning on Saturday.

You will never convinced me that United cancelled this flight for any other reason that the airline didn’t want to fly with just we four passengers. Their bottom line was the only concern...and they made no further accommodations for us.

Okay, they did give the young women blankets since they were going to try to sleep on the floor. The United personnel acted as if they were handing out cloth of spun gold.

The airport hotel was booked, but, even if there had been rooms for us, United would not have paid for them.

There would be no food or travel vouchers given to compensate us for the gross inconvenience.

When I request the United Air Club be opened so that we could, at least, sleep on comfortable couches, we were told that was utterly impossible. I briefly considered breaking into the club. I have skills I don't talk about.

The young women tried to sleep, but, when we saw them later, they told us they had managed maybe a restless hour apiece. It’s no fun to sleep in a nearly deserted airport.

Ed didn’t fare better. He tried to sleep on the only row of seats in the area that had three seats in a row without armrests. But the overhead lights were too bright and the continuous music was too loud. I didn’t even try to sleep. What I did do, being a cup half full kind of fellow, was make a new friend.

Sylvia is an always-smiling black women in her late 40s. She drives one of those electric carts used to carry passengers who might have difficulty navigating the long airport terminals wherever they have to go. She was waiting on a long-delayed flight to arrive and just tooling around the terminal.

I was walking around the terminal trying to get a jump on my Fitbit steps for the day when she pulled up alongside me and asked me if I wanted a ride. This was a smile that could not be refused, so I accepted.

We spent a hour or more just driving around the terminal. She asked where I was going and why. I told her about the “DC in D.C.” event and about Black Lightning. She told me about her previous career as a teacher and was excited to hear Jefferson Pierce was a teacher in the comic books and a principal on the TV series. She knows young men who have a knack for drawing and who read comic books, so we’re keeping in touch. The plan is for me to talk to the kids about all the skills that go into making comic books.

We talked about our children and our lives. I tried to cajole her into an electric cart race. She drove me to the airport’s Dunkin Donuts, which was the only 24-hour eatery in the place and waited until I got an egg sandwich. We kept checking on my son and the two young women to make sure they were safe. It was an unexpectedly fun way to kill some time during an otherwise horrible night.

Her late flight arrived, so she drove me back to the gate where Ed has trying to sleep. I gave her my card so she could contact me at some later date. Hugs were exchanged.

I was still pissed off at United. I plan on giving them what for in an email complaint. I don’t plan on ever flying the airline again unless there’s no other choice. But, all the same, I can’t say I’m sorry that I made a new friend. That’s what’s life should be about, especially in a country where we have a Dumpster president and his Republican allies who constantly try to drive Americans apart with their bigotry and hate speech.

Four hours later, our completely packed airplane left Cleveland at its scheduled departure time. Sure, it was going to an airport a half-hour further away from our destination than the airport where we had originally been scheduled to land. Sure, the taxi ride cost us $75 as opposed to the $15 for our Sunday morning ride to our original airport. But, at least, we were on our way to Washington, D.C. and one of the best days of my life.

I’ll tell you all about that electrifying day in tomorrow’s bloggy thing. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, January 15, 2018


I'll get back to blogging as soon as possible. There are one or two things I have to do today. But I hope to be back no later than tomorrow to regale you with tales of my recent adventures and so much cool Black Lightning stuff.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


There’s a lot going on with Black Lightning right now. There will be a star-studded premiere of the TV series at this weekend’s “DC in D.C.” event in Washington, D.C. I’ll be there as a guest of DC Comics, for which I thank them. Expect a full report on the event sometime next week.

Popping up all over are Black Lightning billboards, subway posters, magazine ads, TV ads and even, in Times Square, a Black Lightning tour bus. Advance reviews of the TV series have been nothing less than spectacular.

The six-issue Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands comics series by me, artist Clayton Henry, colorist Pete Pantazis, letterer Josh Reed, associate editor Harvey Richards and group editor Jim Chadwick has been getting great reviews online. I’ve been doing a whole bunch of interviews in support of both the comic book and the TV series. It is an exciting time for me.

I’ll be covering all of the above in future installments of “Black Lightning Beat,” but, for today, I want to go back away and speak about the importance of giving proper credit where credit is due. Warning: what seems to be ethical and straightforward to me might not seem that way to others.

Black Lightning Volume 2 [$19.99] will be hitting the comics shops any day now. For the first time ever, this trade paperback collects  my creation’s major appearances following his original 1970s run. I wrote a new introduction for the book, which is only fair since I was the guy who suggested and urged DC to do this book before a collection of my 1990s Black Lightning stories. I wanted to see as many Black Lightning stories back in print as possible and I wanted to see some talented writers and artists pick up some of that sweet reprint money. I aspire to a niceness that often eludes me at other times in my life.

Writers represented in this volume are Denny O’Neil, Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko, Paul Kupperberg and J.M. DeMatteis. The pencillers: Dick Dillin, George Tuska, Rich Buckler, Marshall Rogers, Mike Nasser, Romeo Tanghal, Joe Staton, Pat Broderick, Dick Giordano and Gerald Forton. It’s a terrific roster.

My delight over seeing my contributor’s copies of this collection was unfortunately marred by an embarrassing credit mistake. As I’ve told anyone who would listen and some who don’t want to hear from me ever again, the official creator credit line is: Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden.

DC Comics got it wrong in Black Lightning Volume Two. The company, through its representatives, have apologized for the credit error. They have promised to correct in the digital copies of the volume and in any future print editions. I accepted their apology because, if a lifetime in the comics industry has taught me anything, it’s that mistakes happen and they usually happen without malice. But do not equate my understanding with my being okay with this mistake. It pisses me off. It will always piss me off.

“With” might not seem like a huge difference from “and,” but there are reasons this revised credit line is part of my agreement with DC Comics. I’ve been reluctant to spell this out. My aim in writing and insisting on the revised credit this way was always intended to make the revised credit line ambiguous and open to interpretation. That has proven to be a mistake on my part.

I consider myself the creator of Black Lightning. Not a co-creator. The creator. As I have stated in many interviews over the decades, everything important about Jefferson Pierce and Black Lightning was created by me before I brought my creation to DC Comics. This was recognized by DC Comics with the original creator credit line that appeared in all of the character’s appearances during his original 1970s run and his solo stories in World’s Finest Comics.

This creator credit line was changed without my knowledge and in violation of my agreement with DC Comics when Black Lightning began appearing in Detective Comics. A writer, taking his cue from what he’d seen in movies and on TV, changed it to “Based on a character created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden.” That credit was a false on two counts. The character he wrote was not based on Black Lightning as created by me. It was Black Lightning created by me. Nor was Trevor von Eeden, as much as he contributed artistically to my first series, an actual co-creator of Black Lightning.

The further revised creator line of “Created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden" began appearing immediately after I inquired about buying out DC’s interest in Black Lightning. This was not, as I saw it then and see it today, remotely a coincidence. The DC editor/executive who allowed it was attempting to diminish my ownership claim to the character.

Some will claim that the original Black Lightning costume, in which my friend Trevor played a key role, is worthy of co-creator status. However, there were three other people involved in designing that original costume. I came up with the lightning piping on the suit and what I called the “Captain America boots.” Bob Rozakis came up with the Afro-mask. Joe Orlando opened up the shirt on the original costume because he wanted to show more of the hero’s black skin. Trevor pulled it all together with his own design elements. It was a good looking costume for the times. Disco was fun in the 1970s, too, but its time has passed as well.

There have been several Black Lightning costumes since then. None have materially changed the nature of my creation. Yes, some less-than-adequate writers have screwed up the character, but, today, in the new comic-book series and the TV series, we again have a Black Lightning faithful to my creation’s core values. With nary an Afro-mask or 1970s disco vibe in sight. Still, times have changed since 1976 and a newer sensibility is in place when it comes to listing the creators of comic books and comic-book characters.

Current comics industry standard is to list both the writer and the artist as co-creators. Do not mistake this convention for absolute accuracy. Sometimes a writer is the actual creator. Sometimes the artist is the actual creator. Sometimes an editor plays a key role in the creator of a character. The comics industry standard is more a convenience for the bookkeepers than verifiable historical fact. Editor Mort Weisinger was, at the very least, a co-creator of Green Arrow and Aquaman and other characters launched during his tenure at DC Comics, but you never see him created as such.

When DC Comics and I started negotiating an agreement to cover our past and future relationship, the Black Lightning creator line was a vital part of those negotiations. Some of the suggestions would have taken up two or three lines of copy, much as does the current credit on the Superman titles. I thought the longer suggestions for Black Lightning were clunky. The line that all parties eventually agreed upon was one suggested and written by me: Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden. That’s the credit line DC is legally obligated to use at all times.

SIDEBAR. That official credit line will probably not be used in the TV series. I was given the choice of two credit lines for the show. I chose the one preferred by Warner Bros because I recognize that comic books and TV shows, even those that draw from the same basic material and share the same core values, are not the same thing. I don’t know how the credit line for Salim and Mara Brock Akil will read in the TV series, but they definitely deserve to be credited for their work in developing and creating the TV version of Black Lightning. And I’m 100% fine with that. END OF SIDEBAR.

Here’s what the “with” in the official Black Lightning credit line means to me:

It means that I am the sole creator of Black Lightning while also recognizing Trevor’s contribution to the art of the original 1970s series. I never wanted Trevor to be ignored. I always wanted my friend to share in the financial rewards earned from the character. But do I consider him the co-creator of Black Lightning? I do not. I consider him the co-creator of Tobias Whale and some of the other supporting characters in the first 1970s series because, based on my script descriptions, he designed those characters. That’s what the official credit line means to me.

If you disagree with the above, well, that’s why I wrote the credit line to be somewhat ambiguous. However, whether you disagree with my interpretation, the official credit line is the official credit line. If you don’t use it, you commit an error of fact. Or, as in the case of one seedy comics news site, you’re just being bloody assholes. How sad to have that be one’s main claim to fame.

In the best of all possible worlds, when writers write about movies and TV shows born of comics, they would credit the comics creators who conceived the characters and situations in those shows. After all, it only takes one more sentence to say Green Arrow was created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. When you have an ensemble show like Legends of Tomorrow that features multiple leads, I understand not listing every creator of every character in your news article. I accept that most mainstream writers don’t care about or even know the writers and artists who created the characters. That’s a change that will be long time coming. If it ever comes.

But when it comes to comics websites - Bleeding Cool, Comics Beat, Comic Book Resources. Comics Reporter and all the others - there’s no excuse not to credit the comic-book creators and to credit them properly. These comics creators are of the tribe, so to speak. They are your people. They deserve your respect. They deserve that one more sentence it takes to show them that respect. To fail to do so is wrong. To deliberately fail to do so is dickish.

That’s what I wanted to say today. I’ll be finishing up some loose ends tomorrow in preparation for my weekend trip to Washington D.C. and the sure-to-be-sensational “DC in D.C.” event that includes the world premieres of the Batman: Gotham By Gaslight animated feature and the Black Lightning TV series.

I’ll be back on Monday, January 15, with the first installment of an entire week’s worth of “Black Lightning Beat” columns. We’ve got a lot to talk about. See you on Monday.

© 2018 Tony Isabella