Wednesday, May 12, 2021




We’re talking about creator credits for the second bloggy thing in a row. Because, when it comes to creator credits, one size doesn’t fit all. There are many cases when crediting the first writer and the first artist to handle a character is an accurate reflection of a character’s creation...and just as many times when it isn’t. I can’t and won’t speak to characters I didn’t create or co-create. What I can and will do is look at my creations and tell you what I think are the accurate creator credits.

My general position is that the person or persons who first came up with the original idea for a character is/are the creator of that  character. They should be referred to as the creator/creators. All others should be referred to as co-creators and, most of the time, given equal billing.

This is the second in a series of bloggy things discussing heroes and villains created or co-created by me. If I don’t get to those you most want me to write about, use the comments section to nudge me and I’ll move your request up on my list.

It! The Living Colossus!

I don’t think of myself as the creator of this series. What I did was come up with the concept of making a creature that appeared in pre-Fantastic Four issues of Tales of Suspense into the hero of an ongoing series and have him battle other monsters from those pre-FF  anthology titles. The human half of the man/statue hero appeared in the second of those Tales of Suspense appearances, but I gave him the last name of O’Bryan as a tribute to legendary special effects master Willis H. O'Brien. If I ever wrote a revival of this series, the credit line would read “Series conceived and written by Tony Isabella.”

There’s a text page in Astonishing Tales #22, written by me, which claims “Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman and Don McGregor all helped put this story together.” For the life of me, I can’t recall what Marv or Don contributed beyond being nice to and supportive of me. Back in my early days, I tended to be overly generous in sharing credit with people. I think this is one of those cases.

On the other hand, as my editor, Roy Thomas helped shape the “It!” series. In my initial pitch, Bob O’Bryan and Diane Cummings were married with two middle-school aged kids. Thinking of TV shows like Jonny Quest and Lost in Space, I figured any member of the family could inhabit and control the Colossus. I was definitely planning to write the book for a young audience along the lines of what Gold Key comics was doing in its titles. No reflection on Marvel there. I was simply looking to add some variety to our titles.

Roy nixed that pitch and reminded me how many Marvel super-heroes overcame physical or emotional problems to become heroes. Spider-Man had his guilt over Uncle Ben’s death. Iron Man has shrapnel in his chest. Daredevil was blind. I can’t be sure, but I think I was the one who came up with Bob losing the use of his legs. Roy and I both liked the idea that this seemingly helpless man could control one of the most powerful creatures on the planet.


Helmut Zemo

Helmut Zemo has been in the comics news lately because of his star turn in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. As the Phoenix, he came into being because the regular Captain America writer at that time was late getting a plot to Sal Buscema. If I’m recalling correctly, editor Roy Thomas came up with what he thought would be a one-off story and gave the plot to Sal over the phone. Though Roy intended to script this story himself, he only scripted a few pages before his other obligations necessitated him asking me to script the rest of the issue. Captain America? Sal Buscema? I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

There was no written plot, but Sal had written brief border notes which gave me the bare bones of what was happening in the story. I don’t think I added anything to the basic plot beyond fleshing out some details, especially in describing Helmut’s unhappy childhood. My contribution was considered significant enough that I received special thanks in the Falcon/Winter Soldier end credits.

If I wrote a Helmut Zemo comic today, my preferred creator credit line would be “Helmut Zemo created by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema with Tony Isabella.” I believe Roy and Sal deserve the lion’s share of the credit.

Some will correctly point out that Helmut was further developed by J.M. Dematteis, Kurt Busiek, Matt Rosenberg and other later writers of the character. But development, no matter how brilliantly done, isn’t the same as creation.  

This “creator credits” series is going to go on much longer than I anticipated when I started it. I don’t know when the next chapter will appear, but it will definitely include Tigra.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.  

© 2021 Tony Isabella

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