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Friday, October 17, 2003

More on Black Lightning -- Johnny Bacardi has an interesting sidebar to my comments yesterday about Black Lightning and how DC has misused the character.

I asked Tony Isabella to comment, and he said:

Except that Trevor wasn't a co-creator of the series, not even the visual
aspects of the character...and wasn't credited as a co-creator until just
after I tried to buy the character back from DC in the late 1970s.

Trevor first drew the original Black Lightning costume with me standing
over his shoulder and describing it as I would describe a suspect to a
police sketch artist...rather ironic given BL's new status as a craven
murderer. The only element of this original costume which did not come
from me was the "afro-mask." Bob Rozakis came up with that and, at the
time, we all thought it was a good idea. Oh, those wacky '70s.

Maybe DC never seriously considered Trevor for the second series, but I
certainly did...despite my dismay that he had been granted retroactive,
unjustifiable co-creator status. [One need only check the first Black
Lightning and his earliest subsequent appearances to verify that I was
listed...rightfully...as sole creator of the character.] The DC folks
weren't interested in having him draw the new series.

From the get-go, I'd told DC the second series would require a great deal
of research and a long development period...and they agreed to that when
the process began. At one point, Mark Bright was attached to the series,
but I don't believe he ever did more than design a costume which I never
used in the new series.

However, my respect for the abilities of both Von Eeden and Bright aside, I
knew Eddy Newell was the artist for the book from the first moment that I
saw his work. Eddy designed the new costume and ultimately crafted the
look of the book. If DC had wanted to give Eddy co-creator status, that
would have been fine with me.

Beyond the issues of how DC has treated me in all this, though, there is
another and far more important issue to consider.

If you don't consider the great Milestone Comics characters like ICON and
STATIC, and that certainly seems to be DC's policy, DC has only published
three ongoing super-hero comics whose title stars have been
African-Americans. Two of them, GREEN LANTERN and STEEL, were
continuations of or spinoffs of titles which starred white
characters. Only BLACK LIGHTNING was an original.

Only three black super-hero headliners in the entire history of DC Comics
and now one of them, almost as a "we need a shock to end this issue" easy
way out, had been turned into a cold-blooded murderer. That's an egregious
wrong that extends well beyond the wrongs done to the character and his

Given how public Tony Isabella has been about Black Lightning as a character and as a property, I think DC has a lot to answer for. We're all waiting, and will probably continue to do so.


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