Today’s Guest: Tony Isabella, comic book writer, creator, “Black Lightning”
Watch this exclusive Mr. Media interview with Tony Isabella by clicking on the video player above!
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience full of equally deserving, veteran comic book creators who hope Marvel and DC will eventually bring creator rights mea culpas and a big ol’ bag of cash to their doors soon enough … in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
Comic book writer Tony Isabella unleashed Black Lightning on DC Comics readers in 1977. Marvel had its “Hero For Hire,” Luke Cage, and Isabella responded by giving the world the electrifying superhero whose alter ego is Jefferson Pierce.
The character carried his own book for a time, eventually forming The Outsiders and becoming a member of the Justice League of America.
Isabella, who also created “Black Goliath” for Marvel and wrote episodes of “Luke Cage/Power Man,” is a comics veteran who was essentially blackballed out of the industry for many years when he demanded credit and compensation from DC for creating Black Lightning.
TONY ISABELLA podcast excerpt: “We’re reaching people who have not been reached before. The young gay woman who sees ‘Thunder’ on ‘Black Lightning…’ We are inviting these people who traditionally been treated as outsiders, making them feel welcome in our world. That’s as important as the bottom line of these movies and TV shows and comic books. We are pushing the bar for diversity and inclusion much higher. Comic books have almost always been progressive and liberal. The alt-right and Nazi movement can bitch about that all they want, but that’ the case.”
Until The CW committed to adding an African-American hero to its burgeoning roster of DC-based TV series, Isabella’s demands were ignored. On March 27, 2017—a year to the day we recorded this interview—Warner Bros., parent company of DC, finally decided to recognize Isabella’s role as creator of Black Lightning with production royalties and on-screen credit. And DC Comics invited him back to write a new “Black Lightning” 6-part limited series, “Cold Dead Hands,” as part of the TV launch.
If you haven’t seen it, “Black Lightning”—the TV series—is remarkably well-done. It features a primarily African-American cast with deep backstories, sharp writing and emotional character arcs. And it looks great, too.
This is Isabella’s second visit to Mr. Media. He first joined us in 2010 to talk about his book, 1,000 Comic Books You Must Read.