Tony Isabella Speaks About DC’s Upcoming ‘Black Lightning’ Paperback: ‘Let’s Just Call It A Good Start’
If you're the kind of person who keeps an eye on Amazon to see what paperbacks and hardcovers are coming out before they get their official solicitations, then you might have noticed that DC has a collection of the original 1977 Black Lightning series on the schedule for next spring. And, if you're the kind of person who's been keeping up with Tony Isabella, the writer who originated Black Lightning (with design input from Trevor von Eden, Bob Rozakis and Joe Orlando), that might be a little surprising.
Isabella has had a pretty rocky relationship with DC over the past twenty years, and a big sticking point has been the lack of a reprint for either the original series or Isabella's return to the character in the mid-'90s. Now it seems like things are starting to work out. In response to the announcement of the paperback, Isabella has written about recent interactions with DC, and refers to their discussions as "a good start."
Isabella posted the full statement on his blog today, and it's well worth a read, but one of his key points involves a change in how he was treated:
Geoff [Johns] wanted to talk about Black Lightning and my dissatisfaction with my decades-unpleasant relationship with DC Comics. Just as I always have, Geoff sees a lot of potential in my finest creation. It’s a potential the previous DC management clearly never saw. We talked about what it would take to make things right between me and DC so that Geoff could, in good conscience, consider developing the character in this bigger-than-1976-or-even-1995 new comics world.
That conversation will remain private for now. Let’s just call it a good start. It was the first time in two decades a DC executive didn’t speak to me like I was a child or insane.
The conversation with Isabella comes not too long after Gerry Conway, creator of Firestorm and Killer Frost, among other characters, wrote about similar frustrations with his treatment as a creator, and later issued an apology fter a conversation with DC's management. Whether there's a connection there or just a coincidence, it's nice to see the company reaching out to important creators from comics history who haven't felt fairly treated in the past.
Update: An earlier version of this article credited Isabella as co-creator of Black Lightning; a position that Isabella disputes.