Thursday, July 25, 2013

12 Questions with Tony Isabella

I know it's been a while since I have consitantly posted here but I am very proud to present to you an interview I did with legendary comic book writer/editor and creator of the ground breaking hero Black Lightning, Tony Isabella! Tony pulled no punches during the interview, which makes for quite and interesting read!
After the interveiw be sure to check out his blog at:

I was a longtime subscriber of Comics Buyer's Guide. You were a longtime contributor to CBG (which is infinitely cooler than subscriber by the way), so what is your fondest memory of your time there?
Probably when readers told me how much they liked something I had recommended and when comics creators told me my reviews had helped them in some way.  Of course, receiving literally hundreds of review copies every month didn't suck either.

Is there a character/concept that you created earlier in your career that didn't quite make the impact that you had hoped, that was possibly ahead of its time and you think would've succeeded in today's market?
War Is Hell predated Quantum Leap, so that would be one.  I was ahead of the curve with my original concept for the Champions as a super-hero buddy road trip starring just Iceman and the Angel.  But the one that hurts is Black Lightning, which has been adversely affected by DC's mismanagement of my creation since pretty near day one.  Not to mention DC's failure/refusal to honor their agreements with me.  Black Lightning was not a work-for-hire creation.

Would rather see Black Lightning get the Smallville/Arrow TV treatment or become part of DC's next push of film releases?
I would rather see Black Lightning entirely out of the hands of anyone from DC Entertainment.  I think it's pretty obvious DC does not understand or respect the character.

Do you see your controversial introduction of "The Friend" in your 70's Ghost Rider run opened the door for Miller's spin on Matt Murdoch's Catholic Guilt issues during Born Again arc?
I never considered that.  Guys of my comics industry generation who had been raised Roman Catholic often had issues and negative impressions of the Church.  I created "The Friend" because I felt there should be a Marvel Universe counterpart to Satan, but it was as much mythology as "religion."  Jim Starlin took a more satirical approach in Warlock.

What's the one character/issue/arc/idea you wish you could have a mulligan on?
Not really.  A writer's less-than-wonderful stories are part of the learning process.  That said, I wouldn't mind having another go at some earlier stories, mostly because I think I could write them better now than I did then.

What's the one idea you pushed for but were turned down that you still think should have been approved?
My afore-mentioned original concept for the Champions.

DC or Marvel, if you could only read one, who is it?

Is there any chance we'll see Justice Machine again?
An excellent chance...but not with me as the writer.  Some time back, JM creator Mike Gustovich sold the rights to the property to another writer who has his own and distinctly different vision of the characters.  I think the new owner is planning to relaunch the title in the near future.

Who is the most overrated character in all of comics? I mean I know it's Wolverine, but what do you think?
The Joker.  It defies logic that no one has put several bullets into his brain or otherwise dispatched him.  Since he always kills people whenever he's on the loose, every person who encounters him or who is in proximity to him could rightfully claim self-defense. And the person who killed him would never spend a day in jail for doing this.  Guaranteed.

I rank The Champions as one of my top three favorite team books ever. Where do you rank it personally in regards to your career?
Not as high as you, but I'm beginning to understand why so many fans love it.  It was not the book I pitched - Angel and Iceman as traveling heroes - and it wasn't the book I wanted it to be after the editors had their way with my original concept.  But there is some good stuff in the handful of issues I wrote and I may return to some of the core concepts in the future.

You're from the birth state of Superman. Did that have any impact on you at all when you decided to go into writing comic books?
 No. I didn't know I was from the birth state of Superman until after I had decided I wanted to write comic books when I grew up. That decision was inspired by Stan Lee.  I wanted to be Stan Lee.

If DC or Marvel gave you the keys to the kingdom and told you, you could write a mini or ongoing series for any character in their stable who would you pick and why?
At DC, it would be Black Lightning...if I could do it my way and without the editorial micro-managing in vogue there.  Just as I did in the 1990s, I would keep the essentials of the character and his history, but update him for the present.
At Marvel, it would be Ghost Rider Forever, a continuation of what I had been doing in the series when I left it and as if my finale hadn't been rewritten by Jim Shooter.  It wouldn't be a month-by-month continuation.  I'd do a few stories set in one period, then jump ahead to the next period in Johnny Blaze's life.
My second Marvel choice would be, believe it or not, the Mole Man.  I have an idea for something different with the character that I think would be fun.

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