Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Black Lightning co-creator hopes TV series will be 'big success' (Cary's Comics Craze exclusive interview)

Artist Trevor Von Eeden, who co-created Black Lightning, said he hopes the CW TV series "becomes a big success."

The second episode of "Black Lightning" airs at 9 p.m. EST tonight.
Artist Trevor Von Eeden (left) and Cary's Comics Craze blogger
Cary Ashby are all smiles for a photo taken Nov. 4, 2017
at the Akron Comicon.
CARY'S COMICS CRAZE file photo

Von Eeden, in an exclusive interview with Cary's Comics Craze, isn't afraid to say why Jefferson Pierce's Black Lightning deserves to be a role model — especially for the younger African-American community. (NOTE: This is the first in a CCC interview series with Von Eeden about Black Lightning. The following emphasized words and phrases are the artist's, but have been lowercased.)

"I do sincerely hope that the show is well-done and becomes a big success — for the sake of the millions/billions of young, black children all over the world, who deserve a good, black superhero role model in the 21st century — especially now that an unabashed, unrepentant, rich and powerful white supremacist holds the title of President of the United States of America," Von Eeden said via email.

"Anything's preferable to yet another safe, shallow, sanitized, corporate-designed 'superhero,' to be honest. A basic, and oft-overlooked truth of comics is that superheroes are supposed to please and represent the child in every (hu)man — not the businessman in every fan! There's a huge difference between the two."

Black Lightning made his first appearance in BLACK LIGHTNING No. 1. DC Comics published the issue in April 1977, giving the company its first black superhero.

Von Eeden found out retroactively he had been credited as Black Lightning's co-creator.

"Black Lightning coming to TV means nothing to me, personally," he said.

"I didn't create the character, only helped make him popular by co-designing his original costume (along with Tony Isabella and Jack C. Harris) and drawing his debut series. Some time after the series had ended, I was informed by DC Comics that I was a co-creator of the character because I designed his costume and drew his debut run. That's the extent of my knowledge of any behind-the-scenes situations, decisions or deeds concering BL."

Isabella was one of the featured artists Nov. 4 at the Akron Comicon, where CCC blogger and webmaster Cary Ashby met Von Eeden. Isabella and Von Eeden's tables were next to each other at the Ohio comic-book convention.

"For a long while, Tony — who was undergoing his own problems with DC — thought that I was somehow complicit in their decision to allocate me co-creator status and voiced his resentment publicly until I informed him directly of the above. Tony has since mended his relations with BL's parent company; he has no problems with me and no — I was never contacted by anyone re: the upcoming BL TV show, nor about drawing the current BL comics series," Von Eeden said.

Come back to CCC for the next installment of this interview series with Trevor Von Eeden. 

Next up, he shares how he co-created Black Lightning after he "wandered in" DC's Manhattan offices while the company "was coincidentally discussing the creation of their very first original black superhero." Also, Von Eeden talks about being a guest penciller on BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS (reviewed here by CCC), which featured Black Lightning as a team member.

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