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Gerry Conway Dishes on the Creation of Black Lightning

black_lightning1News broke recently that Greg Berlanti was working on a Black Lightning television show. Today it’s reported that the show has been picked up by Fox. That seems to have prompted comic legend Gerry Conway to Tweet out some history about the character.

Debuting in 1977 at DC Comics, the character’s creators are credited as Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden. But Conway indicates that’s not the whole story and that Bob Kanigher deserves some credit as well. Kanigher is primarily known as the creator of Sgt. Rock.

Isabella took exception to some of Conway’s recollections responding on Twitter:


Conway has made further updates and a retraction on his Tumblr:

Open Mouth, Insert Foot, Part Infinity

For what it’s worth (since I can’t seem to comment directly on Tony Isabella’s Facebook post, I’ll post my response to it here) I’m perfectly willing to admit my memory of events is faulty. I constantly am asked questions about things that I wrote forty to fifty years ago and I’m often embarrassed to admit I don’t remember. I wrote a lot of stuff, did a lot of stuff, offended a lot of people, and hopefully supported many others. One fact I am sure about, is that memory is fungible and affected by many factors. Honestly, my memory of the sequence of events is different from Tony’s, but given his firm adherence to his version, I accept it totally and offer my apologies. Rather than diminish Tony’s work (though that was the outcome) I simply wanted to acknowledge Bob Kanigher’s. In my memory there was more of a direct connection between Kanigher’s creation (which we backed away from as soon as he delivered those first scripts, and tried to fix but absolutely couldn’t) and the Black Lightning that came after. I feel protective of the older forgotten writers of the 60s, especially Kanigher, who was treated horribly by DC at the time (though no worse than Bill Finger, Gardner Fox, and Bob Haney) when the company replaced them with a new generation of writers like me. In my desire to gain justice for Bob I did a major injustice to Tony. Obviously I was wrong. Sorry, Tony.

And the Isabell responded:

I thank Gerry for his retraction and his apology.

I consider the matter closed and ask my friends here to do the same.