Tony Isabella: Library Champion


Last week, I had the remarkable pleasure of eating barbecue with
esteemed comic book writer, artist, blogger, fellow Godzilla fanatic, and more, Tony Isabella. Tony has
been everywhere (DC, Marvel, independent publishers, etc) and he was writing
comics during a time of incredible transition: a transition that he was a
pioneer in pushing. Tony was a social justice warrior before it was cool and
helped add some prominent characters of color when such a thing was virtually
unthinkable to most. Two of his characters, Black Lightning and Misty Knight,
are heading to your TV via Netflix and Fox, and Tony has been receiving the
star treatment from Marvel and DC…which has not always been the case.

Tony shared his excitement of what is developing for him with
me, and it was thrilling. He is hard at work on a brand new Black Lightning
comic book, so keep your peepers peeled for that, and he’s been enjoying
creator insight into the new shows featuring his characters. He even brought me
TWO signed copies of the Black Lightning trade paperback, and it is such a
treat. What I want to share with you, though, is how this powerful comic book
writer with his powerful connections is also a powerful supporter of libraries.

Tony lives in the county where I work, and has been a loyal
patron of my new library for decades. He raised his kids in this library
system. He has been an ardent supporter of the library and libraries in
general. He has supported every levy, he comes to the programs, he circulates
the materials…all the ways a person can support a library…he does it. Hell, he’s
even let the library know when the library did something he didn’t like, which
is also very important. Yes, it is.

I really wish all comic book creators were so vocally
supportive of libraries. Libraries are often forgotten in conversations among
the comics community, though that is definitely improving. Comic book creators
(and especially comic companies) need to remember that countless Americans
discover comics for the first time at libraries, getting them hooked. Some
comic readers hit hard times and can’t afford their comics anymore, but they
are able to keep current by reading their favorite comics at libraries for
free, preventing them suffering a gap, and allowing them to easily return to
the comic shops once their financial situations improve. Comic savvy librarians
use their readers’ advisory skills to bring comics to patrons who would never
have picked up a comic book before.

So, please, comic book creators out there…remember
libraries. Remember librarians. Visit your libraries. Support your libraries in
every possible way you can. And be loud and be seen doing so.