Monday, July 2, 2012

And The Winner Should Be...

Though its been around since 2005, I did not know about the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing until I heard the news that my old friend Steve Skeates is one of this year's honorees.  Now that I do, I'm glad that such an award exists.  Its long past time that the comics industry got around to acknowledging the tireless workhorses who gave their lives to an artform they loved for little pay and, in many cases, no credit, forming the backbone that has supported the industry for eight decades.  Too often, their only "reward" was to be pushed aside when it was deemed they had grown too old in favor of younger talent willing to work for less money, or blacklisted for having the temerity to meekly ask for fair and proper compensation for their work or maybe some benefits from the giant corporations profiting by their labors.  
Its kind of a shame that there has to be a posthumous component to the award.   It would have been nice to see men such as Gardner Fox, John Broome, and Bob Haney given their due during their lifetimes.
I wonder if Mark Evanier and his selection committee might be open to suggestions for future recipients of the Finger.  Regardless, I have one.  Actually, I have several.  But the very first name that lept to mind when I heard about the award was Tony Isabella.  He's the ideal candidate for this prize.  It almost seems as if the Finger Award were created with him in mind.  Though if it were, he'd probably have won it by now.
Best known as the creator of Black Lightning, Tony's accomplishments in comics are many and varied.  In four decades, he has been involved with all aspects of the industry, both on the creative side, as an editor and writer of and about comics, and on the retail end, as owner of his own comics shop for many years.   In addition to Black Lightning, Tony's writing credits range from Black Goliath, Ghost Rider, The Incredible Hulk, The Champions, Daredevil,  and many, many others for Marvel, to Green Arrow, Hawkman, and Star Trek and others at DC, to Comico's Justice Machine, to Satan's Six with Topps Comics, to The Grim Ghost for the revived Atlas Comics.  A more complete list of Tony's comics work can be found here.  He is also the author of the book 1000 Comic Books You Must Read.  You can read Tony's latest writing at his blog.
Another one of the funniest things I have ever read in a comic book is the opening line of Welcome Back, Kotter #3.  While the line has stuck in my mind for thirty-five years and still cracks me up every time I think of it, I do not , unfortunately, currently own a copy of that issue.  Therefore, I'll be quoting it from memory and might not get it exactly right.  However, it goes something like this: "There are a million stories in the Naked City.  There are almost as many in Brooklyn, but here we keep our clothes on.  It makes it easier to conceal weapons that way."  I was eleven years old when I read that and I didn't pay too much attention to who created the comics I read.  Thus it was only recently, while researching my post about Welcome Back, Kotter, that I learned that issue, and that joke, was written by none other than Tony Isabella.
Of course, once I put my mind to it, it wasn't hard to come up with a list of other writers, both living and dead, who deserve the recognition of their peers and comics readers.   Below are just a few of them:
I'm sure all of you can think of long time comics creators also worthy of some overdue recognition.   Why don't you share some of those names with me and my other readers in the comments section?

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