Trevor Von Eeden and Christopher Priest

Once in a while, I get nostalgic for the heyday of comics journalism, when magazines like The Comics Journal, Comics Interview, and Amazing Heroes were being published regularly. There’s not much left in the way of (print) comic book journalism, though TwoMorrows publishes some interesting stuff.

Some good interviews show up on the web now and then, though. For instance, I recently came across good interviews with Trevor Von Eeden and Christopher Priest. Von Eeden and Priest are both black, and they were both working in mainstream comics at a time when comics writers, artists, and editors were almost exclusively white men. So their perspective on the culture at Marvel and DC in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s is interesting.

I was a big fan of Von Eeden’s work at DC in the 80s, particularly Thriller and his Green Arrow mini-series. (In fact, I own a page of original art from that Green Arrow series.) At the time, I didn’t really know much about the creators working on the comics I read, so I didn’t even know that Von Eeden was black. I just knew he was good. And I really didn’t know what happened to him after he stopped working for DC. I just assumed that he (like many comics creators) moved into another field, like animation or commercial art or something.

I never read the original Black Lightning run by Tony Isabella and Von Eeden. I’ve followed Isabella for years (mostly via his writing for CBG and his blog), so I knew about Black Lightning from Isabella’s perspective. That whole situation seems to be a mess, and I don’t really have any particular opinion on it, but I’m curious about the series. I see that it’s now been reprinted in a trade paperback (see here and here for some info from Tony). So it’s great that there’s a collection out, and that Isabella and Von Eeden will both get some money out of it. (I should probably buy a copy.)

I’ve been aware of Christopher Priest’s work on and off, without ever really following him closely. I was aware of his name change from Jim Owsley to Christopher Priest, but had no idea why he’d changed his name. (And I guess I still don’t, though it doesn’t particularly bother me.) I knew that his work on Black Panther was popular and held in high regard, but I’ve never gotten around to reading it myself.

His observations on the Marvel bullpen in the 80s, under Jim Shooter, are interesting. Most of the stuff I’ve read about Shooter’s editorial tenure at Marvel is pretty negative, but Priest casts him in a different light. And his anecdote about being the first guy at Marvel with an answering machine and a PC, and how he paid for that PC, is entertaining. I guess he was ahead of his time on that (and/or Marvel was really behind the times).

So now I’m thinking about maybe picking up some of his Black Panther run. I need to be careful reading all these interviews, or I’m going to wind up with an empty wallet and a huge stack of trade paperbacks that I’m never going to have time to read!

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