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Bob Rozakis

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Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined

Title Page >> Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Afterword | Message Board

INTRODUCTION: "My Back Pages" (September 22, 2001)

The screen showed a nightmarish image of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, blasted by the insane hatred of Timothy McVeigh. It was 1995 and the nation grieved for the loss of so many innocent lives...and we asked ourselves what had led us to this moment of tragedy...and what we could do to make certain we would never face another such moment.

The screen showed a nightmarish image of high school students fleeing for the lives from the insane hatred of two of their own. It was 1999 and we again grieved for the loss of so many innocent lives...and again asked ourselves what had led us to this moment of tragedy...and what we could do to make certain we would never face another such moment.

The screen showed nightmarish images...plural...of once-proud towers leveled to the ground, a gaping wound in the mighty armor of the Pentagon, and a debris-strewn field in Pennsylvania. It's 2001 and we are grieving on an almost unimaginable scale and asking the questions we have asked so many times before.

I didn't have the answers in 1995 or 1999. I don't have the answers today. What I have is a passion for heroes, both real and imagined, and the conviction that, in the examination of courage, in the advocacy of that which is most noble within the human soul, in these things lie the answers to our questions and our only true hope for tomorrow.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I have been receiving a steady stream of requests that the following columns be made available online once again. They were originally written for COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE and subsequently posted here at WORLD FAMOUS COMICS.

Those making the requests have expressed the sentiment that, in this new time of tragedy, these columns might offer some insight and inspiration to themselves and others. It would be presumptuous of me to assume any such power for my years-old words. But how, in a time such as this, a time when we must do whatever we can for one another, could I refuse their requests?

The first four columns were written prior to the Oklahoma City bombing; they were part of a planned five-part series interrupted by that horrendous event. The fifth column discussed the bombing directly and the sixth concluded the series.

These six columns were written in 1995. I had been fired from my Black Lightning series, but, because I was so far ahead on the title at the time of my unjust dismissal, my issues would continue to come out for many months. I was, and, to some extent, remain, bitter about that situation, but, when writing what became known as my "heroes" series, I did my best to keep my anger from clouding my presentation. In truth, DC Comics was no more guilty of the ill-advised darkening of their heroes than Marvel or other competitors; their characters simply had more visibility.

No present-day reader should assume that what was true in 1995 remains true today...or that it does not. The concerns which I had in 1995 are concerns which remain with me today. The characters, creators, and editors may (or may not) have changed since then, but the attitudes I found so alarming are as commonplace in the comics industry today as they were six years ago.

The seventh and final column presented in this special section was written following the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. Although I never keep strict track of such things--no writer should put too much stock in his fan mail--I believe it may have received more favorable reader response than any other column I've written. It was even reprinted, with my permission, in the newsletter of a Indiana church; the minister thought it might benefit his troubled parishioners in the aftermath of the shootings.

I would be lying if I denied that I am proud of these columns and gratified by the continued interest in them. It's my intention to keep them online, in this special corner of World Famous Comics, for as long as anyone wishes to read them.

I thank my CBG editors for giving me the opportunity to write about such things. I thank my readers for their continuous support of my efforts. And I thank Justin, our wondrous wizard of the web, for giving my writings a life beyond the printed page.

God bless all the peoples of the world. Hug your loved ones as often as you can. Embrace the hero within you.

Tony Isabella

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board.

    Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined

    Introduction
    "My Back Pages" (September 22, 2001)

    Part One
    "My Heroes Have Always Been Heroes" (March 24, 1995)

    Part Two
    "There Are Heroes Among Us" (April 5, 1995)

    Part Three
    "Heroes and Hope" (April 10, 1995)

    Part Four
    "Crisis of Faith" (April 19, 1995)

    Part Five
    "Oklahoma City" (April 26, 1995)

    Part Six
    "Making It Right" (May 16, 1995)

    Part Seven
    "Columbine High School" (May 4, 1999)

    Afterword
    "Unfinished Business" (September 23, 2001)

Title Page >> Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Afterword | Message Board





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