Friday, May 24, 2024

EUR EXCLUSIVE with Arvell Jones: The Man Responsible For the Dawn of ‘Knight’

Simone Missick ‏, arvell jones
via @SimoneMissick

*With Simone Missick one of the headliners at this weekend’s Wizard World New Orleans 2019 this weekend, the man responsible for the character that has made her a household name will also be in attendance.

Yes, Arvell Jones is hitting The Crescent City. The 66-year-old artist is finally getting some long overdue recognition for co-creating the comic book heroine Misty Knight with writer Tony Isabella almost 44 years ago, thanks to Missick’s portrayal of the character on the Netflix shows “Luke Cage”, “The Defenders” and “Iron Fist”.

“I’ve  seen them all, even before they were going to bring in the Misty Knight characters to the shows,” said Jones to EURweb in an exclusive interview. “As a kid, I always wanted to see live-action shows like that, so I’m elated they’re now a reality.”

Jones said he has received gratitude from Missick for creating the first major black heroine for Marvel Comics – a character that would appear 2 months before X-Man Storm.

“We had a very small exchange on the red carpet,” said Jones. “She thanked me for creating the character. Before that, I had seen a tweet from her thanking me and that was reward enough.”

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“It’s funny, because Simone and my niece went to school together and I just remarked to her how closely related people become from the same town.”

Ironically, Jones said that he and Isabella – who also created the character Black Lightning for DC Comics – had some big arguments over how the character should look, what her powers should be and what her motivations should be.

“I actually created the character that became Misty Knight,” said Jones. As Tony and I discussed it,  the origin was largely the same. She would still be caught in a bomb blast that would damage her limbs and require prosthetics.”

“However, I envisioned her having two replacement arms that you could program – she was like ”The Bionic Woman” or “The Six Million Dollar Man”. So, I sent my original character bible to Tony and he said he only wanted her to have a bionic hand.”

“I realized that if I wanted to make the first black female superhero a reality, to make that happen, we would have to come to a compromise,” Jones continued. “So, in the end we gave her one bionic arm. But I was determined to keep the name Misty Knight. He let me keep the name.”

So now, of the thousands of characters in the Marvel Comics library, Misty Knight has kept a constant presence in print – and now has TV shows taking her popularity to new heights with the general public.

“She’s like a wayward daughter,” Jones said laughing. Ï had certain hopes and dreams for her, but at the end of the day I don’t own her. I don’t necessarily agree with every adventure she’s in, but in a way I’m amazed with how close to the original Bible that Marvel has kept her.”

“I was even looking at ‘Luke Cage’ and the showrunner asked me, ‘How do you like what I did with your baby?’ and I was actually very pleased.”

Jones laughs when asked if he would like to do a Stan Lee-type cameo one day if Misty Knight continues in live-action (the three shows she has appeared in are not producing new episodes for Netflix.

“You know, I never even thought about that”, he laughs. Ï guess it would be kind of fun, depending on what it was.”

So Jones is finally receiving the recognition he deserves for creating a character that has stood the test of time and been inspirational to many – especially black women. Yet he remains humble.

“We just had fun back then, collaborating and creating characters just for the sake of doing comics, but I always had it in the back of my head what these characters would look like in live-action”, he said.

Jones also had a hand in Milestone Comics, a line that featured black creators telling stories with black leads, in the 1990s. He is credited with creating the character Kobalt for that line.

“So much of that was planned ahead of time”, said Jones. “It was very ambitious. We were trying to create this new universe and there really was a lot to overcome.” With the red-hot popularity of superhero movies and the enormous, global success of ‘Black Panther’, there are rumors Warner Brothers may mine the Milestone characters for a fresh batch of films.

“I haven’t heard anything about that”, said Jones. “But that would be fun to explore and keep things fresh and add to diversity. I’m amazed that Marvel and DC and even the independents have so many characters they can use. Look at ‘Men In Black’. That was a small comic and got turned into a franchise that helped make Will Smith a movie star.”

Jones says there is still a part of Misty Knight’s origin he would love to reveal. For him, this weekend is not about overdue adulation, but what drives every talented creator.

“I enjoy telling a good story,” he said. “If I could have directed, starred and produced movies without having to raise all that money, I’d have done that. I just enjoy seeing what everyone else is doing and enjoying my fans and my people, who enjoy the idea of the fantastic.”

“Maybe I’ll find another project I’d like to be a part of.”

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