Saturday, March 17, 2018


Time travel alert! The Wayback Machine has been set for Wednesday, August 9, 2017.

Marvel Comics invited me to New York for a special screening of its Defenders series, scheduled to be released on Netflix on Friday, August 18. Misty Knight, who I co-created with artist Arvell Jones during our brief 1970s stint on Iron Fist, would be featured on the series. For that reason and because I’m as big a Marvel fan as the next fan, I accepted the invitation readily.

Even though I’ve done all of my most recent comic-book writing for DC Comics, I remain on excellent terms with Marvel. I’ve written introductions for a number of Masterworks and Omnibus editions. Marvel always kept its agreements with me and I’m still thrilled to be associated with them, even in small ways.

Because I wanted to give myself a relaxing mini-vacation, I flew in a couple days early. This would let me meet up with some dear old friends and wander my old NYC neighborhood a bit. Back in the day, I lived in a somewhat seedy (and boarding on sleazy) hotel so close to Times Square I could see the Great White Way from my penthouse rooftop. Don’t be too impressed by the “penthouse” description of my apartment. It was a one-bedroom apartment that was a penthouse only by virtue of it being on the rooftop of the hotel.

Living in that apartment was an exciting adventure up to the point where I got mugged in it. I’d come home from an evening out with a lady friend to find that two men had broken into the place and were still there. I scored a few punches to good effect, but mostly got the crap beat out of me. I’ll tell you more about the hotel and my time in New York when I get around to writing my memoirs of sorts. To sum up, the hotel and surrounding buildings were torn down and a Crowne Plaza hotel stands there today.
As I had done when I came to New York for the premiere of the Luke Cage show, I stayed at the Econo Lodge Times Square on West 47th at 8th Avenue. The rooms are really tiny, but it’s a decent place with a decent continental breakfast in a neighborhood that, though much changed from when I lived nearby, I knew well.

After spending decades in the way too Republican and way too white Medina, it was a joy to be able to walk a block and hear several different languages and inhale the smell of trucks offering food from just as many cultures. I needed (and still need) more color in my life. Once Sainted Wife Barb retires, I want to move somewhere that fills that need for me. Unfortunately, unless I see some huge, ongoing cash from the Black Lightning TV show, I could never afford to live in my old neighborhood. Sigh.

My Wednesday night dinner partner was Jim Salicrup, editor-in-chief at Papercutz. Jim and I go back decades. In 1972, he was one of the first to welcome me when I started work at Marvel in 1972. We had dinner at the terrific Virgil’s Real BBQ restaurant on West 44th. One of the best things about my old stomping grounds is that there are more great restaurants than I could possibly eat at even if I stayed for a year.

From Virgil’s, we went to Midtown Comics at Times Square. It was my first visit to the landmark comic-book store, which is one flight up from the street and occupies two huge floors packed with all sorts of comic books, graphic novels and related items. I managed to resist buying all sorts of the above, but it was a close thing that took all my will power. It’s a great place and - hint, hint - I would love to do a signing there sometime. Whatever it would cost Midtown to bring me out there for a signing, the store would likely get back from me as a customer.

We wandered to Bryant Park and continued to chat about comics and old friends and such. Jim is one of my favorite people and I wish we could see each other more often.

When my Thursday lunch plans fell through, I took a stroll that led me to the Hard Rock Café. I had a good lunch with a side order of conversation, courtesy of actress/waitress Olivia. It was slow at the restaurant, so we talked about our respective careers. It was a good way to kill an hour or so.

From there, I went to the AMC 25 to see Atomic Blonde, a movie I’d wanted to see but which had left my local theater before I got the chance to see it. Based on the Oni Press graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston with illustrator Sam Hart, the Cold War-era thriller was directed by David Leitch and starred  Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman and Sofia Boutella. Here’s the quickie synopsis from the Internet Movie Database:

An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

The movie was...okay. More action-oriented than the graphic novel, the action was where the film was most entertaining. Director Leitch didn’t make as good a use of the exotic settings as he could have. The twists and turns in the plot often slowed down the film. The acting, save for Theron and Boutella, didn’t impress me. Still, I think the movie is worth seeing just for the action scenes.

I was actually more impressed by the theater itself. Six stories of  screening rooms. Comfortable seating. A snack bar on every floor, though only two were open that afternoon. I can’t say Atomic Blonde was worth the $13.29 price of my ticket but I was impressed enough by the AMC 25 itself that I hoped to see another movie there before I flew back to Medina on Saturday.

Thursday dinner was another wonderful time. I visited Larry Lieber, the legendary Marvel writer and artist, at his apartment. We went to The Three Star on First, one of the neighborhood eateries for another terrific meal.

Larry is another of my favorite comics folks. We became friends and worked together while I was on staff at Marvel. While a freelancer, I did some work for him at the 1970s incarnation of Atlas Comics. We’ve kept in touch as much as possible, but this was the most time we’d spent together in decades.

What didn’t we talked about that evening? Larry told me about his life since we’d last met, the novel he was writing, a short story he did write which might be one of the most moving romance stories of all time and his penciling the syndicated Spider-Man newspaper strip. At 87, Larry is as creative, fun and interesting as he ever was. Like his brother Stan Lee, he was and remains an inspiration to me. I’ll see him again later this year.

Friday morning saw me rise early to stroll my old neighborhood. Gone is the seen-better-days hotel I once lived in, replaced by a huge Crowne Plaza Hotel. Most of the street I lived on has changed. The gigantic Sam Goody where I bought so many albums is gone, but the Eugene O’Neil Theater - owned by writer Neil Simon - is still going strong. Much to my surprise, a second theater is now across the street from it.

One of my favorite New York moments of the trip was seeing the trio of t-shirts pictured above. There were in the display window of one of those quintessential Times Square souvenir shops, just around the corner from the Econo Lodge. I was sorely tempted to buy the third shirt because it literally made me laugh out loud. I passed when I realized I couldn’t even wear it in my own house without upsetting Sainted Wife Barb, who thinks I’m way too antisocial even without advertising the sentiment.

I flagged down a cab and headed to the ABC Building on West 66th. My destination: the special screening of The Defenders that was my reason for this trip. I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about that screening and rest of my time in New York.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, March 16, 2018


For those of you just joining us...


My name is Tony Isabella. I do not own a mansion and a yacht, but, I would love to own a mansion. Especially if it comes with a wacky yet endearing staff.


I am a going-on-46-year veteran of the comic-book industry. I’m the creator and writer of Black Lightning, co-creator of Misty Knight and Tigra, and a writer of Captain America, Champions, Daredevil, Dracula, Ghost Rider, Grim Ghost, Hawkman, Iron Fist, the Living Mummy, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Star Trek and many others.

Like Superman, I was born in Cleveland, Ohio.  I was an editor and writer at Marvel Comics and other publishers. At DC Comics, I created Black Lightning, the company’s first prominent African-American super-hero.  I co-wrote the prose novels Captain America: Liberty’s Torch and Star Trek: The Case of the Colonist’s Corpse. I’m the author of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read, one of the most successful books of comics history and nostalgia ever, and the odd-but-strangely-wondrous July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume 1.  I was the lead reviewer and also a contributing editor of Comics Buyer’s Guide for over two decades.  I was a comics retailer and distributor for twelve years. I have  been a ghost-writer for several syndicated newspaper comics strips. I received the Inkpot Award at the 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego and a Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. Cleveland Magazine named me one of that city’s most interesting people of 2018.

My most recent comics work is the six-issue Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, marking my return to my creation. I write the mostly daily “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing” and the weekly “Tony’s Tips” review column. I lecture at colleges and such on comics history, comics writing and diversity in comics.  While developing several new projects for comics, movies and more, I am writing books that include both a “memoir-of-sorts” and compilations of my writings on comic books and his beloved B-movie monsters.

Perhaps most notable...Black Lightning is now a weekly, live-action series on the CW. The show has drawn much of its inspiration from my comic-book work on the character.

I have heard of something called “retirement,” but it is an alien concept. I live in Medina, Ohio with my pharmacist wife Barbara. Our all-grown-up children are Ed and Kelly; Ed is a professional engineer and Kelly is a credit card fraud analyst. I have a cat named Simba. Except for the cat, they all have much better and saner jobs than I have. The cat doesn’t need a job. She has me.


If you’d like to see me at a comics convention or some other event,
here’s my schedule for the remainder of 2018.

March 24: Cleveland Public Library Coffee and Comics

April 27-29: East Coast Comicon

May 5: Toys Time Forgot (FCBD)

May 18-19: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

June 8-10: Fingerlakes Comic Con

July 13-15: G-Fest

August 17-18: TerrifiCon (Connecticut)

August 19: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted)

September 8-9: Hall of Heroes Museum

September 28-30: Baltimore Comic Con

November 3-4: Akron Comicon

November 9-11: Grand Rapids Comic Con

November 17-18: Great American Comic Convention (Las Vegas)

To answer a FAQ, I am not adverse to adding events to my schedule. We’ll talk about that in a minute.

To answer another FAQ, I won’t be at that convention you would like me to be at because either I haven’t been invited to it or because the event was unable/unwilling to meet my requirements for being a guest at said event.

To answer yet another FAQ, I’m not currently planning to attend San Diego’s Comic-Con International. That’s an expensive event for me to attend and I can only attend when either the convention itself or one of my clients covers my expenses.


Why not?


If you would like to have me as a guest at your convention or other event, you must invite me and meet my requirements for appearing at your event. Though I’ve made exceptions in the past and will make them for a small number of shows dear to my heart, my requirements do include hotel expenses, travel expenses, sufficient table space and placement for me to sell and sign items, per diem for food and incidentals and an appearance fee. I am a great date, but I am not a cheap date. I don’t think I’m a terribly expensive date, but every convention or event promoter has to figure out if I can fit into their budget.

Many conventions have a problem with paying comics guests. Some of those have no qualms about laying out cash for some minor movie or TV actor. I cast no aspersions on their business models, but I do believe that paying comics creators will be standard business practice in a few more years.

If a convention or event meets my requirements, I will appear on up to two panels a day if they are not back to back. I will promote my appearance and their event on my social media. I will be available if their local print newspaper, radio station or TV station wants to do an interview. Most importantly, I will not charge the fans for my signature on their Isabella-written items.

If you are a publisher or filmmaker who wants me to write for you, you should contact me with as many details as you feel comfortable revealing to me. I am not looking for “back-end deals” that may or may not pay off on that back end. I have a great many projects of my own that I can work on and that likewise have no guarantee of a payday. I only put those aside for the paying gigs.

If you are a convention/event promoter or a client looking to hire me for a project, the best way to contact me is via e-mail. I will respond to your e-mail as swiftly as possible.

If “How are you still around?” is the question you want to ask, I can only repeat what I’ve told fans and fellow comics creators when they’ve asked that.

I’m still around because I refused to go away despite the efforts of several disreputable comics industry people and despite my two decades of struggle against their breaking of agreements and their slanderous comments. I kept writing and getting paid for what I was writing, even if my name wasn’t on it. I kept a visible presence on the Internet. I wouldn’t go away.

Thanks for indulging me today. From time to time, I find it useful and necessary to post something like today’s bloggy thing. I’ll be back tomorrow with something that’s hopefully a lot more fun than what I wrote today. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Michael Ryan, Ph.D, who is the head vertebrate paleontologist at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, contacted me a while back in the hope I could help him locate the houses where legendary Batman artist Dick Sprang lived in Fremont, Ohio. With the help of some comics history geniuses, I was able to provide Michael with the addresses.

Michael visited these houses with a friend. Michael has hopes that Fremont will honor Sprang in the future, but, for now, I'm not including the addresses of these houses.

My planned bloggy thing report on my August 2017 trip to New York for a special screening of the Defenders series on Netflix is still in the works. I put it aside because I had other pressing matters to deal with and because I wasn't thrilled with how it was coming out. I'll get back to it as soon as those pressing matters are dealt with. Thanks for your patience.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


RESOLVED: The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  This is why I’ve written over a hundred columns about him. Something about his short stature, but large courage, honor and fighting skills speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I decide to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them. We’ve reached the title’s extended twilight.  We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the now-bimonthly reprint series. This is the 137th installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.

The Rawhide Kid #150 [March 1979] has a new cover by Tony DeZuniga. This is the next-to-last issue of the long-running title. Which is, at least, going out with some spiffy new covers by some of Marvel’s top artists.

The issue reprints “The Gun and the Arrow!” (14 pages) from Rawhide Kid #98 [April 1972]. The cover to that issue was pencilled by Larry Lieber and inked by Bill Everett. The story was written and pencilled by Larry Lieber with inks by George Roussos. I wrote about this story on August 24, 2016. You can read that column here.

The inside front cover is an ad for Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the 1978 remake of the 1956 movie. There were two other remakes and a fourth is currently in development. The original movie scared the crap out of me. I watched it in the auditorium of Sts. Phillip and James Church and School.

The Church would show movies on Sunday afternoon to give parents a break from their kids and make a few bucks selling tickets, candy and popcorn. The original concept was to present good and wholesome films. We kids didn’t want to see those. So, slowly but surely, the movies changed from various inspirational tales of folks overcoming adversity with faith and such to thrillers in which science dealt (or tried to deal with) adversaries like Gorgo, the Giant Behemoth, Martians declaring war on our world and alien pod people. Now that was how to spend a Sunday afternoon!

There were two-and-a-half pages of classified ads and a smattering of half-page ads recruiting readers to sell cheap crap of one kind or another or cutting out the middleman and selling directly to those readers. Several full-page ads offered more novelty items, celebrity posters, toy soldiers, even more novelty items and more opportunities to make money selling stuff.

Comics fandom was growing and there were 28 ads for comics retail, up three from the previous issue. There was also an ad offering 3 mil comics storage bags at three bucks per hundred.

A full-page house ad touted the new Shogun Warriors title by writer Doug Moench and artist Herb Trimpe.

Heroes World had its usual full-page pitch. They offered Battlestar Galactic items and Marvel super-hero stuff.

The usual full-page Marvel subscription ad was updated with a new drawing by Marie Severin. If you subscribed to any two titles, you also got a Spider-Man marking pen.

Pizzazz was represented by the same full-page ad that had blandly been pitching the magazine for several issues.

New to this issue was a half-page ad combining a pitch for all five Spider-Man comics - “America’s Number One Super-Hero” - with useful information on Marvel’s subscription service.

The launch of Power Man and Iron Fist, which kept the numbering from Luke Cage’s now-cancelled solo series, got the full-page house ad treatment as well. I guess combining the two titles worked out because the new series would run 59 issues.

The Outlaw Kid reprint comes from The Outlaw Kid #16 [March 1957]. Joe Maneely was the cover artist.

“Treachery on the Trail!” (4 pages) was drawn by Doug Wildey. The writer has not yet been identified. This is the third reprinting of the tale. It also appeared in Outlaw Kid #7 [August 1971] and #23 [August 1974].


This is another fast-paced story. The Outlaw Kid sees a stagecoach being robbed. The Kid’s drives them off with his return gunfire. One of the coach’s drivers has been wounded. The injured man can’t travel, but the stage was carrying a $20,000 payroll to the town.

The Kid will take the stage back to town to get a doctor and also deliver the payroll. The robbers follow him.

The Kid outsmarts them by cutting lose the stage from its horses. The robbers flee for their lives.

The Kid gets the payroll to town safely. In his secret identity as rancher Lance Temple, his girlfriend Belle tells him she would like him to be a little bit like the Outlaw Kid.


The “Bullpen Bulletins” page starts with Stan Lee using his “Stan’s Soapbox” column to talk about the creation of Irving Forbush. You can read that amazing revelation below along with the rest of the page. As I’ve mentioned before, the Jim Shooter era Bullpen pages do nothing for me. 
The single-page Marvel/Hostess single-page comics advertisement is “The Incredible Hulk Changes His Mind!” He’s angry at puny humans, but cools down when a young boy gives him Hostess Cup Cakes. I’ve posted a scan of the page below.

There is only one more issue before The Rawhide Kid finish its long run. I’ll write about that issue next Wednesday.

Tomorrow, I’ll be writing about one of my not-so-recent adventures. That will be followed by more reports on my more recent adventures at conventions and elsewhere. I hope to get current on those trip reports before the end of the month.

Thanks for stopping by. See you tomorrow.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, March 12, 2018


This week in TONY ISABELLA'S BLOGGY THING...Marvel Masterworks: Daredevil Volume 12 with a new introduction by me and four Daredevil stories by me (as well as a new intro by Marv Wolfman and several of his DD stories); Valiant's Ninja-K #1-4 by Christos Gage with artists Tomas Giorello and Ariel Olivetti; and the wild final issues of U.S.Avengers by Al Ewing and Paco Diaz!

Thursday, March 8, 2018


My big weekend plans involve being the Comics Guest of Honor at the Cleveland ConCoction convention Friday through Sunday, March 9-11, at the Bertram Inn and Convention Center in Aurora, Ohio. I wrote about this convention on Monday and Tuesday...and you can learn more by visiting the event’s website.

I’ll be pacing myself the rest of this week and into next week as I work through a long list of odds and ends. There will be bloggy things next week, but I don’t know if they will start before next Tuesday. More on that in a bit.

My appearance schedule is filling up swiftly. I don’t anticipate adding any shows to March or April, but I never say never. If you are putting on a convention or some other event and would like me there, e-mail me and I’ll give you my conditions for my appearances. And, as always, it’s no foul if you can’t meet my conditions. I’m a great date, but I’m not a cheap date and, having worked with my pal Roger Price on dozens of his Mid-Ohio-Con shows, I know that money can get tight for promoters.

Here’s my current 2018 schedule...

March 24: Cleveland Public Library Coffee and Comics

April 27-29: East Coast Comicon

May 5: Toys Time Forgot (Free Comic Book Day)

May 18-19: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

June 8-10: Fingerlakes Comic Con

July 13-15: G-Fest

August 17-18: TerrifiCon (Connecticut)

August 19: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted)

September 8-9: Hall of Heroes Museum

September 28-30: Baltimore Comic Con

November 3-4: Akron Comicon

November 9-11: Grand Rapids Comic Con

November 17-18: Great American Comic Convention (Las Vegas)

To answer a frequently asked question, I’m not currently planning to attend this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. I’m leaving the dates open if something changes and I am able to attend, but, for the present, it’s most likely I won’t be there.

What will “pacing myself” look like next week?

As regards the bloggy thing, you can expect several trip reports. Though it happened last year, I want to write about my trip to New York City for a special screening of The Defenders. It was a very cool visit and I want to share it with you. It will certainly take more than one day's worth of bloggy things.

I’ve got some things to say about Marvel Legacy and my quick trip to Brooklyn, New York to be interviewed on camera for a documentary project about that publisher’s legacy. That also might run to two days.

After that, I hope to regale you with my convention reports on the one-day Action! event in Windsor, the glorious Pensacon in Florida and, of course, the Cleveland ConCoction.

Besides writing the travel bloggy things, I’ll be planning upcoming interviews, finalizing my convention plans and deciding on my next writing projects. Clearly, I do not completely grasp the concept of “pacing myself.”

This is an exciting and insanely busy time for me. But it would not have happened without the support of my family, my friends and my readers. I’ll do my best to never take any of you lightly.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you next week.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder... Bill Schelly’s Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom–The Whole Story; Timely Confidential: When the Golden Age of Comic Books Was Young by Allen Bellman with editing by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo and Audrey Parente; and Rick Norwood’s Comics Revue #381-382!