Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Previously in “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing”: I was at Comic-Con.
It was one of the best times of my life.  I’ve been blogging about
it for a week and I’m still discussing Friday.  Aren’t you glad I
don’t have vacation slides to show you?

There was only one downside to Comic-Con and that was that I could
not see and talk with all the people I wanted to see and talk with.
I never saw Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, John Lustig, Rich
Koslowski, Peter Kuper, Ramona Fradon and two dozen others.  I only
had a few minutes with my friend and mentor Roy Thomas as we rushed
to separate panels.

I never saw Michael Davis, who invites me to appear on his renowned
“Black Panel” every year.  This year, when I was actually at Comic-
Con, that panel was scheduled for the same time as my own spotlight
panel.  If I’d been scheduled for anything other than my spotlight
panel at that time, I’d have made apologies and gone to Michael’s
panel instead.  If the fates and my income are kind, I’ll try to be
on Michael’s panel next year.

My Friday evening plans revolved around attending the 25th Annual
Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.  My son Eddie wanted to attend
the awards, forgoing some of his beloved anime programming to join
me for the buffet and ceremonies.  The event was being held in the
Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and was presented
by SyFy.

Neither Eddie or I had eaten all day, so we went to the Fox Sports
bar at the Hilton for sliders and fries.  That was enough for me,
so I later passed on the Eisner buffet, delicious though it looked.
My 26-year-old son had no such concerns.  He’s the Matter-Eater
Lad of the Isabella family.

Eddie was concerned that he and I were under-dressed for the Eisner
Awards.  While we couldn’t possibly approach the sartorial splendor
of Batton Lash, who, as previous noted in these reports, is the Jim
Steranko of my generation, we weren’t the only attendees who came
directly from the convention to the ceremonies.  I do see Eddie’s
point and, if I attend the Eisner Awards in the future, I’ll do my
best to “clean up” for the occasion.

We were seated with Tom Batiuk and his family and Dan Parent and
his family.  Tom is a fellow Medina resident and I guess the Eisner
Awards count as our monthly lunch for July.  Dan is not from Medina
and so it counted as a chance to talk with a cartoonist whose work
I admire.  Wonderful company all around.

If I may digress...Dan Parent’s creation of Riverdale High student
Kevin Keller and Archie Comics’ support of this landmark character
are two of the most major events in recent comics history.  When Archie
and his gang are so accepting of gays, others follow that welcome
trend.  It’s a great thing.

I love talking to Dan because he always seems to anticipate my very
minor Kevin Keller quibbles.  When I was concerned that Kevin was
too perfect, Dan began showing the kid could be just as error-prone
as the rest of the Riverdale gang.  When I commented that writing
one gay character was easier than showing Kevin dating, Dan added
that bit of character development.  Like Kevin, Dan is way ahead of
the curve portraying a positive and likeable character that no one
would have predicted appearing in Archie Comics titles, much less
becoming such an important and popular player in those books.  He
and Archie deserve the accolades they have received. Thus ends the

The Eisner Awards ceremonies were professional and very friendly.
It made me wonder if those attending other industry awards, movies
and television and the like, feel the same sense of kinship that we
in the comics industry enjoy at the Eisners.  I hope so.  It’s one
heck of a good feeling.

The production values of the Eisners were incredible.  I was often
awed by Comic-Con, but never more so than watching how wonderfully
the comics industry honors its own.  The presentations went smooth
as silk with the music and video backdrops enhancing the event.

About those presenters...and also those who accepted the awards for
themselves or other...what a warm and funny collection of people.
Jonathan Ross, Neil Gaiman, John Barrowman, Bill Morrison, and so
many others had me smiling and usually laughing out loud.  Sergio
Aragones, presenting the Hall of Fame awards, was so indicative of
the heart that drives our comics art form and, when we are our best
selves, the kindness that is part of our makeup.  I’d mention Mark
Evanier as well, but, since he’s like a brother to me, I might be
accused of nepotism.

I was delighted to watch the Bill Finger Award given to my friends
Steve Gerber and Don Rosa.  Whether the “talking ducks” theme was
intentional or not, I can’t think of two more deserving recipients
of this award.  Of course, the irony of DC Comics being a sponsor
of the Bill Finger Awards was not lost on my son.  I now choose to
look at DC’s participation as perhaps the first step on its road to
moral sobriety.

The Hall of Fame choices were outstanding: Lee Falk, Al Jaffee,
Mort Meskin, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez and Joe Sinnott.  Every
one a true legend in our community.

Another digression.  Watching Trina accept her award and knowing of
her landmark work in identifying and honoring women cartoonists, I
came to the realization that there’s someone else who deserves to
be in the Hall of Fame company.  Impertinent as I certainly am in
bringing this up so close to this year’s awards, I will nonetheless
submit for the consideration of next year’s judges and voters, the
great color artist Adrienne Roy.  She was one of the best colorists
our field has ever seen.  She amassed an incredible body of work in
her career.  She was cruelly cast aside by DC Comics at the height
of her magnificent abilities.  End of digression.

Most years, I try to read as many of the Eisner nominees as I can.
This year, because I was doing so many other things, I don’t think
I did more than scratch the surface.  I’m still hoping to read as
many of the winners and nominees as I can before the next batch of
nominees.  As I do, I’ll likely write about them in future bloggy

On a related note, Eddie mentioned a few times during the Eisners
that he wanted to check out this or that winner or nominee.  If he
gets them before I do, maybe he’ll loan them to me.

If I had to pick my favorite presenter or acceptor at the Eisners,
it has to be Chip Kidd.  I’ve loved much of Kidd’s design work, but
I never knew anything about him.  After the Eisners, I knew he was
a gay men...that he was a flamboyantly gay man...and that he was,
hands down, one of the funniest people in comics.  When I reported
I occasionally laughed out loud during the Eisners, it was usually
because of Kidd.  Well done, sir.  Well done.

In my usually state of awe, I almost forgot to mention the amazing
Jackie Estrada, the administrator of the awards.  I was an Eisner
judge many years back and the complicated process was made so much
easier because of Jackie’s expertise and skill.  That expertise and
skill is evident in the Eisner Awards ceremonies.

If you ever attend Comic-Con, you should attend the Eisner Awards.
Comic-Con shows our comics world at its best and the Eisners show
Comic-Con at its best.  I promise you an unforgettable evening with
some of the greatest comics creators of all time.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more of this Comic-Con report.  Will I
finally be able to cover one day in one bloggy thing?  I wouldn’t
bet on it, but I’ll give it a shot.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Previously in “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing”: I think I died and
went to Comic-Con, which is my second happiest place on Earth.  My
report continues...

What I remember about Friday morning is that I wasn’t the least bit
hungry and more than a bit nervous.  Between nine and ten, I went
to the Guest Relations Team booth to meet Sean Rowe, my volunteer.
Sean is going to be one heck of a veterinarian some day soon, but
his Comic-Con assignment was to make sure I got to panels on time.
Sean and all the volunteers were terrific.  Yes, I’ve already said
that in previous reports, but it bears repeating.  Comic-Con works
as well as it does because the staff and volunteers are some of the
most competent and generous people I’ve ever met at a convention.
Their many kindnesses towards me and my family are not something I
will ever forget.

Here’s why I was a bit nervous...

Spotlight on Tony Isabella

Comic-Con special guest Tony Isabella is the man who brought you
Black Lightning, It the Living Colossus, The Shadow War of Hawkman,
The Champions, and so many more memorable comics, plus his
long-running column in Comic Buyer’s Guide. He will be ruthlessly
interrogated about them and other milestones of his career by his
longtime friend Mark Evanier.

Friday July 19, 2013 10:00am – 11:00am

Room 9

My spotlight panel had what Mark told me was a good attendance for
an early morning panel.  I would call the audience modest but very
enthusiastic.  This spotlight panel is a blur in my memories, but,
fortunately, the ever-dependable Jamie Coville recorded it and also
summarized it:

Mark Evanier interviewed Tony about his career in comics. They
talked about his getting involved in comic fandom, his comic
reading as a kid, particularly FF Annual #1, his love of giant
monsters, his living in New York City and the seedy hotel on Times
Square he lived in. He spoke about his editorial work at Marvel,
writing books under tight deadlines when other people blew them,
his favorite artists to work with, in particular Frank Robbins and
Eddy Newell, him getting a chance to work with Steve Ditko and Jack
Kirby. Tony revealed that he [planned] a large, multi-issue Captain
America story only to later find out that Kirby had already been
hired to take over the book after a few issues. He also spoke a bit
about co-writing with Bob Ingersoll. He said he would have loved to
have more time on Daredevil and Ghost Rider. He said his original
Champions pitch was an Iceman and Angel buddy book with them on the
road getting involved in [exciting] situations. Said he would still
liked to have written that. Tony also won an Inkpot award for his
work in comics and Tony his love to the convention for having him
as a guest. 

I do remember feeling the weight of that Inkpot award, something
I’ll treasure all my life, and giving a spoofy acceptance speech in
which I thanked my wife Barb for making the kind of life for me in
which I can create and also thanking my lord and master Godzilla.
You can listen to my spotlight panel here.

Two follow-ups to the above...

I have the best life I could have ever imagined for myself.  I have a
wonderful wife and family and friends and neighbors.  I live in a
nice, Tardis-like house.  I’m still writing for a living, even if
the writing I do isn’t always credited or even comics-related.  I
have come through the bad stuff in my career and am no longer in a
world where the bad stuff can impact my life.  At worst, it annoys
me.  I’m a happy man.

Comic-Con has given out a lot of Inkwell awards.  That doesn’t take
away from the thrill of getting one.  When I say I feel the weight
of this honor, I’m not just talking the physical heft of the award.
I feel I need to prove worthy of it.  I had already decided I would
emphasize the good things in my life and be forgiving of those who
have done me wrong in the past.  It’s not always easy, but I’ll be
working at it.

I do sincerely thank Comic-Con for this award.  If you took photos
of my spotlight panel or any other photos of myself and my family,
please feel free to share them on my Facebook page.

Following my spotlight, I was scheduled to appear in the autograph
area for an hour.  This was under the Sails, a big airy area which
also housed fan registration, an art show, portfolio reviews and an
great exhibit of Eisner Awards winners and Hall of Fame honorees.
All by itself, it’s bigger than most conventions.

I didn’t sign a lot of comics and books at this signing.  I signed
a lot more at any of my other convention or store appearances over
the year.  Which, given how many professionals, special guests and
media stars attend Comic-Con, was pretty much what I expected to be
the case.  I probably signed more Isabella stuff walking around the
convention since I always made time for any readers who wanted to
ask me some questions or get something signed.  If I could make any
Comic-Con attendee’s experience a little better, I was thrilled to
do so.  I loved giving something back to Comic-Con.

There were perks to my autograph session.  I got to spend a lot of
time with some really cool people.  My long-time pal Steve Chaput.
My even longer-time pal Bob Ingersoll.  The great Jerry Ordway, one
of the very best comic-book artists of my or any other generation.
And Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, one of the most knowledgeable comics
historians of our time, and a swell guy to boot.

From Michael, I learned a horror story of priceless comics history
artifacts - office memos, sketches and more - that had been thrown
away without regard for their importance.  I was stunned to learn
of this destruction of such valuable documents.

If you’ve anything that could be even remotely considered a comics
artifact, please share it with comicdom at large.  Put it online.
If you don’t have an online presence, scan it and send it to folks
who will share it with others.  If you have a question about where
best to send something, e-mail me.  I’ll do my best to connect you
with comics historian friends.

The history of the comics history, as I’ve often said, is also the
sad history of creators being treated unfairly by their publishers
and editors. Preserving the history of comics is how we can honor
those who were not sufficiently honored or even appreciated during
their comics careers.  It’s important work.

My next appointment of the day was a private one.  It was a meet-
and-greet with someone who I thought might be able to give me some
valuable advice and possibly represent me in various matters.  I’m
not going to write about this meeting and I may never write about
what comes about as a result of this meeting.  But I will tell you
that the meeting was a very positive one and gives me new hope for
the future.  Well, my future at any rate.

I hadn’t expected to conduct any business as Comic-Con.  I wasn’t
looking for work...though my schedule for the rest of the year is
fairly open...and I wasn’t sought out by anyone wanting to employ
me or otherwise work with me.  But anything can happen at Comic-Con
and this meeting was a most pleasant surprise.

Yes, I am an awful tease.  I’m not even sorry about that.  But what
you should take away from this part of today’s blog is that, yes,
you might be able to hire me for something.  If not, well, I have
already started work on some projects of my own.  Trust me, I won’t
be sitting on my hands.  I need them for my writing.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of my Friday report, featuring Tony
walking around the convention trying to meet the dozens of people
he wanted to see at Comic-Con and then going to the Eisner Awards
with his son Eddie.  See you then.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 29, 2013


Previously in “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing”: I have writing about
my Comic-Con 2013 experiences for days now, but I took two days off
so I could attend PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio.  Because what better
way to rest from one convention than by going to another.  Don’t be
alarmed.  I can stop going to conventions any time I want.

As far as I’m concerned, what’s at the top of today’s bloggy thing
was the best ticket at Comic-Con 2013.  As a special guest of the
convention, my family and I were treated like royalty.  Disgraced
comics editors and executives were pressed into service to carry me
to my panels on ornate couches.  Zatanna cosplayers gave me fruits
and wine on these arduous journeys through the convention.  Parents
held up children, hoping I might look kindly on their offspring and
bless them.  It was good to be a special guest.

Okay, yeah, the above might be a slight exaggeration.  Even so, we
were treated very well by Comic-Con’s staff and volunteers.  Since
it’s been days since I’ve thanked them for their kindnesses, I must
thank them here.  So...thanks for everything.  You’re the cream of
the nice people crop.

My first panel took place on Thursday night...

Thursday July 18, 2013 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Family Feud: The Comics Blogging Panel

With the 24-hour news cycle turning into a 24-minute news cycle,
fans are still getting their comics news from the top news sites
and blogs. Join moderator Tom Spurgeon in a no-holds-barred
discussion with comics journalists on how they make-and break-the
news, the ethics of journalism, the death of blogging, the uses of
social media, and ways you can join in on the fun. With Spurgeon
(The Comics Reporter), Heidi MacDonald (The Beat), Tony Isabella
(Tony’s Tips), Alexa Dickman (Ladies Making Comix), Rich Johnston
(Bleeding Cool), and special surprises!

Room 23ABC

Our special surprise was Graeme McMillan, a noted writer for lots
of group blogs.  Thanks to Jaime Coville, who recorded many of the
convention’s best panels, you can listen to this panel here and see
how everyone was more knowledgeable than I was and how, in a vain
pathetic attempt to compensate, I played the “grumpy old man” card
like I was in the finals of a Texas hold 'em tournament.

The most serious portion of the discussion was about blogs paying
their contributors.  Tom’s The Comics Reporter appears to pay the
best, but he can’t afford many contributors.  Heidi’s The Beat used
to pay a small fee when it could.  Thanks to Avatar Comics, Rich’s
Bleeding Cool does pay contributors, but it doesn’t pay them a lot.
The question was whether or not these blogs were exploiting their
writers.  Sadly, they might be, but it’s not how anyone would like
the case to be and the contributors are, indeed, willing to put in
the work for personal satisfaction and prominent exposure.  In my
case, of course, this bloggy thing could be the online poster child
for personal satisfaction.

A couple notes from the panel:

I might have been the happiest person on the panel.  I write what
I want when I want to write without editorial supervision or even
the hint of economic pressure.  I make my living from paying gigs,
but the blog is all mine.

Sainted Wife Barb’s first impression was that Heidi didn’t like me.
Then she realized how long we’d been friends and realized we were
bantering.  I don’t think anyone else got that impression, but, in
case anyone did, be assured that I adore Heidi.  In fact, though I
don’t think I have ever told her this and though she was a Vertigo
editor, I asked for her as my Black Lightning editor.  My request
was not considered because, you know, DC is stupid.

Alexa is crazy smart.  She will rule us all someday.

Barb thought Rich was charming and funny.  It’s that damned British
accent.  Even I wanted to hug him.

Following the panel, Heidi interviewed me for her podcast.  I think
it went quite well, but you can listen to it here and make up your
own mind about that.

That evening, Barb, Eddie and I joined Mark Evanier for dinner at
The Palm restaurant in the Gaslamp District.  Kelly and Giselle had
been invited to an MTV party after the Teen Wolf panel, so that’s
where they went.

The Palm is a superb restaurant with comics drawings on its walls.
Mark recommended the Parmesan chicken and I’ve learned to take his
advice.  What he didn’t tell me was that the place serves enormous
portions.  My dinner looked like it came from one of the chickens
on the cover of Gold Key’s Freedom Agent #1 [April 1963].  Please,
go ahead and check it out at the Grand Comics Database.  I’ll wait
until you get back to continue this bloggy thing.

[Tony hums a tune, drums fingers on desk.]

It was worth checking out, wasn’t it?

Getting up from our booth, I had a near-miss that could have ruined
the rest of Comic-Con for me.  I forgot that the booth was slightly
elevated and, when I stood up, I was so off-balance I stumbled and
started going down.  Fortunately, one of the other customers caught
me as I fell, saving me from a doubtless painful collision with the
Palm’s hardwood floor.  I was shaken and stirred, but I was intact.

After dinner, Mark went back to his hotel, Eddie went off to watch
some anime and Barb and I took a leisurely walk back to our hotel.
Along the way, we saw bicycle taxis whose drivers were dressed as

Comic-Con owns this part of San Diego.  Go anywhere within a mile
or two of the convention center and you’ll find the workers wearing
some kind of “geek garb” and sometimes full-out costumes.  I’ll be
talking more about this soon.

Barb was having a great time at Comic-Con and that was important to
me.  She has built such a great life for me and our kids and stuck
by me through the bad parts of my career.  It was wonderful to be
able to show her the good parts of my world as well.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more Comic-Con stuff, including a very
special panel.  See you then.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Friday, July 26, 2013


Previously in “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing”: Comic-Con is big.  I
mean, really big.  You may think that thing at the Javitz Center in
New York is big, but it’s a pint-size piece of crap next to Comic-
Con.  This report and personal journal will run longer than Comic-
Con. That probably says something about me.

We’ll start today’s entry with a confession.  Knowing that I would
be writing about Comic-Con in this bloggy, I took extensive notes
on Wednesday.  I didn’t do that the rest of the convention because
I was having too much fun.

Even in the excitement of seeing old friends for the first time in
decades and meeting online friends for the first time and meeting
new friends, you would think I could remember wee things like what
days I saw them.  I don’t, at least not with the accuracy I shoot
for in these bloggy things of mine.

However, I do have the list of people I wanted to see and booths I
wanted to visit.  The list was prepared on Wednesday night of the
convention after I went through the events guide shown above.  So,
working from that, I’ll randomly tell you about some of the people
I got to spend time with during Comic-Con.

I’ll also keep mentioning that Janet Goggins, the guest relations
coordinator for Comic-Con, and her astonishing crew and volunteers
are some of the best, kindest and most efficient people I have ever
worked with.  Running a stellar event like Comic-Con takes stellar
people.  The convention is lucky to have them.

My Thursday started with my first full walk through the convention
center.  With the exception of Artists' Alley, most of what I wanted
to check out was accessible through lobbies A through C.  Artists'
Alley was accessible through lobby G. The panels were on the second
level.  “The Sails” was between the two halves of the panel area.
It was a big open space which held the autograph area, a number of
exhibits, freebie tables, the art show and more.

The San Diego Convention Center has many food places and restrooms.
While the food places inside the exhibit halls were often crowded,
there were plenty of small places in the lobbies.  Getting a drink
or a nosh was never a problem.

As for the restrooms, a concern ever since I experienced the filth
of the Javitz Center, the San Diego Convention Center has lots of
them and their maintenance crews did a mighty good job keeping up
with the cleaning of facilities used by fans too excited about the
convention to aim properly.  Such things have become more important
to me now that I’m in my 60s.

The first stop in the exhibit area was the Comic Outpost TV booth.
To quote from the letter they sent me: Comic Outpost is the most
fabulously fun comic shop in San Francisco. Comic Outpost TV is a
live interview program that does what no other comic shop has done:
made a variety show, where fun and production value are not
mutually exclusive. We want you to be a part of Comic Outpost TV!”

Comic Outpost TV wanted to do a live interview with me on Thursday
at 1:30 pm.  I agreed.  However, when I went to their booth to make
sure everything was still set for that interview, they were having
technical difficulties.  We rescheduled for Sunday.

I wandered the exhibit hall for a couple hours, chatting with old
friends.  I had my usual conversation with Chuck Rozanski of Mile
High Comics.  Chuck is one of my favorite comics people and he is
crazy smart.  We usually talk more about people than comics, but,
later in the show, when I introduced him to Barb, he kindly took a
few minutes to explain to her how they construct the mammoth Mile
High display and break it down.

I went to the Cartoonists Across America booth and talked with my
friend Phil Yeh, who does a truly remarkable job preaching comics
and literacy across the country and world.  Phil gave me the latest
issue of Uncle Jam, a magazine devoted to health, books, the arts
and travel.

I had conversations with Batton Lash, creator of Supernatural Law.
I’d contributed to his latest Kickstarter campaign and, as per his
request, stopped by to pick up the book with an original sketch in
the book.  Except he hadn’t finished the drawing before Comic-Con.
It will now cost him postage to send it to me, but I got the bonus
of spending time with Batton.  While hanging out at his Exhibit A
Press, I chatted with Arlen Schumer, a contributor to Alter Ego and
The Jack Kirby Collector. When Arlen commented on Batton’s spiffy
attire, which included bright red socks, my response was:

“Batton is the Jim Steranko of our generation.”

Fun conversations, good times.

I saw Rick Geary, expressed my admiration for his work, and bought
an autographed book from him.

Men of Action is an interesting creative endeavor that writes many
things, including the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon show that airs on
Disney XD on Sunday mornings.  From their website:

With a proven track record in Film, Television, Comics, Online, and
Video Games, four of the comic book industry's most innovative
professionals have consolidated their considerable talents and
resources to form MAN OF ACTION, a Development/Production House
dedicated to writing, conceptualizing and developing work of
exceptional quality, commercial viability, and explosive

Whew! I chatted with Steven T. Seagle, who answered my questions on
how they write the Spider-Man cartoons.  I’m not a big fan of the
“Writers Room” method of producing stories, but Men of Action does
it as well or better than anyone.  Since I’m enjoying the cartoons,
I’m not gonna quibble about how they’re written.

I stopped by the TwoMorrows booth a couple of times to say hello to
publisher John Morrow and thank him for the review copies he sends
my way.  I kept missing him at the booth, but we did speak before
and after Sunday’s Jack Kirby Tribute Panel.

I also missed Dan Parent, at both the Archie Comics booth and his own
table in Artists Alley. Luckily, we ended up at the same table for
the Eisner Awards.

I looked for and found my former Comics Buyer’s Guide editor Brent
Frankenhoff and we made plans to have breakfast with the wondrous
Maggie Thompson, also one of my former CBG editors, sometime during
the weekend.

One of the few panels I managed to attend was “The Sergio and Mark
Show” starring Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier and Stan Sakai, three
of the most talented and nicest people in comics.  They bantered,
they updated the audience on their various projects and entertained
us all mightily.  There was a beautiful and telling moment when the
great Aragones, talking about his recent back surgery and how much
he missed working and being at Comic-Con, got a little emotional.
It was a real thing and I’m glad I was there for it.

While I was doing this and that, I only had the dimmest notion what
the other members of the Isabella Bunch were doing.  Barb mentioned
how fascinated she was by the Lego display and the Lego images of
the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Eddie was attending a bunch of
anime and manga events.  Kelly and Giselle were enjoying Marriott
amenities while preparing to attend the Teen Wolf panel.  Everyone
was having a great time.

I was scheduled to appear on a blogging panel later that evening,
so I decided a short rest back at the hotel would be a good thing.
However, on my way out, I passed the Papercutz booth and spotted my
dear friend Jim Salicrup, who I worked with at both Marvel Comics
and Topps Comics.

Jim and I talked about old times and new.  We talked about some of
the fine books he’s publishing under the Papercutz label.  Sadly,
he had something scheduled and we only got to talk for about half
a hour.  As happens at conventions, I never saw him the rest of the
weekend.  But we stay in touch with each other and I’ll see him on
the trip to New York I plan to take later this year or very early
next year.

In the hotel walking towards the elevator, I ran into Dan Jurgens,
the fine artist and writer.  He chatted for a spell and, while we
were talking, Brian Michael Bendis did a drive-by handshake.  Brian
is another Ohio boy, though he hasn’t lived in the area for a good
many years.  He and I never did manage to connect over the rest of
Comic-Con.  That’s always a regret of mine at conventions, that I
never get a chance to spend enough or even any time with creators
and friends I like and admire.

In a related drive-by handshake, related because it happened to my
son, Eddie ran into Stan Lee in the hotel.  Stan was on his way to
something, but stopped long enough for Eddie to introduce himself,
tell Stan he was my son and say how honored he was to meet the man
who inspired his dad’s comics career.  Stan was Stan and, you know,
that’s enough for me.  I think the world of my former boss.

I’m talking two days off from blogging to attend PulpFest, but I’ll
be back on Monday with the rest of my Thursday report.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Last Saturday's episode of Beware the Batman featured a short clip giving an introduction of sorts to Black Lightning.  It didn't suck.  Oh, sure, it's not the real Black Lightning, but it didn't suck.

Technically, any use DC makes of Black Lightning without consulting me is a violation of our partnership agreement.  Traditionally, I care less about the cartoons than the comic books. 

Unquestionably, they owe me some money for this use of my creation.  I'll let you know if they pay me.



What Has Gone Before: I’ve been writing about Comic-Con 2013, the
happiest place on Earth.

Preview Night at Comic-Con was all about my figuring out the lay of
the land.  Barb and Eddie walked to the convention center with me
while Giselle and Kelly headed for the hotel pools.  It was great
fun watching Barb and Eddie’s eyes grow wide with amazement as they
got their first looks at the event.

I hadn’t been to Comic-Con in a decade, but it was huge back then.
It was much bigger now, but not so much bigger that I had trouble
navigating the place.  The convention is laid out very well.  You
can avoid the areas in which you have no interest and, by using the
lobbies, get where you want to go easily and where I wanted to go
was, of course, where the comics people were.

The first thing I did was go to the Guest Relations Team booth to
let them know I was at the convention.  I would return two or three
times each day to thank them for all they did for me and my family
during the convention.  I’m still not going to discuss the amazing
perks I got as a special guest, but I literally could not thank the
staff and volunteers enough.  I scored quite a few cool points with
my family because of the Comic-Con crew.

As the convention progressed, I would make it a point to thank the
hired security people as well.  I know some attendees get annoyed
with them, but I thought they did an incredible job of maintaining
security and did it in a helpful and polite manner.  Dealing with
150,000 people even in a facility as big as the convention center
is a hard job.  I hope my words of appreciation for their work made
up for any unpleasantness from others.

When I write about my career in comics, I remind my readers that we
are all the heroes of our own stories.  I try to be as accurate as
humanly possible, but I am not immune from that reality.  However,
when I tell you about my doing nice things for people at Comic-Con,
it’s not so much boasting as sharing my journey with you.

I have been angry - with cause - for too much of my life.  I don’t
want to be that angry guy.  I want to feel good about myself and I
want others to feel good about themselves.  When I thanked anybody
for their good work, it was absolutely sincere.  Most people at the
Comic-Con weren’t going to get the applause I would get during the
event.  As much as possible, I wanted to share that with others.
They should be the heroes of their stories, too.

Whenever somebody wanted me to sign something during Comic-Con, I
found a wall to lean against while I signed it.  Whenever somebody
had questions about my career or comics in general, I sat down to
chat with them.  Whenever I could give someone some encouragement
or even just a smile, I did it.  The smiling came easy.  Indeed, I
don’t think I stopped smiling the entire convention.

I made a conscious decision when I accepted Comic-Con’s invitation
to make the most of this opportunity.  My family has suffered with
me through so many bad times that I wanted to show them the great
parts of my comics world.  I set out to have the best convention of
my life and I achieved that goal.

But I digress...

After taking in the enormity of the convention, the first specific
thing I noticed was the huge promotional bags being worn like back
packs by attendees...and that they came with capes.  Our wonderful
guest relations friends got these bags for us and, while I doubt
I’ll ever wear mine, it’s a very nice reminder of how big Comic-Con
is and how much stuff you can accumulate while you’re there.

The first cosplayer I saw was Sailor Jupiter from the Sailor Moon
anime and manga.  She wasn’t a teenager, but she wore the uniform
well.  Throughout the convention, I would see many fabulous and not
so fabulous costumes...and loved them all.  This is Comic-Con and
if you want to dress as a character, even if your body shape might
not be consistent with that character, more power to you.  You’re
having a good time and you’re not hurting any one and this is your
convention as much as anyone’s.

The first old friend I met was David Campiti, who I have known for
decades and worked with occasionally.  He’s been representing some
great artists in recent years and is involved in the start-up of a
new company.  I never got to visit his booth and learn more about
this venture, but I know he reads this bloggy thing.  Hey, David,
when you get a chance, fill me in on the details.

I did a quick walk around as much of the convention as I could and
then retreated back to the hotel.  Though my feet were fine, I was
still having that burning sensation in my left thigh.  I knew that
I had to get off my feet and soon.

Before I left the convention, I stopped by Randy Reynaldo’s booth.
Randy is the writer/artist/publisher of Rob Hanes Adventures, one
of my favorite independent comics.  His title hero is a modern-day
soldier of fortune and private investigator.  His stories and art
evoke the classic adventure strips of Milton Caniff.  I love this
comic book a lot and was thrilled to get the new issue from Randy.
Look for a review after I wrap up my however-many-blogs-as-it-
takes Comic-Con report.

From Preview Night, the Isabella Gang went to dinner at the hotel’s
Marina Kitchen.  We had a terrific dinner and compared notes on our
first impressions of Comic-Con.

Barb said the convention was much bigger than the Cleveland Auto
Show, which she’d wrongly imagined was a match for Comic-Con.  She
was excited by the convention and already making plans to attend a
few panels besides the ones on which I would be appearing.

Eddie said he was geeking out big time over what he’d already seen
and what he hoped to see in the days to come.  Before we left for
San Diego, he had prepared and printed out a long list of panels he
watched to attend.  I told him and the rest of our merry band not
to feel the least bit guilty if they went to other panels instead
of mine.  After all, they can listen to me anytime.

Kelly and Giselle hadn’t spent much time at the convention yet.  I
think they were preparing themselves mentally for what was clearly
the biggest thing either of them had ever been through.  They went
back to the pools after dinner.

Barb joined them and then called our room telling me I should come
down and soak my feet in the pool hot tub.  Much to my delight and
surprise, after fifteen minutes of this, all the pain disappeared
from my legs and feet.  I was ready to face the first full day of

Normally that would my cue to end today’s bloggy thing and request
you return tomorrow for more Comic-Con stuff.  But, this being as
much a personal journal as a convention report, there’s something
else I want to write about before closing.

While waiting for our table at the Marina Kitchen, I saw an old and
dear friend.  We greeted each other cordially, chatted for a bit,
and then he went to his table.  Later, Giselle looked him up on the
Internet and was impressed by his credentials.

That’s when Tiger Wife Barb explained to the kids that this old and
dear friend of mine had not always treated me right when he was in
a position of power.  In fact, his failure to do the right thing by
me had cost me dearly in many ways.

The kids were amazed that I had been glad to see this man and that
I had greeted him with friendship.  I explained to them that he and
I went back a long time, that he had done me many kindnesses before
our relationship got complicated and that, since he was no longer
in a position to help or hurt me, I wasn’t going to let all the bad
stuff outweigh the good stuff he’d had over the years.  I may just
be projecting what I wanted their reaction to be - we are, as I’ve
said many times, all the heroes of our own stories - but I suspect
they were impressed with my attitude.

I’m a forgiving man, though it may not always seem that way when I
write about the bad stuff in the comics field.  Of late, as much as
I can, I try to let go of old angers.

If people who have wronged me in the past make the slightest effort
to make amends for those wrongs, I’m agreeable.  Sometimes I don’t
even need them to do that.  When you have as wonderful a life as I
do, you can and should be generous.  That’s the kind of guy I want
to be.  That’s the goal I work towards every day.

There are people whose political views make me want to vomit, but
I try to get pass that as long as they don’t throw those obnoxious
views in my face or post them on my Facebook page.  There are folks
who have behaved in incredibly insulting and rude manner towards me
or people I care about.  If...they...just...stop...that...crap, I
think I can be cordial to them.  If they don’t, I’m happy to ignore
them if they ignore me.  It’s a big comics world and there’s room
enough for all of us.

Self-reflection.  I didn’t expect to be going there when I started
writing this extended Comic-Con report.  Blogging is the damn free
market of the psyche.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more Comic-Con stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


What Has Gone Before: I was a special guest at this year’s Comic-
Con International in San Diego.  The above logo is from the bag my
Inkpot Award came in.  This report is the story of my journey to,
my adventures at and my journey home from Comic-Con.  My last panel
of the convention took place in the back of the plane flying me and
my son Ed back to Ohio.  How’s that for a tease?


I do not like flying.  If I weren’t trying so hard to purge hatred
from my heart and soul, I would tell you I hate flying.  I used to
love it, but that was back in the day when I could get low student
fares and take late-night flights where I could stretch out across
a row of seats and dine on sandwiches left over from the aircraft’s
day of flying.  The good old days before we made fear our co-pilot.

I was traveling with my wife Barb, my son Eddie, my daughter Kelly
and her best friend since kindergarten Giselle.  Terry Fairbanks,
Barb’s uncle and one of my best friends since I was a teen, drove
us to the airport. Terry will play a key role in a later episode of
this however-many-entries-it-takes Comic-Con report.

My nervousness aside, checking in at the airport and going through
security was pretty much a breeze.  Yes, there was a tense moment
when I lost my driver’s license, but the security people found it
quickly and we were on our way.

The wait to board the aircraft was long and tedious, but board we
did.  I sat in a row with Barb and Ed...and tormented my son with
Snakes on a Plane puns for the entire four-hour flight.  Examples
would include:

They’re going to serve us an ice cream treat.  Shakes on a plane.

They’re going to show the sequel to Chinatown.  Jakes on a plane.

You can play along at home.

My favorite was...did you see one of the actors from Star Trek is
on this flight? Frakes on a plane.

I am an evil man.

I tried to make myself unconscious during the flight, but failed to
accomplish that.  I made several trips to the restroom, which I’m
sure is too much information, but which foreshadows that one last
Comic-Con panel.  Tease, tease, tease.

We landed in Los Angeles, picked up our rental car and drove to the
San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina.  The drive was uneventful.
The hotel was right next to the San Diego Convention Center, a very
short walk away from Seaport Village and a slightly longer walk to
the Gaslamp Quarter.  Those are but two areas of San Diego that owe
their revitalization to Comic-Con.

We were getting two rooms, one paid for by the convention and the
other by us.  One for the girls, one for the guys.  The convention
handled the booking and arranged for the rooms to be connected.  It
was a perk of being a special guest, but you’ll have to forgive me
for not writing too much about most of the perks.  That’s between
the convention and the special guests.

I will say that, if you are ever fortunate enough to be invited to
be a special guest of Comic-Con, don’t even stop to think about it.
Just accept.  You will be treated with the utmost generosity and
kindness and respect.  Your experience will be an unforgettable one
and, as you will see in a coming installment of this report, it may
even make you tear up.  I tease more than a balloon dancer.

When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by Raoul, one of the
valets.  We explained that our plan was to check in, drop off our
luggage in our rooms and then head to the San Diego Zoo.  He made
sure our car would be at easy access.  Throughout our stay, Raoul
and other valets did a terrific job taking care of us.

Inside, we were greeted by Comic-Con volunteer Steve Lord.  Think
of a more handsome, slightly younger version of Hendrickson of the
original Blackhawks.  He was friendly, he was efficient and we had
several mutual friends.  In other words, he was good people.  Like
every Comic-Con staffer and volunteer we encountered.

Our badges were at Comic-Com, so Steve had them brought over to us.
They came in a bright blue Comic-Con carrying bag.  It held seven
badges - we would be joined on Friday by my goddaughter Vanessa and
her son Josh - and an assortment of goodies, including Comic-Con’s
incredible souvenir book and events guide.  The events guide was my
constant companion during the convention, at least until I saw the
handy Quick Guide.  Whatever the need, you can bet Comic-Con has it
covered.  I was in a constant state of admiration and awe whenever
I considered how much it takes to pull off an event like Comic-Con
and to do in exceptional fashion.  It’s true.  I love Comic-Con so
much we should get a room.

Our hotel rooms - Did you see that segue there? - were bright and
airy with small balconies.  The rooms were more than comfortable.
They were welcoming.  When I wasn’t too excited to sleep, which was
often, the beds and pillows were soothing indeed.  As we would find
out, all of this Marriott was wonderful. 

Eager fans were all over the place waiting to get into Comic-Con’s
Preview Night, but our merry band headed out to the San Diego Zoo.
Going to the zoo was the one thing Kelly had asked us to do while
we were there.  It was very important to me that she get her wish.
I knew my blogging son Eddie would have the time of his life at the
convention.  I was pretty sure Giselle would get into it as well.
Barb? She’s a trouper through and through.  But, outside of some TV
panels, I didn’t know how much Kelly would get out of this greatest
of comics events.  Going to the zoo was a must.

The San Diego Zoo is amazing.  While some might question the logic
or sanity of prefacing a night and four days of walking around the
huge convention center by spending a sizzling hot afternoon walking
around a huge zoo, there’s no denying all the wonders to be seen.

Borrowing from Wikipedia...

The Zoo houses...over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species and
subspecies. It pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits
that re-create natural animal habitats. It is one of the few zoos
in the world that houses the giant panda. Most recently, it added
“Koalafornia Adventure,” providing an entire Australian experience
of its native birds and animals.  It is privately operated by the
nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego on 100 acres of parkland
leased from the City of San Diego, and ownership of all animals,
equipment and other assets rests with the City of San Diego.

Our Zoo tickets were $44 each, but we got a 10% discount with our
Ohio Auto Club card.  If you belong to AAA, it’s worth making sure
you have your card with you at all times.

We hadn’t eaten since the plane - and I hadn’t really eaten at all
that day - so dining was our first priority.  The Zoo has a dozen
restaurants and we went to Sydney’s Grill.  The food was great, but
it wasn’t cheap.  Few things are in southern California.

We mostly walked the Zoo, though Ed and I took a bus at one point
and the girls rode the Skyfari.  Because of the heat, some animals
were a mite sluggish...or simply smarter than we were.

I’m not going to give you a cage-by-cage or habitat-by-habitat tour
of the Zoo here.  But I will mention the exhibits I enjoyed most.
The rhinos, giraffes and other residents of the “Urban Jungle” were
awe-inspiring. Likewise the elephants of “Elephant Odyssey.”  And,
really, who doesn’t love koalas and meerkats?

I had bought two pairs of New Balance shoes for the convention and
my running shoes really got a workout at the Zoo.  By the time we
left to head to Comic-Con, I had some serious burning sensation in
my thighs.  I also had a swell Zoo t-shirt that I love so much I’ll
probably need to replace it in a year.

How terrible.  I might have to go back to the greatest zoo I have
ever visited.  How will I endure that?

Hint: I’d like to go back when it’s just a mite cooler.  However,
I’d go back anytime, even if I had to dump water over my head every
ten minutes.  What’s that? Various family members who are somehow
mysteriously monitoring what I’m writing have offered to dump water
on my head at the Zoo or anywhere else.

Can you feel the love?

Looming in my immediate future was Comic-Con’s Preview Night and,
like my family, the convention was all about love.  Love for those
taking this journey with me.  Love for the comics fans and pros who
are, in a very real sense, my second family.  Love for the comics
and the industry that have been a big part of my life for over four
decades.  It was time for Comic-Con, baby!

My Wednesday report will continue tomorrow.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Starting tomorrow and running for as many bloggy things as it takes
for me to write about everything I want to write about, I will be
writing about San Diego’s Comic-Con International 2013.  However,
I wanted to make a few preliminary comments to “set the stage” for
my reports.

This year, I was honored to be a special guest of the convention.
That made it possible for me to attend the convention.  Barb and I
decided to make a family vacation of it, so, all in all, the Tony
Team consisted of yours truly, Sainted Wife, son Eddie, daughter
Kelly, “other daughter” Giselle, and, joining us for a few days of
the event, my goddaughter Vanessa and her son Josh.

Comic-Con’s staff and volunteers could not have been more friendly,
helpful and just plain wonderful to us.  Putting on that event year
and year out is a monumental task.  The Comic-Con crew is clearly
up to that challenge.

Speaking as a guest and a fan, I can’t imagine a better convention
that Comic-Con International.  There is so much to do at the event
and the programming and displays cover so many different interests.
My wise friend Mark Evanier has often said that, whatever Comic-Con
you want, you can find it at Comic-Con.  He’s right.

I cannot and will not speak to the business end of Comic-Con.  It’s
not my area of expertise.  Just as a rule of thumb, I’m sure there
will always be room for improvement in Comic-Con...just as there is
room for improvement in, well, everything else. 

However, speaking as a guest and a fan myself, I loved Comic-Con so
much that we should probably get a room.  I saw the con through the
eyes of my loved ones and those eyes were ridiculously wide with
astonishment and excitement.  Mine were, too.

I set myself goals for Comic-Con.  First and foremost, I wanted to
show my family the good parts of my world.  They have suffered with
me through many of the bad parts of my comics career and I wanted,
needed them to see the better parts.

I wanted to have the time of my life.  Seeing old friends I hadn’t
seen in years and even decades.  Meeting online friends in person.
Making new friends. 

I wanted to do what I could to make Comic-Con a little bit better
for other people.  Whether that meant finding a quiet corner so I
could autograph Isabella-written items or sitting down with them to
answer their questions.  I tried to accommodate as many requests as
time and opportunity allowed.

I didn’t go to the convention intending to look for work or do any
business...except for one scheduled meeting.  That meeting turned
out to be far more than I expected.  I think what comes next as a
result will definitely be interesting and possibly quite good for
me.  It’s not something I can write about now, but it illustrated
to me that Comic-Con can deliver pleasant surprises to those open
to them. 

The meeting wasn’t my only surprise.  I experienced epiphanies
during Comic-Com.  Some of which I’ll be writing about and some of
which I won’t.  The moments spoke directly to what kind of creator
and writer and person I want to be.  I have long considered myself
a work in progress and progress, big or small, will always be one
of my goals.

I have a great life, which, for some reason, pisses off a handful
of anonymous trolls.  It’s true the comics industry hasn’t always
or even mostly been kind to me, but I wouldn’t trade my journey for
anything.  Look where I am now.

I have a terrific wife and family who had the time of their lives
at Comic-Con.  My cool rating went up considerable.  I had the time
of my life.  It was a dream vacation for all of us.

I have work I enjoy and the respect of the people who matter most
to me.  That group includes my bloggy thing readers.

I am in reasonably good health.  I live in a nice house in a very
nice neighborhood.  We’re not rich, but we make enough to pay the
bills and help out other people from time to time. 

My great life doesn’t depend on the comics industry and especially
not on the “Big Two.”  I’m in the comics industry because I want to
be in the comics industry.  It is the medium in which I have chosen
to express myself in comic books and in blogs and columns like this
one.  Particulars aside, I’m pretty much where I want to be and am
often stunned by my good fortune in being here.

I couldn’t stop grinning throughout Comic-Con.  That’s how happy I
was to be there and to be part of that amazing event.  If you don’t
love Comic-Con, I think the fault of that lies with you. 

Among the many soul-lifting encounters I had during Comic-Con was
when I chatted with my friends Richard and Wendy Pini for the first
time in a decade or more.  We all met when we were fans doing our
zines for CAPA-Alpha, the first comics amateur press association.
I made them characters in Ghost Rider before they launched the epic
that is Elfquest and, alongside millions of fans, I have delighted
in the success of Elfquest.  Both were glad to hear how happy I was
in my life, which is when my darling Wendy uttered a simple short
sentence that knocked me on my heels.

“You should write about that more.”

There are bad things in the history of comics.  Some of those bad
things continue to this day.  I have to write about such things.
What would be the use of the independence I enjoy here if I didn’t
write about painful things from time to time.  But there’s another
side to comics and my life therein.

Some readers may tire of me gushing about my great life and the joy
it brings me each and every day.  They should brace themselves on
account of they are going to be reading more of that if they stick
with me.  It is just as important for me - and other comics folks -
to show the many avenues to happiness that don’t cross the paths of
the “Big Two” as it is to write about the not-so-pleasant aspects
of the comics business.

I’m drifting away from Comic-Con here, but I wanted to set the tone
for my however-many-it-takes reports on the event.  I’ll be back on
the morrow with the first of those reports. 

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


This is my last bloggy thing before I go to Comic-Con International
in San Diego.  I briefly considered blogging during the show, but
decided a week away from the Internet would do me a world of good.
Besides, I’m sure one or two other people will be posting Comic-Con
reports online.

One of the reasons a week off will do me good is to cool my anger
over the injustice done in Florida this past weekend.  A creep who
self-appointed himself as guardian of his neighborhood stalked and
murdered a young black man...after police had advised him to back
off and leave policing to police.  The notion self-defense applies
when someone goes looking for a confrontation boggles my mind, but
it’s typical of the illogic and mean spirit of right-wing America.

That’s what at the heart of so many other American tragedies.  It
is an ideological mania that eschews facts and logic; that creates
fear and paranoia as campaign strategies; that openly seeks to keep
people from voting when it thinks they will vote against it; that
attacks women, gays, minorities, the poor and even the middle class
to benefit rich white faux-Christians; that obstructs congressional
and presidential work even when it comes to laws it has previously
endorsed.  The right-wing is so wrong for America that it makes the
left wing look great in comparison.

It is with great reluctance that - in future bloggy things - I will
again comment on political and social matters.  I may be preaching
to the converted, but at least I’ll let the right-wing enemies of
our country know someone is watching them and speaking out against
their lies and scheming.  If this displeases you - I’m not all that
wild about writing about that stuff, either - rest assured I will
still have plenty of fun content coming your way.


Moving on to some old bloggy business...

One of my online friends asked me where at Comic-Con I’m likely to
be when I’m not appearing on panels.  I’m guessing you’ll find me
where the comics people are found, strolling among the booths and
tables of comics creators and publishers.  Though I do plan to at
least say “hi” to friends and acquaintance who work in other areas
of the entertainment business, comic books have always been my main
interest.  You will find me among my kind.


After reading about the B&V Friends Double Digest cover duplication
shown here, Anthony Tollin, my friend of many decades and, through
Sanctum Books,  publisher of Doc Savage, The Shadow and other great
pulp heroes through Sanctum Books, sent me the scan of the cover of
Dennis the Menace Comics Digest #1 [Marvel; April 1982] that graces
the top of today’s bloggy thing.  This was undoubtedly a printer’s
error, but it’s every bit as hilarious now as it was three decades
ago.  Thanks for the reminder, Anthony.


I wrote about my first ventures into the Hulk/Incredible Hulk run
of writer Bruce Jones last week and remarked that I didn’t know how
comicdom had reacted to it.  Richard Arndt, author of Horror Comics
in Black and White: A History and Catalog, 1964-2004
$55] and The Star Reach Companion [TwoMorrows; $27.95], sent me the
following comments:

I greatly enjoyed Bruce Jones' run on the Hulk.  It did start out
with a good buzz, due in no small part to John Romita, Jr. & Tom
Palmer's great art but it wasn't long before the critical brickbats
started coming out. Many critics seemed highly offended that Jones
(known mostly for his Warren horror stories and a extremely offbeat
rendition of Ka-Zar in the early 1980s) didn't write the character
like Peter David did. They didn't like his resolute emphasis on
Bruce Banner being the main character rather than the Hulk persona.
They didn't like the regulation of super-villains to the background
and that when those villains did appear the story often didn't
become just slam-bang action. There was objection by PC minded folk
that Banner’s female supporting characters often appeared in skimpy

His run also suffered, greatly, in my opinion, from an editorial
decision to change artists every time a new story arc began. Some
of the artists were quite good, some merely ok and some terrible.
The dissimilarities of style gave the larger, overreaching story
arc of the mysterious villain in the background the appearance of
a herky-jerky, disconnected pace. If you read the strip carefully,
that disconnect is not from Jones' scripts but from artists who
often appeared to have little or no knowledge of how the previous
artist had drawn characters.  At least two of those artists on the
lengthy Jones run apparently couldn't draw a human expression or a
change of expression.

In addition, an editorial decision to have the run arranged so that
every four or five issues a new graphic novel could be produced
from those issues stretched out Jones' initial and intriguing plot
and specifically who was helping Banner via the laptop computer and
who was the mysterious villain behind all the government agencies
chasing Banner? Stretched it to the point of no-return, apparently,
for many readers. The end came so long after the beginning that
most readers who'd greatly enjoyed the initial issues had given up
on the strip by the end.

Long-time Hulk readers wanted Peter David back. Critics, after
initial enthusiasm, turned their back on the run - sniffing Jones
had no clear notion of what he was doing and that he didn't really
know how to write super-hero comics.

I've always liked the run. It was different and did something with
the Hulk that I thought should have been emphasized right from the
1962 start of the character. That he was as much a horror character
as a super-hero. And, as a horror character, the Hulk's role should
be one of looming menace and fear, not only to the occasional
civilian who crossed his path but to Banner as well. That Banner
was (or should be) an equal partner in the story plot.

Oddly enough, although mainstream readers and the critics turned
their backs on the run and pretty effectively killed Jones' career
at Marvel at the time, most professionals in the field seemed to
like those stories quite a lot.

My thoughts anyway.

Thanks, Richard.  Your comments have made me look forward even more
to reading the rest of the Jones run.


Dragon*Con acolytes who are desperately in the tank for the event
which represents their only chance of getting laid in their lives
have been attempting to post comments to my blog.  These anonymous
trolls are why all comments to this blog have to be approved by me
before appearing.  But, hey, troll boys, you never know.  I could
approve your absurd comments.  I most sincerely recommend holding
your breath while you wait for that to happen.

I feel about Dragon*Con supporters the way I feel about right-wing
or religious zealots who pick and choose which facts or falsehoods
they wish to embrace.  I think the convention has taken the first
step towards reforming its sleazy reputation, though it’s a step it
could and should have taken years ago.

Dragon*Con has gotten another chance.  Supporters should not push
their luck with me.  I’ve said what I wanted to see about the con
for now.  I remain resolute in my views.  I’m not going to approve
any Dragon*Con comments, pro or con, for the immediate and very far
future.  Take your comments elsewhere.

One last item.

The afore-mentioned travesty of justice in Florida made it easy for
me to trim several now-revealed racists, gun nuts, and just plain
jerks from my Facebook friends list.  The phrase “liberal morons”
was also a good indicator of friends who have exhausted my patience
with their right-wing bile.

I’m trimming the list to make room for new friends whose company I
will enjoy more than the old friends to whom I have shown the door.
I’m pretty liberal about accepting new friends, but I will say you
lose any chance of my acceptance if your profile photo shows a big
Confederate flag on the wall in front of your drawing table.  If
you’re not smart enough to know that’s a racist symbol, you’re not
smart enough to be my friend.

Other indicators that we are not destined to be Facebook friends is
if your likes include devil-spawn like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh,
Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other blights
on America.  The same holds true if you’re in like with political
and religious groups who practice bigotry.

If you are accepted as my Facebook friend, you can lose the status
pretty quickly by sending me ridiculous spam, by signing me up for
groups without my express permission, by requesting I play stupid
games or sample applications and by sending me messages telling me
that, on seeing my profile photo, you want to know my sweet sweet
love.  Even if I didn’t believe your expression of adoration was a
scam, I am already taken and delirious happy to be already taken.
Look for Dragon*Con supporters.  They’re desperate.

You can probably tell how much I need my Comic-Con vacation from my
above comments.  Ditto for my PulpFest vacation after Comic-Con the
following weekend in Columbus.  You’re so perceptive.  That’s why
you keep coming back to this bloggy thing.

I’ll be back with more stuff around Wednesday, July 24.  Earlier if
I don’t come home from Comic-Con utterly exhausted.  See you then.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 15, 2013


“Zane Grey's RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE, No. 372." is what you will
find in the indicia of this Dell comic which hit the newsstands in
my December 1951 birth month.  However, most comics collectors and
historians would refer to it as Four Color #372 [February-April,
1952].  It’s just one of hundreds of one-shots released under that
umbrella designation.  The cover painting is by Sam Savitt.

“Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage” runs 32 pages and is drawn
by Bob Jenney.  The Grand Comics Database says that the comic book
is “Adapted from the 1912 novel "Riders of the Purple Sage" by Zane
Grey. The adaptation is fairly faithful to the original, but all
references to Mormons and religious conflict have been removed.”

Can you imagine what Faux News would make of something like that in
today’s contentious society?

The GCD also offers this synopsis:

“Widow Jane Withersteen is being harassed by an unwanted suitor.
She is protected when the gunfighter Lassiter shows up. Bern
Venters, one of Withersteen's men, tracks a rustled herd into a
canyon and shoots a masked rider, who turns out to be a young
woman. Beset by guilt for shooting a woman, Venters takes the
wounded woman, Bess, to a remote valley to recuperate. Eventually
Venters returns to the ranch, only to find that Withersteen's
enemies are planning an attack. Withersteen, Venters, and Lassiter
escape, but the gang follows them. Venters and Bess lead the gang
on a false trail, but the gang eventually tracks Lassiter and
Withersteen into the valley and Lassiter has to make a last-ditch
stand against the gunmen.”

The inside front and back covers and the back cover have editorial
material on them.  The inside front cover has “Fast on the Draw”.
Drawn by Jenney, the GCD describes it as:

Facts about "quick-draw holsters" and a description of the action
of "fanning the Colt."

On the inside back cover is a single illustration (artist unknown)
and the lyrics to the traditional cowboy song "The Old Chisholm
Trail."  The back cover has a larger version of the illustration.
For one thin dime, the readers of 1951 received 36 pages of comics
and related material.

That’s a pretty good deal, I says.


It was in January of 2012 I started writing about the comic books
released during my birth month.  Here’s what I wrote in the first
installment of that ongoing bloggy thing feature:

Mike’s Amazing World of Comics is one of the coolest comics sites
online and one of its coolest features is a search engine that lets
you see comic-book covers from any given month.  I recently checked
out the comics published in the month of my birth: December, 1951.
I could’ve gone with comics cover-dated the month of my birth, but
went this way instead.

The covers can be displayed in alphabetical order or by publication
date.  I went with the former.

After those simple steps, there were 153 comic-book covers shown.
From time to time, I’ll post one of the covers and share whatever
information I have on it.  I’m not sure if anyone other than myself
will be interested in this, but it is my name in the title of the
blog.  Yes, I’m pulling rank on you.

As it turned out, many of you enjoyed seeing those vintage comics
covers and reading whatever information and commentary I could add
to those covers.  It was a win-win, but that particular series has
reached its conclusion.

Starting in early August, I’ll be presenting comic-book covers from
another key month in the life of Tony Isabella.  It’s the month in
1963 when I bought and read Fantastic Four Annual #1, the greatest
comic book ever published.  It was that comic that made me want to
make comic books when I grew up.

You might recall that I’ve already written about some of the comic
books from that month.  I’ll be writing about them again, but, in
most cases, with additional information and commentary.  I’ve even
managed to score some comic books from the month that I’d not read
previous to my recent acquisitions of them.  If you got a kick out
of my writing about the comics of my birth month, I think you will
enjoy this new series just as much.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my last bloggy thing before I head off
to San Diego and Comic-Con International.  When I return, I should
have all sorts of great convention stories for.

See you tomorrow.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Young Men on the Battlefield #14 [March 1952] is the next-to-last
comic from my December 1951 birth month.  Its numbering continued
from Young Men and, under this name, it ran a total of eight issues
(#13-20) from February 1952 to April 1953.

The Grand Comics Database and Atlas Tales tentatively identify the
cover artist as Sol Brodsky.  I worked with Sol when I first came
to Marvel and he could do it all: draw, write, manage budgets, you
name it.  The cover scene here has nothing to do with any of this
issue’s interior stories.

Here’s the contents of this issue:

“One Day!” (6 pages, drawn and signed by Russ Heath);

“The Sitting Ducks” (5 pages, drawn and signed by Gene Colan);

“Home Is the Eagle” (2-page text story);

“Foxhole” (4 pages, drawn and signed by Dave Berg);

“The Mission” (3 pages, drawn and signed by Mac Pakula) and

“Horror on Heartbreak Hill!” (5 pages, written and signed by Hank
Chapman, drawn and signed by Norman Steinberg).

Come back tomorrow for the final vintage comic-book cover from the
month of my birth.


I watched the debut episode of the new Beware the Batman computer-
animated TV series yesterday morning.  The new series features what
seems to be a relatively younger Batman, an Alfred who is a retired
member of Britain’s MI-6 and a Katana who appears to be some sort
of freelance operative.  The initial episode - “Hunted” - didn’t go
into her background other than, obviously, she was an acquaintance
of Alfred.  The villains for this debut episode were Professor Pyg
and Mister Toad.  Here the duo are depicted as eco-terrorists and,
while Pyg is still grotesque, he’s doesn’t appear to be as twisted
as his comic-book counterpart.

Based on this first episode - written by Mitch Watson and directed
by Sam Liu - I don’t love this new series, but I don’t come close
to hating it either.  The lead characters are interesting with good
voice work from Anthony Ruivivar (Batman/Bruce Wayne), J.B. Blanc
(Alfred) and Sumalee Montano (Katana).  The computer animation is
a little sharper than on the Green Lantern series.  I’ll continue
to watch this series.

Two familiar DC Comics characters appeared in this episode as the
kidnapped victims of Pyg: Simon Stagg and Michael Holt.  There is
no indication from this episode that we’ll be seeing Metamorpho or
Mr. Terrific in future episodes.

From what I’ve read, Anarky will be the major villain of this new
series because the producers are tired of the Joker.  I feel like
I should keep watching the show just for that.  Additionally, this
means Anarky creators Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle should get some
money from DC.  Katana creator Mike W. Barr and, one presumes, the
heirs of Katana co-creator Jim Aparo will also get paid.  Can any
of my bloggy thing readers confirm these fine talents were properly
credited in the closing credits?

For that matter, if reports of Tobias Whale appearing in a coming
episode are accurate, DC will owe me compensation as well.  Unless
they try to weasel out of it as they’ve done in the past.  I will
keep you posted on this.


Men of Mystery Comics #88 [AC Comics; $29.95] features 140 interior
pages of black-and-white super-hero reprints from the Golden Age of
Comics.  Though the publisher takes great pains to make the stories
look good for their republication, the high price tag does give me
a bit of pause.  On the other hand, where else are you gonna find
these often wacky heroes?

MLJ’s Mr. Scarlet and Pinky were usually down to their last dollar
in their adventures.  I dig that concept and think it could easily
be modernized for today’s marketplace.  That lead story is followed
by a Quicksilver tale - not the mutant of Marvel - that includes an
unrelenting stream of offensive racial stereotypes.  That’s comics
history, but AC needs to put a disclaimer on such reprints.

Among the other quirky heroes in this issue are Merlin, the Green
Mask, the Music Master, Stormy Foster, the Unknown, British Agent
99, Man O’Metal, the Zebra and Phantasmo.  Surprisingly, there are
also stories starring the Blue Beetle, Doll Man, Marvelette (Mary
Marvel with a name change) and Kid Marvel (Captain Marvel Jr. with
a name change).  Among the artists of these stories are Joe Certa,
Paul Gustavson, Fred Guardineer, Rudy Palais and H.G. Peter.  This
collection is an interesting mix of heroes and styles.

It’s difficult for me to recommend this publication given its high
price, but I wanted to make you aware of it.  As I said above, you
won’t find stuff like this in too many other places and certainly
not retouched with such care.  Your call.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Saturday, July 13, 2013


This is my last Comic-Con update before I leave for Comic-Con.  Of
course, if something else amazing and Comic-Con-related happens to
me before then, I will post an additional update.  Though I would
be hard-pressed to top finding out an amazingly talented maker of
movies was a fan of my work. Sorry...that tease is all you get.

I’m thrilled beyond words - though I keep trying - to be a special
guest of the convention.  As I’ve said previously, I intend to have
the best convention of my show my family the good parts
of my world...and to do what I can to help others have a fine time
at Comic-Con.

I will be appearing on four panels during the convention and that
schedule can be found here.  I’ll be doing a signing session in the
Autograph Area following my spotlight panel. 

Whenever possible, even outside these panels, I will do my best to
answer your questions and sign your Isabella-written items.  If you
want to meet with me for any legitimate reason, business-related or
otherwise, please contact me via e-mail or Facebook and I’ll do my
best to accommodate you.

Something that I know will happen during Comic-Con is that people
will come up to me and I will not remember their names, their faces
or what they want to talk to me about.  Chalk up to the hundred plus
conventions I’ve attended and the tens of thousands of columns and
reviews I’ve written.  I still love you all madly.  You just need
to remind me why I love you all madly.  I appreciate you giving a
leg up to this aging comics industry soldier.

I am not coming to Comic-Con looking for work.  However, I’m not at
all adverse to discussing new projects with publishers, editors or
artists.  My workload for the rest of the year looks light, though
that is not a particular concern of mine.  I have my garage sales,
my own projects and other things to keep me busy and bring in a
bit of cash as needed.

I’m not coming to Comic-Con expecting to settle any old grievances
or lambast the perpetrators of those grievances.  I have and will
doubtless continue to write about such things here, but that’s not
on my agenda for Comic-Con.  Yes, I’ll answer questions about these
things honestly.  Yes, I’m willing to talk privately with the perps
if I feel they are sincere in wanting to resolve these grievances.
But I’m just as content to let them enjoy their Comic-Con as much
as I intend to enjoy mine.

When it comes to signing, I am delighted to sign Isabella-written
items.  However, I will not sign Black Lightning items which were
not approved by me and/or for which I was not compensated.  That’s
the position I feel I have to take in light of continued failures
by DC to honor their agreements with me.  I’m sure you can find a
great many other items for me to sign.  If not, please address any
complaints to DC Entertainment.

On cheerier notes...

I can’t thank Janet Goggins, Tommy Goldbach, Katherine Morrison and
the rest of the Comic-Con crew enough for the many kindness they’ve been
showing me.  I am in utter awe of how magnificently Comic-Con puts
on this incredible event year in and year out.  I kinda wish they
were running the country, nay, the world.

I also can’t thank my dear friend Mark Evanier for all he has done
for me over the closing-in-on-half-a-century we have been friends.
I try and he’s gracious about it and all, but I never feel like I
thank him enough.  When you see him at Comic-Con, please thank him
for being Tony Isabella’s friend.  I can’t imagine Mark would ever
get tired of hearing that. Heh, heh, heh.

See you in San Diego!

© 2013 Tony Isabella


Young Eagle #7 is cover-dated and apparently hit the newsstands in
my birth month of December, 1951.  Fawcett published ten issues of
the title from December 1950 to June 1952...and then it went over
to Charlton for three more issues, numbered #3-5.  That’s all I can
tell you about this comic book, save for my observation the guy on
the cover doesn’t look very young to me.  In fact, he reminds of a
middle-aged Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter.  If any of my bloggy
thing readers can tell me more, I urge them to do so.

Two more comics from my birth month to go.  Look for them tomorrow
and Monday.


The last time I wrote about movies in this bloggy thing of mine, I
was having a spectacularly bad run.  I’m delighted to say that has
turned around with the three most recent movies I’ve viewed in the
Isabella Movie House.  Staring with...


Sharknado [The Asylum; 2013] is a classic!  I’m not kidding!  It’s
a big and goofy tsunami of fun that I’ve already ordered a Blu-Ray
copy of because it will be an awesome addition to my home library
of exceptional cinema.  If Sharknado were shown on a big screen, I
would pay to see it that way.  From here on in, I must activate the


A hurricane deposits hundreds of deadly sharks into the skies and
streets of Los Angeles.  There are tornado-like water spouts that
are filled with swirling shark death.  A oceanfront tavern owner,
his cute bartender, his pal and his best customer struggle to make
their way across town to rescue his estranged wife and their kids.
Shark shit happens.

Yes, you will tell me this is a ridiculous premise and I respond,
“Yes, it is, pass the popcorn!”

Yes, you will tell me the fake rubber sharks look silly and again
I will ignore your inability to grasp the wonderfulness before you
and maybe ask for some relish on my hot dog.

Yes, you will cry out from time to time saying “They did NOT just
do that!” and I will cry, “Oh, yes, they did, yes, those glorious
bastards did!”

I haven’t had this much giggly fun watching a film since I watched
The Avengers on the big screen.  I chuckled when the flopping sharks
still try to eat people with their last breaths.  I laughed when the
customer takes out a shark with a bar stool.  I was in silly heaven
when a shark tries to eat its way through the top of the good guy
truck.  I yelled “Thank you, Jesus” when the only really unpleasant
character - the frat boy type shacking up with the hero’s ex-wife -
lasted about a minute-and-a-half before he got gobbled by sharks in
his flooded living room.  He deserved to die because, Godzilla be
praised, this movie is filled with heroes.

Scene after scene, people (and not just the main cast) risk their
lives to save others.  One young man pushes a friend out of harm’s
way, only to get clobbered by the next shark to land. When people
die in this movie, no matter how humorously, they are more than the
mere statistics of disaster porn movies. 

The heroes keep coming up with ingenious ways to stay alive and to
kill themselves a passel of sharks.  And, if the movie goes light-
years into fantasy coincidence to ensure a happy ending, then I’m
okay with that.  This is a goofy classic.

Sharknado is a classic.  It has been blowing up the Internet tubes
since it aired on the SyFy Channel.  I think it deserves a goldang
Academy Award for...something.  I don’t care what.

I love Sharknado...and I’m proud to shout that to the world!


Also from The Asylum, though not remotely a classic, is Attack From
[2013].  Originally titled Atlantic Rim - and still listed
as such on the Internet Movie Database - Attack is a “mockbuster,”
a production designed to leech off the expected success of a major
studio release.  I’m guessing the title change stems from a cease-
and-desist letter from the makers of Pacific Rim.  Both films are
basically “Transformers Vs. Kaiju,” but Attack probably cost less
to make than any single Pacific Rim trailer and it shows on the
screen.  Which is not to say Attack isn’t mildly entertaining in a
late-night monster movie sort of way.

In Attack, three human-piloted “bots” are still in the test stage
when they are called upon to investigate the utter destruction of
an oil rig.  If you’ve seen Super Shark (2011) or any of a number
of other “giant critters from the sea” movies, you know that these
oil rigs are a leading cause of monsters.  Another sin to be laid
at the doorstep of Big Oil.

One of the human operators is a likeable loose cannon romantically
involved with the feisty woman of the trio.  The third operator is
is also in love with the woman and he and she once came very close
to doing the intimate mambo.  The characters are not breathtakingly
fresh, but David Chokachi, Jackie Moore and Anthony 'Treach" Criss
play them with amusing gusto.  As do Graham Greene, Steven Marlow
and Nicole Dickson with their respective roles as a gruff-but-fair
admiral, a crazed subordinate who wants to nuke New York City and
a borderline crazed scientist.

Attack from Beneath is completely worth a single viewing.  Decent
acting, a reasonably suspenseful story, special effects sufficient
to do their job.  It’s the kind of movie that would probably have
shown up on late-night television if it had been made back in the
days when the big event of my life as a Cleveland kid was watching
Ghoulardi (the legendary Ernie Anderson) present monster movies and
subversive comedy skits.  It’s not a keeper, but I got my money’s
worth buying the Blu-ray via Amazon.  It showed up the day before
Sharknado aired on SyFy and was a nice appetizer to that classic.
It’s a perfectly fine way to spend an hour-and-a-half.


One more movie today and it’s The Last Stand [2013] starring Arnold
Schwarzenegger.  Here’s the quick synopsis from IMDB:

The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to
the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff
and his inexperienced staff.

The movie is violent, predictable, over the top and an amusing way
to spend 107 minutes.  I like old Arnold better than I like young
Arnold and I liked young Arnold.  The villains kill people and chew
scenery with equal relish.  Arnold’s ragtag band of deputies - and
one old lady - all get special moments.

Forest Whitaker plays a federal agent who takes the entire movie to
figure out the obvious while Arnold is taking names and blowing ass
to Hell.  So, in a sense, this is also a movie about the little guy
(the small-town sheriff) beating the big guys (arrogant drug lord
and arrogant federal law enforcement).  Which is as deep as I care
to get with this explosive cinema picnic.

The Last Stand isn’t a great movie, but it’s fun...and that’s all
I need from the films I watch.  Check it out.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Friday, July 12, 2013


I've been working in the comic-book industry for over four decades.  In that time, I've seen a lot of goofs escape the eye of writers and artists and editors and proofreaders and production people.  Heck, I made more than my fair share of goofs.  Having said that, I don't think I've ever seen a goof quite like this.

The first cover shown above is Archie's B&V Friends Double Digest #233 [June 2013].

The other cover is Archie's B&V Friends Double Digest #234 [August 2013].

Ar first, I thought I had bought the same issue twice. But, no, the same cover does appear on two different issues of the title.  The only difference between the two covers is the bar code.

The interiors are completely different, but the covers are the same.

It's amusing, but I also feel bad for the folks at Archie who probably haven't stopped slapping their foreheads since they discovered this goof.  I know their pain.