Sunday, June 29, 2014


My June 27-28 garage sales are in the books. My customers seemed pleased with their purchases. They had a good time. I had a good time. My sales added up to 117% of my goal for the weekend. Crack open another case of that special berry juice, Victor. It's time to celebrate.

My son Eddie was home for the weekend and talked me into making a special trip to my two-unit Fortress of Storage. We came back with a dozen boxes of cool stuff. But I'm not going to reveal the exact nature of what is in those boxes. You'll just have to come to my next garage sale and discover this for yourselves.

There will be six days of Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales in July:

Friday, July 11 (9 am to noon)
Saturday, July 12 (9 am to noon)
Friday, July 18 (9 am to noon)
Saturday, July 19 (9 am to noon)
Friday, July 25 (9 am to noon)
Saturday, July 26 (9 am to noon)

Keep watching the bloggy thing for updates.

My online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales will resume on Friday, July 11. I've already picked out some terrific items for that sale and I'll be adding more items on a daily basis.

Thanks to all who came to the garage sales. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 26, 2014


My first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale is Friday, June 27 and Saturday, June 28 at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The sale times are 9 am to noon each day.

I'm almost finished with my garage sale preparations. I have to make signs for the boxes and for the refrigerator that serves as a kind of garage sale bulletin board. That's about it.

I'm up to about 30 e-mails or phone calls from people who wanted to know if they could come to the sale tonight or, in one case, at 7 am on Friday morning. I appreciate their wanting first crack at the wondrous items I have for sale. I'm confounded by their belief that I would actually do this for them and screw over my other customers.

I was amused by the one caller who told me that I was clearly not interested in accommodating a "serious buyer." He's right. I much prefer happy-go-lucky customers who make the garage sales a pleasure for me. Somehow, I'll survive without his serious business.

In the future, I might accommodate buyers who can't come to the sales at the listed times.  But they would only be offered the opportunity to come after the listed times and not before. Also, unless I know them, I would charge them a cover charge. Long gone are the days when I sit patiently for a after-hours customer to go through every box and buy $3 worth of comics. My time is much more valuable to me than that.

I'm taking a calmer approach to this summer's garage sales. They will be more of them, but I won't spend hours and days going through hundreds of boxes for items I know will sell quickly.  I'm sure there will always be hundreds of items like that in each sale, but my aim has always been to sell everything I don't want to keep. So I'm going through the boxes in a more methodical manner that will, hopefully, enable me to clear space in some of the rooms in my house and reduce my rented storage unit from two back down to one.

For this summer's sales, I've set my weekly goals than I did last year. I recognize the competition from comics conventions in the state. I think there's one almost every weekend.

I'm also looking at a lot of paying writing gigs on my desk. While I will always make sure I have plenty of good stuff for sale at these events, I'm not going to obsess about it.

I have plenty of paying writing work on my desk. I have other revenue streams besides the writing and the VAOS sales. They will all have to share my attention.

I expect to have fun at this weekend's garage sales. I think you'll have fun at them, too. I think you'll find stuff you didn't even know you wanted.

I hope to see you on Friday and/or Saturday.

Have a great weekend.

Tony Isabella   


From Archie's Jokebook Magazine #73. If you can identify the artist(s), please post a comment with that identification.


From Archie's Jokebook Magazine #73. If you can identify the artist(s), please post a comment with that identification.


From Archie's Jokebook Magazine #73. If you can identify the artist(s), please post a comment with that identification.


From Archie's Jokebook Magazine #73. If you can identify the artist(s), please post a comment with that identification.


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 138-plus-part series on the comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics.  I’ve added the “plus” to my description of this series because there may be a few issues I missed in my initial explorations.

Archie's Jokebook Magazine was launched with an unnumbered issue in 1953 and continued until #288 [November 1982] for a total of 277 issues. That’s not a math mistake. The title skipped issues #4-14. I have no idea why.

Archie's Jokebook Magazine #73 [September 1963] is not indexed on the Grand Comics Database.  Since I own this issue, that won’t stop me from writing about it. Since I’m not confident in my ability to identify its writers and artists, I won’t be able to tell who those talented creators were. What I will do is scan and post some of the pages and run them as addendums to today’s bloggy thing.

The cover logo splits “jokebook” into two words, but it’s one word in the indicia. The book is mostly composed of gag strips of either one page or half a page. Only four strips or features run more than a page and none of them runs more than two pages. Unless otherwise noted, Archie is the title star of these strips.

“Do You Need Extra Money?” The inside front cover is a full-page ad from the Cheerful Card Company of White Plains, New York. You could make $75 if you sold a hundred boxes of Christmas cards.

“Fashion Passion” (1 page) has Archie and Reggie digging the lovely chicks on the beach while waiting for Betty and Veronica. When the girls apologize for keeping them waiting, the boys reward them with a couple of ice-cream cones.

Gosh, Ronnie! How can you ever figure boys out?

Archie, Berry, Veronica and Jughead visit an ancient Aztec temple in “Mexican Vacation” (2 pages). You can read the story in one of today’s addendums.

Jughead stars in “Stage Door Johnny-Come-Lately” (1 page). The boys are shocked to see Jughead wearing a suit and buying flowers. They never knew he was interested in girls. He enters the stage door of a theater advertising “Follies!” and “Girls! Girls! Girls!” Jug is there to give flowers to his Aunt Jenny, the cleaning woman of the theater.

Dilton Doiley stars in “Swell Yell” (1 page). This one is too good not to share with you in an addendum.

In “Swing It, Man!” (half-page), Archie and Reggie are playing on Leroy’s swing to the amusement of the girls. What the girls don’t know is that, when they swing high enough, they can ogle the sun-bathing beauty in the next yard.

Veronica stars in “Auto Know Better” (half-page). She was driving and got into an accident. Her father isn’t worried about the car, just that she left the scene of the accident. She says she didn’t, pointing to the fence, hat and sign stuck to the front of the car. She brought the accident with her!

“Billy Wins with Bendix” is a full-page comic strip advertising the Bendix automatic gear.

“Archie Wind-Up Dolls” (2 pages) features a selection of said dolls based on Archie characters. If you wind up the Archie doll, it dates the nearest girl doll. Don’t bother to wind up the Jughead doll because it doesn’t do anything.

Next is a page featuring half-page ads for the Task Force war game and the Convoy of Terror naval war game, which have been discussed in previous July 1963 bloggy things.

Veronica stars in “Fulfilling Future” (1 page). She’s using summer to plan her future, which includes going to the beach to meet new boys she can date in the fall and winter.

“Profiles in Courage” (half-page) has Mr. Lodge showing Archie the portraits of the Lodge military hero ancestors. One painting shows a man peeping out from the border. That ancestor was a spy for the Confederate army.

“Figuratively Speaking” has reporter Archie asking Coach Kleats how the team is shaping up. The coach says they can’t field or hit too well and probably won’t win a game all season. The last panel shows the team is a girls team and both Archie and the coach think these girls are shaping up just fine.

Jughead stars in “A Zest for Rest” (1 page). He loves tiddlywinks because it’s the only sport he can play lying down.

Moose stars in “Placement Service” (1 page). Veronica asks Moose to keep an eye on her young cousin Leroy. When Leroy refuses to stay put, Moose sticks him to the beach by putting a beach umbrella pole down the lad’s swimming trunks.

Betty and Veronica star in “Nile Nillies” (1 page). Betty’s friend Alice has a Cleopatra hairdo inspired by the movie. This is a funny and sexy page. I’m going to post it in an addendum.

“Archie’s Scrambled Jokes” (1 page) has five animals and five gag lines. Your job is to match the animal to the correct gag.

There’s a full-page house ad for Archie’s Jokes #22, which is part of the Archie Giant Series Magazine run. For a quarter, Archie will send the issue to you hot off the presses.

“Gumming up the Works” (1 page) has Jughead searching for his gum at a bowling alley.

“Slick Hicks” (1 page) has Archie and Jughead not wanting to look like beginners with the surfing crowd. The life preservers around their waists blows their cover.

“Our Inquiring Photographer Asks: What Do You Think of Television Commercials?” (1 page). The photographer isn’t a regular member of the Archie cast of characters. The page has Jughead, Dilton, Moose, Betty and Reggie.

Reggie stars in “Delightful Eyeful” (1 page). Resting under a tree, Reggie isn’t fazed as a two-headed dog, an outer-space alien, a man so tall you only see half of him and Frankenstein’s monster. What gets his attention is a sexy brunette wearing a beret and a tight little black dress.

Pop Tate stars in “It Pays to Advertise” (1 page). When business is slow, Pop goes to woods full of trees carved with lovers hearts and messages...and carves an ad for his store on one of them. Why must he be so cruel to nature?

U.S. Royal Bike Tires and Popsicle share the next page. I bet it’s been decades since I’ve had a Popsicle.

“Archie Club News” is two pages of stories from kid reporters like Daniel Williams of Clarkston, Michigan. He writes about diamonds and wins $5. Ellen Weinberg of Chicago wins $3 for sharing jokes. Membership in the Archie Club costs fifteen cents and gets you an official club button and a snappy press card.

The Wilson Chemical Company of Tyrone, Pennsylvania wants readers to sell White Cloverine brand salve and earn premiums and/or cash. They have a half-page ad with small print. The rest of the ad page offers 100 Toy Soldiers for a buck and a quarter.

Jughead stars in “Man of Action” (1 page). Sitting in a hammock, he explains why he’s too tired to go swimming. It’s because his heart beat 102,000 times today, his blood traveled 169,000 miles, he took breath 22,000 times, he spoke 4,700 words, he moved 748 muscles and used 7,100,000 brain cells. No wonder he’s exhausted.

“Moose Speaks Up” (2 pages) is one, two or three panel gags about how dumb Moose is. I hope he beat up the writer when he saw them.

Betty and Veronica star in “Feminology” (1 page). Dilton is showing the girls “the smartest electronic machine ever constructed!” The machine fills up an entire wall because, you know, it was 1963 and all. I’ll post this one in an addendum as well.

Betty and Veronica star in “Repeat Treat” (half-page). When Ronnie tells Betty she shouldn’t repeat gossip, Betty replies:

Yes, I know! But what else can you do with it?

Veronica stars in “Operation Rescue” (half-page). She beseeches a lifeguard to save Archie...from Betty!

On the last interior page, Wallace Brown once again seeks to have  boys, girls, men and women sell their Christmas cards.

The inside back cover offers a free lucky piece if the reader joins the Archie Comic Book Club by subscribing to one or more of eight titles: Archie, Pep, Laugh, Jughead, Betty & veronica, Archie’s Joke Book, Life with Archie and Archie’s Mad House. The cost of a ten-issue subscription is one dollar.

The back cover exclaims “Give Me Just One Evening and I’ll Teach You to Hypnotize Easily!” It’s an ad from Palmer-Jones Publishing. Thankfully, the ad is no longer valid because I have a weird compulsion to send them $1.98.

That’s it for another JULY 1963 bloggy thing. I have a busy weekend coming up, but I’ll be back next Tuesday with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


My first VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF GARAGE SALE is happening on Friday, June 27 and Saturday, June 28 at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The sale hours are 9 am to noon each day.

Since the previous update, I have arranged most of the boxes and tables in the garage.  But I might adjust them to see if I can make more room for physically challenged fans. I'll let you know if that works out in tomorrow's update.

There will be 20-22 half-size boxes of comic books priced at a quarter or five for a dollar. I can't remember everything in them, but I do know I put in long runs of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Detective Comics. They are scattered throughout the boxes to keep dealers from just swooping in and grabbing entire boxes. If you get the impression I am trying to discourage dealers from coming to my garage sales, you have gotten the correct impression.

In the hardcover and trade paperback boxes, I have dozens of Judge Dredd collections and annuals.

In the magazine boxes, I have what I think is a complete run of Nemo.

Books and comics and such that didn't sell in my online sales will be put into the garage sales. I'll be adding other stuff right up to the ceremonial opening of the garage door on Friday morning.

I love going through my VAOS boxes. Sometimes I find stuff I know I want to keep, such as my run of Jimmy Olsen which includes all but some of the first 20 or so issues. I'll part with those someday, but not for a while.

Sometimes I find stuff I want to try selling online first...such as a complete run of The Joker from the 1970s. I will be offering the run in one of my online sales unless someone makes me a terrific offer between now and then.

My box of specially priced (more expensive) comic books may not be as full as I would like because I'm not sure how many comics I can bag and price before this first garage sale. But there will always be new stuff in that box at subsequent garage sales.

That's all for this update. Check back tomorrow for another one.

Tony Isabella



Here's the final page of "The Manhunt!" from Rawhide Kid #73 [December, 1969]. Written and drawn by Larry Lieber with inks by John Tartaglione.


The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 58th installment of that series.

The Rawhide Kid #73 [December 1969] has another swell cover by the team of Larry Lieber (pencils) and Mike Esposito (inks). I had to laugh at the copy at the bottom of the cover because, in the story itself, it’s the Kid doing the manhunt stuff. I probably purchased this comic while I was attending John Carroll University on the far east side of Cleveland. I lasted about seven months at the Jesuit-run institution, long enough for me to write a few pieces for the school newspaper, host one school radio news segment, date one of my teachers and come to the conclusion that the Jesuits who ran the place were arrogant jerks. Needless to say, they have never offered me a honorary doctorate.  But I digress.

“The Manhunt!” (20 pages) is written and drawn by Lieber with inks by John Tartaglione. Lieber is really on a roll with the title as the 1960s draw to a close. This story is a grim and gritty look at the chasm between the life Johnny Clay cherishes and the far darker one he must lead.

The story opens with Johnny planning to stay a few days in a small town in a territory where he’s not wanted by the law.  The sheriff recognizes him as the Rawhide Kid and orders him out of town just as rancher Tom Harrison and his wife ride into town.

Mrs. Harrison remarks on the Kid’s resemblance to their late son. The Harrisons intervene with the sheriff and offer Johnny a job on their ranch. The sheriff thinks they’re making a mistake, but it’s a chance they are willing to take.

Johnny quickly becomes part of the ranch. He pulls his own weight which impresses the Harrisons and their foreman. He usually takes his evening meal with the older couple. Tom is looking forward to teaching the young man chess. The Kid begins to think - this time - he’ll be able to put away his guns forever.

Tragedy strikes in the form of cold-blooded murder. Returning from town with the ranch’s monthly payroll, Harrison is ambushed by four outlaws. When the rancher tries to defend the payroll, the outlaws shoot him dead. A young boy is witness to the killing, but is not spotted by the murderers.

When Tom’s horse comes home without him and when Mrs. Harrison sees her husband’s saddlebag is missing, she and Johnny fear the worst. It’s Johnny who finds the body of the slain rancher.

The funeral is a small one. As Mrs. Harrison and his fellow ranch hands bow their heads, a grief-stricken Johnny reflects:

He was a kind man, who treated me like a son! Why...why did it have to happen to him?

The sheriff rides up with news. They got descriptions of the four killers from the boy. They formed a posse, but the outlaws escaped beyond the territorial limits where the sheriff has no jurisdiction to go after them. That doesn’t faze Johnny:

Sheriff, I don’t give a hang about territorial limits. A good man is dead...and those who killed him must pay for it!

The ranch hands are startled.

Did you see the look in his eyes–-so cold and menacing!!

Yeh! He must’ve really cared for the old man!

Johnny comes out of the bunkhouse with his guns on. Mrs. Harrison tries to talk him about of going after the outlaws. She fears she will lose him as well. He tells her:

You’re forgetting one thing! I’m not just Johnny Clay...I’m also the Rawhide Kid! And what I’m fixin’ to do, I do better than anyone else.

The Kid was the Wolverine of the Old West.

The sheriff is happy to give Rawhide the descriptions. After “days of hard riding,” the kid gets a lead on one of the outlaws, said to be heading for the town of Gopher Gap. The outlaws have split up, but the grim young gunfighter vows to get them all no matter how long it takes.

A bartender tells the Kid the man he’s looking for is Rafe Jordan, “as mean as they come!” A friend of Jordan’s overhears this and he rushes to the hotel to warn the outlaw.

Jordan grabs his rifle. He figures to drop Rawhide from his hotel room window. But the Kid spots the glint of the rifle in the window and fires first. Jordan falls from the window, mortally wounded. Seeking to clean the slate with his last breath, Rafe tells Rawhide who the other bandits are and where they went after they split up.

Outlaw #2 is Moose Lawson, working as a blacksmith in Eureka Flats. Rawhide plans to take him in to stand trial, but the town’s lawman isn’t having any of that:

Well, I don’t know which of you is tellin’ the truth, and which is lyin’...but I do know that Moose has never been in trouble before while the Rawhide Kid is wanted by half the lawmen in the territory! So unless you can prove your accusation, Kid, you’d best leave Lawson alone!

This being before the emergence of anti-stalking laws, the Rawhide Kid decides to work on Lawson’s guilty conscience. He sits across from the blacksmith shop for hours, just staring at Moose. Wherever Lawson goes, the Kid follows. Moose can’t even eat in peace because the Kid is always watching him. Before long, even the wind hitting his window rouses Lawson from his restless sleep.

Lawson snaps. He attacks Rawhide in the street, knocking him to the ground. Oh, it’s on and, two pages later, the beaten Moose admits to his role in the robbing of Tom Harrison. He didn’t kill the old man, but he didn’t stop the killing either. The town’s sheriff is listening to it all:

I’ll take Moose in...and deliver him to the law in the territory where the crime was committed!

Outlaw #3 is Les Cooper, who bought an old mine in the hills and is working it for gold. Rawhide goes to the mine, not knowing Cooper knows he’s been tracking him.

Cooper has set a trap for Rawhide. Inside the mine, the Kid sees a bundle of lit dynamite. Shooting the fuse from the dynamite, Johnny  charges out of the mine. Cooper tries to out-draw the gunfighter. Rawhide fires and severs Cooper’s holster from his belt. That makes three down and one to go:

There’s the town where I’ll find Blackie Yates, the last member of the gang! He’s the one that I’m after most! The one who shot Mister Harrison!

To beat the Rawhide Kid, the frightened Yates enlists his kinsman Jake. This is not a close family because Jake changes the payment terms from half of Blackie’s loot to all of it.

Rawhide rides into town and finds himself between Blackie and Jake. Whichever one he faces, the other will shoot him in the back. The bad guys are a mite overconfident.

The Kid drops to the ground as Jake fires and Blackie gets gunned down. Before Jake can fire a second time, Rawhide fires and sends  Jake to join his relative in Boot Hill.

The manhunt’s over. Tom Harrison has been avenged. Justice has been served. All that’s left is for Rawhide to return the payroll to the ranch and break two good hearts.  Check out the addendum to today’s blog to read the emotional final page of this fine story.

“The Manhunt” has never been reprinted in the United States. That’s a shame because it’s further and compelling evidence as to just how good a writer and artist Lieber was.

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” is a mere half-page this time around with the remainder of the page featuring an ad for the Marvelmania International membership kit. There are only two news items in the truncated bulletin page. The first announces the untimely death of artist George Klein.  The second item explains Archie Goodwin has been too busy writing newspaper strips to do any stories for Marvel, but that the company is hopefully he’ll be writing for them again soon.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” plugs Chamber of Darkness #2, Silver Surfer #10, Fantastic Four #93, Spider-Man #79 (with the Prowler), Avengers #70 (Squadron Sinister), Thor #170, Captain America #120, X-Men #62 (Ka-Zar), Daredevil #58 (Stunt-Master), Hulk #122 (with the Fantastic Four), Iron Man #20, Sub-Mariner #20 (Doctor Doom), Captain Marvel #19, Sgt. Fury #72 (the Casablanca homage that went south real quick), Capt, Savage #17, Marvel’s Greatest Comics #24,
Millie the Model #177, Chili #8, Mad about Millie #6 and Our Love Story #2. Whew!

Marvelmania? For $2 (including shipping), you got a jumbo poster, a color catalog and a decal sheet.

The “Riding the Trail with Rawhide” letters page had three letters and three panels from past issues. Norm Severud of Durango, Mexico asks how Johnny Clay got his start and the Marvel person answering the letters gives him a three-paragraph origin summary.

Commander Michael Sullivan, based out of San Francisco, has praise for Rawhide Kid #69 (“The Executioner”). Greg Mulconery of Sylmar, California thinks #71 (“The Last Warrior”) was one of the better issues in the series.

The classified ad pages included ads from Comic Sales of Brooklyn; Robert Bell of Hauppauge, New York; Howard Rogofsky of Flushing and Grand Book Center of Brooklyn. For four bucks and a photo of your own heroic self, readers could buy a giant size 2 feet by 3 feet comic-book cover with said photo on it. As a poor college student, I didn’t have four bucks to spare.

That’s it for this edition of Rawhide Kid Wednesday. I’ll be back tomorrow with something different.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


My first VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF GARAGE SALE of the summer will be Friday, June 27, and Saturday, June 28, at 840 Damon Drive in my home town of Medina, Ohio. The sale hours are 9 am to noon each day.

These next few days are the home stretch of garage sale preparation for me. I have about a dozen or so boxes to go through before I am finished stocking the boxes of comic books, magazines, trade paperbacks and hardcovers. These will be priced as followed:

Comic books.....25 cents each or five for a buck
Magazines.....25 cents each or five for a buck
Trade paperbacks.....two bucks each
Hardcovers.....five bucks each
Paperbacks.....25 cents each or five for a buck

These prices will be in effect for this first sale. I'm considering changing the prices for the next sale, eliminating the five for a buck discount. You can prevent that by buying lots of stuff from me and making this first sale successful beyond my wildest dreams of avarice.

In addition to those boxes, I will have a box of comics written by me and a box of specially priced comic books. As always, I'll sign anything I've written for free, whether you buy it from me or not.

My 1000 Comic Books You Must Read will be on sale at $20 a copy.

I'll have rare Superman posters from a quarter-century ago, priced at $25 each. 

I will have at least a dozen $5 mystery boxes available...and, if time permits, I'll put together more of those before the sale.

I won't have boxes of kids comics for this first sale because I sold all the ones I had ready at my last garage sale of 2013. I hope to have at least one box of kids comics for the second sale. What I will have is a table of kid-friendly hardcovers and trade paperbacks at a buck each.

Restocking for these garage sales is going to be a daily thing for me. Some weeks, depending on which boxes I go through, I might restock more comic books than anything else. Other weeks, it might be magazines or hardcovers.

Occasionally, the new items will be something I haven't sold at previous sales. I'll have some boxed trading cards sets on sale this time around.

If you have questions about any items, particularly if they are suitable for younger readers, I will answer those questions to the best of my ability.

Payment is by cash, though I will take checks from those customers I have known for a long time. 

All sales are final.

Absolutely no haggling over prices. 

To bring up a concern of mine...last year, I received complaints about customers, specifically two dealers, virtually pushing other customers out of the way so that they could get first crack at some choice comics. I see that even once this year and the dealers will be barred from this and all future garage sales.

No one has "dibs" on anything I'm selling. Wait your turn.

No weapons, save for my scathing wit, are allowed on my property. 

Now that the grumpy stuff is out of the way, let me tell you why I love doing these garage sales.

Yes, I love making some extra money and reducing the size of my Vast Accumulation of Stuff.

But I also get a big kick out of fans coming to my garage sales and finding great stuff at incredibly low prices. I get a big kick out of readers discovering new things. I get a big kick out of discussing comics and other stuff with my customers. For six hours a week, I get to experience all the best of being a comic-shop owner without any of the drawbacks.

My plan is to hold both a weekly garage sale and a weekly online sale. However, because of the Independence Day weekend, I won't have my next garage sale until July 11 & 12 and I won't have another online sale until July 11.

My garage sales classifieds went live on Craig's List last week and started running in The Gazette (Medina) today. I'll have a new garage sale update for you every day for the rest of this week and some of those updates will reveal some of the "finds" I've made for the sale.

As always, thanks for your patronage.

Tony Isabella


It’s Dinosaur Day at the bloggy thing. We’ll start with a pair of recent reptilian releases...

Poseidon Rex [2013] isn’t a completely awful movie, but it’s not a particularly good one either. Here’s the IMDB summary:

A small, secluded island off the coast of Belize suddenly finds itself terrorized by a deadly predator from the planet's distant past when deep sea divers accidentally awaken an ancient evil.

Directed by Mark L. Lester, who has helmed a lot of entertaining B-movies, P-Rex doesn’t have any element I haven’t seen in some other B-movie. The dinosaur reminds me of Dinoshark with more mobility on land. The search for treasure at the behest of an evil gangster - in this case, a drug lord - reminds me of Shark Zone. There wasn’t anything new about the dinosaur attacks. When I watched the movie the first time, it felt like I was seeing it for the second time.

Writer Rafael Jordan also has solid B-movie credentials, including crafting the story for the awesome Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators and the screenplay for the almost-as-much-fun Copperhead. But he comes up empty with this one.

None of the characters are likeable with the possible exception of a boat captain played by Berne Velasquez. He’s black, so you know what his life expediency is in a movie like this.

Brian Krause is a larcenous diver. Anne McDaniels is a feisty sexy scientist. Steven Helmkamp is a handsome young jerk. Candice Nunes is his needy girlfriend. According to IMDB, Corin Nemac, one of my favorite B-movie actors, “was originally cast in the lead, but after a few days of filming was critically injured when a Belizean Coast Guard boat ran into a semi-submerged barge while transporting the crew to set. His leg was shattered and he required multiple blood transfusions to save his life.”

Nemac could have brought something better to the lead role, but I don’t know if he could have saved the movie. I do know this movie wasn’t worth the injuries he suffered.

I’d rate Poseidon Rex as a one-and-done movie...and that’s only if you can watch it for free. I definitely don’t recommend buying it or going the least bit out of your way to watch it. Keep walking. Nothing to see here.


The Dinosaur Experiment [2013] is also known as Raptor Ranch. The alliterative title is much more in keeping with the nature of this B-movie and is what it’s listed under at IMDB. Here’s the summary of the film from that website:

Fossil Ridge, once believed to be a cattle ranch is discovered to be a breeding ground for vicious prehistoric velociraptors. When the bloodthirsty dinosaurs escape, the townspeople must fight to survive the deadly raptors.

I was disappointed with The Dinosaur Experiment when I first viewed it, but, over time, I’ve begun to think of it more kindly.  Almost no one involved in the movie, from the director and writers to the cast, has much experience.  For many, it’s their only IMDB credit. For a first effort, it’s not that bad.

The plot's pretty basic. Horny young people on a road trip. Insane scientist with one foot in the grave making dinos on his secluded ranch. Small town whose main business seems to be a diner you would never eat in if you had a choice. People get chomped by the dinos or crushed by a giant rubber T-Rex foot. If you approach the movie in a goofy frame of mind, you can have fun with it.

Jana Mashonee plays waitress-by-necessity and wanna-be singer Abbi Whitecloud. She’s the best thing in the movie as she battles dinos and tries to keep other cast members alive. Fernando Lamas plays an FBI agent whose role in the movie is utterly inconsequential. I’m wondering if the director used his birthday money to buy Lamas for a day of shooting.  If he’d waited a few more birthdays, maybe he could have gotten Carmen Electra or Tiffany.

The acting is so-so. The CGI and rubber effects are mediocre. The setting for the climatic battle between Abbi and the T-Rex is kind of sort of cool. The after-the-climatic-battle conclusion comes out of nowhere...

Abby, who cleans up right nice, is singing on the stage of a rural nightclub. She has back-up singers and dancers. A surviving raptor shows up for not-so-happy hour. Movie ends. You gotta give director and co-writer Dan Gordon points for trying so hard.

The Dinosaur Experiment/Raptor Ranch is worth seeing once, but only if you can get it as an inexpensive rental.  It’s not worth buying unless you’re related to someone who was in it.


Raptor [2001] is the unofficial Carnosaur 4 and it’s more fun than such a lousy movie has any right to be. Directed by Jim Wynorski  under the pseudonym Jay Andrews, it doesn’t appear to have even one new dinosaur scene. Every dino scene in the film is from Carnosaur, Carnosaur 2 or Carnosaur 3: Primal Species. Though the new scenes don’t always match the old footage around them, there is a perverse genius to how Wynorski managed this.

Here’s the IMDB summary of the movie:

When a series of unexplained vicious animal attacks strikes his community, Sheriff Jim Tanner and his assistant Barbara trace them back to a Dr. Hyde, a former military researcher whose government funding for a dinosaur cloning project was cut. When the Pentagon discovers Hyde obtained foreign backing to continue his experiments, they send in a strike team to save Tanner and Barbara and stop Hyde.

IMDB gets one thing wrong, Barbara [Melissa Brasselle] isn’t really the sheriff’s assistant. She’s a former lover and an animal control expert whose clothes generally consist of tight shirts designed to calm wild animals by drawing their attention to her breasts. All I can say is...mission accomplished!

The wonderful Eric Roberts plays the sheriff and he seems to “get” these B-movies better than most. He’s good enough to overplay his role just enough to fit in with the movie.  Unfortunately, the same can not be said for a favorite actor of mine.

Corben Bernstein plays Doc Hyde. He wears this silly beret as if he were trying to keep from being recognized. Throughout the movie, he is just one “bra-ha-ha” away from comedic gold. He seems relieved  when a character from an earlier Carnosaur film who stands in for his character in this one is eaten.

Raptor could spawn the most lethal drinking game of all time. The game would go like this. If a dinosaur scene is from Carnosaur, you take one drink. If it came from Carnosaur 2, you take two. If it’s from Carnosaur 3, you take three. If you choose to play this game, have 9-1-1 on speed-dial.

You should see Raptor. Don’t pay good money for it, but, if you can rent it or buy for a couple of bucks, go for it.


The Eden Formula [2006], a low budget made-for-TV film written and directed by John Carl Buechler for the Syfy Channel, is also known as Tyrannosaurus Wrecks and unofficially as Carnosaur 5. However, it doesn’t use a whole lot of material recognizable as coming from the earlier Carnosaur movies.  Instead, its big-ass Tyrannosaurus  is mostly played by a goofy-looking puppet. Convincing, it ain’t.

IMDB offers this handy summary:

In the industrial district of downtown Los Angeles, Dr. Harrison Parker (Jeff Fahey) has developed the Eden Formula. This new, revolutionary, cutting-edge technology can synthetically reproduce virtually any organism. And it does!

Sidebar. Wikipedia’s summary of the film is filled with errors that include identifying villain Tony Todd as a police officer who helps Fahey battle the Tyrannosaurus.

Jeff Fahey is another fun actor who was made for movies like this. He pulls off being a tough-as-nails former marine and a genius science guy. Dee Wallace plays a corporate climber who ends up caught in a deadly situation when heavily-armed and murderous spies break into the Los Angeles lab for the Eden Formula. No one chews the scenery more effectively than Wallace. She clearly has so much fun being in these movies that it’s infectious. On the down side, Tony Todd is terrible as a disgraced ex-soldier with a grudge against Fahey’s character.

Despite its low budget, The Eden Formula is fun to watch.  It does drag in a few places, but it’s got some good supporting players and a few surprises. I don’t know that I’ll watch it again, but I don’t regret buying it. It’s definitely worth renting and, if you can get it at  a good price, buying it.

I hope you enjoyed these two days of monster movies. Come back on the morrow for another “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.”

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 23, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...The Fifth Beatle, Black Canary/Zatanna and the latest Archie Archives.


I watch a lot of monster movies. Here’s what I thought of some of them...

The Beast of Hollow Mountain/The Neanderthal Man [Shout! Factory; $26.99] was a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack I bought because it had been many years since I’d seen the first of those two movies and I had never seen the second. The films were originally released in 1956 and 1953. Here’s the IMDB summary of The Beast of Hollow Mountain:

An American cowboy living in Mexico discovers his cattle is being eaten by a giant prehistoric dinosaur.

Wikipedia claims this is the first movie to combine dinosaurs and cowboys, a winning combination for the young Tony Isabella when I first watched the movie on late-night Cleveland television.  I was disappointed there was only one dinosaur - an Allosaurus - and that the creature didn’t show up until relatively late in the movie, but I still got a kick out of it.  Just as I did when I watched it again.

American cowboy Jimmy Ryan (Guy Madison) has it real bad for Sarita (Patricia Medina), who is the daughter of a leading citizen of the Mexican village where the movie takes place. The attraction is not one-sided, which angers Enrique (Eduardo Noriega) the richest guy in town on account of he and Sarita are supposed to get married any day now. Enquire tries to ruin Jimmy’s ranch to drive him from the town. Just as I got weary of the south-of-the-border testosterone, the legendary Beast shows up.

The movie is based on a story idea by noted special effects wizard Willis O'Brien, who co-wrote the script under the pseudonym El Toro Estrella. He was supposed to do the special effects for the movie, but that never happened. The same story idea inspired The Valley of Gwangi (1969), a much superior dinosaurs and cowboys movie which is also a favorite of mine.

Two supporting characters - a young boy and his alcoholic father, still grieving over the loss of the boy’s mother - are the actual heart of the movie. When something bad happens to one of them, it is a honestly devastating moment.

The final battle between the Beast and the cowboys is not exactly a special effects classic, but it moves fast enough to work well. There is some genuine suspense and a satisfying conclusion to the conflict. I like the movie enough to keep it and likely watch again in a few years.


The Neanderthal Man was a one-and-done viewing. The best part was watching decent journeyman actors like Robert Shayne, Robert Crane and Beverly Garland try to make something out of weak dialogue and a frankly silly story. The IMDB sums it up:

Professor Groves, expert in prehistoric life, proves his theories with an extract that'll regress a cat to a saber-tooth tiger and man to a Neanderthal.

Groves, played by Shayne, turns a tabby into a sabertooth, his maid into a cat-woman (only seen in photographs) and himself into this faux-caveman. Shayne plays the scientist as a total D-bag.  He is nasty to his daughter, his fiancee, Crane’s intrigued scientist and a group of fellow researchers who think Groves is off his rocker.

The sabertooth kills some cattle and people. The professor kills a few more. The final match is between Groves and the sabertooth. I’m sure you can figure out how that ends.

The movie was directed by German E.A. Dupont from a painfully weak and choppy script by Aubrey Wisberg and Jack Pollexfen.  Here are a couple of “interesting” facts about the movie.

The imperious Professor Groves mistakenly tells the other science nerds that Neanderthals are higher on the evolutionary chain than Cro-Magnon man.

Robert Shayne’s name is misspelled in the credits as Robert Shane. Maybe it was deliberate. Maybe Shayne was going for some plausible deniability for his part in this turkey.

The long-toothed fangs of the sabertooth tiger come and go during the movie. They never look remotely convincing.

The last line of dialogue in the movie made me wince:

He tampered with things beyond his province...beyond what any man should do...and if it was madness, well...those whom the gods would destroy... they first make mad!

I do have a vague memory of watching a few minutes of this movie as a kid. Given my willingness to watch any monster movie back then, I think that says a lot about how bad the movie is.


Our last movie for today is a strange one: Demeking the Sea Monster [2009]. The DVD is not generally available in the United States and I purchased my copy on eBay. The box says its running time is 101 minutes, but it really seems longer.

From the back cover of the DVD:

In 1969, a young man named Hachiya finds an anonymous letter in a glass bottle which foretells of the apocalyptic arrival of a cosmic monster known as Demeking. Since then, he has physically prepared himself in a long struggle for that fateful day when the monster will arrive.

If you managed to grab a copy of this movie, don’t hold your breath waiting for that fateful day. The closer we come to it is a dream sequence another character has. From Dread Central:

Set in a dreary port town in 1970, the story revolves around a group of boys led by the older Kameoka (Kohei Kiyasu) who form their own exploration group. One day Kameoka meets a strange man named Hachiya (Takeshi Nadagi) who works at the local amusement park. Hachiya is convinced a vision of the future he experienced is real, and one day he will have to fight a giant monster called Demeking to stop it from destroying Tokyo. When the time comes, Hachiya suddenly up and leaves. However, with the guidance of a note he leaves behind, Kameoka and his friends set off on an adventure to discover the true nature of Demeking.

Kameoka is the one who has the dream I mentioned above. He and his young explorer pals get far more screen time than Hachiya and the difference in their age gets a little creepy.

The acting and characters aren’t bad. Looking at a future working in the family tofu shop, Kameoka’s desperate yearning for something more exciting than a life where he’s bullied by just about everyone in that life is portrayed in compelling understated fashion. Those young kids he hangs around with look up to Kameoka - maybe the only ones who do - and are game little adventurers. Hachiya spends most of the movie being mysteriously boring.

While I appreciate the attempt to make a different kind of monster movie, the high point of Demeking is that dream sequence in which Kameoka witness the destruction of his city and his own demise by a giant fire-breathing snail. The cosmic monster isn’t similar to any other kaiju I can recall and the sequence is exciting.  I wish there had been more of it in the movie.

Demeking the Sea Monster is in Japanese with English subtitles. I only recommend it to the kaiju fanatics.  It’s not a movie I would watch a second time, so it’ll probably end up in one of my online sales before too long.

I’ll have more monster movie reviews for you tomorrow.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Friday, June 20, 2014



We’re getting closer to my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales at my home in legendary Medina, Ohio, but that doesn’t mean an end to my ONLINE Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales.

Here’s how the sale works...

First come, first serve. In other words, the quicker you e-mail me, the better your chances of getting the item or items.  Only e-mail orders will be accepted and you should not send payment until you get a confirmation e-mail from me.  All listed items are in good or better condition unless otherwise noted. 

Let me stress that “e-mail only” rule.  Most of the few mistakes I have made in assembling/shipping orders have happened with orders I accepted via phone or Facebook message.  So I’m not gonna break my own rule anymore.

You should always include your mailing address with your orders. That speeds up the packaging and the shipping.

Items will be shipped via United States Postal Service.  There is a $5 shipping/handling charge for all orders of any size unless I specify otherwise in the item description. If your final order is over $100, shipping is free.

Payments are by check, money order or PayPal.  My PayPal address is the same as my email address.  Purchases will generally be shipped within a week of checks clearing,  money orders received or PayPal payments received.

Because this is a one-man operation done between family, household  and work responsibilities, these items are only available to buyers within the United States and to APO buyers.

When you receive your order, please check it and let me know of any omissions as soon as possible.  I’ll be double-checking the orders on my end, but, if there’s a problem, I want to make it right in a timely fashion.

Items will only be offered online once or twice before going into my garage sales. However, since I will be taking a week off from my online sales after this sale, this is your LAST CHANCE to purchase these items online.

As always, your orders are greatly appreciated.

This sale runs from today through Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

Here are this week’s items...

1000 COMIC BOOKS YOU MUST READ by Tony Isabella. A fun ride through the history of the American comic book that showcases the variety of the field. Hardcover. Signed on request. Free shipping. $25

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: THE WEDDING [Marvel; 1991]. Reprints material from Amazing Spider-Man #291-293, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, Not Brand Echh #6, the newspaper comic strip and the Shea Stadium wedding. Full-color softcover. First Printing. $7



ASTONISHING SCIENCE FICTION CLASSIC SCI-FI ART. This boxed card set from 21st Century Archives was printed during the 1990s.  There are 50 cards showing Astounding Science Fiction magazine covers from the 30s and 40s in the original box. $5

BIG BUDGET CIRCUS: THE MOST TAXING SHOW ON EARTH [Tundra; 1992]. Boxed set of 36 cards. Written by Peggy Gordon, illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz. 36 outrageous misuses of taxpayer money in full color. $9.

BIZARRE DETECTIVE TRADING CARDS [Kitchen Sink; 1992]. Boxed set of 36 lurid and picturesque detective magazine covers from the 1930s. $7

BLEEDING COOL MAGAZINE #1-3 [November 2012; January, 2013; March, 2013]. First three bimonthly issues of Rich Johnson’s based-on-his-website publication. All three for $8.

BUSH LEAGUE TRADING CARDS [Eclipse; 1989]. Boxed set of thirty-six baseball-style trading cards for the players in the scandal-ridden first Bush administration. Members include George Bush, J. Danforth Quayle, Oliver North, Henry Kissinger and others. On the back of each card is a brief history of the person. $8

CAPTAIN UNIVERSE: POWER UNIMAGINABLE by Bill Mantlo, Steve Ditko, Gerry Conway, Tony Isabella, Rick Leonardi and others [Marvel; 2005]. Reprints nine stories from 1980-1995. Full-color softcover. Signed by request. $10

CEREBUS BOOK FIVE: JAKA’S STORY by Dave Sim and Gerhard [Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1992]. Has issues #114-136. Black-and-white softcover. Third printing. 488 pages. $12

CHICAGO MOB WARS by Max Allan Collins and George Hagenauer [Kitchen Sink; 1993]. This boxed set of 36 deluxe trading cards reveals the truth behind the action-packed saga of Eliot Ness vs. Al Capone and his mob. $5

COMICS JOURNAL LIBRARY VOLUME SEVEN: HARVEY KURTZMAN [Fantagraphics Books; 2006]. This volume focuses on one of comics' most esteemed and influential creators: artist/writer/editor Harvey Kurtzman, whose Comics Journal interviews are collected in this oversized, lavishly illustrated full-color edition. $10

CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR cards [Eclipse; 1993]. A commemorative set of 36 color cards in a boxed set. $20

DARK HORSE PRESENTS #19 (current series). $1

DARK HORSE PRESENTS #20 (current series). $1

DARK HORSE PRESENTS #21 (current series). $1

DARK HORSE PRESENTS #22 (current series). $1

DINOSAURS RULE THE INFANT EARTH [Kitchen Sink; 1993]. Dinosaurs as you’ve never seen them before. This boxed set of 36 cards in full-color tracks those awesome giants from their humble origins to the spectacular cataclysm that wiped them out. Artist and Hollywood wizard Dale Kulpers presents a series of breathtaking images that range from the ethereal to the savage...with a terrific bonus image on the card backs that you can assemble like a puzzle. $5.

DOPE FIENDS: VINTAGE PAPERBACKS OF THE ‘50S AND ‘60S. Compiled and annotated by Doug Aanes [Kitchen Sink; 1995]. The 36-card boxed set features full color art and succinct background information. First printing. $11

DRUG WARS [Eclipse; 1991]. “The Straight Dope on America’s Dirtiest Deals.” There are 36 original trading cards in the boxed set. The cards depict the US Drugs wars of the 80s and 90s and the Bush and Reagan administrations. $9

ELEKTRA LIVES AGAIN by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley [Marvel; 1990]. Full-color oversized graphic novel. Hardcover. First printing. $20

ESSENTIAL DAZZLER VOL. 1 by Chris Claremont, Tom DeFalco and others [2007]. Black-and-white softcover reprinting X-Men #130-131, Amazing Spider-Man #203 and Dazzler #1-21. First printing. $5

ESSENTIAL MARVEL TEAM-UP VOL. 1 by Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Gil Kane and others [2006]. Black-and-white softcover reprinting issues #1-24. $5

ESSENTIAL MS. MARVEL VOL. 1 by Gerry Conway, Chris Claremont, John Buscema and others [2007]. Black-and-white softcover reprinting Ms. Marvel #1-23 and stories from Marvel Super-Heroes Magazine #10-11 and Avengers Annual #10. First printing. $5

ESSENTIAL X-FACTOR VOL. 2 BY Louise Simonson, Walter Simonson and others [2007]. Black-and-white softcover reprinting X-Factor #17-35, X-Factor Annual #2 and Thor #378. First Printing. $5

ESSENTIAL X-FACTOR VOL. 3 by Louise Simonson, Chris Claremont and others [2009]. Black-and-white softcover reprinting X-Factor #36-50, X-Factor Annual #3 and Uncanny X-Men #242-243. First printing. $5


GAHAN WILSON MONSTER BASEBALL TRADING CARD SET [Mirage Publishing; 1990]. Boxed set of 10 full-color original trading cards. $5

IRAN-CONTRA SCANDAL TRADING CARDS by Phil Brancato and Salim Yaqub [Eclipse; 1988]. Boxed set of 36 cards. $5

IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER (1959). Starring Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Dan Dailey, Dolores Gray and Michael Kidd. Unopened DVD of one of my favorite movies. Three World War II buddies make a solemn vow to meet in ten years. Their lives haven’t gone as they hoped/planned, but friendship puts them all on the right track. Funny and human. Terrific musical numbers. $5


LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF FERRO LAD (DC Comics Classic Library) by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan [2009]. Collecting Adventure Comics #346, 347, 352-355 and 357! The Legion battles both the Fatal Five and the Sun Eater – and only the ultimate sacrifice can save Ferro Lad's friends! Unopened hardcover. $20

LITTLE WORLD OF DON CAMILLO by Giovanni Guareschi [Pocket Books; 1965]. Tenth printing. $5

LOVE & ROCKETS TRADING CARDS by Gilbert & Jamie Hernandez [1992]. Boxed set of 36 cards with all new art. $5

MARVEL MASTERWORKS ATLAS ERA JUNGLE ADVENTURE VOLUME 3 by Jay Scott Pike, Syd Shores, John Romita, Don Heck. Joe Maneely and Fred Kida [2013]. Reprints Lorna the Jungle Girl #13-16, Jungle Tales #5-7 & Jungle Action #4-6. Unopened hardcover. $25

MARVEL ZOMBIES VS. ARMY OF DARKNESS by John Layman & Fabiano Neves [2007]. Collects all five issues of the crossover series. Unopened hardcover. $10

MIDNIGHT SECRETARY VOLUME ONE by Tomu Ohmi [Viz Media; 2013]. The first in a shojo manga series about a young executive secretary who learns her handsome boss is a vampire. $6

REPUBLICANS ATTACK! By James Vance and Mark Landman [Kitchen Sink; 1992]. Boxed set of 36 cards. $5

ROTTEN TO THE CORE TRADING CARDS by Peggy Gordon, Dean Mullaney, Rick Byrant and George Kochell [Eclipse; 1989]. The best and the worst of New York City’s Politics. Boxed set of 36 cards. $5

SAVINGS & LOAN SCANDAL TRADING CARDS by Dennis Bernstein, Laura Sydell, Stewart Stanyard [Eclipse; 1991]. Boxed set of 36 cards. $5

SECRET PEOPLE by John Beynon Harris [Lancer; 1967]. Frank Frazetta cover. $4

SPORTS IMMORTALS [Kitchen Sink; 1993]. Compiled by Michael Barson. Boxed set of 36 trading cards picturing the merchandising of all-time sports greats from the 1930s-1950s. $5

TWIN PEAKS COLLECTIBLE CARD ART [Star Pics; 1991]. Complete 76 card boxed set, all cards in mint condition. $10

ZOMBIE FACTORY by various [2007]. From those Myron Fass black-and-white horror magazines of the 1970s, this volume reprints “27 tales of bizarre comix madness from beyond the tomb.” Black-and white softcover. 196 pages. $25

Thanks for your patronage.

Tony Isabella


I’ve been writing for the “funnies” - newspaper comic strips - for a few years now, assisting several different clients with scripts, plots and gags. It’s challenging, enjoyable work and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. However, every morning, I read a week’s worth of Bill Watterson’s The Complete Calvin and Hobbes [Andrews McMeel Publishing; $100] and realize how far I must go before I can come close to truly mastering the art and craft of the comic strip. It’s a humbling start to the day.

The glorious boxed set was a gift from my Sainted Wife Barb and our kids several birthdays ago. I don’t read a week’s worth of Calvin and Hobbes every morning to rein in my ego - though it manages to do that all the same - but because it is a brilliant body of work filled with heart and laughter and wisdom. I read the three volumes from start to finish...and then I start over again.  I’ll keep and read these books until I’m too feeble with age to turn their pages and too unloved to get anyone to do it for me.

I love newspaper comic strips. I own many collections of them and I have read many collections of them. It’s an American art form to me because, with the possible exception of Peter O’Donnell and his brilliant Modesty Blaise, I don’t think anyone does it as well as we do. Which makes the slow demise of this art form, hand-in-hand with the demise of the print newspapers, sad on different levels.
One of those is...damn, I find out I’m good at something just as it is going away forever.

Another is that, despite the thousands of webcomics that appear on the Internet, often alongside the print strips, I don’t think even the best of the webcomics have reached the heights of the classic newspaper strips. Maybe they will someday. Maybe I’ll even figure out how to make an online strip of my own creation as satisfying to me as my anonymous print contributions. But they just aren’t there yet. I expect this paragraph will garner a great many hostile and snarky comments from online comic strip readers. Well...“danger” is my middle name or would have been if my parents had realized what kind of creature they had spawned.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is a forever keeper. That’s not true of every newspaper strip collection I own. For example, I finished reading Archie The Swingin’ Sixties Dailies Volume 1: 1960-1963 by Bob Montana [IDW Publishing; $39.99] and decided against buying the second volume of the strip. 

Montana’s strips ignore the Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle to focus on gag-a-day strips that seldom bring out the classic nature of the Riverdale citizens. In all fairness, the modern-day Archie comic books are losing that sense of the classic as well, focusing as they do on big gimmicky story arcs that take several issues to tell stories not nearly as satisfying as writers like Frank Doyle and George Gladir could tell in five or six pages.

There are some funny gags in this Montana collection and even a few glimpses of the “real” characters. But the construction of the gags is often awkward and the punch panels fall flat. I look at the book and know I can’t learn anything from it and that I’ll never read it again. So it’ll go into my online sales and, if it doesn’t sell there, into my garage sales.

Among the other comic-strip collections I’ve read recently, I got a kick out of The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 3: 1978-1980 by Tom Batiuk [Kent State University Press; $45] and Strike Four! The Crankshaft Baseball Book by Batiuk and Chuck Ayers [$24.95]. These are keepers for many reasons.

These have been two of my favorite strips for decades, even before I met Tom Batiuk and we became friends and I started working as an occasional assistant to him.  A bonus of that relationship is that I can ask him questions about decades-old strips and listen as his aging brain-gears grind as he tries to remember an individual strip among the tens of thousands he’s done.

An obvious reason for keeping the books is that, from time to time, they come in handy when I’m doing some work for Tom.  Beyond that, I admire Tom and Chuck’s skills at this comic-strip stuff and have learned from the collections.

The two key reasons for my keeping collections of humorous strips are that I love them and that I think I can learn from them.  So I will certainly hold on to my Peanuts and Garfield books.

The same with Bobby London’s Popeye collection. I was fascinated by his mostly minimalist but still contemporary take on Popeye and his supporting cast. I might be able to incorporate some creative ideas  from London’s work into my home.  That won’t be the case with the wonderful Barnaby books by Crockett Johnson. I find them completely charming and well worth reading once, but I don’t see myself being able to take anything from them for my own work.

Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies Volume 2: 1961-1963 by Jerry Siegel and Wayne Boring [IDW Publishing; $49.99] was just as fascinating from a historical standpoint as the first volume. For now, those two books are keepers because, sometime this summer, I want to reread the strip stories collected in these volumes side-by-side with the comic-book stories from which they were adapted. I don’t think I can learn anything from these 1960s strips, but I’m convinced reading the earlier Superman dailies and Sundays from the 1940s will be useful for me.

My other educational and entertaining story-strip favorites include  Modesty Blaise, Dick Tracy and Terry and the Pirates, all of which I hope to reread over the next few years. I’m already rereading Lee Falk’s Phantom regularly.

I also love IDW’s Rip Kirby and Russ Manning Tarzan collections. I think the former is worth studying and the latter, because so much of it relies on Manning’s incredible art, won’t be as helpful to me as a learning tool. I plan on holding on two these books for quite some time to come.

I’m almost certainly leaving out other comic-strip collections that will remain a part of my Vast Accumulation of Stuff even when that VAOS gets whittled down to an actual collection. I see many proud bookcases in my future.

Newspapers and therefore newspaper comic strips were not a part of my childhood. Our household only got a newspaper once a week.  So I didn’t see newspaper comic strips on a regular basis until I was hired by The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer as a copy assistant in 1970.

The comic strips were the best and most honest part of that lousy rag and, before long, I was buying out-of-town Sunday newspapers to that I could read even more comic strips. Later publications like the late lamented The Menomonee Falls Gazette fed that passion even more.

These days, between the three daily newspapers I get - talk about overcompensating for one’s childhood deprivations - and the amazing availability of comic strips on the Internet, I probably read close to two hundred comic strips and comic panels and editorial cartoons every day. I consider that time well spent.

Look for some further comic-strip conversation in the near future.

I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 138-plus-part series on the comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics.  I’ve added the “plus” to my description of this series because there may be a few issues I missed in my initial explorations.

Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica ran from 347 issues from March 1950 to April 1987 before changing its title to Betty and Veronica, starting over with a new #1 and continuing under that title to this day. Between the two titles, that’s over 600 issues, not counting annuals and specials and one-shots and digests and...let’s face it, the girls have put their time in and they still look as beautiful as they did from the start.

The cover of Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica #93 [September 1963] is by Bob White. Check out all the action in the background. White created, wrote and drew Cosmo the Merry Martian in the 1950s, but he drew for most of the Archie titles. He drew many action/comedy stories starring the Riverdale kids as super-heroes or super-spies. In 1967, he even wrote stories for the Black Hood, the Shield and the Web in Mighty Comics Presents.

The inside front cover of the issue has Dean Studios come-ons for miniature dogs, cameras, radios and monkeys. We’ve discussed these in previous JULY 1963 entries.

“Follow the Girls” (6 pages) is the first of four B&V tales in the issue. Written by Frank Doyle with art by Dan DeCarlo (pencils) and Rudy Lapick (inks). The girls go to a secluded island to get some privacy. Archie and Reggie secretly follow them. The girls have a great day communing with nature. The boys run afoul of rockslides and wild goats. At the end of the day, the girls realize that the only thing which would have made their island visit better would’ve been if the boys had been there. The girls were sure the boys were going to follow them. As the girls head back to the mainland, the boys are lost and trying to find their way out of the woods. Given who the title stars are, it shouldn’t surprise anyone which sex is the most likely to come out on top at the end of a story. Stop that snickering. That’s not what I meant.

The story is followed by a full-page advertisement for Columbia Bicycles:

Thirteen dazzling racy Lightweights with all the most wanted speed-shifts and features. Built the Columbia way for easy peddling and trouble-free enjoyment. Boys’ and girls’ models in 26" and 24" wheel sizes.

There was a coupon at the bottom of the page so that readers could send away for a free color folder of the bikes.

“What Every Young Girl Should Know” is a single-page gag strip by DeCarlo, Lapick and an unknown writer. The punch line is insulting to girls, but I’ll let you see that for yourself in an addendum to today’s bloggy thing.

“Pain in the Rain” is another single-page gag strip. It’s written by George Gladir with art by DeCarlo and Lapick. Betty is envious of all Veronica’s pretty raincoats. Veronica is miserable...because it hasn’t rained once all spring!

The next page has two half-page ads for war games: Convoy of Terror and Task Force. I’ve written about them previously.

“Chance Encounter” (6 pages) is by Doyle, DeCarlo and Lapick.  When Betty meets handsome new boy Johnny Jordan, Veronica wants her to introduce them. Betty is no fool and foils Ronnie’s wacky attempts to meet Johnny. Ronnie is relentless and this makes for a hilarious ending to the tale. I’m going to post the final page of this story as an addendum.

A full-page house ad for Betty and Veronica Summer Fun #23 follows the story. Readers can have an issue mailed to them for a quarter, 35 cents if they live in Canada.

“Ting-a-Ling” (5 pages) is a Doyle/DeCarlo/Lapick story wherein Mr. Lodge does his usual slow burn every time Ronnie and her dripping-wet friends come into his office from the swimming pool to use the phone. It’s a battle Lodge can’t win, so he has a phone installed in the pool. 

Following this tale, we get half-page ads for U.S. Royal Bike Tires and Popsicle; a single-page prose article on Ann-Margret (described in the title as a “Beautiful Teen Bombshell”); a Li’l Jinx gag page by Joe Edwards; and half-page ads for “Amazing Sea Shrimp” and “100 Toy Soldiers.”

“Direct Line” (5 pages) is the final story of the issue and, like the other main stories, it’s by Doyle, DeCarlo and Lapick. A cute young woman asks Betty and Veronica for directions to Pop’s Choklit Shoppe. They send her on a wild-goose chase because they don’t want her to meet Archie. Guess who ends up giving the girl the correct directions?

When “Archie’s Girls” overhear him telling the new girl how jealous they can be, they plot revenge. You can see how that works out in yet another addendum to today’s bloggy thing.

The remaining pages of the issue are ads we’ve seen before, all of them full-page: Daisy B-B guns, Junior Sales Club of America on the inside back cover, and the Bendix automatic bicycle brake content for a trip to Disneyland.

Coming up in the JULY 1963 series are several more Archie titles. Coming up in the bloggy thing are book reviews, comic-book reviews, movie reviews and some hopefully thoughtful reflections on life and politics and the comics industry.

Thanks for visiting the bloggy thing so often. I appreciate it and I’ll do my best to keep you entertained and informed.

© 2014 Tony Isabella


Here's the final page of "Direct Line" from Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #93.


Here's the final page of "Chance Encounter" from Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #93.


Here's the one-page "What Every Young Girl Should Know" from Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #93.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


The current online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sale ends tonight at midnight.  Many of the items in that sale will be taken off the next online sale list and put into my actual garage sale.  Order today!


Somewhere around the last chapters of The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson [Oceanview Publishing; $25.95), I realized I was seriously hooked on this masked heroine series in a way few other series have hooked me. Doc Savage did it when I was a teenager. Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct was forever a part of my life after I heard Don McGregor read a few select passages out loud while we were on a lunch break from our staff jobs at Marvel Comics. I was in my early 20s at the time. There have been others, but those were the two series that hooked me early and remain among my favorites.

The Black Stiletto narrative moves back and forth between the 1950s and today. The 1950s portion centers on Judy Cooper, eventually in her own words as she writers in her diary. Fleeing from an abusive stepfather, Judy goes to New York, gets a job in a diner, and gets a part-time job at and a room above a gym, courtesy of the former boxer who owns it. She also begins training in self-defense and a lot more, determined never to be victimized again. She’s a heroic young woman and, before long, her training expands, her world gets bigger and circumstances bring her to adopting a role as the masked Black Stiletto.

The modern-day portions of The Black Stiletto and its sequel, The Black Stiletto: Black and White (Oceanview Publishing, $25.95], is the story of accountant Martin Talbot. He is Judy’s son, though he has just now learned that his mother, who lives in assisted living due to Alzheimer’s, was the Black Stiletto. The revelation upends his already rocky life. A painful divorce. A college-bound daughter unwilling to play it safe. An uncertain employment situation...and now this seeming madness.

Benson writes a heck of a story. On the one hand, the origin of the Black Stiletto and her growth as a strong fighter for justice in a world of predators is glorious. On the other hand, we have one of her older enemies determined to track her down and get revenge for his slain brother and his five decades in prison.  Pulp action and scary suspense. I love this stuff.

The second novel continues these duel-but-connected stories of Judy and Martin. Mom (before she was Mom) contends with crooked cops and politicians, budding drug lords, the odd communist agent, and even an easy-on-the-eyes FBI agent. Martin is out of work, his daughter has been assaulted in New York and he’s being blackmailed by a man who has a movie that reveals his mother was the Black Stiletto. I got halfway through the novel when I realized that, yes, I was going to stay up all night to finish it.  Hooked. As I write this, I’m waiting to get a copy of The Black Stiletto: Stars and Stripes, which was published in April of 2013. A fourth book - The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies - came out earlier this year and there’s at least one more scheduled to be published sometime soon. I can’t wait to read them all.

I love the Black Stiletto, the characters, the settings, the turn-the-pages-faster stories. If someone made a Black Stiletto movie, and they should, I’d paid full price to see it. If someone made a Black Stiletto television series, and they should, I would watch it every week. If someone published a Black Stiletto comic book, and they should,  I would want to write it because Judy Cooper Talbot is a character a comic-book writer could easily fall in love with.

I am gushing. It is unseemly for a man of my advanced years. So I will refrain from any further comments other than I recommend the Black Stiletto novels to one and all.

The Black Stiletto

ISBN 978-1-60809-020-4

The Black Stiletto: Black and White

ISBN 978-1-60809-041-9

The Black Stiletto: Stars & Stripes

ISBN 978-1-60809-105-8

The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies

ISBN 978-1-60809-101-0

Coming up tomorrow is another installment of my JULY 1963 series. That’ll be followed by comics reviews or monster movie reviews or maybe even some personal/political stuff. I try not to plan these bloggy things out too far in advance.

Coming up on Friday will be my next online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sale, filled with wondrous items on which you can spend hard-earned money. All proceeds from the sale benefit me and mine.

My first physical garage sale will be on Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28, from nine a.m. to noon at 840 Damon Drive in the lovely city of Medina, Ohio. I will be adding new stuff to the sale right up to the moment my garage door opens on Friday morning. Look for an update or two between now and then. 

In the words of a great man who was a nice part of my life even if I never got the opportunity to tell him so...keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. We miss you, Casey Kasem. If there’s a rock-and-roll heaven, and there should be, I’m certain you’re spinning the Top 40 songs of that swinging place.
© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Also from Aquaman #11, here are the adds for planes and ships of all nations.


Here's the Homer strip by Henry Boltinoff that ran in Aquaman #11 and the Palisades Amusement Ad that took up the rest of the page.

JULY 1963: AQUAMAN #11

Today’s bloggy thing continues my 138-plus-part series on the comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics.  I’ve added the “plus” to my description of this series because there may be a few issues I missed in my initial explorations.

I had a tough time tracking down a copy of Aquaman #11 [September- October 1963], much less an affordable copy. I hadn’t realized the issue had the first appearance of Mera, who would go on to become Aquaman’s wife in most incarnations of the character. The story has only been reprinted once in 2008's Showcase Presents Aquaman Volume Two. On that solitary occasion, it was printed in black-and-white.

Nick Cardy drew the cover and interior story art for Aquaman #11. Cardy always drew the most gorgeous women and Mera is no exception to that. He also drew the most gorgeous men. Something for all comics readers. The editor of the issue is George Kashdan.

The inside front cover is a full-page advertisement for the “Made Simple Self-Taught Encyclopedia,” which was discussed in an earlier installment of this JULY 1963 series.

“The Doom from Dimension Aqua” is by Jack Miller. It runs 25 pages, but the bottom third of the last page of each of its thee chapters has an ad for Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Roll products.

Aquaman and Mera meet cute in the first chapter, at least by comic-book standards. He and Aqualad come across an abandoned ship that is running wild. They have to get the ship off the sea lanes before it hits another vessel. However, before the heroic duo acts, they are grabbed by giant pincers that form out of a coral reef. By the time they escape and swim back to the ship, they are greeted by an equally surprising sight:

Aqualad! A wave–-it’s being suspended over the ship and acting like a giant magnifying glass!

And then, following a huge BLAM:

Great waves! The hold of that ship must’ve been loaded with dynamite–-and the magnified rays of the sun set it off!

In the next moment, a woman swims by them as a fantastic speed that only they can match. When they catch up with this “sea witch,” she forms a bubble out of water and floats upward out of their reach. A few seconds later, she seems to weaken, the water bubble bursts, and Aquaman catches her. Mera has lost her powers and fears Aquaman will hurt her. Aqualad responds:

Huh–-! Look who’s talking about hurting people!

Mera explains:

You don’t understand...I saved you! I was nearby when the crew abandoned that ship–-because the fire in the hold when out of control and threatened to blow up the explosive cargo!

Aquaman realizes she was moving him and Aqualad out of harm’s way. Mera then identifies herself:

I am–-or was-–Queen Mera of a watery world in another dimension! You seem everyone in my world has the ability to will the water to do his bidding!

Mera was forced to flee when the pretender Leron reached the gates of her castle. The scientist Xebel had discovered how to open up a dimensional warp leading to our world. Her loyal subjects wanted to keep her safe. Mera doesn’t know why she has lost her powers. They simply vanished without a trace.

Suddenly, several submarines are hurtled out of the water and right at the trio. It’s the work of Leron the Usurper, who has followed Mera to our world to capture her.

Leron makes the water around Aquaman, Mera and Aqualad steel-hard. If Aquaman doesn’t hand over Mera, Leron will leave them to perish where they are. That’s when the first chapter ends.

The first chapter is followed by a full-page DC Comics subscription ad. Subscribers could save two cents per issue on a two-year sub to any and all of these titles: House of Mystery, Aquaman, Rip Hunter, Unexpected, Mystery in Space, Strange Adventures, Tomahawk, The Adventures of Bob Hope, Challengers of the Unknown and the Atom. That down-the-middle crease you find in so many old DC comic books of the 1960s? It’s because subscription copies were folded in half for mailing. Who knew?

The subscription ad is followed by “The Fantastic Frogmen,” a one-page prose article on the development of devices to allow people to breathe underwater. It packs a lot of information into the one page and reads well.

The article is followed by a full-page ad for Task Force, said to be “America’s Most Exciting War Game.” It’s only $1 plus postage. As is my policy, I’m not going to go into detail on advertisements that were discussed in earlier installments.

Chapter 2 - “The Super Sea Sleuth” - starts with a full-page splash of a scene that happens later in the chapter. In this page, Aquaman is exhibiting powers equal to those of Mera’s people. I wonder how writer Miller will explain that.

The trapped Aquaman calls “endless masses of twisting forms” - his fish friends - to smack Leron in the face and disrupt his control of the steel-hard water. Aquaman has a plan and leaves Aqualad to watch over Mera. More of Leron’s followers show up just as Aquaman rejoins them.

The heroes are trapped in a swirling funnel of water, but manage to escape. That’s when Aquaman challenges Leron and his men directly. The bad guys form a giant sword. Aquaman forms a watery shield and the sword smashes to pieces against it.

Aquaman then forms a watery magic carpet and sends Leron and thugs ducking for cover. He hurls water balls at the bad guys and forces them to retreat.

The secret of Aquaman’s powers? It’s Quisp, his water sprite pal. When Aquaman left, it was to recruit Quisp. Aquaman asks Quisp to bring back an army of water sprites to win back Mera’s kingdom from Leron. It’s a great plan...

...but Leron has been listening and watching the whole time, hiding in a hard-water shell that made him appear to be a big fish. He follows Quisp to stop him. That’s where the second chapter ends.

Digression. About half the time during the writing of this bloggy thing, I typed “Lebron” instead of Leron.  I thought I was over Mr. James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat. Maybe not. End of digression.

The second chapter is followed by a half-page “Homer” gag strip by the great Henry Boltinoff. It’s paired with a half-page ad for the Palisades Amusement Park. I’m going to scan this page and present it as an addendum to today’s bloggy thing.

The next page has two half-page ads. The first is for 116 planes of all nations for only $1.50. The second has 102 ships of all nations for $1.49. Just because I love you, I’m going to scan this page as well.

The third chapter - “Prisoners of the Water World” - is a full-page title splash showing a scene that will happen later in the chapter. Aquaman, Mera and Aqualad are trapped in a rounded coral cage with Leron telling Xebel they’re doomed if the scientist doesn’t give the pretender the secret of creating dimensional warps to our world and other worlds.

Leron makes underwater tornadoes that knock Quisp into some rocks. Leaving the unconscious water sprite, Leron and his thugs chase and capture Aquaman and company. They take them back to Mera’s world, imprisoning them in the aforementioned coral cage. The threats are made and Xebel is given time to consider his options.

Aquaman uses his telepathic powers to bring octopus friends through the warp to free him. The trip scoots back through the warp. They take cover in an underground cave.

Aquaman wipes a smudge off Mera’s arm just as Leron and his thugs enter the cave. But, amazingly, Mera’s powers have returned and she sends the bad guys hurling out of the cave.

Aquaman puts it all together as they flee. Spotting an incredibly convenient oil tanker, he orders to swordfish to pole holes in one of the ship’s tanks. The oil drenches the water Leron and his men are swimming through, robbing them of their powers.

Aquaman explains this to Mera:

It was oil that robbed you of your powers–-which returned when I rubbed the oil smudge off your arm!

Mera is puzzled:

Oh? But oil has no such effect on us! Only lead would weaken our powers–-and there is no lead anywhere around!

Back to Aquaman:

Oh, yes, there is! Practically all refined oil contains a high percentage of lead!

Mera returns her prisoners to her world where her loyal followers  wait. She says she has become very fond of Aquaman and asks if she can visit him again. He would love to see her anytime.

Quisp shows up just as the warp closes. He wanted to say goodbye to Mera. Aquaman has a hunch they’ll be seeing her again soon.

Possible romantic interests for Aquaman had appeared a few times in earlier stories, but none of them made a lasting impact. Mere was clearly a keeper, though.

I don’t recall if Mera’s weakness to lead was ever used in future stories. I was only buying Aquaman  sporadically circa 1963...until high-school jobs gave me enough of an income to buy pretty much all the super-hero comics I wanted. So, if the bit was used again, I might have missed it. Of course, in modern times, what with rapacious oil companies having dumped so much oil into our oceans, Mera might be powerless all the time.

The rest of the issue is filled with familiar ads. You could get a 104 Kings Knights for $1.49 or 150 Civil War Soldiers for the same price. Wallace-Brown was still trying to get comics readers to sell its Christmas cards. The American Body Building Club offered a ten-cent book on building your body. That last was on the inside back cover of the issue.

The back cover offered 100 Toy Soldiers for $1.25. They came packed in their own footlocker.  I wonder if there are any photos of these soldiers online. I’ll have to look.

I’ll be back later in the week with another installment of my life-affirming JULY 1963 series. I’ll be back tomorrow with something, but I haven’t decided what it will be.

Stay nerdy, my friends.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 16, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I review The Thing, but not the one you're probably thinking of.  Or the movie. Just read it already.


On this date in 1984, thirty years ago, Barb and I were married. Looking back at our long and happy marriage and our two wonderful children, I think it worked out well. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Weird Science is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love the way that everything the two leads fantasize about in their opening scene actually happens before the end of the movie, albeit it ways they could not have imagined.

I enjoyed the Weird Science television series as well...and thought it would make a swell comic book. Though I pitched the idea to a couple of editors at various companies, I could never get anyone to go for it.  Here's a follow-up letter I sent to a Dark Horse editor in January of 1995:

Remember that WEIRD SCIENCE comic I pitched at you some time back? I thought it had the makings of a winner: two teen heroes, one gorgeous computer genie and the ability of comic books to do things no television show's budget could afford to do.

Anyway, I thought you'd be interested in the following item. It's from Glenn Kenny's "Sci-Fi/Fantasy: column in the January 21 issue of TV Guide.

"Boy, the things that happen when nobody's looking. Did you know that WEIRD SCIENCE--the USA network series (Saturdays, 10 P.M./ET) based on the 1988 movie--is the highest-rated cable show (with the exception of sports) in its time slot and has just been renewed for a third season?"

I'm still very interested in doing WEIRD SCIENCE for comics. Is there any interest at Dark Horse? let me know. 

Hope the new year is going well for you.

One of the downsides of going through old files is realizing how many good ideas of mine never got a chance to reach an audience. Even today, hardly a day goes by without my coming up with an idea for some new comic book. Alas, those publishers who do pay a living wage have long ago written me off and my insane need to pay my bills prevents me from bringing these ideas to the market myself. Maybe someday.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for more mini-bloggy moments.