Thursday, July 30, 2015


He was the creator of Mid-Ohio-Con and its dozens of wonderful shows. He is a voice actor and a narrator of incredible range and skill. And he came up with these poker chips as a way to promote his business. Yea, verily, he is a man among men!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


3-Headed Shark Attack, the sequel to 2012's 2-Headed Shark Attack, was the top half of a SyFy channel double-feature on Monday, July 20. The second half of the bill was Zombie Shark, which I’ll review soon. Today is all about the three-headed people eater that had me cackling with delight.

I was not a fan of 2-Headed Shark Attack. You can read my February 2012 review of it here. However, I was eager to watch this sequel for two reasons: the casting of Danny Trejo, who I think I’d watch in just about anything, and a trailer which, though it spoiled some scenes, showed a much-improved killing machine.

3-Headed Shark Attack takes place at and around a floating research facility built in the Great Pacific garbage patch, which is a real thing. Let me clarify that.

The garbage patch is a real thing. To quote Wikipedia...

The Great Pacific garbage patch, also described as the Pacific trash vortex, is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N. The patch extends over an indeterminate area, with estimates ranging very widely depending on the degree of plastic concentration used to define the affected area.

The patch is characterized by exceptionally high relative concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. Despite its enormous size and density (four particles per cubic meter), the patch is not visible from satellite photography, nor is it necessarily detectable to casual boaters or divers in the area, as it consists primarily of a small increase in suspended, often microscopic particles in the upper water column.  

So the garbage patch is a real thing, though not as visual as seen in the film. The mostly submerged research facility is probably not a real thing. Still a great setting for a monster movie.


The title star of the movie makes its first appearance within five minutes of the start of the film. It attacks a secluded beach party with predictably bloody results. While the shark can’t stay out of the water for long, it can squirm its way on land for short periods of time.

The 2-headed shark never looked good to me. The 3-headed shark has a less comical appearance. It doesn’t look real per se, but it does look convincing. That’s all I ask from CGI.

Maggie [Karrueche Tran] arrives at the research facility to start her internship. She’s greeted by Professor Laura Thomas [Jena Sims] and Dr. Nelson [Jaason Simmons]. They are joined by students from an environmental organization. Among these students is Greg [Brad Mills], who used to date Maggie. All give good performances. Most of the cast members, even those in more minor roles, do the same. However, it must be said that Danny Trejo as a fishing boat skipper and wrestler Rob Van Dam as Stanley dominate every scene they are in. Deservedly so.

Some of the facility scientists are studying the enormous number of mutations being created by the patch’s toxicity. We only see a few of these creatures, but they are cool in a frightening way. I wish the movie had spent more time with them, but, alas, a certain tri-headed shark demanded more screen time.

The shark attacks the facility. The shark wins. The survivors make for the surface and try to escape the beast. You know how it goes.  Not everyone lives. What I found impressive, though, both in these scenes and in a scene on a party ship, was how many characters act in heroic manner, often at the cost of their own lives, to help other characters. When the deaths come, as, in this kind of movie, they must, I was moved. The deaths were not simply additions to the body count. They meant something.

Here’s where I heap kudos on director Christopher Ray and writers Jacob Cooney and Bill Hanstock. That kind of great character stuff doesn’t happen by chance. It’s in the script and the director gets it from the actors.

Something cool: the 3-headed shark mutates further in the movie’s final quarter. What first struck me as silly turned out to be very believable (in the universe of this movie) and an effective way to pump up the excitement and the horror.

The giant mutant shark’s diet consists of garbage and people. This is not a healthy diet and plays into the creature’s demise. Though that demise was something I’d seen before in an earlier SyFy film, it still worked for me. The first person to post the name of that earlier movie in the comments section gets a no-prize.


3-Headed Shark Attack was one of the highlights of Sharknado Week on the SyFy Channel. I’ve got the DVD on order and will definitely watch it again this summer. I recommend it to you as well.


The bloggy thing won’t resume its usual daily schedule for a while, but I’ll post new content as often as possible. Next up with either be Ant-Man or Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

See you then.     
© 2015 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 27, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf, the third movie in the Sharktopus series, debuted Sunday, July 19 on the SyFy Channel. When I review a film, I usually rely on the Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia to get my cast and crew facts right. Alas, for this movie, the former is less than complete and the latter is non-existent. I will press on as best I can.

Having survived Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda, our title star has made the shores off the Dominican Republic his new feeding grounds. At the same time, a mad scientist is injecting a washed up ballplayer with the DNA of a killer whale and a wolf. Standing against these forces of not-nature are an alcoholic boat captain, his first mate and his police officer ex-girlfriend.

The best thing about this movie may be Casper Van Dien’s portrayal of Captain Ray. Van Dien plays the drunken seaman for both laughs and tragedy. The viewer can feel bad for the way this brave, good-looking man has screwed up his life. My tolerance for funny drunks is pretty much zero because I’ve seen too many bad things come from real-life alcoholism. I used to love Dudley Moore in Arthur. Now I can’t watch that movie. If Van Dien’s character was nothing but a clown, I might not have been able to finish watching Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf. It was still rough sledding.

While watching the movie, I got the feeling director Kevin O'Neill and whoever wrote the screenplay were all “We created Whalewolf and now our job is done.” For the first three quarters of this movie, it was little bits of character and a thin plot and lots of bloody victims. It seems like there was a new victim every five minutes or so. Like the body count was on a schedule.

Director O’Neill, co-founder of Visual Effects Studio Flat Earth Productions, Inc., has an impressive resume. He supervised special effects on over sixty movie and TV productions and, counting this movie, has directed six features. The others were Dinocroc (2004) and Dinoshark (2010), both of which I enjoyed; Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader (2012) and Dracano (2013), which I own but haven’t watched yet; and last year’s Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda, which is my least favorite of the Sharktopus movies.

Reviewing this movie seems to require one of my lists of its good, bad and ugly points. But, first...


The good...Van Dien. I have under-appreciated this actor in some of my past reviews, but he’s terrific as the flawed hero of this film.

The ugly...Sharktopus got a slight redesign that made his face look like something out of a Pixar movie. He actually seems to smile on occasion. He’s also kind of a malicious dick.

The good...voodoo. Captain Ray goes Sharktopus hunting because of a debt he owes a voodoo priest. When Ray manages to bring him part of a tentacle, the voodoo priest uses it to control the creature. At the end of the movie, the priest’s sister uses voodoo magic to create a new Sharktopus. I like the addition of this supernatural element. They should run with it in the next movie.

The best...The scene where Captain Ray tries to describe Sharktopus to the voodoo priest. The priest draws a sketch of the monster and shows it to Ray. In amazement, Ray asks the priest how he knew what the creature looked like. The priest rolls his eyes and asks Ray if he ever heard of the Internet.

The bad...Catherine Oxenberg as the horny mad scientist trying to create the perfect human. She speaks with a terrible Belgian accent and comes off like Zsa Zsa Gabor if Gabor was a Nazi. I would grit my teeth whenever Oxenberg spoke. Nails on a chalkboard would be a symphony in comparison.

The bad...Oxenberg’s assistant nurse is a “Naughty Nurse” stereotype. Think a Bill Ward drawing when the artist was having a bad day.

The not-so-good...Oxenberg treats Whalewolf like a big dog. Though I rolled my eyes at that stuff, I did laugh at the creature peeing in her laboratory. I hated myself for that.

The good...while the body count feels more like a body count quota, the movie does allow us to get to know some victims. In most cases, they aren’t pleasant people. I’m down with movies that kill reality show producers, directors and cast members. These movies are doing God’s work.

The tragic...One of the victims is an aging actress who had gone to the voodoo priest to be made young again. She tries so hard that I felt bad when Sharktopus ate her. What a dick.

The good...Akari Endo as Ray’s ex-girlfriend. Her character was a nice mix of tough and vulnerable.

The good...Kudos also to the actor who played Ray’s first mate. He gave good sidekick.

The “I don’t know how I feel about it”...Sharktopus chases Captain Ray through a mall. Some slapstick humor made me smile, but random chomping of shoppers made me yawn.
The bad...the various battles between Sharktopus and Whalewolf are boring. We’ve seen it all before. Nothing new there. Compare these fight scenes to the ones in Mega-Shark vs. Kolossus, which I felt were much more interesting and original.

The good...The movie picked up steam in its last quarter. The final confrontation between the creatures...and between the creatures and the kind of exciting. The death of Sharktopus is cool. The death of Whalewolf is anti-climatic.

The missed opportunity...Mario Arturo Hernández was interesting as the ballplayer who becomes Whalewolf, but it would have been more interesting if he changed back and forth. The character came off as just another delusional macho creep when he could and should have been a tragic figure. Give us a monster to root for.

The question...Some characters are bitten by the Whalewolf and not killed. What happens to them at the next full moon?


Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf had its moments, but it wasn’t a triumph of B movie magic. It’s worth watching once, but it’s not going to be something I go out of my way to see again. Let’s hope the next
Sharktopus movie recaptures some the goofy wonderment of the first movie. That would be a very good thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my review of 3-Headed Shark Attack. See you then.
© 2015 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Taking a line from Ghostbusters, The Beat’s Jeff Trexler described it as “Dogs and cats, living together!” He was talking about Black Lightning Volume 1, a collection of my first Black Lightning series that will be published by DC Comics next April.

I’ve known about the collection for a while, but didn’t feel right about announcing or discussing it. I figured that was something DC should do. To quote The Quiet Man, another favorite movie of mine, “The proprieties at all times.”

Then I started getting e-mails and phone calls from people who had seen Amazon and various websites that sell directly to libraries offering the book for pre-order. I get librarians spotting the book as they consider what to order for their libraries, but who looks for stuff like this book on Amazon, especially a book that, given the many issues between DC and myself, they could not possibly be expecting to find? Heck, I don’t even do that and I have as healthy an ego as the next comics creator.

With so many people asking me questions, I felt I should make some sort of statement on my Facebook page. My first post was just the basic stuff:

I wasn't going to say anything about this until DC announced it, but, since it's now available for pre-order on Amazon and library sites...and a link to Amazon.

That was followed by:

You can probably guess that I have known about the trade paperback collection of my first Black Lightning run for a while now. I wasn't going to comment on it until DC announced it and only comment on it now - albeit briefly - because it's already available for pre-ordering. Who says I can't keep a secret?

These two posts led to hundreds of likes, dozens of comments and a number of interview requests. I turned down the interview requests because I didn’t feel there was much to report at the present time. Which led to lots of speculation, including a few posts from yours truly as I got caught up in the excitement.  I knew I would have to make a more formal statement.

With apologies to Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio if I am betraying any confidences, here’s what I can tell you...

Geoff Johns reached out to me on June 2, asking if he could phone me. I like Geoff and his writing, so I said sure and told him when would be a good time.

Geoff wanted to talk about Black Lightning and my dissatisfaction with my decades-unpleasant relationship with DC Comics. Just as I always have, Geoff sees a lot of potential in my finest creation. It’s a potential the previous DC management clearly never saw. We talked about what it would take to make things right between me and DC so that Geoff could, in good conscience, consider developing the character in this bigger-than-1976-or-even-1995 new comics world.

That conversation will remain private for now. Let’s just call it a good start. It was the first time in two decades a DC executive didn’t speak to me like I was a child or insane.

One of my major disappointments was that DC had never reprinted my Black Lightning work. Indeed, the former management took pains to insure it wouldn’t be reprinted. When I realized DC was planning no celebration of Lightning’s 25th anniversary, I asked if they would lease me reprint rights to publish a collection of my stories. The then-management of the company laughed in my face.

Within a short time, Geoff and Dan DiDio were talking to me about reprinting my Black Lightning work. DC had the right to publish the collections whether I approved or not, but Geoff and Dan brought me into the loop. They wanted to do books I liked.

Initially, I only wanted this first volume to include just my own 1970s Black Lightning stories. If I had held to that position, they would have honored my wishes. However, Dan asked me to consider the fans, like himself, who would want a complete volume of that first Black Lightning run. He made a good case. I withdrew my objection.

I haven’t spoken to or communicated with Geoff or Dan since shortly before Comic-Con. I haven’t communicated with them since because I knew they would be busy with the aftermath of that stellar event. If you were at Comic-Con or followed the news coverage of it, you know DC had a lot going on there.

As of my last conversation with them, my understanding is that the book will contain Black Lightning #1-11 from the first series. It will also include the Denny O’Neil/Mike Nasser story scheduled for issue #12. That story was included in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade and also published in an issue of World’s Finest. I’m okay with the inclusion of the non-Isabella stories in Black Lightning Volume One because I appreciate a fan’s desire to have the entire run in one book and also because I don’t want to deny Denny O’Neil, Trevor Von Eeden and Mike Nasser whatever royalties they’ll receive from the reprinting of those stories. 

The fact that this is Black Lightning Volume One shows there is a desire on everyone’s part to do a Black Lightning Volume Two with my 1990's series. Certainly, good sales on this first book will be a determining factor re: the second book. I’m heartened by how many fans and librarians have already posted their intentions to buy the first volume.

It’s common for comics creators and comics lovers to speculate on what else might be coming down the road. As I’ve try to stress, the process of reconciliation between DC and myself has just begun. To look at it as a different kind of relationship, we met for lunch, got along well and maybe we’ll do dinner and a movie. We’re not at the holding hands stage.

“The proprieties at all times.”

I have told Geoff what I think DC can and should do. I think there is a sincere desire to make things right. Again, this is something the previous management was unwilling to even consider. I am very pleased Geoff and Dan have reached out to me. I would love to put aside my justified anger at DC Comics past and enjoy more cordial relations with the DC Comics present.

Everything else is speculation at this point. Obviously, I’ve made little secret of my desire to resume writing Black Lightning comic books. My reinvention and updating of the character in the 1990s resulted in what many, including myself, believe was the best work of my career. I would truly relish the opportunity to and challenge of reinventing Jeff Pierce for 2015.

The Shadow War of Hawkman? Yes, I’d love to see that reprinted as well. I think artist Richard Howell and I did outstanding work on that series. I’d love to see it reach a new audience.

As far as I’m concerned, everything is on the table. I’m up to any challenges that come my way. In recent years, I branched out into comic-strip writing. I’m currently pitching “B” movies - monsters, action, horror, science fiction - because that’s become a passion of mine. I’m writing a “memoir of sorts” of my life in comics and plan to follow that with a book of comics-related essays. I wake up every morning, eager to get to work on whatever I’m writing today. This is who I am. This is who I want to be.

If you want to thank Geoff and Dan for reaching out to me, please do so. If you want to ask them for a new Black Lightning series by me and Eddy Newell, please do that. If you want to buy a whole lot of copies of Black Lightning Volume One, who am I to deny you that wise purchasing decision?

I won’t have anything else to say on this stuff for a long while. I’m not going to obsess about it. It will unfold as it will unfold and in the fullness of time. When there’s something to report, I’m sure the news will make its way on to the Internet because that’s what news had a habit of doing.

To those who have requested interviews, I’m sorry to disappoint you for now. You can certainly find ample material from today’s bloggy thing and my recent Facebook postings. When I feel it’s appropriate to be interviewed, I’ll answer your questions as completely and as honestly as I can.

Thanks for your interest. Thanks for your support. I am more than a little overwhelmed by it all. Which is a good thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my review of Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf. Because that’s also who I am.
© 2015 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


I love giant monster movies, which is why I’m reviewing all seven of the films that have debuted or are debuting on the SyFy channel this week. I wrote about Roboshark yesterday. Today I’m reviewing Mega Shark vs. Kolossus, which was part of the SyFy double-feature on Saturday, July 18.

Mega Shark vs. Kolossus is the fourth of The Asylum’s “Mega-Shark” movies and by far the best. Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus [2009] had three things going for it: the absurdity of the concept, the oft-repeated scene of the shark jumping out of the ocean to chow down on a passenger jet and the just plain fun casting of Debbie Gibson as a scientist.

Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010) had Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) as its hero and would have been much better if his character had once asked “Did I do that?” in a whiny voice. Which is so unfair to the talented White who really is a terrific actor.

Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark (2014) was an improvement over the two movies preceding it. Creating a giant robot shark to do battle with Mega Shark was very Godzilla-like, almost always a good thing as I see it. The film also had the best human drama to date, courtesy of a fine performance by Elisabeth Röhm as Mecha Shark’s pilot and a woman battling her own monsters.

But Mega Shark vs. Kolossus just takes the shark-cake with a great story, interesting human characters, terrific monsters, thrilling  monster action and social commentary. Lifted from the back of the DVD release, here’s the movie’s starting point:

In search of a new energy source, Russia accidentally reawakens the Kolossus - a giant robot doomsday device from the Cold War. At the same time, a new Mega Shark appears, threatening global security. Now the world must figure out how to stop the deadly giants before they destroy everything on land AND sea.

While the unfolding of this story is not without some over-the-top moments, such as when Mega Shark tail-punches a submarine into the Christ the Redeemer statue over Rio de Janeiro, the proceedings are logical by monster movies standards. The “attack on Christianity” might and probably will be considered blasphemous by some, but the use of such a well-known religious icon frames this giant monster return to the Cold War. The destruction of the statue matters. It’s an important symbol and it’s nice to see it treated that way. The Cold war was, of course, a battle of ideologies.

Illeana Douglas gives an absolutely outstanding performance as Dr. Alison Gray. Her character doesn’t want to destroy Mega-Shark, but is sensible enough to recognize when such preservation is no longer an option. Though Douglas is quite glamorous in real life, the good Doctor Gray doesn’t look like your typical monster movie heroine. That’s another plug for me.

Amy Rider is kick-ass government operative Moira King. While this character isn’t at all unusual, Rider plays her with gusto that’s fun to watch.

Brody Hutzler delivers a surprising performance as the billionaire industrialist who wants to save the world. More on his character in our brief SPOILERS section.

Kudos also to Edward DeRuiter as a low-level analyst who’s a lot smarter than his superiors realize and to Tara Price as a tougher-than-nails Lieutenant Commander serving under a mentally unstable admiral. Price could and should be the star of some future monster movie. She’s that...ah...commanding on the screen.

The Mega-Shark in this movie is the latest mega-shark to threaten mankind. There’s a nice bit of dialogue that describes the effects of mega-shark appearances on the economy. But it’s also said at one point in the film that a mega-shark appears when the world needs it to appear. That puts the creature into “Godzilla force of nature” territory, which can be an entertaining place to be.

The design for Kolossus is wonderful. It looks like something you would expect from a Cold War sleeper device. It looks old, but its power is terrifying. Though its encounter with Mega-Shark comes in the fourth quarter of the movie, it’s an exciting monster battle, the best in the Mega-Shark series to date.


When I told you Hutzler delivered a surprising performance, I was thinking of how his Joshua Dane character comes across initially as kind of a tree-hugging Tony Stark willing to use his vast wealth to preserve our planet. When he gains control of both monsters, Dane reveals himself as a megalomaniac who wants to destroy the world to “save” and then rule it, not unlike Batman’s Ra's al Ghul. It’s a credit to Hutzler that I didn’t see this coming. The actor goes a little over-the-top with in this manic phrase of his character, but the shock value of the transformation stays with you.


Mega Shark vs. Kolossus has a thrilling and satisfying conclusion. I’m eager for the next “Mega Shark” movie and hope The Asylum can top this one while cementing the creature’s growing stature as the studio’s own king of the monsters. I’m also hoping we see more of Douglas and Rider in future creature features. Big props to director Chris Olen Ray and writer Edward DeRuiter for crafting such a fine film.

Mega Shark vs. Kolossus is a B-movie classic. If you didn’t catch its SyFy channel premiere, I recommend you keep watch for reruns or spring for the DVD. It’s a keeper.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my review of Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf. See you then.
© 2015 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 20, 2015


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I review Batman Earth One, Just So Happens and Lumberjanes.


Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! will make its debut on Wednesday, July 22, on the SyFy Channel. To celebrate the arrival of this new cultural phenomenon, the channel is airing seven new movies in eight days. Though three of the movies will have already aired by the time you read this bloggy thing, here is the schedule:

Saturday, July 18:

Roboshark (7 pm)
Mega Shark Versus Kolossus (9 pm)

Sunday, July 19:

Sharktopus Versus Whale Wolf (9 pm)

Monday, July 20:

3-Headed Shark Attack (7 pm)
Zombie Shark (9 pm)
Wednesday, July 22:

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (9 pm)

Saturday, July 25:

Lavalantula (9 pm)

Because I’m a fiend for such movies, I’ll be watching every one of them and reviewing them here. First up is Roboshark.

A roboshark is what you get when a great white shark gulps down an alien probe launched from a distant starship. In seconds, the shark is transformed into a high-tech killing machine...though there will eventually be a question as to whether or not that was the intent of the unseen aliens.

The transformation scene happens almost immediately. The roboshark bumps into the propeller of a nuclear submarine. The roboshark and the sub regroup. While the sub tries to fire its torpedoes at what it believes - with cause - is an attacking enemy, the shark chews its way into the sub and destroys it.

The above all happens within minutes. Though Roboshark is an uneven film, there are several times when it rockets from scene to scene. The fast-action pace does drag on occasion, usually when the movie is belaboring some business meant to be hilarious. When Roboshark is on point, it’s hilarious. When it drags, it leaves marks on the carpet like an incontinent dog.

Roboshark has a good pedigree. Director and co-writer Jeffery Lando has directed and/or produced over a dozen “B” movie thrillers while writing six of them. Co-writer Philip Roth has close to a hundred producer credits, 25 writer credits and 19 director credits. They have considerable experience with this kind of thriller.

The actors aren’t familiar faces, but most of them know their way around a CGI monster. However, Alexis Peterman is new to the SyFy style. She plays a 38-year-old wacky weather woman who wants to be a serious newsperson. She’s also the mother of a teenage daughter she can’t control and the wife of a goof of a husband who has a job with the water department of the city of Seattle. Peterman does a good job projecting determination, exhaustion, fear and scruples as the movie demands. I’d like to see her do more films like this one. But better than this one.

Nigel Barber is tiresome as a mad admiral who has vowed to destroy Roboshark. The movie returns to his manic behavior again and again. The humor of the character wears thin quickly.

Vanessa Grasse is cool as the teenage daughter whose social media expertise drives a good chunk of the movie. I think the actress is fairly young, but she makes her character convincing, even in some of the goofiest scenes.

Laura Dale, who was in Lake Placid Versus Anaconda, looks too young to be the bitchy newswoman who tries to steal the Roboshark story from Peterman’s character. She’s playing the same kind of character she played in Lake Placid Versus Anaconda and playing her a little too broadly for this movie. But she has a definite presence and I like her. If I were making monster movies - which is something that I should do some day - I’d cast her in a more winsome role. Maybe someone like Melody of Josie and the Pussycats.

Roboshark swims to Seattle, eating a small seaplane near the shore. It gets into Seattle’s water system, using it to travel from place to place. It emerges in a Starbucks-like coffee shop and Peterman gets a good look at it. No one believes the “wacky weather girl” - there’s a wonderful montage of her in goofy costumes - but a video of the attack goes viral and proves she saw what she saw.

Grasse shows up when Roboshark emerges at a sewage treatment plant. Tagging along with her mom and a cameraman, she uses her mad social media skills to great effect and humor. Like when Roboshark starts following her on Twitter. So much for superior alien intelligence. More on that in the spoilers section.


Roboshark heads to the mall. It can “swim” through the water system and move on land like a snake. Some “Roboshark on soldiers” action  doesn’t end well for the soldiers.

Billionaire “Bill Glates” arrives at the water department offices. He assumes command because he is more powerful than the president. It’s a belabored plot development. It’s padding for padding’s sake. Whatever jokes the filmmakers thought they could get from it, they miscalculated.

Here’s where Roboshark gets crazy funny. We see people all over the world tweeting about the shark. Dad, shaken by the presence of the crazy admiral who has commandeered his offices, lets Peterman know the creature is heading for the high school. The Scooby trio gets  there before the military and just in time for a swim meet. Ready for the genius crazy?

Daughter sends a tweet to Roboshark asking it to not hurt people and signs it with a crying face emoji. Roboshark doesn’t hurt any of the swimmers or a spectator who fell into the pool. It sends a crying face emoji to the daughter. She actually pets Roboshark and makes friends with it. Then the soldiers show up.

Crying face.

The finale takes the action to the Space Needle, the iconic symbol of Seattle. Apparently, the lonely Roboshark wants to phone home. This is one of literally dozens of movie references in this movie. The SyFy channel itself gets at least three name-checks. Every one of the references screams that the writers were enormously pleased with themselves. They shouldn’t have been. You must learn to kill your darlings, gentlemen.

Admiral Crazy and the Space Needle fall smack dab on Roboshark and poor Laura Dale. The oddly sympathetic creature is shattered into tiny glowing bits. No one seems to care much about Dale’s demise.

The closing scene has a dark-haired woman in sunglasses - perhaps a nod to Not of This Earth - holding a small Chihuahua whose eyes suddenly glow red. I’m amazed we didn’t get a question mark in the middle of the screen. However, if we’re going to talk sequel, let us consider the possibility of Dale’s newswoman character digging her way out of the Space Needle wreckage unharmed and with glowing red eyes.  I think the time is right for Robobitch.


Roboshark isn’t a very good movie. It could and should have been so much better. There was some tasty meat to the proceedings, but the film needed a tighter script and more good actors. The ladies - Peterman, Grasse and Dale - do all the heavy lifting with little support from the rest of the cast. If you’re me and you can get enjoyment from even bad monster movies, it’s worth watching. If you’re less charitable than me, you should avoid it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my review of Mega Shark Versus Kolossus. See you then.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 19, 2015


My friend and occasional collaborator Alan Kupperberg (May 18, 1953 – July 16, 2015) died a few days ago of the thymus cancer he’d been battling for some time now. Every time I think the next one of these damn things will hurt less than the last one, I learn anew that they all hurt and that every one of them hurts more than the last one.

Alan was a comic-book and comic-strip writer and artist. He was a good letterer and could handle every phase of comics production. He worked on all sorts of things. A partial list of his comics credits would include Spider-Man, Blue Devil, Invaders, Defenders, and the newspaper comic strips Howard the Duck, Incredible Hulk and Little Orphan Annie. He worked in animation and advertising. He assisted several artists on projects, sometimes almost entirely ghosting the projects. He did commissions for fans and had a good reputation in that field. Basically, if it involved comics, Alan could do it. He could do it fast and he could do it well.

Memory fails - it often does - but Alan and I probably met through his brother Paul, also a dear friend of mine who has done a lot of terrific things in comics and related fields. The Kupperberg family lived in the same Brooklyn neighborhood that I lived in when I came to New York in 1972. Paul Levitz and Carl Gafford lived there, too. As did the parade of other young comics creators who would end up on our couches when they first came to New York.

Alan was a cocky, funny guy. Most of us were back then. We hit it  off from the start. He lettered a handful of my scripts back in the 1970s: Incredible Hulk, Ghost Rider and the Living Mummy. I have a vague memory of him doing some additional lettering and other work  for me when I was the editor of Marvel’s British weeklies and some of the company’s black-and-white comics magazines. You could always count on Alan to come through for you.

Digression. Somewhere in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff is a cover Alan drew for a fanzine I was planning. It poked fun at DC’s habit of doing covers and stories in which their super-heroes would age into doddering old wrecks. You know, like the doddering old wreck I have become as a direct result of my 43 years working in comics. It was a hilarious piece and, as soon as I come across it, I’ll be sharing it with my beloved bloggy thing readers.

In the 1990s, Alan drew five-and-a-half of my stories. Editor Jim Salicrup had him draw the second half of a Sandman story started by Ross Andru, a Spider-Man story for the Charleston Chew promotional comic book and four Rocket Racer stories. Alan did a great job on all those assignments, but I’m especially fond of the Rocket Racer stories. He nailed the action and the humor of those short stories perfectly. Alas, my attempts to launch an ongoing Rocket Racer book with Alan as the artist fell on uncaring ears after Salicrup moved on to other adventures beyond Marvel Comics.

Alan and I reconnected on Facebook a while back. I’d always hoped I would get a chance to work with him again. His death at way too young an age has ended that hope. What hurts much worse is that I will never get another chance to hang out with him and laugh at his smart-ass quips. Unless, of course, there really is some comic-book heaven for us comics guys.

I could see Alan spending time with the greats, making them laugh and having a fine time. After all his hard work, after his struggle with the cancer that took him from us, he deserves that.

Rest in peace, Alan. We’re gonna miss you.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Saturday, July 18, 2015


The three Isabella-written issues of Iron Fist have been collected in Iron Fist Epic Collection: The Fury of Iron Fist [Marvel; $39.99], a 528-page, full-color trade paperback. 

Here's the Amazon pitch:

A Himalayan expedition to find the mystical city of K'un-Lun left nine-year-old Daniel Rand's parents dead, but he found the path to the K'un-Lun and there spent a decade training under its immortal inhabitants. He became an unmatched master of martial arts and spiritual control; armed with the shattering power of the iron fist, Daniel left immortality behind to set out into the Western world and avenge his parents' deaths. Packed with wall-to-wall kung fu action, Iron Fist runs a gauntlet through the Kara-Kai death cult, ninja adversaries, and mystic dimensions.
The book collects Marvel Premiere #15-25, Iron Fist #1-15 and Marvel Team-Up #63-64. The writers: Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Doug Moench, me and Chris Claremont. The artists: Gil Kane, Larry Hama, Arvell Jones, Pat Broderick and John Byrne. I remember liking these comic books a lot back in the day and I'm looking forward to rereading them soon.
ISBN 978-0-7851-0164-3


As I barrel towards age 64 - Will you still love me? - I take note of changes in my life and my sense of self. One of those changes is that I’ve begun wearing t-shirts in public.

If that seems like an odd topic for even one of these mini-bloggy things of mine, blame it on my buddy Bob Ingersoll. On his Facebook page, the fit-and-trim former attorney told a poster than he only wears t-shirts when riding his stationary bike or using his treadmill.

For more years than I can remember, I only wore t-shirts in my home or at my garage sales. Even if I was running errands, I would put on a shirt with a collar, usually a short-sleeved polo shirt. Even at conventions, surrounded by people wearing t-shirts, I felt that I should strike a more professional note. Or maybe it was residual memory from the too many years when comics fans like me were looked down upon by too many people.

These days, of course, we live in a world which accepts, sometimes ruefully, that we the fans have won. Hollywood comes to comics for its subject matter. The world watches news of our conventions and wishes they could be part of them. Libraries stock comic books and graphic novels. Schools teach comics. We’ve won.

I’ve spent virtually all of my adult life working in the industry I love. So I’m no longer the least self-conscious about wearing my Avengers or Captain America or Spider-Man t-shirts in public. Among my prized articles of attire are a San Diego Comic-Con t-shirt from the year I was a special guest and the Yoda shirt - “Judge Me by My Size, You Do?” - I bought from a smiling little person at the Star Trader emporium in Disneyland. At conventions, I alternate between polo shirts and t-shirts depending on my mood or the presentations I’ll be making. I wear my love of comics and fantasy for the world to see. I do so proudly.

There are two notable exceptions to my devil-may-care attitude re: the wearing of t-shirts. I own the “In Godzilla We Trust” t-shirt shown above. In fact, I own two of them because I love it a whole bunch. But, after a religious neighbor of mine commented he found it blasphemous, and only partly in jest, I only wear these shirts around my house or at my garage sales. One of the few tenets of the First Church of Godzilla, of which I am the founder and pastor, is that we don’t stick our “faith” in other people’s faces. We don’t need to do that. We are confident in our beliefs. We believe in the separation of church and state and, occasionally, the separation of entire city blocks from the ground.
The other exception? I won’t wear DC Comics t-shirts or any other DC Comics articles of clothing. Though DC has different management today from that which cheated and mistreated me for four decades or so, I would feel unclean wearing anything that shows DC characters, logos or symbols. It would literally pain me to do so.

If you ever see me wearing a DC Comics shirt, you can take it as a sign that DC has finally made things right with me. Heck, if that happens, I might start selling DC shirts. I can think of a number of Black Lightning designs that would be the epitome of sartorial style, perfectly suitable for the home, the office and the exciting night life of a super-hero.

Wear your comics and monster t-shirts with pride, my brothers and sisters. I do.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Friday, July 17, 2015


Cowboys Vs. Dinosaurs [Oracle Film Group; 2015] was also known as Jurassic Hunters when it was released on DVD in Thailand. Which is where my copy comes from. The trailer for the movie has been online for months.

I was hesitant to buy the Thai DVD, but decided to roll the dice. I got a little nervous when I discovered all the previews were in Thai with no English subtitles, but the DVD offers both the English and Thai language audio for the movie itself..

Here’s the summary from the Internet Movie Database:

After an accidental explosion at a local mine, dinosaurs emerge from the rubble to terrorize a small western town. Now, a group of gunslingers must defend their home if anyone is going to survive in a battle of cowboys versus dinosaurs.

That’s not entirely accurate. If one defines a cowboy as someone on a horse, we don’t see a cowboy fighting dinosaurs until the end of the movie. There’s also a slightly more complicated explanation of how the dinosaurs have survived all these centuries.

Rob Hillis plays Val Walker, a former rodeo star whose injury ended his career and set him on the road to ruin. He has come back to his home town to apologize to his ex-girlfriend Sky [Casey Fitzgerald] for how he treated her while in the throes of alcohol, depression and drugs. Hillis also appeared in Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda [2014] and Piranhaconda [2012], so he knows his way around a CGI monster. Fitzgerald was in Sorority Party Massacre [2012].

Some other cast members have also appeared in giant creature movies and slasher films, but the only one you probably know by both name and sight is the always entertaining Eric Roberts. He plays Val’s father. 

There aren’t too many surprises in this movie. Corporate greed is the real villain of the story, personified by a cowardly CEO and a callous scientist. Everyone you expect to get chomped on by one of the CGI dinosaurs gets chomped on. When the situation gets truly desperate, Val gets on a horse for the first time in years to save Sky and the few remaining survivors. Though I saw that coming ten states away, it was still a nice moment.

There’s one surprise in the movie. It’s probably the pseudo-science we see in many “B” movies, but I thought it was a neat touch. Here comes the usual warning notice...


While underground, the dinosaurs breathed a mixture of methane and oxygen. They can be lured by the scent of methane. More important, if you fire a bullet or flaming arrow into their most methane-heavy organs - the brain or the heart - they explode in a ball of fire. I thought this was a clever bit.

I wasn’t as thrilled by the ending of the movie, in which surviving cast members try to look determined or resigned to their fate when a pterodactyl rises out of the enormous crater that was where these dinosaurs have been living. One, the acting wasn’t good enough for me to be sure what the characters were thinking. Two, I couldn't see how such a flying creature could have survived underground. That’s right. I had no trouble accepting living dinosaurs, just not that one living dinosaur. I am a contrary man.


The bottom line...Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs is a fun movie for its 89-minute running time. It’s the kind of film I enjoyed as a youngster and that remains a big part of my love for these movies now that I am almost 64 years old.

Youthful spirit or encroaching senility?

You decide.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Re: “Justice for Michael Davis”

Michael Davis didn’t know I was going to write about him. Indeed, the last communication I’d had with him prior to the column was my sending him a brief thank you for all he had done on behalf of our mutual friend Don McGregor. The column was subsequently re-posted to Michael’s own Michael Davis World website without my permission. Which I would have granted had I been asked and which I’m okay with even without being asked.

I heard from someone at Milestone who wanted to chat with me, but I’ve declined the kind offer for now. I assume he wanted to share the company’s side of the story with me - they have as many or more online venues for that as I do - or perhaps act as a negotiator of sorts, which is something I actually have done quietly for others in the comics industry. Or maybe it was something else entirely. I may never know. In any case...

Though I’m a big fan of Milestone, I am a writer and not any kind of peacemaker. My function is to write about things and not involve myself in them beyond that. As I see it...

These are good people. All of them. They can work this out. They can fix this. And, even without knowing all the details, I’m sure  they can fix it easier than they could’ve imagined until they try. Because that’s the true way of these things. If good people want to fix things, they can fix them. Just fix them.

That’s true whether it’s Michael Davis and Milestone Media or Tony Isabella and DC Comics or any other dispute in the comics business. Put aside the corporate bullshit. Tell the lawyers to sit quietly in the other room while good people work out their differences and then have the lawyers write it up real nice.

It’s always good and smart business to do right by creators.

Just fix it.

Anyway, I just heard from Michael this morning. He is apparently on a cruise and his online connection sucks. It was just a short note of thanks. He’s welcome.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 13, 2015


I’ve known Michael Davis, self-proclaimed master of the universe, for roughly two decades. In 2013, as a special guest at Comic-Con, he was described thus...

Davis is “an artist, writer, mentor, and entertainment executive. He’s created original content for comics, education, television, radio, and publishing as an independent producer. He’s also held positions as president/CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks; president of animation for Magic Johnson Entertainment; and co-founder of Milestone Media. Alumni from his mentor program are some of the most respected talents working in comics today.

I like Michael. Yes, he pisses me off from time to time. I imagine he pisses off everyone who knows and likes and even loves him from time to time. That’s just who he is.

For some time now, Michael has been writing provocative columns for Comic Mix and Bleeding Cool and his own website. He’s not afraid to write about the most sensitive issues. He’s not afraid to write about the most sensitive personal issues. I relish that courage and fearlessness from him and from any writer. I consider myself to be that kind of writer so I feel a certain kinship with him. I trust that horrifies him as much as it sometimes horrifies me.

Michael has long claimed to be a creator of Static, easily the most successful character to come out of Milestone Media. He has made a rock-solid case for that claim. Yet Milestone does not credit him as a creator of Static. In fact, though Milestone 2.0 is coming our way, Michael is not part of that revival.

Every year at Comic-Con, Michael has hosted “The Black Panel.” It’s an amazing event in which he brings together some very interesting creators for a discussion of black comics and movies and much more. He invited me to be on the panel several times. The one time I was at Comic-Con in recent years, I couldn’t be on his panel because I was scheduled to be at my own spotlight panel.

Rich Johnston covered this year’s edition of “The Black Panel” for Bleeding Cool. With apologies for taking such liberties, I’m going to quote the first several paragraphs of that article:

In an incredibly emotional speech to begin this year’s annual Black Panel at San Diego Comic Con, its founder Michael Davis began by saying “over the last year, there have been a lot of changes in my life” building up to his realisation that “The world doesn’t know I created Static Shock.”

Talking through the details, he was specific about how all the character’s family are all based on his own family. He took us through the details. “My sister Sharon, the inspiration for Sharon Hawkins, was murdered and the character was created in homage of her” and it was the same with Michael’s grandmother, who also inspired a character in the show. One of his joys was telling his mother that his sister lived on in Static and they watched the cartoon together. Last year his mother died after a very swift illness and at the funeral his met brother and sisters he never knew he had. He doesn’t know his father, “I think it’s the guy who owns Microsoft” – and the place in tears burst into laughter. Meeting his nieces and nephews, he found those who liked Static, but somehow knew that he didn’t create him.

He’s talked about a growing problem with not getting the credit for co-creating the character, in the media, from peers, from the new Milestone, and how it keeps exacerbating the problem.

But he emphasises that his issue isn’t about credit. It’s about his sister. Describing the show as  “the most popular African American character created by black creators.” and Sharon Hawkins as the most popular character on the Static Shock cartoon, “Sharon Hawkins is the star of that show” – now he feels has been estranged from that. He found out Warner Bros were doing a Static live action series by reading it. Same about the return of Milestone.

He talks about his absolute darkest pain, of calling his mother and forgetting she was dead, putting a gun in his mouth and pulling it to find that it was empty. Thinking about loading it, he answered  the phone to fellow panelist Tatinia El-Khouri, who helped him at that so difficult time.

He says he is done with the whole soap opera thing. How can we create a force that means something and is inclusive. ”It’s time to go back to being happy and black and shit.”

[You can find the whole article here and I hope you’ll go and read it because then I won’t feel so bad about appropriating the above several paragraphs.]

Reading those paragraphs was like a punch to the gut. What Michael was expressing was just so damn familiar to me. I thought back to the week when DC editor Pat “the Rat” Garrahy fired me from Black Lightning without cause, mostly because he wanted to bring in some writer who would be indebted to him for the job. Then Mike Carlin, who’d promised to have my back if I had problems with Garrahy, blew me off. Then, Paul Levitz, my alleged friend of over two decades, a guy who could have fixed this with a word, refused to stop that injustice. I had devoted my working life to Black Lightning. I had risked my life in Cleveland’s inner city to make sure I portrayed its Brick City neighborhood as realistically as possible. All of a sudden, after doing the best work of my career, I was unemployed and, as various DC staffers slandered me in public and private, becoming more unemployable each day. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t get work. I couldn’t deal with the life stress that now seems so trivial to me. Which is when I ended up in a garage with the doors closed tight and my van running.

I got through it. I got help. I took control of my depression and maintain that control every day of life. The secret for me is that I know my depression and I’m always on guard against it.  As much as possible, I surround myself with good, supportive people. I work and I do that work with clean and honest hands, mind and soul. I’ll never find myself in that locked-down garage again.

I make no claims to understand the depth of Michael’s pain or the sense of betrayal he feels. We are different people. But it’s easy to empathize with him.

I make no claim to understanding the dynamics and situations which led Michael to leave Milestone 1.0 and not be invited to be part of Milestone 2.0. I know I would want him on my team.

If there’s a case to be made that Michael isn’t a creator of Static and the Static Shock cartoon, no one has made that case. He should be credited and celebrated and rewarded for his pivotal role in the creation of Milestone’s most popular character.

As I’ve often said, the history of the comics industry is a history of talented creators being cheated and mistreated by publishers and editors and sometimes their fellow creators. It’s a cruel systemic problem that, though it is getting better, is still a long way from being eradicated.

That Milestone, itself poorly treated by DC Comics in the past, is perpetuating this unfairness is utterly shocking to me. I couldn’t stay silent.

Justice for Michael Davis.

Milestone needs to make this right.

Justice for Michael Davis.

The company needs to make it right sooner rather than later. 

Justice for Michael Davis.

The comics world is watching.

© 2015 Tony Isabella


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Marvel's Secret Wars, Captain Marvel, Batgirl and Donald Duck!

Saturday, July 11, 2015


The above is from the 2015 Comic-Con Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly. My initial reaction to seeing Peppermint Patty and Marcie from the Peanuts comic strip used to celebrate the Supreme Court ruling that marriage equality is a constitutional right was amusement. My second reaction was "But they're just kids!" Oh, sure, I understand this gag has been around for a long time, but the fact that they are kids makes me a little uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as the "Love Is..." characters, but uncomfortable. We should love and protect and support gay kids. I'm not sure we should use them to illustrate the adult institution of marriage.

Full-length blogging is still going to be erratic throughout July. However, I will try to post mini-blogs like this one as often as possible.

Monday, July 6, 2015


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Not Brand Echh, Lady Killer and Peanuts!


I receive quite a few e-mails and even some phone calls of the “How are you doing?” variety. Given that I am putting in very long days writing my forthcoming “memoir of sorts,” I figured I would answer that question here. That strikes me as more efficient than trying to answer each query individually.

There’s good news to report or, at the very least, tease you about. Thom Zahler has shown me the roughs for my forthcoming book’s cover and they are wonderfulness incarnate. When you see it, you’ll know why I’m hoping people DO judge my book by its cover.

My mother has now moved to an assisted living facility and loving it. I haven’t seen her this happy in decades. She’s even going for walks, something she could never do in the war zone that our former neighborhood has become.

The old Isabella house remains occupied. It’ll be a while before my brother-in-law and siblings, who are doing all the heavy lifting on that project, will have the house empty for the next stage of its existence.

I was there for a few hours on Saturday and will probably only go back once more. It’s sad to look at the neighborhood we moved into six decades ago and realize how far it’s fallen, but the old house itself accomplished its mission and gave us a lot of good memories. That’s acceptable to me.


I must be circumspect on this next item. For the first time in two decades, there is positive movement for me on another comics front. It’s too early to know how this will play out, but I’m guardedly hopeful there will be a good outcome.

In the past, my readers have approached editors and publishers at major conventions and expressed, sometimes angrily, their desire to see me treated fairly, as well as their interest in my returning to comic-book writing. I thank those readers for their strong support of my work.  That said...

Don’t get angry on my behalf. Regardless of whether or not that of which I cannot speak has a good outcome, I have a very good life. It’s a life that doesn’t rely on the comics industry to any great extent. My life may be challenging at times, but it’s a life that suits me quite well. Sure, by all means, let editors and publishers know you are in my corner and that you enjoy my writing. But do this in the spirit of courtesy and respect I occasionally manage to achieve in this blog of mine. Give people a chance and they might just surprise you by doing that which would please you.


Speaking of life’s challenges, I did suffer a few setbacks after I returned home from the fabulous Indy Pop Con. In a day or two, I’ll have more to say about that most excellent event soon.

Here’s what happened last week...

I went a few rounds with what I’m convinced should be thought of as an actual medical condition: Comic-Con Depression Syndrome. It’s a disease that affects me about this time every year as I’m forced to accept I will not be at Comic-Con this year and will miss seeing my many old friends and sharing in the unbelievable fun of the event. I contend CCDS is a real thing.

The only treatment for this sinister syndrome is to lower my head and bear down on whatever work lies before me.  I also keep telling myself “Maybe next year” and trying very hard to believe it’s not just a saying.

I mean, attending Comic-Con 2016 could totally happen. As an Inkpot Award recipient, I have a lifetime pass to the convention. Someone could announce a movie or TV series involving something I created and bring me to the convention to promote said movie or TV series. A hitherto unknown-to-me rich relative could fly me to the event in his or her private jet and cover all my expenses. Don’t those sound completely within the realm of possibility?

I didn’t think so.


In addition to suffering from CCDS, this past week saw me dealing with return engagements of two old “friends”: back pain and gout. Fortunately, these have been part of my life long enough that I’ve gotten pretty good at overcoming them. I lose a few hours here and there, but that’s all. I count myself lucky.

The most serious ailment of the week was a nigh-crippling anxiety attack. I stressed out over the chaos of my life. Because my Vast Accumulation of Stuff is still not organized, I can’t find things I need on a nearly daily basis. The frustration of that sometimes makes me a little crazy.  Since even a little crazy means I can’t work on my book and other projects, I had to make a tough decision to relieve some stress in my life. This is where the bad news of my title makes itself known. 

There will be no Isabella Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales this year.

When I looked at my schedule for the rest of the year, when I also considered how much work would be involved in putting on even a few garage sales in August and September, I knew I couldn’t handle even attempting those sales.

This grieves me for two reasons. I will miss the additional income these sales would have provided me at a time when I’m turning down work to write my book. I will miss spending a few hours every other week with the wonderful fans who have come to my garage sales on a regular basis. They are good people.

Over the next several months, after my book is completed, I will be looking at my future garage sales with an eye toward making better and more interesting than ever. I will organize my VAOS so that I can find anything I need for my work while uncovering cool things for my future garage sales. My goal is to accomplish these tasks by March of 2017.

There will be some necessary changes in my garage sales. Realizing that some items have been on sale for years, I plan to put together a whole bunch of mystery boxes. Many of those boxes will start with a base of 200 comics. Additional items will be added to them. They will be sold at the same $5 price of previous mystery boxes. Expect these new mystery boxes to sell fast.

There will be fewer boxes of quarter comics, simply because I have been running out of comics I’m willing to sell for a quarter. But I’m confident my customers will find as many cool things to buy as ever as I add other items to my sales.

In the interim - I’m not counting on Ohio weather allowing garage sales until April at the earliest - I will be resuming the online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales. These new online sales will have more items than previous online sales. I’m shooting for, at least, a hundred new items every week. If I can keep hitting my deadlines, you’ll see the first of these sales in mid-July.


Though my blogging will be erratic throughout this month, my next several bloggy things will feature my Indy Pop Con reports. I had a terrific time there and I’m looking forward to telling you about my weekend there.

Keep watching the bloggy thing. I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

Here is an amusing political game you can play if you, like me, are already weary unto death of the national clown car that is filled with Republican presidential candidates. This game requires you to imagine the members of that cray-cray circus taking what they think is a short break from their antics. They board a tiny ship for what has been advertised as a three-hour tour.

Much to the consternation of that wacky bunch - and much to my own delight - the weather starts getting rough. Alas, their tiny ship is tossed, ultimately going aground on an uncharted island. Looks like the candidates will miss the 2016 election and, if we’re real lucky, the 2020 and 2024 elections as well.

Wait a minute, you exclaim. That sounds suspiciously like the basic plot of Gilligan’s Island, the popular television show that starred Bob Denver. Why, now that you mention it...

The object of this game is to match seven Republican candidates to the characters they might play on a modern remake of Gilligan’s Island. Here are the Gilligan’s Island characters:

First Mate Gilligan
The Skipper
Thurston Howell III (the millionaire)
Eunice Lovelle Wentworth Howell (his wife)
Ginger (the movie star)
The Professor
Mary Ann

Allowing for inflation and several decades of politicians who took money from the poor to give to the rich, Howell would most likely be a billionaire today. Maybe Gilligan and the Skipper are Gulf War veterans suffering from PTSD. Perhaps Ginger is one of those insane anti-vaxxer. Maybe the Professor is self-certified. Maybe Mary Ann won the cruise because she could not have otherwise afforded it on the minimum wage paid by her three jobs. You can speculate on the contemporary quirks of the castaways all you want, but none of that is essential to the game. I just mention this stuff because it came to me and I don’t want it stuck in my head. So, now, it’s stuck in your heads. You’re welcome.

Amazingly, there are over 30 people running to be the Republican Party’s candidate for President of the United States. Really. But, for the purpose of this game, I’m only going to list the ones you have heard of:

Jeb Bush
Ben Carson
Chris Christie
Ted Cruz
Carly Fiorina
Lindsey Graham
Mike Huckabee
Bobby Jindal
John Kasich
George Pataki
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Marco Rubio
Rick Santorum
Donald Trump
Scott Walker

Though I haven’t figured out all my seven choices for the candidate and cast match-ups, I’m leaning towards Bobby Jindal as Gilligan, Rand Paul as the Professor and Lindsey Graham as Mrs. Howell. Keep in mind that there are three female roles in the show and only one woman candidate. You’ll have to do some crossplay to fill out your list. Which brings me to the word of the day.

From Wikipedia...

Crossplay, a portmanteau of crossdressing and cosplay, is cosplay in which the person dresses up as a character of a different gender. Crossplay's origins lie in the anime convention circuit, though, like cosplay, it has not remained exclusive to the genre.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what my beloved bloggy thing readers come up with re: this silly little game.

Please, please, please post your match-ups to our comments section. Or, if you find that frustrating, you can email them to me or post them to my Facebook page and I’ll add them to the comments section for you.

Get your friends and family members to play the game with you. Make this an Internet meme or a Twitter hashtag. The important thing is to have fun with it...because once these campaigns get up to speed, fun might become a very scarce commodity.  

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Saturday, July 4, 2015


Happy birthday to the United States of America, my country and the country in which I have pride and concern in equal measure. In the past couple of weeks, the Supreme Court of our land rule correctly on the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality. The one ensures decent health care for millions of Americans and the other finally recognizes the obvious right that had no long been denied to many of my fellow citizens. I was delighted by these decisions, even as the right-wingers attacked them. America being America, the Court also upheld executions and pollution.

The Republican Clown Car of the 2016 presidential campaign seems to add a new buffoon every few days. The hatred and nonsense expressed by these candidates dismays me, even as some of their antics amuse me. I’ll be posting a little mental game about them later today. I hope you’ll enjoy playing in and that you’ll share the results with me and your fellow bloggy thing readers.

I looked over what I posted on this date last year and suggest my Independence Day 2014 bloggy is worth checking out, especially if you didn’t read it then. Or, if you’ve already had your fill of our contentious politics, you can reread the reviews of cheese movies I posted on Independence Day 2013.

My plans for today include taking my wife Barb to visit my mother at the very nice assisted living facility into which she has moved and then taking Mom to our family house on Peony Avenue to continue the process of closing the book on the six decades of memories that my parents and siblings made in that place. I’ll be writing about that somewhere.

I wish the happiest of holidays to my fellow Americans. I share the hopes of my foreign friends that America will strive to be a force for good in this often dangerous world of ours. The American Dream is a worthy one. Making that dream the reality is our neverending quest. Forward, ever forward.   

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Friday, July 3, 2015


Look who's taking about America's oldest teenager. The above snippet comes from the June/July 2015 issue of AARP The Magazine. I envy Archie getting "an edgy new look" and invite artists with way too much time on their hands to design edgy or otherwise new looks for yours truly.
If any sufficiently crazy artists take me up on this offer, I'll run their designs in future installments of the bloggy thing, complete with links to their own websites or other endeavors. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


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 69th installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #84 [February 1971] has a eye-popping new cover by Herb Trimpe. It’s a classic image of the Kid pushing his horse to the max while firing back at his pursuers. The excessive cover copy is redundant. The image alone sold me on this comic, even though I knew the stories within were reprints.

All three stories in this issue - When Six-Guns Roar, The Man Who Caught the Rawhide Kid and the long-of-title The Girl, the Gunman and the Apaches - were reprinted from The Rawhide Kid #27 [April, 1962]. You can read what I have previously written about these Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Dock Ayers collaborations by going back to May 23, 2012 in the bloggy thing archives.


“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” takes up half a page. The hit of the month - as I see it - was Sub-Mariner #34 with its first teaming of Namor, the Hulk and the Silver Surfer. That alliance would lead to the formation of the Defenders the following year. The other Marvel issues on sale were Fantastic Four #107, Amazing Spider-Man #93, Avengers #84, Thor #184, Captain America and the Falcon #134, Hulk #136, Daredevil #72, Iron Man #34, Astonishing Tales #4, Conan the Barbarian #3, Chamber of Darkness #4, Sgt. Fury #84, The X-Men #68, Western Gunfighters #4, The Outlaw Kid #4, Our Love Story #9 and Millie the Model #188.

The rest of the page was a “SUPER POSTER OFFER” from Marvelmania. For two dollars (including postage), fans could order four posters  that were said to be three feet high. There was Spider-Man by John Romita, Doctor Doom by Jack Kirby, Captain America by Jim Steranko and the Incredible Hulk by Herb Trimpe. I don’t recall buying these posters, so I can’t tell you anything about them from any personal experience. A quick check on eBay saw them being offered for sale for hundreds of dollars. I wish I did have them.

On the inside front cover, MONSTER S-I-Z-E MONSTERS that were seven feet tall in authentic colors with glow-in-the-dark eyes could have  been yours for $1.25 including postage and handling. You could get the Frankenstein Monster or Boney the Skeleton. Still on hand were comics dealers Howard Rogofsky, Passaic Book Center, Robert Bell, Grand Book Inc. and Clint’s Books. A buck would still buy a sample copy of The Comiccollector fanzine.

This issue had a house ad advertising The Mighty Marvel Western #12 [January 1971] and The Ringo Kid #7 [January 1971]. The former was a 25-cent comic book with a new cover by Herb Trimpe and reprints of the Rawhide Kid by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers; Kid Colt by Lee, Jack Keller and Christopher Rule; and Two-Gun Kid by Larry Lieber, Ayers and Vince Colletta.

Ringo Kid #7 was a standard 15-cent comic book. It also had a new Herb Trimpe cover. Inside, there were three short Ringo Kid stories drawn by John Severin and a non-series story drawn by Bob Forgione with inks by Jack Abel.

The Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page announced that John Buscema was the new artist on Fantastic Four, that John Romita was returning to Amazing Spider-Man and that Sal Buscema was the new penciller for The Avengers.

Another item plugged Iceman’s guest-shot in Amazing Spider-Man and said Marvel was considering giving Bobby Drake a strip of his own.

Marvel vacation news was next. Roy Thomas went to Great Britain for three weeks. John Verpoorten was going to West Germany. Gene Colan was on his way to Europe. Meanwhile, Barry Smith has completed his arrangements to make New York his home.

There was a huge plug for Thor #104 by Stan Lee and John Buscema, which didn’t have the impact Stan clearly hoped it would have. Even when I looked at the cover for the issue, I could barely remember anything about its contents.

There was an item about Marvel writing an entire issue of Spider-Man without exclamation points and no one seemed to have noticed. Such matters would be left to individual writers.

Finally, in “Stan Lee’s Soapbox,” the Man explained why the Silver Surfer title had been cancelled. It didn’t sell.

The issue’s editorial content concluded with a “Marvel Masterwork Pin-Up” of the Rawhide Kid fighting an Apache warrior. Pencilled by Larry Lieber with inks by John Tartaglione, it was lifted from the cover of issue #74.


July is crunch month for my memoir of sorts. Bloggy thing posting will be erratic, but there will be new content here as often as I can manage while still hitting my daily goals for the writing of my book. Thanks for sticking with me.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella