Wednesday, August 16, 2017


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I saw The Defenders before you did and here's what I thought of it!

Monday, August 14, 2017


NEO Comic Con 3 is my next convention appearance. It will be held on Sunday, August 20, at the Soccer Sportsplex, 31515 Lorain Road in North Olmsted, Ohio. The convention runs from 10 am to 7 pm with a low admission of $7 for the day. Kids under 12 and attendees in costume get in free. A portion of ticket sales will go to charity. Kids under 12 and attendees in costume get in free.

This is NEO’s largest venue ever. It’s over 25,000 square feet or roughly half the size of a football field. There’s more space and more free parking. There will be are more artists, special guests and vendors. There will be cosplay, contests, panel discussions, a gaming tournament and other special events.

My fellow guests include Kevin Nowlan, Bob Hall, Marc Sumerak, Ted Sikora, Gary Dumm, Don Simpson, Matt Horak, Darryl Banks, Chris Yambar, Aaron Archer, Mike Gustovich and others. Marc and I will be doing separate panels - Marc on “The Craft of Comics” and me doing the legendary “Tony’s Tips Live!” - and there will also be a performance by The Confused Greenies, a devised and improvisational comedic performing troupe.

NEO Comic Con will have over 40 vendors and over 125 tables selling comic books, collectibles, toys, action figures and more. Based on my dropping a bundle of cash at last year’s event, I am confident fans attending the convention will find all kinds of treasures to delight them.

Getting to the Tony Isabella stuff...

I will be at tables 117 and 118, right across the aisle from those fine folks from WBNX aka the CW in Northeast Ohio. They always have free cool swag and, this year, they will have Black Lightning mini-posters from the forthcoming TV series based on my creation. Meet my WBNX friends, get a poster and then bring it over to my table. I’ll be delighted to sign them without charge. As regular readers of this bloggy thing know, I’m not charging for my signature at any of the conventions and events I am attending this year.

What will I be selling at my tables? I’ll have copies of both Black Lightning Volume 1 (collecting my first run on my creation and two stories written by Denny O’Neil) and July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One. I’d explain what the latter book features, but typing that long title always wears me out.

In addition to those books, I’ll have boxes of great comics priced at a mere dollar each. I’ll have a box of Isabella-written comics at various prices. I will have a couple boxes of hardcovers and trade paperbacks at approximately 30% of their original prices. I’ll also have a box of my few remaining double-sided Superman in Cleveland posters from 1988, priced to sell at only $25 each.

I’m looking forward to attending Neo Comic Con 3, seeing old pals and making new friends. I’ll do my best to answer your questions, assuming doing so doesn’t violate any of the non-disclosure things I have signed. No alternative facts or fake news from me. Just the honest-to-Godzilla truth!

If you’re going to be anywhere near this convention, you definitely need to check it out. It’s gonna be a blast!

That’s all for now. This is going to be a too busy week for me as I finish a comics script, have some dental surgery and prepare for NEO Comic Con. But the bloggy thing will return on Monday, August 21. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 7 by Stan Sakai, the world's greatest living cartoonist; Archie Comics and Marvel Comics team up for Marvel Comics Digest #1; and the new Youngblood series from Image Comics!


With script restoration and additional dialogue by me, The Garfield Show Vol 7: Desperately Seeking Pooky [Papercutz; $12.99] is due to be released on September 5. Confusing as it may sound, this latest volume is both bigger and smaller than its predecessors. I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, the back cover copy:

That’s Garfield’s Favorite Seventh Lunch
Everyone loses things sometimes. But right now, it seems like “sometimes” means “all the time” for Garfield. In “High Scale,” Garfield receives a terrible ultimatum from the vet: lose two pounds in a week or get sent to Maggie’s Cat Spa, where lunch is a single pea. Then, in “Freaky Monday,” Garfield gets a dose of karmic justice as he and Odie switch bodies and he’s forced to watch the helpless pup-turned-cat eat the cheesy treat that rightfully belongs to him. Finally, in “Desperately Seeking Pooky,” tiny but terrible forces conspire to cost Garfield his favorite food and his best friend!
Sidebar. I worked on all three of these stories and, until I read this back cover copy, it never occurred to me that they shared that common theme. Sheesh!

This volume of The Garfield Show has more pages than the previous ones. The raw material for these stories [screen captures from the show turned into comic-book stories] is now coming from China and not France. The Chinese are not abridging the stories in the manner of the French, who would sometimes reduce an episode to a mere five pages. So each of the stories is a full 23 pages in length, adding up to 69 pages of feline fun. That’s the bigger.

The smaller? This volume measures 5 x 6.5 inches. That concerned me when I first saw a copy, but, on looking through the book, it’s as easy to read as ever. Plus, the more compact size makes it perfect as a stocking stuffer or other small gift.

Papercutz gives me a lot of room to exercise my own sensibilities as I translate the stories from their original televised scripts to the comics format. I have a ball working on Garfield and I’d like to think that fun is contagious.

Kudos to all the fine people who make this fun possible. Editor-in-chief Jim Salicrup hired me. The show itself is written, produced and voice-directed by Mark Evanier, my dear friend of nearly half a century. Letterers Tom Orzechowski and Wilson Ramos Jr do a terrific job making my copy look good. Dawn Guzzo is the production coordinator. New editor Alexander Lu came up with a schedule I could handle and supported my efforts. The bottom line is that I’m proud of this book.

Do yourself (and us) a favor and check it out.

ISBN 978-1629917450

The bloggy thing will be on hiatus until August 14. I’m heading to New York tomorrow for a special screening of Marvel’s new Defenders TV series. The eight-episode show will be available on Netflix starting August 18.

When I return, I’ll have all sorts of cool stuff for you. More on Black Lightning. More Sharknado Week reviews. Reports from G-Fest. I’ve got so much material I could write two bloggy things a day and not cover it all.

Be happy and safe while I’m gone. See you soon.
© 2017 Tony Isabella

Monday, August 7, 2017


Today I’m looking at the two movies that premiered in the middle of Sharknado Week 2017 on the Syfy channel. First up is Trailer Park Shark, which aired on Wednesday, August 2.

Trailer Park Shark hooked me with that great title and then lost me within in the first five minutes of the movie. Privileged city boy that I am, I was still put off by the film’s offensive portrayals of its trailer park residents. Dehumanizing the characters we’re supposed to care about as a great white shark dines at the redneck buffet? What genius came up with that notion?

Director Griff Furst has an impressive resume as a director, actor and writer, but he was off his game in this film, co-written with four other writers: Nathan Furst, Marcy Holland, Matt Muschamp and Xander Wolfe. Way too many cooks.

The movie stars Thomas Ian Nicholas as Rob, whose curly hair looks pretty much the same as when the actor starred in 1993's Rookie of the Year. Recognizing the grown-up Nicholas was the very few good moments I had while watching this movie. Also in the movie: Lulu Jovovich as hot girlfriend Joline, Clint James as Rufus the Cowboy, Elise Berggreen as the overly-made-up Daisy, Josh Whites as creepy thug Bruno, Dennis Haskins as the cliched boss of the trailer park and everything that supplies it and, in an absolutely wasted short part, Tara Reid as Billie Jean. Tara, baby, you’re better than this movie. Next time, if you’re sitting around waiting to star in the next Sharknado movie, e-mail me. I can write you a much better part in a much better monster movie.

Here’s the Internet Movie Database summary:

A tropical storm floods Soggy Meadows trailer park and forces a hungry shark upriver.


It’s not just a tropical storm that floods the trailer park. It’s that their landlord ordered Bruno to dynamite a levee so that the storm would flood the trailer park. We don’t see the flooding and I’m guessing that’s because you can only stretch a ridiculously low budget so far. The hungry shark is a great white who doesn’t know it can’t live in fresh water, though a character tries to cover for that by saying it came inland to give birth. That doesn’t happen and is never mentioned again. Oh, yeah, and the shark is already in the area before the levee goes boom.

By the time we get to the flooded camp, most of the trailers are mostly underwater and some of them have been swept to other parts of the area. The shark eats Rob’s uncle when the two of them are trying to hook up the trailer park to a wind turbine and get free electricity. The turbine will show up for the climax.

Rob gets video of Bruno fleeing the scene of the explosion, but the shark eats the video. Boss Deconnard, who has plans for the trailer park land, tells Bruno and his goons to make sure no one survives the flooding and, especially, to make sure Rob doesn’t expose their murderous actions.

As the movie progresses, the shark eats almost all of the trailer park residents and all of the bad guys. It also eats a horse, which struck me as pointlessly cruel. That horse might still have had a career after this movie.

Sometimes the shark jumps out of the water to eat someone standing on a mostly sunken trailer. Sometimes it just waits for them to go into the water. Once it plows into a trailer to eat the only black character in the film and - Do you have to ask? - that character is horribly offensive.

Rob and Joline catch the shark, but it breaks free and, trailing a cable, gets caught by the wind turbine blades, pulled up to the top of the wind turbine, and sliced into a great many gooey chunks of shark. I have an enormous capacity to willingly suspend my belief when watching movies like this. This was beyond even that capacity.


Trailer Park Shark was not worth watching beyond that this review will prove to my family that I don’t love every cheesy shark movie that comes my way. I strongly recommend that you not toss away the ninety minutes it will take you to watch it.


The week got back on track with the Thursday, August 3 premiere of Toxic Shark. Directed by first-time director Cole Sharp, it was a fun shark flick with a nice mix of likeable characters and at least one who really deserved to get eaten by the title shark. The movie stars the delightful Kabby Borders as college student Eden, come to a secluded island “resort” for a singles fitness event in the hope of putting a broken romance behind her. Unfortunately, ex-boyfriend Sam [played by Bryce Durfee] has come to the island for pretty much the same reason. Both give good performances.

The movie has lots of good performances. Eric Etebari is the owner of the resort. Michelle Cort├ęs and Christina Masterton are Eden’s friends. Sean Samuels and Owen Saxon are Sam’s friends. Quinn Bozza plays the resort’s medic. Other resort employees include Cristina Jayo and Jaime Wallace. I’m not talking any Oscar nominations here, but the overall acting is better than in your typical shark movie. Kudos to the casting director.

Here’s the IMDb summary:

A tropical singles retreat takes a terrifying turn when guests realize a poisonous shark is infesting the surrounding water. Not only will it rip apart its victims, but it also uses projectile acid to hunt - in and out of the water.


The shark is a pretty cool monster. It’s been mutated by chemicals in the water. It spews a corrosive bile. Its merest scratch causes a super-rabies that turns its victims into crazed pseudo-zombies. The CGI effects are a little repetitive, but they work fine in this suspenseful and sometimes fast-paced film.

You know how in some of these movies the victims-to-be have no one but themselves to blame because they made bad decisions? That’s not the case here. The resort owner’s lack of funds are the reason he hasn’t kept the place up to snuff. The shark eats the communication cable that would allow them to call for help. None of the island’s boats are in good shape. Also, though we viewers see the shark very early on, by the time the characters know what they’re facing, they are already in dire straits.

Once the menace is known, everyone actually tries to come up with ways to escape the island, get help or kill the shark. The deck is stacked against them, but they do their best and show some courage as they proceed. None of the deaths is laughable. These characters are basically good people in a terrible situation.

There’s nothing original in how the characters fight the shark and ultimately defeat it. But their reasoning is good and the director plays fair with the viewers. No lucky break comes out of nowhere. And, yes, it’s got one of those cheesy “oh, no” endings I’m not at all fond of, but which I shook off by realizing that the characters were in a much better situation in that last scene. What happened on the island does not have to repeat itself on the mainland.


Toxic Shark was exciting and fun. I’d watch it again. I’ll probably buy it when it comes out on DVD.

If you’ve been keeping track of the score, Sharknado Week 2017 is  2-2. Empire of the Sharks would have aired on Saturday, August 5, and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming on Sunday, August 6. Naturally, I plan to watch both of those movies, though I won’t be able to post my reviews of them until I get back from my quick trip to New York City. Look for those reviews next Monday.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Friday, August 4, 2017


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Free Comic Book Day happens but once a year. Every year, good old Bloggy Tony gets all the FCBD issues from his friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. Then he tries to read and review  all of them. He judges those individual issues on three criteria:

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want to buy more of the same?

On a scale of zero to ten, each of those criteria is worth up to three points. Tony awards the elusive tenth point when he deems a FCBD offering particularly worthy.
I Hate Image [Image Comics] has what appears to be a new 22-page I Hate Fairyland story by writer/artist Skottie Young with colorist Jean-Francose Beaulieu. Protagonist Gert is an battleaxe-wielding moppet who is slaughtering her way across the Image Comics titles in a quest to escape from Fairyland.

QUALITY: Pretty good. The over-the-top belligerence and brutality  got tiresome, but the snarky comments on various Image characters and titles made me chuckle.

ACCESSIBILITY: Needed work. I had to wait for a house ad to figure out what Gert’s name and deal was. There was more than enough room on the inside front cover credits page to have included some brief background on the series.

SALESMANSHIP: If you liked the new story, a house ad lets you know what I Hate Fairyland trades are available. There are three other Image house ads, but they are so general as to be ineffective. This free comic book missed so many opportunities.

SCORE: Six out of ten points.


Star Trek The Next Generation: Mirror Broken #0 [IDW] leads with a 12-page story and five additional pages of behind-the-scenes stuff introducing the Next Generation component of the Mirror Universe seen in various Star Trek TV episodes and comic books. Written by David Tipton and Scott Tipton with art by J.K. Woodward, the story focuses on the character Barclay. Also included in this FCBD issue are excerpts from Star Trek: Boldly Go, Star Trek/Green Lantern: Stranger Worlds and Star Trek: Waypoint.
QUALITY: High. The lead feature has me wanting to see more. The Waypoint excerpt intrigues me, but there wasn't enough of it to hook me. I wasn’t bowled over by the other two excerpts.

ACCESSIBILITY: Mostly good. The lead feature is easy to follow. We get decent background on the other features.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. Each of the four features includes decent information on where to find more of the same.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.


Doctor Who [Titan] is one of the most delightful of the Free Comic Book Day giveaways I’ve read. It features the 16-page, done-in-one “The Promise” by Alex Paknadel and artists Mariano Laclaustra, Pier Brito and Nico Selma. It’s clever and thoughtful tale that manages to include four different incarnations of the Doctor.

QUALITY: Top of the line. When I finally get around to reading the dozens of Doctor Who comic books awaiting my attention, I’ll look for Paknadel’s name in the credits.

ACCESSIBILITY: Between the inside front cover copy and information smoothly inserted into the story, I believe any new reader will be able to enjoy this story.

SALESMANSHIP: A double-page house ads direct readers to the ongoing Doctor Who titles. There is also an ad for the BBC Doctor Who shop and Titan’s Sherlock and Torchwood collections.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.


Via Wikipedia, Rick and Morty [Oni Press] is an “American adult animated science-fiction sitcom created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon for Cartoon Network's late-night Adult Swim.” The issue has an 18-page excerpt from “The Wubba Lubba Dub Dub of Wall Street” by Zac Gorman and artist C.J. Cannon and a 4-page excerpt from “Pocket Like You Stole It” by Tini Howard and artist Marc Ellerby. On the cover, a Newsarama pull quote proclaims “Bottom line, if you love the show, you’ll love the comic.” That wasn’t much comfort to me. I’ve never seen the show.

QUALITY: Although this isn’t a comic book I enjoyed, I thought the writing and art of the lead story were good and suited each other. I didn’t think the second story was nearly as good.

ACCESSIBILITY: Poor, based on my position that Free Comic Book Day issues should be accessible to readers who have never seen or read the series. I had to go to Wikipedia to learn “The series follows the misadventures of cynical mad scientist, Rick Sanchez, and his fretful, easily influenced grandson, Morty Smith, who split their time between domestic family life and interdimensional adventures.”

SALESMANSHIP: Two house ads point readers who liked this comic book to where they can find more of the same. In addition, Oni promoted Zander Cannon’s terrific Kaijumax and several other titles. That’s the way to go.

SCORE: Five out of ten points.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [IDW] presents a 20-page TMNT story by Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz and Cory Smith. It appears to be the first part of an arc running in the ongoing TMNT series and a spin-off Dimension X one-shot or series.

QUALITY: Okay. The story is pretty much by the numbers. There’s the equivalent of a sewer Danger Room session, a tedious recapping of a bunch of old villains, a set-up to the trial of one villain and a creature sent to keep witnesses from testifying. It’s a readable story but doesn’t rise above that in any way.

ACCESSIBILITY: No background information outside of the villainous roll call, but the Turtles are so well and widely known that I can cut IDW some slack here.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. There are four house ads directing readers to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and collections and additional house ads for IDW’s amazing Artist’s Edition books, Transformers, Star Trek, Locke and Key and March.

SCORE: Five-and-a-half out of ten points.


World’s Greatest Cartoonists [Fantagraphics] features 50+ pages of new material by some of the world’s greatest cartoonists and some whom this reader wouldn’t elevate to that category. This is comics and not an exact science. Still, I can’t help but be impressed by the publisher offering work by 16 of its authors in a free comic. Fantagraphics is committed to its mission of publishing diverse and intriguing creators.

QUALITY: I enjoyed some of the contributions quite a bit. I didn’t care for others. Some readers will have the opposite reactions to them. My preference is for more straightforward storytelling with witty dialogue. Some readers will like the artsy-fartsy stuff more. That’s the beauty and challenge of an anthology.

ACCESSIBILITY: This comic is rated “M” for “Mature” and I suspect most readers will be able to follow at least some of these comics.

SALESMANSHIP: Following the comics, there’s a three page section on where you can find more work by these cartoonists. That’s a great idea. The back cover shows two dozen other Fantagraphics books and comics. So...high marks in this category.

SCORE: Eught out of ten points.

That’s all for now. I’m taking a couple days off from blogging to finish another project, but I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Thursday, August 3, 2017


My Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of August 25-26 has been cancelled. I'm getting very tired of posting this message.

The reasons for this latest cancellation are much as they have been in the recent past: my busy writing schedule, upcoming business trips, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, lawyer stuff, comics conventions, interview requests, and so on.

I'm in this place where I really need to hire an assistant/office manager but am not yet at the point where I can afford to hire an assistant/office manager. There are some wonderful candidates out there. But I won't have them work for free.

I'm not giving up on September yet. Keep watching the bloggy thing for updates.

Tony Isabella