Sunday, May 1, 2016

MAY MADNESS

May will be an incredibly busy month for me, but I do hope to make time to smell those May flowers I’ve heard tell of. In mostly good ways, these are exciting times for me and, begging your indulgence in advance, today’s bloggy thing is where I do a bit of “out loud” thinking to create order out of chaos.

Let’s start with the personal appearances...

I’ll be spending Free Comic Book Day (Saturday, May 7) at Toys Time Forgot in Canal Fulton, Ohio. For more that two decades, this place has been selling vintage toys and comic books. I’ve heard so many good things about it. I’ve always wanted to visit it and, thanks to being invited to be its Free Comic Book Day guest, I’ll finally be able to see it. At this time, Sainted Wife Barb is planning to make the trip with me. You’ll get to meet the most patient woman in the history of patient women.

The store’s address is 127 Cherry Street E. The FCBD events will be from 11 am to 5 pm, but the store itself is open until 8 pm. I’ll be there for the opening and, depending on this and that, hope to be there until 5. I’m told the store will have copies of both Black Lightning Volume One and Marvel Masterworks: The Champions on sale. A great time will be had by all.

Sidebar. Every year, I try and fail to read and review all of the FCBD offerings. Will this be the year I finally succeed?

My only other May appearance will be at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia. This is one of my very favorite conventions. It’s dedicated to comics and creativity by, featuring and for people of color. I am honored and so grateful to have been accepted so warmly by this great community. Schedule permitting, my son Eddie will be joining me on the trip.

Travel conditions permitting, we will be attending the 15th Annual ECBACC reception and the 11th annual Glyph Awards ceremony on Friday night, May 20, at 6 pm, at the African-American Museum, 701 Arch Street.

ECBACC itself is Saturday, May 21, 11 am to 7 pm, at the Enterprise Center, 4548 Market Street. I’ll be there to see old friends and to make new friends and, perhaps, future collaborators. I’m bringing copies of Black Lightning Volume One to sell, which will hopefully finance my purchases from other creators.

I’ll be appearing on a writers panel - Writing Challenges and How to Break Them - at 11:15 am. The moderator is that terrific writer (and dear friend) Alex Simmons. Also on the panel are author Regine Sawyer and Milton Davis.

It’s a long drive to Philadelphia, but the ride home always seems much shorter to me. That’s because of the incredible energy you’ll experience at ECBACC. If I could, I’d attend the convention every year. That’s how much it means to me.

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My writing dance card for May is full. I just wish I could tell you more about it. I’m commencing a major new project that I’m pretty sure will delight my readers. I’m writing another introduction for an upcoming collection of comics from the 1970s that will include a few things I wrote back in that decade. I’m also giving a little assistance to one of the comic-strip creators I’ve done work for in the past. I never dreamed I’d be this busy at age 64, but I’m eager and ready for all of the above.

This bloggy thing will continue to run as often as possible. Daily publication is the goal, but work and travel will sometimes get in the way of that. Our “Rawhide Kid Wednesdays” are back and should appear most weeks. I’m also bringing back another bloggy feature I have neglected for far too long. Of course, I’ll also have my usual mix of news, views and reviews.

My Tony’s Tips column continues to run weekly at Tales of Wonder. I hope you’re checking that out on a regular basis.

Over on my Facebook page, I’m posting comics industry birthdays and remembrances, as well as birthdays and remembrances that don’t fit that category but which are important to me. The historical notes will also appear on a daily basis. The only exceptions will be when I’m on the road.

I am the poster child for online excess.

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My Vast Accumulation of Stuff is as vast as ever. I’m planning to resume my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales, very likely as early as Memorial Day weekend. There will be a few changes to the garage sales this year.

Right out of the starting gate, you will see a lot of the popular five-buck mystery boxes. I want to clear out some of the stock from previous years to make room for new stuff. I’ll still have boxes of quarter comics, but not as many of them as in past years. You’ll be amazed at what I’ll be turning up as I explore the VAOS. My goal is to make every visit to my garage sales an adventure.

Unfortunately, I will *not* be doing online VAOS sales this summer. Those have proven to be too time-consuming for a old fellow with as much on his plate as I have. However, I may resume them in the late fall or early winter.

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If you’d like to meet and perhaps get some Isabella-written comics signed, and you live to far away to come to my garage sales, here’s where you’ll find me the rest of the year.

June 17-19: Indy PopCon 2016 (Indianapolis)

July 15-17: G-Fest (Chicago)

July 21-24: PulpFest (Columbus)

July 29-30: Monsterfestmania (Akron)

August 3: Euclid Library (Euclid, Ohio)

August 14: Neo Comic Con (Strongsville, Ohio)

September 17: MECCA Con (Detroit)

October 1-2: Cleveland Comic Con 2016

October 21-23: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

November 5-6: Akron Comic Con

It’s within the realm of possibility that I’ll add appearances in September, November or even December. Convention promoters should e-mail me with their requests.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
             
© 2016 Tony Isabella

Saturday, April 30, 2016

FANTASTICON TOLEDO: SUNDAY

What Has Gone Before:

Tony had a fun Saturday at Fantasticon and an equally fun evening. Around midnight, he left the show’s after hours party to head back to his hotel room. That’s when this happened...

As I walked to the elevators, I was greeted by a very attractive young woman. She was at the hotel attending a wedding reception. Her dress left little to the imagination and she was obviously quite inebriated. I didn’t have to guess that because she told me as much a couple seconds later when she draped herself all over me, clinging to my neck and shoulders. I think she’d mistaken me for another reception guest. She slurred:

“Hello. I’m drunk. I need to lay down somewhere. Can I come up to your room...”

Oh, get your minds out of the gutter.

Have you seen me at a convention? I look like somebody’s granddad and I might as well have a forehead tattoo that reads “safe zone.” At other convention parties, women who feel like they’ve had enough of men talking to their breasts tend to gravitate to wherever I am sitting. Keeping my ego in check - and, guys, this is a very useful skill if you, I don’t know, want to behave like an adult - I assume that was what the young lady was picking up on.

I untangled myself from her. Twice. Because the first time I didn’t think she could stand under her own power. When I left her, she was leaning against the hotel’s front desk. The desk clerk was keeping an eye on her and, after a brief conversation, the desk clerk and I figured someone would come by and collect the young lady. I went up to my room and got a good night’s sleep.

Sainted Wife Barb called me in the morning before she went to work. Naturally, I told her about this incident. She laughed. We’ve been married for 32 years come June and Barb knows crazy shit happens to me all the time. Just another drop in the bucket.

Here’s the funny part of this story.

When I came down from my room later that morning to go down to the convention, I was stopped by one of the show’s dealers. He gave me a funny look and asked me who my evening companion was. I told him what I just told you, albeit in somewhat abbreviated form. It was clear from his snort and the even more suspicious look he gave me that he didn’t believe me for an instant. I keep waiting for some comics website to “expose” my scandalous behavior. Which hasn’t happened yet, but who knows.

Guys...this is why you tell your wives and significant others every damn crazy thing that happens to you at a convention. People, even comics people, talk shit as easily as they take breath. Don’t step in it.

Sunday was a slower day than Saturday, which is almost always the case at comics conventions. Oddly enough, I’ve had very busy days at small Sunday-only shows. I don’t try to predict what will happen on any given day of an event. I just go with it.

Fantasticon hit a bump in the road Sunday morning. Streets around the convention center were blocked for a 10K race. So fans coming to the show couldn’t get to the show for an hour or so. I can well imagine how infuriating this is for convention promoters and don’t understand why such races can’t be routed away from conventions and other such events. Does anybody in the city governments, which have to approve races and routes, ever consider such things?

I still had a good time on Sunday. I signed a bunch of comic books and other items. I sold some stuff. I talked to fans. I bought some Isabella-written comics from a dealer and will have them for sale the next time around.

I enjoyed the cosplayers who were in attendance on both days of the convention. There was a contest for kids and a contest for adults. My pal Scott Crawford, who was the hit of many a Mid-Ohio-Con with costumes he made for himself and others, was wearing his incredible Phantom suit. The Ghost Who Walks has rarely looked better.

There was one awkward moment on Sunday. A long-time friend who I’ve signed many comics for in the past brought me a copy of Astonishing Tales to sign. I had forgotten that he prefers his comics signed on the inside of the book and, to his horror and mine, signed on the cover. My only excuse is that I sign so many comics at conventions that details like this sometimes slip through the cracks of my aged brain. I usually remember to ask a fan where he or she would like their comic signed.

Help an old guy out, will you? If you want me to sign a comic book or any other item, hand it to me open to where you want me to sign it so I don’t head for the cover immediately. And know where you want the book signed. Don’t leave it up to me. It’s your comic. You get to choose.

My son Ed wanted to watch the opening Cleveland Cavaliers playoff game against the Detroit Pistons. Our plan was for him to walk to a highly-recommended brew pub. I would break down my artist alley table and load the van before picking him up for the drive back to Medina. Advance planning paid off.

I had found an elevator at the other end of the convention center than few dealers knew about. It opened very near to where our van was parked. I was ready to hit the road within fifteen minutes of the end of Fantasticon.

I did go back to say goodbye to my friends. I was there when Keith Pollard told a story about our Marvel Bullpen days. The star of the story was Don McGregor.

Those of you who have met Don know he is a combination of madness and genius and energy in compact form. In Keith’s anecdote, Don was having an argument - possibly a mock argument - with the late John Verpoorten, Marvel’s production manager and a giant of a man in so many ways. At one point, Don reportedly jumped on John’s desk so he could argue with him eye to eye. I got my best laugh of the weekend when I said:

“That McGregor. He brought a Don to a John fight!”

I met Eddie at the brew pub in time to watch the Cavaliers win the game. The Cavs would go on to sweep the Pistons in four games. Our drive back to Medina was uneventful.

I had a good time at Fantasticon. In fact, I’m trying to figure out my schedule so I can do another of promoter Joe Nieporte’s events  before the end of the year. I’ll let you know if that is happening as soon as I know it’s happening.

In the meantime...

My next appearance will be at the store Toys Time Forgot in Canal Fulton, Ohio, on Free Comic Book Day, Saturday, May 7. That will be followed by a trip to Philadelphia later that month for the Glyph Awards ceremony and the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. I’ll have more details on all those events soon.

My 2016 convention schedule is almost full. Come back tomorrow for that schedule as it now stands and for other bits of Tony Isabella news. It’s an exciting time for me and I love to share it with you and all my other bloggy thing readers. See you tomorrow.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Friday, April 29, 2016

FANTASTICON TOLEDO: SATURDAY

What Has Gone Before;

I drove to Toledo, Ohio with my son Eddie. Mission: Fantasticon, a comics-centric show of which I had heard good things. We unloaded  my artist alley table stuff at the Seagate Convention Center, then checked into Room 1313 of the Park Inn by Radisson. We had a “Bar Rescue” experience at a local tavern. We had pizza. Eddie went to hang out with some pals from his time at The Ohio State University. I watched McGarrett and his Five-0 team fight Iron Man and rescue an abused elephant. You should go back and read’s yesterday bloggy thing, which prompted one entertained reader to tweet that I should have my own show on The Travel Channel. Our story continues.

Pre-convention Saturday morning went smoothly. I had the breakfast buffet at the hotel’s restaurant. The food was good and I limited myself to one relatively modest plate of it. I went back to my room for my briefcase and a bottled water.

The convention center is connected to the hotel, so going back and forth between Fantasticon and my room was always a quick trip. The Park Inn elevators were the fastest elevators I have ever seen in my years of convention going. They always seemed to be on whatever floor we were on and they rarely stopped along their vertical way for other hotel guests. It was a little scary.

I was disappointed to see there were no signs of life in any of the food carts or establishments outside the show floor. I’ve written about how convention centers shortchange or ignore the nutritional needs of comics fans. Those needs would be inadequately served by a snack bar within the show floor.

Setting up my table was easy because I don’t bring a big display. There was a box of Isabella-written comics. There was a box of the two-sided Clark Kent/Superman posters from the 1988 International Superman Expo in Cleveland. There was a box of random comic books priced at a dollar. I also had copies of the just-released Black Lightning trade reprinting my initial 1970s run on my creation with a new introduction and a handful of The Garfield Show albums that I work on for Papercutz. Sales were good throughout the day, which didn’t stop me from studying what some other comics creators were doing with banners and displays and whatnot. I’m always considering ways to up my game at conventions.

Background music at the convention was kept to a reasonable level, which is a relief from shows that blare such music and make talking with fans difficult. My table was within earshot and sight of the K.I.T.T. car from Knight Rider and a Ghostbusters vehicle. Even if I were scared of ghosts, I figured I could count on K.I.T.T. to save the day.

As I expected, I had a great time talking with my old comics pals Arvell Jones, Keith Pollard, Mike Grell and others. With my table between Arvell’s and Keith’s, I got to see them drawing some very nice sketches for the fans. I must come up with a project I can do with those guys sooner rather than later.

Fantasticon had terrific volunteers. I especially want to mention Marti, who was always there with bottled water and coffee when any of us needed it. Great volunteers are the heart of any successful  comics convention.

My buddy Rick Santman, who always has reasonably priced old comics at his dealer’s table, strolled by with a gift for me: a 1997 book titled A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series by David Kalat. It’s on my bedroom night stand, waiting to be read after I finish Totally Unofficial 100 Things Superman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.

Cleveland’s own Ted Sikora, the wondrous film maker and comic-book writer of the movie Hero Tomorrow and the comic-book series Apama: The Undiscovered Animal, had a booth at the convention. I recommend both the film and the trade paperback of the comic book...and would  do so even if Ted hasn’t bought a copy of the Black Lightning trade from me. One of the cool moments of the show was when I walked by his table and saw him chuckling as he read my introduction to that collection.

Sales continued to be good throughout the day. I sold out of that Garfield book and will have to restock before my June conventions. Anticipating/achieving brisk sales of Black Lightning, I’m already ordering additional copies of that book every month. As for those spiffy Superman posters, I’m down to my last three dozen of them. When they’re gone, they’re gone.
                                                                                 
Later that afternoon, I participated in the “Marvel and DC Comic Creators Discussion” with Mike, Arvell and Keith. The “panel room” was a curtained-off area on the show floor and worked well for us. Our moderator was comics artist and writer Martin Hirchak, who did a fine job. We answered questions about our career and working in comics. We got a few laughs. No one broke anything. You can’t ask for more from a panel than that.

Among the many pleasures of the day was seeing my long-time friends Martin and Pam Arlt. Martin published Mad Scientist, a favorite of mine, and is an actual mad scientist. Both of them work on G-Fest, the celebration of all things Godzilla held in Chicago every year. It was great seeing them again.

After Fantasticon closed on Saturday, Eddie and I went with them to dinner at Table Forty 4, a very nice tavern and restaurant within walking distance of the convention center. We were joined by Tim Bean, G-Fest’s "guest wrangler" for the Japanese guests, He makes  sure those guests have what they need, from water to translators. It was good conversation, good food and a good time.

Fantasticon held an “after hours” party in the Park Inn’s bar and restaurant. With Eddie having left to hang out with his friends, I threw on a sport coat and went down to see what was happening. I’m usually exhausted from a day at a convention, but I was remarkably energetic. There was also a wedding reception at the hotel, which is my clumsy attempt at foreshadowing.

The convention party was fun. Writer Dirk Manning, aka the Toast of Toledo, was hosting karaoke in one part of the bar. I listened to the performances, but did not participate in them due to that silly restraining order granted to the music industry.

During the party, I met and chatted with Dan Fogel. Dan has been a writer, editor and publisher of adult/Underground comix books like Cherry Poptart and is the author and publisher of the indispensable Fogel’s Underground Comix Price Guide. He was one of the people I most wanted to meet at Fantasticon. I was delighted to learn he’s recently moved to Cleveland and hope to see him again soon, maybe even at the comics creators cookout I’ve wanted to host for years.

I left the party, which was still going strong, at midnight, which, technically, was the second day of the convention. As I walked over to the elevators, I was greeted by a very attractive young woman, one of the wedding reception guests, who was wearing a dress that left little to the imagination and who was obviously inebriated. I didn’t have to guess that last part because she told me as much a couple seconds later when she draped herself all over me, clinging to my neck. I think she had mistaken me for another reception guest and perhaps someone she knew. She slurred:

“Hello. I’m drunk. I need to lie down somewhere. Can I come up to your room...”

Look at that. We’re out of time for today’s bloggy thing. I’ll pick up this story tomorrow. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Thursday, April 28, 2016

FANTASTICON TOLEDO: PRELUDE

I was going to Toledo. From Arvell Jones, my pal from before either of us went to work went to work in the comic-book industry in the 1970s, I’d heard good things about Fantasticon. The company, helmed by Joe Nieporte, puts on nearly a dozen comics conventions a year. So, when Joe contacted me, I agreed to be a guest at his April 16 and 17 show in Toledo. At the very least, I would get to spend some time with Arvell and two other long-time friends: Mike Grell and Keith Pollard.

I have indirect ties to Toledo as Sainted Wife Barb went to and got her pharmacy degree from The University of Toledo. She was planning to attend the show with me, but her schedule changed and she had to work instead.

Fortunately, my son Eddie, who is into anime and comics and other related cool stuff, was happy to drive to Toledo with me. A couple of his friends from The Ohio State University were going to medical school in Toledo and, when he wasn’t at the convention, he would be hanging out with them.

It’s about a two-hour drive from Medina to Toledo, so, while you’re waiting for me to get to Toledo, here’s some information about the convention from its website:

Fantasticon is a mid-size show created for true comic book and pop culture collectors and fans. The fans that come to our shows are true collectors that are looking for those rare items for their personal collections. Most leave very satisfied as we pride ourselves on having great dealers and artists at our shows. If you collect it, you will find it at a Fantasticon Show.

Fantasticon is proud to have a presence in multiple cities throughout the mid-west. Currently we are in four different cities in Michigan and Ohio, and expect to expand into Indiana in the near future. We also, are very proud of the fact that our admission price is the lowest of any other comparable shows. And the cost for being an exhibitor or artist at the Fantasticon is far less than any comparable comic cons out there.


The drive was uneventful. Eddie and I pulled into the loading area of Toledo’s Seagate Convention Center and quickly unloaded my show stuff. It didn’t take long.

The convention takes place in one large area. The concrete floors are the usual leg-killing floors, but the room looked pretty good by the time the show opened on Saturday morning. My table was on a wall between those of Arvell and Keith...with Mike next to Keith. I knew it was going to be a fun weekend.

The convention hotel was the Park Inn by Radisson. It wasn’t what you’d called a five-star hotel, but I liked it much better than the Crowne Plaza I’d stayed in two weeks earlier in Dayton. The front desk folks at the Park Inn were always friendly and helpful. There was a decent hotel restaurant whose breakfast buffet offered much better-tasting food than the Dayton hotel. It was connected to the convention center, which made going to and from Fantasticon easy. The convention/hotel parking lot was equally convenient. Though the convention center itself wasn’t very good, I had no problems with the hotel. I would happily stay there again.

Our hotel room was on the 13th floor. This surprised us because a lot of buildings skip that floor. Our room was...1313. That became a running joke the whole weekend, with at least one fellow hotel guest saying I should have warned her about that before she got on the elevator with me. Amusingly, when I joked with the front desk that I would be lucky to survive the weekend, the older employees had to explain the whole “bad luck” superstition thing to a younger member of the staff.

Since it would be a while before Eddie could meet up with his old college chums, we decided to grab dinner. I couldn’t get the feel of Toledo or, at least, the area around our hotel and the Seagate Convention Center. We had a wonderful view of the Maumee River from our hotel. The baseball park where the minor-league Toledo Mudhens play was classic and inviting. But it seemed like every third storefront was vacant and the streets were never busy at night.

We went to the Fleetwood Tap Room for dinner. In case you wondered, that place is the reason we have a Bar Rescue logo at the top of today’s bloggy thing. Boy, could that place have used a visit from the TV show’s Jon Taffer.

If you haven’t seen Bar Rescue, which I watch fairly regularly with Eddie and the rest of the family, It’s a reality show that airs on Spike. As per Wikipedia: 
 
It stars Jon Taffer, a long-time food & beverage industry consultant specializing in nightclubs and pubs, who offers his professional expertise plus renovations and equipment to desperately failing bars in order to save them from closing.”

When we walked into the Tap Room, we asked for a table, only to be told the manager didn’t allow less than four people at any table. This despite there being empty tables that stayed empty the entire time we were at the bar/restaurant. Instead, we were seated at the end of a long and uncomfortable elevated table. 

By Eddie’s count, there were 14 employees of the Fleetwood in plain sight. That was roughly one worker for every five or six customers in the place. Despite this, it took over ten minutes for me to get a soft drink and over fifteen minutes for Eddie to get a beer. He never had a second beer because no one ever asked him if he wanted a second beer. Taffer would not have been happy.

Note. There were six bartenders working behind the bar. There were five customers sitting at the bar. Unbelievable.

When someone finally took our food order, it was twenty minutes or so before Eddie was served. His food was lukewarm at best and not very good.

My food? I ordered a damn hot dog and it didn’t come until after we had corralled a server and told them to cancel the order and just bring us the check for Eddie’s meal, which he had already finished, and our drinks. It was apparent that my hot dog had been sitting in the “out” window the whole time and no server thought to bring it to our table. Taffer would have been screaming.

Me? I was loud. When the manager came over and tried to shmooze me, I wasn’t having any of it. I told him I didn’t care what his name was. I just wanted the check. To his credit, he took Eddie’s meal and my soft drink off the bull. Eddie paid for his beer. We headed back to our hotel.

The manager had claimed “growing pains” as the reason for the bad service. Indeed, the Fleetwood was under new management. But it had been under new management for over six months. If you don’t have it figured out after six months, you’re never getting there.

I was starving and Eddie was still hungry. The hotel recommended we call Vito’s Pizza, which delivers and which is affiliated with the famous Tony Packo’s Pizza. We ordered a bacon cheeseburger pizza. It got to our room in less time than the Fleetwood took to get my son his food. I don’t know if that Vito’s is at all related to the famous Vito’s in the Garfield cartoons, but I would order from this Toledo restaurant anytime.

Eddie went to hang out with his friends. I stayed in the home and channel-surfed until I hit Hawaii Five-0, the remake of the series that aired from 1968 to 1980. In this episode, Steve McGarrett and his team fought...Iron Man. Seriously, they were hunting a stolen suit of armor created for the military. The secondary plot involved the rescue of an elephant abused by a circus. We’re not talking an award-winning show here, but it was fun.

Hawaii Five-0 is one of those series I would watch regularly if I had more time. It’s got a likeable cast, including such favorites as Masi Oka, Jorge Garcia and especially Chi McBride, who I swear I would watch in almost anything.

I dozed off after that and got a decent night’s sleep, though I got up at five in the morning thinking my cat, who was back in Medina, wanted to be fed. I have been well trained.

Come back tomorrow for my report on the first day of Fantasticon. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 74

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 74th installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #89 [July 1971] has a cover signed “Larry Lieber,” though the Grand Comics Database credits John Tartaglione with the inking and Marie Severin with “alterations.” I won’t dispute either of those additional credits, but I will say I think the cover does not do what a cover is supposed to do, which is sell the comic to a potential customer. I’ll explain...

This issue features a guest shot by Kid Colt, one of Marvel’s two best-known western heroes, the other behind Rawhide himself. This is only mentioned in a speech balloon; it should have been heralded more prominently. Adding to the problem is that Kid Colt’s traditional garb is colored incorrectly. Missed opportunity.

SPOILERS AHEAD
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“When Outlaws Ride!” by Lieber (script and pencils) and Tartaglione  (inks) has a simple plot that fits the story’s 14-page length well. Rawhide spots his friend trying to escape from a posse and figures Colt’s horse Steel is much faster than the steeds of his pursuers. But Steel stumbles and Rawhide and his horse Nightwind must rush in to prevent Colt from being captured.

In flashback, we learn that Colt helped out a young woman named Ann and was invited to dinner. Ann’s father runs the town’s express office and, because he’s working late, is not able to join them. On leaving the house, Colt is knocked out from behind and wakes up to find his clothing scattered around him.

During Colt’s nap time, a masked robber wearing his clothes stuck up the express office and killed the manager. The townspeople spot the groggy Colt and aren’t in a listening mood. Colt took off and that’s where the story gets back to real time.

Rawhide and Colt head back to the town because it’s “the last place they’ll think of looking for you.” Specifically, they go to Ann’s house where the angry grieving woman beats her fists on Colt’s chest and says that, if she had a gun, she would kill him. Colt gives her one of his guns...and she shoots him dead.

Just kidding.

She can’t do it. Colt tells her she can’t shoot a man in cold blood and neither could he. Rawhide tells Colt to lie low while he does some investigating. He finds a clue a few panels later: a tobacco pouch with an unusual design.

The returning posse spots the Kid and, because they figure he’s in cahoots with Colt on account of Rawhide helped his buddy escape and all, they start shooting at him. Rawhide heads for cover and, not wanting to hurt the townsmen, starts shooting the guns out of their hands. Colt rushes into the street to help the Kid.

Rawhide spots the tobacco pouch design on saddlebags on a horse. He waves around the pouch and tells the posse it belongs to the real killer. Someone recognizes the horse as belong to Sam Tanner. Colt impulsively runs at Tanner...who shoots Colt in the leg. Clearly, Colt has gotten rusty since his own comic book went to all reprinted stories.

Rawhide corners the fleeing Tanner and disarms him. Tanner admits he wanted to pin the robbery on Colt. He killed the manager because his mask slipped and the manager recognized him. Tanner wants the Rawhide Kid to let him go because they’re both on the wrong side of the law. But it’s just a ploy to give Tanner a chance to use a gun  hidden in his hat.

Rawhide’s spider-sense warns him of this treachery and he manages to avoid the bullet. Tanner doesn’t get a second shot. He’s gunned down by the Kid:

I’ve regretted many a death, but not his! He was a sidewinder right up to the end!

Kids Colt and Rawhide ride out of town “knowing that in movement and distance lies the only safety they may ever know!”

This story has never been reprinted in American comics, but did run in three foreign titles.

SPOILERS OVER
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As usual, the half-page Mighty Marvel Checklist ran after page 6 of the Rawhide Kid story. Highlights of the month included Neal Adams drawing the Inhumans in Amazing Adventures #7, the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #98, a turning point for my favorite Avenger in Captain America and the Falcon #139, Thoth-Amon making his Marvel debut in Conan the Barbarian #7 and the Thing and the Hulk battling  in Fantastic Four #112.

The rest of the page advertised the fan club Marvelmania’s official Marvel stationery. For $1.75 (including postage), you would get ten envelopes, 10 stationery sheets and 40 scratch pad sheets, all of them “drawn by your favorite artists!”
Some comics dealers had dropped out of the Marvel “classified” ads, but there were two new dealers from San Diego, California: Doug Van Gordon and Brain Laurence. But the most significant advertisement was this one:

COMIC CONVENTION. San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con, Aug. 6-8, 1971. Many comic and sci-fi pros, art displays, films, dealer’s tables, and fellow fans! Please sent 25c for full details. Comic-Con, Box 23182, S.D., Ca 92123.

This issue’s reprint story was “Redmen On the Rampage!” featuring The Kid From Texas (5 pages). Penciled and inked by Joe Sinnott and possibly written by Stan Lee, this tale first appeared in Kid Colt Outlaw #85 [July 1959].

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The GCD synopsis says most everything you need to know about this story, which is filled with references to “savages,” and “Injuns” and “palefaces.” The synopsis:

A small frontier town is besieged by Indian attacks. The Kid from Texas and his sidekick, Cactus, help a doctor end the conflict by treating the Chief's son for cholera.

Cactus is a typical Gabby Hayes type. The Kid is a voice of reason and compassion. In response to a townsman declaring the Apache need to be wiped out, the Kid says:

Maybe there’s been too much of that already...We’ve pushed further west, and all the time we took what he wanted! There are ways to win their confidence, and without the use of guns.

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There were many cool items on this month’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page. We get the first announcement of a future black-and-white mag to be called The Tomb of Dracula or The House of Dracula. It will show Dracula as he is, as he was and as we will be...and with art by Gene Colan, Berni Wrightson, Gray Morrow and others. The “Tomb” title would end up being used for a legendary color series and the magazine, when it finally came out, would be called Dracula Lives!

There’s a note that Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness have changed their titles to Monsters on the Prowl and Creatures on the Loose.

Tom Palmer gets congratulations on the birth of his first child, a girl. Sal Buscema gets the same for his second child, a boy. Items like these always made me feel closer to writers and artist I had never met, but would meet within the next few years.

The page pointed out Marvel references in recent movies There’s a Girl in My Soup (a Hulk poster) and Brewster McCloud (a character reading Captain America).

Roy Thomas was on TV station KFVS in Missouri, a 20-minute spot on relevance in comics. He appeared “in his Brooks Brothers suit and tie, overlapped by his long blonde hair, which must have confused everyone who was watching!”

Besides the usual shout-outs to artists moving from one comic book to another, the page listed the nominees for the Academy of Comic Book Arts awards for 1970...

Best Penciller: Adams, Buscema, Kirby
Best Writer: Lee, O’Neil, Thomas
Best Inker: Giordano, Palmer, Sinnott
Best Continuing Feature: Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Spider-Man
Outstanding New Talent: Conway, Smith, Wrightson

“Stan’s Soapbox” discussed the eternal question of whether or not Marvel should use dialogue balloons and captions on its covers and if doing so gave the comics a juvenile look. As usual, Stan tosses the question to the fans.

[My take is that we should use all the tools in the box as we need them. That includes word balloons on covers and thought balloons in stories. Why limit ourselves?]

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page has four letters and responses to same. Dan Mulcahy of Brandon, Vermont wants new adventures of Kid Colt, the Ghost Rider and other western heroes, suggesting these be written by Larry Lieber and Gerry Conway with art by Barry Smith and Herb Trimpe. He wants an all-new Rawhide Kid Annual. (He’ll get a reprint annual soon.) He wants Rawhide to stay in one place for a few issues at a time. He wants the Kid to team up with the Ghost Rider.

David Lomazoff of Philadelphia likes John Tartaglione’s inking, but thinks there’s room for improvement. However, he might be confusing inking with coloring. He also wants to see Larry Lieber doing more than Rawhide Kid and a return to costumed villains in the series.

Elliot Cohn of Ann Arbor, Michigan didn’t like Rawhide Kid #84, but thought issue #85 was great.

Dan Botelho of Cheyenne, Wyoming declares Rawhide Kid to be “one of the greats of the comics world.” 

                                                                                

The final editorial page this month is a full-page house ad for Kid Colt Outlaw #154 [July 1971] with a new cover by Herb Trimpe. The issue reprints...

Kid Colt: “Gunduel In the Desert” (5 pages) by Stan Lee with Jack Keller (pencils) and Dick Ayers (inks) from Kid Colt Outlaw #91 [July 1960].

“The Fury of Bull Marker” (5 pages), a non-character story by Lee and Don Heck from The Rawhide Kid #27 [April 1962].

Kid Colt: “Jailbreak” (6 pages) by Lee and Keller with Christopher Rule inking from Kid Colt Outlaw #81 [November 1958].

Kid Colt: “Plunderers” (5 pages] by Lee and Keller from Gunsmoke Western #32 [December 1955].

That’s our “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” for this gallop around the West. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

TONY'S TIPS #154

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Postal, a great ongoing series from Image about a town with dark secrets...Pre-Code Classics Ghost Comics, reprinting the earliest issues of the Fiction House title from the 1950s...and the school relationship manga Horimiya.

QUEEN CRAB

I love comic books in all their myriad forms, be they mini-comics or big thick graphic novels and everything in between. However, my second great passion is the cheesy monster movies, especially when these films involve giant monsters. You would expect no less from the pastor of the First Church of Godzilla. All honor to the Great Scaly One who protects us with His fiery atomic love.

One of the joys of watching cheesy monster movies is writing about them in this bloggy thing of mine. The press of other business has kept me from doing this for too long, but I’m back in the cinematic saddle today with my thoughts on...Queen Crab.

Here’s the Internet Movie Database summary of the movie, which I’m sharing with you sans spoiler warning on account of it doesn’t bear any resemblance to the actual movie beyond being set in a somewhat remote countryside:

A meteor crashes into a quiet lake in the remote countryside and awakens a centuries-old beast, who tears through a nearby town and its inhabitants, who must fight for their lives and stop this Queen Crab before she can hatch an army of babies.

Sounds like a swell movie that someone should make some time, but it’s not this movie. Adding to the false advertising, the summary also appears on the back of the DVD case.

Queen Crab is from Polonia Brothers Entertainment, the low-budget movie makers who unleashed Jurassic Prey on the world. I reviewed that film last September. This movie, written and directed by Brett Piper, is much better than that movie, especially when it comes to the stop-motion animation used for the title characters and several smaller crabs. Now it’s time to warn you there are...

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No meteor disturbs the quiet lake at the beginning of this movie. The disturbance comes from a bickering married couple. The husband is a scientist trying to increase food growth so humanity doesn’t starve by the year 2050. His wife objects to him spending all his time working and not doing the household chores. They are terrible parents whose default positions are to either scream at their young daughter (Mom) or tell her to stop bothering them in the lab (Dad), However, to be honest, the scientist does talk to his daughter just long enough to insert the “increase growth” element into the plot. Like I said, no meteor.

Daughter Melissa [played by Michelle Simone Miller] finds a crab, which she names “Pee-Wee” and takes as a pet. She feeds Pee-Wee berries from her dad’s experiments. Pee-Wee grows to about the size of a Roomba Vacuum Cleaner Robot. Mom freaks, distracting Dad from his work. Explosive chemicals mix and, well, explode, killing Dad and Mom. Melissa will be raised by her uncle [Ken Van Sant], who is the town sheriff.

Time passes. After high school, Melissa returns to the family house and, apparently, renews her relationship with the now-gigantic Pee-Wee. I can relate. I have crabby friends and I am the crabby friend of others.

Pee-Wee turns out to be female and gives birth to a dozen little-but-still-Roomba-size crabs. A cow is killed and eaten. The sheriff investigates with his douche bag of a deputy [Richard Lounello]. Douche-bag deputy gets shot with rock salt, courtesy of Melissa’s exercising her Second Amendment rights. Melissa’s best friend from high school - “B” movie actress Jennifer Kane [Kathryn Metz] comes to visit. In a bar, she elbows the douche-bag deputy in the face, then pepper sprays him. These are not the worse things that happen to the deputy in this movie.

A scientist [A.J. DeLucia] comes to check things out and finds one of Pee Wee’s old shells. A bartender-slash-wannabe-rapist gets eaten by the baby crabs. Other characters kill all the baby crabs, which pisses off Pee-Wee. The giant crab goes on a rampage, but, despite what it says on the back of the DVD case, she never gets anywhere near the town itself. I suspect this was a budget matter...as in this movie had a really tiny budget.

Since I’m going to recommend this movie, this is as far as I will take the plot synopsis.

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There’s lots to recommend this fun movie, even though it falls more than a bit short of being any kind of classic. The acting and the writing are decent. The 90-minute length is just right. The stop-motion animation is pretty good for what often seems to be a lost art. The movie has a satisfying ending. I liked it.

Queen Crab is available on DVD. It wouldn’t be out of place on the SyFy channel. Whether you buy, rent or watch it on TV, if you are a devotee of this kind of film, as I am, I think you’ll have a good time with it. Hey, for an hour-and-a-half, it kept my mind off the monsters running for the Republican Party presidential nomination. That is no small feat.

I have - literally - stacks of movies like Queen Crab sitting on my shelves waiting to be viewed and reviewed. I’ll try to write about them on a more frequent basis in bloggy things to come.

Aa for tomorrow...saddle up for so hard-riding adventure, cowboys and cowgirls. Because another “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” installment is coming your way. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella