Saturday, June 16, 2018

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, BARB!

Historical note. On this glorious date in 1984, Barbara Jean Kepke married Anthony Louis Isabella at St. Ambrose Catholic Parish in Brunswick, Ohio. And since I can’t possible top the joy that being married to Barb and raising our family together has brought me these past 34 years, that’s it for today’s bloggy thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, June 15, 2018

GARAGE SALES ARE GO!

                                                                                 
My first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of 2018 is pretty much 100% ready to go. When dawn breaks, I’ll hang a huge Superman poster next to the garage door so my customers will know they are at the right place. I like to think of it as the cheap-ass version of that giant key outside Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Once that task is completed, I’ll bring out the cash box, change, sales pad, signing pens, writing pens and whatever else I’ll need for the sale. I’m currently half-anxious and half-excited about this first sale. It’s been too long since I’ve had one.

The VAOS garage sale takes place at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio today and tomorrow, June 15-6, 9 am to 1 pm each day. After I finish writing this, I’ll spend a couple hours working on additional sales items for restocking. My neighbor Sue is helping me, so I might even be able to restock during the sale.

My friends Martin and Pam Arlt are coming in from Michigan for the garage sale and to spend a quick vacation in nearby Cleveland. We usually see each other at G-Fest, but, alas, this year I won’t be able to attend. I had too many unexpected expenses this year to be able to afford a convention that wasn’t directly related to comics and my business thereof. I hope to return to G-Fest next year and again participate in that event’s fine programming. After the sale, my son Ed and I hope to take them to lunch at one of Medina’s many fine eateries.

Over the weekend, in between my garage sale stuff, I’ll be writing a pitch for a comic-book mini-series that I think is something we haven’t seen before. It would star two characters I’ve written in the past, but I’m not gonna tell you which ones.

Other writing stuff for the weekend: a couple of bloggy things, my weekly “Tony’s Tips” column and researching for a short comic-book story I’ve agreed to write for a client I haven’t worked for prior to this. Then, come Thursday, Ed and I will be flying to New York for a special screening of the premiere episode of Luke Cage Season Two.

The screening is Friday morning and Netflix drops the entire season later that day. But, since Marvel was kind enough to invite me to this screening and since I don’t get to see my Marvel pals often, I decided to make the trip. If all works out, we’ll also go out to dinner with my godchild Kara and her mom.

Come the following Monday and I’m on the move again. Saintly Wife Barb and I will be flying to Los Angeles for the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp. To show how secure I am in our marriage, I’m taking Barb there even though I know she used to have an enormous crush on Michael Douglas.

That’s all I have for you today. I’ll be back tomorrow with stuff to amuse and inform you. Failing that, it’ll just be another one of these columns I write mostly to remind myself of what I should be doing next. Always forward.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 14, 2018

GARAGE SALE COUNTDOWN

It may not look like it from the above photo, but I'm on track to launch my first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale tomorrow morning from 9 am to 1 pm. What you see in the photo is my "British Invasion Fifty-Cent Table." On that table are issues of the U.K.'s 2000 AD, Beano and Commando, plus many other cool items priced at only half a buck. 

There are boxes of dollar comics, Beanie Babies for a quarter, some cool VHS tapes for a quarter, lots of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands and other Isabella-written items. There are bargain-priced comics collections and more. There are Black Lightning, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Superman posters. There will be a selection of Marvel Collector Corps, DC Legion of Collectors and Stan Lee boxes. Plus whatever else I can fit in the sale between now and tomorrow morning.

The first sale is Friday and Saturday, June 15-16, at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, OH. I'm planning to restock between the Friday and Saturday sales and maybe even during them. As always, I'm happy to sign comics and other Isabella stuff for free with any purchase from my sale. I'll also do my best to answer your questions about my career, comics in general and my plans for future garage sales. I expect to hold a lot of them this summer.

I hope to see you soon.

Tony

P.S. I may not be posting much in the way of actual bloggy things for the next week or so. In addition to these garage sales and a comics script I'm writing, I will be attending Marvel Comics events in New York (June 22) and Los Angeles (June 25). I'm just a globe trotting Marvel Maniac!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

THE KING AND I

This will be a short one on account of I’m working hard on my first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale. It’s about sports, so those readers who go all pouty when sports are mentioned should probably stop reading today’s blog and play with your action figures. It has always amazed me that so many comics fans are dismissive of sports, in the same way people who don’t read comics are dismissive of our passion. Look in the mirror, people.

The Golden State Warriors, the dominant team in the NBA, have once again swept my hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals. LeBron James delivered magnificent performances in this series, despite playing the last three games with a busted hand. One more reason I consider him the greatest basketball player of all time.

James has choices ahead of him. He can become a free agent and go to a team that might give him a better chance of getting another of the championship rings he craves. I couldn’t fault him if he chose to do that. Sports pundits cling to the notion that such rings are the determining factor in naming a player the greatest. I couldn’t disagree more.

Rings are a reflection of a team. James is not a one-man team, even if it sometimes seems that way. When I call James the best player in basketball history, it’s based on his individual accomplishments and skills. Look at his stats. Watch how he commands the court with his superior abilities and knowledge. Consider that he may well be the smartest basketball player of all time. He knows his stuff and that’s obvious in almost every game he plays.

But James wants rings. I get that. I wish he could get them right here in Cleveland. I’m not sure that he can.

James has been a powerful progressive force in our community. His hometown Akron. His work town Cleveland. Across the nation with his fearlessness in speaking out for what’s right and walking the walk when it comes to helping people. He’s a damn good man.

Whether James leaves Cleveland or stays with the Cavaliers, I will still consider him a great man. I’d love to meet him. I’d love to send him copies of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. If I write an ongoing Black Lightning series, I’d like to have James appear in a scene I’ve had in mind almost since the start of my work on that series. .

Maybe I’ll get that chance to meet James and maybe I won’t. If I do meet him, I want to shake his hopefully-healed hand. I would love to tell him face-to-face that I admire him and all he’s done in his relatively young life. He’s not a damn good man. He’s a damn great man. I wish him all the best.

Assuming I haven’t been crushed beneath a pile of comic-book boxes, I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

IT’S TUESDAY WITH TONY

My main focus for today through Thursday will be getting ready for the first of this summer’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales. I’ll talk about that more in a little bit.

I spent the weekend traveling to, attending and traveling back from the Fingerlakes Comic Con in Auburn, New York. The traveling part was pretty much a straight shot on I-90 from Medina to the event. It took about five-and-a-half hours each and, much to my delight, my SUV “Tina Fe” got such great mileage that I was able to do the drive - there and back - on two tanks of gas.

The Fingerlakes Comic Con itself had some issues, but much of that was because the Fingerlakes Mall management behaved in a manner I can mostly kindly describe as “disgraceful.” I’m not going to write a full convention report at this time because I urged the promoter to retain a lawyer to do what lawyers do. Besides, I have three or four other conventions to write about first.

I did have a good time at the Fingerlakes Mall hanging out with old friends like Don McGregor, Peter Gillis and others. You’ve likely seen some of the photos on Facebook and elsewhere. We did, indeed, have that much fun.

In other stuff...

My son Ed has moved into his new house, though some of his own Vast Accumulation of Stuff is still at Casa Isabella. He’s been working on his new house with help from Saintly Wife Barb and Barb’s uncle Terry Fairbanks. It’s a pretty nice place and I’m looking forward to spending time there in the future.

I was disappointed but not surprised that the Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. Or, as the Daily Show’s Roy Wood, Jr. put it, the Cleveland Cavalier. The NBA has devolved into a sport with basically two dominant teams and one of those is much more dominant than the other. Even though the other has the greatest player of all time. I will be writing about this for tomorrow’s bloggy thing.

I was excited that Justified won the Triple Crown on Saturday. I’m not a horse racing fan, but I like to recognize excellence when I see it...and I like seeing great accomplishments in our modern era of sports. Just as with comics, I don’t believe in the notion that there is only one golden age of anything. We can always match and even surpass the past.

Checking my email when I came home on Sunday night - I’m offline when I go to conventions - I found an invitation from Marvel Comics to attend the premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp in Los Angeles. To make this even better, Saintly Wife Barb will be able to attend the event with me. I’m calling it a late anniversary present as we were married June 16, 1984.

The premiere is on a Monday. We’ll be flying in that morning, then flying back to Medina on Tuesday morning. It’s a quick trip because Barb has to go to work on Wednesday. However...

It’s possible I could stay over a day or two. I’d be willing to do so if a publisher or other person/company wanted to have a serious face-to-face discussion about my writing for them. I don’t mean to be too grumpy here, but I’m bone-weary of folks saying they want to work with me or want me to attend their convention or father their creative children. I ain’t got time or patience for that crap. If you’re not serious, don’t even start the conversation.

Monday brought the announcement that the multi-talented Geoff Johns is leaving his Chief Creative Officer position at DC Entertainment. Johns will have an exclusive writer-producer deal with Warner Bros. and DC. According to The Hollywood Reporter:

Johns is launching Mad Ghost Productions, a new banner that will see him work on content for films, television and comic books, and have his hand in current DC properties as well as new and re-imagined creations.

That news left me stunned. It was Geoff who reached out to me a few years back and made it possible for DC and I to reconcile after two decades of mistreatment by the previous DC management. “Mistreatment” is, of course, the mildest way I can put it.

Geoff is a big fan of Black Lightning and my work. Without him, you wouldn’t have gotten Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands (though Dan DiDio was the guy who asked me to write a mini-series) and I don’t think the Black Lightning TV series would have been as excellent as it is. My family and I will always thank him for that.

I am, of course, thrilled for Geoff. He’s a terrific writer and a good guy. I’ll be following Mad Ghost Productions and his writing. Jim Lee will be taking on the Chief Creative Officer position while continue as DC co-publisher with Dan DiDio.

I’ve already been asked a half-dozen times where this leaves me. I honestly don’t know if it affects me or not. At the present time, I’m not writing anything for DC Comics or doing any other work for any other branch of DC Entertainment. That’s not due to any lack of willingness on my part. It simply is what it is.

I have decided to stop beating myself up about the less than great sales on Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, which received critical acclaim to an astonishing degree. It sold as well as some of DC’s still ongoing titles...and that was despite the fact that the first issue (and the next three) sold out without the company going back for a second printing. It only had one variant cover over the six-issue run. And, without explaining this further, I suspect that our digital sales were pretty good. I was writing Black Lightning for today’s readers instead of the old farts who want comic books to be exactly like they were in the 1960s or 1970s or 1980s...and today’s readers are apt to buy their comics digitally.

I have stated many times that I want to write new Black Lightning stories until they pry my keyboard from my cold dead hands. That’s still my position. If you like my work on the character, let the DC powers than be know that. Loudly and often.

Late last night, I posted this online:

In a mood. Breathe in, breathe out, get a grip, move on.

I have suffered from depression as long as I can remember. On two occasions, it damn near killed me. In the wake of recent celebrity suicides, I felt it important to again mention my ongoing war with this monster. After a friend posted a comment on this, I responded with my own comment:

This is the answer as to why I post these moments of mine. Because depression kills - almost killed me twice - and I want others who suffer from it to know they're not alone and learn to deal with it in whatever manner works for them. That I have much to be grateful for isn't a magic shield against depression. This is one of the ways I deal with it.

Whew! Let’s go from the heavy to the heavy lifting.

I have three days to get ready for this weekend’s garage sales. My first garage sale related job of the day will be to fill/organize an amazing array of “dollar comics” boxes. These will have recent comic books, some of them only weeks old. In many ways, these are the centerpiece of my first garage sale of the summer.

I’ll have a bunch of Isabella-related items. Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-6. Black Lightning posters. Daredevil and Luke Cage mini-posters. Copies of my script for Cold Dead Hands #1. Copies of July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One. If I can find the box of older Isabella-written comic books and price them, I’ll have those as well.

There will be DC, Marvel and Stan Lee collectors boxes from Funko, priced to sell. There will be a wide variety of trade paperbacks, hardcovers and magazines, also priced to sell. There will be other items, depending on what I can excavate before Friday. If not this weekend, at future garage sales, I’ll have older comic books...say it with me...priced to sell.

Oh, yeah, and for you chaps and ladies who fancy sampling some of the U.K.’s comics, I’ll have dozens of issues of Commando and The Beano on sale at fifty cents each. I love these titles, but I have decided to go full on draconian on reducing the Vast Accumulation of Stuff. Those fans who come to this summer’s sales will reap the benefit of that.

NOTE. I don’t have time to answer specific question about what is and isn’t in the garage sales. Most times, I won’t know until the night before the sales and, by then, I’ll be too tired to respond anyway. Just trust me. You’ll be glad you came.

The garage sales are at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The hours are 9 am to 1 pm on both Friday and Saturday this weekend. There will be garage sales the next two weekends as well.
I’m excited.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 11, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #161

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Charley’s War Volume 1: The Definitive Collection by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun; The Pervert by Remy Boydell with words by Michelle Perez; and Self Storage by writer/creator Clay McLeod Chapman and artist Matt Timson.