Tuesday, July 22, 2014

HELP WANTED FOR GARAGE SALE (JULY 25-26)

My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale is Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26, at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. Preparing for this show has been wild - I will have a much longer update for you tomorrow - but, today, I need to do something I never thought I’d need to do vis-a-vis my garage sales.

I’m hiring!

Given the insane amount of publicity this garage sale has received this week, it has become clear to me that I need to bring in some additional help for Friday, July 25. I’m looking to hire just one person to work from 8 am (an hour before the garage door is raised and the sale opens) to noon.

My preference would be for someone from the Medina area with enough knowledge of comic books and related items that I might be able to offer them additional employment down the line. I’d also prefer to hire someone I know, either because I’ve known them for some time or because they have been regular customers at my previous garage sales.

The job pays the minimum wage that should be the minimum wage all across this country: $15 an hour. This beats IKEA and Costco, but not Ben and Jerry’s. On the other hand, you won’t be tempted with ice-cream goodness if you’re working for me.

Initially, this job entails helping me out at Friday’s garage sale. If that works out, the job could expand to helping me bag and price the more expensive comics and books I excavate from the Fortress of Storage and other secret places.

If you’re interested, send me a private e-mail or a private message on Facebook. I’d like to make my decision sometime tomorrow, so, if you’re interested, apply for the job today or tonight.

Please spread the word to your friends and keep reading the bloggy thing for further updates.

Tony Isabella

THE SUPERIOR BLOGGY THING

Doctor Octopus is no longer the Superior Spider-Man. Ultimately, he failed at his attempt to be a better Spider-Man, but not, I think, at becoming a better man. Oh, he wasn’t a good man when he let his memories slip away into nothing so that Peter could once again take control of his body. Not by a long shot. Even so, he died a better man who sacrificed his existence to protect a women he truly loved.  

I recall a pretty smart fellow by the name of Stan Lee once telling me that no hero is all good and no villain is all bad. I took that to heart then and, over time, I’ve come to believe the best stories are the ones that take place in the grey.

Writer Dan Slott and others, but primarily Slott, spun some interesting tales during the year or so this story unfolded. They surprised me along the way. They had me eager to see what comes next. I wasn’t wild about the brutality of some of these tales, but that brutality sort of had to come with the territory.

If I have a lingering complaint, it is in the ongoing vilification of J. Jonah Jameson. Jonah has become a pathetic caricature of the layered character he once was. As I’ve said before, it’s time to write him out of the series. No heroic/meaningless/tragic death. Send him on his way and let him find his own peace and redemption. He’s no longer a proper foil for Spider-Man. He’s just unbearably sad in every way.

Some random thoughts...

At one point in this extended story, it appeared Doctor Octopus had utterly wiped out every last vestige of Peter Parker. It currently appears every last vestige of Otto Octavius is gone, Obviously, if Peter could fight his way back, so could Otto. I really don’t want to see that happen.

One of the things I dislike most about modern super-hero comics is the overuse of villains, how they commit the most horrific crimes and escape any fit punishment, how they keep coming back from the dead. More stories should end. Completely end. Which would have the added benefit of forcing writers to come up with new ideas and new villains.

I love that Anna Maria Marconi is still part of The Amazing Spider-Man. She’s a great character and can be a great ally and confidant to Peter...and he’s going to need a good friend to deal with the mess Octavius had made of his life.

I love the mess Octavius has made of Peter Parker’s life and also Spider-Man’s life. There are lots of great stories to be told here and, because of the weird circumstances, they will force Slott and others to look at Spider-Man and Peter Parker differently. Pete has to go up fast and he’s got to stay grown up.

Most of the traditional Spider-Man supporting players have really good reasons to move on and out of the book. The writers should go with that. I love Mary Jane and Aunt May and Robbie Robertson and the rest as much as anyone, but they’ve had their moments. Time for some new stories.

Because it has to be said...Slott and company have managed to make Norman Osborn scarier than ever before. I would not have thought it possible. I used to think Osborn was played out. These days, not so much. Should there be some distance before he returns? Certainly. But I think he’s earned the top spot among the Spider-Man villains.

In the meantime...I am intrigued by the introduction of the second person who was bitten by the radioactive spider on the fateful day Peter got his spider-mojo. I’m somewhat less intrigued that there will be all sorts of spider-heroes and spider-villains coming into the series. But Slott earned considerable credit with the Superior Spider-Man storyline. I’m happy to sit back and see what he can do with these new plot elements.

******************************

I have been remiss in reviewing actual somewhat current comic books in recent months. I’ll try to do better by an industry that still published some entertaining and even excellent comic books.

Previous seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith went on too long. By the time they reached their season finales, I was more relieved than satisfied. Yet hope springs eternal and I’m very optimistic about each title’s tenth “season.”

Magic is kind of sort of back. The rules are changing. The heroes have a steep learning curve. This notion has possibilities unless it becomes too complicated for good storytelling.

Some of the character stuff fascinates me. Buffy is trying maybe a little too hard to be *the* slayer. Willow needs an emotional arc. Xander is being haunted by his best girlfriend ever and I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing Anya come back from the dead. She’s probably the Buffy/Angel character I would most like to write.

I can see it now...Anya and Cordelia. Two hot babes, back from the dead and the best of frenemies as they pursue former flame Xander. Are you listening, editor Scott Allie?

Giles is already back from the dead, but as a very young teenager. Much hilarity has ensued.

The Xander/Dawn romance is shaky. As it should be. Because that one was creepy from the get-go.

Angel and Faith have parted ways. Angel is trying to bring relief to the newly-born “Magic Town.” Though these stories are not quite clicking three issues into the season, I think the overall plot has potential.

Faith is working for Kennedy’s version of Haliburton. Kennedy has gone over to the dark side, even though she hasn’t realized it yet. I sense the unseen hand of Wolfram & Hart...and I think Faith will have to take Kennedy down sooner or later. I’d vote for sooner so she get back to being Angel’s partner.

I like both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith. If you’re a fan of the original TV series, I think you’ll enjoy them as well.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 21, 2014

ADDENDUM: ARCHIE'S PALS N' GALS #26


JULY 1963: ARCHIE’S PALS ‘N’ GALS #26


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

Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gals was launched in 1952 and ran to September, 1991 for a total of 224 issues. The first 83 issues were at least 52 pages and were designated as “Archie Giant Series” on the cover. This should not be confused with the Archie Giant Series Magazine title that featured a variety of titles, such as Betty and Veronica Summer Fun and Archie’s Christmas Stocking.

Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gals #26 [Fall, 1963] was a 68-page issue with a cover featuring the Thinker statue that appeared in the earliest episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis television show.  Makes me want to write an Archie/Dobie crossover.

The inside front cover of the issue advertises a “Treasure Chest of Fun.” The fun comes from the variety of novelty items offered by Honor House Product Corporation. These items included a silent dog whistle ($1), See-Behind glasses (75 cents), a bank vault with an alarm ($1.49), and an atomic smoke bomb (20 cents).

Archie is possessive of Veronica and seemingly feared by the other boys in “Brute Farce” (6 pages). The fear is feigned on account of Veronica has made its clear she won’t date (secretly) any guy that doesn’t go along with this routine. The Grand Comics Database has not yet indexed this issue, so I can’t give you definitive writer and artist credits on this or any other story in the issue.  If I had to guess I would go with Frank Doyle as the writer (because the story builds so nicely to its punch panel) and Dan DeCarlo as the penciler.

Next is a full-page subscription ad for Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gals. In 1963, you could get five giant-sized issues for a dollar.

Jughead stars in “A Matter of Competition!” (6 pages). When all of the girls are smitten with the handsome new history teacher, Archie and the boys can’t get a date to save their lives. Jughead makes an off-handed remark that the only way to change that is to get this new teacher transferred. Archie’s father has a cousin on the school board and, in a shocking abuse of power, that cousin does get the teacher transferred. His replacement is even more handsome.

Jughead also stars in two half-page gags: “Female Fearful” and “No Hits..No Runs...Nothin!”

Next is Archie in “Mister Clean” (6 pages). The story starts with  Veronica looking Laura Petrie hot as she vacuums. Before the story  is finished, the bumbling Archie manages to prevent Veronica’s dad from being taken by a phony diamond merchant.

Archie loses whatever points he gained with Mr. Lodge in the three-page “Caddy-Baddy!” Mr. Lodge is playing against someone he wants to sign a million-dollar contract. Mr Lodge knows he has to lose if he wants to make that deal. He figures having Archie as his caddy makes that a sure thing. Yeah, that will work.

“Archie Club News” (2 pages) has three cash-winning club members. Cathy Webb (Roanoke, Virginia) won $5 for writing about her family vacation. Barbie Williams (Santa Barbara, California) won $3 with her descriptions of what goes on around her house. Linda Cole (Los Angeles, California) wins $2 for her jokes.

Li’l Jinx stars in “A Helping Hand,” a single-page gag strip by Joe Edwards, who wrote and drew all but one Li’l Jinx story or strip during the character’s long run.

Another house ad. For a quarter each, fans could order any of eight Archie Giant Series comics: Archie Annual #15, Archie Giant Series Magazine #22 (Archie’s Jokes), The Adventures of Little Archie #29, Archie Giant Series Magazine #24 (The World of Jughead), Archie Giant Series Magazine #20 (Archie’s Christmas Stocking), Archie Giant Series Magazine #21 (Betty and Veronica Spectacular), Archie Giant Series Magazine #23 (Betty and Veronica Summer Fun) and the issue I’m writing about today.

Archie stars in and wears “The Helmet” (5 pages). The helmet is a safari helmet that offers protection from the sun, can serve as a weapon and attracts lovely young ladies. Veronica takes issue with that last one.

Another one-page Jughead gag: “Food for Thought”. The gags in this issue are disappointing, a contrast to the mostly excellent longer stories.

Jughead stars in “Blood Brothers” (3 pages). Researches are taking blood from the male students for a study. When they get to Jughead,the sample consists of hamburger gravy.

Two half-page paid ads are next. Archie speaks for U.S. Royal Bike Tires on the top half of the page. Below, the Ed Sale Studio says it can teach you play guitar in seven days or it will refund your
$2.98 payment.

Archie stars in :The Other Cheek” (6 pages) wherein Reggie tries to con both Archie and Principal Weatherbee. Guess who ends up with a week’s detention?

Two more half-page ads. The top half offers Kissing Dolls for half a buck. You get a complete set: one girl and one boy. Yeah, I know.It was 1963.

The bottom half of the page offers “100 Little Dolls” for $1. They are made of “genuine Styrene plastic and hard synthetic rubber.” I think I might have dated a woman like that. Once.

Betty and Veronica star in “Splinter Group” (6 pages). Archie gets a splinter in his finger. Veronica takes him to the nurse’s office.The nurse is gorgeous and kisses Archie’s boo-boo. I’m guessing she loses her job because, when Archie gets another splinter, the new nurse is somewhat less than gorgeous.

That’s followed by a Betty and Veronica Pin-Up page, another Li’l Jinx gag page and a paid ad for the “Magic Art Reproducer” that we have discussed in a previous July 1963 installment.

Archie gets caught whispering in Miss Grundy’s class in “Sound Off”(6 pages). She and the principal try to punish him by not allowing him to speak. This backfires on Weatherbee.

A full-page ad drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger showcases Gilbert Auto-Rama”s “Fly-Over Chicane.” The boys racing their motorized vehicles have big smiles on their faces. Like when you and your pals found that copy of Playboy.

Archie stars in the three-page “Be Prepared!” He and Mr. Lodge do some bonding over Veronica’s being ill. It’s nice while it lasts.If there had been a fourth page, Lodge would have had Archie shot. Oh, what? Too soon?

House ad. If you ordered a 10-issue sub to Archie, Jughead, Laugh, Pep, Betty and Veronica, Life with Archie, Archie’s Joke Book or Archie’s Madhouse, you would have gotten the free gift of a lucky penny horseshoe. The ad claims it’s Archie’s favorite lucky pocket piece. That covered the first person who subscribed, but what about the others? And how many lucky pocket pieces did Archie have? And, if he hadn’t given them away, would he be alive today. Oh, really?Still too soon?

On the inside back cover, the National Youth Sales Club would have awarded you great prizes or big cash profits for selling Christmas and All-Occasion Greeting Cards. I wonder if they had a card that you could send to a kid who got taken by this scam.

The back cover advertises Daisy B*B rifles and an indoor range to shoot at. What could possibly go wrong? Don’t worry. I’m not going to make another joke about Archie getting shot dead. Thanks to that damn Obama, I’m only allowed a two-joke clip.

Gosh, hasn’t this trip back to the summer of 1963 been great fun?Wouldn’t you like to do it again soon? I know I would. Keep reading the bloggy thing for more fun from the past, from the present and from the future.    

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 20, 2014

MY BEST GARAGE SALE EVER (JULY 25-26)


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale is Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26, at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. To ease my disappointment at not being able to attend Comic-Con International in San Diego, I’m working hard all week to make this garage sale my best garage sale ever.

First off, I’m playing with the schedule a bit to accommodate those fans who can’t make to the garage sale during the regular morning hours.  Here are the scheduled hours:

Friday, July 25: 9 am to noon

Saturday, July 26: 9 am to 11 am

Saturday, July 26: 5 pm to 7 pm

As always, the garage sale will offer tens of thousands of comics and other items at low prices. I'm doing major restocking for this sale. I made one trip to the Fortress of Storage on Sunday and came back with a dozen boxes. I anticipate making at least one more trip to the Fortress before the garage sale.

I'm lowering the price of my rare Superman posters to $10 each for that weekend. On my next trip to the Fortress, I plan on bringing back at least one and maybe two full boxes of these posters. When you come to mt garage sale, you’ll see one of the posters standing on the front lawn to welcome you to Medina.

Everybody loves my $5 mystery boxes. I’ll be putting together more of these boxes for this garage sale. My previous record was a dozen boxes. I’m aiming to top that.

From here on in, no dealers will be allowed at my garage sales. I’d rather sell my Vast Accumulation of Stuff to fans and readers.  If any dealers come to the sale, they will be refused service. I’m not kidding about this in the slightest. My garage sales are strictly for the fans.

Wait! There’s more!

On Friday and Saturday, I'm encouraging people to cosplay at my garage sale.

If you come to my garage sale in a comics costume, you get a coupon worth $1 in garage sale merchandise. That’s just for showing up in a comics costume.

If you come to my sale in a comics-oriented costume that knocks me for a loop, you get a coupon worth $5 in garage sale merchandise.

If you come in a costume I really like of one of four Tony Isabella creations - Black Lightning, Misty Knight, Tigra or Tobias Whale - you get a coupon worth $10 in garage sale merchandise.

If you have the very best costume of the weekend, I will give you a coupon worth $50 in garage sale merchandise.

But, wait, there's more.

On Friday and Saturday, at random times, I'll select a customer and ask them a trivia question that involves something from my career in comics. If you answer the question correctly, you get a coupon worth $1 in merchandise from the garage sale.

But wait, there's still more.

I’m talking about...DRIVEWAY CON!

On Saturday, after the garage sale closes at 11 am, we'll be holding an honest-to-Godzilla comics convention style panel with Tom Batiuk (Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean) and Mike W. Barr (Batman, Camelot 3000, Star Trek). The three of us will be sitting around talking about our favorite comic books and answering your questions.

The panel will be held in my driveway. There will be some chairs available from my patio, but you might want to bring your own chair to make sure you have a place to sit.

This weekend’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale is about the fans and about the fun of comic books.

Please spread the word to your friends and keep reading the bloggy thing for further updates.

Tony Isabella

Saturday, July 19, 2014

HAVE A GREAT TIME AT COMIC-CON


Here's wishing great times and safe travels to all who are attending Comic-Con next week. I wish I could be there. I must find some company or publisher who will hire me and bring me out every year. I'd be a sensational booth babe.

To answer yet another question asked of me in private...

I'm never going to tell one of my readers that they shouldn't tell comics editors or publishers that they would love to see Tony Isabella writing comic-book stories for those editors and publishers. I wouldn't mind getting back into mainstream comics with a situation that was a good fit for me and the company who would be hiring me. But...

Don't get your hopes up. Let me tell you something that happened to a friend of mine. No, really, not to me, but to a friend of mine.

When word came that a publisher was going to be relaunching a title on which the writer had enjoyed great success when we wrote, a great many fans sent e-mails and letters to the publisher suggesting the writer be hired to write the relaunched title. They also sent a great many e-mails and letters to the writer himself...and suggested the writer let the company know he was interested.

"What the heck," my friend thought to himself, "I might as well give them a call."

So he did.

When he mentioned he had been hearing from fans who wanted to see him return to the title, the company representative to whom he was speaking - and I can only imagine the company guy with his nose in the air and a sneer on his face - responded:

"Oh, yes, we received your letters." 

The company guy didn't believe that the fans would really send letters recommending the return of the writer to the title. He thought my friend had orchestrated the campaign. 

By posting this blog, I have done far more on my own behalf than my friend did back then. He wasn't believed. His fans weren't believed. It's fair odds whatever editors and publishers you mention me to won't believe you're on the level. I can't do anything about that.  

If you think it's worth a shot, then take the shot. It's your call. I'm not exactly waiting by the phone.

Anyway...

Have a wonderful time at Comic-Con. If you give it a chance, you'll soon realize that it's the real happiest place on Earth. 

Keep watching the bloggy thing for some stuff.

Tony 

P.S. I will not be approving any speculations as to the identity of the friend mentioned in this post. The name of the writer isn't important to the point I'm trying to make.  

NO DEALERS ALLOWED

To answer a private message in public...

I wasn't kidding. Dealers are no longer allowed at my garage sales. I want to sell my Vast Accumulation of Stuff to fans and readers.

If dealers come to my sales, they will be refused service.