Tuesday, October 11, 2011


In its mad quest to reprint every story I ever wrote for the place
and sometimes reprint them multiple times, Marvel has reprinted two
more of my stories in Marvel Ghost Stories [$19.95].  Included in
this trade paperback are War Is Hell #9 - conceived and plotted by
me with welcome input from editor Roy Thomas and scripted by Chris
Claremont - and Ghost Rider #12 - which is all mine save for some
airplane moves suggested by artist Frank Robbins.

As artist Dick Ayers likes to remind me, War Is Hell was basically
Quantum Leap years before there was a Quantum Leap.  The “hero” of
the title is a man who makes a poor decision at the start of World
War II, dies, and then comes back in the bodies of others dead or
soon-to-be-dead people.  As I’ve said in interviews, I didn’t think
I was a good enough writer to actually write this series that I’d
created.  Which is how Claremont got the gig and, yes, he wrote
it much better than I could have at that time.

The Ghost Rider story was my first of several Isabella tales drawn
by the great Frank Robbins.  I was a big fan of Frank’s work and I
loved working with him.  When we were both living in New York, I’d
hand-deliver my panel-by-panel plots to Frank and we’d talk about
them.  He never changed the plots per se, but he would come up with
little bits of business that made them better.

Frank got me from the start.  So much so that he would place word
balloon and caption shapes in the pencils.  With rare exception, he
knew exactly how much space I would need for the copy.  Sometimes,
he’d scribble an off-color but pertinent joke in a speech balloon.
Once or twice, I would clean up the joke and use it.

We did several issues of Ghost Rider and Captain America together.
We fell out of touch when I moved back to Ohio and I regret that to
this day.  I left New York because Marvel never felt “right” to me
after Roy Thomas stepped down as editor-in-chief.  It didn’t feel
like “home” anymore, so I moved back to Cleveland.

In addition to my stories, Marvel Ghost Stories features the Silver
Surfer by Stan Lee and John Buscema; Tomb of Dracula by Marv
Wolfman and Gene Colan; Captain America by Mark Gruenwald and Paul
Neary; West Coast Avengers by Tom DeFalco, Ralph Macchio, and Tom
Morgan; and Hellstorm by Rafael Nieves and Leonardo Manco.  It’s a
nice suitable-for-Halloween collection.

ISBN 978-0-7851-5609-3

Just as I’m not shy about speaking out when a comics publisher is
acting badly, I like to commend them when they do right by creators
past and present.  Marvel is really good about sending me a copy of
any reprints of my work.  They don’t always send me the expensive
hardcovers, but, in those cases, the royalty payments they send me
are large enough for me to buy the books on my own.

If one of these reprints makes a profit, Marvel sends me a royalty
check reflecting that profit.  Sometimes the checks are small and
sometimes they are larger.  Besides the always welcome money, what
I like about this system is that I never have to chase Marvel for
my money.  In fact, I don’t always know they’ve reprinted something
I wrote until I get the checks.  They send the checks out in a very
timely manner and don’t hold on to the money for six months or more
in service of schedules convenient to them.

By contrast, if I were to collect everything DC Comics owes me, I’d
have to hire someone just to keep track of it.  Even then, DC might
just decline to pay me.  But, of course, this is the company that
decided Watchman watches they were selling for 25 bucks each were
“promotional items” and that they didn’t have to pay Alan Moore and
Dave Gibbons anything on them.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. As a young reader/fan of that original run of the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider. I think that Phantom Eagle issue of GR was one of my favorites. Loved Robbins work on it so much that I searched out his Johnny Hazard stuff. Great work!

  2. Hi
    I was planning to re-present War is Hell #9 on my blog War: Past, Present & Future < http://warpastpresentfuture.blogspot.com > as part of our Halloween celebration, since it hadn't been reprinted up to this point.
    Would it be OK if I did so with a link to this blog entry about the series?

  3. Unless you have Marvel's permission to reprint its copyrighted material, you are not actually
    "re-presenting" the story. You're stealing it.

    I'd advise against it and I would not want you to link such piracy to my blog.

  4. I'll respect your wishes as one of the authors of the story and not re-present the tale.

  5. "By contrast, if I were to collect everything DC Comics owes me, I’d have to hire someone just to keep track of it."

    I've always been under the impression that DC does a better job at paying royalties than Marvel. Carmine Infantino got a royalty cheque when DC did a Flash tv series, and George Perez also said he received substantial royalties from the Teen Titans cartoons. I also heard that Denny O'Neil and others received cheques when Batman was released. Never heard of this happening with Marvel movies and more than one comments led me to believe that Marvel didnt pay any royalties for stories used in movies/animations, etc.

    If I am wrong ...........

  6. DC generally pays me more because they owe me more, but there's all sorts of stuff they should pay me on and don't. Plus there's the little matter of their paying me only half of what they agreed to pay when I created Black Lightning.

    I can't speak to the experience of others, but I've never had to chase Marvel for my money.