Wednesday, December 28, 2011


My worst Christmas ever was even worse than I had imagined, but I
got through it with the love and support of my Barb, Eddie, Kelly,
and a few close friends.  The matter in question is one that I’ll
have to deal with for some time to come, but, to a certain extent,
I can deal with it from a distance and keep my blood pressure and
stress levels low.  I’m sorry I can’t be more forthcoming, but know
that I do appreciate your good thoughts and prayers.

Someday I will write about this stuff, likely in the form of a very
disturbing novel.  But that’s a few years away because I don’t want
to add to the suffering of those who requested I not write about it
at all.  Sometimes the right call is to put one’s muse on hold, if
only for a time.

The rest of my Christmas was stellar.  The best material presents
I received were pillows from Costco.  The box reads “Twin Comfort
Memory Foam Comfy Clusters Gusset Pillow 2-Pack.”  They have 100%
cotton covers, the package contains recycled fiber, and the Memory
Foam is made in the USA.  Barb doesn’t remember their exact price,
but thinks it was around $30 for the two pillows.

I only needed one of the pillows Christmas night.  It was the best
sleep I have had in years.  According to the box, the Memory Foam
“conforms to your head and neck for added support” while “Clusters
provide plush softness for deep comfort and a sound sleep.” 

My daughter Kelly “borrowed” the second pillow and I’m betting I’m
never getting it back.  Barb and I are planning to buy several more
sets for future gifts.  The sheer wonderfulness of these pillows is
right up there with sliced bread.


My friend Harlan Ellison doesn’t care for Christmas.  Which is sort
of a shame because he often strikes me as equal parts Santa Claus,
Zorro, V (as in “for Vendetta), and the Terminator.  Harlan could
be the greatest action figure ever.  I mention HE because, a couple
nights ago, I had the most horrific Harlan-inspired nightmare ever.

Two more fun Harlan facts.  Harlan wrote one of the best stories in
the history of the written word - “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the
Ticktockman” - and HE doesn’t much like it when Hollywood mucks up
perfectly fine writing.

In my nightmare, a mega-budget production of “Repent, Harlequin!”
has gone spectacularly awry.  The film is set close to what used to
be Christmas.  The Ticktockman is revealed to be Santa Claus, who
became a heartless stickler for schedules after failing to deliver
all his presents on the last Christmas Eve known to man.  In this
film, the Harlequin is the last of Santa’s elves.  The big payoff
is that the Harlequin restores Santa’s good nature and, together,
they bring Christmas back to the world.

Harlan will rightfully pummel me for this when he next sees me.  I
will not blame him for that.  But, if I didn’t get this nightmare
out of my head, it might come back again and again.  Now all of you
can have sleepless nights over it.


What is it with some online folks? 

On Christmas, on a list that has nothing to do with politics, one
extreme right-winger advertises his anti-Obama bumper sticker drawn
by an artist whose work is arguably racist.

On Monday, after I post a benign “first day of Kwanzaa” greeting on
my Facebook page, one of my FB friends feels the need to post his
negative rant on that celebration. 

Why are they compelled to express every mean-spirited notion that
pops into their heads?  Do they suffer a disease akin to Tourette’s
Syndrome?  Have they so little to occupy their existence that they
go looking for battles to fight on meaningless battlefields?  Have
they no sense of restraint?

I have friends whose politics make me gag.  That we remain friends
is because we don’t shove our politics in each other’s faces.  They
ignore things I write that might offend them.  Sometimes they read
them just because, as they begrudgingly admit, I write pretty good.
In either case, they don’t get in my face about it.  I don’t get in
their faces about their positions. 

We act like adults.  Mankind should embrace this because whatever
genes allow us to behave like adults is quickly being bred out of
the human race.


Thanks to all my friends who sent me and my family Christmas cards
this year...and my apologies for not reciprocating.  I came up with
a cool idea for an original card and even designed/wrote it.  Then
I dropped the ball on hiring an artist to draw it, much less scope
out printing costs.  Once I get through paying for this Christmas,
I’ll pick up where I left off and see if I can’t mail a little bit
of holiday cheer to my friends in 2012.


One more item today.  I finished reading The Best American Comics
.  Add an excerpt from Jeff Smith’s Rasl as definitely worthy
of inclusion in a “best” volume.  Eric Orner’s “Weekends Aboard” is
intriguing, but wouldn’t make my cut.  David Lasky’s “The Ultimate
Graphic Novel (in Six Panels)” made me smile, but it’s not as funny
as it is arrogantly snarky.

The book’s “Notable Comics” listings reenforced my view that this
yearly collection is hopelessly biased against traditional comics
storytelling and values.  There were a few worthy Vertigo stories
on the list and Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal.  The rest
was more of the same.  Apparently, not one super-hero story or one
story from Dark Horse, Image, IDW, Marvel, Boom!, or any other
publisher of comics entertainment was good enough to appear amongst
the navel-gazing folderol favored by the clearly biased editors of
this annual collection.

Some other publishers should challenge this woefully lacking annual
colonoscopy.  Maybe as a fundraiser for the Hero Initiative or the
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  Because I don’t believe the ongoing
series editors - Jessica Abel and Matt Madden - speak for a comics
community any larger than their own limited vision.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. I remember editors of one past Year's Best series (not sure if it was this one - there have been a few over the past decade) said that DC wouldn't grant permission to publish excerpts. I can't recall if Marvel had the same stance.

  2. Back when I lived in Des Moines in the '80s I belonged to the Iowa Comic Book club which put out a pretty decent fanzine. About every year they'd do a reader poll of the best comics and such of the previous year. Dennis, the co-editor, would always complain that people voted for their favorite comics rather than the best comics. He wanted the poll to be about quality rather than popularity. He was a self-proclaimed proud Comics Snob and acolyte of Gary Groth.

    To a certain extent I could see his point. I can acknowledge that a work has artistic quality even if I personally don't care for it. But if I'm judging whether or not a work of art is "good" or not, I think that "liking" or "not liking" is a valid consideration.

  3. Which superhero story, specifically, would you name as the best of the year, Tony? It's easy to say "one of Diamond's front-of-book publishers should have been represented", but it's not convincing (and just a quota) unless you're specific about what story(ies) you think should be included.

    Personally, I'm willing to believe that if you're being selective, there were better comics this year than everything DC, Marvel, and Image put out. But then, I'm someone who left all those front-book publishers off my best of the year list as well -- with the exception of Criminal and two series that were previously self-published (Finder and Love & Capes).