Thursday, December 29, 2011


This year is nearly a wrap.  Which means more “best of the year”
and “worst of the year” and “end of the year” blogs than any comics
fan needs.  Here’s mine:

There were some really great comics this year.  There were really
lousy comics this year.  Industry stuff happened.  I had a pretty
good year in 2011 and I’m hoping 2012 will end up better than it’s
looking right now.  Feel free to quote me.

There’ll also be many “New Year’s Resolutions” blogs.  My only New
Year’s resolution is to not write one.  I think I may have a decent
shot at keeping that one.



As mentioned in previous blogs, I’m slowly making my way through
the 41st edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.  I hope
to finish before the 42nd edition is published.  The book’s market
reports are of special interest to me because I work in the comics
industry and because I hope to supplement my 2012 writing income by
selling items from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff.  I don’t comment
on these reports, but I like to take note of those entries I find
particularly informing.

Today’s Overstreet shout-out goes to Doug Sulipa of Doug Sulipa’s
Comic World.  Running maybe ten pages of two-column small type, his
report covers a lot of ground and reminds readers that this book is
a price guide.  Many comics sell for far over guide prices and even
more sell for far less. 

Not to make this (too much) about me, but Black Lightning, neither
my 1970s run nor my 1990s run, doesn’t seem to get mentioned at all
in these reports.  I receive a good number of e-mails from comics
fans looking for those issues, but the market reports never seem to
indicate the demand I see. 

I recognize that I might be getting so many inquires because I am
the creator of Black Lightning.  Whether that’s the case or not, if
any comics retailers out there have copies of my Black Lightning
issues for sale, I’ll be happy to give their contact information in
a future blog.

On a related note, I have some cool Black Lightning items to share
with you very soon.  Watch for them.


I enjoyed another batch of Archie Comics goodness recently.  Archie
#625 [$2.99] is a special 70th anniversary issue with all proceeds
going to the Ronald McDonald House in New York City.  My pal Alex
Simmons wrote a wonderful heart-warming story for the issue and it
was drawn by Dan Parent (pencils) and Rich Koslowski (inks).  All
three of these guys should be considered for the comics industry’s
various “best” awards.  They have been doing stellar work for many
years and especially in 2011.

Betty #194 [$2.99] is all reprint, but we’re talking really great
reprints.  Cover by Dan DeCarlo.  A Betty story by Frank Doyle, my
all-time favorite Archie writer, with art by Dan DeCarlo, my all-
time favorite Archie Comics artist.  A second earlier Betty story
by DeCarlo and an unknown writer.  A terrific Katy Keene story by
Bill Woggon.  Li’l Jinx by Joe Edwards.  To close out the issue: a
Sabrina story by Doyle and DeCarlo.

Lots of good stuff in the Archie digests as well.  Archie & Friends
Double Digest
#9 [$3.99] reprints a pair of Superteen adventures by
Doyle and DeCarlo, and a Jughead story by writer George Gladir and
artist Samm Schwartz that could’ve been the prototype for Gladir’s
later creation, with DeCarlo, of Sabrina.

Jughead Double Digest #174 leads with an all-new Twilight take-off
by Gladir, Pat Kennedy (pencils), and Mark McKenna (inks).  Backing
up the lead are hilarious Jughead reprints by writer Craig Boldman,
Rex Lindsey, Doyle, Schwartz, and others.

More Archie reviews to come.


Comics strips.  Online and in the three newspapers I get.  I easily
read over a hundred strips and editorial cartoons every day of my
life.  I’ve ghosted some strips for clients in recent years and had
a great time doing it.  Leave it to me find out that I like and am
good at something this late in the game.  Anyway, here’s some notes
on recent comic strips...

Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott stars parents Wanda and
Darryl MacPherson and their three young children. In the strip for
December 18, Wanda takes their youngest child to see Santa Claus.
The child proceeds to climb up Santa’s beard, over his head, and
down his back before getting back to his lap.  When Santa comments
that the kid is a very active child, Wanda responds: “Yeah, to her,
I’m just a set of monkey bars with boobs.”

I think it’s a funny line, but I wonder how many editors censored
“boobs” from the strip and how many readers complained.  Back when
I worked for a newspaper, we used to get angry calls for material
far more innocuous than this.

Dennis the Menace turned 60 this year.  He hasn’t aged, though he’s
not drawn as well as when the late Hank Ketcham created the comic.
I’m wondering if bib overalls work make me look younger.  I think
I already know the answer to that.

Robb Armstrong’s Jump Start seems to be taking inspiration from the
classic Sugar and Spike comic books by Sheldon Mayer.  In Mayer’s
legendary stories, the two infant leads could communicate via their
own baby language that adults couldn’t understand and would try to
figure out an adult world that often seemed crazy to them.  In some
recent Jump Start strips, twins Tommi and Teddy have done much the
same thing.  I’m enjoying these episodes.

Lee Falk’s The Phantom is as good as it’s ever been in the capable
hands of writer Tony DePaul and artist Paul Ryan.  DePaul’s stories
are longer than most modern continuity strips, but well worth the
length.  From time to time, to refresh the memory of his readers,
DePaul presents brief recaps narrated to the reader by...Lee Falk.
It’s a nice tribute to a great comic-strip creator.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. I would read more Archie if I could afford it. Maybe the digital revolution is the answer, but only if prices come down to $1. Archie is making next to nothing off of me now, but could probably sell me several digital comics a month at a buck each. Yes, Parent and Koslowski are favorites of mine.

    I've been enjoying strip reprints in hard and softcover. Haven't read current Phantoms in many years. I'd subscribe to a newspaper with a huge comic section -- any left out there that devote four or five pages to strips daily?

    Always nice to hear from you, Tony. You keep me up to date!

  2. You can read the Phantom online at:

  3. I think the attribution of the stories in the comic may be mistaken -- these read like scripts by Dick Malmgren, who wrote a lot of scripts for Archie in the late '60s and early '70s and eventually became a writer-artist for Archie. Malmgren was an odd writer who sometimes wrote socially-relevant or timely stories like the infamous one where Archie and Betty are found together in a motel room, and he also wrote the first "Josie and the Pussycats" issue which would make him an unofficial co-creator of that format.

    (It's great that Archie is giving credits, and their credits are usually much more accurate than my own -- I am trying to revise my indexes to fit the new information about the inkers -- but I've noticed occasional mis-attribution of writing credits. It happens. Even when they started giving official credits for new stories, writer credits occasionally got mixed up.)

  4. I have been reading the Phantom because I used to se Paul Ryan's art in the Fantastic Four in the 1990's. I really like his drawing style and wish it was a Phantom comic book I was reading instead. His work reminds me of the 70's Marvel artists like John Bucema.

  5. Jamie...I asked Victor Gorelick about the Archie reprint credits at the New York Comic Con. He told me they are either based on actual company records or his own memory. He doesn't claim he's right 100% of the time, but he thinks he's close.

  6. Tony: as I said, I wouldn't question their attributions most of the time, but there are a few cases where mis-attributions slip through in scripting (Doyle credited for a Malmgren or Gladir script, or Malmgren credited for a Doyle "That Wilkin Boy" story). It's not a big deal, I just wanted to chime in about Dick Malmgren because he's an interesting if strange writer and kind of a forgotten figure even by Archie standards.

  7. Check out Dick Tracy - Joe Staton has taken over the art and the whole thing is extremely fast paced and well drawn. Fun stuff.

    I read my strips online at Comics Kingdom through the Cleveland paper (for sentimental reasons, even though I live in Texas). I started reading some of the continued strips because my interest was peaked from the snarky comments from, but have actually grown to enjoy reading Apt. 3G, Mary Worth, Rex Morgan, the Phantom, Judge Parker, and Mark Trail. (Mark Trail - gotta love any strip where a character is named Kelly Welly.)

  8. Jan Eliot's Stone Soup was censored for the word boobs. She made light of it in her second collection "You can't say boobs on Sunday"