that lifted them was the arrival of my Hero Initiative membership
kit for 2012.
The Hero Initiative is the charity closest to my heart. To quote
from its website:
“The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-
for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book
creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for
yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial
support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying
work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the
people who have given us so much enjoyment.”
From the earliest days in my own 40-year comics career, I have seen
freelancers in peril. Living check to check. Unable to get work.
Unequipped to deal financially with the personal tragedies that so
often come with life within and without the industry.
Hero has helped many comics creators, some of them friends of mine,
and often without anyone other than the organization and the person
they’ve helped knowing about it. Some organizations get to boast
about every success they achieve. Hero doesn’t. There aren’t a
whole lot of things in this world of which I’m certain. That Hero
does God’s work is one of them.
My own financial woes dictated that a bronze membership was all I
could afford this year. If my next round of royalty statements are
free of the Hollywood accounting that plagued the last round, I’ll
What I received for that membership fee was very cool indeed. In
addition to the tote bag shown at the head of today’s bloggy thing,
I got a membership card signed by John Romita his own jazzy self
and a Volstagg sketch card drawn by Flint Henry.
If you love comics, if you care about the freelancers who brought
you so much fun and joy over the years, I would ask you to join the
Hero Initiative and make regular donations to the organization. I
know your generosity will be appreciated.
The other three things that lifted my spirits?
Sainted Wife Barb brought me a small and incredibly delicious lemon
cake. Tony like lemon cake.
I received a Facebook friend request and nice personal message from
a writer whose work I have long admired.
Somewhat past the time when I was expecting any more deliveries on
that day, UPS knocked on my door with my Blu-ray copy of Godzilla:
The Criterion Collection. I plan to watch it Saturday evening in
recreation of those wondrous boyhood nights spent watching monster
movies hosted by Ghoulardi on Cleveland television.
Stay sick, knif!
Digging into my archives, I found a post I made to a mailing list
that might be of interest to my bloggy thing readers. The trigger
for my post was a member’s delight at seeing the original art from
a 1960s splash page. His wonderment stemmed from the sad fact that
a lot of original art from that decade was destroyed or stolen over
the years. Here’s my response:
Back in my Marvel Bullpen days, I heard rumors of an artist who
used to go to the warehouse where this stuff was stored and pose as
a Marvel employee authorized to take art from the warehouse. He
would take his art and that of others. For himself.
This is what I call hearsay evidence. Over the years, from several
people, the artist's name emerged. I could see where a lot of
things that I knew first-hand about the artist - his frequent money
problems, etc. - could make him a likely suspect.
Actually one of my last jobs while working at the Marvel offices -
I was only a part-time editor then and I also assisted Stan Lee and
Sol Brodsky on various special projects - was to try to match
inventory art with the vouchers for the work. What I found was a
handful of artists who had vouchered and been paid for work they
never completed. I think the worst offender owed Marvel close to
100 pages. My likely suspect was one of these artists.
But such conjecture on my part does not an indisputable truth make.
That's what I find faulty in the work of some comics historians.
They don't differentiate between their conjectures and facts that
can be verified.
In the blog that was appearing on my message board, I wrote about
my career. Rather early on, I found the need to make distinctions
facts which I knew to be true "because I vas dere, bubbie";
items told to me by sources that had proven reliable in the past
and which could be somewhat verified by other unconnected reliable
items which seemed reasonably accurate but which could as surely be
items pulled out of someone's butt.
Comics history will always be a tricky business. Almost all of
it's hearsay of one sort or another. I know one professional who
is convinced he was on the scene at events that happened before he
came to work for Marvel. I know of others who cling to their
version of history even when every other person who was present has
I try to include a healthy number of caveats when I write of comics
history. I might be certain of something that I was present for,
but, beyond that, I realize I might not have the whole story.
Conjecture isn’t truth. I'm just as likely guilty as anyone for my
strong belief in events I can't verify, such as what I consider the
criminal fraud perpetrated on Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson by
his partners. But I think we could all benefit by not being quite
so sure of that of which we have no personal first-hand evidence.
Here’s an addendum to what I posted:
We are all the heroes of our own stories.
When I write about my own career, history or life, I strive to be
as accurate and honest as possible. I think I generally succeed on
that count. Four decades in the comics industry has both worn me
down and empowered me. I don’t give a rat’s ass what all but a few
people think of me. This liberates me and allows me to be brutally
honest in my writings.
I have few illusions about my place in comics history. I have no
need to insert myself into decisions and events that were not of my
doing, even if I played some minor role in them. I’m not trying to
convince anyone of my rightful place in comics history.
As I see it, I have done good and sometimes great work over these
past four decades and have done it with clean hands and heart. Did
I ever screw up? Did I ever do injury or insult to someone? It’s
a big old “yes” to the first and a medium-sized “probably” to the
second. When it comes to life, no one pitches a perfect game and,
when it comes to sports, we can always find a silly sports metaphor
to apply to life.
I’m in the third quarter of my life and I’m in it to win it. I’ll
keep playing until the final buzzer. It’s not over until the fat
lady sinks the final putt. There’s no “i” in “team,” but there are
two in “insanity.”
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella