Saturday, February 11, 2012


Batman #69 went on sale in December, 1951, the month of my birth.
Win Mortimer penciled and inked the cover of this 52-page issue,
which featured three Batman adventures of 12 pages each.  Though I
owned a copy of this issue at one time and still have a copy of it
on microfiche somewhere, I don’t remember anything about the three
stories.  However, thanks to the Grand Comics Database, I can tell
you something about those tales.

Walter B. Gibson, the author of most of the Shadow novels that ran
in the pulp magazine of the same name, wrote “The Batman Expose!”
Bob Kane penciled the Batman and Robin figures while Lew Schwartz
did everything else.  Charles Paris was the inker with Joe Rosen on
the lettering.  I worked with Joe quite a bit during my first year
on the Marvel Comics staff, even delivered work to his house a few
times and picked it up the next morning.  He was a great letterer
and a good guy.

Gibson also penned “The Buttons of Doom!” Kane, Schwartz, Paris and
Rosen all repeated their “Expose” roles on this story.  The villain
of the piece was a guy named the Blaze.

Batman co-creator Bill Finger wrote “The King of the Cats!.”  The
villain was the brother of the Catwoman.  The same artists worked
on this story, but it was lettered by Joe Letterese.  You know that
man was born to letter comic books.


I passed a fair amount of time with U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens the
other day.  I watched two episodes of Justified, which might well
be the best damn show on TV, and read a bit over a third of Raylan
[William Morrow; $26.99], the new novel by Elmore Leonard.  Here’s
what you need to know about this book:

It doesn’t follow the continuity of the TV series.  Think of it as
an alternate universe version of the Marshall and other characters.

I’m a third into it and I have no idea where it’s going next.  In
the first 100 pages, it already had more story than you’ll find in
most novels.  It’s a ride, my friends, and, even without finishing
the book, it’s a ride I recommend.

As for the TV series, I try to watch when I know no one else will
be home for several hours.  Because Timothy Olyphant’s performance
as Raylan is so powerful and so right that, hours after watching an
episode, I find myself talking and thinking with the same kind of
speech mannerism and patterns.  And, since I’m not Olyphant, it’s
just embarrassing.


My reading habits are truly all over the map. An issue at a time,
I’m also reading Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane Archives Volume
[DC; $59.99].  I have four things to share.

1. Tom Peyer’s introduction is hands down the funniest introduction
to any DC Archives volume to date.  He gets Lois.  He gets us.  He
gets these often wacky stories.

2. Superman is a total dick in “The Forbidden Box From Krypton” by
Otto Binder with art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.  Lois is sent
a box of Kryptonian accessories that confer super-powers on those
who wear them.  She’s unskilled and a little thoughtless with the
powers, but she actually manages to do some good with them.  Does
Superman train her in the proper use of the powers?  Not a chance.
Instead, the Douche of Steel tricks Lois into exposing the items to
kryptonite - she thinks she’s saving his life - and thus destroying
their powers. 

3. The phrase “Lois Lane, girl reporter, whose fondest dream is to
marry Superman” or some variant thereof, turns up in these stories
so often I wonder if it was on her business cards.

4. My favorite story so far is “Superman’s Forbidden Room” by Jerry
Coleman with art by Boring and Kaye.  Lois solves a case with zip
help from Superman.  You go, girl.

During one of the most depressing weeks of my life, this was some
time ago, I almost set my credit card to smouldering buying things
in futile attempt to make myself not depressed.  Having lived with
depression for my entire adult life and mostly mastered it, I know
that “buying things” can be a symptom of my depression.  So I do a
lot of thinking before and after purchasing anything.

I bought two movies via Amazon yesterday.  The first one was Super
.  It’s about a giant mutant shark that walks on its flippers
on land.  It’s directed by Fred Olen Ray and it stars Pa Kent (John
Schneider).  That purchase didn’t concern me much because it safely
falls within my giant monster loving wheelhouse.

The second movie was 2-Headed Shark Attack from Asylum Pictures and
starring Carmen Electra.  Buying that movie, well, it’s obviously
a cry for help.

Watch for reviews in a future bloggy thing as I attempt to change
my pain into your amusement.  Again.


It occasionally throws people when I make light of my depression,
especially those who know I tried to commit suicide on two separate
occasions.  It often throws me when people ask me for advice on how
to deal with their depression.

The only advice I can give is to take charge of your own treatment.
Yes, seek whatever therapy is available for you.  Yes, consider the
medications you will be offered.  But you must be the boss of your
own treatment.

Therapy helped me figure out the tools I needed to cope with what
I was going through.  Medication didn’t help me.  The drugs made it
difficult for me to write and that made me more depressed.  Maybe
medication will work for you.  Much as the world tries to fit all
of us into neat little category boxes, we humans are a remarkably
varied lot.  One size does not fit all.

Depression is a serious thing.  Artist Al Rio took his own life a
few weeks ago and he was far from the first comics industry artist
or writer to do so.  I can imagine what his family is going through
at this time.  Imagining what my family would have gone through if
I had succeeded in taking my own life is what pulled me back from
taking my life.

I’ve taken control of my depression for the most part.  I can’t get
rid of it. Not in a country where the rich keeping getting richer
at the expense of everyone else and with the assistance of those
who were elected to represent all of us.  Not in a country where
right-wing hate-mongers spread their vile messages.  Not in a world
where people for whom I care get sick or have loved ones who get
sick.  Not in an industry, to get back to comics, where so-called
fans vilify creators when those creators go up against the likes of
DC and Marvel.  Not in a world where a Gary Friedrich gets crushed
by a Mickey Mouse and Spider-Man tag team.  In such circumstances, it
doesn’t strike me as unreasonable to spread much of my day screaming
in rage at the heavens themselves.

Instead...I deal with my depression in my own way.  I put my head
down and butt my way through it.  If I don’t succeed in that today,
I’ll succeed in that tomorrow.  Sometimes I joke about it because
there’s a thin line between laughter and pain.  Sometimes I’ll buy
something like 2-Headed Shark Attack.  Little steps.  Crazy steps.
Steps nonetheless.  I fight back.

If I were a drinking man hanging out at a bar this Saturday night,
I might be going on and on as I’ve done here.  Cliff Clavin might
be expounding on the mating habits of 2-headed sharks.  Carla would
be checking me out because I am, after all, a studly little Italian
muffin.  I would definitely be wondering what the heck I was doing
in Boston.  But, all evidence to the contrary, I am not a drinking
man.  Instead, I blog.

I blog to keep myself in the fight...and I hope you get something
out of it as well.  I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. I am so with you on JUSTIFIED,Tony- and yes,I bring a little Olyphant with me afterwards also-lol-I've been meaning to pick up Leonard's RAYLAN books for awhile- now I need to...;o)

    I also am going to share your talk about your depression (which I'm convinced now comes with the job of being creative types like us)with my daughter,who has some of my genes and the added crap of being a teenager- she gets really down at times and this whole Facebook wear your heart on your sleeve thing the kids do with each other just makes it worse-so I constantly share "get back on the horse" kind of stories with her,having been there myself...thanks pal...;o)

  2. I appreciate your blogging and writing on topics besides comics and media, Tony. It's really important to share stories to combat depression. God bless, and you go right on, pal.

  3. Mr. Isabella,

    Sorry for what you're going through. It's hard, and the state of the State doesn't make it better. The Gary Friedrich decision was just rude (and awful).

    Some things that helped me: The Savage God is a compilation of writings by literary figures who attempted (or succeeded in) suicide. It's a beautiful and rewarding look at that mind, and it, after 7 years of calming myself by going to bed thinking of putting a gun to my head (something I knew I'd never do), lanced the boil. I *am* someone who gets solace from reading Stephen King, but am also one of those who walks and talks for a while like a movie I've enjoyed, so decide for yourself.

    The meds I approached thusly: six months on, teaching my brain how it should feel, a year and more off them, until the goofy thoughts reasserted themselves. Prozac was my fave, but it helps you gain weight.

    Sadly, the world is depressing until you're free enough (financially or, harder, spiritually) to see the deeper underneath all the time, which ain't something I've achieved. On the other hand, I believe we've both learned the lesson of be nice to service folk and others.

    My very best to you and yours,

    Jeffrey Stackhouse
    oh, wait: come see me *very* politely eviscerate some Knee-Jerk Right Wingers at the comments section of
    I just couldn't help myself. It'll cheer you up.

  4. I recognized manic depression in myself years ago, after reading Patty Duke's book "Call Me Anna". I took me a lot longer to convince others and a lot of fighting. I was proven right and then the battle began. Wrong meds (don't get me started on Paxil), two indifferent psychiatrists, friends who didn't get the "sane" me, the end of a job because they refused to acknowledge my illness - it goes on and on. I am still in a nightmare because I live in a building surrounded by neighbors I truly hate - and that has never happened in 29 years of living alone.

    Sometimes you have to dig in, fight and not surrender. Medication worked for me until this past December when it all HIT - hard. One minor incident sent me over the edge, but it was like the water wearing away the mountain over time. I have gone back to therapy - is it helping? No, not yet. But I have to believe that it will.

    I have to deal with the BS and get the f*ck out of this building, re-build the things that used to make me happy and try to forge a new existence. Bravo to you Tony for doing so. When I stopped raging at the world and retired (for varying medical reasons) I was able to find enough of myself to find a career writing (in another field from yours) and earn some extra cash doing it.

    I believe people with depression / manic depression have to be heard and NOT just as one lump. Each case is different and if there is a flaw with doctors, that is one. Hear us, see us, as individuals and work with us. Many of us know ourselves far better than you think you do, doctors.

    BTW, I do the buying thing too and if I go overboard, I know I am in a manic state, not depressed. If I am depressed and dealing with it okay, I buy a little treat if I can afford it. On the most manic of days, I blew through almost 4 thousand on one shopping trip. Luckily, as I was heading towards sanity at that point, I dealt with it and all my bills got paid first.

    I've blathered on enough, be well today and hug your family for me. That's one blessing you have that I never will.