Sunday, August 26, 2012


Once again, my thanks to all the comics fans who made this weekend's garage sale a great success.  The next garage sale will be Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8, 10 am to 3 pm at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio.  I'll be doing a major restocking - my rough estimate is that I'll be adding over 2000 new comics and books - and rearranging the displays a bit to allow for more comfortable shopping.  I've also discovered a box of the two-sided Superman posters from Cleveland's International Superman Exposition (1988) and will be offering those for sale.  More details to come.

Full-sized bloggy things will return on September 1.  I have a desk full of little jobs to complete this week.

Friday, August 24, 2012


My thanks to all the terrific comics fans who made today's garage sale such a success.  I'll be restocking tonight for tomorrow's sale.  840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH 44256, Saturday, August 25, 10 am to 3 pm.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

GARAGE SALE NOTES (August 24-25)

I just finished getting ready for Friday's and Saturday's garage sale.  I was so excited I thought about putting out the sign and opening for an hour or two.

After a quick visit to eBay, I decided to price the paperbacks at a buck each.  I wish I had more room for them.

I have almost uncovered a display rack of some kind in my future reading room.  Depending on what kind of rack it is, it might be a way to add more stuff to my sales. suddenly occurred to me that the Medina schools are back in session.  I wonder if that will have any effect on Friday's sale.  I'll let you know.


The Beat reported Rob Liefeld quit DC.  I managed to read about half the comments before I realized what a colossal waste of time it was to read them.  Here's the thing:

I have always done my best work when editors allowed me to go my own way.  Every single time.  I was blessed that I had many great editors who understood this.

When I was an editor, my dream was to hire writers so good that I wouldn't have to work on their scripts.

I am not at all surprised that DC's editors, most of whom have few if any appreciable credits as writers, are treating their writers like typists.  It's the Hollywood model. 

One of my favorite Hollywood parables is that of the Hollywood executive who is brought to the most beautiful, most pristine mountain lake you could imagine.  He looks at it and then promptly takes a dump in it.  Then he says, "Now it's better."

Finally, whether one enjoys Liefeld's work or not - and you know I don't much care for it - I am appalled by the nasty comments from readers who are slavish devotees of the corporation that is DC.  Corporations aren't people and they definitely aren't creators.  Those clueless mean-spirited readers attack the very people who make the comics they claim to enjoy.  They attack the Jerry Siegels and they attack modern-day creators who dare to show even a shred of integrity.  They disgust me.


This weekend's garage sale.  840 Damon Drive in Medina Ohio.  Friday/Saturday, August 24-25.  10 am to 3 pm.  1000s of comic books, trade paperbacks, hardcovers and more at insanely low prices.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Here are today's updates on my next garage sale at 840 Damon Drive in Medina Ohio.  It'll be Friday and Saturday, August 24-25, 10 am to 3 pm.

I think I'm around 95% finished with the restocking.  All the existing comic book boxes were restocked and I added three additional boxes.  All the existing trade paperback boxes were restocked and I added three more of those.  I also restocked the all ages boxes. Hardcovers and magazines boxes are restocked.

New discoveries.  I found a box of Archie digests from several years ago and those will be on sale at the crazy low price of a quarter each.

I found several of the original "Total Justice" Black Lightning action figures with the Eddy Newell costume.  Still deciding what to charge for those as I don't have a lot of them. 

The depressing thing about finding those was that I then went to eBay to see what they were selling for...and discovered Black Lightning action figures I have never seen before and which, as near as I can tell, DC has never paid me for.  Way to stay classy, DC.

I also found copies of Captain America: Liberty's Torch, the prose novel I wrote with Bob Ingersoll.  Don't expect garage sale prices on those.  I have limited supplies of my own work.

I also found copies of my original Black Lightning scripts from the second series.  I made the copies for sale at comic conventions back when  I was doing more of those.  There's only about a dozen of these and, when they're gone, I have no plans to make additional copies.

It looks like I will have most of one table for paperback books: mystery, science fiction, horror, fantasy and more.  Haven't decided what to sell them for.  Maybe a buck apiece.

And, as always, I found all sorts of comic books and trade paperbacks and hardcovers I'd forgotten I had.  Some amazing stuff there. 

Hope to see you at my sale.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


If you're looking for reasons to make a day out of visiting my garage sale this weekend, the 4th Medina International Fest will be taking place on August 25 from 9 am to 7 pm in Medina Square. 

Lots of fun and good food.


I get to do two of my favorite things today:

1. Updating and adding to birthday lists for Comics Buyer's Guide and the Grand Comics Database.

2. Going through boxes to add great stuff to my garage sale boxes and find great stuff I want to keep for myself, for now at least.

Monday, August 20, 2012


My next garage sale will be at the usual 840 Damon Drive in Medina,
Ohio, Friday and Saturday, August 24-25, from 10 am to 3 pm each
day.  Each garage sale has gone down from the previous one, so I’m
planning to move things around to offer even more comic books and
magazines at a quarter each, more trade paperbacks at $2 each and,
hopefully, more hardcovers at $5 each. 

Depending at how swiftly I can accomplish that, I also hope to add
a selection of paperback books (science fiction, fantasy, mystery,
horror, etc) and some surprises.  As always, I plan to restock the
boxes between the Friday and Saturday sales.

This is all part of my five-year plan to sell off 80% or more of my
Vast Accumulation of Stuff.  The sales allow me to pay some bills,
which, in turn, allows me to keep writing my bloggy things.  Down
the road, the sales will help finance various household renovation
projects and maybe even a nice trip or two for me and the Sainted
Wife Barb.  I dream big.

Keep watching the bloggy thing and my Facebook page for regular

Saturday, August 18, 2012


 Lash LaRue was a cowboy star of the 1940s and 1950s, appearing in
dozens of movies starting in 1944 and continuing through 1951.  He
also appeared in TV shows like Judge Roy Bean (1956) and The Life
and Legend of Wyatt Earp
(1959-1960).  In later years, according to
Wikipedia, he made his living appearing at western film conventions
and as an evangelist on the rodeo and country-music circuits.  The
site also reports he had problems with the Internal Revenue Service.

Lash LaRue Western #23 was published by Fawcett Comics and hit the
stands in December 1951, the month of my birth.  The Grand Comics Database
lacks credits for the issue, but the Who’s Who of American Comic Books 
1928-1999 lists Paul Newman as a Lash LaRue writer of the time and lists
artists Jack Abel, Stan Campbell, Sam Citron, Tom Sgroi and George Tuska.
Frank Doyle, better known as a comics writer, especially at Archie Comics,
is listed among the Lash LaRue artists.  More specific credits are not
known at this time.

Fawcett published 46 issues of Lash LaRue Western from Summer 1949
to January 1954.  Charlton took over the title with issue #47 and
published another 38 issues, concluding the run with the June 1961
issue.  In the 1990s, Bill Black’s AC Comics published three Lash
LaRue reprint comics and has featured stories of the character in
its other reprint anthologies.

Lash LaRue was a master of the bull whip, wielding an 18-foot-long
whip against miscreants.  He taught Harrison Ford how to use a bull
whip for the Indiana Jones movies. 

Wikipedia offers these intriguing notes from LaRue’s life:

For a time he was married to Reno Browne, a B-western actress, who
together with Dale Evans was one of only two Western actresses ever
to have their own comic book fashioned after her character. He
later married Barbara Fuller who was an accomplished actress of
both radio (Clauda on One Man's Family) and motion pictures and
television, having played opposite Charles Boyer.

Lash LaRue comic books sold over one million copies around the
world and many of them featured Lash and Barbara's godson, J.P.

A role as the villain in a pornographic western, Hard on the Trail,
led him to repentance as a missionary for ten years, as he had not
been informed of the adult nature of the film and would not have
consented to appear in the film. He did not actually appear in any
of the pornographic scenes. The film was later released without the
pornographic scenes and retitled Hard Trail to eliminate the double

Late in his career, he appeared in two low-budget horror films shot
in the South, Alien Outlaw and The Dark Power. In the latter, he
plays a park ranger who makes extensive use of the bullwhip to
battle wild dogs and attacking zombies.

I can’t recall having seen any of Lash LaRue’s films, but I’d like
to see a few representative movies from his western career and the
two horror efforts.  Maybe my local library system has them.  I’ll
let you know if and when I find them.

Keep watching this bloggy thing of mine for more vintage comic-book
covers from my birth month.


I read a bunch of Spider-Man comics...

While I generally prefer my Spider-Man to be a street-level hero,
Dan Slott’s “Ends of the Earth” serial in Amazing Spider-Man #683-
689 was entertaining.  Black Cat’s faith in Spider-Man was moving.
I love the Horizon Labs crew and their role in these adventures.
I enjoyed that “Ends of the Earth” one-shot featuring heroes from
around the globe going into battle against Doctor Octopus’s gang.
Good stuff.  But...

I am so tired of J. Jonah Jameson I could plotz.  He’s a pathetic
cliche and, repeating what I said in yesterday’s review of the new
Spider-Man, he should be least until some writer can
come up with something new to do with him.

Slott followed “Ends of the Earth” with a Lizard storyline.  I have
only read the first two issues of this, but I applaud him for this
scary new take on the Lizard.  See, this is what I’m talking about
when I want to see new takes.  It flows naturally from the previous
Lizard appearances, but is shockingly different from what was done
with the character before.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #39?  Yawn. 

Avenging Spider-Man? “The Omega Effect” storyline that started in
issue #6 and continued in issues of The Punisher and Daredevil was
very well done.  Issue #7's team-up with the She-Hulk was readable,
but not exceptional.  Issue #8's flashback was a nice epilogue to
“Ends of the Earth.”

Scarlet Spider started out promising, but has turned deadly dull
with the reappearance of the overused Kraven the Hunter family.  I
realize creators may be justifiably leery of creating new villains
- Marvel could cure that by making nice with Jim Starlin, creator
of Thanos - but, for Godzilla’s sake, if you’re going to use these
old villains, do something interesting with them.

Spider-Men? Yawn. In stereo.

I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Friday, August 17, 2012


I saw the trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight
when I went to see The Avengers.  Neither impressed me and,
after enjoying the best super-hero movie of all time, I had more or
less decided to wait to watch the other two movies when they were
released on Blu-ray.  That changed after the Aurora shootings when
I decided to see at least one movie a month at our local multi-plex

My daughter Kelly and I went to see The Amazing Spider-Man earlier
this week.  She had seen it in 3-D when it opened, but she wanted
to see it with me in 2-D.  There were less than a dozen people at
the 12:35 pm showing, which was fine by us.  The only annoyance was
the flashlight-wielding theater employee who checked the exit door
every twenty minutes or so.  I understand why the theater did this,
but it was still an annoyance, albeit one I can live with.


The Amazing Spider-Man is a fine updating of the character for new
generations.  Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker is not the completely
nerdy and impossibly clean-cut teen of the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
comic books.  But he’s a good kid with believable abandonment and
anger issues.  That he makes bad decisions with tragic consequences
is realistic, that he builds on those decisions and consequences to
become a hero is the heart of Spider-Man, both in the better comic
books and in this movie.

Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy looks like she stepped out of John Romita-
drawn comic book pages.  She’s also believable and so damned cute
that, were I a hormonal teenage boy, I’d have eaten a radioactive
spider to get a date with her.  She’s a strong young woman and as
heroic as Spider-Man.  They were meant for each other.

For villains, Rhys Ifans (Curt Connors/The Lizard) and Irrfan Khan
(as a sinister Oscorp executive) fit the bill nicely.  Ifans gave
a solid performance as the tortured Connors while hamming it up a
tad too much as the Lizard.  The Lizard moved across the screen in
usually terrific fashion and that added to the creature’s physical
confrontations with Spider-Man.  The battle between the two foes in
Peter Parker’s high school is especially wonderful and features an
amusing cameo by Stan Lee.

Denis Leary’s interpretation of Captain George Stacy was extremely
different from the comic-book version of the character, but I loved
it!  This George Stacy was a fit match for both Spider-Man and the
Lizard.  I wish the character had survived this movie, if only to
see how he and Peter would have gone forward from his discovery of
Peter’s identity and their subsequent battlefield alliance.

I thought Martin Sheen and Sally Field were terrific as Ben and May
Parker.  Sheen portrayed Uncle Ben as a working man with a strong
sense of morality and a touch of the imp.  Field, who can blow just
about any actor off the screen, subdued her star quality to give
us an Aunt May who was loving, confused, and frail without seeming
hopelessly weak. 

Also notable were the performances of Chris Zylka as Flash Thompson
and the always fun C. Thomas Howell as a construction worker whose
son is rescued by Spider-Man.  Zylka shows there is more to Flash
than the bullying jock and makes it convincing.  Howell’s character
shows the toughness of New Yorkers in times of crisis. 

Did these great actors add to the writing or did the writing demand
their great performances?  That’s not a question I can answer.  I
can say the movie flowed very well with a nice balance of action,
character play, humor, and suspense. 

The special effects were dizzying to behold and made me glad I did
not see the 3-D version of the movie.  When it comes to movies, I
definitely have a 2-D brain.

A few more quick notes...

The spider-skateboarding scenes ran too long.  Maybe it’s because
I don’t see too many skateboards in my neighborhood.  I don’t know
enough about skateboards to be sure, but I got the sense some sort
of product placement deal was going on.

While it may seem sacrilegious that the film didn’t use the classic
“with great power” line verbatim, I thought Martin Sheen conveyed
that moral very well and in a more natural manner.

No J. Jonah Jameson?  I was incredibly good with that.  The current
Spider-Man comics have made the character a tiresome cliche.  Time
to retire him for good.

No Norman Osborn.  Likewise plus, though the shadowy Oscorp offers
possibilities for the sequel.

I was, of course, disappointed by the lack of recognition given to
John Romita and Don Heck in the end-credits.  They were the first
artists to draw Captain Stacy, even if their version is different
from the movie version.  And Emma Stone could have stepped from a
Romita model sheet of Gwen Stacy. 

For that matter, who coined the company name “Oscorp” in the comic
books?  I can’t remember if it was used during Stan Lee’s long run
on the title.  If it came along later, then the writer who came up
with it should have received credit as well.

Who was the mystery man at the end?  I haven’t a clue.  My initial
thought was Doctor Octopus, but, given my preference, it would be
a brand-new villain. 

The Amazing Spider-Man was an entertaining effort.  It successfully
rebooted the film franchise.  If there’s a sequel, I’ll go see it.
Consider that my strong recommendation of this movie. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I am not crazy about Krazy Kat and I’m not alone in that.  While I
appreciate many comic art enthusiasts rank George Herriman’s comic
strip as one of the greatest of all time, I have never been able to
approach it with much enthusiasm.  I see the three main characters
and recognize them as classic.  I enjoy a strip here and a strip
there.  But I can’t muster the same zeal for the material as do
others.  Mostly, I share these feelings with fellow Kat-challenged
readers in darkened corners of comics conventions, pariahs united
by our shared lack of passion. 

I haven’t given up on Krazy Kat.  I have a collection or two of the
strip.  On occasion, I dive into them searching for enlightenment.
It eludes me, but I still keep hoping for that glorious epiphany in
which all becomes clear and wondrous to me.  Different strokes or
hopeless unawareness? Who knows?

Not that I would have seen Krazy Kat #4 [Dell; February-April 1952]
when it appeared on newsstands in my birth month of December 1951,
but, if I had, I think I would have liked it a little more than its
inspiration.  More akin to the funny animal comic books of the era,
It was written and drawn by John Stanley...and Stanley, a creator
whose work I discovered as an adult, seldom fails to entertain me.

The Stanley Stories website has posted at least one story from this
issue, an untitled 10-page tale which begins with Krazy watching a
snowfall: “Ah, snow fallin’ on Koconino Kounty” and deciding it’s
a good time for “a bowl of pleasureful hot soup.”

With a bogus television broadcast, Ignatz Mouse tricks Krazy into
leaving his house and starts eating the soup.  Offissa Pupp arrives
to kick Ignatz into the cold. 

Krazy builds snowmen of Offissa Pupp and Ignatz.  But, when he goes
to get the lawman to show him the sculptures, Ignatz remakes them
in a manner insulting to Pupp.  What follows is a funny sequence of
Krazy remaking them, Ignatz remaking them before Pupp can see them
and the eventual discovery of his mischief, which brings the mousy
miscreant back to his original dilemma of finding shelter on this
cold winter’s night. 

This isn’t one of Stanley’s best comics by far, but it delivered a
few laughs along the way.  I’d read more.

Keep watching this bloggy thing for more vintage comics covers from
the month of my birth.


“Krazy” is a good adjective for the past several days of my life.
It was a roller coaster.

My garage sale last Friday and Saturday had to overcome sometimes
torrential rain.  Which is why I decided from the start that all my
garage sales would take place completely inside my garage.  Paper
and water...not a good match.

Even with the rain and the absence of some regular customers, the
garage sale was a success.  It was down about fifty bucks from the
previous garage sale, but still resulted in a good paycheck for the
two days.

I didn’t keep track of how much restocking I did between Friday and
Saturday’s sales, but I paid more attention when I consolidated the
boxes on Sunday.  My very rough estimate is that I sold close to a
thousand comic books on Saturday, 50-75 trade paperbacks and a few
dozen hardcovers.  So, for my next garage sale on August 24 and 25,
I’ll be adding at least that many new comics, trades and hardcovers
to what’s already in the garage.


Saturday night I received an e-mail that I won’t be able to write
about for a while.  But it was exceedingly good news and, tired as
I was after the garage sale, it gave me a boost of energy.  Sadly,
I would soon hit the downhill part of the ride.

In previous columns, I have alluded to a troubling situation with
someone I care about, though I stress that someone is not a member
of my real family (Barb, Eddie, Kelly, Simba, my dearest friends,
etc.).  While that situation has caused me much grief, it remains
something I can’t address in detail.

I visited the “someone” on Sunday.  This person has already faced
some serious life changes as result of his own actions.  He’ll be
facing more.  I do what I can for him.  That I can’t and won’t do
more, that I won’t make his self-inflicted misery the center of my
universe, has created an appreciable enmity towards me from others
who are involved with him.  I’d like to think he himself gets where
I’m coming from, but I can’t know for certain.

The visit was pleasant enough.  I brought him some gift cards for
a grocery store and a pie.  I tried to be as encouraging as I could
be, given the circumstances.  I explained what I could and couldn’t
do as his situation moves forward.

But I never addressed the elephant in the room.  That all my life
people I trusted have cheated me, stolen from me, and slandered me.
And that what he did to someone else is different from what’s been
done to me only in its greater magnitude.  I have trouble getting
around that, but I’m making the effort.


When I got back home on Sunday, I learned of Joe Kubert’s passing.
Except through his work, I didn’t know Kubert well.  Even so, the
news hit me hard.

The downhill slide continued.

I was appalled to see DC Comics shilling Before Watchmen under the
pretense of honoring Joe Kubert.  DC corrected their churlish press
release after literally hundreds of people, including some leading
comics professionals, called them on it.

I was appalled, but not surprised.  This is DC Comics.  This is the
kind of thing the company does. Literally nothing the company does
can surprise me. 

Scratch that...DC would certainly surprise me if it suddenly began
to conduct its business in an ethical manner.  I don’t think I need
fear any sudden shocks.

As bad as the DC Comics press release was, there was a far worse
commentary from a friend of mine.  In a truly horrible, insensitive
piece, he used Kubert’s passing as a soap box to castigate Kubert
for inking his son’s pencils on a Before Watchman series and even
compared working on Before Watchmen to child molestation.  It was
a monstrous performance.

I have more to say about Before Watchmen and the attitudes of fans
and professions toward it, pro and con, but that’s something for a
bit later in the month after I consider what I want to say and feel
I can express it in a thoughtful manner.

Monday morning continued with an avalanche of robo-calls from GOP-
holes.  It’s the curse of living in a swing state.  Whatever energy
I should have had on Monday faded away.

Which is why I decided to blow off the rest of the day and see The
Amazing Spider-Man
with my daughter Kelly.  That turned out to be
an excellent decision, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for
my review of the movie.

Tuesday? I was sick as a dog in ways I don’t even want to remember,
much less share with you. 

Which brings us to today, which is Wednesday for me writing this
bloggy thing and Thursday for you reading it.

“Krazy” is what I expect from the next several days.  I’m writing
blogs, taking care of household business, helping Kelly get ready
for her move back to Columbus and the start of her junior year at
The Ohio State University.

When Kelly returns to Columbus, she’ll be driving Barb’s car.  With
brother Eddie now living in Marietta, Barb and I felt Kelly needed
her own vehicle.  This leaves Barb and I sharing the van I usually
drive, which, in reality, means I’ll be without a vehicle most of
the time.  Until we buy a new car. 

We’re trading a college tuition (now that Eddie has graduated) for
a second car payment.  Thankfully, the van is ours free and clear.
Even so, money will continue to be tight.  In other words, come to
my garage sales.  Buy lots of stuff.  Please?

My online sales of stuff will resume as soon as we sort out the car
situation.  Watch for them here and on eBay.

After we move Kelly back to Columbus and have an empty van again,
I’ll be making a trip to the Fortress of Storage to get stock for
the next garage sale.  I don’t know what wonders I will find, but
that’s part of the fun for me.

That catches us up for now.  I’ll be back tomorrow with reviews and
nothing but reviews.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing:

The Rawhide Kid is one of my favorite comics characters.  Inspired
by Essential Rawhide Kid Vol. 1, which reprints Rawhide Kid #17-35,
I write about the Kid every Wednesday.  There are spoilers ahead.
You have been warned.

When I wrote about Rawhide Kid #34 [June 1963], I neglected to take
note of a major milestone.  It was the first issue of the title to
feature the “Marvel corner box” on its cover.  As I recall, Steve
Ditko came up with the notion and design of this cover element and,
in a career of good and even great ideas, I think this was one of
his best.  I became a Marvel “true believer” in the summer of 1963;
Ditko’s box made it easy for me to find the Marvel comic books that
were my new passion.

Rawhide Kid #35 [August 1963] is another great multiple-panel cover
by Jack Kirby with inks by Dick Ayers.  It’s the last multiple-shot
cover we’ll see on the title until 1971.  But the much more notable
element of this cover is the blurb that reads:


“Make Mine Marvel” soon became my comics mantra.  However, though
a new age was emerging, there was much familiarity in this issue’s
three stories.

“The Raven Strikes!” (13 pages) was written by Stan Lee with art by
Jack Davis.  In this his third and final issue on The Rawhide Kid,
Davis was still drawing the Kid taller than the model designed by
Kirby while drawing the horses too short, at least to my untrained
eye.  Even so, there’s no denying Davis’ mastery of storytelling,
action, and expression.

Having fired his last shot escaping from Apache warriors, the Kid
is easy prey for the masked outlaw known as the Raven.  Who has
remarkable eyesight because he claims to have seen Rawhide fire his
last shell when he was fleeing the Apaches.

The Kid is ambushed, robbed and battered by the Raven.  The Raven’s
eyesight is so good he can see what’s not visible in the drawing.
Namely, our hero’s lack of height.  During his brief struggle with
Rawhide, the beaked owlhoot remarks:

“You are stronger than I would have guessed from your size.”
When the town sheriff and his posse show up, Rawhide surrenders to
them.  He is too tired to fight and run.  But, at the town jail, he
strikes a bargain with the lawman.  Turn him loose and he’ll bring
in the Raven.  The sheriff opines the Kid has the look of a hombre
who always keeps his word and agrees to the deal.

On the street, the Kid makes the acquaintance of pretty Nora Trask.
There’s an immediate connection between the two young people, but
the moment is curtailed by Thorn Trask, Nora’s overprotective bully
of a brother.  Nora breaks up the fight and tries to explain Thorn
to the Kid:

“Kid, you must forgive my brother! He’s a good man-–the best man
there is! But he hates outlaws so–-he doesn’t realize some men may
not be as bad as their reputation!”

These two kids are in love.  Unfortunately, Thorn is having none of
it.  He incites a mob to go after the Kid.  Rawhide makes tracks.
He’s thinking about Nora, but he has a job to do: catch the Raven!

For the second time, the Raven gets the drop on our hero when the
Kid sets up camp for the night.  At gunpoint, he takes Rawhide to
an abandoned mine.  The villain plans to collapse the mine with the
Kid inside.  But Rawhide won’t go down without a fight.  He charges
the Raven and, in the ensuing battle, loose timbers fall and both
men are covered in rubble.  The Kid survives.  The Raven meets the
death he intended for Rawhide.

Rawhide unmakes the Raven as the sheriff enters the mine.  To their
amazement - although, since this has happened to the Kid on a few
other occasions, he should have seen it coming - Thorn Trask is the
man behind the mask.

As he’s done several times before to protect the feelings of women
he loves or other innocents, the Kid sacrifices his own reputation.
He asks the sheriff to tell Nora that Thorn died like a hero trying
to catch the real Raven, trying to catch him.  The sheriff agrees,
albeit reluctantly:

“It takes a heap of man to sully his rep more than he should, just
to spare the feelin’s of a girl, Kid!  Reckon Nora Trask will never
know how you felt about her! Never know that only a man in love
would do what you’re doin” for her!”

The melancholy Kid responds:

“It’s best this way, Sheriff! I’m just a loner...reckon that’s all
I’ll be ‘till the day I die!”

I sometimes imagine a scene where, by happenstance, all the lovely
young women whose feelings the Kid has spared when their fathers or
brothers were secret outlaws get together and share their memories
of Rawhide.  Would they think of him kindly or would they be angry
over the deceptions?   

This issue’s non-series story is “The Sheriff’s Star” by Stan Lee
with art by Gene Colan.  A stranger rides hurriedly into town.  He
has been robbed and wants to report the crime to the sheriff.  But
he soon learns the town has no lawman and that the men who robbed
him are the Jooks Brothers.  The siblings are also the reason the
town doesn’t have a sheriff.  No one is brave enough to take them
down.  As if on cue, the Jooks ride into town and humiliate the man
they just robbed.

The stranger isn’t going to stand for that.  He buys a gun, spends
all his money on ammunition and learns how to use the weapon with
uncommon skill.  Then he takes the sheriff’s badge and goes after
the Jooks Brothers.  He disarms them, they whine pitifully, the law
has come to Timberlane, Texas.

Why do I describe this story as familiar?  Because it’s the latest
in Stan Lee’s series of tales where the big reveal is a character
is some noted historical figure of the Old West.  In this case, it
turns out to be John Henry “Doc” Holliday, come to Texas for
health reasons.  Asked his name, he says:

It’s Holliday! Some folks call me “Doc” because I used to study
medicine back East! I came out here on account of my lungs–-for the
sun and heat!

A townsman opines:

Well, Doc Holliday, I got a notion yore gonna make yourself a name
out here!

Doc Holliday lived from 1951-1887, dying at the age of 36.  He was
never a sheriff, though he was a friend of Wyatt Earp.  Nothing
in this tale jibes with the reality of the man, but his name has the
touch of legend so obviously loved by Stan.

“The Birth of a Legend” (5 pages) is a redo of “A Legend Is Born!,”
a classic Rawhide Kid story by Lee and Kirby.  In a saloon, Rawhide
is enjoying a meal while the unknowing barflies discuss how big and
fierce the Rawhide Kid is.  Town bully Crusher Cragg storms in and
takes offense at anyone thinking anyone is tougher than he is.  He
attempts to bully the Kid, but, as you can imagine, ends up on the
losing side of that encounter.

Our hero pays for the damage to the saloon, identifying himself as
the Rawhide Kid before he rides out of town.  Having heard gunfire,
the sheriff goes into the tavern and learns he’s just missed seeing
the Kid.  When the barflies give him Rawhide’s descriptions, their
impressions are just as outrageous as they were before they saw the
real thing.  It’s truthiness...Old West style.

The Rawhide Kid #35 is the final issue of The Rawhide Kid reprinted
in Essential Rawhide Kid Vol. 1, but today’s blog is not the end of
our “Rawhide Wednesday” series.  I took a portion of my garage sale
earnings and bought issues #36-45.  In the weeks to come, I’ll be
writing about five issues drawn by Dick Ayers, one by Jack Keller
and the arrival of the great Larry Lieber to the character he would
make his own.  I haven’t read these comics in years and I’m truly
looking forward to sharing them with you.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


For reasons which I'll write about for Thursday, there's no bloggy thing today.  But I did get to see The Amazing Spider-Man with my daughter on Monday so it's not all bad.

I'll be back tomorrow with another Rawhide Kid Wednesday.

Monday, August 13, 2012


There will be many tributes to Joe Kubert.  Many of them will be by family members and friends who knew and loved him well.  Many will be by comics fans and historians who loved his work.  I don't think I can add much to this outpouring of admiration for one of the greatest comics creators of all time.

But I loved his work from the moment I saw it on Hawkman and Sgt. Rock.  The more I saw of his work on other features and in other genres, the more I loved it.

Kubert's lifetime of accomplishments is staggering to consider.  All those great comics.  His work on the Tales of the Green Beret newspaper strip.  His work on PS Magazine for the military.  His school and all the wonderful comics creators who passed through its halls.

What made me admire Kubert even more was his ability, right to the end of his life, to create comic books and graphic novels that were every bit as good and, in the case of Yossel, better than even the incredible comics he had done in the past.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to tell him how much I loved Yossel when he was a guest at a Mid-Ohio-Con.

My condolences to Kubert's family and friends and, of course, to all of those who, like me, cherished his work.  He will be missed, but never forgotten. 


From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1693:

My Friend Dahmer [Abrams ComicArts; $17.95] is a punch-to-the gut
graphic novel by Derf Backderf, who went to middle and high school
with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.  Derf’s much shorter comic-book
version of this story landed a spot in my 1001 Comic Books You Must
.  If I ever write a sequel, this longer and even more intense
version will be one of the first comics included.

Dahmer went to school not far from my own Medina County.  In fact,
another of his classmates was one of my son’s baseball coaches in
Medina’s summer league.  So the area where Dahmer lived and where
his terrible urges led to his first murder is very familiar to me,
making his story all the more chilling.

Derf brings incredible storytelling skill and impeccable research
to this story.  Told from the distance of time, Dahmer’s fate seems
almost predetermined and the reader has to wonder how it could have
been possible that no one saw it then.  Hindsight is always clear,
of course, but Derf asks tough questions about the adults in Jeff
Dahmer’s life and of himself.  I fear these are questions we will
all be asking ourselves for many years to come.  We’d be naive to
think there are no more Jeffrey Dahmers out there or that parents
and teachers have gotten that much better at spotting the signs of
a murderously disturbed youth.

My Friend Dahmer is a superb work, worthy of the comics industry’s
highest awards.  With each new effort topping the previous work, I
think Derf Backderf is a creator well worth watching.  Whatever he
does next, I’m there.

ISBN 978-1-4197-0217-4 


From the publishers of my 1000 Comic Books You Must Read - consider
that my full disclosure - comes A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’
by Scott Robins and Snow Wildsmith [Krause; $16.99] with a
hundred reviews of age-appropriate books and several hundred more
recommendations.  Hah, I still beat them by 50!

The authors are library professionals and experts in the field of
children’s literature.  Dividing their reviews into grade levels -
Pre-K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, Robins and Wildsmith present a wide range
of excellent choices with attention given to the books’ educational
value, heads up for the possible problems some parents might have
with content, and pointers to other books a child who enjoys these
books might enjoy as well.

Besides parents, comics professionals and readers can also benefit
from this book.  By the time I reached the long “title information”
section, I had ideas for a couple children’s books I want to write.
Plus a whole lot more I want to read.

A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics is one of those books you
can read over an extended period of time, reading a few entries as
you have the time and inclination.  It’s a book that should be part
of your personal comics library.

ISBN 978-1-4402-2994-7


When Barbara Slate, that most exceptional cartoonist, told me about
her new book, I opined that, as a happily married man for the past
28 years, I might not be precisely the target audience for Getting
Married and Other Mistakes
[Other Press; $14.95].  You would think
after 28 years of wedded bliss with my Sainted Wife Barb, that I’d
have learned to realize women named Barbara are smarter than I am.
Work in progress, I am.

Getting Married is a sometimes heartbreaking but uplifting tale of
a woman not unlike the talented Ms. Slate whose Mr. Right is really
Mr. Wrong.  That “Jo” is a wedding photographer makes her “plight”
and self-reflection all the more intense.  She is as fully-realized
a character as I’ve seen in recent comics and graphic novels.  You
can’t help but root for her.

Getting Married doesn’t shy away from either the heartbreak or the
humor of Jo’s life.  It’s a wonderfully told tale with one of those
just-right endings that elude many comics works.  I recommend it to
my readers...and now I’m going to ever so slyly put my copy of the
book on my wife’s bedstand.  I think she’ll enjoy it.

ISBN 978-15905-1535-8


Inspired by the new movie and, of course, by hundreds of previous
appearances of Curly, Larry and Moe, Papercutz’s The Three Stooges
#1: Bed-Bugged and Other Stories
[$6.99] will delight new and old
fans of the comedy trio.  Written by George Gladir and Jim Salicrup
with art by the superlative Stan Goldberg, these adventures combine
the classic riffs of the Stooges’ comics, movies and shorts with a
very modern sensibility.  The boys train as sumo wrestlers, star in
a sci-fi western, buy a haunted house, and do battle with bedbugs.
It’s a fun book and definitely worthy of the Three Stooges legacy.
The next book in the series can’t come soon enough for me.

ISBN 978-1-59707-315-8


If it seems like I’ve reviewed near every volume of Marvel Firsts,
it’s because I have.  In my defense, if defense be needed, I just
love the heck out of these books.  The 1960s volume and the first
of the 1970s volumes reminded me why the Marvel comics of Stan Lee,
Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others were such a game-changer for the
comics industry and for me personally.  With the second 1970s book,
I was right in the thick of things, so I relived the excitement of
my time in the Marvel offices.

With Marvel Firsts: The 1970s Vol. 3 [$29.99], I was around for the
earliest debuts - the book reprints the first issues of Champions
Black Goliath, both written and conceived by me - but I wasn’t on
staff by that time.  Still, I was connected enough to be well aware
of the throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks state
of mind of the post-Roy Thomas editorial department.  I recall with
amusement how I got the green light to start work on the Champions,
Black Goliath, and Tigra within days of one another, and then told
a day or so later that I was already three weeks behind on the new
assignments.  Suffering spider-webs!

My life was as chaotic as any Marvel madman’s back then, so it was
nice to sit back and enjoy these new characters and concepts that
hit the newsstands while I was trying to remain sane.  I never got
the point of Skull the Slayer, Bloodstone, or Starlord, but Steve
Gerber knocked me out with Guardians of the Galaxy and Omega the
the latter with the added genius of Mary Skrenes.

Jack Kirby’s Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, and Machine Man were 100%,
unadulterated Kirby.  My initial reaction was confusion, but that
was typical of that decade for me.  On rereading them, I appreciate
their fun and imagination.

Then there was Nova and Ms. Marvel.  I can’t think of Nova without
recalling Marv Wolfman’s ire at my calling it Green Nova.  And Ms.
was a mess, an intriguing mess, but a mess nonetheless.  On
the other hand, they were entertaining.

Roy Thomas, friend and mentor, delivered What If? and the 3-D Man
unto the Marvel Universe.  I loved both, but only the former stayed
around for long.  Also included in this volume: Spider-Woman, Moon
Knight, and She-Hulk.

Marvel Firsts: The 1970s Vol. 3 is a thick chunk of Marvel history
and another of those must-have books for your home comics library.
I hope the series continues into the 1980s because I don’t remember
what the heck I was doing in that decade.

ISBN 978-0-7851-6382


The magazine-size Life With Archie [$3.99 per issue] remains one of
my favorites among current comics titles.  One of its two ongoing
serials follows a world in which Archie married Betty, the other a
world in which he married Veronica.  Though the stories got a touch
too sci-fi for me when the two worlds crossed over briefly, writer
Paul Kupperberg has brought them back to their true strength in the
most recent issues.  These are true-to-life stories of people we’ve
grown up with, living through some of the same stuff we have lived
through, and building good lives for themselves.  Oh, sure, these
characters have a leg-up on us because they live in Riverdale -“The
Small Town with the Big Heart!” - but I only envy them because I’m
not living there.

Life With Archie got some press recently when Kevin Keller married
the love of his life.  There was some organized hate-mongering in
the real world as a result of this, but, in Riverdale, it was the
reflection of the attitudes of most young people in the real world.
Even so, Kupperberg hasn’t forgotten that there are people who are
still mired in old attitudes.  An older woman, for example, doesn’t
want to be treated by Kevin’s doctor husband.  More than ever, my
hope for the future lies with my children and yours.

Hot-button issues aside, visiting near-future Riverdale isn’t that
different from visiting with my own friends and neighbors.  There
are marriages going through rough patches and coming through better
than ever.  There are dreams and romances that don’t work out, and
others that do.  Tragic illness isn’t absent from Life With Archie.
It’s claimed one beloved character and another is fighting for her
life in the current issue.

Kupperberg gives us great characters, honest emotions, and a dollop
of humor.  Artists Fernando Ruiz, Bob Smith, Pat and Tim Kennedy,
Al Milgrom and others portray all the above with skill that looks
effortless, so you know they’re busting their humps to make it look
that way.  Each new issue is a delight.

Life With Archie is further proof that I’m just never going to run
out of great comics to read and write about.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Saturday, August 11, 2012

GARAGE SALE 3 (August 10-11)

My thanks to all who shopped at my garage sale this weekend.  Despite rain, at times torrential, the sale took in almost as much as the previous garage sale.  I'll be doing a major restocking for the next garage sale, August 24 and 25, from 10 am to 3 pm, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio.

I'm taking the rest of the weekend off, but the bloggy thing will return on Monday.



From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1693:

Marge’s Lulu and Tubby in Japan [Dell, May-July 1962] is the latest
treasure to emerge from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff.  I probably
bought it via eBay, intrigued by the title characters going to one
of the countries I would most like to visit.

The creative team of John Stanley (writer and possibly layouts) and
Irving Tripp (pencils and inks) is one of the most underrated teams
in comics history.  They blended their strengths so well their many
collaborations feel like the work of a single creator.

In this one-shot, Lulu’s efficiency expert father is hired by a toy
company in Japan to advice on their latest item, which they believe
will appeal to American children.  Lulu’s dad invites her and her
friends to join him, thinking they will be helpful in testing this
new toy. 

Spoilers ahead.

The lead-up to this invitation is hilarious as Lulu and her friends
open fortune cookies.  Every cookie has the same fortune, that the
person holding it will be taking a trip.  Lulu is ready to complain
to the fortune cookie factory that the box is defective until her
dad springs his big news on her.

Spoilers end.

The rest of the issue’s several stories touch on various aspects of
Japanese society - kimonos, rice fields, kites - but focus more on
humorous situations than facts.  It’s a different approach than we
saw in those great Dennis the Menace travel specials, but every bit
as entertaining.

The big finish and one of the funniest stories in this comic book
has Lulu and the kids testing the new toy.  Some of the humor comes
from Lulu’s dad and the toy makers having quite different notions
of how to market the toy.  From cover to cover, this 36-page issue
is a delight.  Worth searching for in the back issue bins.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Friday, August 10, 2012


The cover of Kid Colt Outlaw #19 [March 1952] tells a story in one
striking, albeit busy, image.  It’s drawn by the great Joe Maneely,
who was one of Stan Lee’s favorite artists and who died just before
the start of the Marvel Age of Comics.  I’m sure Maneely would have
been a part of that revolution and his fans often speculate on what
features he might have handled.

Kid Colt Outlaw holds the record for longest running western comic
book.  The title ran 229 issues from 1948–1979, though there was a
single-year hiatus in 1968.  I remember being somewhat upset when
the title went away for that year and only moderately pleased when
it returned in 1969 as a reprint title.

This issue, which hit the newsstands in my birth month of December
1951, featured three Kid Colt stories.  All of them were drawn by
Pete Tumlinson:

“Revenge in Sagebrush City” (8 pages)

“Mystery of the Stolen Cache” (4 pages)

“The Big Smoke” (7 pages)  

The issue also has a four-page non-series tale - “The Lonely Trail”
- drawn and signed by Warren Broderick.  No writers for any of the
four stories have been identified at this time, though Paul Newman
(1947-1953) and Leon Lazarus (1952-1957) are known to have written
for the character.

How did the Kid become an outlaw?  According to Kid Colt Outlaw #10
[September 1950], he killed his father’s murderer in a fair fight
but was, nonetheless, accused of murder.  If that origin sounds a
mite familiar, it’s because it’s pretty much the origin of the Stan
Lee and Jack Kirby version of the Rawhide Kid I’ve been blogging
about on Wednesdays.  The difference is that the Rawhide Kid wasn’t
branded an outlaw until sometime after he’d brought his adoptive
father’s killers to justice.

Keep reading this blog for more comics from the month of my birth.
There are a lot of them to cover.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Kerry Drake Detective Cases #30 [February 1952] was one of several
Harvey Comics publications featuring comic-strip characters and,
very often, reformatted comic-strip stories.  The first five issues
of this title were published by Magazine Enterprises.  When Harvey
acquired the license, it continued the numbering for 28 issues, a
total of 33 issues between the two companies.

The Grand Comics Database credits Alfred Andriola as the artist of
the cover and the reprinted newspaper story inside the issue, but
adds a question mark after these credits.  The script for “The Case
of the Mystery Mine!” is attributed to Allan Saunders, co-creator
of Kerry Drake, but, again, with a question mark. 

Of Kerry Drake, Wikipedia reports:

Originally a district attorney's investigator, Drake became a
municipal police officer when Sandy Burns, his secretary and
fiancee, was murdered by Trinket and Bulldozer. As both a DA's man
and a city cop, he battled a series of flamboyant villains,
including Bottleneck, Mother Whistler and No-Face. It gradually
became a soap opera strip focusing on Drake's home life with his
wife Mindy and their quadruplets, as Drake's younger brother Lefty,
a private eye, took over more of the adventure plots. Andriola was
assisted (and ghosted) by artists Fran Matera, Jerry Robinson and
Sururi Gumen, the last of whom shared credit with Andriola starting
in 1976.  

Andriola was the first comics professional I met.  Kerry Drake ran
in one of the Cleveland newspapers and, as I recall, the newspaper
brought him in to speak at Cleveland’s main library.  I was already
hoping to write comic books professionally, so I was probably in my
early teens at the time.  I took the bus and the rapid transit to
downtown Cleveland to see Andriola’s presentation and to meet him.
It turned out to be a disappointment.

Do not let this next bit reflect badly on Andriola.  I’ve no idea
what his situation was at this time.  But, neophyte that I was, I
still thought his presentation was dull. As if he had given it many
times before.  Which he probably had.

He also struck me as smug and more than a little conceited, which
seemed at odds with the smallness of his audience.  The small crowd
might have been a factor in his demeanor as well.

Despite all that, I was excited at the chance of meeting a comics
professional and maybe getting some advice and encouragement from
him.  Instead, he was positively snide and dismissive as I tried to
acquire some knowledge from him.  When I mentioned my interest in
comic books, he responded as if I’d handed him a bag of soggy dog
turds.  Later, after I learned he had started in comic books, that
reaction baffled me all the more.  I left the library wondering how
I had offended this cartoonist.

Today, having made hundreds of appearances myself, I know sometimes
a convention guest or speaker is just having a bad day.  Few people
are 100% all the time.  Bad days happen.

Fortunately, my next contacts with comics professionals were much
better.  I was treated with kindness by some of the biggest names
in comics and I’ve never forgotten those kindnesses.  So, as much
as anyone can, I try not to have any bad days when I’m attending a
convention or some other comics event.

Keep watching this bloggy thing for more comics from my birth month
of December 1951.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


This week has definitely taken a turn for the maddeningly stressful.  The major effect on my life is that I won't have time to put together any bargain boxes or other surprises for this weekend's garage sale.  However...the garage sale boxes are already filled with cheap and often great stuff. son Eddie will be coming to Medina to help me on Friday night and Saturday.  That means we will definitely be able to restock for Saturday if our Friday sales are good.

Gonna write blogs and watch TV the rest of the day.  Storage Wars is calling to me. 


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing:

The Rawhide Kid is one of my favorite comics characters.  Inspired
by Essential Rawhide Kid Vol. 1, which reprints Rawhide Kid #17-35,
I write about the Kid every Wednesday.  There are spoilers ahead.
You have been warned.

The Rawhide Kid #34 [June 1963] boasts a terrific Jack Kirby cover,
two Rawhide Kid adventures by Stan Lee and Jack Davis, and a non-
series story that’s my favorite non-series story ever to appear in
a Marvel western comic.  Let’s talk.

The cover is a split cover and both halves are exciting.  On top,
Rawhide has been out-drawn by “Mister Lightning” and, underneath
that scene, he’s facing a small army of Apaches to protect a wagon
train.  Two title blurbs, four word balloons, all that action...and
the cover doesn’t look at all crowded.  I miss the days when comic-
book covers told stories instead of presenting pin-ups.

“The Deadly Draw of Mister Lightning” (10 pages) is a plot-by-the-
numbers story.  It begins with the Kid fleeing a small posse; this
is the only time in the issue his outlaw status is mentioned.  He
hides out in the crowd at a traveling carnival where he watches the
fastest juggler in the world and reckons it’s good the performer is
not a gunfighter because no one could out-draw him.  Foreshadowing
in the days of the Old West.

Mister Lightning is dissatisfied with his meager earnings.  Another
carnival worker suggests he takes up gun play.  The juggler is swift
to master that art and becomes a gun-for-hire.  Spotting Rawhide in
a town where the Kid is apparently not wanted, Lightning calls him
out.  The Kid doesn’t want to engage in gun play for no reason and
that, along with his foe’s speed, allows the former juggler to out-
draw and wound our young hero.

Rawhide figures this is his lucky break.  Now that he’s no longer
the fastest gun around, he thinks people will leave him in peace.
Alas, building on his rep at the guy who outdrew the Rawhide Kid,
Lightning has turned to crime.  With only four pages to go, an old
Native American chief and friend of Rawhide tracks him down to tell
him of Lightning’s reign of terror.  The Kid figures he has to do
something about this.

Mister Lightning and the Kid face off at the bottom of page eight.
Lightning is still faster, but Rawhide’s steely-eyed courage makes
the juggler nervous.  He out-draws the Kid, but his shot misses by
a mile.  He fires a second time, but, this time, the Kid fires as
well and aims so expertly that the two bullets collide in mid-air.
Mister Lightning soils himself, at least that’s how I see it, and
vows never to use a gun again.  The local lawman takes the juggler
into custody and leads us out of the story with the mini-sermon of
the day:

“There are many ways to use a gun, but the Kid’s is best of all–-
not in anger, not for gain, just to help the cause of justice!”

Mutant gun skill is not new to the Rawhide Kid’s adventures, but I
think this example pushes it.  I’m fairly confident we saw this
amazing feat again in other Marvel westerns of the era.

An artistic note: Maybe it’s me, but the horse look pretty tiny in
the two Rawhide Kid stories.  Their human riders appear larger than
their steeds in some panels.  Was Davis rushed or was he reacting
to the low Marvel rates of this era?  Though his storytelling works
just fine and his facial expressions and figures are dramatic, the
small horses kept taking me out of the stories.

“Prisoner of the Apaches” (8 pages) is what the Rawhide Kid becomes
when a trigger-happy wagon master takes a shot at an Apache scout,
wounding the young brave.  When the Apaches capture the Kid and the
wagon master’s family, Rawhide takes the blame for the wounding of
the scout who, more bad luck, is the son of the chief. 

The wagon master attempts to rescue Rawhide and the two of them are
soon surrounded by Apache warriors.  Their lives are spared because
the scout is recovering from his wound and because Apaches respect
courage.  The chief lets the Kid and the wagon master go in peace.
The Kid rides off to find others who need his help.

Sad to say, this is a weak Rawhide Kid story.  It could’ve starred
almost any western hero and, despite the dire circumstances the Kid
finds himself in, there’s little tension to the proceedings.  Lee
and Davis didn’t seem to click as a team and their collaborations
would end after one more issue.

Lee reunited with Kirby and inker Dick Ayers for “Man of the West”
(5 pages) and it’s a classic.  The story follows the life of Mark
Morgan, a drifter who builds a life, a house, a ranch, and a family
while facing and overcoming all the difficulties of frontier life.
There is tragedy in his tale, but, at the story’s end, Morgan has
triumphed over all obstacles and helped bring civilization to that
part of the Old West.  Which isn’t enough for him.

“I’m a frontiersman,” he tells his wife, “a pioneer!  I gotta be
making’ something out of nothing–-turning a wilderness into a place
to raise a family! But–-when it’s finished–-there’s nothing left!
I crave to be moving on–-to find me a new wilderness!”

The last panel shows the Morgan family moving on.

“And so our story ends as it began–-with Mark Morgan weary and
muscle-sore, making his way thru wild, untamed wilderness, seeking
a home just over the horizon!

“But this time there is a difference! This time, he has a wife and
a son–-and of such sturdy human thread was woven the fabric of the
glory of the West!”

Those closing lines give me chills.  Of course, they also make me
think of Blazing Saddles and Taggart’s (Slim Pickens) response to
a highfaluting comment by Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman):

“God darnit, Mr. Lamarr, you use your tongue prettier than a twenty
dollar whore.”

I’m strange that way.

Seriously, the tale thrilled me so much when I read it as a reprint
in Two Gun Kid #75 [May 1965] that I actually wrote a pitch for a
series based on it.  It would have been a generational western saga
retelling the original story with more details and following Morgan
and his heirs into new frontiers and beyond.  If I ever come across
that pitch, I’ll run it in a future bloggy thing.

Come back next Wednesday for another “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” and
tomorrow for the usual more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


My next garage sale will be held on Friday and Saturday, August 10-11, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, OH, from 10 am to 3 pm each day.

1000s of comic books, magazines, manga books, and VHS tapes at a quarter each.

Trade paperbacks at $2 each.

Hardcovers at $5 each.

Plus some surprise items.

The boxes are or will be fully stocked.  The more you buy on Friday, the more I restock for Saturday.  The more you buy this weekend, the more I restock for the next garage sale.

I look forward to seeing you there.



Kent Blake of the Secret Service #6 [March 1952} hit the newsstands
in my birth month of December 1951.  The issue comes midway through
the title’s 14-issue run.

Blake was a government investigator of some sort, though, from what
I’ve been able to learn of his adventures, his missions went well
beyond the usual territory of the real-world Secret Service as we
know it.  His debut issue adventures were written by Hank Chapman
with art by Joe Sinnott (pencils) and Tom Gill (inks).  With this
sixth issue, the Korean War became the backdrop for Blake’s cases.
The “Tales of War” focus would run through issue #12.

We don’t have definite credits for the sixth issue, but Atlas Tales
opines the cover might have been drawn by Sol Brodsky, who was
a prolific Atlas cover artist in the 1950s.  The website attributes
the art on the issue’s three Kent Blake stories to Gill.  The issue
also features two short non-series comics stories and a text story.

According to International Hero, Blake’s ghost appeared in Amazing
Spider-Man Annual
#13.  The site reports:

Kent continued to work for the Secret Service until the modern day,
when he was killed by Ryan, a minor crook. Never willing to leave
a case unfinished, in life or in death, his ghost returned to draft
in the aid of costumed crimefighter Spider-Man in capturing his

That said, the Grand Comics Database lists no such story in Amazing
Spider-Man Annual
#13.  Can any of my bloggy readers pinpoint where
this story actually appeared?

That’s what I know about Kent Blake.  Keep reading my bloggy thing
for more comics from the month of my birth.


My reading of “The New 52" from DC Comics is fairly random and my
reviewing of same even more so.  Overwhelmingly, the material does
not speak to me as a reader or as a writer.  The comics still smell
of desperation to me, despite the initial commercial success of the
relaunch.  Going forward, I’ll only be reviewing these titles when
they are very good, very bad, or strangely interesting.

Action Comics #9 [$3.99] by Grant Morrison and artist Gene Ha falls
into the third grouping.  It’s a tale of the Superman of Earth 23,
a dark-skinned alien who has become President of the United States.
Which is as illegal on that Earth as it would be on ours.  Perhaps
this comic book is what Joe Arpaio, the definitely racist, arguably
criminal sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County thinks is proof that
our own President Obama was born in Kenya.  Maybe Donald Trump or
Orly Taitz sent him their copies of the comic book.

While I have no way of knowing where Morrison falls on the absurd
“Birther” issue, I suspect he saw it as a cool springboard to tell
an entertaining and fascinating story.  In “Executive Power,” the
issue’s secondary feature, Sholly Fisch and Cully Hamner followed
up on the lead tale in like manner.  I enjoyed this issue...and I
also wonder how long it will take before someone starts selling it
on eBay with an emphasis on its “Birther” aspects.  Do right-wing
fanatics read comic books?

On a related note...why 52?

Why does this new DC Multiverse have only 52 Earths?  Is there some
mathematical or mystical significance to the number?  Is there an
advertising significance to the number beyond DC’s use of it?  To
my way of thinking, once you start with such parallel universes,
you’re logically dealing with an infinite number of such universes.
This is an actual question, so feel free to comment.


Bleeding Cool #0 [Avatar; $1.99] previews the new 100-page comics
magazine spinning off from the popular website.  Rich Johnston, the
originator of that site, is the head writer for this print edition.
I welcome its arrival.

Critics of Johnston’s style of journalism often complain that much
of what he writes is gossip, rumor and speculation.  I’m not a big
fan of gossip about the personal lives of comics creators and that
goes back to when I was actually working in the offices of Marvel
and DC.  But the rumors and speculations bear fruit with regularity
and that kind of stuff intrigues me.  Comics publishers hate when
someone pulls back the curtain to reveal their great and powerful
wizards are fast-talking con men from Kansas.

The preview issue downplays the gossip for articles on the Valiant
Comics relaunch, The Walking Dead, Boom!, and more, including an
interview with Before Watchmen contributor Len Wein, the original
editor of Watchmen.  Not every article will interest every reader,
but, with 100 pages per regular issue, I suspect every reader will
find a great deal of material of interest to him or her.

Bleeding Cool Magazine #1 launches in October.  I’m looking forward
to reading and reviewing it.


Over the weekend, I read Fantastic Four #603-607 and FF #15-19.  I
enjoyed them, but don’t have anything particularly profound to say
about them.  Some random thoughts:

The Council of Reed stuff is getting tiresome, as is the Franklin
and Valeria of the future stuff.  That said, the issues featuring
Galactus were cool. 

I laughed out loud at the issue with Johnny Storm and Peter Parker
as roommates.  Maybe Marvel Studios should think about producing a
buddy comedy.  I would offer casting suggestions if I knew or cared
who’s hot in Hollywood these days.

I don’t quite have a handle on Johnny Storm since he came back from
death and the Negative Zone.  I think there’s a personal story in
those events, but writer Jonathan Hickman seems to be dancing all
around it. 

The issue with the Negative Zone elections was sweet.  However, I’m
concerned the right wing of the Zone engaged in voter suppression
in the name of combating voter fraud that didn’t exist.  Maybe the
Watcher should look into that.

Man, there are a lot of youngsters attending the FF school.  It’s
hard to keep track of them.  But they are fun.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella

Monday, August 6, 2012


Ken Maynard Western #7 [Fawcett] hit the newsstands in December of
1951, the month of my birth.  It was the next-to-last issue of the
eight-issue run that started with a September 1950-dated issue and ended
with one dated February 1952.  Sadly, Maynard’s impressive career
as a stuntman and movie cowboy was all but over by 1944, the result
of his alcoholism.  So why this comic-book series?

Television.  Fawcett saw the new medium was broadcasting Maynard’s
old westerns - he appeared in over 90 films - and figured readers
would know his name from those airings. 

All eight issues were drawn by Carl Pfeufer, who got his start in
comics drawing the Sub-Mariner in the 1940s.  The artist also drew
comics starring other movie cowboy heroes like Tom Mix, Gabby Hayes
and Hopalong Cassidy.  All but one of those eight issues featured
book-length stories, a rarity in the 1950s.

Wikipedia offers this on Maynard’s tragic circumstances:

With his white cowboy hat, fancy shirt, and pair of six-shooters,
from the 1920s to the mid-1940s, Maynard appeared in more than 90
films. However, his alcoholism severely impacted his life and his
career ended in 1944. He made appearances at state fairs and
rodeos. He then owned a small circus operation featuring rodeo
riders but eventually lost it to creditors. The significant amount
of money he had earned vanished, and he lived a desolate life in a
rundown mobile home. During these years, Maynard was supported by
an unknown benefactor, long thought to be Gene Autry. More than 25
years after his last starring role, Maynard returned to two small
parts in films in 1970 and 1972, notably in The Marshal of Windy
Hollow. Maynard died in 1973 at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland

Hills, California. He was interred at Forest Lawn Cypress Cemetery
in Cypress, California....For his contribution to the motion
picture industry, Ken Maynard has a star on the Hollywood Walk of
Fame at 6751 Hollywood Blvd.

Keep reading this blog for more comics from my birth month.  I hope
they have happier endings than this one.


I have been reading stuff.  Here are my thoughts on the stuff I’ve
been reading...

Archie #631-634 [Archie Comics; $2.99] took another futuristic trip
down “Memory Lane” as Archie married Valerie with consequences for
both the Archies and Josie and the Pussycats.  Written and penciled
by Dan Parent with inks by Rich Koslowski, the entertaining serial
took a turn for the even more amazing in its final chapter wherein
Valerie got a glimpse of several other futures and made a very wise
decision.  Whether you read these four issues or wait for them to
be collected, I recommend this story.

On a related note...

As much as I love most of these Archie “epics,” I also miss seeing
the Riverdale kids in their usual teenage comedies.  The stories by
Frank Doyle, George Gladir, and others are dear to me and represent
the heart and soul of Archie Comics.  While I understand the sales
value and very real interest in these multi-issue events, I wonder
if new readers are missing out on the traditions that built one of
the longest-lived franchises in comics history.

Maybe Archie Comics could try to have the best of both worlds with
a series of 100-page annuals featuring new stories in the classic
Archie tradition.  For the “event” aspect of these annuals, Archie
could include stories by popular writers and artists not usually associated
with their comics.  I was going to offer some suggestions here, but
I think it’ll be more fun to read yours. 

Make with the comments, my bloggy friends.


Bongo continues to publish some fine funny comic books, among them
Bart Simpson #71-73 [$2.99 each].  Issue #71 has a tale written and
drawn by Michael T. Gilbert of Mr. Monster fame.  It’s filled with
laughs and breaks ever so slightly and wonderfully from the usual
look of Simpsons comics.  I love that Bongo is open to a variety of
artistic styles.

Issue #72's “The Prince and the Penal System” ranks with the very
best Bart Simpsons comics.  Kudos to co-writers Tony Digerolamo and
Max Davison for a wacky look at a reality TV show.  This issue also
has a story written and drawn by Peter Kuper.

Issue #73 leads with “Everybody Really Hates Bart” by John Zakour,
the writer of the wonderful “Working Daze” comic strip.  The story
puts Bart in an even more underdog position than usual and ends on
a delightful ironic gag. 

Every issue also has “The Bongo Beat”: commentary by Bongo Comics
intern Louis Lane, letters from readers, and a gag page.  It adds
to the already big fun of these comic books, which are, of course,
recommended for readers of all ages.


My next garage sale will be Friday and Saturday, August 10-11, at
840 Damon Drive from 10 am to 3 pm each day.  The comics and other
boxes are 99% full at this writing. 

In going through boxes from the Fortress of Storage, I’m finding a
lot of cool stuff.  I’m keeping some of it for the time being and,
among that “some of it” are the various Batman, Justice League and
Superman titles based on the animated versions of those characters.
Though aimed at younger readers, those comic books are generally a
lot truer to the heroes than the likes of “The New 52.”

Since I hadn’t read many of these comics, I’m trying to read one of
them each day.  Most recently that “one” was The Batman Strikes #46
[August 2008]. 

“Beauty and the Beast” by Russell Lissau with art by Christopher
Jones and Terry Beatty is a done-in-one story featuring Croc as I’d
never seen the villain before.  It was an expertly told done-in-one
adventure with a very satisfying ending.  If the qualities of this
story were welcome in the Batman books intended for older readers,
I’d probably like those books more.

My blanket recommendation is that, whenever you can get your hands
on one of these “based on the animated series” Batman comics, buy
it.  Not at my garage sale, of course, because I’m keeping the ones
I come across there.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella

Saturday, August 4, 2012


My next garage sale is at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio, on Friday and Saturday, August 10-11 from 10 am to 3 pm each day. 

There will be 1000s of sale items: comic books at 25 cents each, magazines at 25 cents each, VHS tapes at 25 cents each, manga books at 25 cents each, trade paperbacks at $2 each, hardcovers at $5 each, and maybe a few surprises. 

Tell your friends.  I've had customers drive two hours to shop at my garage sales and they were happy they made the trip.


Thursday, August 2, 2012


We’re back to kicking off these daily bloggy things with covers of
comic books that hit the newsstands in my birth month of December
1951.  Coming in at halfway through the title’s impressive 52-issue
run is Justice #26 [March 1952], a fairly typical crime comic book
from the publisher known as Timely and then Atlas and then Marvel.
The Grand Comics Database tentatively credits Christopher Rule as
the artist of the cover.

I haven’t read the issue, but I’m skeptical that any of the issue’s
five stories were actually taken from real life.  That was a common
claim crime comics made back in the day.  Also increasingly common
in vain attempt to still public disapproval of crime comics was the
cover’s other come-on:


The issue’s four comics stories are:

“The Night of June 12th” (7 pages, art by Tony DiPreta)  

“The Man They Couldn't Kill” (6 pages, artist unidentified)

“Routine Investigation” (5 pages, artist unidentified)

“No Place to Hide” (5 pages, art by Vernon Henkel)

The two-page text story is “Murderer's Oath!” None of this issue’s
writers have been identified at this time.

Justice ran from Fall 1947 to March 1955.  The last issue’s cover
has a large blurb proclaiming the comics is “respectfully dedicated
to the law enforcement officers throughout the nation without whose
self-sacrificing devotion to duty our society would fall prey to
the underworld.”  The focus of the title in its final issues was on
cops and not criminals.

We’ll have more comics from my birth month in future bloggy things.
Because I get a kick out of them.


My second garage sale of the summer was last Friday and Saturday,
July 26-27.  I set my goal for my first garage sale very high and
didn’t achieve it.  However, I did do as well as I had done in my
one and only garage sale of 2011, so I was happy.

This time, figuring there was only so much money I could extract
from the area comics community, I set my second garage sale goal at
half of what I made at the previous one.  I ended up making 65% of
what I made, so, again, I was happy.

Trade paperbacks continue to be the best selling item, but regular
comics are a close second.  Hardcover sales went well.  Manga sales
were dead, a disappointing result since, based on how well they’d
sold at the first sale of the summer, I had given them more display
space.  I’ll be rethinking that for my next sale.

My 1000 Comic Books You Must Read continues to sell at these sales.
I’ll have to reorder soon.

The addition of a new table and 14 more boxes of comics, trades,
and hardcovers was a popular move.  Almost every returning customer
expressed their delight with having more items to choose from and
with the price/quality of the material.

I restocked after the Friday sale and again after Saturday’s.  I’m
not sure how much more restocking I’ll do between now and the next
garage sale (August 10-11) as the boxes are fairly full. If I make
another trip to the Fortress of Storage, I likely won’t bring back
more than a half-dozen boxes of accumulated stuff.

For the next sale, I’ll have a few “mystery boxes” available at $20
each.  These will hold 200 comic books plus a selection of some of
the other items I’m selling.  I think this will be a fun addition
to the sales while helping me move quantities of accumulated stuff.

I don’t know how soon I can get them into the garage sales, but I
would like to offer my customers more Isabella-written items, some
higher-priced vintage comic books, and some mass market paperbacks.
Would that I had a bigger garage.

In other matters...

Sainted Wife Barb, our daughter Kelly, and our neighbor Giselle are
on vacation this week, leaving me to tackle my future reading room,
library and mailing station.  I’d been “mining” the room for garage
sale items, but hit a snag when I came across a bunch of games and
other items from when my kids were little.  In order to make space
for what I want to do and to continue my excavations, I must clear
out that stuff and the shelves that hold it.

The good news is that I think I can accomplish that before the gals
return home and maybe even lay down some flooring in the corner of
the room where I’ll be sorting/boxing the comics and books I’ll be
keeping for the time being.

One of my main goals for this summer’s garage sales was to have a
functional reading room/library/mailing station.  I think that’s in
reach.  Hoo-hah!

When I’m not working on the house and garage sales, I’m writing a
whole bunch of stuff.  Blogs.  Comics Buyer’s Guide columns.  Some
pitches for a publisher.  Some stuff for a client I can’t discuss
at this time.  Solitude is a writer’s friend.

Well, not entirely.

With no one to stop me, I watched Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
and Nazis at the Center of the Earth in one evening.  Both were on
loan from my local library, so no money was wasted in this pursuit.
But I may never get back those lost brain cells.


I didn’t hate the first Ghost Rider movie and recognized something
of the Johnny Blaze I wrote in Nicolas Cage’s performance.  It was
an okay movie for the hour-and-a-half it cost me.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance?  What a stinker!  I don’t believe
Cage or any other member of the cast left a single bit of scenery
unchewed in these tedious film.  The story and writing were so-so
at best.  The special effects became tiresome quickly.  If there’s
anything redeemable about the film, it’s that we learned the origin
of the demon possessing Johnny Blaze - it’s an angel corrupted by
the devil after falling in battle - and that, in that knowledge and
in the resolution of this movie, there might be another Ghost Rider
story worth telling.  Of course, I have no confidence the makers of
this film are capable of telling that story and less that Cage is
capable of delivering the performance it would require. 

Nazis at the Center of the Earth was produced by The Asylum, that
odd-yet-prolific company that has released 100 films in a mere 15
years.  Many of those movies have shown up on the SyFy Channel and
I’ve written about them in past blogs.

Nazis has no name actors, no good actors and no compelling special
effects.  The plot - which is pretty much covered in the title - is
good pulpy fun, but it’s burdened with the bad acting, bad writing
and lots of gore for the sake of gore.  On the other hand, medical
and scientific torture was a Nazi fetish so its appearance here is
not unexpected.

If you can fast forward through the first half of the movie or so,
there is fun to be had.  That’s when the Nazis reveal their giant
robot with the living head of Hitler.

I’m not making that up.

The movie is tolerable fun once Robot Hitler makes his entrance.
I would never suggest one spend a dime on this movie, but, if you
can get it from your local library or otherwise see it for free, I
think you’ll get some giggles from Robot Hitler.

Robot Hitler would be a good name for a death metal band.     

I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing:

The Rawhide Kid is one of my favorite comics characters.  Inspired
by Essential Rawhide Kid Vol. 1, which reprints Rawhide Kid #17-35,
I write about the Kid every Wednesday.  There are spoilers ahead.
You have been warned.

The Rawhide Kid #33 [April 1963] has something new and more than a
few things old.  Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers deliver a terrific cover
for this issue, even if the title’s hero is darn near the smallest
figure on it.  It’s so striking it would have worked just as well
without the speech and thought balloons.  But subtle never seemed
to be an approach either publisher Martin Goodman or writer/editor
Stan Lee considered back then.

“The Guns of Jesse James” (13 pages) is the first of three issues
drawn by the legendary Jack Davis of EC Comics fame.  Davis draws
the Rawhide Kid as average in height, which isn’t on model for the
more diminutive hero portrayed by Kirby.  However, other than that,
Davis does a splendid job.  His storytelling is clear, his ability
to draw Marvel-style action is impressive and he draws interesting
faces and expressions.  A different look for my favorite western
hero, but it had a lot going for it.

Stan Lee’s story is another “bad judgment” episode for the Rawhide
Kid.  The story opens with the Kid rescuing a stagecoach from some
owlhoots, only to be fired upon and wounded by the coach’s driver
who thought Rawhide drove off the other robbers because he wanted
to rob the stage himself. 

After digging the bullet out of his shoulder, Rawhide decides that
if he’s going to be treated like an outlaw then he’ll be an outlaw.
Soon thereafter, he joins the Jesse James gang which, conveniently,
had an available position.  Says James, “I’m one man short right
now–-that’s why we’re holed up here! But with you ridin’ with us,
I won’t haveta hide out no more!”

James convinces Rawhide that he and his gang are peace-loving men
who rob from the rich, give to the poor and don’t hurt anyone when
they rob them.  A train robbery soon proves otherwise and the Kid
ends up taking on the whole James gang and earning the admiration
of a railroad station agent.

The Kid’s bad judgment continues.  When he’s called to by the town
sheriff, he shoots the lawman’s rifle out of his hands and flees,
never realizing the sheriff wanted to do him a good turn:

“The station agent told me what happened, and I wanted to take yuh
to the governor, to see if I could arrange a pardon for yuh!  But,
it’s too late now, Kid! Mebbe it’s always been too late!”

This issue’s non-Rawhide Kid story is “There’s a Shoot-Out Comin’!”
(5 pages) by Lee and artist Sol Brodsky.  A big brutish Confederate
soldier who lost his brother in the war lives to avenge himself on
Yankees, especially those in saloons.  Since he doesn’t know which
Yankee “murdered” his kin, he hates them all.

One of the barflies manages to escape to get the town sheriff and
Rebel Rand sees it as an opportunity to shoot another Yankee.  The
angry man fires as soon as he hears the lawman’s voice, his bullet
grazing the sheriff’s head.  Then Rand gets his first good look at
the sheriff.  It’s his brother, who, it turns out, lost his memory
at a result of his war wounds and didn’t know who he was or if he
had a family.  Better yet, the bullet that grazed the sheriff has
restored his memory:

And that was the way of it! The long arm of coincidence had reached
out to save a life and unite two brothers–-and to dampen the fires
of hatred which had been burning in the heart of a man.

As these non-series tales go, this is not one of the better ones.
The “long arm of coincidence” reaches too far for my sensibilities.
The art, while it tells the story and offers some nice action shots
along the way, is mostly stiff.  Amusingly, though, one of the men
in the bar looks like Brodsky, who was one of my first bosses when
I went to work at Marvel.  Sol was a terrific artist.  Heck, he was
terrific at everything he did, but this story’s art is far from his
best work.

“The Gunfighter and the Girl” (5 pages) is the second Rawhide Kid
story in the issue.  Riding through an area where there aren’t any
arrest warrants for him, the Kid stops by a ranch hoping to get a
drink of water and some grub.  He meets and is quite taken by the
rancher’s lovely daughter and the attraction is mutual.  The next
days are described as the happiest of the Kid’s life. 

The Kid figures on starting a new life with the girl and the girl’s
dad is happy for them.  But a ranch hand who also loves the young
lady reminds Rawhide he’s still a wanted man and that’s the life he
might be visiting upon her.  So the Kid plays the bully, acts as if
his main interest is in getting the ranch and deliberately loses a
fight with the ranch hand.  All to make the young woman hate him.
His plan works, though the girl’s father realizes what has actually
happened here:

“Ride easy, son! Some day, I’ll tell Marybelle and Tom the truth
about you! I’ll tell ‘em how it takes lots more courage to lose a
fight than to win one!”

This is at least the third time in the title’s run that Rawhide has
lost a fight to prevent someone from either following in his outlaw
path or becoming romantically involved with him.  The number goes
higher when you consider the times when the Kid takes blame for the
crimes of another to spare that criminal’s family.  But, this time,
it hurts worse than all the other times.
Lee’s final caption of the story:

And the Kid rides on–-never looking back–-but leaving a little
piece of his heart behind him–forever!

While there are only two more issues reprinted in Essential Rawhide
Kid Vol. 1
, I have managed to acquire issues #36-45 of the title.
So we’ll be riding the range with the Rawhide Kid every Wednesday
for several weeks to come.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella