Thursday, January 17, 2013

REVIEW-O-RAMA

“Thanks for the memories, Comics Buyer’s Guide. I give today’s news
of the paper folding 0 Tonys.”
- Chris Ryall

Back in the day, when reviewing comics and other things for CBG, I
used to rate them on a scale of zero to five Tonys. Each review was
followed by the appropriate number of drawings of my disembodied
but smiling head.  Readers liked them and the only reason I dropped
them was because I got tired of doing the math.

Was that comic worth three or four Tonys? Maybe it was worth three
and a quarter Tonys.  Who am I? Rain Man?

I eventually decided my time was better spent writing the reviews
and trusting my readers to decide if, based on what I had written,
the items were worth their hard-earned cash.  With some sadness, I
bid adieu to my floating Tony heads.

But, to give props to the Remarkable Ryall, who does many terrific
things in service of IDW, his harkening back to those days brought
a smile to my face in a lousy week.  Thanks, Chris.

This seems like a good place to start the reviews...

Alter Ego is my favorite comics magazine.  I don’t love it in the
way I loved CBG, but A/E is cherished nonetheless.  Edited by Roy
Thomas, whose minor claim to fame is that he hired me to come and
work at Marvel Comics and whose major claims to fame dwarf mine by
the hundreds, the magazine is fascinating, informative and, most of
all, great fun for anyone interested in comics history.

Alter Ego #114 [TwoMorrows; $8.95] spotlights three “Timely/Marvel
titans”: Don Rico, Allen Bellman and Martin Goodman.  Rico was an
artist, writer and editor for Marvel and other outfits in the 1940s
through the 1970s.  He is represented by two interviews, one which
hails from 1977 and the other an interview with his wife, actress
Michele Hart.  Of the two, I liked the latter better.

The Rico interview was conducted by Dr. Ronald Levitt Lanyi for The
Journal of Popular Culture
.  Uncultured as I am, I am prone to both
quick annoyance and boredom when academia comes a’knocking on the
door of the comics art form. Lanyi’s questions struck me as leading
and stodgy, as if he had preconceived the answers which Rico should
have given to his questions.  Rico’s answers are worth reading and
very knowledgeable, but the interview never brings its subject to
life.  It was disappointing.

Not so Dewey Casell’s interview with Michele Hart.  The lady leaps
from the pages as a real live genuine person and she brings Rico to
life as well.  Her colorful career is impressive, but she shines
when she talks about her husband.  I love when an interview reveals
the human side of comics greats.

Thankfully, Golden Age artist Allen Bellman is still with us.  This
multiple-part interview with him confirms what those who have been
lucky enough to meet him at conventions have told me.  He’s a great
guy full of wonderful memories of his time in comics and more than
willing to share them with the fans.

Rounding out the cover-blurbed trio, Ger Apeldoorn writes about a
relatively unknown part of Timely/Marvel publisher Martin Goodman’s
life.  Goodman had a brief career in Broadway show business as the
backer and producer of at least one Broadway play and perhaps two.
Neither was a success, but I enjoyed reading about them.  Clearly,
there was a lot of money to be made from comic books in the 1940s
and early 1950s...and Goodman apparently spent some of his comics-
gotten gains on the Great White Way.

There’s lots of other cool stuff in this issue as well: an Invaders
story that never was, Michael T. Gilbert on Charles Atlas, amusing
Last Kiss cartoons by John Lustig, the secret inspiration for one
of the great Marvel villains, several pages of a Captain Video tale
drawn by George Evans and tributes to John Celardo, Tony DeZuniga
and Ernie Chan. That adds up to 84 full-color pages and a magazine
every comics history buff should read.

******************************

There are reviewers who go to their friendly neighborhood comics
shop every Wednesday, immediately read whatever they picked up at
the shop and, fighting exhaustion, immediately write and post their
reviews of these comics.  I never read those reviewers, unless, of
course they’re reviewing something I wrote.

I read comic-book titles in batches, several issues and sometimes
several years at a pop.  This week, I read Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 9
#8-16 [Dark Horse; $2.99 per issue]. 

I didn’t care for what Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 became or,
to be more accurate, I absolutely hated it.  I’m certain I uttered
words like “dumb” and “moronic” at the time, though I never accused
series-runner Joss Whedon of destroying my childhood so I get some
points for that.

Season 9 has grown on me as it deals with the consequences of that
previous season.  Sometimes it gets more than a little silly, like
when Andrew transplants Buffy’s consciousness into a robot Buffy in
a misguided attempt to protect her from something or another, but,
mostly, there’s some intriguing stuff here.  Zombie vampires.  The
cops realizing they need to learn how to deal with zombie vampires.
Former slayers being sought after as bodyguards.  Some disturbing
Wolfram and Hart stuff.  Solid stories with good-to-very good art
and starring recognizable characters from the TV series.  I can’t
ask for more than that.  Recommended.

******************************

I wrote this for Tuesday’s blog and thought it was clear...

I do plan to write more reviews for this bloggy thing of mine...and
give priority to review items sent to me by creators, editors and
publishers.  As always, those creators, editors and publishers are
more than welcome to use my reviews of their comics and other items
to promote them.

Review items can be sent to me at: Tony Isabella, 840 Damon Drive,
Medina OH 44256.  If you need to get in touch with me for whatever
reason, you can e-mail me and I’ll respond to your message as soon
as possible. 

...until I got an e-mail asking for an explanation.  Okay, let me
try this again.  “Priority” means that most review items will go to
the top of my reading pile.  Depending on my schedule, prose books
and movies might have to put aside for a few days.

Being at the top of my reading pile doesn’t guarantee a review of
the item.  I’ll give every item a fair shot, but if it doesn’t grab
me, it doesn’t grab me. 

Sometimes, I read something and find I just don’t have anything to
say about it.  This blog isn’t the essay question you try to bluff
your way through with bullshit.  It’s meant to entertain and inform
my readers...and to please yours truly.

“Send to me” at the address given means just that.  I have to have
something I can hold in my hands while reading and put on my desk
for easy access while I write about it. 

Neither my CBG column nor this blog has been dependent on getting
review copies for some time now.  I always have something to write
about.  But, if you’d really like me to see your work and perhaps
review it, you have to send it to me.    

I’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

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