Friday, January 4, 2013


Misinformation travels through the comics industry faster than shit
through a diarrhetic goose. That’s the moral of my opening segment
today. I will elaborate.

I was chatting with an industry acquaintance recently.  During the
conversation, he mentioned having heard about a project I would’ve
been perfect for.  However, he didn’t recommend me for it because
he knew I didn’t do work-for-hire anymore.

To which I replied, “Huh?”

My most recent comics writing was the six-issue Grim Ghost series
for Atlas.  Not only was that work-for-hire, it was work-for-hire
where I won’t get any money from any reprints of my stories.  The
publisher - the cute and cuddly Jason Goodman - was very generous
with contributor copies of the issues, but that was the only perk
outside of proving to myself that I could still write great comics
in a timely manner and my satisfaction with the finished product.
Please forgive my immodesty.

Besides that example of my doing work-for-hire you know about, I’ve
been an occasional assistant on several newspaper comic strips in
recent years.  That’s work-for-hire and anonymous work-for-hire at
that.  So, naturally, I wondered where my acquaintance had gotten
the idea that I don’t ever do work-for-hire.

He couldn’t remember.  At the comics publishers he frequents, this
misinformation seemed to him to be common belief.  He never gave it
much thought.  Which isn’t remotely on him.

Some comics editors and publishers lie about freelancers when
it suits either their meanness of spirit or some other mysterious
purpose.  Sometimes they don’t know better.  There are editors who
only know me from slanderous stories passed down by folks who are
far from good and honest people.  Not much I can do about that sans
the resources to hire lawyers or a PR firm.

To set the record straight...

I do work-for-hire.  I’m not actively pursuing it, but I don’t have
anything against it if it would be something I would enjoy doing,
if it was something I felt I could do well, if it was something I
could do without being reduced to an editor’s typist and if there
was a decent contract/paycheck involved. 

I don’t have a flat rate for work-for-hire.  I don’t expect every
company to pay as well as DC or Marvel.  I do expect to be treated
with respect.  I do expect to be allowed to write in my own voice
and not following the edicts of the group-think that so often rules
the comics industry.  I do expect clients to do what they agree to
do, just as they should expect me to do what I agree to do.  It’s
basic stuff.  Do right by me and I’m a pussycat.

Obviously, I would prefer to own whatever I write.  Who wouldn’t?
But, if I’m working on something I didn’t create, I’m totally fine
with not owning it.

As I said, I’m not actively pursuing projects, though I can easily
make time for them.  So let’s leave it at this:

If you want to work with me, be it on any basis, whether work-for-
hire or otherwise, contact me.  I will listen to whatever you have
in mind.  Nothing should be considered off the table when it comes
to preliminary discussions.  I’ll look at what you want me to do.
I’ll figure out if it’s something I can/want to do.  I’ll get back
to you promptly. No harm, no foul, no drama.

I’m too busy for drama.  But I do hate those damn geese.


The life of an important comics creator gets the graphic biography
treatment in Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to
Comic Book Pioneer
by Trina Robbins with artists Anne Timmons and
Mo Oh [Graphic Universe/Lerner; $7.95].  The book is clearly aimed
towards younger readers, but it’s a terrific read no matter how old
you are.
Lily Renee Wilheim was 14 years old when the Nazis marched into her
home town of Vienna. She and her Jewish family found themselves in
increasingly diminished and dangerous circumstances.  Barely ahead
of the start of the war between England and Germany, she escaped to
England and, from there, to the United States and reunion with her
parents.  These are some of the most chilling moments in her story.

Even in England, Renee is classified as a “foreign alien” and almost
incarcerated.  In America, having never read a comic book until she
and her mother by two of them, she went to work for Fiction House
and was hired as an assistant.  Before long, she was drawing comics
and one of the company’s most popular artists. 

That’s the short version. Robbins tells it much better than that.
She gives readers a real sense of the dangers Renee faced and the
vast difference between Austria and England and the United States.
She gives us a real sense of who Renee is.  It’s a thrilling tale
and an inspirational one.

Not up on your 1930s and 1940s culture? Don’t worry. Following the
graphic biography portion of the book, there’s a way spiffy section
of articles on subjects ranging from concentration and internment
camps to automats and other comics-drawing women.  It’s a wonderful
volume for anyone interested in comics history and especially for
young female readers. 

One more note on this. Comicdom really needs a Best of Lily Renee
collection. I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

ISBN 978-0-7613-8114-3

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. That sounds really good , Tony.
    Lily had an extraordinary Life. i'll look for the book...~john,california
    (i've made a note.)

  2. My daughter checked it out from the library. She loved it.

  3. Thanks for the great review, Tony! It so happens that I have put together a collection of Lily's Fiction House comics. Look for it later in 2013.