Monday, April 15, 2013
HOORAY FOR HUNTINGTON
I’m back from hiatus to tell you about my son Eddie’s and my road
trip to Huntington, West Virginia and Tricon, the Tri-State Comic-
Con. The event took place on Saturday, April 6, at the Big Sandy
Superstore Arena. I picked up Eddie at his house in Marietta, Ohio
and, from there, we drove a couple hours to Huntington, the home of
the Marshall University Thundering Herd, and, of course, also the
home of the man who brings the thunder and lightning to everything
he does, comicdom’s own Beau Smith. Seeing my old pal Beau was one
of many great things about Tricon.
The Big Sandy Superstore Arena is a very cool facility. It’s big
enough for a good-sized convention or, as on the night before the
convention, a Willie Nelson concert. Eric Watkins and the rest of
the Tricon promoters and volunteers did a great job of making the
fans and the guests feel welcome.
There were over a dozen comics and media guests at the convention,
dozens of vendors (including several comics publishers), dozens of
cosplayers and a couple thousand attendees. I got to spend a bit
of quality time with Beau, Billy Tucci and Steve Scott and fandom
buddy Hoy Murphy. I even managed to make the rounds long enough to
say hi to Duane Swierczynski and express my admiration for his work
on IDW’s ongoing Godzilla series.
I sold and signed several copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read
and signed other Isabella-written items. Eddie hit the vendor tables and
came away with about a hundred bucks worth of swag, mostly anime-
related. He also attended and enjoyed the “Writing the Relaunch”
panel with Swierczynski and Robert Venditti.
There were several outstanding cosplayers at the show. My favorite
was a Dalek suit with all the bells and whistles. Also represented
were Catwoman, Hawkgirl, Iron Man, Harley Quinn, Batman, Riddler,
Wonder Woman, Sally Jupiter, Deadpool, some darling junior versions
of Supergirl and Robin and, of course, Beau Smith, a man so awesome
he is often mistaken for an action figure.
The wisest thing I said at Tricon was probably what I told a young
writer: “It’s better to be the writer and owner of your own comic
book than the 407th writer on Spider-Man.”
Eddie and I had a great time at Tricon and we hope to return there
next year. After the show, we fueled up at Five Guys and a Burger
and headed back to Marietta. With Eddie not feeling like watching
basketball and the Cleveland Indians taking a drubbing, we watched
Airplane!, a fine funny film that can still makes me laugh out loud
more than 30 years after I first saw it...“Flying a plane is no
different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball
cards in the spokes.”
It was a fun weekend. My thanks to Tricon for inviting me and for
making my time in Huntington so pleasant.
And now that I know where Beau Smith lives...
Writer Chris Charlton stopped by my Tricon table to give me Black
of Heart #1 [Assailant Comics; $4.99]. Set in Brooklyn after World
War II, it’s a chilling tale of a homicide detective with a broken
marriage and the serial killer he’s trying to catch. The killer is
a particularly creepy sort, the kind of insane murderer we see on
TV’s Criminal Minds every week. However, placing that killer in a
time far (but not too far) away, a time when law enforcement didn’t
have the technological tools or psychiatric knowledge of present-
day investigators and profilers, gives the story a freshness that
has me eager for the second issue.
Artist David Hollenbach gives the visual an appropriately sinister
atmosphere with an impressive command of his blacks, greys and odd
splash of red. It remains me of the better wash tones the black-
and-white horror magazines only occasionally achieved back in the
1970s. Of course, for all I know, Hollenbach manages this on his
computer, but the end result is that it looks great.
You can order Black of Heart #1 and other Assailant Comics titles
via the publisher’s website.
Bad Place Productions editor Jonathan Hodges gave me a review copy
of The Serial Squad! #3 [$3.99], which is written and drawn by my
friend Paul E. Schultz. This is a fun adventure series set during
World War II in which the stars of movie serials, their abilities
augmented by clever devices, battle Nazis. Schultz’s storytelling
is lively, but his writing and art could use a little fine tuning.
The writing could benefit from some “What Has Gone Before” info for
new and old writers and a little more clarity when it comes to who
is who. The art could benefit from color or perhaps some greys to
make the black-and-white look a tad fuller. Even so, I get a kick
out of this series.
Hodges also gave a digest-size comic featuring a preview of “Coming
of the Congo King,” the next Serial Squad adventure. An intriguing
element of the preview is that an actor starring in a movie series
has figured out that it’s the actual serial actors doing the great
deeds of the Serial Squad. He wants in on that action and acclaim
and is trying to organize other stars like himself into a group he
calls the Hollywood Heroes. I’m looking forward to seeing how the
The Serial Squad strikes me as a property that could easily rise to
a new level of success if it could be put into the hands of movie
buffs who love the serials of the 1940s. People of my generation
are living longer and, when we have money, we aren’t the least bit
shy about spending it on items that trigger our nostalgia impulses.
It’s a market the comics industry should not ignore.
To order copies of The Serial Squad!, visit the Bad Place website.
Tell him Tony sent you.
One closing note. I’ll be mentioning this a few more times between
now and Free Comic Book Day, but I will be appearing at Carol and
John’s Comic Book Shop on that most stellar of holidays. The shop
is located at Kamm’s Plaza, 17462 Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.
That’s Saturday, May 4, and I’ll be signing from 3-6 pm. John says
the first 100 people who show up for my appearance will get a free
copy of Essential Marvel Horror Volume 2, which reprints a number
of my 1970s stories. What a swell deal!
For my Medina readers who came here expecting to read my thoughts
on the current crisis with our city schools and about my past run-
ins with superintendent Randy Stepp, that has been pushed back to
Thursday. I wasn’t happy with my first draft of the piece and want
to take a little extra time to get it right.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella