Friday, July 26, 2013


Previously in “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing”: Comic-Con is big.  I
mean, really big.  You may think that thing at the Javitz Center in
New York is big, but it’s a pint-size piece of crap next to Comic-
Con.  This report and personal journal will run longer than Comic-
Con. That probably says something about me.

We’ll start today’s entry with a confession.  Knowing that I would
be writing about Comic-Con in this bloggy, I took extensive notes
on Wednesday.  I didn’t do that the rest of the convention because
I was having too much fun.

Even in the excitement of seeing old friends for the first time in
decades and meeting online friends for the first time and meeting
new friends, you would think I could remember wee things like what
days I saw them.  I don’t, at least not with the accuracy I shoot
for in these bloggy things of mine.

However, I do have the list of people I wanted to see and booths I
wanted to visit.  The list was prepared on Wednesday night of the
convention after I went through the events guide shown above.  So,
working from that, I’ll randomly tell you about some of the people
I got to spend time with during Comic-Con.

I’ll also keep mentioning that Janet Goggins, the guest relations
coordinator for Comic-Con, and her astonishing crew and volunteers
are some of the best, kindest and most efficient people I have ever
worked with.  Running a stellar event like Comic-Con takes stellar
people.  The convention is lucky to have them.

My Thursday started with my first full walk through the convention
center.  With the exception of Artists' Alley, most of what I wanted
to check out was accessible through lobbies A through C.  Artists'
Alley was accessible through lobby G. The panels were on the second
level.  “The Sails” was between the two halves of the panel area.
It was a big open space which held the autograph area, a number of
exhibits, freebie tables, the art show and more.

The San Diego Convention Center has many food places and restrooms.
While the food places inside the exhibit halls were often crowded,
there were plenty of small places in the lobbies.  Getting a drink
or a nosh was never a problem.

As for the restrooms, a concern ever since I experienced the filth
of the Javitz Center, the San Diego Convention Center has lots of
them and their maintenance crews did a mighty good job keeping up
with the cleaning of facilities used by fans too excited about the
convention to aim properly.  Such things have become more important
to me now that I’m in my 60s.

The first stop in the exhibit area was the Comic Outpost TV booth.
To quote from the letter they sent me: Comic Outpost is the most
fabulously fun comic shop in San Francisco. Comic Outpost TV is a
live interview program that does what no other comic shop has done:
made a variety show, where fun and production value are not
mutually exclusive. We want you to be a part of Comic Outpost TV!”

Comic Outpost TV wanted to do a live interview with me on Thursday
at 1:30 pm.  I agreed.  However, when I went to their booth to make
sure everything was still set for that interview, they were having
technical difficulties.  We rescheduled for Sunday.

I wandered the exhibit hall for a couple hours, chatting with old
friends.  I had my usual conversation with Chuck Rozanski of Mile
High Comics.  Chuck is one of my favorite comics people and he is
crazy smart.  We usually talk more about people than comics, but,
later in the show, when I introduced him to Barb, he kindly took a
few minutes to explain to her how they construct the mammoth Mile
High display and break it down.

I went to the Cartoonists Across America booth and talked with my
friend Phil Yeh, who does a truly remarkable job preaching comics
and literacy across the country and world.  Phil gave me the latest
issue of Uncle Jam, a magazine devoted to health, books, the arts
and travel.

I had conversations with Batton Lash, creator of Supernatural Law.
I’d contributed to his latest Kickstarter campaign and, as per his
request, stopped by to pick up the book with an original sketch in
the book.  Except he hadn’t finished the drawing before Comic-Con.
It will now cost him postage to send it to me, but I got the bonus
of spending time with Batton.  While hanging out at his Exhibit A
Press, I chatted with Arlen Schumer, a contributor to Alter Ego and
The Jack Kirby Collector. When Arlen commented on Batton’s spiffy
attire, which included bright red socks, my response was:

“Batton is the Jim Steranko of our generation.”

Fun conversations, good times.

I saw Rick Geary, expressed my admiration for his work, and bought
an autographed book from him.

Men of Action is an interesting creative endeavor that writes many
things, including the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon show that airs on
Disney XD on Sunday mornings.  From their website:

With a proven track record in Film, Television, Comics, Online, and
Video Games, four of the comic book industry's most innovative
professionals have consolidated their considerable talents and
resources to form MAN OF ACTION, a Development/Production House
dedicated to writing, conceptualizing and developing work of
exceptional quality, commercial viability, and explosive

Whew! I chatted with Steven T. Seagle, who answered my questions on
how they write the Spider-Man cartoons.  I’m not a big fan of the
“Writers Room” method of producing stories, but Men of Action does
it as well or better than anyone.  Since I’m enjoying the cartoons,
I’m not gonna quibble about how they’re written.

I stopped by the TwoMorrows booth a couple of times to say hello to
publisher John Morrow and thank him for the review copies he sends
my way.  I kept missing him at the booth, but we did speak before
and after Sunday’s Jack Kirby Tribute Panel.

I also missed Dan Parent, at both the Archie Comics booth and his own
table in Artists Alley. Luckily, we ended up at the same table for
the Eisner Awards.

I looked for and found my former Comics Buyer’s Guide editor Brent
Frankenhoff and we made plans to have breakfast with the wondrous
Maggie Thompson, also one of my former CBG editors, sometime during
the weekend.

One of the few panels I managed to attend was “The Sergio and Mark
Show” starring Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier and Stan Sakai, three
of the most talented and nicest people in comics.  They bantered,
they updated the audience on their various projects and entertained
us all mightily.  There was a beautiful and telling moment when the
great Aragones, talking about his recent back surgery and how much
he missed working and being at Comic-Con, got a little emotional.
It was a real thing and I’m glad I was there for it.

While I was doing this and that, I only had the dimmest notion what
the other members of the Isabella Bunch were doing.  Barb mentioned
how fascinated she was by the Lego display and the Lego images of
the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Eddie was attending a bunch of
anime and manga events.  Kelly and Giselle were enjoying Marriott
amenities while preparing to attend the Teen Wolf panel.  Everyone
was having a great time.

I was scheduled to appear on a blogging panel later that evening,
so I decided a short rest back at the hotel would be a good thing.
However, on my way out, I passed the Papercutz booth and spotted my
dear friend Jim Salicrup, who I worked with at both Marvel Comics
and Topps Comics.

Jim and I talked about old times and new.  We talked about some of
the fine books he’s publishing under the Papercutz label.  Sadly,
he had something scheduled and we only got to talk for about half
a hour.  As happens at conventions, I never saw him the rest of the
weekend.  But we stay in touch with each other and I’ll see him on
the trip to New York I plan to take later this year or very early
next year.

In the hotel walking towards the elevator, I ran into Dan Jurgens,
the fine artist and writer.  He chatted for a spell and, while we
were talking, Brian Michael Bendis did a drive-by handshake.  Brian
is another Ohio boy, though he hasn’t lived in the area for a good
many years.  He and I never did manage to connect over the rest of
Comic-Con.  That’s always a regret of mine at conventions, that I
never get a chance to spend enough or even any time with creators
and friends I like and admire.

In a related drive-by handshake, related because it happened to my
son, Eddie ran into Stan Lee in the hotel.  Stan was on his way to
something, but stopped long enough for Eddie to introduce himself,
tell Stan he was my son and say how honored he was to meet the man
who inspired his dad’s comics career.  Stan was Stan and, you know,
that’s enough for me.  I think the world of my former boss.

I’m talking two days off from blogging to attend PulpFest, but I’ll
be back on Monday with the rest of my Thursday report.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. It was so great seeing you, Tony -- glad you found time to stop by the booth!

  2. Hopefully you will also follow up with PulpFest blogs.

  3. I will, indeed, be doing PulpFest reports after I complete the Comic-Con series.

  4. What a whirlwind! One thing I would like to ask you about is your opinion/knowledge of the Ninjago characters owned by Lego, as you mention that you are good friends with Jim Salicrup. (I am not sure what your knowledge of Lego is. If you already know what I am about to write, please forgive me. Ninjago is/was one of Lego's product lines. The have other lines, such as Star Wars, Marvel and DC superheroes, The Hobbit, and non-licensed stuff like Lego City and Lego Creator. Anyways, Ninjago was a surprise hit for Lego. My understanding is that it was their 3rd most profitable line while it was in production (in terms of Lego brick sales). Graphic novels featuring the Ninjago characters are PaperCutz's best-selling items. 3 seasons of a animated TV show were produced. Scores of T-shirts, pyjamas, and other merchandise were made. New Ninjago Lego sets and cartoon episodes are no longer being produced, but stores still have sets remaining on the shelves, and the cartoons are played in re-run.

    Do you know who created these characters? Ninjago has a well-developed backstory and gallery of villains. Do you know if the people who created them get any kind of royalties?

  5. I believe that will be the first and only time Steranko and I will be mentioned in the same breath! You are entirely too kind, Tony (not that I don't love it!). Good seeing you and I will get that book & sketch to you, stat!