Thursday, July 25, 2013


What Has Gone Before: I’ve been writing about Comic-Con 2013, the
happiest place on Earth.

Preview Night at Comic-Con was all about my figuring out the lay of
the land.  Barb and Eddie walked to the convention center with me
while Giselle and Kelly headed for the hotel pools.  It was great
fun watching Barb and Eddie’s eyes grow wide with amazement as they
got their first looks at the event.

I hadn’t been to Comic-Con in a decade, but it was huge back then.
It was much bigger now, but not so much bigger that I had trouble
navigating the place.  The convention is laid out very well.  You
can avoid the areas in which you have no interest and, by using the
lobbies, get where you want to go easily and where I wanted to go
was, of course, where the comics people were.

The first thing I did was go to the Guest Relations Team booth to
let them know I was at the convention.  I would return two or three
times each day to thank them for all they did for me and my family
during the convention.  I’m still not going to discuss the amazing
perks I got as a special guest, but I literally could not thank the
staff and volunteers enough.  I scored quite a few cool points with
my family because of the Comic-Con crew.

As the convention progressed, I would make it a point to thank the
hired security people as well.  I know some attendees get annoyed
with them, but I thought they did an incredible job of maintaining
security and did it in a helpful and polite manner.  Dealing with
150,000 people even in a facility as big as the convention center
is a hard job.  I hope my words of appreciation for their work made
up for any unpleasantness from others.

When I write about my career in comics, I remind my readers that we
are all the heroes of our own stories.  I try to be as accurate as
humanly possible, but I am not immune from that reality.  However,
when I tell you about my doing nice things for people at Comic-Con,
it’s not so much boasting as sharing my journey with you.

I have been angry - with cause - for too much of my life.  I don’t
want to be that angry guy.  I want to feel good about myself and I
want others to feel good about themselves.  When I thanked anybody
for their good work, it was absolutely sincere.  Most people at the
Comic-Con weren’t going to get the applause I would get during the
event.  As much as possible, I wanted to share that with others.
They should be the heroes of their stories, too.

Whenever somebody wanted me to sign something during Comic-Con, I
found a wall to lean against while I signed it.  Whenever somebody
had questions about my career or comics in general, I sat down to
chat with them.  Whenever I could give someone some encouragement
or even just a smile, I did it.  The smiling came easy.  Indeed, I
don’t think I stopped smiling the entire convention.

I made a conscious decision when I accepted Comic-Con’s invitation
to make the most of this opportunity.  My family has suffered with
me through so many bad times that I wanted to show them the great
parts of my comics world.  I set out to have the best convention of
my life and I achieved that goal.

But I digress...

After taking in the enormity of the convention, the first specific
thing I noticed was the huge promotional bags being worn like back
packs by attendees...and that they came with capes.  Our wonderful
guest relations friends got these bags for us and, while I doubt
I’ll ever wear mine, it’s a very nice reminder of how big Comic-Con
is and how much stuff you can accumulate while you’re there.

The first cosplayer I saw was Sailor Jupiter from the Sailor Moon
anime and manga.  She wasn’t a teenager, but she wore the uniform
well.  Throughout the convention, I would see many fabulous and not
so fabulous costumes...and loved them all.  This is Comic-Con and
if you want to dress as a character, even if your body shape might
not be consistent with that character, more power to you.  You’re
having a good time and you’re not hurting any one and this is your
convention as much as anyone’s.

The first old friend I met was David Campiti, who I have known for
decades and worked with occasionally.  He’s been representing some
great artists in recent years and is involved in the start-up of a
new company.  I never got to visit his booth and learn more about
this venture, but I know he reads this bloggy thing.  Hey, David,
when you get a chance, fill me in on the details.

I did a quick walk around as much of the convention as I could and
then retreated back to the hotel.  Though my feet were fine, I was
still having that burning sensation in my left thigh.  I knew that
I had to get off my feet and soon.

Before I left the convention, I stopped by Randy Reynaldo’s booth.
Randy is the writer/artist/publisher of Rob Hanes Adventures, one
of my favorite independent comics.  His title hero is a modern-day
soldier of fortune and private investigator.  His stories and art
evoke the classic adventure strips of Milton Caniff.  I love this
comic book a lot and was thrilled to get the new issue from Randy.
Look for a review after I wrap up my however-many-blogs-as-it-
takes Comic-Con report.

From Preview Night, the Isabella Gang went to dinner at the hotel’s
Marina Kitchen.  We had a terrific dinner and compared notes on our
first impressions of Comic-Con.

Barb said the convention was much bigger than the Cleveland Auto
Show, which she’d wrongly imagined was a match for Comic-Con.  She
was excited by the convention and already making plans to attend a
few panels besides the ones on which I would be appearing.

Eddie said he was geeking out big time over what he’d already seen
and what he hoped to see in the days to come.  Before we left for
San Diego, he had prepared and printed out a long list of panels he
watched to attend.  I told him and the rest of our merry band not
to feel the least bit guilty if they went to other panels instead
of mine.  After all, they can listen to me anytime.

Kelly and Giselle hadn’t spent much time at the convention yet.  I
think they were preparing themselves mentally for what was clearly
the biggest thing either of them had ever been through.  They went
back to the pools after dinner.

Barb joined them and then called our room telling me I should come
down and soak my feet in the pool hot tub.  Much to my delight and
surprise, after fifteen minutes of this, all the pain disappeared
from my legs and feet.  I was ready to face the first full day of

Normally that would my cue to end today’s bloggy thing and request
you return tomorrow for more Comic-Con stuff.  But, this being as
much a personal journal as a convention report, there’s something
else I want to write about before closing.

While waiting for our table at the Marina Kitchen, I saw an old and
dear friend.  We greeted each other cordially, chatted for a bit,
and then he went to his table.  Later, Giselle looked him up on the
Internet and was impressed by his credentials.

That’s when Tiger Wife Barb explained to the kids that this old and
dear friend of mine had not always treated me right when he was in
a position of power.  In fact, his failure to do the right thing by
me had cost me dearly in many ways.

The kids were amazed that I had been glad to see this man and that
I had greeted him with friendship.  I explained to them that he and
I went back a long time, that he had done me many kindnesses before
our relationship got complicated and that, since he was no longer
in a position to help or hurt me, I wasn’t going to let all the bad
stuff outweigh the good stuff he’d had over the years.  I may just
be projecting what I wanted their reaction to be - we are, as I’ve
said many times, all the heroes of our own stories - but I suspect
they were impressed with my attitude.

I’m a forgiving man, though it may not always seem that way when I
write about the bad stuff in the comics field.  Of late, as much as
I can, I try to let go of old angers.

If people who have wronged me in the past make the slightest effort
to make amends for those wrongs, I’m agreeable.  Sometimes I don’t
even need them to do that.  When you have as wonderful a life as I
do, you can and should be generous.  That’s the kind of guy I want
to be.  That’s the goal I work towards every day.

There are people whose political views make me want to vomit, but
I try to get pass that as long as they don’t throw those obnoxious
views in my face or post them on my Facebook page.  There are folks
who have behaved in incredibly insulting and rude manner towards me
or people I care about.  If...they...just...stop...that...crap, I
think I can be cordial to them.  If they don’t, I’m happy to ignore
them if they ignore me.  It’s a big comics world and there’s room
enough for all of us.

Self-reflection.  I didn’t expect to be going there when I started
writing this extended Comic-Con report.  Blogging is the damn free
market of the psyche.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more Comic-Con stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. And that's why we love you.

  2. Tony,

    You don't know me from Adam, but your work in comics has often delighted me and made my life more enjoyable. So, thanks for that.

    I'm a regular reader of your blog and just wanted to tell you that I'm happy for you that you are working every day to be a better, more appreciative, and less angry guy. As part of my Buddhist practice, I work at the same kinds of self-improvement (though being Buddhist isn't a requirement to do so) so, I know it isn't easy. But the rewards are terrific!

    Looking forward to reading more of your Comic-Con experience!

    Sean Ruprecht-Belt

  3. I've been a fan of Randy's ROB HANES ADVENTURES for years. I have a copy of every issue, plus TPBs of earlier material. He is the one creator whose table I make sure I visit every year that I attend SDCC. I know he was excited to tell me that he had been recently interviewed for WIRED magazine, so folks should keep an eye out for that. Randy's one of the nicest guys I know and deserves more recognition for his book.

    We've all had folks who have wronged us in the past and while I have little to do with them now (being a few thousand miles away) I have tried to put past hurts behind me. I'm in such a better place now that it's hard to recall those bitter times. You're a good person and deserve the rewards that life has handed you.