Monday, August 5, 2013


Editor and comics historian Jon B. Cooke has returned to TwoMorrows
with the quarterly Comic Book Creator.  If this were a quiz, that
would be the answer to the question “How could TwoMorrows possibly
get any better than it already is?”

Comic Book Creator #1 [Spring, 2013; $8.95] includes a great peace
on “The Mexican Sunset of Frank Robbins” by Michael Aushenker.  The
article covers the career of one of my favorite collaborators, but
focuses on Frank’s retirement in Mexico.  This article alone would
have me recommending Comic Book Creator #1.


In writing about Frank’s coming to Marvel Comics after a long stint
with DC Comics, Aushenker doesn’t have the real story.  Here’s what
I wrote about this back on January 14, 2010:

I was partly responsible for Robbins coming to Marvel. At the time,
I was the editor of about half of the companies' black-and-white
magazines. I got a phone call from a friend who was on staff at DC
Comics. I won't tell you who. But, yes, you would most certainly
recognize his name if I did tell you.

I was told Frank was having trouble with some bigwigs at DC. As
best as I can recollect, it was someone wanting Frank to take a
page rate cut and trying to force his acquiescence by cutting back
on Frank's DC work. My friend knew I was a huge Robbins fan and so
called me on Frank's behalf. Going way over my pay grade, I told my
friend that Marvel would have plenty of work for Frank. Then I
sheepishly walked into editor-in-chief Roy Thomas' office to tell
him what I had just done.

Luckily, I was far from the only huge Robbins fan at Marvel. Roy
loved his work. John Romita loved his work. Heck, everybody loved
his work.

When I first spoke to Frank, I wanted him to both write and draw
for my black-and-white magazines. But he didn't want to write, just
pencil. We did discuss a series he'd created about (I think)
intelligent dinosaurs. I wanted it for Monsters Unleashed, but he
was immediately given so much work on the color comics that I never
got to use him on any of my black-and-whites. I did get to work
with him on Ghost Rider and Captain America, thoroughly enjoying
our collaboration and friendship.

In Aushenker’s version, Frank cold-called Marvel production master
John Verpooten and asked if Marvel could use him.  John, being as
smart a guy as any, told Frank to come right over.  I’m not going
to say Frank didn’t call John after being told by both myself and
Roy that Marvel would have plenty of work for him, but it would’ve
been after the initial phone call from the DC staffer.

Consider this setting the record straight.

Getting back to Comic Book Creator #1, the magazine is 84 pages of
comics goodness.  Cooke’s “Kirby’s Kingdom” is an even-handed look
at Jack’s career, influence, inspiration and, sadly, lack of proper
recognition and reward for his amazing comic-book creators and co-
creations.  Prepare to be staggered by how much movies based on
comics created or co-created by Jack Kirby have earned without any
portion of that going to his family.

There are also articles and/or interviews with such comics greats
as Derf (My Friend Dahmer), Alex Ross, Kurt Busiek, Todd McFarlane,
Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams.  There’s a remembrance of Les Daniels,
a comic strip by Fred Hembeck, and a Shawna Gore piece on how the
Arts Rights Society can help comics creators.  The interviews are
conversational in tone, the articles are informative without ever
being stuffy.  It’s an entertaining magazine that readers will also
learn from.  I recommend it highly.


Comic Book Creator fills me with joy.  Entertainment Weekly (August
9, 2013) fills me with sadness.  The mag’s list of “the 50 coolest,
most creative entertainers blowing up TV, movies, music and books”
does not include a single comic-book person.

Just as bad...EW’s “B+” review of 2 Guns does not deign to mention
the movie starring Denzel Washington and Mark Walberg is based on
the five-issue comics series written by Steven Grant and published
by Boom! Studios in 2007.

Disrespecting comics, EW? That earns this issue an “F”.  Which is
just the first letter of my actual comment to you.


Going forward...

If you enjoyed all those vintage comic-book covers I was running in
this bloggy thing of mine, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer
for their return.  I’m going to be focusing on reviews of comics,
books and movies for a couple weeks...with the occasional side trip
into comics history and social commentary.

Our “Rawhide Kid Wednesdays” will resume this week.  It’ll be good
to get back in the saddle again.

At both Comic-Con and PulpFest, I was asked if I still review comic
books and other things...and if the person asking this could send
me review copies of this or that.  The answer to both parts of the
question is...yes.

I can never guarantee a review, much less a favorable review, but
I will always do my best to read whatever you send me and consider
it for coverage here or in my weekly “Tony’s Tips” columns for the
Tales of Wonder website.  However...

I will only review items mailed to me.  It’s awkward for me to try
to review anything from PDFs or websites.  When I write about some
comic or other item, it’s right next to me on my desk so that I can
easily refer to it.  I’m comfortable with this working method and
I’m sticking with it.

My mailing address is:

Tony Isabella
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

As often as possible, I’ll be posting bonus mini-features for your
edification and entertainment.

Thanks to all the readers who had such kind words for me at Comic-
Con and PulpFest.  Thanks to all of you who send me kind words via
this bloggy thing, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.  I hope you have
as much fun reading it as I do writing it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. I'm not seeing this as a Comment Free Zone, so I'm going to take a chance and post something. Mr. Isabella, if I have erred in this, please remove the post with my blessings.

    Considering how many profitable movies and TV shows are springing from comic-book sources, it seems strange that EW would ignore them.

    On the other hand, something like Red and Red 2 that owe only minimal elements to the comic-book original, I can forgive being ignored.

    Considering how cinematic much of Ellis' stuff is, I'm surprised he doesn't get more Hollywood work.

  2. I just wished Robbins could have inked some of his art at Marvel. Frank Springer was a sympathetic match but never had the outright boldness, the verve of Robbins, and Colleta was perhaps the worse person for the job. I'm sure most people would say that's always the case but it was particularly so in this one. At DC I think Robbins got to ink all of his art. Too bad they got stingy, but good for you and Marvel