Wednesday, September 16, 2015


This is the second chapter of my report on Indy Pop Con 2015 and the first chapter in which my title makes no sense. Yesterday’s “A New Hope” worked because I mentioned the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. But, for today’s “The Empire Strikes Back,” I got nothing. Maybe some appropriate tie-in will emerge sometime during this bloggy thing.

Indy Pop Con was Friday through Sunday, June 26-28, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. I had a great time at the show. One of the coolest moments was when artist Wil Brendel came over to my table to present me with the Tony Isabella trading card he had drawn for the convention. I was amazed, delighted and surprised. I hadn’t known Indy Popcon was doing this.

Various local artists were called upon to created a set of 32 cards featuring Indy Pop Con guests or events. The cards were available at the tables of the artists who drew them. The idea was for fans to try to collect the entire set by visiting these artists at the tables. What a great idea!

Whenever I could get away from my own table, I went hunting for the cards. My friend Stephan Friedt, who was also my “handler” for the show, helped me fill in some gaps. Alas, by the end of the event, I was still missing a few cards.

I need Indy Pop Con cards #1, 3, 18, and 23. If anyone has extras of these cards, let’s talk purchase or trade.

Brendel is a terrific artist. He gave me a crazed “manga” look that tickled me. It made me consider a new career as a character in an anime. Maybe Peter Spellos, who I wrote about yesterday, could do the voice for the character. Interested studios should contact me. I work cheap.

I told the convention promoters how surprised I was at being carded in this manner. They were surprised that I was surprised. Someone was supposed to have contacted me for permission to use my image. They began to apologize profusely. I told them they had nothing to be concerned about. I loved being on a trading card. What kind of jerk wouldn’t be thrilled to be honored thus?

One of the random entries I made in my convention notebook suggests I have a large Black Lightning poster made to serve as a backdrop for my future convention booths and tables. But, since Brendel gave me a large print of my trading card, I think I’m going to go with that instead. I’ll have more to say about Wil tomorrow.

Moving right along...

It was great to finally meet my Facebook friend Kevin Bachelder. He  founded and runs the Fans of Syfy Original Movies group, which is one of my favorite places on Facebook. We would be appearing on a panel together on Saturday.

Indy Pop Con offered fans a wide variety of entertainments during the course of the event. I counted over 80 panels or presentations in the areas of anime, comics, cosplay, fandom, gaming, movies and more. Not included in my rough tally are the dozens of full-length movies, shorts and fan films that were screened over the weekend. There were celebrity and fan gatherings. There was a vast exhibitor hall filled with artists, celebrities and vendors offering comics, crafts, movies, original art and all manner of astonishing items. Whatever your fan interests, you could find it represented at this convention.

It takes more than fantastic guests, interesting presentations and wondrously cool stuff to make a great show. It takes a village of volunteers to put it all together and keep all the diverse elements working in concert. At every turn, I found the Indy Pop Con staff to be unfailingly friendly and helpful. The more conventions that I attend, the older I get, the more I appreciate the dedication and hard work of such volunteers.

The exhibitors room was open from 2-8 on Friday night. During that time, my booth was visited by old friends I hadn’t seen in years, as well as online friends I had never met in person. I answered a whole bunch of questions about my past work while being annoyingly coy about my future projects.

I signed hundreds of comic books and other items over the weekend. As always, I signed more copies of Black Lightning than any other Isabella comic books, but I also signed quite a few issues of the Champions, Ghost Rider, Hawkman, Justice Machine and others. I sold a copy of Black Lightning #2 (the 1970s series) to a gentleman who  had originally bought that issue off a spinner rack when he was a youngster. It’s always humbling to hear how much my creation meant to readers, especially readers of color.

Another of my random entries in my convention journal details the concept for and a working schedule for a book of essays I want to start work on once I finish writing my forthcoming memoir-of-sorts. The concept will almost certainly go through some changes before I complete my current book, but I think this other book has the potential to get people talking and thinking about the world of comic books and the worlds beyond comic books.

At one point, a bagpipe player made his way through the aisles of the exhibitors and artists hall. He played beautifully, just one of those odd convention moments that stays with you.

I found Waldo, though it could have been a Waldo cosplayer. I told him I had been looking for him for years. Because I’m sure he never heard that before.

I met comics writer Troy Brownfield, whose work has appeared in a bunch of titles from Dynamite and Zenescope. He and I would talk on several occasions during the weekend and, when there was an opening on a panel I would be moderating, I added him to it. I look forward to reading some of Troy’s work in the near future.

I had a long conversation with a Dan DeCarlo fan. DeCarlo was, of course, one of the great comics artists of our time. Working with Stan Lee, DeCarlo did charming, funny and sexy work for Millie the Model and other Marvel comics of the 1950s and 1960s. At Archie, for decades, he set the style for Betty and Veronica and the rest of the Riverdale teens. Also at Archie, he created Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina the Teenage Witch with writers Frank Doyle and George Gladir. He was a legendary comics creator and, as anyone who ever met him at a convention will readily attest, such one heck of a nice guy. I miss him to this day, but I’m happy to know he is remembered by his fans.

On Friday, I also had a conversation with a publisher who wants to reprint Justice Machine in its entirety. It’s not common knowledge, but I never signed away any rights to the stories I wrote for that title. I am somewhat conflicted about my work on the title. I think I did some good work, but it was in service of a ridiculous concept that never really made sense to me on those occasions when I slowed down enough to think about it. However, I’m gratified to know that fans think kindly of my work and, rest assured, I’m not standing in the way of my stories being reprinted. With a handshake, I gave the prospective publisher permission to include my work in the volumes he’s planning. As much as possible, I believe in giving the comics fans what they want.

I did close my booth an hour early so I could attend “A Tribute to the Asylum” panel on the main stage. Asylum founders David Michael Latt and David Rimawi were on the panel, along with actress Ciara Hanna, who was great in Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys, and Casper Van Dien, who has starred in such favorites as Starship Troopers, Avengers Grimm and Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf.

As I wrote yesterday, I have been mightily impressed with every one I’ve met from The Asylum. They’ve all been down-to-earth people with business savvy, creative chops and energy and without any of the pretensions so common to the movie business. I haven’t loved a company this much since I discovered Marvel Comics back in the day. 
This panel affirmed my regard for the studio and its common-sense approach to movie making, which includes giving actors and others a chance to advance and try new things. They gave Van Dien a chance to direct. He succeeded so well he’s directed a number of films for them and other studios.

I’m still working on coming up with a battle cry/catch phrase for the Asylum, their version of “Make Mine Marvel!” So far, I came up with and rejected “Asylum Assemble!” But I’ll continue to work on this in my spare time.

Maybe David and David could shout:


Okay, I’ll keep working on it. In the meantime, come back on Friday for more of my Indy Pop Con report with another Star Wars-inspired  chapter title that won’t make a lick of sense.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

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