Thursday, October 29, 2015

AKRON COMICON 2016


The Akron Comicon is my last convention appearance of the year. It happens Saturday and Sunday, November 7 and 8, at the University of Akron’s Quaker Square. The Saturday hours are 10 am to 6 pm and the Sunday hours are 10 am to 5 pm.

The convention has a fantastic guest roster for this year’s show. Here’s a partial list:

Airship 27 — Featuring Rob Davis and Ron Fortier!
Darryl Banks
Mike W. Barr
Tom Batiuk (Sunday only)
John Beatty
Allen Bellman
Craig Boldman
George Broderick Jr.
Daniel Gorman
Paul Gulacy
Mike Gustovich
Bob Ingersoll
Arvell Jones
Dirk Manning
Brad Ricca (Saturday only)
Tom Scioli
Ted Sikora
Chris Sprouse
Paul Storrie
Marc Sumerak
Thom Zahler
Mike Zeck

There will be panels and presentations on creating your own comic book, Superman, Jack Kirby, Marvel’s original Secret Wars, cosplay, Master of King Fu, the pulps and more. Plus a costume contest that gets better every year.

The sold-out exhibitor room will feature dozens of comics creators, comic-book sellers and other vendors. Yours truly will be set up at Table C8. I’ll be selling a variety of items from my online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales and some Isabella-written comic books and books.

I’ll be happy to answer your questions about my career and work, as well as sign Isabella-written stuff. However, understand that, due to the ongoing negotiations between myself and DC Comics, there are questions I can’t answer at this time. There are also comic books and other items that I don’t sign, although those mostly consist of Black Lightning or other comics not written by me, comics history books containing knowingly erroneous information on me and my work, and Black Lightning action figures and merchandise for which I have not yet been compensated. I fully expect to be able to lift some of these restrictions in the near future.  

As usual, there is no charge for my signature, though I would hope you would make a donation to The Hero Initiative. Hero is far and away my favorite of the comics charities because its mission is to help comics professionals in need.

For more information on the Akron Comicon, please visit the show’s website. It has everything you need to know.

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Looking ahead, I hope to finalize my 2016 convention and appearance schedule by the end of November. If you’d like me to appear at your event, contact me via e-mail.  

That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

SILENT VENOM

Right off the bat, Silent Venom (2009) gets a point for not being titled Snakes on a Sub. Of course, it loses a point for the final scene of the movie. In between, this Fred Olen Ray film was solid B-movie fun. I’d only seen a few minutes of it previously, so most of it was new to me.

Luke Perry stars as Lt. Commander James O'Neill, who’s in a bit of hot water for refusing to endanger his crew by ignoring an order to go beyond a new sub’s limits. He has turned in his retirement, but, to earn a honorable discharge and preserve his benefits, must take one more demeaning job: deliver a sub-turned-museum-turned-sub to a foreign buyer. His crew are mostly untested recruits. The mission turns real serious quickly.

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Perry is ordered to divert the submarine to pick up a scientist, her assistant and their classified work. The scientist is studying the effects of Chinese nuclear tests on the deadly snakes who live there. The island is in the path of planned Chinese navy maneuvers and our government doesn’t want the Chinese to get that research. Perry’s sub has three days to get to the island before the Chinese fleet and get out with the scientists.

Before the sub arrives, we see a snake big enough to swallow a man in two gulps. Which it does. If you’ve seen any of the giant snake movies on the Sci-Fi Channel, you’ve seen this CGI snake. It may be one of my favorite CGI actors. The rest of the snakes aren’t near as big, but still pretty damn scary. Especially slithering around a submarine. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Doc Andrea [Krista Allen] tells her assistant Jake [Louis Mandylor] to pack just two of the snakes, one male and one female. Except for the two biggest and most aggressive snakes, which he is ordered to kill, he’s supposed to release the rest into the wild. But Jake is one greedy son of a bitch and he sneaks all of the snakes onto the sub.
 
The submarine has another problem. The Chinese Navy has started its maneuvers two days early. Perry and his largely untested crew must move deep under the Chinese fleet, a job complicated when a curious sailor opens one of the snake boxes.

Outside of the curious sailor, Perry and his crew are good men who mostly control their panic. They are very believable, as is Allen’s courageous scientist. The only weak performance in the film comes from Mandylor, who plays to every craven, greedy shifty stereotype imaginable.

Besides Mandylor, my only real problem with Silent Venom is that it runs about ten minutes too long. After the snakes are exterminated and the sub is safe, Perry goes into his room and is almost bitten by one last snake. He kills it and tosses it into the hall, which gets a smile from his second-in-command. That should have been the last scene in the movie.

Instead, we get Perry and his second visiting Allen in the hospital where she is recovering from a snake bite...and then we get Perry saying his goodbye to his former commander...and then we get Perry boarding a helicopter and a last scene almost identical to the last scene of Snakes on a Plane. That’s right. We see a container like the one the curious sailor opened on the sub being loaded on to the chopper. Sigh.

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Silent Venom is an entertaining B movie. Good acting, scary snakes, solid story. I don’t think I’d watch it a second time, but I’m glad I got to see the entire film this time around.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Monday, October 26, 2015

TONY'S TIPS #131

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Why Batgirl doesn't work for me and other stuff that will probably get some folks upset with me.

PUMPKINHEAD

Another mini-blog...

My library has been remarkably efficient in getting me horror and monster movies, so I’ve been watching a lot of horror and monster movies. Many of these movies were requested on a whim, some because  I had never seen them, some because I had seen them but wanted to see them again.

Pumpkinhead (1988) was one I’d never seen. Here’s the quick summary of the film from the Internet Movie Database:

A man conjures up a gigantic vengeance demon called Pumpkinhead to destroy the teenagers who accidentally killed his son.

Lance Henriksen is the grief-mad father. The movie was directed by Stan Winston, known for his amazing special effects work on scores of movies. The film was based on a poem by Ed Justin and this seems to be his only movie credit. The story is credited to Mark Patrick Carducci, Winston and Richard Weinman. The screenplay is credited to Carducci and Gary Gerani.

Ed Harley [Henriksen] is a widower, raising his son in the kind of backwater country that usually involves cannibals and  chainsaws. As a child, he witnessed Pumpkinhead slaughter someone who had done wrong, moments after his dad had turned away that doomed someone. Harley dotes on his bespectacled son. He’s honestly thrilled when the lad gives him a homemade necklace with a small Pumpkinhead figure. Even though Harley knows Pumpkinhead is real.

Harley and son have a store in the nowhere that is this neck of the woods. It’s clear they are barely getting by. On that fateful day, their customers include a group of young people. Two of the young men are dirt-bikers. One is a totally shitbag.

Harley has to leave the store. He tells his son and his son’s dog to stay inside the store. The dog, hearing the dirt-bikes, charges from the store. The son follows him and is struck by the shitbag’s bike. It was an accident, but what follows isn’t.

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The shitbag bullies everyone except his brother into leaving, then prevents the others from calling for help from the cabin where they are saying. Harley returns in time to hear his son’s last word and last breath. His face is a mask of grief and hatred.

Harley goes to an old witch. She makes him dig up the rotted corpse of Pumpkinhead. She restores the monster to life using bloods from Harley and her son. This links Harley to the monster. He can feel Pumpkinhead slaughter the teens one by one.

Harley comes to his senses, but nothing can stop Pumpkinhead. The link between monster and man grows stronger with each kill. Indeed, Harley starts to resemble Pumpkinhead and vice versa. Realizing his death is the only thing that can stop the monster, Harley tries to shoot himself. It’s not enough and it takes the sole survivor, an innocent young woman, to finish the job.

Pumpkinhead bursts into flames and vanishes. The last scene of the movie shows the witch burying the charred remains of Harley, still wearing that homemade necklace. It’s a terrific ending.

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Pumpkinhead has achieved cult status and I can see why. It’s a neat little shocker with a performance by Henriksen that lifts it above most “B” movies. The actor was so committed to his performance that he supplied most of his character’s props and such. His Ed Harley is a good man whose grief leads him to do a terrible thing.

Pumpkinhead has spawned three sequels and Wikipedia says there are plans to reboot the series. I’ve requested the first sequel from my library and will watch/review it when it arrives.

Dark Horse launched a four-issue mini-series sequel to the movie, but canceled the title after only two issues. If the publisher ever wants to give Pumpkinhead another chance, I would certainly relish the challenge of trying to bring the eerie qualities of the series to the comic-book format.

Pumpkinhead gets my recommendation. It’s such a great movie that, if there weren’t two other library patrons waiting for it, I would watch it a second time.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Sunday, October 25, 2015

FIRE SERPENT

Another mini-blog...

Fire Serpent [Lions Gate; 2007] was a made-for-TV movie that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel before it changed its name to Syfy. I’d seen it when it originally aired, but, since I was able to get the DVD via my local library, I decided to watch it again.

SPOILERS AHEAD
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A solar flare sends a snake-like creature made of fire to Earth in 1975. After killing a female firefighter in the woods, it goes into hiding for thirty-odd years until the woman’s firefighter fiancé [Diego Klattenhoff] can age into weathered monster-hunter Randolph Mantooth, who played a firefighter on the 1970s show Emergency and whose character Dutch Fallon comments during the film that he used to be a firefighter in Los Angeles county.

Correction: the blazing snake doesn’t go completely into hiding as it makes enough appearance to alert the government to its existence and for Dutch and lunatic government agent Cooke [Robert Beltran] to capture it for all of about a minute. The experience turns Cooke into a religious fanatic who believes the creature is actually one of God’s angels, sent to purge the world of sin.

In 2007, we met fireman Jake Relm [Nicholas Brandon], his pal Dave Massaro [Steve Boyle], National Fire Agency investigator Christina Andrews [Sandrine Holt] obnoxious TV reporter Heather Allman [Lisa Langlois] and TV cameraperson Billie [Patrice Goodman]. Brandon is best known for playing Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He does a good job in this movie, which made me wish he had done more films like it. He had the potential to become a solid B-movie battler of monsters and maniacs. 

When the blazing snake, which can change its size from a wee little glow to a full-size Ghidorah head, makes its reappearance, it kills Dave by grabbing him and pulling him into a food-truck fire. Jake sees this, but doesn’t realize what he’s dealing with. Dutch tracks him down to tell him what’s what, but Jake ain’t listening.

Christina investigates. Cooke uses his top-secret credentials and  obstructs the investigation, since he plans to help the fire-snake consume a strategic fuel reserve and take out a state or three in the process. The fire-snake possesses some people, but they tend to burn out internally and literally. A character gets cut in half by a flame-blast. Cutting people in half was a popular CGI effect in Sci-Fi Channel movies and never looked remotely real. Jake gets a graphic example that the fire-snake is real and that he can’t trust Cooke. Dutch and Jake and Christine team up to destroy the blazing snake-monster and stop Cooke.

The fire serpent is destroyed, thanks to Jake’s courage and fire-fighting knowledge, aided and assisted by Christine’s mutant power of changing one gun into an entirely different gun as she shoots at an open fuel spigot. Jake and Christina hug, despite the fact that the fire-resistant suit he was wearing had been surrounded by fire just a couple minutes prior to the embrace. Before anyone realizes Christina is going to need to go to the burn unit, the movie cuts to the sun and another solar flare and another...do I really have to finish this sentence?

One more note. This movie happened on George W. Bush’s watch. It’s yet another example of him not keeping us safe, what with it being a NSA official who collaborates with a deadly enemy from beyond our borders. 

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Fire Serpent was directed by John Terlesky and written by Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens. There’s a “created by William Shatner” credit, but I have no idea what that means.

Fire Serpent isn’t a great movie, but I’ve now watched it twice and enjoyed it both times. The basic story is a good one, even though the presumably low budget keeps the film from being all it could have been. Brandon and Mantooth are very good in it. Beltran chews scenery. The other actors are adequate. The CGI effects are nothing to write home about, but do their job well enough.

I like Fire Serpent. I don’t love it, but I like it. 

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Saturday, October 24, 2015

ALL ACCESS CLEVELAND

Another mini-blog...

All Access Cleveland: The Rock and Roll Photography of Janet Macoska [Cleveland Landmarks Press; $25.95] is an amazing visual record of my friend Janet’s career as one of the great rock photographer of all time. Here’s what Amazon says about the book:

If rock and roll has been the soundtrack of your life, Janet Macoska has likely provided the accompanying visuals. Her celebrated body of work can be seen in the Smithsonian, the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Grammy Museum, and in Hard Rock properties around the world. David Bowie, The Clash, Led Zeppelin, DEVO, Hall and Oates, Heart, The Kinks, John Waite, Michael Stanley, and Alice Cooper are just some of the musicians who have used her photos on their records. This long-awaited compendium of native Clevelander Janet Macoska s 40+ years shooting rock and roll subjects presents many never-before-seen images from Janet s archives combining iconic imagery with entertaining, behind-the-scenes stories of her life as one of the world s preeminent rock photographers.
 
I like rock-and-roll, but it has never been a passion for me. What I love about this book is that its powerful images and commentaries allow me to understand why Macoska and so many others are so very passionate about the music. You’re never too old to learn something new, which is why I recommend this stunning photographic history to you. It would also make a great gift to the rock-and-rool fans in your life.

ISBN 978-0-936760-38-4

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Friday, October 23, 2015

EMMA

Another mini-blog...

Kaoru Mori’s Emma is one of my favorite manga series. Here’s what Amazon has to say about it:

Calling upon his former governess, William Jones, gentleman, is startled when his knock is answered by an uncommonly beautiful servant, the soft-spoken Emma. Throughout his visit, William's eyes drift to the maid whenever she enters the room, and he contrives to meet Emma socially as she goes about her errands. But London society is a web of strict codes and divisions. For the son of a wealthy merchant, seeking out a working-class girl is simply not done! William's father plans for his son to marry into the peerage and elevate the Jones family to greater heights, but although William says and does what is expected of him, he longs only for Emma's company...

I first discovered Emma in the pages of Viz’s Shojo Beat magazine, which ran from July 2005 to July 2009. Shojo manga in general is aimed at a teenage female readership. The magazine was aimed at the same audience. Among the things that attracted me to the magazine was its physical format (a big thick magazine) and the contents (a combination of comics and articles, even if the articles were also aimed at teenage females). What attracted me to Emma and the other comics were their great characters and realistic situations. Human comedy and drama go a long way with me.

Emma is a gem of a character. While her manner might be off putting to readers who live in a world where women are a powerful force and becoming ever more so, it was consistant with the Victorian England  in which the tale is set. Emma handles adversity with quiet courage  and dignity. William surrenders to adversity, even when his heart would lead him elsewhere. They are both likeable characters.

I never caught up with my reading of Shojo Beat and stopped trying when the magazine was cancelled. But when Yen Press began printing the series in handsomely-crafted hardcovers or nearly 400 pages per volume, I got into the series again. It’s as delightful as ever and I now have a new appreciation for Mori’s fascination with the era and her exuberant depictions of same.

Yen Press has released two volumes of Emma to date with a third one scheduled for December.

Emma, Vol. 1:

ISBN 978-0-316-30223-4

Emma, Vol. 2:

ISBN 978-0-316-30444-3

Emma, Vol. 3:

ISBN 978-0-316-30445-0

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Thursday, October 22, 2015

SNOWDEN

Another mini-blog...

My local Medina library, thanks to its affiliation with the area-wide Clevnet organization of a hundred libraries, has been getting me some wonderful books and graphic novels. The latest was Snowden by Ted Rall [Seven Stories Press; $16.95]. Here’s what Amazon had to say about this angry look at recent American history:

As many as 1.4 million citizens with security clearance saw some or all of the same documents revealed by Edward Snowden. Why did he, and no one else, decide to step forward and take on the risks associated with becoming a whistle blower and then a fugitive? Rall delves into Snowden's early life and work experience, his personality, and the larger issues of privacy, new surveillance technologies, and the recent history of government intrusion. Rall describes Snowden's political vision and hopes for the future. In a way, the book tells two stories: Snowden's and a larger one that describes all of us on the threshold of tremendous technological upheaval and political change.

Snowden is a portrait of a brave young man standing up to the most powerful government in the world and, if not winning, at least reaching a stand-off, and in this way is an incitation to us all to measure our courage and listen to our consciences in asking ourselves what we might have done in his shoes.


My regular readers know I am a supporter of President Barack Obama and his administration. I believe he has done an outstanding job in many areas and in spite of the manic opposition of the Republicans and other right-wingers. But Obama hasn’t been a perfect leader for our nation and one of his biggest failings has been maintaining the fear-based surveillance of American citizens. Many of the actions taken by our government are patently illegal, others, legal though they might be, are unconscionable.

The more I learn about the surveillance of American citizens, the less I see Edward Snowden as traitor or villain. It’s a complicated situation. He exposed illegality and arguable evil at tremendous risk to himself. We need many more whistle blowers like him and, no matter the circumstances of their employment, such men and women need to be protected from retaliation by their employers and our government. I pray I will see that day soon.

ISBN 978-1-60980-635-4

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

BLACK LIGHTNING UPDATES

Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman, got his first on screen Batman credit on Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken: DC Special III. At the end of the show, the creator credit card read:

Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger

That was the big story of the episode, but there was another story missed by every major comics news site. Another changed credit was on that creator credit card:

Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden

If I hadn’t been late in learning of these credits, I would’ve been among the first to proclaim the Bill Finger credit was the more important story. It was long overdue and Batman is somewhat better known than Black Lightning.

I didn’t watch the Robot Chicken episode when it aired and haven’t watched it yet, though it is available for viewing on Adult Swim’s website. I learned about the Black Lightning credit from a dozen or so fans/friends who e-mailed me about it or posted about it on my Facebook page. Several of them sent me a screen grab of the credit card, for which I am grateful.

As regular readers of this blog and my Facebook page know, DC and I are working through a reconciliation on Black Lightning and other issues. I have not commented on these discussions and negotiations, except to confirm they are ongoing. My more than four decades as a comics industry professional have taught me not to be premature in making announcements. Things can change swiftly in the comics biz. Plans can go awry. Hopes can be dashed. I believe the discussions and plans are going well, but I don’t want my fans and friends to be disappointed if events don’t go as I hope.

I have responded and will continue to respond to developments that are made public by DC itself. When Black Lightning: Volume One, a trade paperback collection of my first Black Lightning run and some incidental stories was listed on Amazon and elsewhere, I told you what I could about it at that time.

Though no agreements between DC and myself have been finalized at this time, the wording of that Black Lightning credit is wording I agreed to. It is not 100% accurate, but “created by Tony Isabella; original series drawn by Trevor Von Eeden” is, to my ears and eyes, an unacceptably cluncky credit. I have not changed my position that I am the sole creator of Black Lightning. I am merely understanding of DC’s presumed obligation to Von Eeden. I’ve never sought to deny Trevor any financial rewards for his association with the original Black Lightning series. While I’m no legal scholar, I believe this wording serves the needs of every involved party.

I’m happy with the Black Lightning credit change, especially since DC enacted it before any agreement between me and the company has been finalized. A heads up would have been nice, but I understand how many different elements must be juggled whenever a company like DC does anything. That this credit is already appearing shows good faith on DC’s part. I’m very happy about that.

I wish I could share more with you on what Black Lightning things are being discussed. I hope DC and I will be able to share terrific news with you in the very near future. But I am committed to being cautious as things progress.

I will not be granting any interviews on this. Comics journalists are free to quote from this bloggy thing as long as they credit the source and - to be nice - link to this bloggy thing of mine. I beg them not to read too much or too little into this.

Thanks for your support and understanding.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF SALE 10/21/15

Welcome to my second online VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF sale of the fall. These sales will generally post every two or three weeks to give me time to ship out all the orders.
                             
Here’s how my online sales work...

First come, first serve. In other words, the quicker you e-mail me, the better your chances of getting the item or items.  Only e-mail orders will be accepted and you should not send payment until you get a confirmation e-mail from me.  All listed items are in good or better condition unless otherwise noted.

Let me stress that “e-mail only” rule.  Most of the few mistakes I have made in assembling/shipping orders have happened with orders I accepted via phone or Facebook message.  So I’m not gonna break my own rule anymore.

You should always include your mailing address with your orders. That speeds up the packaging and the shipping.

Items will be shipped via United States Postal Service.  There is a $5 shipping/handling charge for all orders of any size unless I specify otherwise in the item description. If your total order is over $100, shipping is free.

Payments are by check, money order or PayPal.  My PayPal address is the same as my email address.  Purchases will generally be shipped within a week of checks clearing,  money orders received or PayPal payments received.

Because this is a one-man operation done between family, household  and work responsibilities, these items are only available to buyers within the United States and to APO buyers.

When you receive your order, please check it and let me know of any omissions as soon as possible.  I’ll be double-checking the orders on my end, but, if there’s a problem, I want to make it right in a timely fashion.

Items will only be offered online once or twice before going into my future garage sales.

As always, your orders are greatly appreciated.

This sale runs from today through Tuesday, October 27, 2015.

Here are this week’s items...

1988 DOUBLE-SIDED SUPERMAN POSTER. Superman - The Legend Returns is a rare double-sided poster honoring Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, created by a Cleveland organization to celebrate the Man of Steel’s fiftieth anniversary and to recognize his creators, Cleveland high- schools buddies Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The poster (18 inches x 37 inches) is in mint, rolled condition printed on thickly coated stock to allow for printing on both sides. One side shows Clark Kent inside a phone booth urgently ripping off his street clothes with a small tribute panel to Siegel and Shuster at the bottom. The other side shows Superman taking flight in Cleveland. I have seen this poster priced anywhere from $30 to hundreds of dollars. While my limited supply lasts, I’m selling them for $25 each, including shipping and handling. Since the sturdy mailing tube can hold more than one poster. You can get a second poster for an additional $5. That’s $25 for one poster, $30 for two posters.

*ALIENS: FIRE AND STONE by Chris Robertson and Patric Reynolds [Dark Horse; 2015]. Directly tying in with the Prometheus and Aliens films, this excursion into terror is not to be missed! An unlikely hero tries to save a small group of researchers and miners from the doomed, deep-space Hadley's Hope colony--which is now infested with vicious xenomorphs! Terraforming engineer Derrick Russell takes control during an outbreak of aliens and leads his desperate survivors onto the Onager, a rickety mining vessel. This role is new to Russell, as are the horrors he and his crew will face both in space and on the strange planet they crash on. Softcover. 112 pages. $3

*ALTER EGO #39 [August 2004]. Jerry Robinson. $3

*AMITYVILLE HOUSE OF PANCAKES OMNIBUS VOLUME 1 [Creative Guy; 2004]. Edited by Pete S. Allen. AHOP features the works of four deranged, but really very nice, authors blazing trails into the suspect genre of humorous speculative fiction. Novellas include “The Girl in B33, by J.D. Welles, “Dirk Moonfire & the Nefarious Space Women” by Jack Mangan, “Cultural Clashes in Cádiz” by Jetse de Vries and “Gypsies Stole My Tequila” by Adrienne Jones. All introduced by Sally, your zombie hostess. Softcover. 212 pages. $2

*AMITYVILLE HOUSE OF PANCAKES OMNIBUS VOLUME 2 [Creative Guy; 2005]. Edited by Pete S. Allen. Novellas: “Gella Murphy: Public Dick” by Marlo Dianne, “Firebirds and Truth” by Uncle River, “Froggie” by Sally Kuntz and “The Last Generation To Die” by Carlos Hernandez. Softcover. 296 pages. $2

*AMITYVILLE HOUSE OF PANCAKES OMNIBUS VOLUME 3 [Creative Guy; 2006]. Edited by Pete S. Allen. Three novellas: “The UnHardy Boys in Outer Space” by Gary K. Wolf and Jehane Baptiste, “Paragon” by K.M. Ppraschak and “Daton Quayle and the Curse of King Tuti Frutti’ by Paul Kane. Softcover. 284 pages. $2

ARCHIE COMICS DIGESTS ($1 each):

Archie Comics Annual #263
B&V Friends Jumbo Comics Digest #245
Betty and Veronica Comics Annual #236
Jughead and Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #15

CIVIL WAR: FRONT LINE BOOK ONE by Paul Jenkins, Ramon Bachs, Steve Lieber and Lee Weeks [Marvel; 2007]. There's a truth buried deep in the heart of every war, and reporters Sally Floyd and Ben Urich will be there, uncovering that truth in the midst of the biggest conflagration in the Marvel Universe! In the wake of the Stamford disaster, the public cries out for super-hero registration. Are the costumed heroes of the Marvel Universe protectors or ticking time bombs? And in "Civil War Correspondence," see stories inspired by tales of war correspondence throughout history! Collects stories from Civil War: Front Line #1-6. Full-color softcover, 208 pages. $7

DOLLAR COMICS AND MAGAZINES ($1 each):

*Absolution #0
*Absolution #4
Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #1
Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #2
Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #3
All-New Ghost Rider #10
All-New Ghost Rider #11
All-New Ghost Rider #12
All-New Marvel Now Point One #1 (2014)
*Alter Ego Fights Crime #5
*Amazing X-Men #18
*Aw Yeah Comics #6
Ballistic #1
Ballistic #2
*Bleeding Cool #5
*Bleeding Cool #6
*Bleeding Cool #7
*Bleeding Cool #8
Comeback Kings #2
*Conan/Red Sonja #3
*Conan the Avenger #12
*Copperhead #5
*Daredevil #14
Fade Out #2
*Ghost Racers (Battleworld) #1
*Ghost Racers (Battleworld) #2
*Inhuman #1
*Inhuman #2
*Inhuman #13
Kevin Keller #2 (Cover A)
Kevin Keller #3 (actually Veronica #209; Cover A)
Kevin Keller #3 (Cover A)
Kevin Keller #4 (actually Veronica #210; Cover A)
Kevin Keller #4 (Cover A)
*King Conan #1
*King Conan #2
*Lady Mechanika #5

*New Avengers #32
Plants Vs. Zombie #1
Plants Vs. Zombie #2
Powers (current series) #1
Powers (current series) #2
Powers (current series) #3
*Punisher #8
*Punisher #12
*Punisher #13
*Punisher #14
*Punisher #15
*Punisher #16
*Punisher #17
*Punisher #18
*Punisher #19
*Rawhide Kid #81 (ad page missing)
Satellite Sam #13
*Savage Dragon #202
*Savage Dragon #203
*Star Wars #3
*Thanos Vs. Hulk #4
Ultimate Spider-Man #2
Ultimate Spider-Man #3
Ultimate Spider-Man #4
Ultimate Spider-Man #5
Ultimate Spider-Man #7
*Uncanny X-Men #32

DYLAN DOG CASE FILES by Tiziano Sclavi [Dark Horse; 2009]. Nightmares can't hurt you. There's no such thing as the walking dead. Monsters are all in your imagination. We tell ourselves these things to make us feel safe at night, to give us strength against the unknown. But there are things in the dark that can hurt us. Just ask Dylan Dog. An ex-cop who now battles against evil as a "nightmare investigator," Dylan Dog is unlike any private eye you've ever met. If creatures from beyond the unknown are after you, and if you can hire him, he just might save your life. Black- and-white softcover, 680 pages, 8.2 x 6.1 x 1.9 inches. $15

HAUNTED TANK by Frank Marraffino & Flint Henry [Vertigo/DC; 2010]. The Haunted Tank is back in action, but this time it's an M1 Abrams in modern-day Iraq! African American tank commander Jamal Stuart has his 21st century war ride in full battle rattle and is ready for anything - anything except the whistling-Dixie combat guru ghost who shows up uninvited. Of course, this isn't the first time the spirit of Confederate Civil War General J.E.B. Stuart has helped guide a tank. In times of war he makes himself available to assist his descendants in battle. Jamal Stuart, meet your forefather! It's the newest chapter in the legacy of a long-time DC icon from writer Frank Marraffino (The Dark Goodbye) and artist Henry Flint (OMEGA MEN). Full-color softcover, 128 pages. $7

*HOW TO SURVIVE A SHARKNADO AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS by Andrew Shaffer [Three Rivers Press; 2014]. In the apocalyptic world we live in, Mother Nature is angry. Danger waits at every turn, and catastrophes like the Los Angeles sharknados have taught us that we need to be ready for anything. Too many lives have already been lost. But fear not. How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters is the first and only comprehensive guide to surviving the very worst that Mother Nature can throw our way. First edition. Softcover. 224 pages. $3

JUSTICE LEAGUE VOLUME 3: THRONE OF ATLANTIS by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier and Tony S. Daniel [DC; 2013]. When Atlantis is struck by a U.S. Naval missile gone awry, Atlantis--led by Aquaman's brother Ocean Master--attacks the East Coast of the United States flooding its major cities such as Boston, Metropolis, Gotham City and several others. The Justice League comes together to help Aquaman turn back the tide, but they soon learn that they are woefully overmatched by the Atlantean Army, and must find a way to save the world from total annihilation. Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE #13-17 and AQUAMAN #15-16. Full-color softcover, 192 pages. $10

KEVIN KELLER #1 [Archie; 2012]. Cover A. $2

KEVIN KELLER #1 [Archie; 2012]. Cover B. $2

OUR LOVE #1 [Marvel, 1949]. Photo cover. Three stories: “I Bet My Heart,” “Guilt,” and “Love Letters Can Go Astray” plus prose story “Tortured by Love.” Art: Mike Sekowsky, Gene Colan, Marion Sitton. Very good condition. $30

PREACHER: DEAD OR ALIVE [Vertigo/DC; 2000]. Since its debut in August 1995, one of the hallmarks of Vertigo's phenomenally successful series "Preacher" has been its covers, painted by the acclaimed artist Glenn Fabry. Now the series' entire run of sixty-six covers is collected in a handsome new hardcover collection, along with Fabry's covers for all the Preacher-related specials and collected editions, sketches and commentary by Fabry and Preacher writer/co-creator Garth Ennis, plus an introduction by Ennis. Full-color softcover. 192 pages. $10

PRE-CODE CLASSICS: STRANGE FANTASY VOLUME 1 [PS Artbooks; 2015]. Full-color hardcover reprinting Strange Fantasy #1-7 (August 1952-August 1953, originally published by Ajax Farrell. $30

PRE-CODE CLASSICS: WEIRD TALES OF THE FUTURE [PS Artbooks; 2015]. Full-color hardcover reprinting Weird Tales of the Future #1-8 (March 1952-July 1953, originally published by Kay Publications. $30

ROY THOMAS PRESENTS: PLANET COMICS VOLUME 1 [PS Artbooks; 2013]. Full-color hardcover reprinting Planet Comics #1-4 (January-April, 1940), originally published by Fiction House. $30

ROY THOMAS PRESENTS: PLANET COMICS VOLUME 2 [PS Artbooks; 2013]. Full-color hardcover reprinting Planet Comics #5-8 (May-August, 1940), originally published by Fiction House. $30

ROY THOMAS PRESENTS: PLANET COMICS VOLUME 3 [PS Artbooks; 2013]. Full-color hardcover reprinting Planet Comics #9-12 (September, 1940- May, 1941), originally published by Fiction House. $30

SWORDS OF CEREBUS VOLUME THREE by Dave Sim [Aardvark Vanaheim; 1981]. Reprints issues #9-12 with introductory essays plus “What Happened Between Issues 20 and 21" by Sim and Gene Day. Black-and-white softcover. First printing. $5

*TIGER LUNG by Simon Fox and Jason Wordie [Dark Horse; 2014]. “Thirty-five thousand years ago, the world was a dangerous place to be human. It was an age ruled by ancient gods and wild beasts, where death lay only a spear-thrust away. But for the scattered tribes of Paleolithic Europe, hope lay in the shaman-warriors who stood between their people and the unknown. Tiger Lung follows the struggle of one of these shamans to keep his people--and himself--alive in an unknowably vast and hostile universe. Collecting the three-part Dark Horse Presents "Beneath the Ice" tale by Simon Roy (Prophet) and Jason Wordie, with two all-new adventures and bonus materials!” Hardcover graphic album. 88 pages. $3

WHISPERED WORDS  Volume 1 by Takashi Ikeda [One Peace Books; 2014].  Whispered Words is the story of two high school girls, Sumika and Ushio. One is in love with the other, but unable to confess. Both of them prefer girls, but Ushio likes cute and petite types while Sumika prefers the athletic outgoing girls. To complicate things, a cross dressing boy, Masaki, is in love with Sumika. What ever will happen to this mixed-up bizarre love triangle mess? Black-and-white softcover, 472 pages, 5 x 3 x 7 inches. $10

Thanks for your patronage.

Tony Isabella

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

KOMODO MY HOUSE

Over the weekend, I watched two monster movies that were basically the same movie. Among the many similarities between the two films was that Glori-Anne Gilbert, a sweetheart of an actress, model and Mid-Ohio-Con guest, was in both of them. She survived one of them and died in the other. Bad komodo!

The Curse of the Komodo (2004) and Komodo vs. Cobra (2005) were directed by Jim Wynorski as Jay Andrews. He was a co-writer on the second of those movies.

Here’s what the Internet Movie Database says about The Curse of the Komodo:

Genetically-engineered Komodo dragons have become ginormous creatures hunting people on a remote tropical island. A small group of scientists must stop the dragons before they escape the island and destroy the rest of the world.

Here’s what it says about Komodo vs. Cobra:

It's terror times two when scientists accidentally create man-eating monsters that jeopardize the entire planet!

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


In both movies, the super-sized creatures are created by the usual “science gone awry.” Well-meaning scientists have their experiments co-opted for military applications, namely, creating creatures who will eat the enemy. Apparently, the Geneva Convention, which may or may not still be a thing, has nothing in it about siccing monsters on one’s foe.

The generals in charge of the projects are both major assholes with no human decency to speak of. They both order the islands on which these creatures have been created to be bombed out of existence to protect their culpability in these heinous actions. The bombers do a piss-poor job, given the monsters are amphibious. Both are undone when survivors expose the projects via the media. One general puts a bullet in his brain, the other looks like he wants to. These scenes come right before the shock endings of the movies.

Martial artist Paul Logan, who was so great as the piranha-kicking super-soldier in Mega Piranha (2010) and who will be appearing in the forthcoming CobraGator, is in both movies. In Curse, he plays a ruthless criminal who robs a casino and kills the casino manager. In KvC, he plays the monster movie equivalent of a Star Trek red shirt in the opening scene slaughter of a squad sent to the island to learn why  the scientists haven’t stayed in touch with the general du jour. You can probably figure out why. By the way, both movies have this opening scene and I’m pretty sure they also share some of the same footage.

Each movie has a father-daughter duo. Neither father survives the movie he’s in.

In each movie, komodo saliva is toxic and can infect anyone unlucky enough to even brush up against a spit-covered leaf. You can also be infected if a saliva victim bites you before they die.

Each movie has an ex-military character. In Curse, it’s the chopper pilot hired by Logan. In KvC, it’s the captain of the fishing boat hired to bring environment activists to the island.

Each movie contains several errors as to branches of the military, the training a member of that branch would have, and the aircraft used to bomb the islands. In most cases, the planes shown are not even American planes. All praise cheap stock footage.

Though the chemicals used to increase the size of the monsters are said to be in the ecology of the island, we don’t see any enormous creatures except for the komodos and the cobra. In KvC, we do see corn stalks the size of buildings. The question of what eating such super-food would do to a human being is never discussed, though a saliva-infected character wonders if he will also become a giant. He doesn’t live long enough for this to happen.

In both movies, it’s said the monsters have eaten every animal on the islands except for the remaining humans. However, in KvC, you can hear animal background noises to the end of the movie.

Both groups of survivors realize the military doesn’t give a rat’s behind about saving them. They have to reach a helicopter to have any chance of escape.

Each movie has a surprise ending. In Curse, Paul Logan’s character, left on the island because he went back for the casino money, sits on the beach surrounded by millions of dollars. That’s when a trio of giant komodos come out of the ocean and on to the beach. The man was having a really bad day.

In KvC, a saliva-infected and believed-to-be-dead scientist who was left behind, suddenly opens his now-reptilian eyes. His mouth opens and he now has a forked tongue like the komodo. This cries out for a sequel. Man-Komodo? Night of the Human Komodos? Lord help me, but I would watch either of those.

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


Despite all the snide remarks I made above, I enjoyed watching both of these movies...or the same movie twice. As long as I was having fun, the similarities don’t really bother me. I don’t watch these low-budget monster movies seeking great art. I just want to have a good time for ninety minutes or so.

These films each had characters I liked, which involved me in their desperate fights for survival. The acting was good. The CGI effects were a little shaky here and there, but well within my tolerance. Give me a few months and I’d probably watch them again. You should watch them at least once.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

TONY'S TIPS #130

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Justice Inc.by Mark Waid, Bizarro, Classic Popeye, Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor, Green Arrow.

Monday, October 19, 2015

STAR WARS: THE ORIGINAL MARVEL YEARS

Another mini-blog...

Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Volume 2 [$125] is an expensive hardcover book of 848 pages, which I got via the Medina Library. Amazon is currently selling the book at 66% off, so this would be good time to jump on that price.  Anyway, here’s what the Amazon entry has to say about this collection:

The very first Star Wars comic-book series continues! After the events of Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, loveable rogue Han Solo is lost, frozen in carbonite. But as the search for Solo begins, Imperial Forces and other troubles keep getting in the way. Princess Leia clashes with Darth Vader! Luke

Skywalker goes on trial for treason! C-3PO and R2-D2 face danger on a droid moon! Lando Calrissian finds Cloud City deserted! If the Crimson Forever doesn't get the Rebels, maybe the new Imperial super-weapon will! And a new member joins the gang, with a crush on a certain handsome Jedi! Meanwhile, the discovery of a gold statue of Han reveals a hidden story from his and Chewbacca's past. And who are the Hoojibs? It's Star Wars in the Mighty Marvel Manner!


This volume reprints the remaining Archie Goodwin/Carmine Infantino issues and those are some of the best Star Wars comics ever done. But their successors were right up there as well. David Michelinie teamed with Walt Simonson and Tom Palmer for a terrific run. They were followed by Jo Duffy, Ron Frenz and Tom Palmer. The quality of the series never wavered.

This volume reprints Star Wars #45-78 and Star Wars Annual #2 with guest appearances by writers J.M. DeMatteis, Larry Hama, Mike W. Barr, Chris Claremont, Michael Fleisher and Bob Layton, as well as artists Al Williamson, Joe Brozowski, Gene Day, Kerry Gammill and Luke McDonnell. Of special note is Claremont’s attempt to transform an inventory issue of John Carter, Warlord of Mars into a Star Wars adventure. It’s a valiant though not entirely successful attempt, but still worth reading.

Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Volume 3 [$125] could be out any day now. I’ll request a copy from my library, but there will likely be a pretty long waiting list. Look for my thoughts on the third volume at some time in the future.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Sunday, October 18, 2015

MAN-THING BY STEVE GERBER

Another mini-blog...

Man-Thing by Steve Gerber: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 [Marvel; $39.99] kicks off a complete reprinting of the great writer’s epic run with the character. The 440-page trade paperback also features stories by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Len Wein and yours truly. This could be for completeness sake or to show readers that, despite how good all of those writers might have been, no one was better than Gerber when it came to spinning tales of “Marvel’s melancholy muck-monster.” Here’s the Amazon pitch:

Marvel's melancholy muck-monster, by the man who knows him best! With the Nexus of All Realities as the ultimate staging post, prepare for the wildest journeys of your life in this first volume of a complete collection of Steve Gerber's Man-Thing tales! Join the most startling swamp-creature of all in encounters with the Thing, sorcerers Dakimh and Jennifer Kale, and the most far-out fowl ever created, Howard the Duck! Plus existential angst, clashes with the modern world, and the death of a clown!

COLLECTING: ASTONISHING TALES 12-13, FEAR 11-19, MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE 1, MAN-THING 1-8; MATERIAL FROM SAVAGE TALES 1, FEAR 10, MONSTERS UNLEASHED 5.


Artists include Gray Morrow, John Buscema, Neal Adams, Mike Ploog, Gil Kane, Rich Buckler, Val Mayerik, Howard Chaykin, Jim Starlin, Vincente Alcazar and others. These are some of the best-written and best-drawn comics stories of the 1970s.

If you’ve never read Gerber’s Man-Thing stories, you are in for a major thrill. If you have read them, here’s your chance to get them all in a handsomely-made series of trade paperbacks.

ISBN 978-0-7851-9905-2

Saturday, October 17, 2015

STRANGE WORLD OF MY DREAMS 2

Another mini-blog...

When I dream, I sometimes dream about the comic-book business. The comics dreams are often weird. If I remember my dreams on waking, I write them down to share in a segment I call “The Strange World of My Dreams.” I had this particularly bizarre dream last night, possibly as a result of going cold turkey to beat my addiction to ibuprofen. Here it is...

Sainted Wife Barb and I are living in a enormous apartment building in a major city. The city, the building and our spacious apartment suite all look like they were designed by Carmine Infantino ala his Flash comic books of the 1960s. I’m finishing my breakfast when Barb calls from the ground level of the building to tell me Mike W. Barr is there for our morning meeting.

The ground level has numerous offices for comics professionals, but they all look like enormous cubicles in that their walls don’t go all the way up to the high ceiling of the floor. The cubicles are not next to one another. There’s quite a bit of space between them. There are fast food kiosks and other convenient business all over the place as well. It’s really big.

As I leave the elevator, Brian Michael Bendis calls to me from his cubicle office. He’s wearing a Cerebro-like headgear whose purpose is to keep his head still while he injects himself with some milky substance from a comically-large syringe. A nurse who looks like she was drawn by Wally Wood - big hair, tight uniform, high heels - is preparing a second syringe for him.

Brian says:

Tony, you know that medical plan I recommended to you last week. I gotta tell you, I’m not so keen on it after all.

Across the vast expanse of the building’s ground floor, I see Barb and Mike waving to me from my office. I start walking towards them, thinking it should take me about ten minutes to get there. 

That’s when my alarm went off and woke me up.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Friday, October 16, 2015

MY OTHER BUCKET LIST

Most of you know I have a 200-plus-item bucket list of the things I want to write before I kick the bucket. However, I have another, less focused bucket list, which I have cleverly named “My Other Bucket List.” The items on that list include actual goals, flights of fancy, life-hacks and downright silliness.

I started keeping this list on September 1 of this year and started posting each day’s item on my Facebook page and on Twitter. People seem to enjoy them, so, once a month, I will compile them into one of these bloggy things for your edification and entertainment. I’ll also elaborate on some of the items.

We begin...

September 1: Be interviewed by Rachel Maddow.

September 2: All my books and movies and stuff so organized I could find anything I want in under ten minutes.

September 3: I’d like to meet Katy Perry and make her a proposition and not the one you think, you perverts.

September 4: Work with experienced cosplayers, cosplay at a comics convention, write about it.

September 5: A gorgeous celebrity posts a video asking me to be her prom date. [Naturally, me being a happily married man, this would be a platonic date. Still, recognizing how special such an occasion can be, I would allow a kiss for the photographer, a good night kiss and, if my date were overcome with desire, a quick grab of my ass. But only one.]

September 6: Make a yearly visit to Disneyland in late January and then hang out with my L.A. friends for a week.

September 7: Be shot by Cleveland rock photog legend Janet Macoska and not be self-conscious about it. [You should buy Janet’s amazing book: All Access Cleveland: The Rock and Roll Photography of Janet Macoska. You’ll want her to take your picture, too!]

September 8: Watch everything that’s currently on my DVR and then start watching the hundreds of unwatched DVDs I own.

September 9: Create a medley of songs to the tune of “It’s A Small World” & have it performed by professional singers at a convention.

September 10: Spend an afternoon talking comic books old and new with Jon Stewart and/or Stephen Colbert.

September 11: Find that balance between my strong convictions and my anger that will allow me to convince those who disagree with me.
 
September 12: Get a new cell phone and master it. My current phone is so old it has a rotary dial.

September 13: Move from Medina when Barb retires. The elitism and right-wing stupid gets stronger here every day.

September 14: Convince Barb we need a big friendly dog who can help me solve mysteries.

September 15: Teach myself how to write a screenplays for movies, TV shows and cartoons.

September 16: Walk my lovely daughter down the aisle when she finds the right guy. Happy birthday, Kelly!

September 17: Make enough money to become more productive. Office manager? Paid assistant? Tony clones?

September 18: Be able to afford donating to worthy causes in comics community. Been a while since I could do that.

September 19: My work excites me so much I sometimes can’t sleep. I want to feel that way until the day I die.

September 20: Feel like I’m 50 by the time I hit 65.

September 21: Accept that I will disappoint some people. Strive to disappoint as few people as possible.

September 22: Including things I want to write, I have a 300+-item things to do list. I want to get it down to 250 by year’s end and 150 by end of 2016.

September 23: Be a panelist on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

September 24: Train myself to let the answering machine answer all phone calls and only pick up when it’s someone I actually want to speak with.

September 25: Spend some time each day in quiet contemplation of the world and wonders around me. It just looks like a nap.

September 26: Over the next three months, read the novelizations of 1960s monster movies Gorgo, Konga and Reptilicus. I’ve owned these paperbacks for almost two decades!

September 27: I feel a growing connection to the world of B movies. I want to explore that connection and that world.

September 28: Begin hosting monthly Bizarro Massaro movie nights in honor of my late friend Dave. But where he would show classic movies, I would show films like Zombeavers.

September 29: Accept that sometimes I will disappoint myself and, when it happens, I need to get past it and move on.

September 30: Always embrace the joy in my life. It’s bigger than any of the hardships.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Thursday, October 15, 2015

CENSORED SIMPSONS

Another mini-blog...

My son Eddie and I are fans of The Simpsons TV show and I’m a fan of Simpsons Comics and other Bongo Comics titles. I probably have most of those issues, but, as with so many of my books and comics, they are scattered throughout a hundred or more boxes. When I come across them, I log the issue numbers, read them, bag/board them and put them in the drawer box that will be their future home.

Simpsons Comics #39 [1998] cover-featured “Sense and Censorability” by Scott M. Gimple with Phil Ortiz (pencils), Tim Bavington (inks) and Nathan Kane (colors). As you can see from the image above, the  blurb “Comic Book Legal Defense Fun!” is above the issue's logo.

The premise: Bart Simpson has been playing fast-and-loose with the truth in his history reports. He basically makes it up. While the Bart versions are way cooler than reality, Principal Skinner isn’t pleased. As punishment, Bart and dad Homer have to write a history report to be read before the entire community. Alas, father and son do their research by buying “mature readers” comic books that show Thomas Jefferson as a cannibal, Billy Carter as a werewolf and so on. Their report so horrifies the community that both Homer and the Comic Book Guy are arrested for possessing obscene material. It’s a fun and wildly inventive story.

The story was followed by a text piece extolling the virtues of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fun. Remember when the CBLDF was focused on actual comic books instead of joining cases that often have very little if anything to do with comic books and graphic novels? Those were the days. I miss them.

On the flip side of the issue, the fourth chapter of a Radioactive Man serial was heralded with a homage to a classic Nick Fury cover by Jim Steranko. That was fun as well.
  
Lots of recommendations for this issue. Simpsons Comics and other Bongo titles are always fun reads. If you collect comics that deal with censorship issues, that’s a reason to track down this issue. If you’re a fan of Jim Steranko - and who isn’t? - and super-hero parodies, then those are two more reasons to add this issue to your collection.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

THE QUEST OF FRANKENSTEIN

Another mini-blog...

The Quest of Frankenstein [Hollywood Comics; $20.95] is a new novel by my friend Frank Schildiner. While I haven’t had the time to read it yet, it strikes me as fun Halloween reading.

From the back cover...

1914. The Frankenstein Monster moves like a shadowy specter through the bloody trenches of war-torn France. Coming across Herbert West, a scientist as brilliant and insane as his creator, the infamous Victor Frankenstein, the creature secures the promise that West will create a mate for him, but only if he can gather all the bizarre ingredients necessary for the task. Thus begins the Quest of Frankenstein, during which the world's most famous monster will face vampires, werewolves, ghouls and other nightmarish creatures from Beyond. Based on Mary Shelley's immortal creature, as reinterpreted by Academy-Award winning screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière in the 1950s, The Quest of Frankenstein features a ruthless, demoniacal monster, a cunning killer with a twisted, evil mind and terrifying plans for the world. Frank Schildiner is a regular contributor to the popular Tales of the Shadowmen series and several other short story collections featuring pulp heroes and villains.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about the book once I have read it, but I wanted to alert you to it while you're planning your Halloween celebration. It’d make a great gift for the ghoul of your dreams. Or nightmares. 

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TONY'S TIPS #129

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...From my towering stack of comic books I read while recovering from dental surgery, I review Barb Wire, Batman and several other Bat-books!

TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES

Another mini-blog...

Tremors 5: Bloodlines [Universal Studios; $22.98] was released last week. It was a must-have purchase for me. The first Tremors movie is one of my favorites. To varying degrees, I have enjoyed all the Tremors movies and the tragically short-lived TV series. I love the series so much that, after the second movie, I tried to get comics publishers to license Tremors so that I could write a Tremors comic book. If I can locate my Tremors pitch, I’ll run it in the bloggy thing in the near future. If I can’t locate the pitch, I’ll do my best to recreate it for you. But I digress.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Tremors series, the main monsters are the graboids. The giant worm-like creatures live underground and travel through soil as if it were water. They have three snake-like heads that come out of their mouths to grab prey. They track their prey through vibrations.

The graboids give birth to shriekers, which travel above ground and sense their prey by heat. The shriekers give birth to ass-blasters, essentially shriekers that can fly by farting fire. Completing the circle of life, the ass-blasters give birth to more graboids. All this is explained in the opening of Tremors 5 in a kind of sort of charming educational video.

Michael Gross has emerged as *the* star of the Tremors franchise. He plays survivalist Burt Gummer and he’s been fighting creatures since the first movie. He’s gotten older, but he’s in surprisingly good shape and just as determined/ornery as ever. He’s a delight. This time around, he’s been brought to South Africa to deal with an outbreak of graboid carnage. The South African version is a bigger and more deadly version of the North American variety.

This being a mini-blog, here’s my mini-review.

The first half of the movie moves way too slow, but it picks up in the second half. Lots of action. Lots of humorous bits with Gummer grossing about his lack of sufficient firepower and critical need-to-know intel. Exciting creature encounters. A surprising reveal. A satisfying ending. It’s a fun movie and that’s all I ever expect from a Tremors movie. It gets my recommendation.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Monday, October 12, 2015

REDUCING MY ONLINE FOOTPRINT

Another mini-blog...

For several weeks now, on my Facebook page and on Twitter, I have been posting items from “My Other Bucket List.” These are different from the items on my bucket list of things I want to write before I kick the bucket. They are short items, sometimes humorous, mostly little goals and personal life hacks. I’ll be posting them in this venue when I resume full-scale blogging.

Yesterday, I posted this item:

Reduce my online footprint by 90% for the rest of the month while I clear my schedule for new projects.

I figure that needs a bit of explaining.

My life is challenging and exciting. The challenges are medical and personal in nature...and they sometimes make it that much harder to give the exciting things the attention and energy they require. As a cruel universe won’t let me add another day or two to the week, I had to look around for other ways to give myself more time to do the things - challenging and exciting alike - I must do. The most obvious solution was to reduce my online presence.

What this means - and I stress this is intended to be temporary - is I’ll be doing much less posting on Facebook. I won’t be posting birthday greetings to my Facebook friends. I won’t be posting the historical notes, the birthday celebrations of famous and not-so-famous personalities, the remembrances of famous and not-so-famous personalities that have enriched my life. I won’t be posting links to articles and websites. No comics stuff and no political stuff. I won’t be commenting on things other people post.

I will continue to check my Facebook page, but mostly with an eye towards removing material I deem inappropriate or unwanted. I will continue to post new cover photos for my personal Facebook page and the First Church of Godzilla page and the Official Tony Isabella Message Board group. I’ll answer private Facebook messages when they require a response.

I’ll continue to post mini-blogs on as near a daily basis as I can manage. I’ll promote these and also my weekly “Tony’s Tips” column on both Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll continue to post the “My Other Bucket List” items on Facebook and Twitter. As with Facebook, I won’t be posting other content on Twitter, but will respond to messages and tweets when necessary and when I can. Between now and the end of the month, I hope to answer the e-mails that have been piling up in my inbox. The moratorium on interviews and accepting interview requests will continue for the next couple months.

I hope to resume my online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales as soon as humanly possible. As always, those sales will be posted in this venue. Watch for them.

I will be attending the Akron Comic Con in November. That will be my only convention or store appearance for the remainder of 2015. I plan on making more appearances in 2016

I’m a laser focused on what I must accomplish in the short term and the long term. The end game is to resume all the fun things I have been doing on Facebook and elsewhere.  

As always, I thank you for your patience and understanding. I’m not going anywhere. I’m just reducing my online presence for the next several weeks.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella


 


Sunday, October 11, 2015

OUTBURSTS OF EVERETT TRUE

Another mini-blog...

Outbursts of Everett True by A.D. Condo and J.W. Raper [Underworld Amusements; $16.95] was a must-buy for me. As readers of the late  and sorely missed Comics Buyer’s Guide will recall, I was so taken with this turn-of-the-century force of nature that I wrote hundreds of modern-day, comic-centric Everett True cartoons for CBG and the publisher’s Movie Collectors World. When I pulled the feature from CBG over creative/ethical issues, I wrote a dozen or so more strips for Amazing Heroes and The Comics Journal. These strips were mostly drawn or at least inked by the great Gary Dumm. In his introduction to this 280-page collection of the original strips, Trevor Blake notes only my Comics Journal appearances and was apparently unaware of the many others I did elsewhere.

Amazon has this to say about the book:

HERE IS A MAN WHO WOULD NOT TAKE IT. We have forgotten about Everett True, a man who attended with prejudice to those most deserving—the daily pests. Sure, superheroes may have stopped crimes and Popeye may have known his share of dust-ups. But what about the million annoying twerps who don’t break the law, but instead stomp on the social contract? When do they get theirs? Everett had no superpowers nor can of spinach, just a keen sense of human nature and the will to reward it but good. Everett True wished to live a simple life. He wished to go about his day without being unnecessarily bothered. His success then was not far from your own today. From loud-mouths in the theater to the overly pushy salesman, from the incessantly bothersome co-worker to the sidewalk hoggers, there’s always some do-gooder who needs done in. You and I might take it on the chin, but Everett gives it on the noggin with interest. Outbursts of Everett True rarely strays from a natural formula: the pest impinges on Everett, Everett clobbers the pest. Far from repetitive, the rhythm reveals the timeless truth that the line between justice and revenge is a phantom’s dream. Away with pity for the braggart, the inconsiderate, the assuming, the imposing, the blowhards, those cruel to animals and all the other pushy clods who would turn a perfectly pleasant day into a trial. Here are the best and brassiest Outbursts of Everett True. Many are reprinted for the first time since they were created by A. D. Condo and J. W. Raper, beginning in 1905. Outbursts of Everett True also packs the one-two punch of rare bibliographical information about the creators. Let Trevor Blake reintroduce our hero to a world ever more crowded with louts. Here is a man who stood up.

Everett True will not be to everyone’s taste. I love the guy, but, while some of his actions seem downright progressive, others seem born of ignorance. Still, I remember my days writing Everett True with fondness. Perhaps our paths will cross again.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Saturday, October 10, 2015

POT STICKLERS

Another mini-blog...

There is a good chance marijuana will become legal in my state of Ohio after the November elections. There is just as good a chance that two opposing issues will both pass and throw the whole thing into chaos.

One issue allow marijuana to be grown only at ten sites, awarding a virtual monopoly to a handful of “Big Pot” corporations. You just know some political folks are getting their beaks wet if this issue passes.

Another issue would outlaw such monopolies. I don’t know what that issue’s passage might do to the legalization of marijuana because I need to do more research on this issue.

I’m in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. I’m not really in favor of legalizing it because, while it has medicinal value and should not be illegal for those purposes, it makes people who smoke it for recreational purposes more stupid than they normally are.

However, I am okay with legalizing marijuana because there are many equally and even more stupid things that are legal: cigarettes and other tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, watching any TV show involving any of the Kardashians, believing anything on Fox News, taking selfies and voting Republican. Stupid is still legal in so many ways.

The best thought on these issues I’ve read so far did not come from a politician or pundit. It came from Akron Beacon-Journal reader Patty Martell, who wrote to columnist Bob Dyer:

I’ve been reading so much in the ABJ lately about the woes of the University of Akron and also about the push to pass legislation to legalize marijuana in Ohio.

It got me thinking … how about if we legalize marijuana with the stipulation that it can only be grown by the agricultural centers of our state universities?

Naturally, all the profits would go to those institutions to help finance higher education. Imagine the potential for students in research, marketing, sales, PR, product design, etc.

Wooster could become one of the largest growing centers in the state with its two university extensions! Perhaps the local Amish could offer their expertise on how to grow it organically.

Oh, the possibilities!

Like Dyer, I would vote for this plan in a heartbeat.

******************************

This column is dedicated to the former Marvel and DC Comics artist who insisted I try smoking pot in the 1970s. For whatever reason, it didn’t affect me. This artist kept smoking pot. Today he is a moronic right-wing zealot. I rest my case.

There were two other (repeated) incidents in which pot did affect me. While living in New York, I used to go to this movie theater which would show classic movies on Saturday night. We would catch the last showing of the previous week’s double feature and the first showing of the coming week’s double feature. The atmosphere of the place in those days before smoking of any kind was outlawed in most public places was...heady. After the last of the movies, I and my comics-industry companions would crave breakfast. Lots and lots of breakfast. No wonder the area restaurant owners always had such big smiles on their faces on Sunday mornings.

Also while living in New York, I had a beautiful girlfriend who, on several occasions, would smoke pot with mutual friends. I did not smoke pot, but she would inhale and then kiss me. Really kiss me. I will contend to my dying day that I got high from her kisses and not from the pot.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Friday, October 9, 2015

THE STRANGE WORLD OF MY DREAMS

Another mini-blog...

I try, but often forget, to keep a pad of paper by my bed. It’s for any ideas that come to me while I sleep and to write down my dreams  before they drift from my memory. My dreams often involve comics and rarely make any sense.

Here’s a recent one:

I’m driving the Daredevil car. It’s got a big “DD” on its grill and I’m driving it somewhere for Daredevil.

Why does Daredevil need a car like this? Because some of his cases have taken him to places where there are no tall buildings for him to swing from. He’s asked me to drive the car to where he’s working on such a case.

Suddenly, the car is caught in a dust storm. I pull over to what I think is the side of the road until I can see again. When I can see again, I find I have somehow driven to Egypt. I can tell because of the pyramids all around me.

That’s when my cat Simba woke me up.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

THE DREAMER

Another mini-blog...

The Dreamer: The Battle of Brooklyn by Laura Innes [IDW; $19.99] is the first volume of what I hope will be ongoing collections of the currently-running webcomic. Here’s what Amazon says:

Creator Lora Innes writes and illustrates the tale of 17-year-old Beatrice "Bea" Whaley, a student who begins having vivid dreams about a brave and handsome soldier named Alan Warren... a member of an elite group known as Knowlton's Rangers that fought during the Revolutionary War. Prone to keeping her head in the clouds, Bea welcomes her nightly adventures in 1776; filled with danger and romance they give her much to muse about the next day. But it is not long before Beatrice questions whether her dreams are simply dreams or something more...

The story is engaging and the art is beautiful. I liked this a lot and look forward to the second volume. Yes, I could read the strip online. I just like holding a book in my hands better.

ISBN 978-1600104657

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ULTRAMAN VOLUME ONE

Another mini-blog...

Ultraman Volume 1 by Eiichi Shimuza and Tomohiro Shimoguchi [Viz; $12.99] kicks off a new era for a classic Japanese super-hero. It is not breathtakingly original and its fight scenes are typical for Japanese action manga. Here’s what Amazon says:

Decades ago, a being known as the Giant of Light joined Shin Hayata of the Scientific Special Search Party to save Earth from an invasion of terrifying monsters known as Kaiju. Now, many years later, those dark days are fading into memory, and the world is at peace. But in the shadows a new threat is growing, a danger that can only be faced by a new kind of hero—a new kind of ULTRAMAN…

Shinjiro is an ordinary teenager, but his father is the legendary Shin Hayata. When he learns that his father passed on the “Ultraman Factor” to him, and that he possesses incredible powers, nothing will ever be the same again.


I got the first volume through my local library. I’m not going to request any further volumes. However, avid fans of the Ultraman TV series will want to take a look at this series.

ISBN 978-1-4215-8182-8

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

MILTON CANIFF’S STEVE CANYON

Another mini-blog...

Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon: The Complete Series Volume 1 [Hermes Press; $49.99] collects all seven issues of the 1950s Dell comics based on the famous newspaper strip.  This is a beautiful hardcover edition with terrific Caniff-esque art and entertaining, exciting stories published during the dawning of the Cold War.

Here’s what Amazon says:

Now for the first time in almost fifty years, fans of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon will have an opportunity to read the all-original comic book incarnation of one of the most important comic strips ever. The comic book adventures of Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon, one of the most popular and enduring comic strips from the late 1940s through the 1980s is joining Hermes Press' line-up of classic comic book reprints. Hermes Press has painstakingly restored the artwork of Milton Caniff, William Overgard, and Ray Bailey so that it looks better than the originals. Fans of Steve Canyon can now read these rarely seen adventures in all their four color glory. In addition to all seven issues together with their original cover artwork, this volume also presents essays, documentary material and rarely seen original artwork.

ISBN 1-932563-77-6


Monday, October 5, 2015

I AM HELEN KELLER

Another mini-blog...

I Am Helen Keller [Dial Books; $12.99] is the latest addition to the Ordinary People Change the World series of books by Brad Meltzer with art by Christopher Eliopoulos. Written for children, these mini-biographies are a smart combination of comics and prose which can be enjoyed by all ages.

Here’s what Amazon says:

When Helen Keller was very young, she got a rare disease that made her deaf and blind. Suddenly, she couldn't see or hear at all, and it was hard for her to communicate with anyone. But when she was six years old, she met someone who change her life forever: her teacher, Annie Sullivan. With Miss Sullivan's help, Helen learned how to speak sign language and read Braille. Armed with the ability to express herself, Helen grew up to be come a social activist, leading the fight for people with disabilities and so many other causes.

This is the best book in the series to date and that’s saying a lot because they’ve all been wonderful. I was moved to tears at times and thrilled at Helen’s victories at other times. If you have children of kindergarten age, these books would be ideal for them. Just make sure they let you read them, too.

ISBN 978-0-525-42851-0

TONY'S TIPS #128

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I don't know how to describe this column. Just read it.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

PITILESS PARODIES AND OTHER OUTRAGEOUS VERSE

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be regular mini-blogs on books, comics and other items I’ve enjoyed. These won’t be actual reviews. I’ll be lifting most of the descriptions from Amazon and back cover copy and the like. Consider them quick alters to stuff I think you might enjoy as well.

Pitiless Parodies and Other Outrageous Verse by Frank Jacobs [Dover Publications; 1994] is only available on the secondary market, but someone should really publish a new edition, maybe expanding on its current 80-page length by adding illustrations by MAD cartoonists and others. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

Superb send-ups of classic poetry and the contemporary scene by the zany humorist, including some reprinted from Mad Magazine. Includes skewered versions of "Kubla Khan," "Oh, Captain, My Captain," "Trees" and "My Last Duchess," parody recipes, the "Zoo's Who" and take-offs on Mother Goose and sports heroes.

ISBN 0-486-28126-4