Monday, May 29, 2017

GARAGE SALES ON THE LOOSE

My first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be happening on Friday and Saturday, June 16-17, at Stately Isabella Manor, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. I’m not 100% sure of the sales times, but I’m leaning towards 9-noon with the possibilities I could add an hour on either end or both, or that I could add evening hours.

I had considered doing garage sales on June 2-3 and 9-10 as well, but put those aside when I started rethinking my priorities for the sales. It’s not outside the realm of possibilities that I’ll hold some sort of advance sale on June 9-10. If things are shaping up well enough, I’ll let you know right here, on my Facebook page, via Twitter and on Craig’s List. If time permits, I’ll advertise them in the local newspaper as well.

About those priorities...

My most pressing VAOS-related need is to reduce the comics boxes in my office, my bedroom and my future reading room. In doing so, I’m also trying to make it easier for Sainted Wife Barb and our kids to deal with the VAOS in the event I commence my career as a vengeful spirit earlier than anticipated.

I’m looking at some recent and really good comic books and saying to myself that, as much as I enjoyed them, I’m not likely to read them again or use them in my work. These comics, including titles like Black Widow, Mickey Mouse, Mother Panic, New Superman, Savage Dragon, Star Wars, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and many others, will be bagged, boarded and put on sale for a dollar each. These comics take up a lot of space, so I expect to be ruthless in delegating titles to the garage sales.

I’ll be equally ruthless with graphic albums and novels, hardcovers and trade paperbacks. These will be priced at approximately 30% of their cover prices. I expect/hope these will move fast because the clutter is getting in the way of my productivity.

New to my garage sales will be collectible Monopoly games. I ended up with well over fifty of these games...and some of them strike me as pretty unusual. They are all factory-sealed. I expect to price these at five and ten dollars each.

There are also some games that won’t be factory-sealed because the plastic has been damaged. I plan to remove the plastic from these games and see if the damage extends to the boxes and interiors of the games. Some might be worth selling. Others will be stripped for their cards, dice, money and pewter figures. I will use as much of the buffalo, I mean, the Monopoly games, as possible.

One of the biggest attractions of my previous garage sales has been boxes and boxes of quarter comics. I’ll still have those, just not as many of them as in years past. Because my priority is reducing what’s already in my house, I don’t expect to be making trips to my secret Fortress of Storage units for restocking. However...

Most of my comic books, magazines, paperbacks, softcover trades and hardcovers from previous garage sales will be priced at a quarter. The faster I sell these items, the faster I can add new items to future sales. I’m serious about making space in my office and in the other rooms of the house where the boxes are multiplying.

This year’s garage sales will also see the return of those popular five-dollar mystery boxes. These contain at least 40 comic books plus books, magazines and cool surprises. I have four ready to go and hope to have eight to twelve for the first garage sales.

A word of warning: these mystery boxes go fast. They usually sell within the first hour of the garage sales. They seldom stay on sale the entire day.

As the sales progress over the summer, new items will be added on a weekly basis. Because I don’t know what’s in many (if not most) of the boxes in my office and elsewhere around the house, I expect to be as surprised by what turns up as my customers.

In addition...

I’m hoping to have a special component to each of my garage sales. These will include cosplay, special guests and even the occasional driveway panel. If you’re an area artist who would like to set up at one of my garage sales, e-mail me and we’ll see what we can work out. My main goals are to make money while reducing the VAOS, but I want to bring some fun to the sales as well.

Here’s the current schedule of my upcoming convention appearances and my garage sales...

Friday, June 16: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, June 17: GARAGE SALE

Friday, June 30: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, July 1: GARAGE SALE

Friday, July 14: G-Fest

Saturday, July 15: G-Fest

Sunday, July 16: G-Fest

Friday, July 28: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, July 29: GARAGE SALE

Friday, August 11: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, August 12: GARAGE SALE

Sunday, August 20: NEO Comic-Con

Friday, August 25: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, August 26: GARAGE SALE

Friday, September 8: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, September 9: GARAGE SALE

Friday, September 22: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, September 23: GARAGE SALE

Friday, October 6: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, October 7: GARAGE SALE

Friday, October 20: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, October 21: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Sunday, October 22: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, November 4: Akron Comicon

Sunday, November 5: Akron Comicon

For now, I’m only accepting cash and checks at the conventions and garage sales. I am planning to get a card reader. When I have one up and running, I’ll let you know.

One of the more frequently asked questions:

Do you buy comic books at conventions and your garage sales?

The answer is:

Yes. Sort of.

I’m in the market for good copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read and some Isabella-written comic books and magazines. However, since I would buying them for resale, I’m only going to pay a fraction of what they are worth.

If I ever get my want list together, I’ll be in the marker for some issues of titles I kind of sort of collect like The Barker, Career Girl Romances, Candy, Gorgo, Kathy (Marvel), Konga, Lassie (with Jon Provost covers), The Mighty Marvel Western, Nurse Betsy Crane and Western Gunfighters . I’ll pay a little bit more for those.

I might be in the market for good condition comic books to restock my quarter boxes, but I’m not willing to pay much for those. They would be going into the quarter boxes or maybe even mystery boxes. Such purchases would almost certainly raise the ire of Sainted Wife Barb on account of my garage sales are supposed to result in fewer comic books, not more comic books. But I do like to see the happy faces of fans as they pay for towering stacks of cheap comic books. I’m very sentimental that way.

I’ll have more to say about the garage sales as we get a bit closer to them. Keep checking the bloggy and my Facebook page for all the latest news.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the continuation of my 2017 East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention report. See you then.    

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Sunday, May 28, 2017

ECBACC PIONEER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

May 19. Friday night. Barb and Tony are at the TECH Freire Charter School for the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention reception and kick-off. The Philadelphia event includes the presentation of the Glyph Comics Awards. Tony wrote about all that in yesterday’s bloggy thing...

The ECBACC Pioneer/Lifetime Achievement award was launched in 2004 to honor those men and women who have made innovative, dynamic and lasting contributions to the comics industry. Often unknown to the larger industry, they inspired and paved the way for others. Each year’s honorees are nominated by a select panel of comics historians, creators and fans. The panelists work independently of one another. That independence is key to the process, especially, since this year, a few of those panelists found themselves on the receiving end of the award.

Professor William Foster III presented the first three of the six awards. The first was a posthumous award to groundbreaking comics creator Billy Graham (1935-1999).

Graham was the most prominent and one of the few African-American creators working in the comic-book industry in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He both wrote and drew stories for Warren Publications titles like Creepy and Vampirella and was promoted to art director of the line, becoming the first black art director in the industry. Moving to Marvel, he was a key part of the team that launched Luke Cage, Hero for Hire. He inked issues pencilled by George Tuska. He would co-plot and draw many other issues. He was the only member of the original team to be involved with every issue of the book’s initial 16-issue run. He also drew many issues of Don McGregor’s Black Panther run and McGregor’s Sabre. His intense and compelling artwork was instantly recognizable. He left us too soon, but his legacy as a comics legend and pioneer remains.

Next was my friend Don McGregor. One of the most original voices in comic books, McGregor made his debut with a series of outstanding horror stories in magazines like Creepy and Vampirella. Right from the start, McGregor included characters of color in his scripts. At Marvel, his Black Panther, Killraven and Luke Cage tales continued his clear commitment to diversity in comics. His Sabre graphic novel was the first graphic novel to be sold through the direct market. McGregor’s writing has lifted the spirits of his readers, demanded they confront equality with passion and understanding, and inspired dozens of writers and artists who rightfully credit him for showing them what comics can and should be. He’s a genuine pioneer who continues to fight the good fight.

When accepting his award, Don spoke of his friendship and several collaborations with Billy Graham. He talked about the characters, the stories and the struggle. Modestly, he didn’t talk much about himself, the man who brought those characters and stories to life, and who fought the battles for them.

For those of you who skipped over the image at the top of today’s bloggy, I was the evening’s third recipient of the P/LA. A. Dionne Stallworth, ECBACC’S resident A-V expert, which means both “audio-video” and, in her case, “awesome, very,” had previously recorded the Black Lightning trailer so it could be shown prior to my acceptance speech. The audience loved the trailer while I suddenly realized I had a tough act to follow.

I hadn’t written an acceptance speech per se, but, during our drive to Philadelphia, I had practiced one on Barb. More or less, here’s what I said:

Most of you already know my story. I was raised on the west side of Cleveland, which was a very segregated city. My first black friends were comic-book fans and I thought it was unfair that there weren’t more black super-heroes. If I ever got to work in comics, I wanted to do something about that.

Fairness. That’s what it was about for me. I wasn’t thinking about diversity when I worked on or created characters of color. I just wanted the comics world to be more fair. I never thought it would become one of the most defining things about my career, but I have been happy to embrace that.

I like to think I’m so “woke” that I have insomnia. The truth is: if you care about the kind of work I do, you never stop learning in your pursuit of our common goals. The work is important. It demands that level of effort and more.

I’m an outsider to this community, yet it has accepted me from the beginning. It has shown love, respect and support for me and what I do. You’re family.

In accepting this award, I also accept the responsibility that must come with it. The responsibility to continue doing what I do and to always strive to do it better. Thank you.


Don McGregor presented the fourth P/LA of the evening to our friend Alex Simmons, who couldn’t be at this year’s activities because he was in Moscow teaching Russian children how to make comics. This was not Alex’s first trip overseas for this purpose. In many ways, he is our ambassador to the world.

Alex is a master of many trades: comics creator, playwright, public speaker, education consultant. He has won a Glyph award for writing “The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton” at Archie Comics. His Blackjack graphic novel series is a critical and popular success. At DC, he created Orpheus, who appeared in the Batman titles. He founded the NYC Kids Comic Con, which celebrates its eleventh anniversary this year. He’s a great friend and a great man.

Alex couldn’t accept his P/LA in person, but, thanks to Dionne, he had recorded a message from Moscow that was played at the ceremony. That was amazing on so many levels, not the least of which was that he was in Russia because of comics.

The next Pioneer/Lifetime Achievement award went to M. Asli Dukan, filmmaker, director, producer, editor and media arts educator. She is currently in post-production on the feature-length documentary Invisible Universe about the history and representations of Black people in science fiction and movies. Dukan wasn’t present at the ceremony, but her P/LA award was presented and accepted for her by Ariell Johnson, the owner/operator of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philadelphia.

The final Pioneer/Lifetime Achievement award of the night went to author and historian Professor William H. Foster III. He’s written compellingly on comic books and popular culture for decades. Among his works is the landmark Looking for a Face like Mine (2005). He has been an expert commentator for CNN News, National Public Radio and the PBS series History Detectives. His research has been cited in the Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture. I’ve known Bill for years and admire him for his knowledge, insights, passion and humor. He’s a dear friend and I was thrilled to see him receive this well-deserved honor.

Friends made the evening all the more special for me. Though I did not know him well, I did work with Billy Graham on some Luke Cage comic books. Don and Alex and Bill are close friends. Asli is one of my Facebook friends. To be honored alongside such great people is both humbling and wonderful.

ECBACC President Yumy Odom made the closing remarks for the night. Then the adventures began anew.

ECBACC called Uber to deliver us safely back to our hotel, a fairly quick and straight shot back down North Broad Street. Or not. Our driver’s GPS must have been out of whack because she took us thru some twists and turns through some sketchy neighborhoods. Though Barb and I were the first to leave the reception, we were the last to get back to the hotel. Thankfully, Barb and I would be driving  ourselves to the convention on the morrow.

From the hotel, we went out for a late dinner with Don and Marsha McGregor, Frank Lovece and Maitland McDonagh at nearby Barbuzzo, a Mediterranean restaurant in an area filled with interesting shops and other eateries. It serves small plates, intended for sharing. Barb had Tufoli (baby zucchini, spring peas, broccoli-lemon pesto, toasted hazelnuts, parmesan). I passed on the Grilled Octopus and, instead, had a nice serving of pasta with red sauce. The food was delicious, but the company and conversation was better.

It was 12:30 am by the time we got back to the hotel. Which was way too late for an old man like me on the night before a convention. Then again, I had the energy that surrounds ECBACC to draw upon for the Saturday events.

My ECBACC 2017 report will resume on Tuesday as I take care of some other business in tomorrow’s bloggy thing. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Saturday, May 27, 2017

ECBACC 2017 OPENING RECEPTION

Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Sainted Wife Barb and Tony drove to Philadelphia for the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. After a day of sightseeing, a quick meal and freshening up, they are leaving the Courtyard Mariotte to go to the TECH Freire Charter School for the ECBACC reception and kick-off, which will include the presentation of the Glyph Comics Awards...
                                                                               

Barb and I decided not to pull our car out of the hotel parking. What with TECH Freire being a short drive from our hotel and what with the Courtyard’s friendly bellmen happy to hail us a taxi, we figured that was the way to go.

The reception was starting at 6:30 pm. We knew we had enough time to get there and probably get there early. Unfortunately, the cab ride was a little longer than we had anticipated. Because, when we were just a few blocks from the school, our cab driver decided he should make a phone call and not pay attention to our destination.

So the driver is on the phone trying to make some sort of deal with some other guy who clearly doesn’t want to do business with him. We knew this because the driver’s phone was loud enough for us to hear both ends of the conversation.

When we realize we’re just about to arrive at the school, we tell the driver our stop is just ahead. He doesn’t stop because he’s arguing with the guy on the phone.

When we pass the school, we start telling him loudly he has passed the school. Four blocks further, we start yelling at him that he’s  passed the school. He finally hears us and makes a U-turn, almost hitting another car in the process.
                                                                            
We still got to the school early, which gave me time to introduce Barb to ECBACC friends like Yumy Odom, Akinseye Brown, Professor  William Foster, Gretchen Foster, Maurice Waters, Dionne Stallworth, Stephanie Brown, Bill Johnson, Shenkar Davis and others. I also got to introduce Barb to Don and Marsha McGregor and to meet Marsha for the first time. We repeated that with our pal Frank Lovece and his wife Maitland McDonagh. It was my first time meeting Maitland. Other pleasant surprises were seeing Brian Saner-Lamken, my friend of many years, and Alex Lu, who’s my new editor on the Garfield books I do for Papercutz. I’m leaving out a whole lot of other people here, but I’d like to keep today’s bloggy down to a reasonable length. 

In case you're wondering, the above photo shows Don, Yumy, and me.

The reception opened with refreshments and conversation. ECBACC had a nice spread of food and snacks. If Barb and I hadn’t eaten just a few hours earlier, we could have made a meal out of the goodies provided by the convention.

ECBACC President Yumy Odom made the welcoming remarks, followed by Glyph Comics Awards Chairperson Shenkarr Davis and GCA Host Jamar Nicholas. My friend Jamar always does a terrific job in his role as host. Then it was time to hand out some well-deserved awards.

This year, I didn’t get a chance to read as many of the nominees as I would have liked. No matter, the nominees will serve as a reading list for the rest of the year. You can find the nominees via this link. Here are the winners...

The Glyph Awards are voted on by a distinguished panel of judges. Except for this first award, which is decided by online voting of all interested readers.

Fan Award for Best Work

M.A.S.K. – MOBILE ARMORED STRIKE KOMMAND; Brandon Easton, writer, Tony Vargas & Tommy Lee Edwards, artist

Best Reprint Publication

E.X.O. – THE LEGEND OF WALE WILLIAMS PART ONE; YouNeek Studios

Best Comic Strip or Webcomic

TUSKEGEE HEIRS: FLAMES OF DESTINY; Marcus Williams & Greg Burnham, writers, Marcus Williams, artist

Rising Star Award

TUSKEGEE HEIRS: FLAMES OF DESTINY; Marcus Williams & Greg Burnham, writers, Marcus Williams, artist

Best Female Character

Lily Brown; MALICE IN OVENLAND VOLUME #1; Micheline Hess, writer and artist

Best Male Character

Matt Trakker; M.A.S.K. - MOBILE ARMORED STRIKE KOMMAND; Brandon Easton, writer, Tony Vargas & Tommy Lee Edwards, artists

Best Artist

Brian Stelfreeze, artist; BLACK PANTHER

Best Writer

Congressman John Lewis & Andrew Aydin, writers; MARCH: BOOK THREE

Best Cover

BLACK #1; Kwanza Osajyefo, writer, Khary Randolph, artist
                                                                     

Story of the Year

MARCH: BOOK THREE; Congressman John Lewis & Andrew Aydin, writers, Nate Powell, artist

I was asked to present the award for Best Artist. In years past, I have generally written my own remarks. This year, I went with the remarks prepared for me:

Art is, in the simplest of terms, magic. It is the creatively displayed visualizations of beauty, with properties of psycho-emotional magnetism. It excites us. It invigorates us. It empowers us. I believe art is magic because from a single blank page, comic panel or computer screen, the viewer can be totally drawn in and immersed into the world the artist created. When art is able to work in tandem with great writing, the spell is complete and what is concocted becomes worthy of praise and recognition. I’ve been working in the comics business for a long time. I can remember a number of artists whose work I thought was magic. I am honored this evening to add new names to my long list of talented magicians.

Brian Stelfreeze, artist; BLACK PANTHER
Jamal Yaseem Igle, artist; BLACK
Jerome Walford, artist; GWAN ANTHOLOGY
Micheline Hess, artist; MALICE IN OVENLAND VOLUME #1
Nate Powell, artist; MARCH: BOOK THREE


I opened the envelope and announced the winner:

LA LA LAND

I’d come up with that joke the day after the Oscar Awards mix-up, figuring I’d use it at the Glyph Awards. I was on the fence about using it right up to the moment I opened the envelope. Fortunately, it got a good laugh.
                                                                             

The other presenters were: Brittany Marriott, Regine Sawyer, Eric Battle, Len Webb, Sheeba Maya, Naseed Gifted, Mshindo Kuumba I, N. Steven Harris and Professor William H. Foster III. That's Sheeba, Len and Regine in the above photo.
                                                                         
This year was the second for the Heruica Character Creation Awards which provide “a venue for graphic artists (character creation) to be placed in the spotlight.” This year’s winner was Queen Malika, created by Roye Okupe.
                                                                                

The awarding of the Heruica award was followed by an “In Memoriam” moment of silence for actor Ron Glass (July 10, 1945 – November 25, 2016), best known for his roles as Detective Ron Harris on Barney Miller (1975–1982), and as Shepherd Derrial Book on Firefly (2002) and its sequel film Serenity.

Next would be the Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Awards presentation. I need to take a breath before writing about that, so we will pick this up again in tomorrow’s bloggy. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Friday, May 26, 2017

THE ROAD TO ECBACC 2017

There’s only one thing I don’t love about the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention...and that’s the seven-plus-hour drive across Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. Naturally, I’ve considered flying to the event, but I’m trying to limit my air travel these days. I have grown weary of the connecting flights that extend the time it takes to get from A to B. A nervous flier at best, I’m uncomfortable in those cramped seats. I’ve seen too many examples of bullying and incompetence from airlines and government agencies. Thus is the sad example of a President Donald Trump.

In the past, I've left my home in Medina Ohio at some ridiculously early hour on Friday to get to my Philadelphia hotel early enough to relax and freshen up for that evening's ECBACC reception. This year, because Sainted Wife Barb, who is much smarter than I am, was traveling with me, we planned to drive about two-thirds of the way on Thursday night and finish the trip the following morning.

We left home about four Thursday afternoon so Barb could put in a full day at her job and I could finish a column. We also had to deliver laundry to the care facility where Barb's mother now lives. We got on the Ohio Turnpike around five.

There are three constants about driving to Philadelphia. There is always going to be construction on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. There will be traffic jams and slowdowns once you get within twenty or so miles of Philadelphia. It will cost you fifty bucks in tolls both on the drive to Philadelphia and on the drive back.

Our Thursday night destination was the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in more or less Harrisburg. The place was actually located in New Cumberland. We made decent time on our drive there, but we didn’t arrive until after the hotel restaurant closed. That and the lack of room service were minor annoyances.

The major annoyance was when we walked into a room and it was less a room and more a sauna. The heat was oppressive and we could not get the thermostat to respond to our desperate need to not have our blood boil in our bodies and emerge through our ears and elsewhere as steam. I went to the phone to call the front desk and ask them to save us before we melted.

The less major annoyance was that there was no house phone in the room. I have never been in a hotel room that didn’t have a phone in the room. We had to walk - a wee bit of a hike - to the front desk to inform said front desk of our predicament.

Speaking of annoyance, that was the immediate reaction of the front desk clerk when we told him about the problems. He said he could come to the room and adjust the thermostat, adding that the person in the room before us wanted it set for heat. And, yes, I’ve never heard of a hotel thermostat that could only do one or the another. I also asked the clerk is he was going to install a phone in that room. With a final flourish of annoyance, he gave us another room. There was much rolling of eyes on my part.

Despite this introduction to the hotel, it was a very nice place. The bed was comfortable. The grounds were attractive. There was a free hot breakfast buffet that was outstanding. I complimented the woman who was keeping it well stocked.
                                                                              

We made decent time driving the rest of the way to Philadelphia and the Courtyard Marriott where we would be staying. Located on North Juniper Street, the hotel is one of three Marriott hotels in a row. Talk about owning the block...or three.

The Courtyard was a beautiful place with nice rooms. Not only was it relatively close to where the ECBACC events would be held, but it was across the street from the wondrous Reading Terminal Market and in close proximity to the Philadelphia City Hall (shown at the top of today's blog) and many other areas of interest.

Once we were unpacked, Barb and I decided to do some sightseeing. Barb has never been to Philadelphia before and I had never visited long enough to see any of the sights.
                                                                                 
                                                                            
Our first destination was the Liberty Bell Center at 6th and Market Streets, just a short walk from our hotel. Admission to the center is free, though we did have to wait a reasonable amount of time before we could enter the center. However, there were exhibits we could check out while we were waiting and a special performance.

Right behind us in the line was a group of students. They had their own tour guide, an African-American man who seemed to be around my age or maybe a tad older. He was animated, funny and informative as he related facts and stories about the dawn of American democracy. The man was a natural storyteller. I don’t know if those students appreciated him, but Barb and sure did. Inside the Center, after we’d seen the Liberty Bell, I went up to the man, told him he was a delight and thanked him. This pleased him greatly.

From there, we went to the Independence Visitor Center. It was just across the street and filled with exhibits. However, as we only had a limited amount of time, we only stayed long enough to buy tickets for the Big Bus Philadelphia Tour.
                                                                                

The “Big Bus” was a double-decker bus that made 27 stops along its route. You could get off anywhere on the route and then get back on when the next bus rolled to the stop. The stops included the Betsy Ross House, the United States Mint, Ben Franklin’s Grave, the great Chinatown area (which we definitely want to visit on some future visit) and the “Rocky Steps” made famous by the Sylvester Stallone movie. Our tour guide was personable and presented facts and trivia in an entertaining manner. He even pointed out the headquarters of the Philadelphia Police Department, which was often filmed for Cold Case, a TV show Barb and I used to watch.

The only negatives to the bus tour: we hit traffic jams more than once...and we were sitting on the top of the bus in temperatures that never dropped below ninety degrees. That second one was all on Barb, but, despite the brain-boiling heat, I had to admit the views were spectacular.
                                                                                 

We stayed on the bus through the 27 stops and beyond, getting off at the Reading Terminal Market. The Reading Railroad opened this  Philadelphia landmark in 1893. Back then, the place had nearly 800 spaces for vendors and was praised as the greatest food market in the world.

The Market suffered when the Railroad went bankrupt in 1971. By the end of the decade, only 23 merchant stands were opened. This would not be the case for long.

The Market turnaround started in the 1980s. It has been rebuilt to strict historical preservation standards. It is now home to nearly eighty independent small businesses featuring bakeries, beverages, books, crafts, dairy and cheese, housewares, meats and poultry, produce, restaurants and specialty foods. You could spend days in the Market and only begin to sample all it has to offer. Honestly, everything looked delicious, even foods I would never ever think of eating like lobsters and pigs feet.

Barb and I had a late lunch that Friday afternoon. She enjoyed the Philly cheesesteak from Spataro’s Cheesesteaks while I dined on a cheeseburger from Hunger Burger. The latter donates part of every sale to community programs. On our way out, we bought bananas and grapes from Iovine Brothers Produce. All in all, great food at very reasonable prices.

We went back to our hotel room to relax for a bit and get ready for the ECBACC reception and kick-off at the TECH Freire Charter School on nearby North Broad Street. The evening event included the 2016 Glyph Comics Awards and the presenting of several Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Awards. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about that exciting evening.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Thursday, May 25, 2017

RICH BUCKLER (1949-2017)

Comics creator Rich Buckler passed away last Friday morning. That evening, just before the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention reception in Philadelphia, Don McGregor pulled me aside to give me the sad news. It wasn’t our place to announce Rich’s death at that event, but we talked about our friend privately more than once over the weekend.

It’s been difficult for me to decide what I want to say about Rich. Don was much closer to him and more recently than I was, so I know Don will have so much more to tell you about Rich than me. I also know there are fans of Rich’s that will be able to relate all the things he did in comics and beyond comics and, again, do so better than I could. But Rich was one of the first friends I made when I moved to New York to work for Marvel and made me feel welcome there and elsewhere. I’m just going to start writing now and see where it takes me.

I knew Rich’s work before I met him. I probably first saw that work in one of DC’s mystery comics or in one of the black-and-white mags published by Skywald. I particularly remember his work on “Rose and the Thorn” in several issues of Lois Lane...and on “Butterfly” in Hell-Rider #2 [Skywald; September-October 1971]. Butterfly was the first African-American super-heroine in comics, which is something that probably deserves further comment in the future.

Rich’s work had a strong Neal Adams influence in those early days, but Adams was only one of his influence. He was an admirer of Jack Kirby and that showed in his work as well. But, even though Rich’s influences might’ve been obvious, he always brought something else to the table, something uniquely Buckler. His work with McGregor on Black Panther and other features and stories are stand-outs in that regard, as is Deathlok, his own creation.

When I first went to work at Marvel, I was in a large office helmed by Sol Brodsky. I didn’t have a desk per se. My typewriter was on an artist’s table, which I’m sure has a name I can’t remember, and I had a kind of end table with drawers, which I’m sure also has a name I can’t remember. I do remember George Roussos, hidden behind file cabinets, shared the office with Sol and I, and there were a couple other artist’s tables in the office for when artists might need a place to work. Rich often used one of those other tables, which is how we met.                                                                           
The first stuff we worked on together was a bunch of covers for The Mighty World of Marvel and Spider-Man Comics Weekly. These titles were weekly reprint comics produced in New York, but published in the general vicinity of Great Britain and for the British market. Our United Kingdom partners were forever switching printers on us and, in doing so, constantly forcing us to push up our deadlines. I never did get the hang of the scheduling, but Sol kept our merry little ship afloat.

Rich and I did two dozen of these covers in a fairly short amount of time. Because these were reprint books and I was working pretty far ahead of schedule, I already knew what would be in each issue. We worked on quick sketches - sometimes Rich would come up with the idea, sometimes I would - and then Rich would flesh them out a bit. The sketches were okayed by Stan Lee or Roy Thomas, usually without any changes. My memory is that Rich turned in the final pencils on all the covers within a week, two weeks tops. Mike Esposito inked them. They looked pretty good to me.

Rich did layouts for the second of the two issues of Doc Savage I wrote for Marvel. I’m sure we did some other Marvel stuff together - probably not full stories - but I never kept track of all those little odds and ends. I wish I had.

Later on, Rich and I did the one and only Man-Monster story for the brief return of Atlas Comics in the 1970s. I plotted, Rich drew and Gary Friedrich scripted. It’s a terrific looking comic book cover and story.
                                                                                

During my mercifully brief time as a DC Comics staffer, Rich did at least one Challengers of the Unknown cover for me. It’s one of my favorite things to come out of those few months.

That’s the comics stuff. Rich and I didn’t hang out a lot, but we had some meals together and saw some movies together. With Rich’s first wife, we saw The Omen. There was a Spanish-speaking woman in front of us who kept crossing herself while saying “Madre de Dios” (Mother of God) at the scary parts...and there were a whole lot of scary parts in that movie.

Rich’s first wife apparently thought I was marriage material. She arranged a double date with her and Rich and a friend of hers. She then took me shopping to make sure I looked nice for what I thought was just a casual date and ended up feeling like an audition to see if I was worthy to court the young woman. It wasn’t a comfortable evening for me, but I appreciated Rich and his wife making such an effort on my behalf.

Rich brought me over to Warren Publications editor Bill Dubay’s apartment for a game night. Bill was married to Rich’s sister. Bill wanted to get me to write and maybe edit for Warren, but, even though I liked him and thought it was a nice offer, I was too happy at Marvel to even consider a move. Later, when I wasn’t quite as happy, and probably at Bill or Rich’s suggestion, I had a meeting with Warren publisher Jim Warren. Jim offered me both the editorship of Eerie and all the writing I wanted. I was tempted, but turned it down. I had too many ties at Marvel. After the meeting, I ended up on better terms with Warren than ever. He’s one of the few comics folks that didn’t get angry at me when I turned down job offers from them.

I know the above stories might seem like they’re more about me than about Rich, but I’m working my way around to a point here. Besides being remembered for his great comics stories and art, Rich should be remembered for being a good friend to an awful lot of people in the comics industry.

Rich opened the door to careers in comics for many young artists, among them Denys Cowan, Arvell Jones, George Perez, Keith Pollard and more. He hired them as assistants, taught them the things he’d learned, often threw them into the deep end of the deadline pool and helped them become comics professionals. Rich was appreciative of the kindnesses done to him by the previous generation of comics artists and he paid it forward.
                                                                          

Someone close to Rich wanted to make sure he was never forgotten. He won’t be. His fans - like me - will remember their favorite Rich Buckler work. For me, that would include All-Star Squadron, Black Panther, Avengers and many others. During his career Rich drew just about every super-hero - major and minor - from DC, Marvel and a few other publishers. For those young artists he championed, Rich will be remembered for the knowledge and the opportunities he gave them. For his friends - like me - Rich will be remembered for those good times we had with him. Rich will be remembered and he will be missed. By the fans, by his students, by his friends.

Let’s raise a flagon of Asgardian ale for our friend Rich Buckler. He joins the hosts of comics talents who inspired him and he’ll be there for those who he inspired.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

IF IT’S TUESDAY, THIS MUST BE TONY

It’s been an interesting - mostly in good ways - several weeks for me. The news of the Black Lightning TV show being picked up by the CW was quickly followed by the release of that incredible trailer. I received a cherished Pioneer Life Achievement Award from the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia, which was a joy magnified because Sainted Wife Barb was with me and because my dear friend Don McGregor also received that great honor. However, all that joy was tempered by the usual insane and vile actions of Donald Trump and his goons and, especially, by the passing of Rich Buckler, legendary comics creator and old friend. I’ll be writing about Rich on Thursday and about ECBACC over the weekend.

Folks often ask me how I’m doing in the midst of all the above. The most honest answer I can give is...I’m not sure. I’m incredibly happy about everything Black Lightning and my new relationship with DC Comics/Entertainment. I’m in a state of perpetual dizziness over everything on my desk. I’m excited by what looms in my future. But I’m also sad because some of my friends aren’t doing as well and my ability to help them is limited.

I’m trying to be many things to many people, but, especially, to my Sainted Wife Barb. Her pharmacist job, which involves her making chemo for cancer patients and working very long hours on behalf of those and other patients, is challenging at the best of times. In addition to that, Barb is also handling her mother’s complicated situations. Her mom has Alzheimer’s disease and is living in a care facility while dealing with her divorce from a scumbag ex-husband.  There are financial and legal matters to be sorted out in a manner that will help her mom during these final stages of her life. It’s frustrating and time-consuming and I think it’s a wonder Barb has been able to keep her wits about her with only occasional bouts of screaming. I try to do as much as I can to help Barb, but I never think it’s enough.

When asked about my hopes for the future, a question usually asked in conjunction with the Black Lightning stuff, the truest response I can give is...I want to ride the lightning as long as I can in the hope of creating new opportunities for myself and other comics creators. It’s a lofty goal and I’m not certain it’s a reachable goal. I still have to try.

Anger is my constant enemy. Not so much my anger, though I surely have given in to anger on too many occasions, but the anger of the friends I hope to help. I listen to and understand their anger and would never claim they don’t have a right to that anger. But I know it’s going to get in the way of my being able to help them at some point down the line. I still have to try.

Before anyone starts humming “First World Problems,” rest assured I do know how fortunate I am. I recognize how much love, respect and support I have received and continue to receive. I often feel overwhelmed by how much I have to do and my apparent inability to balance it all. I still know I’m a lucky, lucky man.

Which brings us to today’s bloggy thing, a compilation of odds and ends that have been bouncing around my head over the past several days. Some of it is personal, some of it isn’t. I’m just trying to figure it all out while that “it” is getting bigger all the time.

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

My best-laid plans don’t always work out. A while back, I asked for my artistic readers to send me cruel caricatures of Donald Trump. I planned to use these caricatures whenever I wrote about “Peepee Cheeto” and pay the artists five bucks every time I used their art in this bloggy thing. One of my readers thought it was such a great idea he donated $25 to the cause.

My e-mail box was flooded with...two submissions.

Two. Submissions.

I’m posting both of them today. The first one is by Brian Wingrove of Bear Butt Comics. The second one is by Rick Brooks. As soon as I post today’s bloggy thing, I’ll send them $12.50 each.

After that, I’m out of the “cruel caricatures” business. Honestly, I think real photos of Trump are hideous enough.

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

Speaking of the Dumpster President, I saw and read some brouhaha on how his First Lady Melanie didn’t wear a head scarf in Saudi Arabia on their recent visit there. Apparently, when First Lady Michelle Obama didn’t wear a head scarf in Saudi Arabia, Trump said that was disrespectful or some such. Of course, Trump said one thing when it was the black president’s wife and didn’t say anything when it was  the racist white president’s wife. This wouldn’t have raised my ire in the slightest because it’s what I expect from him. But it does give me a chance to say this:

Fuck Saudi Arabia. The country is a key sponsor of terrorists and  should have been attacked by US forces before any of the countries we did invade. They are a repressive nation that got the free pass after 9-11 because they were sleeping with the Bushes and because they were wealthy and because they had oil. Good for Michelle and Melanie and any other woman who chooses not to kowtow to the Saudis penchant for restricting the rights of women in this and in so many other ways.

Naturally, Trump couldn’t stick his orange nose up Saudi butts fast enough. He’s the lapdog of despots.

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

On a more cheery note, one of the things I love about my Facebook page is that I’m always learning new things. Yesterday was Herge’s birthday. He was the creator of Tintin, one of the greatest graphic album series of all time. When I posted a remembrance of Herge, I got a comment from my friend Lonni Susan Holland. She wrote:

[Herge] often drew himself into his stories, just as a passerby or face in a crowd.
I did not know that...and now I do. I’ll have to reread my Tintin albums and look for Herge in those wonderful stories.

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

I can’t recall where I saw the original discussions, but I recently came across comment threads asking comics fans and professionals to name their favorite Flash villain and who they considered the arch-enemies of other 1960s super-heroes. The term “arch-enemies” always brings a smile to my face. I picture evil fiends who force heroes to wear uncomfortable shoes. Inevitably, I also remember people I once thought of as my “arch-enemies” and chuckle at my ridiculous sense of drama.

My favorite Flash villain was always Captain Cold because he looked so...uhh...cool. His super-weapon was pretty basic and even easier to understand. Cold. I know what cold is. I don’t like cold. What else could the Captain be other than a villain. It took the X-Men’s Iceman to get me off the notion that cold was always bad.

Now, if you had asked me the most dangerous Flash foe, I would’ve answered Grodd. Because the Grodd of the comic books was one deadly monster. Physical strength. Scientific mastery. Mind control. The perfect mix of the seeming primitive with the terrifying advanced evolution.

As for the arch-enemies of the super-heroes and other adventures of the 1960s, that’s probably good for an entire bloggy thing or two. Sticking to the comics I read as a kid or a teenager, I’ll limit myself to a dozen characters or teams this time around.

Superman: Lex Luthor
Batman: The Joker
Green Lantern: Sinestro
Aquaman: The Ocean Master
The Atom: Chronos
Challengers of the Unknown: Multi-Man
Sgt. Rock: The Iron Major
Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom
Spider-Man: Doctor Octopus
Thor: Loki
Sgt. Fury: Baron Strucker
Daredevil: The Owl
The X-Men: Magneto

There were characters who, as far as I was concerned, didn’t have arch-enemies. For me, Wonder Woman didn’t have an actual arch-enemy  until editor/writer Robert Kanigher did that run of stories meant to look like the stories of the 1940s. The Martian Manhunter didn’t have an arch-enemy unless you wanted to count fire. The best that Ant-Man could do was the Porcupine, though I confess I love the Porcupine.

I’ll revisit this topic in the future. In the meantime, feel free to send your own choices and comments. I’ll include them the next time I do one of these “odds and ends” columns.

I’ll be back on Thursday with a remembrance of Rich Buckler. I hope you’ll join me.  

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Monday, May 22, 2017

TONY'S TIPS #210

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Forbidden Worlds Volume Twelve, reprinting issues #71-76, cover-dated October 1958 to March 1959; Escape from Monster Island.and Marvel's Civil War II!

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 111 (PART THREE OF THREE)

Previously in “Rawhide Kid Wednesday”...

We’ve been looking at Giant-Size Kid Colt #1 [January 1975], a 68-page comic book that featured Kid Colt and the Rawhide Kid in a new 15-page adventure written and drawn by Larry Lieber with inking by Vince Colletta. In part one, we discussed that team-up story and a few other odds and ends. In part two, we covered four of the seven reprinted tales that followed the new. Six of them starred Kid Colt and the seventh was a non-series story by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. For this final installment, we’re looking at the last three of the reprinted stories, all starring Kid Colt. It’s best to assume that there will be SPOILERS AHEAD...

The remaining reprint stories are from Kid Colt Outlaw #62 [July 1956]. The cover of that issue (as shown above) was by Joe Maneely. There were four Kid Colt stories in that issue, but, surprisingly, only one of them was drawn by Jack Keller.

“Duel To the End” (5 pages) was drawn and lettered by Dick Ayers. The writer of this story and the remaining two reprints in Giant-Size Kid Colt #1 has not yet been identified.

The story:

A casino is abuzz with the news Charro Dance has come to town. He’s a noted gunslinger who was double-crossed by Rock Gavin. When Rock tries to have his men come with him, Kid Colt gets in the way. If there’s gonna be gunplay, it’s be a fair fight. Despite the Kid’s interference, Gavin already has a man in place on a roof to shoot Dance. Then something unexpected happens.

“Charro Dance” walks right by Gavin. When Gavin calls him out, the man seems puzzled. He’s got no argument with Rock. Gavin draws on him anyway, but Kid Colt shoots the cylinders out of Rock’s guns. Then Colt rides out of town with the befuddled stranger.

The stranger’s last name is Dance, but he’s no gunslinger. He came to town to open a print job and, stubbornly, he still intends to do just that.

A week later, in another town, Colt sees the stranger again. This time, though, the stranger has no idea who the Kid is. Because it’s not the guy who wanted to open a print shop. It’s the real Charro Dance.

Once Charro hears Colt’s story, he reveals that the printer is his twin brother, who he’s been separated from since they were kids. He would have found his brother before this, but Charro was ashamed of his gunslinger reputation. Colt and Charro ride back to the town.

They find the smouldering ruins of Johnny Dance’s print shot. The fire was set by Rock Gavin, who then left Johnny half-dead. It was a bad move on Gavin’s part.

Charro and Colt make short work of Gavin and his gang. They sort of have to make short work of them because this story is a mere five pages long. After the gunplay, the brothers are reunited.

CHARRO: We’ll make it a twosome from now on, Johnny! You’ll get that print shop an’ I’ll help you run it!
 
COLT: And I’ll drop by every so often to see you’re not runnin’ out of ink!  

Kid Colt, Seller of Printing Supplies!

This was a fun story, though I think it could have used a few more pages to expand on the multiple befuddlements.

“Beware the Gunman!” (4 pages) was drawn by John Severin. It’s the only one of this issue’s reprints that specifically mentions that Kid Colt and the law “don’t exactly see eye to eye!”

The story:

A youngster sneaks up on Kid Colt’s campfire with guns drawn. The Kid tells the lad he has no money. The lad says he’s after grub on account of the law is on his tail and he can’t travel on an empty stomach. Colt offers to share his food.

The young man weaves quite the tale of being a ruthless outlaw on the run. When asked his name:

They call me...er, K-Kid Colt! Yep! Kid Colt, that’s me! You can call me Kid if you got a mind to!

Covering his mouth to stifle a laugh, the actual Kid Colt suggests they team up. The youngster agrees readily.

The fake Kid Colt says they should find some rich casino, jump the place and then get out. The real Colt is aghast:

You mean just an ordinary everyday robbery? I always heard Kid Colt never robbed cold! I thought you played it straight and square!

Fake Colt says he was just testing Real Colt’s nerve. They ride into town. Fake Colt is amazed that everyone is ducking for cover. Real Colt explains:

They know better than to stand in the open when a gunslinger like you rides into town, Kid!

The young man responds:

I reckon you’re right! These weasels better not cross me or I’ll brace the whole town!
 
The smiling real Kid Colt says:

It’s mighty comforting riding with a big caliber hombre like you, Kid!

Inside the town’s leading “den of gambling,” Spade Reed, who has faced the real Kid Colt before, orders one of his men to tell the Kid to come into the saloon ready to swap lead. The real Colt tells his imposter Reed is a mighty rough customer.

Making yet another bad choice, the fake Kid Colt enters the casino for the showdown. Reed laughs at the lad and knocks him down. Which is when the real Kid Colt walks in. One panel later, the real Colt is shooting guns out of the hands of Reed and all his men:

This is the second time you talked me into a gunfight, Spade! The third time will be the last...for you!

The last panel takes this story into “afternoon special” territory as the Kid Colt impersonator comes clean:

I’m s-sorry, K-Kid! I ran away from home figurin’ to find adventure an’ danger, so I picked your name because...well, because you’re top gun in the west!

Colt responds:

Well, go back home and forget it! You’ll find more adventure in books...and a lot safer kind, too!
 
I love this goofy little story. It could have used another page or two, but I love it. With the right actors, I could even see it as a short film. It’s my favorite story in this issue.

“The Dam!” (5 pages) is Giant-Size Kid Colt #1's final story. It’s drawn by Jack Keller, the artist most associated with Kid Colt in the 1960s. The tale is a rather grim one.

The Kid comes across the smoking remains of a sheep rancher’s home and spread. It appears to be the result of an ongoing war between sheep ranchers and cattlemen. The one survivor is a very young boy who witness his father being taken away by the men who did this to their home.

Colt takes the boy to town and makes it clear he’s planning to hunt down the men who killed the sheep rancher:

This lad was orphaned by some hyenas who massacred a flock of sheep and burned his house! Maybe those saddle tramps are here, an’ maybe not.

Every man’s got a right to earn wages an’ enjoy life as he sees fit! Some polecats denied those rights to this boy an’ his dad!

I’m going to find the buzzards who did this, and when I do, they’ll be bait for Boot Hill!


Outside the saloon, Colt is approached by Jeff Cantrell, who is a cattleman. He says he and his fellows are fed up with these feuds and swears none of them has anything to do with attacking the dead sheep rancher.

Colt believes Cantrell and asks him to keep on an eye on the young boy. The cattleman promises the boy will have a home. He also says the men in the valley will help Colt in his quest.

The Kid declines the latter offer. He’s used to playing a lone hand in such matters.

Colt comes across some sheep ranchers. Impossibly, their lands have dried up. The Kid knows this valley is fed by headwaters from the Sierras and they never dry up. He decides to investigate.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who, you know, read the title of this yarn, but a dam has been built to block the valley’s water. It was built by the polecats who killed the sheep rancher. Their plan is to make the sheep ranchers think the cattlemen are to blame and then buy up the cheap grazing land that will inevitably come on the market in the aftermath of a range war.

Colt goes after the killers, shooting the guns out of their hands and forcing them to blow up the dam. They set off the explosions prematurely, figuring Colt will be blown to bits and they’ll swim safely to shore. They aren’t good with this figuring stuff.

Colt makes it to safety. The bad guys get swept to their deaths in the surging waters that had been held back by the dam.

This isn’t a bad story, but, like so many of these short Kid Colt adventures, it could’ve used more pages. Colt’s personality is that of an avenger, but, beyond that, there’s not much to set this hero apart from the other Marvel western heroes. I always liked both the Rawhide Kid and the Two-Gun Kid better.

That wraps up this look at Giant-Size Kid Colt #1. There were too more issues in the series and I’ll get around to both of them down the road. I hope you enjoyed the extended coverage of this comic.

Coming up next - because I’ll be skipping “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” this week - are most likely three days of this and that, followed by my report on the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention.

Thanks for following the bloggy thing. See you tomorrow.     

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Thursday, May 18, 2017

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 111 (PART TWO OF THREE)

Previously in “Rawhide Kid Wednesday”...

We were looking at Giant-Size Kid Colt #1 [January 1975], a 68-page comic book featuring Kid Colt and the Rawhide Kid in an original 15-page adventure written and drawn by Larry Lieber with inking by Vince Colletta. In yesterday’s installment, we discussed that story and a few other odds and ends. Today, we’re going to talk about the some of the seven reprinted tales backing up the cover story. Six of the reprints tarred Kid Colt; the seventh was a non-series story by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. As I write about these stories, it’s probably best to assume that there will be SPOILERS...

The first three Kid Colt stories and the non-series tale all come from  Kid Colt Outlaw #52 [September 1955]. The cover of that issue (as seen above) was by Joe Maneely. The Kid Colt stories from that 1955 issue did not have titles, so I’ve come up with my own.

“Stockton” (6 pages) was written by an as-yet-unidentified writer and drawn by Jack Keller. The story:

Stockton was a neat, clean town when Kid Colt last passed through it. Since then, gold was discovered nearby and gambling houses have been built to take the money of the hardworking miners. The town is in dire straits with no future for decent people.

Those decent people ask Colt for his help in cleaning up the town. With his help, they campaign for a better town and show the miners how they get bupkis for the money they lose to gamblers. Taking the message to heart, the miners stop gambling and donate to a fund to build up the town.

The gamblers take offense to this. They try to stop Colt by force. But they can’t stand against a united townspeople and must flee the  town. The good people of Stockton then burn the gambling houses to the ground.

It’s an unbelievable story which left me shaking my head. Burn down the gambling houses? I mean, they couldn’t find some other use for those buildings? Sheesh!

The story is followed by full page ad for such Marvel merchandise as Spider-Man and Hulk model kits, a Spidey squirt gun, a Spider-Mobile, Spidey Foam and more. Nothing on the page was priced higher than $5.98 (the Spider-Mobile). The other items ranged from $1.25 to $2.98. What bargains!

“Silver Valley” (6 pages) is also drawn by Keller and, once again, the writer has not yet been identified. The story:

Kid Colt rescues am older man from a hungry bear and then has bacon and coffee with the man. Colt is on his way to “pressing business” in Culver County and asks for directions to the shortest trail to Silver Valley. The old man tries to steer Colt clear of the valley, but the Kid is in a hurry.

The road trip is harrowing. Colt is attacked by an unfriendly band of Native Americans and only escapes because they respect him as a warrior enough to let him pass in peace. He encounters a blizzard and hungry wolves in a mountain pass. He is blistered by the sun in the lowlands. He fights and captures murderous stagecoach robbers. Despite all these distractions, Colt reaches his destination: the place of his friend Jim Wyatt.

Why did Colt have to get to the Wyatt spread so quickly? Because he wanted to be there for young Jody’s birthday and give the lad the silver spurs Jody wanted. When Jim asks the Kid how his trip there went, Colt says there was nary a ripple.

I love this story. It’s action-packed with a wonderful punch line. The writer did his job exceedingly well.

“The Ramrod” (5 pages) by Stan Lee and Gene Colan was a non-series story. A wild-eyed man in a Confederate uniform rides into Pawnee, shooting into the air. He charges into the saloon, demanding Dixie music. He insults brave men who fought on both sides of the war. He goads a man into a duel and, fortunately, only shoots the guns out of that man’s hands. When he tries to buy the house a drink, he’s told his Confederate money is now worthless. He proclaims he will rob the bank, but then sits down at a table and waits for the town sheriff to come and face him.

The town wants to know why Sheriff Alf Durand hasn’t done anything about this man. Durand walks into the saloon alone. He faces the wild-eyed man and speaks:

Men have always fought for causes and died for them! The world has gone ahead! You’re no different! It’s over now and the nation is stronger for it!

You taunted brave men who had fought on both sides! They want to forget, but you won’t let them! Gray and blue...they’re hear to make a new life! But you won’t let them!

Stand up, Ramrod! Get on your feet, because I am to make you a man! On your feet, you selfish, bawling cry-baby! Get up!


Durand shoots the gun out of Ramrod’s hand, then proceeds to beat the crap out of him. The sheriff tells Ramrod he’ll be a better man now. To forget the past and live for the future.

The twist ending? Ramrod knows the sheriff, but thought Durand was killed at Vicksburg. But Alf was only wounded and recovered from his injuries.

Durand tells the townspeople to get Ramrod to a doctor and assures them the man will be all right now. The sheriff should know. He was Ramrod’s commanding officer...and his brother!

“The Ramrod” is a well-written and well-drawn story, but it hails from a time when foolish people were more forgiving of the slavers of the South. We can now longer afford such forgiveness. Not when our President is a racist who has placed other racists in important positions. Not when vile white supremacists march and protest while waving around torches. Today, this well-written and well-drawn tale makes me sigh in sadness and disgust.

“Bad Blood” (6 pages) is the third and final story reprinted from Kid Colt Outlaw #52. The writer is unknown at this time, but Jack Keller is once again the artist.

The story:

Riding into an unnamed town, Kid Colt stops a gunfight by shooting the guns out of the hands of both men. The feud between the Dawson and Moore families has been going on so long that no one remembers what started it. But it has heated up because Ed Moore believes his brother was murdered by Dawson.

Hearing the story from Dawson, Colt believes the man is innocent. Moore’s only living kin is his half-cousin Clyde Hanson, so Moore has taken the death of his brother real hard and vowed to kill Dawson. Hence, the attempted gunfight.

Colt does some deducting. When the death of his brother, the whole of the Moore ranch went to Ed. Dawson is shocked at the idea that Moore himself is the killer, but agrees to join the Kid to do some investigating. They ride to the spot where the younger Moore was shot in the back. An unseen shooter tries to bushwack them, but he misses and rides off.

Colt rides to the Moore spread to confront Ed. The Kid tells Moore he thinks he knows who killed his brother. Moore doesn’t believe it was anyone other than Dawson. But Colt tells him he’ll be waiting at the entrance of Wolf Canyon with the proof. This is where Ellery Queen shows up and tells you that you have all the clues you need to solve this murder that I solved back on page two.

Just kidding about the Ellery Queen part...

Colt and Dawson ride to the canyon. There’s no sign of Moore. Then Cousin Clyde gets the drop of them. Clyde figured that, if Ed was killed in a gunfight, the ranch would be his.

Colt didn’t have this figured out all the way. He thought telling Moore he had a hunch who the killer was would make the back shooter come out in the open.

Clyde says Colt and Dawson will never tell anyone what they know. But he whirls at a voice from off-panel.

Ed Moore, who had come to the canyon to kill Colt and Dawson, heard everything. Colt keeps Clyde from shooting Ed.

Moore feels low, but is glad Clyde will pay for his crime. He then shakes hands with Dawson. The feud is finally over...and that’s all the reward Kid Colt needs.

This was a good little story. I want to point out that none of the three Kid Colt reprints make much if anything of his being a wanted outlaw. He’s just a wandering cowboy helping people out wherever he goes. It’s a nice change of pace from the “man on the run” stories that are so prevalent in most Kid Colt and Rawhide Kid comic books.

That’s it for part two of this extended installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be absent from the bloggy thing for a few days to attend The East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia, but will return on Monday for the third and final part.

See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 111 (PART ONE OF THREE)

The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature - but big on courage, honor and fighting skills - Johnny Clay speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. We’re currently in the extended twilight of the title. We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the title, which is now a bimonthly reprint. This is the 111th installment in my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” series.

This week, we’re looking at Giant-Size Kid Colt #1 [January 1975], a 68-page issue with a cover penciled by Larry Lieber and inked by Vince Colletta. The issue guest-stars the Rawhide Kid in a western team-up written and penciled by Lieber, inked by Colletta, colored by George Roussos, lettered by Jean Izzo and edited by Roy Thomas. The 15-page cover story is backed up by six short Kid Colt stories (all reprint) and a non-series short story (also a reprint).

Among the questions I’m asking myself - I wasn’t spending much time in the color comics department at the time - is whether this story was originally done for the never-published Western Team-Up #2 or if it was commissioned specially for this first of the three issues of Giant-Size Kid Colt that were published in 1975.

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


“Meet the Manhunter!” (15 pages) starts with Kid Colt riding into a lawless town and finding the Rawhide Kid in the middle of a bar brawl. He pitches into help his friend, but, with the odds against them, the Kids make a break through a window.

Outside the saloon, some of the brawlers draw down on the Kids and one of them pays the ultimate price for his recklessness. Outlaw Scar Colby, brother of the slain man, vows vengeance on the Kids as they ride out of town. Figuring there’s safety in numbers, Colt and Rawhide decide they should stick together for a while.

The story shifts to “back east” where Detective Murdock attempts to arrest the Dolan Gang. But the aging copper is outgunned and ends up with a shoulder wound. Adding insult to injury, Murdock is then “retired” from the police force. Angered, Murdock decides to leave the city and go west with his grandson Billy.

Murdock and Billy arrive in the West. The former police detective figures to get rich using his skills as a bounty hunter. His first targets: two of the most notorious badmen in the West. Do I have to tell you who he’s talking about? I didn’t think so.

Murdock and Billy catch up with the Kids and ask if they can join them. Our heroes accommodate them. Sizing the young gunslingers up, the former lawman decides he must out-fox them. He takes Kid Colt’s money and pocket watch from the Kid’s saddlebags and puts them in Rawhide’s saddlebags. The plan is “divide and conquer” and, if the Kids draw on each other, well, Murdock will get the reward whether they are alive or dead.

Murdock’s plan works, albeit only partly. Colt and Rawhide slug it out, but don’t draw their guns. Neither will kill for money.

Colt thinks Rawhide is a thief. Rawhide is pissed that Colt thinks he’s a thief. They go their separate ways.

Murdock and Billy stay with Kid Colt. He’s grateful for the older man letting him know Rawhide robbed him.

Murdock’s back-up plan? He has cut the cinch strap on Colt’s horse.  Colt tumbles to the ground and is knocked out. When he wakes up, he’s been handcuffed. Colt realizes Murdock framed the Rawhide Kid and Murdock gloats about it. Might I add Murdock is not setting a good example for his grandson?

Murdock then rides after Rawhide. He tells the Kid that Billy was annoying Colt with questions about gunslinging...and Colt shot the lad. Rawhide rides back with Murdock to see how badly Billy’s been hurt.

Rawhide leans over the still form of Billy, but sees no wound. He turns to find Murdock holding a gun on him. With both the Kids in handcuffs, Murdock will take them to the nearest sheriff.

Hey, remember Scar? What do you figure the odds are that he would show up along the trail to the nearest sheriff?

Colby knocks Murdock off his house and takes his prisoners. Billy wants to call it quits on the whole bounty-hunting thing. Murdock ain’t about that.

Murdock sneaks up on the man guarding the Kids. He knocks him out from behind. He frees the Kids and gives them back their guns. The two gunslinger make short work of Colby’s men.

Colby grabs Billy and uses him as a shield. Murdock rushes between Rawhide and Colby. Colt takes advantage of this to tackle Colby and get Billy out of harm’s way.

One of Colby’s men draws on Kid Colt and gets gunned down for it. Colby tries to shoot Colt in the back, only to be shot dead by the Rawhide Kid. The Kids are buddies once again.

What about Murdock? He says:

I’m not about to turn in the men who saved the life of my grandson! Matter of fact, I’m giving up manhunting altogether.

You two have taught me that out here in the West it’s not easy to tell the good guys from the bad! So before I call any more wrong shots, I’m going back east...where at least I know the players.


Two of the west’s most colorful figures - you know who - then ride out toward another day and a new adventure.

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


“Meet the Manhunter!” has two major flaws that undermine the story terribly. At 15 pages, it’s way too short. By my estimation, there was enough plot and enough interesting characters that it could’ve run at least 22 pages.

The other flaw is that Kid Colt and the Rawhide Kid are simply not themselves in this story. Now Colt never had much personality, but Rawhide had a distinctive attitude and speech pattern. Which isn’t seen in this too-compacted adventure.

The January “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page runs after page nine of the story. “Stan Lee’s Soapbox” is the lead item. Lee discusses the just-completed New York Comic Art Convention, the upcoming Origins of Marvel Comics trade paperback and a said-to-be-upcoming Spider-Man movie. I’m pretty sure that last one didn’t happen.

In other items...

The Marvel softball team lost a game to the team from the Greenwich Village Voice. You can’t win them all.

The Iron Fist black-and-white magazine that never happened is said to have been pushed back yet another month to make sure it was just right. The same item also plugs the new Marvel Preview mag, which showcase a brand-new feature every issue. First up: Man-Gods from Beyond the Stars. No credits were announced, but the cover of the magazine was by Neal Adams. Inside the issue: Doug Moench wrote a 37-page script (concept and co-plot by Roy Thomas) that was drawn by Alex Nino. The issue also had a number of articles on UFOs and aliens plus a 10-page comics story by Marv Wolfman with art by Dave Cockrum. It was a homage to EC Comics.

Len Wein joined the Marvel staff as associate editor of the color comics. He was also writing Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk at the time.

Jim Starlin took time off from a “secret new mag” he was working on to draw a full-length story for Giant-Size Defenders. I’m guessing that “secret new mag” was Warlock.

Finally, Marvel talked about how difficult it was to find the right artist for Marvel Two-In-One. The company asked readers to send in their suggestions.

To the right of the Bullpen Bulletins page was a house ad for The Origins of Marvel Comics and the Mighty Marvel Calendar for 1975. The former cost $9.95 (cloth) and $5.95 (paper). The spiral-bound calendar was $3.95...or a few cents less than the cost of a single issue of one of Marvel’s 2017 comic books.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the middle chapter of this week’s Rawhide Kid Wednesday. I’ll be writing about this giant-size issue’s seven reprinted stories, six starring Kid Colt with the seventh being a non-series tale drawn by Gene Colan. See you then! 

© 2017 Tony Isabella

TONY'S TIPS #209

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Lois Lane: Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond and the Frozen comic books from Joe Books!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

LO, THERE SHALL BE GARAGE SALES!

My legendary Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales will return in June. I started doing these a few years back when it finally hit me that I desperately needed to downsize my stuff.  There were lots of reasons for this and more reasons have been added with each passing year. Here are the top six:

1. Having just watched Sainted Wife Barb and others have to clear my mother-in-law’s house of decades of stuff, I don’t want to put Barb and our children through that when I die and become a vengeful spirit. They might still have to deal with a lot of stuff, but it won’t be anywhere near what they would have to deal with if I die before the end of today’s bloggy thing.

2. I would really like to know what books, comics and stuff I own. I know what I think I have, but I’d like to be certain, especially when it comes to comics and other things I am actively collecting. Or would be actively collecting if I knew what I had.

3. I would like to reduce my monthly expenses by the $218.74 I pay out every month for three storage units.

4. I enjoying spending a few hours every other week or so selling stuff and talking to fans and friends and neighbors. Writing can be a lonely profession and the garage sales allow me to interact with  other human beings.

5. I could use the money. I need dental implants. I need to buy a bunch of comic books for research on ongoing projects. I would like to renovate my office to make it more efficient.

6. Because of the nature of my garage sales, which are built around old comic books and related items, I can create mini-conventions of a sort around them. You can expect to see cosplay, guest exhibitors and even panel discussions in my driveway. Because I am all about the fun.

This items for sale at this year’s sales will be somewhat different than in previous years. My first priority is to drastically reduce the clutter in my office. That means you’ll be seeing higher-priced comics, books and magazines than before. I’ll still have boxes of comics, magazines, paperbacks, trade paperbacks and even hardcover books at a quarter each. But those bargain boxes will be fewer in number this year. On the bright side, you can usually count on the sales including between a half-dozen and a dozen $5 mystery boxes every time. My customers love those mystery boxes.

Even the higher-priced items will be priced well below their cover prices, generally about a third of their cover price. There will be boxes of comic books originally priced at $2.99 to $4.99 and more selling for a dollar each.

Do you collect Monopoly games? If so, you won’t want to miss these garage sales. I have well over fifty collectible and still factory-sealed games that will be selling for five and ten dollars apiece. I’ll also have assorted loose Monopoly pewter figures and such on sale. Stock up for family game nights!

I’ll have Isabella-written stuff for sale, some older comics, maybe some posters, maybe some other cool stuff. I literally won’t know what specific items will be on sale at any given garage sale until I finished getting ready for it. Oh, the suspense!

Here’s my updated convention and garage sale schedule:

Friday, May 19: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

Saturday, May 20: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

Friday, June 2: GARAGE SALE (tentative)

Saturday, June 3: GARAGE SALE (tentative)

Friday, June 9: GARAGE SALE (tentative)

Saturday, June 10: GARAGE SALE (tentative)

Friday, June 16: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, June 17: GARAGE SALE

Friday, June 30: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, July 1: GARAGE SALE

Friday, July 14: G-Fest

Saturday, July 15: G-Fest

Sunday, July 16: G-Fest

Friday, July 28: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, July 29: GARAGE SALE

Friday, August 11: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, August 12: GARAGE SALE

Sunday, August 20: NEO Comic-Con

Friday, August 25: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, August 26: GARAGE SALE

Friday, September 8: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, September 9: GARAGE SALE

Friday, September 22: GARAGE SALE (tentative)

Saturday, September 23: GARAGE SALE (tentative)

Friday, October 6: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, October 7: GARAGE SALE

Friday, October 13: GARAGE SALE (tentative)

Saturday, October 14: GARAGE SALE (tentative)

Friday, October 20: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, October 21: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Sunday, October 22: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, November 4: Akron Comicon

Sunday, November 5: Akron Comicon

Some of the garage sale dates are “tentative.” I’m hedging my bets on the June 2-3 sale because I’m not 100% I’ll have a set-up I’ll be comfortable with. The June 9-10 dates are listed as “tentative” in case I have a June 2-3 garage sale and it’s so successful I need extra time to restock.

I kept the weekend of Comic-Con International in San Diego open on the off-chance I might unexpectedly attend that event. It’s a long shot, but not impossible.

The September 22-23 dates are tentative because there’s a chance I will be involved in a special event that weekend. If that doesn’t happen, there will be a garage sale on those dates.

Finally, the October 13-14 dates are tentative for several reasons. I might be exhausted from the above schedule and not have time to restock for one more sale. The always uncertain Ohio weather might make a garage sale difficult. I might have to be somewhere else on those dates. My life is full of surprises.

As per usual, I’ll advertise my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales in this bloggy thing of mine, on Facebook, on Twitter, in the local newspaper and on Craig’s List. As we get closer to each sale, I’ll let you know how things are going and what you can expect to find at the sale.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with a special edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” See you then.
          
© 2017 Tony Isabella