Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing:

For several blogs now, Tony has been writing about his and Sainted Wife Barb’s journey to Philadelphia for the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. Our story continues and, fingers crossed, could actually conclude today... 

Saturday. May 20. The hours of ECBACC 2017 were 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. As in previous years, the event hosted a stellar array of creators, panels, screenings, workshops and youth activities. There was also a lively marketplace filled with creators and vendors. Alas, I was so busy that I never got a chance to do more than make a quick pass through the marketplace where, in the past, I’ve spent every dollar I made at my own table. I also never got to check out those panels and other activities. I have to improve on this in 2018.

Before I go any further, here’s some old business from yesterday’s blog. Thanks to my Facebook friend Apadamax Raya, I can now share the names of the AfriCoz competition with you.

Here are photos of the judges and the winners. First place went to Blade (Davaughn Thomas). Second place went to Static (Jeff Thomas). Third place went to Misty Knight as Captain America (Lynne Marie).
That’s cosplayer supreme Bill Johnson in the Black Panther costume. Also seen is a Bumblebee cosplayer who I thought looked terrific. But, as I wrote yesterday, I didn’t think there was a bad costume in the  competition. Congratulations to the winners and to all the AfriCoz contestants.


While the AfriCoz winners were being announced, I was on the second floor of the school taking part in a creators panel on “The Science of Storytelling.” Regine Sawyer, owner/writer/creator of Lockett Down Productions, was the facilitator of the panel. She asked great questions of the panelists - comics artist N. Steven Harris, author Robert Garrett and myself - and did a wonderful job keeping things going on tract. Even when Don McGregor stopped by - he was supposed to be on the panel - long enough for me to bounce him on my knee and say nice things about him. Unfortunately, he was dragged from the room to be filmed for the documentary I wrote about yesterday. I’m not sure he was ready for his close-up, but I’m certain he was insightful and riveting while being filmed.

Since I didn’t have time to make notes, I’ll have to remember the wise things that were said on the panel. Just to be clear, when I said my way of collaborating with artists was to crush them under my iron will, I was just kidding. I haven’t tortured an artist in decades.

Most of what I said on the panel was stuff I’ve said elsewhere on more than one occasion...

Get it in writing and then, when they put it in writing, get your lawyer to look it over.

It’s better to be the first person to write your own creation than the 300th person to write Batman or Spider-Man.

Characters generally come first for me. Build your character brick by brick until you know him as well as you know any real person.

Don’t ask your artist to draw the impossible. He or she can’t draw a character doing three different things in one panel.

If you’re working on a comic book for a DC or a Marvel, try to give your artist some money pages. The human drama pages might be key to your story, but make sure your artist also has some splash action pages he can sell for big bucks.

I have written comic books in every way imaginable. My preference is for writing full scripts, but I’ll change that if and when some other method works better for the story at hand.

Some should really film these ECBACC panels because they really do provide good information to the fans.

After the panel and my second session with the documentary, I went back to my table for last few hours of the show. I signed a bunch of books and sold some books. I bought a “Black Heroes Matter” t-shirt from my “next-door neighbor” in the room. I’ll be wearing it at some of my coming conventions and garage sales.

Marsha McGregor had joined Barb at the table in my absence and the two of them were having a great time. I met and chatted with Autumn Kelly, a reporter for iDigitalTimes. I chatted with Eric Battle and Joe Ilidge and Brian Saner-Lamken and others. I was running out of steam, but still thrilled to be at ECBACC once again.

Yumy Odom, the founder and president of ECBACC, swung by the table with a giant-sized version of the poster at the top of this page. I’m getting that baby framed, even though I have no clue where I’m going to hang it in my house.
As the show closed, a large group of ECBACC guests and volunteers posed for photos in front of the school. This photo was taken by my pal Brian Saner-Lamken. So many great people all coming together for the event. If you can ever attend ECBACC, you should jump at the chance. It is a more fulfilling experience than almost any other convention I do...and I plan to return every year they’ll have me.

Barb and I loaded up her car. With Don and Marsha, we drove back to the Marriott Courtyard where we were all staying. After putting our show stuff in our room, we joined them at the hotel restaurant for an excellent meal and even more excellent conversation.

Marsha ordered a Philly cheesesteak. When it came, Don scared the heck out of our server by exclaiming “You can’t eat that! It’s got cheese! It could kill you!” The server was horrified until Don and the rest of us start laughing. It was like being in the old Marvel Bullpen in the 1970s.

Don and I talked about Rich Buckler and we talked about the stories and we talked about the wrongs and rights of the comics industry. We had a wonderful time. I hope Barb and I get to have many more of these wonderful times with Don and Marsha.

Come the morning, Barb and I strolled over to the Philadelphia City Hall, a grand structure that I definitely want to see again and in more detail. After checking out of our room, we went to the Reading Terminal Market. The hotel valets had brought our car to the front of the hotel so we could load our luggage and kept it there for us while we did some quick shopping. We loaded up with fresh produce from Iovine Brothers Produce, bagels and bread from other vendors, and a breakfast sandwich from Hershel’s East Side Deli.

On our way out of the Market, we ran into Yumy Odom and Stephanie Brandford. More farewells. More hugs. More being so grateful that I could share ECBACC with the woman I love.

Our drive home to Medina was long, but an easier trip than coming to Philadelphia had been. We hit some bad weather, but not so bad that it delayed our return. We stopped for gas and to grab a meal at a travel plaza. We made good time.

It’s no secret that my comics career has been going pretty well of late. But the best part of that is showing my family the best parts of comics. They all suffered with me when things weren’t so good. It is one of the great joys of my life that I can now share these remarkable and wonderful times with them.

My thanks to everyone who helped make our ECBACC experience such an amazing adventure. I love you like family.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

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