Tuesday, June 19, 2018

TAKING A BREAK

At midnight, I started writing today's bloggy thing. I wrote over 1500 words before I decided it wasn't up to my usual standards. Then I started looking over my schedule for the rest of the month: a pitch for a mini-series I want to write, a trip to New York for a special screening of the first episode of the second season of Luke Cage on Netflix, a trip to Los Angeles for the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp, a garage sale at the end of the month, research for the short comics script I'm writing, two "Tony's Tips" columns for Tales of Wonder, a meeting with a filmmaker, the usual stuff I post on Facebook...all this plus an assortment of business and personal odds and ends I've been putting off for way too long.

Something had to give. I love writing "Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing" and wish I could keep writing it every day through the month of June. That's just not going to happen.

"Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing" will return on July 1. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Tony Isabella 

Monday, June 18, 2018

COMET TV: YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP

Comet TV has become one of my favorite cable channels. I have been recording horror, monster and sci-fi movies from the 1950s, 1960s and more, then watching them in bits and pieces when I take breaks from my writing. The prints are awful and the movies are sometimes equally bad, but I get a kick out of reliving my youth staying up late at night to watch films like this as hosted by Ghoulardi aka the great Ernie Anderson.

Just the other day, I watched Yongary: Monster from the Deep [1967] on Comet. It’s a movie I wrote about last July and said I wouldn’t watch a second time. Re-watching it didn’t change my low opinion of the movie, but it did give me a few other thoughts that I wanted to share with you.

First off, here’s my original review...

It’s a South Korean kaiju film whose original version was lost when its negatives were shipped to American International Pictures to be edited for distribution in the United States. Perhaps someday that original version will surface. If it does, I’ll do my best to watch it and write about it in a future bloggy thing.

Here’s the quick Yongary summary from the IMDb:

Earthquakes in central Korea turn out to be the work of Yongary, a prehistoric gasoline-eating reptile that soon goes on a rampage through Seoul.

KIND OF SPOILERS AHEAD
KIND OF SPOILERS AHEAD
KIND OF SPOILERS AHEAD


The film is so forgettable that, just a few days after watching it, I have trouble remembering details. It opens with a small wedding. Driving off, the couple begins to itch painfully because Icho, one of those typical-for-monster-movies mischievous boys, is firing an “itch ray” at them. The ray was invented by Icho’s brilliant if shy with women uncle.

It takes a good twenty minutes before we get the vaguest glimpse of Yongary. Maybe the intent there was to build suspense, maybe it was to delay showing the audience the full Yongary suit. Said suit is well below the quality of Toho Studios kaiju movies, even though it was built by the same guy who built Godzilla and Kong suits for earlier movies.

Politicians, scientists and military men are all familiar with the legend of Yongary. They take learning the creature really exists in stride. Not so much their failure to stop him. In an explicable scene, Icho uses the itch ray on Yongary and the two of them dance to generic pop music.

Icho stumbles on a way to incapacitate the monster. His uncle takes it from there. In the end, Yongary is destroyed.

Icho is sad but philosophical. He knows Yongary had to be killed, but wishes the adults could’ve seen the monster dancing so happily. Icho’s uncle gets the remaining single girl.

KIND OF SPOILERS OVER
KIND OF SPOILERS OVER
KIND OF SPOILERS OVER


The movie’s human characters are likeable, even the annoying Icho. There are scenes of the politicians, scientists and military folks discussing possible courses of action in a manner done much better in 2016's Shin Godzilla.

Yongary was kind of sort of remade in 1999 as Yonggary, released in the U.S. as Reptilian. The remake is a decent giant monster film that casts the title monster as a Godzilla-like hero-villain. It’s a real stretch to seriously consider it a remake of the original.

The bottom line is Yongary: Monster from the Deep is simply not a very good film. The only reason I’d ever watch it again would be if the original uncut version surfaced, giving me a chance to compare the two. I’d recommend the existing version only to those monster movie fans who have to see every giant monster movie.

On to my additional comments...

When the military got together with the politicians and scientists for long and often self-congratulatory meetings, the head military guy really stood out. When he wasn’t doing his little “We’ve killed the monster! No, wait. We haven’t killed the monster! We must kill the monster!” song and dance, he was an arrogant asshat, refusing to consider that his plan might not be the right plan. It wasn’t, but he never acknowledges that. Just goes around glad-handing the other suits when the shy scientist slays Yongary.

When Yongary is dying, after falling in a river and convulsing, we see bloody red discharge from his ass. When I wrote my review, I can’t believe I passed on the chance to make a monster hemorrhoids joke. That’s not like me.

These next several days are going to be crazy busy for me. I’ll do my best to keep the bloggy things coming until I leave for New York  for a few days. Marvel Comics invited me to a special screening of the season premiere of the second season of Luke Cage. I leave on Thursday afternoon and return on Saturday afternoon.

After that, I’m home for one full day. Because Marvel also invited me to the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp in Los Angeles. I leave on Monday morning and return on Tuesday evening. Needless to say, I’m excited to be attending both events.

Am I cheating on DC Comics? Well, you know, a guy likes to be asked out every once in a while. It’s not like everyone at DC could have lost the bar napkins they wrote my number on.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

TONY'S TIPS #262

This week in TONY'S TIPS...Tony buys a t-shirt and a new suit, then he reviews Marvel's Cloak and Dagger, The Asylum's Avengers Grimm Time Wars and the second season of Marvel/Neflix's Jessica Jones!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, BARB!

Historical note. On this glorious date in 1984, Barbara Jean Kepke married Anthony Louis Isabella at St. Ambrose Catholic Parish in Brunswick, Ohio. And since I can’t possible top the joy that being married to Barb and raising our family together has brought me these past 34 years, that’s it for today’s bloggy thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, June 15, 2018

GARAGE SALES ARE GO!

                                                                                 
My first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of 2018 is pretty much 100% ready to go. When dawn breaks, I’ll hang a huge Superman poster next to the garage door so my customers will know they are at the right place. I like to think of it as the cheap-ass version of that giant key outside Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Once that task is completed, I’ll bring out the cash box, change, sales pad, signing pens, writing pens and whatever else I’ll need for the sale. I’m currently half-anxious and half-excited about this first sale. It’s been too long since I’ve had one.

The VAOS garage sale takes place at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio today and tomorrow, June 15-6, 9 am to 1 pm each day. After I finish writing this, I’ll spend a couple hours working on additional sales items for restocking. My neighbor Sue is helping me, so I might even be able to restock during the sale.

My friends Martin and Pam Arlt are coming in from Michigan for the garage sale and to spend a quick vacation in nearby Cleveland. We usually see each other at G-Fest, but, alas, this year I won’t be able to attend. I had too many unexpected expenses this year to be able to afford a convention that wasn’t directly related to comics and my business thereof. I hope to return to G-Fest next year and again participate in that event’s fine programming. After the sale, my son Ed and I hope to take them to lunch at one of Medina’s many fine eateries.

Over the weekend, in between my garage sale stuff, I’ll be writing a pitch for a comic-book mini-series that I think is something we haven’t seen before. It would star two characters I’ve written in the past, but I’m not gonna tell you which ones.

Other writing stuff for the weekend: a couple of bloggy things, my weekly “Tony’s Tips” column and researching for a short comic-book story I’ve agreed to write for a client I haven’t worked for prior to this. Then, come Thursday, Ed and I will be flying to New York for a special screening of the premiere episode of Luke Cage Season Two.

The screening is Friday morning and Netflix drops the entire season later that day. But, since Marvel was kind enough to invite me to this screening and since I don’t get to see my Marvel pals often, I decided to make the trip. If all works out, we’ll also go out to dinner with my godchild Kara and her mom.

Come the following Monday and I’m on the move again. Saintly Wife Barb and I will be flying to Los Angeles for the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp. To show how secure I am in our marriage, I’m taking Barb there even though I know she used to have an enormous crush on Michael Douglas.

That’s all I have for you today. I’ll be back tomorrow with stuff to amuse and inform you. Failing that, it’ll just be another one of these columns I write mostly to remind myself of what I should be doing next. Always forward.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 14, 2018

GARAGE SALE COUNTDOWN

It may not look like it from the above photo, but I'm on track to launch my first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale tomorrow morning from 9 am to 1 pm. What you see in the photo is my "British Invasion Fifty-Cent Table." On that table are issues of the U.K.'s 2000 AD, Beano and Commando, plus many other cool items priced at only half a buck. 

There are boxes of dollar comics, Beanie Babies for a quarter, some cool VHS tapes for a quarter, lots of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands and other Isabella-written items. There are bargain-priced comics collections and more. There are Black Lightning, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Superman posters. There will be a selection of Marvel Collector Corps, DC Legion of Collectors and Stan Lee boxes. Plus whatever else I can fit in the sale between now and tomorrow morning.

The first sale is Friday and Saturday, June 15-16, at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, OH. I'm planning to restock between the Friday and Saturday sales and maybe even during them. As always, I'm happy to sign comics and other Isabella stuff for free with any purchase from my sale. I'll also do my best to answer your questions about my career, comics in general and my plans for future garage sales. I expect to hold a lot of them this summer.

I hope to see you soon.

Tony

P.S. I may not be posting much in the way of actual bloggy things for the next week or so. In addition to these garage sales and a comics script I'm writing, I will be attending Marvel Comics events in New York (June 22) and Los Angeles (June 25). I'm just a globe trotting Marvel Maniac!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

THE KING AND I

This will be a short one on account of I’m working hard on my first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale. It’s about sports, so those readers who go all pouty when sports are mentioned should probably stop reading today’s blog and play with your action figures. It has always amazed me that so many comics fans are dismissive of sports, in the same way people who don’t read comics are dismissive of our passion. Look in the mirror, people.

The Golden State Warriors, the dominant team in the NBA, have once again swept my hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals. LeBron James delivered magnificent performances in this series, despite playing the last three games with a busted hand. One more reason I consider him the greatest basketball player of all time.

James has choices ahead of him. He can become a free agent and go to a team that might give him a better chance of getting another of the championship rings he craves. I couldn’t fault him if he chose to do that. Sports pundits cling to the notion that such rings are the determining factor in naming a player the greatest. I couldn’t disagree more.

Rings are a reflection of a team. James is not a one-man team, even if it sometimes seems that way. When I call James the best player in basketball history, it’s based on his individual accomplishments and skills. Look at his stats. Watch how he commands the court with his superior abilities and knowledge. Consider that he may well be the smartest basketball player of all time. He knows his stuff and that’s obvious in almost every game he plays.

But James wants rings. I get that. I wish he could get them right here in Cleveland. I’m not sure that he can.

James has been a powerful progressive force in our community. His hometown Akron. His work town Cleveland. Across the nation with his fearlessness in speaking out for what’s right and walking the walk when it comes to helping people. He’s a damn good man.

Whether James leaves Cleveland or stays with the Cavaliers, I will still consider him a great man. I’d love to meet him. I’d love to send him copies of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. If I write an ongoing Black Lightning series, I’d like to have James appear in a scene I’ve had in mind almost since the start of my work on that series. .

Maybe I’ll get that chance to meet James and maybe I won’t. If I do meet him, I want to shake his hopefully-healed hand. I would love to tell him face-to-face that I admire him and all he’s done in his relatively young life. He’s not a damn good man. He’s a damn great man. I wish him all the best.

Assuming I haven’t been crushed beneath a pile of comic-book boxes, I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

IT’S TUESDAY WITH TONY

My main focus for today through Thursday will be getting ready for the first of this summer’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales. I’ll talk about that more in a little bit.

I spent the weekend traveling to, attending and traveling back from the Fingerlakes Comic Con in Auburn, New York. The traveling part was pretty much a straight shot on I-90 from Medina to the event. It took about five-and-a-half hours each and, much to my delight, my SUV “Tina Fe” got such great mileage that I was able to do the drive - there and back - on two tanks of gas.

The Fingerlakes Comic Con itself had some issues, but much of that was because the Fingerlakes Mall management behaved in a manner I can mostly kindly describe as “disgraceful.” I’m not going to write a full convention report at this time because I urged the promoter to retain a lawyer to do what lawyers do. Besides, I have three or four other conventions to write about first.

I did have a good time at the Fingerlakes Mall hanging out with old friends like Don McGregor, Peter Gillis and others. You’ve likely seen some of the photos on Facebook and elsewhere. We did, indeed, have that much fun.

In other stuff...

My son Ed has moved into his new house, though some of his own Vast Accumulation of Stuff is still at Casa Isabella. He’s been working on his new house with help from Saintly Wife Barb and Barb’s uncle Terry Fairbanks. It’s a pretty nice place and I’m looking forward to spending time there in the future.

I was disappointed but not surprised that the Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. Or, as the Daily Show’s Roy Wood, Jr. put it, the Cleveland Cavalier. The NBA has devolved into a sport with basically two dominant teams and one of those is much more dominant than the other. Even though the other has the greatest player of all time. I will be writing about this for tomorrow’s bloggy thing.

I was excited that Justified won the Triple Crown on Saturday. I’m not a horse racing fan, but I like to recognize excellence when I see it...and I like seeing great accomplishments in our modern era of sports. Just as with comics, I don’t believe in the notion that there is only one golden age of anything. We can always match and even surpass the past.

Checking my email when I came home on Sunday night - I’m offline when I go to conventions - I found an invitation from Marvel Comics to attend the premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp in Los Angeles. To make this even better, Saintly Wife Barb will be able to attend the event with me. I’m calling it a late anniversary present as we were married June 16, 1984.

The premiere is on a Monday. We’ll be flying in that morning, then flying back to Medina on Tuesday morning. It’s a quick trip because Barb has to go to work on Wednesday. However...

It’s possible I could stay over a day or two. I’d be willing to do so if a publisher or other person/company wanted to have a serious face-to-face discussion about my writing for them. I don’t mean to be too grumpy here, but I’m bone-weary of folks saying they want to work with me or want me to attend their convention or father their creative children. I ain’t got time or patience for that crap. If you’re not serious, don’t even start the conversation.

Monday brought the announcement that the multi-talented Geoff Johns is leaving his Chief Creative Officer position at DC Entertainment. Johns will have an exclusive writer-producer deal with Warner Bros. and DC. According to The Hollywood Reporter:

Johns is launching Mad Ghost Productions, a new banner that will see him work on content for films, television and comic books, and have his hand in current DC properties as well as new and re-imagined creations.

That news left me stunned. It was Geoff who reached out to me a few years back and made it possible for DC and I to reconcile after two decades of mistreatment by the previous DC management. “Mistreatment” is, of course, the mildest way I can put it.

Geoff is a big fan of Black Lightning and my work. Without him, you wouldn’t have gotten Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands (though Dan DiDio was the guy who asked me to write a mini-series) and I don’t think the Black Lightning TV series would have been as excellent as it is. My family and I will always thank him for that.

I am, of course, thrilled for Geoff. He’s a terrific writer and a good guy. I’ll be following Mad Ghost Productions and his writing. Jim Lee will be taking on the Chief Creative Officer position while continue as DC co-publisher with Dan DiDio.

I’ve already been asked a half-dozen times where this leaves me. I honestly don’t know if it affects me or not. At the present time, I’m not writing anything for DC Comics or doing any other work for any other branch of DC Entertainment. That’s not due to any lack of willingness on my part. It simply is what it is.

I have decided to stop beating myself up about the less than great sales on Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, which received critical acclaim to an astonishing degree. It sold as well as some of DC’s still ongoing titles...and that was despite the fact that the first issue (and the next three) sold out without the company going back for a second printing. It only had one variant cover over the six-issue run. And, without explaining this further, I suspect that our digital sales were pretty good. I was writing Black Lightning for today’s readers instead of the old farts who want comic books to be exactly like they were in the 1960s or 1970s or 1980s...and today’s readers are apt to buy their comics digitally.

I have stated many times that I want to write new Black Lightning stories until they pry my keyboard from my cold dead hands. That’s still my position. If you like my work on the character, let the DC powers than be know that. Loudly and often.

Late last night, I posted this online:

In a mood. Breathe in, breathe out, get a grip, move on.

I have suffered from depression as long as I can remember. On two occasions, it damn near killed me. In the wake of recent celebrity suicides, I felt it important to again mention my ongoing war with this monster. After a friend posted a comment on this, I responded with my own comment:

This is the answer as to why I post these moments of mine. Because depression kills - almost killed me twice - and I want others who suffer from it to know they're not alone and learn to deal with it in whatever manner works for them. That I have much to be grateful for isn't a magic shield against depression. This is one of the ways I deal with it.

Whew! Let’s go from the heavy to the heavy lifting.

I have three days to get ready for this weekend’s garage sales. My first garage sale related job of the day will be to fill/organize an amazing array of “dollar comics” boxes. These will have recent comic books, some of them only weeks old. In many ways, these are the centerpiece of my first garage sale of the summer.

I’ll have a bunch of Isabella-related items. Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-6. Black Lightning posters. Daredevil and Luke Cage mini-posters. Copies of my script for Cold Dead Hands #1. Copies of July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One. If I can find the box of older Isabella-written comic books and price them, I’ll have those as well.

There will be DC, Marvel and Stan Lee collectors boxes from Funko, priced to sell. There will be a wide variety of trade paperbacks, hardcovers and magazines, also priced to sell. There will be other items, depending on what I can excavate before Friday. If not this weekend, at future garage sales, I’ll have older comic books...say it with me...priced to sell.

Oh, yeah, and for you chaps and ladies who fancy sampling some of the U.K.’s comics, I’ll have dozens of issues of Commando and The Beano on sale at fifty cents each. I love these titles, but I have decided to go full on draconian on reducing the Vast Accumulation of Stuff. Those fans who come to this summer’s sales will reap the benefit of that.

NOTE. I don’t have time to answer specific question about what is and isn’t in the garage sales. Most times, I won’t know until the night before the sales and, by then, I’ll be too tired to respond anyway. Just trust me. You’ll be glad you came.

The garage sales are at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The hours are 9 am to 1 pm on both Friday and Saturday this weekend. There will be garage sales the next two weekends as well.
I’m excited.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 11, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #161

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Charley’s War Volume 1: The Definitive Collection by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun; The Pervert by Remy Boydell with words by Michelle Perez; and Self Storage by writer/creator Clay McLeod Chapman and artist Matt Timson. 

MENACE FROM THE COMET


Comet TV. I don’t know how long it’s been part of my cable package, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I discovered it. Given my affinity for old horror/monster/sci-fi movies, I knew this would be the start of a beautiful friendship. Stan Lee drummed into me that no one is all good or all evil. Comet is proof of that.

From Wikipedia:

Comet is an American digital broadcast television network that is owned by the Sinclair Television Group subsidiary of the Sinclair Broadcast Group and operated by the MGM Television division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The network focuses on science fiction with some supernatural, horror, adventure and fantasy series and films, sourced mainly from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film and television library.

Here’s what you should know about Sinclair. They are right-wing AF. They want to be more right-wing AF than Fox News. They curry favor with the Dumpster to loosen the rules that would slow their efforts to control as much of the media as they can. They are a palatable evil. And yet...they also broadcast Comet TV. I can only hope, as I sit and watch old movies on Comet, that the essential decency and heroism of humans and monsters in those old movies will set a good and transformative chain reaction in those hardened right-wing hearts that own and run Sinclair.

That’s the introduction to what will be a recurring segment of the bloggy thing: my reviews of the movies I watch on Comet. The films show all the technical imperfections of their era and the neglect shown such films when it comes to preservation. That doesn’t really matter to me.

When I watch these Comet movies, I am whisked back to the youngster who used to watch similar movies on The Ghoulardi Show, sitting in front of a small black-and-white television set, and loving every minute of it. I’m pretty sure sitting close to the TV set with the sound low so as to not disturb my father is why I started wearing glasses in grade school. Totally worth it.

Here are two movies I’ve watched on Comet...

Warning from Space [1956] was a mostly low-key science fiction film by Daiei Studios, brought to the United States by AIP-TV (American International TV). It was the first Japanese science fiction movie produced in color.

Warning from Space was directed by Kôji Shima. It was written by Hideo Oguni from a novel by Gentaro Nakajima. The English dialogue was by Jay Sipes and Edward Palmer. The movie stars Keizô Kawasaki as Dr. Toru Itsobe and Toyomi Karita as entertainer Hikari Aozora and Ginko, the alien who copies her form to better communicate with the people of Earth.   Here's the summary from the Internet Movie Database:

UFOs are seen around Tokyo. Because they look like giant starfish the aliens cannot approach us without creating panic. Hence one of them sacrifices itself and takes the form of a popular female singer. It/she warns mankind that a meteor will crash on Earth. While the approaching meteor causes hotter and hotter weather, mankind runs and builds a last-chance anti-meteor weapon.

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


First off, Ginko does not sacrifice itself when she takes the form of the singer. It returns to its natural form at the end of Warning from Space.

The story unfolds as a steady pace. Flying saucers are spotted and the starfish creatures who pilot them may or may not have Earth’s best interests at heart. For one thing, they want to prevent a scientist from revealing his formula for a new kind of energy. On their world, that energy was too destructive to be used. They fear Earth governments will use it for WMDs.

A rouge planet is heading for our world. Encouraged by the friendly aliens, our scientists try to convince the “World Congress” to use all of mankind’s nuclear weapons to blow it to bits. The “Congress” isn’t buying it until the approach of the rouge planet causes some climate catastrophes. But the nukes aren’t enough.

The starfish people then say the scientist’s energy formula can be used...if they can modify it to destroy the rouge planet. There’s one trouble with that otherwise swell plan. The scientist has been kidnapped by a evil so-and-so who wants to sell the formula to his clients.

There is some real tension in this movie as things start going bad and time seems to be running out. It drags in places, but pulled me back in when the bad stuff started happening. It has a satisfying conclusion for human and starfish alike.

It’s hard to judge the acting because it seemed to me there was a disconnect between the Japanese actors and their dubbed dialogue. But the special effects are pretty good, especially when a building starts falling apart around the kidnapped scientist.

SPOILERS OVER
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Amusing note. Because of the popularity of the Godzilla movies and other kaiju films, the Japanese film posters portrayed the starfish as gigantic creatures looming over a city. They are human-sized in the actual movie. Badly costumed, but human-sized.

Warning from Space is worth watching once. It seems longer than its 87-minute running time, mostly because some parts of the film move slowly. However, it did inspire the much better Gorath (1962), which we’ll be discussing next.
                                                                                  

Gorath aka Ominous Star Gorath (1962) ups the ante for our planet in that, unlike Warning from Space, there are no friendly aliens to help Earth survive. The film was directed by Ishiro Honda, based on an idea by Jojiro Okami. The film was extensively edited for its American release, which is what I’m writing about here. I’d love to see the original Japanese version.

Here’s the IMDb summary:

Japanese disaster film about a giant meteor on a collision course with the Earth. The dubbed American version of this film is missing a giant walrus which appeared briefly in the Japanese version.

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


To correct the IMDb summary slightly, the giant walrus does appear in the American version. It’s already dead when we see it and, if you blink, you’ll miss it. I’m assuming it had a bigger part in the Japanese version.

Brian Washington posted his own summary on the IMDb entry. He does a more concise job that I would have done, so I’m running it here. That way, I can get right to my comments.

In 1980, a giant planetoid named Gorath is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. Even though it is smaller than Earth, its mass is huge enough to crush the Earth and destroy it. A mission sent to observe Gorath is destroyed after all the orbiting ships are drawn into the planetoid. A later mission is sent to observe and the crew barely leaves before suffering the same fate. However Astronaut Tatsuo Kanai is left in a catatonic state due to his near death experience. The Earth's scientists then come up with a desperate plan to build giant rockets at the South Pole to move Earth out of Gorath's path before it is too late.

This is an excellent movie. Even though the danger is on a global scale, Hondo and writer Takeshi Kimura really make the viewer feel the tragedy of the brave astronauts and scientists who give their lives to obtain vital information about Gorath. We also witness the pain of the loved ones they leave behind.

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Note. The American dubbed version was written by the prolific John Meredyth Lucas, who wrote many episodes of several TV shows and, if I’m remembering correctly, some Star Trek novels.

Some have criticized the special effects in this movies. While the miniature work isn’t on a par with the best Toho effects, it does the job and conveys the imminent destruction which the Earth faces. These effects never took me out of the movie.

Even with their dubbed-in English voices, the Japanese actors are able to carry the emotional weight of the story. The voice actors are equally good.

I recommend Gorath without hesitation. As noted above, I’d love to see the Japanese original, but I’d watch this dubbed version again as well. I’m enjoying Comet’s vintage movies, so expect to see more reviews of them in future bloggy things.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 7, 2018

TONY TRIES TO GET THE HANG OF THURSDAY

My big job today is getting ready for this weekend’s Fingerlakes Comic Con. It takes place June 8-10, at the Fingerlakes Mall Event Center in Auburn, New York. I’ll be there with comics guests Don McGregor, Bill Anderson, Bob Hall, Carl Potts, Charles Barnett III, Joe Orsak, Kevin Conrad, Michelle Delecki, Peter Gillis, Roger Stern and Rusty Gilligan. There are also two Star Trek guests: J.G. Hertzler (General Martok in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and Tim McCormack (Ensign Bennett in Star Trek: The Next Generation). Not to mention a passel of comics and other vendors.

On Saturday from 11 am to noon on the main stage, I’ll be starring in something called the “TONY ISABELLA PANEL.” It’s a one-man play about a writer facing the horrors of a new day from his childhood to his untimely death from a paper cut while signing a copy of the Black Lightning Omnibus.

No. I’m just shitting you. It’ll be my usual blend of news, views, reviews, answers to questions, tales of my life and my decades in the comics industry. Just your basic a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down my pants.

Convention promoter Joey Gates, who just had a birthday so please wish him well at the event, has set me up with two tables. Besides my usual cool Black Lightning and Tony Isabella things, I’ll almost certainly have cool items from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales. I’m not set up to take credit/debit cards, but will gladly accept cash for these fine goods.

The show hours are:

Friday (4-8 pm)
Saturday (10 am - 6 pm)
Sunday (10 am - 5 pm)
                                                                           
                                                                     
Next week’s main job will be getting ready for my very first VAOS (Vast Accumulation of Stuff) garage sale of the summer. That will take place on June 15-16, followed by sales on June 22-23 and June 29-30. I’m determined to make a huge dent in the VAOS this summer, so you’ll be seeing some amazing items that I thought I would never let go of. Times change, our kids have moved out, and thoughts of downsizing to a smaller house are swirling through my head and that of Saintly Wife Barb. It’s time to get draconian about reducing the countless items I’ve amassed over my life. I’ll have more on the first garage sale early next week.

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I may not have a new bloggy thing for you tomorrow. It depends on how quickly I get ready for the Fingerlakes Comic Con, but you can always use any bloggy thing down time to catch up on the hundreds/thousands of bloggy things achieved at this site.

If you want more, you can check out my weekly “Tony’s Tips” column at Tales of Wonder. Every week, I review a trio of comics-related items: comic books, collections of comics, graphic novels, manga, cartoons, movies and TV shows. You can read it here.

I currently have three Facebook pages. My main page is my personal page. I post a lot of cool stuff there. My secondary Facebook page is The Official Tony Isabella Message Board, which has other cool stuff and is politics-free. Finally, for your spiritual needs, I’m the humble pastor of the First Church of Godzilla page. All praise the great scaly one who protects us with his fiery atomic love. It can be a tough love, but, after all, the big G has to contend with the folly of man.

Want to follow me on Twitter? You can find me here.

Coming soon: a Tony Isabella podcast and/or YouTube page. I’ll be starting work on those shortly.

I’m also working on various books and comics projects. As those get closer to completion and publication, I’ll be telling you about all of them as well.

Whew! I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

MANGA MANGA MANGA

I’m always checking out new manga series with “new” being defined as a series I haven’t read yet. I started reading three such series recently. While I’m not certain I’ll continue reading them beyond their second volumes, I thought they were worth writing about in my bloggy things.

First up is the utterly bizarre and wondrous Cells at Work by Akane Shimizu [Kodansha Comics; $12.99]. The setting for this adventure comedy series is a human body. The heroes and villains are various humanoid blood cells or monstrous infections and viruses. This is going to take some explaining.

Our point-of-view character is a pretty red blood cell who is kind of sort of ditzy. Her job is to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide through blood circulation. In the course of her duties, she meets and forms a friendship with a handsome white blood cell whose main task is to destroy foreign substances that invade the body. These menaces include pneumonia, infections and even allergies.

There are many different types of cells, all portrayed as people, all with their own abilities and responsibilities. The “menaces” are sometimes depicted as monsters and sometimes as costumed super-villains. It makes for some very wild battle scenes.

Kodansha rates the first volume “T” for readers 13 and up, but I’m of the opinion the series is suitable for any reader smart enough to enjoy adventures that are educational, exciting and just plain funny. Of the three manga series I started reading recently, this is the one I’m most likely to stick with.

ISBN 978-1-63236-356-5

                                                                             

Love and Lies Volume One by Musano [Kodansha Comics; $12.99] is a romance series set in a world where romance and marriages are decided by the government. Wikipedia has an excellent shorthand description of this manga:

In the near future, children who have turned 16 years old are assigned by the government to a partner based on compatibility calculation, in order to increase the country's birth rate. Those who do not follow the government rules of going with their assigned partner suffer severe penalties. Yukari Nejima finally confesses his love to schoolmate and long-time crush Misaki Takasaki and discovers she has liked him back. However, when he turns 16, he is assigned another girl, Ririna Sanada. Ririna is not that thrilled about being assigned, and is very willing to let Yukari freely relate with Misaki so she can learn what being in love is really like. The story follows their adventures of the teens as they try to relate with one another while keeping up appearances with the government.
 
One volume in, this manga works for me on several levels. Yukari, Misaki and Ririna are likeable young people caught in a situation beyond their control. The government’s severe penalties are hinted at without giving readers any solid details. Even so, the ominous threat of those penalties hangs over the young lovers and made me feel anxious on their behalf. That’s good writing.

Musawo’s art is not different from that usually found in Japanese romance manga, but I think the drawing and the storytelling are a few notches above the typical visuals. Kudos.

I’d like to see more specific information about those penalties in subsequent volumes, but what I’ve read so far of Love and Lies will have me come back for another volume or two. Manga, especially this manga, isn’t for everyone, but, if you like reading all kinds of comics, this one is worth checking out.

ISBN 978-1-63236-499-9

                                                                             

Sorry for My Familiar Volume 1 by Tekka Yaguraba [Seven Seas; $12.99] is the wacky story of Patty, a young demon girl searching for her missing father. Because her powers are weak, she needs a familiar to help her along the way. Because she isn’t exactly wealthy, her familiar is Norman, a human who is obsessed with learning all that he can about demons and their familiars. His usefulness to Patty is generally dependent by how distracted he is by whatever new demon or familiar they encounter.

The duo encounter some crazy difficulties in this first in a series of four books. Patty’s dad is a deadbeat with many creditors (and law enforcement) after him. Norman sometimes gets so carried away examining demons that he angers them. But his knowledge helps get him and Patty safely from one town to the next.

Yaguraba’s basic concept is fun. The demons are both hilarious and threatening. Norman is a hoot and a half. As with the other manga I’ve written about today, I’ll stick with Sorry for my Familiar for at least another volume and likely all four volumes.

ISBN 978-1-629927-59-9
                                                                          

If you anywhere near the beautiful Fingerlakes region of New York this weekend, come see me at the Fingerlakes Comic Con, June 8-10, at the Fingerlakes Mall Event Center in Auburn, New York. I’ll be there with comics guests Don McGregor, Roger Stern, Bob Hall, Carl Potts, Peter Gillis and more. I’m doing a special Tony Isabella panel on Saturday and, all through the weekend, I’ll be selling all sorts of cool Black Lightning and Tony Isabella stuff and signing your books. You can learn more about the event here.

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

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #260

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Pre-Code Classics: Mysterious Adventures Volume One; All-New Wolverine; and The Artist Behind Superman: The Joe Shuster Story!
                                                                               
                                                                             

FINGERLAKES COMIC CON YEAR TWO (June 8-10)

The Fingerlakes Comic Con will be my next convention appearance. I’ll be appearing all three days Friday, June 8-Sunday, June 10) at the Fingerlakes Mall Event Center in Auburn, New York. Joining me will be several comics creators and a couple of actors who appeared in various incarnations of Star Trek.

The comics creators include the deservedly legendary Don McGregor - lately, Don and I are on the road together more than Bing Crosby and Bob Hope - Bill Anderson, Bob Hall, Carl Potts, Charles Barnett III, Joe Orsak, Kevin Conrad, Michelle Delecki, Peter Gillis, Roger Stern and Rusty Gilligan. The two Star Trek guests are J. G. Hertzler, who played General Martok in Star Trek: DS9 and Tim McCormack, who is best known for playing Ensign Bennett in the first four seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The show hours:

Friday (4-8 pm)
Saturday (10 am - 6 pm)
Sunday (10 am - 5 pm)

On Saturday from 11 am to noon on the main stage, I’ll be appearing on something called the TONY ISABELLA PANEL. You have to admire a convention that gets right to the point like that.

Here’s the description:

Take a seat at the Main Stage and witness history being made as the legendary TONY ISABELLA takes center stage to answer questions from fans and tell stories of his experiences in the comic book industry and life itself.

If you’ve come to any of my spotlight panels, you know they can go all over the place. I’ll tell you amusing stories. I’ll tell you some not-so-amusing stories. I’ll answer your questions on just about anything as honestly as I can...with the caveat that there may be questions I can’t answer due to non-disclosure agreements I might have signed.

I’ll have a booth or table on the convention floor. What I bring to sell depends on what I have on hand. Odds are excellent that I’ll have Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-6, Black Lightning trade paperbacks, Black Lightning posters, Daredevil and Luke Cage mini-posters, facsimile editions of the historically fascinating Green Book softcovers that were originally published to direct African-American travelers to safe havens as they crossed the United States in the 1940s thru the 1960s, copies of July 1963: A Pivotal Month  in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella and other items. I’ll bring as much stuff as I can fit into whatever vehicle I’m driving to the show.

My signing policy for this show is as follows:

If you visit my table at the convention, I’ll be delighted to sell you Black Lightning comic books, posters, scripts and trades. I’ll also have copies of July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One. As always, if you buy items from me, I sign them for free.

My signing fees are modest. I’ll sign any one item not purchased from me for free. After that first free signature, I charge $2 per item.

If you bring a representative of any grading company to witness my signature, the price goes up to $5 per item. The same if you ask me to sign a certificate of authenticity.

Photos of me or with me are free at this time. At some point in the future, I plan to offer some staged photos of me. I won’t know the price on those until I find out what they’ll cost me.

Some other notes...

Cosplayers: please make your way around to my table. I would love to see your costumes and get photos of you for this bloggy thing. Especially if you’re cosplaying as characters I created or that I have written.

Editors and publishers: I am not under exclusive contract at this time. I’m always happy to discuss my working with you. Maybe it’s me, but I think From the Creator of Black Lightning at the top of a project we do will get said project some attention.

I’m looking forward to the Fingerlakes Comic Con and hope to see a bunch of my friends and readers there. For more information on this event, check out the convention’s Facebook page.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 4, 2018

MONDAY DOUBLE FEATURE

There was a time when Syfy (formerly the Sci Fi Channel and Sci Fi) could be counted on to broadcast a fun new monster movie every few weeks. Alas, those days are long gone. We get a bunch of new shark flicks for Sharknado Week, but, beyond that, the pickings are as slim as the leftovers after a giant gila monster or Sasquatch has dined on some hapless human.

I love those cheesy monster movies. Which is why I knew I’d have to watch Lake Placid Legacy [2018], even though the advance press made it clear this new giant crocodile movie wasn’t tied to the earlier Lake Placid films in any way.

Here’s the Internet Movie Database summery:

Legacy finds the team of young explorers out to reveal the secrets of an area removed from modern day maps and hidden behind electric fences. However, once they reach the center of the lake, they discover an island that harbors an abandoned facility with a horrific legacy: the island is home to a deadly predator eager to feast on those dumb enough to ignore the warnings. But before they can turn back, our hapless heroes get dragged into a battle for their lives and will need to work together if they hope to survive.

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This relaunch of the Lake Placid franchise fails on every level. It lacks the geographical splendor of the original movie. It lacks the interesting characters. Instead, it’s the story of a pharmaceutical company trying to garner huge profits by creating giant crocodiles and somehow using them to create vaccines. Seeing as how they got the hell out of that area without even bothering to get rid of the crocodiles, I’m guessing their plans didn’t work out.

From what I could gather, the cast, director and writers have done more TV than movies. Katherine Barrell and Tim Rozon are regulars on Wynonna Earp, one of the shows I hope to watch in the very near future. The rest were unknown to me.

The “young explorers” are actually eco-warriors set on exposing the company’s wrongdoing. Joining them are the guy who runs their boat and the former soldier who works with him. The latter has moments of coolness, but her dialogue is pretty awful. Not that any other dialogue is better.

The most likeable character is a young tech wizard. Once the boat guy and the black guy were killed, I figured he’d be the next to go and I was correct. The rest of the cast: the arrogant leader of the group, his girlfriend, the sister of the girlfriend who is also a reporter, the arrogant leader’s even more arrogant rival and a mad scientist trying to recover data. I think the scientist is mostly there to explain what was going on at the secluded research center.

We barely get a decent glimpse of the giant crocodile(s) until the end of the movie. After it’s killed everyone but the sisters, we do get a pretty good scene of the older sister taking the creature out with a bulldozer and a fire and an explosion. Clearly, that’s where the movie spent its doubtless meager budget.

In the kind of final scene I hate, the two sisters are swimming to what appears to be safety. Once out of frame, a second, hither-to-unmentioned crocodile breaks the surface of the water behind them. I saw this coming ten miles away. It’s just that kind of cheap-ass monster movie.

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Lake Placid: Legacy runs 90 minutes. It’s wasn’t worth that much of my life. Avoid it.
                                                                                  

Blood Tide is a 1982 UK/Greece horror film directed and written by  Richard Jefferies and co-written by Nico Mastorakis. It stars James Earl Jones, José Ferrer, Lila Kedrova, Mary Louise Weller, Martin Kove, Lydia Cornell and Deborah Shelton. The movie contains a quick shot of boobies, not particularly convincing gore and a extremely shy monster who is rarely seen clearly. Here’s the IMDb synopsis:

An adventurer hunting for treasure in Greece accidentally frees a monster that forces local villagers to sacrifice virgins.

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Newlyweds Kove and Weller have come to a secluded Greek island in search of Kove’s somewhat demented sister (Shelton). The sister has some sort of mystic connection to the monster, which might be the result of her stripping away layers of a painting to reveal ever more terrifying images of the creature and its victims.

Ferrer is the mayor of the island and kind of a dick. He does not like outsiders messing around his island and has a special dislike for Jones. Taking their cue from Ferrer, the island children also behave badly. If you want to take this as foreshadowing of Donald Trump’s power over his insane followers, be my guest.

Outside of Jones, his girlfriend (Cornell), Kove and Weller, every one else on the island is pretty gloomy. They know the legends of the monster and the virgin sacrifices are true. They know that the monster is back because it kills a whole bunch of women before the movie is over. And, even after the monster is killed, they really want the surviving outsiders to get the heck off Synanon, the name of the island. Whatever “Synanon” means, it sure isn’t friendship.

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Jones gives a commanding performance. Most of the other actors are okay. The movie has some decent moments of suspense, but many more moments of tedium. The appearance of the monster is more goofy than terrifying.

This is the U.S. cut of the movie, which runs 82 minutes. There’s a longer UK cut that runs 97 minutes. I’m assuming the additional 15 minutes have more gore, more nudity and more grim people talking about how grim things are.

Blood Tide is worth watching once, mostly for Darth Vader taking a vacation from the Dark Side of the Force.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Sunday, June 3, 2018

BOOKS I WANT BUT DON’T HAVE TIME TO WRITE

Veteran readers of this bloggy thing of mine know I have a bucket list of over 300 things I want to write before I kick the bucket. The list includes many comic-book series and stories. It includes ideas for movies and TV. It includes prose novels and stories. It includes plays, children’s books and goofy novelty books. It even includes filmed versions of the lectures I’ve given at schools and libraries. And, as you might expect from a guy who wrote 1000 Comic Books You Must Read and who spends an hour every morning posting birthdays and remembrances of comics creators from all over the world, it includes comics reference books.

There are already many comics reference books. Some are very well done and essential to any study of comics history. Others are, simply put, not as good as they could and should have been. Others are books that, as near as I can figure, no one except for me has thought of yet.

As I stumble towards age 67, it’s become evident to me that putting together these books would take virtually every moment of my life. That would prevent me from writing the many other things I want to write before I kick the bucket. My inelegant solution to this dire quandary is to have other people write them with as little direct effort by myself as possible.

Here are the books I want on my bookshelves, but don’t have time to write. I consider them to be totally fair game for anyone who wants to tackle these projects. If I have written material that would be helpful to people who take on these projects, I will allow the use of my work as long as you check with me first. If I can offer some sage advice here and there, I will be happy to contribute to that extent. If someone brings one of these projects to the marketplace, I’ll be honored to write an introduction for their book.

Consider me the Tom Sawyer of comics history. Here’s a fence. Ask me nice and I’ll let you paint it.

We begin...

THE COMICS BOOK OF DATES. I’ve always wanted to see the birthdays,  historical notes and remembrances that I post on my Facebook page collected into a single volume. I’ll even grant permission for you to use my posts to compile the book.
                                                                           

THE COMICS MOVIE BOOK. This would be an encyclopedia of the movies and serials that began as comic strips, comic books or graphic novels. From the silent era to today’s blockbusters. If you’re really dedicated, you could even add the theatrical cartoons, animated features and direct-to-home-video features that stem from comics. Or you could split those off into separate books. I’d buy all of these books in a heartbeat.
                                                                                
THE COMICS TV BOOK. This would be an encyclopedia of the TV series and specials that come from comics. The trick would be finishing the book before the networks and streaming services add another three dozen such shows to the mix.

COMICS NOVELS. You know the drill. This would be an encyclopedia of prose novels based on comic strips and books. For example: Captain America Liberty’s Torch by Tony Isabella and Bob Ingersoll. Maybe putting a spotlight on these novels will entice their copyright holders into bringing them back into print.

BLACK COMICS CREATORS. I know an “Encyclopedia of Black Comics” was published in recent years and received critical acclaim. However, it is entirely inadequate to the study of black creators because it ignored a great many mainstream black creators while devoting many entries to comics scholars. We need an encyclopedia that consists of more than the creators the authors happen to have been familiar with. The mainstream comics historians have “discovered” many black creators over the past few decades and those historians should be brought into the process of creating a better encyclopedia for this area of comics history.
                                                                                  

WOMEN IN COMICS. Trina Robbins has done several wonderful books on women creators. Her books should be the starting points for anyone trying to expand on her work. Heck, in the world where I could wish for something and it would happen, Trina would get an entire staff and all the financial resources she needs to make this book come to pass. In the meantime, please forgive me for the title. I couldn’t resist stealing the name of that one panel that seemed to the only recognition of women creators at so many conventions of the past.

I’d also love to see encyclopedias of Asian, Christian, LGBTQ and Hispanic/Latino comics creators. I’m not looking to separate these creators from the entirety of comics creators. I’m looking at these books as shining a spotlight on them and showing how much they have all contributed to comics as we know them.

MORE THAN 1000 COMIC BOOKS YOU MUST READ. This is the one book I’d like to write myself, albeit with the help of assistants. I intend to try to get the rights to 1000 Comic Books You Must Read back from the publisher. Who is content to offer the original in digital form only. Which makes no sense to me, given how much money we all made from the original book’s two printings.

This revised book would add some comic books to each decade that I covered in the original version. It would correct some errors that crept into the making of the original. It would add a whole bunch of comics from the more recent decades not covered in the original. Naturally, I’d give the existing material another pass with the intention of adding more information and smoothing out any clumsy phrasing on my part.

Those are the books I’d like add to my comics library. Get started on them already, will you?

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Saturday, June 2, 2018

BLACK LIGHTNING BEAT 6/2/18

When I was at the East Coast Comicon, my dear friend Jim Salicrup gifted me with the above drawing of “old school” Black Lightning. Salicrup is the head of Papercutz, the NBM imprint which publishes all sorts of great suitable-for-all-ages comics from all over the world. I love this piece of art so much I had to share it with all of you. Besides, it gives me a chance to let you know I’d love to see your drawings of Black Lightning, his supporting cast members and his villains. If you want to get your five minutes of very little fame here at the Black Lightning Beat, e-mail your drawings to me with confirmation you're giving me permission to use them here.

At every convention I attend, the love for Black Lightning and my work on the character is evident. Last year, the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) gave me its Lifetime Achievement Award for creating Black Lightning and Misty Knight, as well as my other work with characters of color. This year, the Black Lightning love was even greater. The Black Lightning TV series is a huge hit. Those who had read Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands wanted to know when I would get the go-ahead for an ongoing comic-book series. That seems like a no-brainer to me, but it’s not my call to make. I’ll keep you posted.

Northern Michigan’s The CW32 sponsored my appearance at the Cherry Capital Comics Con. They had some terrific Black Lightning swag at the show. I spent an hour behind the station’s table and signed a bunch of Black Lightning posters for the fans. I also walked away with some of that cool swag:
                                                                                   

I also “collaborated” with artist Gene Ha at the show. Gene drew a sketch of Black Lightning for a charity auction and then asked me to write a word balloon for it:
                                                                          

The big news this time out is the Black Lightning TV series launches its second season on October 9. Its promotion to the fall schedule is indicative of its tremendous success earlier this year. There will be 16 episodes in this second season, up three from the first season. Obviously, I’m looking forward to the show’s return.

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands is being collected and should be out in late September or early October. I’ve written an afterword for the edition.

As to my further involvement with Black Lightning, I don’t have any information for you at this time. I haven’t been given a go-ahead on any new Black Lightning comics. I don’t have a publication date for Black Lightning Volume Three, which would reprint the 1990s run I did with artist Eddy Newell. I don’t know if I will be involved with the TV series. I would love for all of the above to happen, but, having done what I could to make them happen, I can only wait and see what comes around.

I am working on a non-fiction book which will discuss my creation of Black Lightning, my work with comics characters of color before Black Lightning, my battles to make Black Lightning the iconic hero he has become and my own path to understanding and working towards greater diversity in comics. I might post a chapter or two before publication. I’ll let you know when I have a target completion and release date on this volume.

Questions on Black Lightning, Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands and the Black Lightning TV series continue to be asked. As always, I’ll do my best to answer them here.

Chet, a long-distance friend of many decades, asked:

Will we see Tony Isabella as a gang boss in Black Lightning?

It has been rumored that I will be appearing in a recurring role on all of DC’s television shows. Since most of those shows are driven by characters making bad choices, I will float from show to show as the “Tinder Date from Hell.” It has also been rumored that the cast members of these shows - male and female alike - are fighting to be the character that dates me. Or maybe it’s that they are fighting *not* to be the character that dates me. I can neither confirm nor deny these rumors.

Neil Ottenstein wrote with comments and questions on the Cold Dead Hands mini-series. I’m going to split them into segments to allow  me to answer them better. But, if you haven’t read the mini-series, I must warn you that there are

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First off, I was surprised to see Black Lightning call on help with the city while he was busy taking on Tobias Whale.  It was a pleasant surprise that made perfect sense and was a nice payoff.  I was wondering your thought process on doing this - any pros and cons that came into your mind.
 
I’ve said this new Black Lightning of mine is smarter than earlier versions. I had this in mind from the start, which is why I name-dropped both Cyborg and the Flash in the first issue, and why I had Jeff show thoughtful restraint when he learned of the drug dealer coming to his high school to supply his pushers.

Most super-hero comics would have had a scene of Black Lightning actually interacting with Cyborg and the Flash in that final issue. But I’m all about doing the unexpected. He was smart enough to call them in to protect the police while he was keeping Tobias Whale off the board. He knew they could do the job. I assume they all went out for pizza off-camera, but there was no need for Jefferson to have a photo op with them.

Second,  the last panel is a puzzler.  I can see a switch happening off screen if someone with a similar build came in visiting, but other than that I can't see how he left the prison.  I guess there would be an explanation if there is a follow-up series.
 
Having established that Tobias Whale had judges and police chiefs on his payroll, I didn’t think I had to spell it out that he also had his hooks into prison personnel. That last scene was necessary to show that, even though Black Lightning handed the Whale his ass, Tobias remains a formidable adversary. The exact details were not important for that moment.

Third, is there going to be some compressing when making the trade paperback?  Reading issues five and six right after each other, had me thinking there was repetition of Whale explaining how hopeless it was at the end of issue five and then a similar passage at the beginning of issue six.  Any thoughts on this?

I don’t believe in writing for the trade. I knew there would be a bit of repetition, but the Whale’s gloating was needed for both of those issues. I’m a believer that each issue must deliver its own punch and that reprints of those issues should appear as they did in the individual issues.

Fourth, reading this series over the past few months while watching the show really had me thinking that they were perfect companions to each other.  There were quite different stories, but the same sensibility throughout along with similar issues such as police corruption, illegal drugs/guns in the hands of people who couldn't handle them, and so forth.
 
Both the comic-book series, which was begun before the TV show was definite, and the TV series all start from the core values of Black Lightning and Jefferson Pierce and an understanding of the world in which he lives. It was inevitable that both the comics and the show would share a basic sensibility.

Did my current comic-book stories inspire elements of the TV show? Maybe. I certainly discussed what I was doing with Salim Akil and the show’s terrific writers. I know I was inspired by some of what I knew about the TV series. For example, my Lynn Stewart is British because Christine Adams, who plays Lynn on TV, is British. I have big plans for my Lynn Stewart if I write more Black Lightning comic books. Fingers crossed.

Here’s another tip to what I have planned if I get to do the Black Lightning ongoing comics series. I wasn’t planning to introduce an Inspector Henderson into the new comics because I already had Tommi Colavito, Denise Simms and Henry Casey as a police presence. Then I watched Damon Gupton’s outstanding performance as the Inspector on the TV series.

Loretta Henderson is Jeff’s grandmother in my comic books and the guardian of his cousins Anissa and Jennifer. The idea of Inspector Henderson being related to Jeff would add such an interesting level to their interactions. If I do more Black Lightning comic books, I will be adding him to my supporting cast.

That’s all for this installment of “Black Lightning Beat.” I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, June 1, 2018

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN MAY

My May is best described as a mostly melancholy month, alleviated by some really great times. It seems like no May day passed without the Dumpster or his fellow gangsters doing or saying something so incredibly horrible it felt like the United States Constitution was my nut sack and I’d just been kicked in it.

Professionally, it was my worst month in years. Right now, outside of my weekly “Tony’s Tips” column at Tales of Wonder, I haven’t a single paying gig on my desk. A couple of back-end things, but no other writing assignments. One would think having a hit TV series and a critically-acclaimed comic-book mini-series would have made me more employable and even sought after. Sigh.

While thinking about what I wanted to write here today, I found a May 18 thread I posted on Twitter. It was a sad reminder of how far I am from my goals.

Can't sleep, so I ponder what I want out of life. To write Black  Lightning until the day I die. To write other things in between writing Black Lightning. To make enough money from this so that my wife can retire early. To be able to afford to donate to worthy causes. 12:54 AM - 18 May 2018

To reduce my Vast Accumulation of Stuff so that we can eventually  move to a smaller place in a less Republican and less white neck of the woods. To see sanity restored to my country, something that won't happen if my fellow Americans keeping electing racist Republicans. 12:54 AM - 18 May 2018

To visit dear friends I don't see often enough. To lose weight. To  dance like there's nobody watching, but I'm pretty sure that would cause undue distress to anyone who was watching. To move to Nevada  (Carson City or Reno). 12:56 AM - 18 May 2018

To take my wife on a cruise and not get eaten by a sea monster; this pretty much has to be a package deal. To spend a month in Japan. To spend a month in Italy. To spend a month in Great  Britain with a side trip to Ireland. 12:57 AM - 18 May 2018


As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from depression. It has been a part of my life since I was young and I fight it every single day of my life. One of my battle techniques is to remind myself every single day of my life of the things that make me happy. Here’s my list of those things from the month of May...
                                                                          

May 1: The fierce and funny Michelle Wolf speaking truth to power and the impotent media at the White House Correspondents Dinner. I winced once or twice, but, right on, woman! Bless you for saying what needed to be said.

May 2: Not gaining weight after a convention.

May 3: Both Sainted Wife Barb and myself had letters in our local newspaper supporting Grant Goodrich for U.S. Representative in our 16th District. Barb’s was better. [Sadly, though Goodrich was far and away the best candidate in the Democratic primary, he came in second to someone who will get trounced in the November election.]

May 4: Getting a note like this: “I don’t send messages like this very often, but man, you were hands down the nicest person I’ve ever met at a convention. I really hope you come back to East Coast Comicon again so I can speak with you. Once more I’d like to tell you congratulations on all of the success you’ve gotten with Black Lightning. It’s well earned, sir.”

May 5: Skye P. Marshall’s can’t-take-your-eyes-off-her performance as a homeless veteran on NCIS. The actress, who plays Kara Fowdy on Black Lightning, is herself an United States Air Force veteran.

May 6: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Barb, Eddie, Kelly, “other daughter” Giselle (back from NYC for a few days), Greg, Sheri and Lauren...and especially Sheri’s peach margaritas.

May 7: Stormy Daniels on Saturday Night Live and elsewhere. She’s funny and tough. If she ran for office, I’d vote for her over any Republican and a bunch of Democrats.

May 8: Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon. Her chameleon comedy is almost supernatural as she effortlessly parodies so many different characters.

May 9: The Jim Jefferies Show knocked it out of the park on May 8. Great bit on the mistreatment of NFL cheerleaders. Great interview with Carol Burnett. Great bit on the refugees trying to enter the U.S. legally. Well done, sir.
                                                                              

May 10: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Marlon Bundo with Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller. A beautiful book that I would not hesitate to read to my grandchildren if I had any.

May 11: Stormwatch Comics in New Jersey sent me over 50 Free Comic Book Day comic books. Last year, I read and reviewed all of them. I’m going for a repeat this year.

May 12: My son Ed got the keys to his new house. I’m very proud of him and delighted he’s still living in Medina.
                                                                                

May 13: The Sheldon and Amy wedding episode of The Big Bang Theory. Brilliantly written and performed.

May 14: Mother’s Day with Barb, Eddie, Kelly and Simba. We all had a terrific time. Simba saved her allowance to buy Barb a nice card and a Bob Evans gift card.

May 15: Receiving a nice note from one of the biggest names and best creators in comics. There are so many good people in comics. I need to find ways to work with them in the future.

May 16: The Lucifer season finale was brilliant! Satisfying endings to several stories and a hell of a last scene punch! #SaveLucifer #PickUpLucifer

May 17: The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale. I was a big fan of McHale’s The Soup on E! This is pretty much the same except better. Thank you, Netflix!
                                                                                   

May 18: Batman Nightwalker by Marie Lu. A great young adult novel by the New York Times bestselling author. Puts the Gotham TV show to shame.

May 19: ECBACC 2018. The East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia is always a joy. It’s a community that supports my work and has become family to me.

May 20: Don “Mister Fun” McGregor. There’s a reason Don’s writing is still vibrant today. Because, in his life and in his writing, he is always his own timeless self.
                                                                            

May 21: Alex Simmons. A friend and the one of the most accomplished and important comics creators and educators you’ve never heard of. There’s not a publisher on the planet that wouldn’t be fortunate to have him on their team.

May 22: Saturday Night Live’s star-studded season finale. Even when a sketch didn’t quite hit the mark, it was fun seeing so many cool performers.

May 23: Comedian Jim Jeffries twice registered a half-ton camel as his “emotional service animal” to show how ridiculous that process is. Hilarious comedy that serves the public good. Human up, people, and reserve the “service animal” stuff for those who truly need it.
                                                                                     

May 24: I love The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York by Peter J. Tomasi and artist Sara Duvall. By the way, on this date in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened.

May 25: The Traverse City Resort in Michigan. A beautiful complex surrounded by natural beauty. The view from our room was absolutely spectacular.

May 26: The Cherry Capital Comic Con. One of the best-run events I have ever attended. The show took wonderful care of Barb and I, the other guests and, of course, the fans.

May 27: Don’s Drive-in and Moomer’s Ice Cream. Just two more great reasons to attend the Cherry Capital Comic Con.

May 28: Northern Michigan’s CW32. They sponsored my appearance and had great Black Lightning swag for the fans.
                                                                             

May 29: Writing a word balloon for Gene Ha’s great Black Lightning sketch, done for a charity auction. Our first collaboration and I hope there’s more to come.

May 30: Having several great conversations with Jim Steranko, one of the first comics professionals to encourage me when I still in my teens.

May 31: Actor Brian O’Halloran. A friendly, talented gentleman who offered me some very kind encouragement as I plan the next chapters of my career.

June has arrived. I’m hoping to turn things around in this bright shiny new month. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella