Tuesday, December 11, 2018


The holiday season is upon us with all its attendant madness. Here in Medina, I’m also working on my 2019 appearance schedule. Which means it’s time for our continuing bloggy thing on what it takes to get me to your event.

Here’s where we start. If you want me at your convention or other event, you must e-mail me. Don’t contact me on Facebook or Twitter. E-mail me and I’ll send you my appearance requirements.

In 2019, most conventions I drive to will have to provide me with the following: travel expenses, hotel expenses and appearance fee. If a convention flies me in, it needs to provide airfare for me and a companion...and an aisle seat. At 67, I’m not as spry as I used to be and, even when I was younger, I was a nervous flier. Think of my companion, who will be either a family member or a friend, as my comfort human being.

Besides appearing at your event, I’m willing to do two panels a day as long as they aren’t back to back. I can do a solo presentation. I can host or appear on panels. I can do a performance of one of my stories, using audience members to “play” some of the characters. In the case of the last, I will need someone to prepare the story for projection on a large screen.

I will do pre-event publicity with your local radio or television stations. Ditto newspaper reporters.

Those are the bare bones of my appearance requirements. I’m not a cheap date, but I am a fun-within-reason date.

My 2019 schedule is starting to come together. Shows in italics are tentative at this time.

February 2-3: North Texas Comic Book Show

February 22-24: Pensacon
March 9-10: Big Apple Comic-Con

May 18: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

July 12-14: G-Fest

July 17-21: Comic-Con International
August 16-18: New Mexico Comic Expo

November 2-3: Akron Comicon
November 8-9: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Pensacon, Akron Comicon and Grand Rapids Comic-Con are very likely. It’s just a matter of working out a few details.

Comic-Con International is very iffy. That’s an expensive event to do on my own dime and, at this time, the convention hasn’t invited me and no publisher or other company has arranged to bring me to the event. I want to attend. I am bone weary of Black Lightning panels and promotions taking place sans the guy without whom there would be no Black Lightning. I’m trying to figure out how can I afford to attend. Suggestions are welcome.

With the exception of the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention and G-Fest and my garage sales, I charge for my signature. The first one is free. After that, they are $5 each. If you’re bringing a comics-grading company person to witness the signature, the price is $10 each. Those prices could go up. When I have raised the price in the past, it’s been because actual fans have urged me to do so. But, at the moment, I think those prices will stand.

If you want me to sign something for you via the mail, here’s the procedure for that.

My address is:

Tony Isabella
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

Send the item in a package that includes a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return mailing. That way I can sign it and pop it back in the mail immediately.

Let me know how and where you want the item signed. Do you want it personalized? Do you want it signed on the cover or on the splash page inside the book?

As with other items, I’ll sign one item for free. Additional items will cost $5 each.

There are some thankfully few folks who criticize me for charging appearance and autograph fees. There will be conventions who won’t have me as a guest because of this. I’m not going to be debate my policies beyond this:

I’ll be 67 years old on December 22. I’m in relatively good health and intend to keep writing until they pull my keyboard from my cold dead hands. However, in my field, there is never a guarantee of a next job after the job you’re working on. I’m working to put money aside for my retirement or any health problems that arise. So, yes, I am charging these fees.

We live in a convention world where “Zombie #3” gets paid to come to conventions. I’m not asking for the kind of money a convention will pay for a bona-fide movie or TV actor. But the money they would pay “Zombie #3"? Yeah, they can pay me that, too.

Of course, there are other ways you can contribute to my financial well-being and that’s by buying my books. The titles currently in print are:

Black Lightning Volume 1 ($19.99)

Black Lightning Volume 2 ($19.99)

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands ($16.99)

July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One ($17.95)

And, coming in February of 2019:

Black Lightning: Brick City Blues ($19.99)

One more thing. I also speak at libraries, schools and other venues. In 2019, to name one example, I’ll be speaking at a prison. Obviously, getting an appearance fee and expenses helps my ability to give these talks. However, whenever possible, I will work with these institutions. I’ve had a pretty good career and life. Paying back seems like a small enough thing to do.

If you have any questions related to today’s bloggy thing I haven’t answered above, feel free to e-mail me. I’ll do my best to answer in a timely fashion, even at this busy time of the year.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella



Good morning, my friends. I'm running behind on my schedule - no battle plan survives contact with the enemy - but hope to post a new bloggy thing for today before the end of the day.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Magazine subscriptions make great holiday gifts. They remind loved ones of your love for them all year long. The other day, I wrote about some magazines I thought would make wonderful presents for people in your life. Today, I’m writing about some other magazines I also think would serve that role just as admirably.

Edited by Eric Norwood, Comics Revue [Manuscript Press; $19.95 per double-numbered issue] is another of my mostest favorite magazines. Yeah, I know “mostest” isn’t really a word, but it aptly describes a journal that delivers 128 pages of classic comic strips in each and every issue.

Let’s look at issue #389-390 [October 2018] as an example. On the cover, we get a way cool shot of gunslinger Hipshot Percussion from “Rick O’Shay” by Stan Lynde. Set in the Old West, the strip presented adventure, humor, social commentary or a combination of the three. This issue reprinted a story from 1976.

The issue also featured complete stories of Mandrake the Magician from 1937, the comical Sir Bagby from 1962, the Phantom from 1959 and Casey Ruggles from 1952: Serials included two different takes on Flash Gordon, Alley Oop, Buz Sawyer, Tarzan, Gasoline Alley, Steve Canyon, Krazy Kat, Steve Roper and Garth.  When a new issue arrives at Casa Isabella, I try to prolong my enjoyment by reading just one story a day. “Try” is the operative word there.

A one-year, six-issue subscription is a bargain $59. For ordering information, go to:


As the pastor of the First Church of Godzilla, the closest thing I have to holy scriptures is the quarterly G-Fan magazine edited and published by J.D. Lees. It can be a flawed scripture. There’s been a little too much right-wing jingoism in the mag’s “Gfantis” comic strip and then some fairly absurd defense of same, but just about everything else in the issues is wonderful.

G-Fan #121 [Fall 2018; $6.95] had articles on the secret history of Destroy All Monsters, one of the actors playing a Ghidorah head in the next Godzilla movie from Legendary, G-Fest XXV, King Kong, The Meg, alterations of Godzilla movies for release in the United States and more. The highlight of the issue was a replica of the original pressbook for Destroy All Monsters.

Four issues of G-Fest will cost $25 in the US and $26 in Canada, where the magazine is based. Both subscriptions are postage paid. The only drawback to the magazine is that it makes me want to run out and buy all the amazing things it shows and, since some of the stuff is only available in Japan, I’d be chalking up more frequent flier miles than I can afford.

For more, go to: http://www.g-fan.com/


My friend Martin Arlt’s Mad Scientist [$7 per issue) comes out on an irregular basis, but the arrival of each new issue delights me. Issue #33 [Summer 2018] has an amazing paper cutout cover inspired by The Lost World [1925] by John Rozum, who you might know better as a top-notch writer of comic books. It illustrates Arlt’s 17-page article on that classic movie.

Other articles and features cover Viewmaster dinosaurs, the sequels that time forgot, the rhedosaurus (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), famous and obscure paleo-monsters and Hal Hardy in the Lost Land of Giants, a Big Little Book.

Subscriptions to Mad Scientist are not offered, but you can go the magazine’s website 
to order this current issue and back issues. Order a stack of back issues for the monster-loving friends on your gift list. They’ll love them!


We have to go across the pond for the next two magazine on Tony’s recommended gift list.  Published by D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd., the black-and-white digest-size comics magazine Commando releases four issues every two weeks. The four-pack is equally split between new and reprint stories.

I compare Commando to the non-series back-up stories that would run behind Sgt. Rock and the Haunted Tank in DC’s great war comics of the 1960s. Each 63-page tale is complete unto itself and suitable for all ages. The reprints are generally set during World War I and II, but some issues range much further. Indeed, a science-fiction adventure or two has worked its way into the mix.

I’m months behind on my reading of Commando, but that’s a factor of how often issues are released and not any lack of fondness for the series. Some of the recent issues I’ve read have featured courageous women fighting for their country, soccer rivals and soldiers striving to achieve redemption for past mistakes or outright sins.

Commando doesn’t come cheap for those of us in the United States. My recurring one-year subscription runs me just south of $200 per year. You either have to be lousy rich, which I am not, or really love someone to give them a Commando subscription.

The other D. C. Thomson publication I recommend and subscribe to is Beano, Britain’s longest-running children’s comics weekly. Quirky kids, who could only be considered as truly bad in a world that was much nicer than ours, are Beano’s reigning stars: Dennis the Menace (who made his debut the same time as the American Dennis the Menace, but not related to the Mitchell kid), Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger, Billy Whizz (the world’s fastest boy), Calamity James, Bananaman and more. The humor won’t appeal to all readers, but I’m still enjoying the magazine enough to sign up for a recurring subscription at around $125 a year.

For subscription information, I suggest you go directly to the D.C. Thomson website:


TV Guide is my final magazine gift recommendation for this holiday season. I have a nostalgic love for this magazine. When I was just a wee lad and the magazine was digest-size, I used to love reading every new issue and deciding which programs I would watch. Yes, we only had three channels back then, but it was still magic.

The current TV Guide is magazine-size and carries information and schedules on a great many more channels, but, every day, I check out what’s on that day and decide which shows I’m going to record. I wish that I had that “record” option when I was a kid. Even with just three channels, there were hard decisions to be made.

If you tell me TV Guide isn’t as fun as it once was, I won’t argue with you. But it’s still fun and it’s still useful. I’ll subscribe as long as I own a TV set.

TV Guide is one of those ridiculously cheap subscriptions. A year subscription (52 weeks, though some weeks are doubled up) costs $20 and, currently, you get a free wine tote with your order. Pay via credit card and you’ll get an extra eight free issues. You can buy a subscription at: 

That’s all for today, my friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


Friday, December 7, 2018


Whenever Christmas and other winter holidays are on the horizon, a great many people ask me for gift suggestions for the comics people in their lives. Those comics people are avid fans, casual readers and even comics professionals. I generally recommend comic books, graphic novels, manga, movies on DVD/BluRay, television series sets on DVD/BluRay, action figures and items of clothing. Something that I don’t recommend often enough are magazine subscription, the gift that keeps on giving for as long as the subscription you have paid for lasts. For today’s bloggy thing, I’ve cobbled together a list of some of my favorite magazines. Perhaps one of them might be the perfect gift for the comics person you love.

I have been subscribing to MAD for several years now. I liked the magazine before it was relaunched with a new first issue and like it even more under new executive editor Bill Morrison.

The new MAD is a cool blend of the classic and fresh. Issue #4 had a nothing-short-of-brilliant send-up of horror host Svengoolie by Ian Boothby (the best of the writers of the Simpsons comic books) and artist Tom Richmond. It had a clever lesson in “art history” by Maria Bamford and Scott Marvel Cassidy. It had a clever homage to Edward Goree by Matt Cohen and Marc Palm. It had a double-page Tom Bunk spread bursting with funny details. Its new “Wisenheim Museum” feature profiles noted artists explaining their love for MAD. All those plus Sergio Aragones, Spy vs. Spy, an Al Jaffee fold-in and more. It was well worth the $5.99 cover price.

Issue #5 cover-featured “The Mad 20 Dumbest People, Events & Things of 2018,” which is always a highlight. The issue also had the new “The Lighter Side Of...” by Tammy Golden and Jon Adams. That was a favorite of mine when the late Dave Berg did it and I think the new kids are doing right by him.

A one-year (six issues) subscription to MAD costs $19.99. However, if you order a two year or three year subscription, you’ll pay just #29.99 or $44.99 and get a free Alfred E. Neuman mini Tiki mug. I think that’s one heck of a buy.

All by itself, TwoMorrows could probably solve most of your gift-giving needs. The publisher has been creating the best magazines for comics fans for over a decade and is still going strong, having just added the swell Retro Fan to its roster.

Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego remains my favorite of the TwoMorrows bunch. Every 100-page issue delves into the comics and comics creators of the 1940s through the 1970s. If its articles were in alphabetical order, it would be the Encyclopædia Britannica of comics. The most recent issue [#155] cover-features the legendary Norman Maurer, who worked on Crimebuster, the original Daredevil, Crime Does Not Pay, (with Joe Kubert) the first and best 3-D comics and all manner of Three Stooges comic books and movies. After all, he was the son-in-law of Moe Howard. Other recent issues have spotlighted my friend Allen Bellman and the glorious Flo Steinberg.

Six issues: $65

Moving to the Bronze Age of Comics and beyond, editor Michael Eury helms Back Issue. The latest issue [#109] was a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Superman the Movie. I don’t think I’ve seen a more impressive coverage of that classic film.

Eight issues: $76

Draw bills itself as “The Professional “How-To” Magazine on Comics, Illustration and Animation.” Edited by the amazing Mike Manley, who also draws the daily Phantom newspaper strip and the daily/Sunday Judge Parker newspaper strip, the magazine is interesting reading if you’re not an artist. Great interviews. Wonderful tips by Jerry Ordway. The “Comic Art Bootcamp” feature. Jamar Nicholas reviewing the tools and tricks of the trade. Writers like me can learn a lot from seeing what artists face in doing their work.

Individual issues: $8.95

Retro Fan, also edited by Michael Eury, is the journal of all the things that we loved as kids. Saturday morning cartoons. TV heroes. Bubble gum cards. Slurpees.  Action figure and toy sets. In short, all the stuff that made the 1960s and the 1970s and even the 1980s so much fun for us and which are still eagerly collected by us old folks and fans who weren’t even born when these items were found in stores across the country.

Four issues: $38

The flagship of the TwoMorrows fleet is The Jack Kirby Collector, which has been honoring the King of Comics on a quarterly basis for decades. Each issue is loaded with art, history and interviews on the man who inspired generations of comics creators.

Four issues: $46

If you go to the TwoMorrows website, you can order subscriptions to all of the above magazines and also find dozens of terrific books on comics and comics creators. Classy magazines for classy comics fans. I love them all!


One of my favorite mainstream magazines is National Geographic [$39 per year, but special offers can bring that down to as low as $12]. Entertaining educational articles on the world around us. Brilliant photographs and graphics. At least a dozen items on my bucket list of things I want to write before I kick the bucket made it to the list after I read an article in National Geographic. I consider it an indispensable resource for writers.


The New Yorker [subscriptions as low as 12 issues for $12 and most offers include a tote bag] is another favorite of mine. Though the content of the weekly magazine is NYC-centric, its articles cover a wide range of national and international subjects. It boasts some of the best fiction, non-fiction and review writing in magazines. It presents fantastic graphics and hilarious/quirky cartoons. Its covers are stunning. The only drawback is that, from time to time, it makes me want to move back to New York City. Which can’t happen unless I suddenly start making much more money than I make now or become the boytoy of someone who makes much more money than I make now. Sigh.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at some other magazines suitable for holiday gift-giving. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


Thursday, December 6, 2018


Make no mistake about it. I know how blessed I am. Black Lightning, my proudest creation, has done very well by me. My Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands was everything I wanted it to be, save that it has not, at this time, led to an ongoing series written by me. I think it’s the best Black Lightning writing I’ve ever done and the best comics writing I’ve ever done. If another twenty years passes before I write my next Black Lightning series, I hope my 86-year-old self will be up to the challenge.

The Black Lightning television series is a weekly delight. I love the series. It has a lot of me in it and a lot of great stuff added by the writers. The actors knock me out every time out. I hope to visit the set this season and personally convey my admiration and thanks to everyone who works on the show.

The Black Lightning love that comes to me from the folks who work on the series, from the fans and from my fellow professionals has been heartwarming. To be part of something so important to so many people would be enough, but I also get to witness that importance at conventions, interviews and TV appearances.

Make no mistake about it. Black Lightning is DC’s most iconic black hero. Fans have hugged me with tears in their eyes because one of my Black Lightning comics was the first time they saw themselves in a comic book. I’ve been known to tear up myself.

Creating Black Lightning carries with it a great responsibility to do right by the character. It’s not an ego thing with me. It’s that sense of responsibility that drives me.

You know I think it’s a mistake and even something of an insult to reduce Black Lightning to yet another Batman sidekick because you liked Batman and the Outsiders in the 1980s. I also liked that book. But it’s 2018 and Black Lightning is a headliner.

Folks keep asking me what I think of the Black Lightning comics by others that have come out this year. The kindest thing I can say in response to that is...if I read a Black Lightning comic book true to Jeff Pierce and his core values...if I read a Black Lightning comic book I feel is well written and adds to the character...then I’ll tell you about it right here.

Do I have a beef with DC Comics? It’s actually more that I am very disappointed that they are again underestimating both my creation and myself. Though The Other History of the DC Universe #1 has been heavily promoted and got the cover of Previews, DC failed to make mention that there were two other new Black Lightning publications solicited that month...and that’s not counting the now-delayed BATO #2 or the re-solicitation of two previous-published Black Lightning collections.

Sidebar. Imagine if DC had put Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 on the cover of Previews. Imagine if they had done variant covers for every issue. Imagine if they had done second printings when the early issues sold out quickly. But I digress.

Black Lightning: Brick City Blues reprints my 1995 Black Lightning title with magnificent art by Eddy Newell. Up until my most recent Black Lightning series, that was the best work I had done with the character. I’m proud of what Eddy and I did there.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #46 will feature Black Lightning. This wondrous team-up title is my favorite ongoing DC series. Writer Sholly Fisch has a knack for telling hilarious and still respectful stories that work for younger readers and even somewhat older fans like me. I’m looking forward to this issue.

Four Black Lightning publications in a single month. Had DC also re-solicited Black Lightning Volume One and Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, they could have promoted eight different comics or trades featuring their most iconic black hero. That would have been quite the worthy event.

Sidebar. There’s a hunger among Black Lightning fans for more Black Lightning merchandise. It’s not as bad as it was for Static Shock, but it’s not anywhere near the amount of product that should be out there for the fans.

Sidebar. I am always on the look out for Black Lightning stuff. I am trying to maintain as complete an archive as possible. When I’m gone, all my Black Lightning materials will be donated to either a museum or a university.

Sidebar. I don’t plan on being gone any time soon.

To their credit, DC Entertainment has honored its various financial commitments to me. I have no complaints on that score. There are a few other areas when they could and should do better, but I’m sure those involve simple human error.

I would love to continue writing Black Lightning stories until the day they pry my keyboard from my cold dead hands. That might never happen. That makes me sad. Just know my not writing Black Lightning stories is not my choice. My personal commitment to telling great stories with this great character has not changed. I have many more Black Lightning stories to tell. I hope I get the opportunities to share them with you.

I am currently writing Black Lightning and My Road to Diversity, a book that chronicles how I came to work with so many characters of color, how I created Black Lightning and the growing inclusion of diverse characters in comics. I hope to have the book available by the spring of 2019.

“Black Lightning Beat” will continue as an ongoing feature in this bloggy thing of mine. It will be a while before I resume my blow-by-blow commentary on the TV episodes and a while longer before I launch annotations columns on all of my Black Lightning stories to date. I have to save my energy for my book. But I will be posting new “Beat” columns with as much Black Lightning news as I can come up with. Oh, I have stories to tell, my friends.

Thanks for coming by today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a bunch of holiday gift suggestions.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Monsters Volume 1: The Marvel Monsterbus by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby; Crosswind Volume One by Gail Simone and Cat Staggs; and DC's World’s Greatest Super-Heroes Holiday Special #1!

Sunday, December 2, 2018


UPDATES. If you are waiting to do an interview, podcast or such with me, I will not be able to accommodate you until January. I'm trying to keep my schedule as clear as possible so that I can finish the two non-fiction books I'm writing. As always, thanks for your cooperation and understanding.


UPDATES. The bloggy thing will be taking a three-day break so I can attend to other things. No cause for alarm. I just looked at my schedule and realized I need to build some preparation time into said schedule. If all goes as planned, Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing will be back on Thursday.


When I started writing today’s column, it was going to be a “Black Lightning Beat” column full of news and commentary. The photo above was going to be my lead item, showing the enormous Black Lightning poster at this weekend’s Tokyo Comic-Con. The photo was taken by my friend Sean Kelly and includes his daughter Nora.

Sean attended the convention with his wife Katherine. He posted a number of fascinating photos from the event on Facebook and on my Official Tony Isabella Message Board group page. The above photo is the only one directly concerning Black Lightning, but many of the others were just too good not to share with you...with the hope Sean won't be upset with me for my larceny. I guess I’ll have to write that “Black Lightning Beat” column later this week.

Side note. I’m not sure what the Japanese lettering under the Black Lightning logo means, so I’m just going to assume it says something like “Creator Tony Isabella is Stud-God of Comics.” You’re all cool with that, right?

Here’s Nora again, this time with the biggest Captain America Funko figure I’ve seen. I can only imagine the size of the Godzilla Funko figure. If a giant Godzilla Funko figure exists, I will launch some sort of funding campaign so I can purchase one for my First Church of Godzilla.

Marvel had a presence at the Tokyo Comic-Con with two lovely young woman cosplaying as Captain Marvel. Their smiles alone could defeat Thanos.

Not a young lady to play favorites, here’s Nora posing with a giant Flash Funko figure. I wish I owned a Flash Museum.

I don’t know what this is, but I assume it’s one of the dozens of alien creatures defeated by Ultraman. Or maybe a giant Funko figure of Donald Trump before his stylist makes him look semi-human in the morning.

Speaking of Godzilla...

Side note. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to watch all of the Godzilla movies from the first to the most recent anime and films. I’m shooting for one or two every weekend that I’m not attending at some convention or other event.

This DC Comics display creeps me out. I don’t know if these scary masks are available in the United States, but, on seeing this shot, I envisioned a horror film wherein a serial killer paints the faces of his victims to look like DC characters and then gently removes those faces for trophies.

That’s the last of the photos I’ve stolen from my dear friend Sean for your amusement today. The Tokyo Comic-Con looks like a terrific event. Maybe, someday, I’ll be invited there. If so, I promise to
avoid causing any international incidents.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Saturday, December 1, 2018

GET MORE TONY: Tomb Of Dracula: Complete Collection Vol. 2

Two of my Dracula stories from the Dracula Lives! black-and-white magazine of the 1970s are included in Tomb of Dracula: The Complete Collection Volume 2 [$39.99].

From the back cover:

Open the tomb once again for tales filled with bloodsuckers, cultists and things risen from the grave! When Dracula attempts to feed on Jack Russell's friend Topaz, its time for a vampire versus Werewolf-by-Night showdown -with the Darkhold as the prize! Blade the vampire hunter closes in, but will the Lord of Darkness be burned by Doctor Sun? It's stakes on a plane when Drac's fl ight is hijacked -and the Montesi Formula might spell doom for all vampires! Discover the beginnings of Dracula's feud with the wizard Cagliostro, and meet Lilith - his devastating daughter! Plus: Spider-Man! Hannibal King! And tales from Dracula's centuries-long life, including a clash with Frankenstein's monster!


My first of my two stories is "Night Flight to Terror!" from an idea by Marv Wolfman and with art by Gene Colan and Pablo Marcos. 

The second is "Shadow over Versailles" with art by John Buscema and Pablo Marcos.

I'd rank these stories among the best of my 1970s work.

ISBN 978-1-302-91396-0


Veteran readers of this bloggy thing and my Facebook pages and my Twitter tweets know that, no matter how bad things may seem at any given time, I like to recognize the things in my life that make me happy. There is a great deal  in my life that brings me happiness, joy and satisfaction. Here’s my November list...

November 1: Marvin “Krondon” Jones III is killing it every week as Tobias Whale on Black Lightning. I like his Tobias better than any of the versions I've written.

November 2: Representation matters. It matters in our comic books, movies and TV shows. I’m proud to have been a part of this back in the 1970s and even more proud to still be a part of it.

November 3: Akron Comicon 2018. The new venue for the event was not optimal, but, man, do these promoters know how to put on a terrific comics convention. I had a blast.

November 4: My two Akron Comicon talks on Black Lightning were very well received. I was at the top of my game as I shared the love for my creation and his TV series.

November 5: Getting a handle on what I want/need to do from now to the end of January. I’m setting reasonable goals and am confident I can meet them.

November 6: My Brother’s Husband Volume 2 by Gengoroh Tagame. This  tale of a Japanese single father meeting his late brother’s husband
is heartwarming and magnificently written and drawn. It has become one of my all-time favorite comics.

November 7:  Florida’s Voting Restoration Amendment passed, restoring the vote to over 1.4 million citizens who had served their prison sentences. All “Jim Crow” laws like the one that barred them from voting for life should and must be struck down. Such laws are blatantly discriminatory and immoral.
November 8: After the Rain by Jun Mayuzuki. What could have been a creepy manga is instead a rather heartwarming tale of a young woman drawn to an older man.

November 9: The Grand Rapids Comic-Con is one of the best and best-run events in the country. Promoter Mark Hodges has an efficient and friendly staff and volunteers. This year’s convention was big fun from start to finish.

November 10: A dealer selling silver and bronze age comics for $2 each made me feel like a kid again. I’m not ashamed to admit that I filled a short box with these treasures.

November 11: My “Black Lightning and My Road to Diversity” lecture at the Grand Rapids Comic-Con went incredibly well. An attentive audience, good questions, and a few laughs along the way.

November 12: As always, driving to conventions with my friend Thom Zahler is always terrific. Great conversations and laughs. I always learn something new from him.

November 13: Stan Lee. He’s the man who made me want to write comic books. That I got to know him, work with him, learn from him and become friends with him will always be one of the greatest gifts of my life.

November 14: Maisie Richardson-Sellers has returned to Legends of Tomorrow as the depowered shapeshifter Charlie. A clever way to bring back a terrific actress. Kudos to the writers.

November 15: Batman writer Tom King’s epic Twitter takedown of the arrogant and buffoonish Bill Maher’s talking trash about Stan Lee and super-heroes.

November 16: Appearing live on NBC 3 News Las Vegas to talk about Black Lightning and the Great American Comic Convention.

November 17: The Great American Comic Convention in Las Vegas. So many old friends and terrific fans.

November 18: The Great American Comic Convention presented a moving tribute to Stan Lee. Lots of terrific speakers, but Tom DeFalco was the best of the best.

November 19: Original Black Lightning artist Trevor von Eeden and I had some great quality time together at the Great American Comic Convention in Las Vegas.

November 20: The Avengers Station interactive exhibit at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino. One SHIELD agent was so excited to meet the creator of Black Lightning he dropped his gun.

November 21: With no convention appearances until February, I have two-and-a-half months at home. Let the writing commence!

November 22: Immigrants. They are the lifeblood of my country and our ongoing hope for tomorrow. They strengthen our American values and keep the American dream alive.

November 23: Holy kaiju, Batman! The “Tagumo Attacks!!!” episode of Legends of Tomorrow featured “Ishiro Honda” and other wonderment. My favorite episode of the series thus far.

November 24: The “Werking Mom” episode of The Simpsons wherein our beloved Marge becomes...a drag queen? The writing was outside the box and wondrous. The story was funny and heartwarming.

November 25: Ohio State 62, Michigan 39. ‘Nuff said.

November 26: This weekend, the Cleveland Browns beat the Cincinnati Bengals 35-20 and the LBJ-less Cleveland Cavaliers won two games in a row. This Cleveland sports fan isn’t used to so much winning, but I love it.

November 27: Bebbo’s guest appearance on Arrow. Curtis visits the injured Zoey in the hospital and gives her the stuffed toy. I would love to write a Bebbo series for DC Comics. Because, yeah, I could make it awesome.

November 28: Black Lightning’s stunt work. These talented artists make it look very real and very painful. I often wince during the fight scenes.

November 29: Ragdoll joining the rogues gallery of The Flash show. Kudos to the supernaturally bendy Troy James and voice actor Phil LaMarr for bringing the villain to life. More please.

November 30: Conan [O’Brien] Without Borders: Japan was hilarious and informative. Over the next few weeks, I plan to watch the other episodes in this series.

December promises to be an extremely hectic month for me. Between getting ready for the holidays and writing a book, I’m burning the candle at both ends and the middle. But I know there will always be things in my life that make me happy and, as long as I’m able, I’ll share them with you.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, November 30, 2018


Against all odd, I became a fan of Lee Falk’s Phantom. I say that because, as a very young child, I only saw the Phantom newspaper strip on Saturdays. Because Saturday was the only day my father had time to read a newspaper. When he was finished reading the paper, I would read the comic strips.

Obviously, the story strips didn’t make much sense when I only saw them once a week. That didn’t stop me from making up my own tales based on the Saturday strips. The strip I most enjoyed doing this with was the Phantom.

I was delighted when I discovered the Phantom comic books published under the Gold Key imprint. Since that time, I don’t think I ever passed on buying a Phantom comic book. Not every Phantom has been a good one. The bad ones give me a chance to play my own “create a story” game, which I still enjoy.

Currently, Phantom fans can read the current newspaper strip by the great Tony DePaul with art by Mike Manley (dailies) and Jeff Weigel (Sundays). There are hardcover books reprinting the Phantom strips from the 1936 beginnings of the character and, by the Ghost Who Walks, do I wish I could afford those. There are the occasional new Phantom comics in the United States, though those tend to be uneven in quality. For the truly obsessive, there are Phantom comic books from Australia.

Frew's The Phantom is the longest-running comic-book series with the character in the world and Australia's bestselling comic book. The title is published roughly every three weeks. I’ve been buying it since issue #1100; the most recent issue I’ve received is #1822.  The issues are a delightful mix of American comic strip reprints and new-to-me Phantom adventures from Europe. In addition, Frew publishes three other Phantom titles:
Giantsize Phantom is a standalone quarterly comic book reprinting Frew's other characters from the 1950s as well as The Phantom. I’m tickled by how many of these other heroes are basically the Phantom in different settings and times. The Walkers aren’t the only super-hero family in the game.

Kid Phantom is a quarterly, all-color, glossy comic book aimed at children and featuring original material. I bailed after the second issue because, well, it’s not very good. Keep in mind though yours truly hss a long-standing aversion to comic books about existing teen/adult characters when they were kids. I would make an exception for Superboy, but the rest of that bunch creep me out. Even the revered Little Archie is a little hard for me to take.

Finally, Phantom's World, a standalone quarterly comic book series presenting Phantom adventures from around the world, often seen for the first time in English, as well as original material.

Like most of my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, my copies of the Frew Phantom comics are spread throughout said VAOS. I know there must be hundreds of issues I haven’t read yet. But I am trying to stay relatively current with the newer issues as I get them. And that’s what this recurring bloggy thing feature will be about: my remarks on these newer issues.

The Phantom #1810 has a great new wraparound cover by Shane Foley, whose art also appears in Alter Ego. Shane’s passion for the Phantom is clear and his name will turn up again today.

This issue presents “The Prisoner Who Didn’t Exist” by writer Claes Reimerthi aka Michael Tierres with art by Jaimi Vallve. The story was first published by Semic Press in Scandinavia in 1987. The 32-page story involves one of the current Phantom’s ancestors and the illegitimate son of the first Phantom, an ancestor who never took the Phantom oath. It’s a terrific story which, unfortunately, does not end in this issue. Its continuation appeared in Frew Phantom #1733, published in 2015.

That’s one of the drawbacks of the vast assortment of Phantom tales from around the world. Frew hasn’t always been able to get stories in their proper publication order. I’ll be looking for #1733 when next I go through my boxes of Phantom comics...because I liked this issue a lot.

Giantsize Phantom #6 is 100 pages of The Ghost Who Rocks and some of his fellow masked adventurers. The cover is by Glenn Lumsden and the issue comes packaged with a Phantom Universe card spotlighting an intriguing character called Miss Mist.

Leading off the issue is “The Vapors of Vulcan,” an insanely wonky Phantom story drawn by Pat Boyette and likely written by Joe Gill. It’s from The Phantom #47 [Charlton; December 1971].

Other stories and features:

The Raven by Paul Wheelahan. The hero is a unjustly disgraced man “condemned to life beyond the law.” In this story, he works to save the life of an innocent man facing death by hanging.

The Shadow (but not the one you’re thinking of) appears in a all-new story written and drawn by Jeremy Macpherson.

“Heroines with Bite” is a prose article about Australian heroines created by Peter Chapman. From Gem Comics #16, we get a reprint of a Chapman tale starring the Vampire. She was a cool character, but this was her only appearance.

The Phantom Ranger is a western hero who appears in another all-new story written and penciled by Roy Mann with inks by Max Fish. This is a quirky tale wherein the Ranger’s girlfriend puts him in charge of her ranch. The other ranch hands cheer their new boss and don’t seem to even notice that he’s wearing a mask. The story rambles a bit and has a crazy ending (?), but it’s fun.

The prolific Shane Foley contributes a new story of Peter Chapman’s Sir Falcon, who is frequently mistaken for the Phantom. The story of this hero starts in 1420 and continues through the original’s heirs, so you can understand the confusion. I love this character.

The final component of this 100-page wonder is an interview with Graeme Cliffe, author of a history of Australian comics. There is so much to learn about that country’s comics creators and history. I’m going to be looking for that book.

Phantom’s World Special #4 is another 100-page comic book that also comes with a Phantom’s Universe card. This one features Devil, the hero’s trusty wolf sidekick.

This issue puts the spotlight on Italian artist Angelo Todaro with “The Honglong Kidnapping,” a 64-page epic putting the Phantom against a vast criminal organization, and “Shangri-La,” a 22-page story whose title reveals its inspirations. These are entertaining adventures with exceptional art.

The Frew Phantom comics are available directly from the publisher. For more information, go to: www.phantomcomic.com.au
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Tony loves to watch cheesy monster movies and then write about them for your amusement and edification. For today, I’m writing about the final two movies in the 2009 Creature Collection, a two-disc, five-movie set. I have previously reviewed:

Snowbeast (May 9, 2018)
Blood Tide (June 4, 2018)
The Demon (November 28, 2018)

Next up is Lady Frankenstein (1972), a English-language, Italian horror film directed by Mel Welles, written by Edward di Lorenzo, and starring Rosalba Neri (under the name Sara Bey), Joseph Cotten, Mickey Hargitay and Paul Müller. The Creature Collection lists the running time as 88 minutes, which doesn’t jibe any of the versions listed by the Internet Movie Database. The running times range from 83-99 minutes. My best guest is that cuts were made to reduce the amounts of gore and nudity, neither of which seemed to be excessive in the version I watched. The movie is rated R for “really trying to look like a Hammer film and not achieving that.”


The IMDB summary for the movie gives away major plot developments from the film:

When Dr. Frankenstein is killed by a monster he created, his daughter and his lab assistant Marshall continue his experiments. The two fall in love and attempt to transplant Marshall's brain in to the muscular body of a retarded servant Stephen, in order to prolong the aging Marshall's life. Meanwhile, the first monster seeks revenge on the grave robbers who sold the body parts used in its creation to Dr. Frankenstein. Soon it comes after Marshall and the doctor's daughter.

What is it with relatively major stars like Joseph Cotten appearing in horror movies only to die well before the end of the movie? Do they give producers a discount if they don’t have to stick around until the end? Anyway...

The entire cast chews the scenery like it was all you can eat wings night at the local sports bar. Of course, in this typical horror-movie village, the main sports seem to be fornicating and hanging people in public. An all you can eat wings hanging would doubtless be a huge success. As for the fornicating, that’s pretty much its own reward.

Neri is fun as Tania Frankenstein, the surgeon daughter of Cotten’s Baron Frankenstein. She’s all “girl power” and “lusty glances” as she goes about her mad scientist business. She does not take kindly to her dad’s trying to keep away from his experiments, which she’d expected to work with him on. She plays Dr. Marshall like a fiddle, trying her womanly charms for his cooperation. It’s been said that a woman can’t change a man, but Tania proves that wrong by putting Marshall’s brain in a hunky young body.

Also lining up at the buffet are Hargitay as the village’s lawman and Herbert Fux as the grave-robbing Lynch. You’ve seen their like in dozens of similar horror films.

All the leading players end up dead, some while having sex inside the Frankenstein laboratory. Terrible person that I am, I sort of laughed out loud at that finale fornication. It was just the perfect way to end this movie.


The original running time of Lady Frankenstein is 99 minutes, but the version I saw is 84 minutes. I have no idea what was cut, but it’s a crime against nature if any of the missing minutes featured the delightful Neri in states of undress. By the way, she was cast by the people who financed the movie after it ran into some trouble coming up with enough money to make the film.

Lady Frankenstein isn’t a classic, but it’s worth watching once or maybe even twice. If the full version of the movie ever crossed my path, I’d probably watch it again. It’s cliched and goofy enough to be entertaining.


Night Fright, the 1967 American sci-fi horror movie, is something we refined film critics like to call “a hoot-and-a-half.” If you were making a parody of a low-budget sci-fi horror movie from the era, it would look like this movie. I’ll get back to the budget it a bit.

Night Fright stars sci-fi veteran John Agar, who you’ve heard of, and Carol Gilley, who you haven’t. It was written by Russ Marker and directed by James A. Sullivan. The movie runs a not-so-tight 75 minutes - grab a snack during the scene of rebellious college kids dancing like old white people near the lake they’ve been warned to avoid - and was cut to 65 minutes for the U.K. I don’t know what was cut, but there isn’t any real gore and absolutely no nudity. Wikipedia offers this summary:

A Texas community is beset by a rash of mysterious killings involving some of the students from the local college. The sheriff investigating the deaths discovers the startling identity of the killer responsible for the murders. A NASA experiment involving cosmic rays has mutated an alligator into an ogre-like form and bullet-proof unstoppable killing machine with a thirst for blood.


There’s not much I can add to the Wikipedia summary. The spoiler warning is so I can discuss the low budget.

The first two victims of the mutated alligator creature are said to have been horribly mauled in their car. When the car is examined, its white interior shows no signs of the attack. I’m guessing the car was loaned to the movie by a cast member who didn’t want his or her ride covered in blood. It costs extra to get the interior of a car washed.

Why do I opine this is a cast member’s car? Because a scene where Gilley uses a phone in her character’s kitchen was shot in Gilley’s actual house. The Mustang she drives in the movie was her husband’s ride. What a trooper and that’s not the best example.

The best example is the scene when a dummy made to look like Gilley is used to lure the alligator creature to its death. The movie couldn't afford a dummy, so Gilley had to sit like a statue for the scene. After the creature is killed, since her character’s nurse’s uniform was worn by the “dummy,” Gilley is wrapped in a blanket. Since she also played a nurse in The Yesterday Machine, I suspect she owned the uniform.

Gilley only made one other movie. She played a clerk in Zontar: The Thing from Venus (1966). Bet she supplied her own wardrobe.


If you read past the spoiler warning, you saw I poked fun at this low-budget flick. But, honestly, it’s worth watching once for the cheesy fun it provides. As for me, I’ll keep watching the skies for more movies like this one.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


I love cheesy monster movies. You know this about me. So it should come as no surprise that I’m reviewing a pair of cheesy monster movies today.

First up is Rogue (2007) from Greg McLean, the director and writer of Wolf Creek. Which I’ve never seen, but maybe I will on account of I enjoyed this movie. The DVD I got from the library identifies this as the “un-rated” version, but I have no idea what that means. To sum up, of all the killer crocodile movies ever made, Rogue is one of them. Here’s the Internet Movie Database synopsis:

An American journalist on assignment in the Australian outback encounters a man-eating crocodile while trapped on a rapidly flooding mud island.

That’s factual, but not complete. For complete, I have to warn you that there are


Jaded travel writer Pete McKell [played by Michael Vartan] takes a tourist river cruise to kill some time while he’s waiting for his ride out of the Australia. The cruise captain is plucky Kate Ryan [Radha Mitchell]. The passengers are the typical mix of potential crocodile chow: a widower grieving for his wife, a kind of creepy photographer, an upper crust sort of fellow with his ailing wife and rambunctious daughter. Also getting in on the action are Kate’s ex-husband and his jerk friend.

When Kate spots some smoke on the horizon, she decided to check it out in case anyone needs help. Someone does need help. Namely Kate and the cast as the crocodile attacks. Jerk friend is the first to die and, after that, it’s the bad luck of the draw as to whom gets chomped next.  The climax comes when Pete must rescue the seriously injured Kate in the lair of the crocodile. 


Rogue has some bite to it. There are some surprising developments and a character who rises to the occasion in true making of a hero style. This almost makes up for the many factual errors concerning crocodile habits and the like. The acting is adequate throughout. The lightning, not so much. According to a synopsis I read after I had watched the movie, Kate was far more badly injured than could be seen.

The movie won an Australian Film Institute award for “best visual effects” and was nominated four other times. It is based on a true story of Sweetheart, a giant saltwater crocodile responsible for a series of attacks from 1974 to 1979. Sweetheart attacked outboard motors, dinghies and fishing boats, but never killed anyone. He was captured and died en route to captivity.

The bottom line? Worth watching once, especially if you enjoy films of large animals eating people. I do, which is why I’m working on a screenplay called Mar-a-Lago Mamba Massacre

The Demon is a 1979 South African slasher film that was released in the United States under the title Midnight Caller. Clearly meant to leech off the amazing success of Halloween (1978), it stars Cameron Mitchell and Jennifer Holmes and was directed/written by Percival Rubens. It is a schizophrenic film and, as I watched it, I wondered if it was two slasher movies combined into one. Here’s the Internet Movie Database summary:

Random people are terrorized by a malevolent man who brings their worst fears to life. 

That summary is just plain wrong. The random people part is correct and the killer is, indeed, malevolent. However, if anyone’s worst fears are involved in the movie, Rubens failed to make that clear.


The first movie involves a fourteen-year-old girl who is kidnapped from her home by a faceless Michael Myers type. He murders her and then a driver who gives him a lift back to town.

Two months later, the girl remains missing. Her parents hire ex-arine and freelance psychic detective Colonel Bill Carson (Cameron Mitchell) to find her, though the girl’s dad is pretty sure she’s dead and wants to get revenge on her killer. Carson gets the usual psychic vibes. The girl’s body is found.

Another vibe gives a vague location for the girl’s killer. Her dad goes after him and is also killed. The distraught mother and wife blames Carson and shoots him dead. All in all, Mitchell is on the screen for around ten minutes.

The second movie has our killer stalking two young women. There is quite a bit of nudity in this movie, culminating in a tense battle and chase through the house the women share. When the movie ends - the killer presumably dead - it ends so abruptly that I wondered if the DVD had neglected to include the movie’s final scenes.


The Demon is not a good movie. Its best moments are the nudity and the closing battle between the killer and his intended victim. It drags often. Normally, I don’t consider nudity to be either a plus or a minus, so it’s a measure of how bad this movie is that I list it as one of the best parts of the film.

This isn’t worth watching. If you watch it, my sacrifice in watching it will have been for naught.

I got The Demon in the 2009 Creature Collection, a two-disc, five-movie set. The other films are Snowbeast (1977), Blood Tide (1982), Lady Frankenstein (1972) and Night Fright (1968). I’ve previously reviewed Snowbeast and Blood Tide and, if you click on the titles, you’ll be directed to my reviews of same. I will be reviewing the other two movies soon.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


Tuesday, November 27, 2018


New in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...The second of my Stan Lee columns wherein I talk about some of my favorite Stan Lee comics!


My local Medina County library and the ClevNet system of which it is a member continues to be a great source for reading comics that I would otherwise never see. Recently, I discovered a writer whose work was unfamiliar to me.

The Story of Lee Volume 1 by Sean Michael Wilson and Chie Kutsuwada NBM; $11.95] was published in 2010 under NBM’s ComicsLit imprint. Here’s the back-cover come-on:

Lee, living in Hong Kong, meets Matt, a fine young Englishman. Their relationship becomes stronger by the day, despite their deep cultural differences. But there is Lee’s Dad to contend with; [he] views this affair very suspiciously. And there is another contender for Lee’s heart, a Chinese man, whose jealousy takes on twinges of xenophobia. Will Lee and Matt’s relationship successfully cross the cultural divide and overcome the negative odds? Two worlds collide creating good sparks… and bad ones.

Though not autobiographical, Story of Lee is informed by Wilson’s experiences in Hong Kong and women he knew. This gives a reality to his story of two young people who meet and fall in love. I found I could relate to Lee and Matt, but also to Lee’s father and to Wang, the young man Lee’s father would prefer to see Lee with. There are no overblown dramatic confrontations in this initial volume, just the family and personal conflicts most of us have had to deal with our own lives.

Wilson’s writing is good and natural. Kutsuwada’s storytelling and drawing is also good and never feels forced. I like these two lovebirds and I’m eager to read the second volume in the series. That one will flip the situation somewhat because it will have Lee moving to Scotland to attend university there. Consider this first volume recommended.

ISBN 978-1561635948


There’s a lot I don’t get about the DC Universe “Dark Night/Metal” titles, although, in the name of full disclosure, I wasn’t enamored of the original “Metal” titles either. At the top of each issue is a come-on that reads “The New Age of Heroes,” but several of these comics feature existing heroes or new takes on existing heroes. I don’t glean why the pencil artist get top billing on the covers of the comics when it doesn’t appear they’re produced in anything much the usual manner, the usual manner being that the story comes first and everything is (or should be) in service of that story. If the pencil artists are plotting these titles, wouldn’t they be credited for that in the interior credits? 
Anyway... I read New Challengers #1-3 [$2.99 each] because I’ll read pretty much any comic book called Challengers. The original Challengers of the Unknown series was a favorite of mine from Jack Kirby’s origin issue through many other talented creators. I was somewhat cooler on subsequent rebooted versions, but I still read them.

Written by Scott Synder and Aaron Gillespie, these new Challengers are people who have died and now live on borrowed time. The launch artists are Adam Kubert (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks), but, by the third issue, penciller V Ken Marion and inker Sandu Florea are listed in the credits with Kubert and Janson.

An individual claiming to be Professor Haley of the original team tells the team they’ve been selected to join “a proud tradition of death-defying individuals” brought together “to uncover, confront and solve the mysteries of our universe.” As he tells it, hundreds of men and women have been Challengers with the original team (as we know it) being the most prolific and public. This Prof doesn’t inspire trust, but the notion is intriguing enough that I’ll stick with the title for a bit, especially since “my” Challengers make an appearance and add to the intrigue.

The writing and art on these issues are good. When I sort the next batch of comics loaned to me by a good friend who buys a lot more comic books than I do, I’ll read the subsequent issues of The New Challengers and write about the title again.


When Brian Michael Bendis brought the original teenage X-Men to our time, I thought the concept was audacious and entertaining. These time-lost mutants have overstayed their welcome, as I learned when I read X-Men Blue #10-23 and X-Men Blue Annual #1 over the past weekend. The regular issues are priced at $3.99 each with the annual going for a dollar more.

The issues are written by Cullen Bunn, who is very prolific and who has done several comics I’ve enjoyed in the past. X-Men Blue isn’t one of them. Indeed, when I look over these issues, what I see is mostly stories and concepts Chris Claremont already did and did so much better. I wish I could be more positive here.

I did like the notion that Hank (Beast) McCoy would feel at a loss in the modern world. In his time, he was a big science guy. Today, he’s years behind the other Marvel Universe scientists. While I’m not sure turning to the Dark Arts is in keeping with the character as I knew him, I could see him having an extreme reaction to what he feels is his shortcomings in the science department.

Beyond that, what X-Men Blue gives us are retakes on old Claremont concepts like an endless barrage of alternate universe X-Men, Mojo on Earth and time-crossed adventures. There are stories that cross into other X-Men titles and Venom. Add so-so art and my interest in this title is virtually non-existent. Sorry, Marvel.

One more thing I did like. Trapped on our Earth, Mojo sets up his own television network specializing in fake news. It’s redundant - our real-world Fox News has already been weaponized - but it's a kind of fun idea nonetheless. I’ll probably at least skim the rest of the issues I have to see if anything good is done with this idea.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella