Saturday, August 18, 2018

REMINDER: NEO COMICS CON IS TOMORROW!

My next convention appearance will be NEO Comic Con, Sunday, August 19, 10 am to 5 pm at the Soccer Sportsplex,  31515 Lorain, North Olmsted, Ohio. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for cosplayers with anyone age 13 and under getting free admission.

The convention has an impressive list of comics guests and events. Besides me, that list includes Gary Dumm, Ted Sikora, Marc Sumerak, Darryl Banks, Dan Gorman, Phil Hester, Matt Horak, Angel Medina, Ande Parks, Rock Lozano and more. Some small comics publishers and other artists will also have tables at the convention.

In addition to cosplay and gaming events, NEO has also scheduled an “Ask the Professional” panel featuring Mark Sumerak and me. It’ll happen at 12:30 pm.

You can find me at tables 106-107 in between Darryl Banks and Matt  Horak. My current plan is to bring lots of Isabella-written stuff, such as Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-6; Black Lightning Volume 1 and Volume 2; and July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One. I’m also planning to bring Black Lightning and Superman posters; Daredevil and Luke Cage mini-posters; a few DC Comics and Stan Lee collectors boxes; and several boxes of dollar comics.

I will only be signing at my tables and I do charge for signatures. Here’s the price list on that:

Items bought at my table: no charge.

Items not bought from me: one free signature; all others $2 per item.

Photo of me or with me: no charge.

Signature witnessed by representative from grading company: $5 per item.

Having me sign Certificate Of authenticity: $5 per item.

One more NEO note.

Portions from admissions along with individual donations will go to Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana Organization. Last year, the convention raised over $3000 for that organizations. With the help of sponsors Halleen KIA and Lakewood’s El Carnicero restaurant, it hopes to do the same or better this time around.

I hope to see you there.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR BLOGGY THING!

On this date in 2011, TONY ISABELLA'S BLOGGY THING was launched. If you'd like to celebrate the occasion, please donate to The Hero Initiative.

I'll be back soon with more bloggy things.

Tony Isabella

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

NEO COMICS CON (August 19)

My next convention appearance will be NEO Comic Con, Sunday, August 19, 10 am to 5 pm at the Soccer Sportsplex,  31515 Lorain, North Olmsted, Ohio. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for cosplayers with anyone age 13 and under getting free admission.

The convention has an impressive list of comics guests and events. Besides me, that list includes Gary Dumm, Ted Sikora, Marc Sumerak, Darryl Banks, Dan Gorman, Phil Hester, Matt Horak, Angel Medina, Ande Parks, Rock Lozano and more. Some small comics publishers and other artists will also have tables at the convention.

In addition to cosplay and gaming events, NEO has also scheduled a panel. Here’s the skinny on that:

Ask the Professional: 12:30pm (approximately 45 minutes)

Comics industry veterans Tony Isabella (creator of Black Lightning, co-creator of Misty Knight & Tigra) and Marc Sumerak (Marvel Comics Editor, Best Selling Author and Game Imagineer) will bring their 50 plus years of experience to this Q&A Session. This is your chance to quiz the experts regarding the industry, writing techniques or to get their insights on your favorite characters or stories.  Due to NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), there will be questions that I can’t answer and assume the same will be true for my friend Marc.


I’ll have two tables at the convention. My current plan is to bring lots of Isabella-written stuff, such as Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-6; Black Lightning Volume 1 and Volume 2; and July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One. I’m also planning to bring Black Lightning and Superman posters; Daredevil and Luke Cage mini-posters; a few DC Comics and Stan Lee collectors boxes; and several boxes of dollar comics.

I will only be signing at my tables and I do charge for signatures. Here’s the price list on that:

Items bought at my table: no charge.

Items not bought from me: one free signature; all others $2 per item.

Photo of me or with me: no charge.

Signature witnessed by representative from grading company: $5 per item.

Having me sign Certificate Of authenticity: $5 per item.

One more NEO note.

Portions from admissions along with individual donations will go to Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana Organization. Last year, the convention raised over $3000 for that organizations. With the help of sponsors Halleen KIA and Lakewood’s El Carnicero restaurant, it hopes to do the same or better this time around.

******************************
Last weekend’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. Despite pleasant weather, I didn’t get many customers. The final sales total was only 56% of my two-day goal. Disappointing.

My next garage sale will be Friday and Saturday, August 24-25. That will be my final garage sale of 2018. I will have more information about this sale in the near future.

After the NEO Comic Con, my next convention appearance will be the Hall of Heroes Comicon, September 8 and 9, at The Gateway Mile, 410 S Main Street, Elkhart, Indiana. I’ll have more on this before the event. In the meantime, you can check out the Hall of Heroes Museum on Facebook.

As always, if you are a convention or event promoter who wants to have me as a guest at your convention or event, you need to e-mail me for a list of my requirements. Don’t send me invitations at this blog or on Facebook or Twitter. E-mail me.

That’s all for now. I’m working on several review and other bloggy things and will post them as I finish them. See you soon.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

THIS IS A NO-NO!

The very first online communication I received this morning was from a fan who wanted me to read his book and help him turn it into a movie. Because, of course, I have immense power in these things and so much spare time I don't know what to do with it.

Once again, all I owe any fan or reader is putting my very best effort into everything I write. That's it. At this time, I have no role, official or otherwise, in the Black Lightning TV series. I can't buy your script or cast you for a part in the series. I haven't even been asked to visit the set.

Heck, outside of writing an introduction to a collection of my Black Lightning comics from the 1990s, I don't have any DC Comics gigs. Yeah, I know that's crazy. Welcome to the unrelentingly confusing, frustrating and often senseless world of comics.

I'm working on my own projects. Unless you've done me a major solid in the past, I'm not going to take time away from them for your project unless you're paying me to do so.

I love comics. But working in comics is a business. Too often in the past, I have not embraced that notion fully.

I love comics. I love my fans, readers and fellow comics creators. Except, of course, for the bigots and racists and Nazis. I will always give you the best possible work I can give you at the time.

This has been my morning rant.

Monday, August 13, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #270

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder: Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez's amazing comics anthology featuring super-star creators and DC super-hero stars; Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss; and My Brother’s Husband Volume One by Gengoroh Tagame!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

COMICS COMICS COMICS 8/12/18

Comics Revue is an outstanding comics magazine and one of my own favorites. Edited by Rick Norwood, each bimonthly issues presents  128 pages of classic comics strips. The June 2018 issue [Manuscript Press; $19.95] is one of the best issues yet. From the incredible front cover by Romero, best known for his work on Modesty Blaise, to the hilarious Rick O’Shay Sunday strip by Stan Lynde on the back cover, this was a great issue of the great magazine.

First up was an earlier Mandrake the Magician story by creator Lee Falk and artist Phil Davis. “The Slave Traders of Tygandi” ran from July 20, 1936, to November 28, 1936. This exotic adventure is early in the relationship between Mandrake and Princess Narda. They are smitten with one another, but keeping coy about it. Mandrake comes to her land to help her addicted-to-gambling brother. Mandrake’s description of her is priceless:

Once thinking to protect her brother, she tried to poison me, drown me, knife me and slug me. A very remarkable girl!

In these earliest adventures, it always seemed to me that Mandrake had actual magic powers beyond his hypnosis. I like him best that way and, if I were ever to write him, that’s the tack I’d prefer to take. Hey, King Features, up for a revival?

There’s lots of other great stuff in this issue of Comics Revue. Complete stories of the gently satiric Sig Bagby by R & D Hackney,  Buz Sawyer by Roy Crane, and the Phantom by Falk and Wilson McCoy. Then there are the serials: Flash Gordon from both the 1960s and the 1970s; Casey Ruggles by Warren Tufts, Alley Oop by V.T. Hamlin, Steve Roper, Tarzan, Gasoline Alley, Steve Canyon, Krazy Kat, Rick O’Shay and, from Modesty Blaise creator Peter O’Donnell, the mighty adventurer known as Garth.

Single copies of Comics Revue are $20. One-year subscriptions are only $59. For more information, you can visit the Comics Revue page on Facebook or write Norwood at Manuscript Press, Box 336, Mountain Home, TN 37684.

                                                                              

I have been getting the Scooby-Doo Team-Up trades via my library, which means I get them somewhat out of order. I read and reviewed Scooby-Doo Team-Up Volume 5 [DC Comics; $12.99] a couple weeks back for my “Tony’s Tips” column at Tales of Wonder. You can read that review here.

I just read Scooby-Doo Team-Up Volume 3 [DC Comics; $12.99], which is more DCU-centric than the fifth volume. Written by Sholly Fish with art by Dario Brizuela, this volume collects issues #13-18 of the monthly series with every story featuring characters from all across the DCU.

The Phantom Stranger and Deadman recruit the Scooby and the gang to help find the missing ghosts of the DCU. Included in the spectral victims are Kid Eternity, General Jeb Stuart of the Haunted Tank, The Grim Ghost (formerly known as the Gay Ghost), the Ghost Patrol and even one of my favorites: The Gentleman Ghost.

The remaining stories feature the Flash and a trip to Gorilla City, Aquaman, the Captain Marvel Family, Hawkman and Hawkwoman and - be still my fan heart - the Space Canine Patrol Agents. If, like me,  you know who the SCPA are, you’ll have as much fun with the story as I did. If you don’t know who they are, Google them. I’m not sure you’d believe me if I told you about them.

These are clever and fun comic-book stories. I haven’t seen super-hero comics this clever and this much fun since the long-ago days when E. Nelson Bridwell brought those qualities to Super Friends. Scooby-Doo Team-Up has become one of my favorite modern-day comics title. You should definitely give it a chance.

ISBN 978-1-4012-6801-5
                                                                                  

For several years now, NBM’s ComicsLit imprint has been publishing  an extraordinary series of original graphic novels in collaboration with the Louvre museum in Paris. The graphic novels are crafted by comics artists from around the world, each creating a story based on the museum and its many astonishing collections. Some of these stories are more fantastic than others.

Rohan at the Louvre by Hirohiko Araki [$19.99] is a horror tale by the creator of the bestselling manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The graphic novels begins with Rohan working on a manga, his submission to a competition for young comics creators. He meets a mysterious woman who tells him of a cursed two-hundred-year-old painting that was made using the blackest ink ever known. The painter obtained the ink from a thousand-year-old tree and, for that affront, he was executed by the Emperor. The painting itself is saved by a curator of the Louvre.

A decade later, Rohan is a world-renowned mangaka and vacationing in Paris. He visits the Louvre to see the painting, only to find it is not on display. It is held in the deepest regions of the museum and has never been shown to the public. Because the painting is a mystery unto itself, the museum agrees to let Rohan and employees of the museum, including guards, to descend into the darkness and take a look at the painting. And so begins the horror.

Rohan at the Louvre is scary and stylish fare. Once the bad stuff started happening, I found it impossible to put down this graphic novel. Several days after reading it, I have deliciously unsettling memories of its key moments. Needless to say - because why should I be the only one thinking about that painting - I recommend this graphic novel to any comics reader who likes horror, manga and the unusual. You won’t be disappointed.

ISBN 978-1-56163-615-0

This coming week is an “odds and ends” week for me as I do my best to knock a bunch of tasks off my “to do” list. I’ll be working on a number of bloggy things during these next few days and, as they are completed, posting them here.

My next appearance will be at the NEO Comic Con on Sunday, August 19, at the Soccer Sportsplex, 31515 Lorain Avenue, North Olmsted, Ohio. I’ll post more information on that tomorrow.

Following that, I have a Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale on Friday, August 24, and Saturday, August 25. Despite my being listed as a guest for Wizard World Chicago that weekend, the good people at Wizard World and I aren’t able to make that happen. I’m looking forward to working with them in the very near future and will let you know when that happens. If you are going to that Chicago show, I know you’ll have a great time.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, August 9, 2018

MY DOLLAR BACK COMIC BOOK AND POP CULTURE GARAGE SALE

My next VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF GARAGE SALE is Friday and Saturday, August 10-11, 9 am to 1 pm each day at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio.

I'm so excited about this weekend's garage sales that I'm besides myself! And, to share the excitement, I'm going to give you back $1 for every $10 you spend at my sales! Mystery boxes! DC, Marvel and Stan Lee collector boxes! Older comic books! Green Books! Kids comics! Black Lightning Volume One and Volume Two! Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-6! Archie comics digests! Commando! Manga! Black Lightning and Superman posters! Daredevil and Luke Cage mini-posters! Collectible phones! Dollar comics! Star Wars! Valiant! Marvel! Batman! Groo! Simpsons! Magazines! Hardcovers! Trade paperbacks! Free signatures on any Isabella-written stuff! The more you buy, the more you save...and the more great stuff I have to excavate from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff for my next garage sales! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #269

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Teen Titans Go! To the Movies; Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City by Julia Wertz; and Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva, Irene Flores and Rebecca Nalty!

MANGA MANGA MANGA

Princess Jellyfish Volume 9 [Kodansha Comics; $19.99] brings to an end the delightful manga series by Akiko Higashimura. I’ve praised this josei - aimed at women in their late teens on into adulthood - series so often my regular readers probably have at least some idea what it’s about. However, for anyone who missed my earlier reviews, here’s the skinny from Wikipedia:

Princess Jellyfish centers on Amamizukan, an apartment building in Tokyo, where the only tenants are otaku women, and where no men are allowed. While each character has her own particular fixation, the protagonist is Tsukimi Kurashita, whose love of jellyfish stems from memories of her deceased mother taking her to an aquarium and linking the lace-like tendrils of jellyfish to the dresses of princesses. Tsukimi hopes to become an illustrator and is an awkward girl terrified of social interaction, attractive people and the prospect of formal work.

The other tenants of Amamizukan are the same, being NEETs who refer to themselves as the "Amars" (nuns). Tsukimi meets the stylish Kuranosuke Koibuchi, illegitimate son of a politician. The young man crossdresses to avoid the obligations of politics and to feel closer to his mother. Tsukimi keeps the secret of his masculinity from her man-hating housemates, though, at times, she’s troubled by the intimacy of having a man in her room.

Amamizukan's neighborhood is under threat of redevelopment, as opportunists aim to turn the quaint area into a more cosmopolitan region, with many of the buildings being demolished to make room for hotels and shopping centers. Although Amamizukan's tenants fear and loathe attractive people, they are helped by Kuranosuke who does not want to see Amamizukan destroyed.


Koibuchi and the women of Amamizukan create fashions based on the jellyfish designs created by Tsukimi. It has been a perilous path as they navigate the fashion world and a mega-corparation’s leader who has “designs” on Tsukimi. In this volume, readers get satisfying conclusions to the main and individual stories that still leave a few matters deliciously unsettled. Over a hundred pages of comics and other material fill out the volume.

Princess Jellyfish is one of my all-time favorite manga series. I would be 100% on board if Higashimura continued the series at some point. In the meantime, I’ll be seeking out the various anime and live-action versions of the series.

ISBN 978-1-63236-564-4

                                                                            

I recently reviewed Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs by Tadahiro Miura [Ghost Ship; $12.99] in my “Tony’s Tips” column at Tales of Wonder. Since then, I read the first volume of the non-dissimilar Yokai Girls by Kazuki Funatsu [Ghost Ship; $12.99]. Here’s the back-cover synopsis of the latter:

Nishizuru Yatsuki has always considered himself a fairly normal guy. He's graduated from school, works a part-time job, and has never had a girlfriend. Yet he does have one unusual ability: he can see yokai spirits! He usually copes with these ghostly visions by ignoring them...until he meets a mysterious young woman named Rokka. Now his normal days have taken a notably abnormal turn, as Yakki finds himself the sole defender of some sexy supernatural yokai!

I like Yokai Girls better than Yunna and the Haunted Hot Springs. That back-cover copy doesn’t mention a major surprise element that makes Yatsuki more interesting than Yunna’s Kogarashi. Though Yokai Girl still has many salacious images of beautiful young woman in various states of undress, it has a stronger story than Yunna. I’ll read at least one more volume of each of these series, but I’m thinking Yokai Girls will be the one I keep reading.

ISBN: 978-1-947804-02-9

                                                                               

Unmagical Girl Vol. 1 by writer Ryuichi Yokoyama and artist Manmaru Kamitsuki [Seven Seas; $12.99] is a different take on the classic “magical girl” genre. Here’s the back-cover pitch:

Pretty Angel NirBrave was once the spirited magical girl heroine of a cult TV show. But when an anime director’s computer goes on the fritz, it brings Pretty Angel NirBrave out of the screen and into our world! With bills and bullies to face, it’ll take more than a sparkly transformation and a frilly skirt to get by in “real” life.

Seven Seas needs a better copywriter because the above leaves out some of the more fun elements of the series. For starters, the “on the fritz” computer belongs to the daughter of the guy who created Pretty Angel NirBrave.

Nineteen-year-old Tanahashi Mayuri has been on her own since the death of her dad two years prior. She has no friends and struggles to make ends meet. She has a special connection with NirBrave; the pretty angel’s non-magical form resembles Tanahashi as seen through the loving eyes of her father. They become roommates, which is the only thing that keeps NirBrave alive. NirBrave is not well suited for our world. She can only speak and act as she did on the anime. Her reactions are usually way too big for real-world situations. She’s also not particularly equipped to do anything but fight magical menaces. Not a lot of call for that in the real world.

I enjoyed this first volume. I found the lead characters likeable. There were some funny supporting characters, including some other heroes and villains from the animated series. Since the series was not a success, NirBrave is mostly known to avid fans of her anime. No fame and fortune on the horizon here.

I’m going to continue reading Unmagical Girl. It’s not a classic, but it’s entertaining. That’s good enough for me.

ISBN 978-1-626925-51-9

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

MY NEXT GARAGE SALE

My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be held on Friday and Saturday, August 10 and 11, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The garage sale hours are 9 am to 1 pm on each of those days. After the great time I had at last weekend's garage sale, I'm beside myself with anticipation for this one. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

TONY AND THE PLEASANT, EXCELLENT, COOL, NOT REMOTELY BAD DAY

The photo is of my friend Leslie Feagan at my August 3 garage sale. Leslie is a fine actor who has appeared on fine Broadway stages and in many other fine productions, including a cable company advertisement in which he played a silent Benjamin Franklin with such aplomb that I immediately wrote to President Obama and recommended him for the position of Ambassador to France.

Leslie makes and sends me videos of him singing birthday greetings to me. I assume he does this for all his friends because it would be kind of scary if he just did it for me. He should have his own line of musical cards. Hallmark, have your people call his people. In short, everyone loves Leslie. Any day that starts with him standing in your garage is likely going to be a good one.

Friday, August 3, was a good day. The temperature was well within my comfort range. Not too hot. Not too cool. My Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale looked good. Within moments of my opening the garage door, several customers started shopping and buying comics, books, posters, collector boxes, mystery boxes and more. I made 68% of my two-day goal and would reach 100% of that goal by the end of the sale on Saturday.

Friends are all the time asking me about my goals for these garage sales. Money-wise, since the sales run four hours each day, I like to make the equivalent of what I would earn from a good eight hours’  work writing comic-book script pages. But the money is only part of why I hold these garage sales.

With Saintly Wife Barb planning to mostly retire in three years, I would like to get my VAOS under control in three years. I’d like to empty the two remaining storage units I’m renting at the Fortress of Storage in the Arctic - look for the giant yellow key - and get all that stuff back in our Tardis of a house.

I’d like to reduce my VAOS to the point where it’s organized and can again be called a collection. I don’t collect a lot of stuff, but I’d like to know what I have before I buy more old issues of comics like The Barker, Candy, Kathy, Gorgo, Konga, Reptilicus and Lassie (but only Lassie issues with my friend Jon Provost on their covers). I want to organize my comics history books and magazines, my Harlan Ellison and Max Allen Collins books, my hardcover/trade collections of great and not-so-great comics of the past and so on.

This will tie in with Barb’s and my plans to renovate our bedroom, our son Ed’s former room, my office, my planned reading room and the rest of our Tardis. My only fear is I’ll be crushed by comics boxes and regenerate into a new incarnation not half as brilliant as Jodie Whittaker.

I owned and managed a comic-book shop in downtown Cleveland for 11 years. Beyond the satisfaction of running a really great comic-book shop, it was a miserable existence. I had a partner who stole from the store and, though he had never put a dime into the place, I had to spend a couple thousand dollars to be rid of him. The majority of my employees stole from me and it was only because the store was so successful that I could keep it going. I made some really dumb mistakes along the way: helping a former employee open a store and learning he had made duplicates of his store keys and would stock his store from my inventory; hiring a scumbag of an attorney who cheated me and failed to do anything he’d been hired to do until I hired a new attorney and sued the first attorney; “loaning” a non-profit organization goods and money totaling over $70,000; and not closing the store about three years before I did. Those unpleasant tales will be written about in the future.

One of the good things about owning that store was talking to fans on a regular basis. It’s the only thing I really miss. The garage sales give me the opportunity to experience that again.

On this pleasant, excellent, cool, not remotely bad Friday, I got to talk with the usual nice folks who come to most of my sales. I got to talk with the map librarian of the Cleveland Public Library, who is providing me with conduits for information I will need for one of my planned comics series. I got to talk with a schoolteacher from Columbus; I gave her a Black Lightning poster for her to hang in her classroom. She loves the show and so do her students. That’s how it went from the start of Friday’s sale to its end.

As I was pulling up the signs and preparing to close, a couple came up to me. I had errands to run, but I offered to stay open a bit. They said they weren’t there to buy anything.

The man was the son of the man who built our house. He had grown up there with his parents, his six siblings and his grandfather. He and his wife just wanted to walk around the place. The happy looks on their faces when I offered to walk them through the house were heartwarming and priceless.

The man told me things about my house that I had suspected, but was never able to confirm. Parts of it were, indeed, salvaged from the other jobs of his builder-father. I’d been wondering about that for three decades.

My future reading room had been his bedroom, shared with one of his brothers. They had bunk beds.

The “girls room” where my wife and daughter keep various wrapping stuff used to be his grandfather’s bedroom.

In the basement, the small pantry that quickly became the storage for our Christmas decorations had been his father’s darkroom.

And, because this is my wild and wonderful world, their daughters are fans of the Black Lightning TV series and have done cosplay at conventions. I gave them some comics and posters to give to their daughters.

Letting strangers into my house might not have been the smartest thing I could have done, but I don’t believe in letting fear rule my actions. It was twenty minutes out of my life. It made their day and it added to mine. Well worth the risk.

After they left, I went to the Giant Eagle to cash a Marvel Comics check. My bank has a kiosk there. I like going to the kiosk because it’s almost always devoid of other banking customers. I think it’s mostly meant to be a relatively quiet place for the bank employees to do paperwork remotely.

When I presented the check to the teller, she asked me how I liked retirement. I don’t know why this would be the case, but the bank has me listed as retired. I told her, no, I was a freelance writer and would be working until they pried my keyboard from my cold dead hands. She asked what kind of writing I did. I pointed to the check and said it was a royalty payment for a character I had created and who had appeared on The Defenders. She asked which character. She had watched the show.

I was wearing a Black Lightning t-shirt. I told her I had created that character as well. She loves the TV series.

We got to talking and, before long, all three of the kiosk workers and I were talking about comic books, about the prominence of the comics characters in movies and TV, about the great diversity that is making comics better than ever. We talked for twenty minutes or so. See what I meant about not too many banking customers at that location?

I love spreading the gospel of comic books wherever I go. It will always baffle me that even some fans can look at today’s comics and only see threats to the absurd sense of privilege.

When I got back home, I checked my e-mail. My editor on a story I’d written for a very low page rate because I liked the franchise it was for asked me to call him. He didn’t want to tell me in e-mail that the owners of the franchise wanted changes he knew would be a deal-breaker for me.
 
Wait a minute! This is part of my good day? Yes, it was. Because I enjoyed working with the editor. Because I know I'll work on some other project with him sometime in the future. Because not getting the small check I would have gotten doesn’t impact me financially. Because, most importantly, I now have a completed eight-page script  I can, with a little rewriting, re-purpose for another project that I want to do. I feel bad the editor had a eight-page hole to fill, but we’re good and that also was important to me.

Another e-mail waiting for me was a notice I was receiving a large electronic payment from one of my clients. It’s not “you can buy a beach house for Barb” money, but it is “now I can make donations to worthy organizations that I wasn’t able to make earlier this year” money. That's a real good way to end a day.

This is why I never sweat the online jerks who come after me from time to time. They don’t have my life. They will likely never have a life like mine. I feel bad for them. I feel great for me.

That was my pleasant, excellent, cool, not remotely bad day. I’m so glad I could share it with you.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, August 6, 2018

MY SECRET SHAME

My secret shame...is that five years ago, I sent money to Richard C. Meyer, notorious guru/leader/poster child of Comicsgate. Born from the more repugnant Gamergate, this is a gathering of anti-diversity comic-book fans (alleged) who have gotten all butt-hurt because not every comic is tailored to their narrow preferences and prejudices.

Some of them go on and on about how terribly misunderstood they are, and perhaps some of them are fans who still expect comic books to be just as they were when said fans were twelve, but, basically, the majority of these fans are racist, bigoted, misogynist, white supremacists. When I posted this sentiment on Twitter, I included “GOP-loving zombies,” which was unfair of me. As shocking as it is for me to say, even Republicans deserve better than to be lumped in with the collection of creeps, phonies and trolls who came after me on Twitter and got even more butt-hurt when I blocked them. I will get back to them in a bit.

When I initially conceived this “secret shame” bloggy thing, I was going to do this whole satirical thing about my past sin and how I was mortified by it, how it wasn’t reflective of my character and so on and so on. It would have been so good I would have received the support of the entire Guardians of the Galaxy cast. That’s just a joke, by the way. Count me among director James Gunn’s fans and supporters. I’m a big believer in redemption.

The more I fiddled around with my original bloggy thing, the more I blocked Comicsgate members from my Twitter feed, the more I felt something akin to pity for them. Even for Mayer and, Lord knows, he is not someone I’d ever want to hang out with.

Here’s what happened:

I was going through one of the countless boxes that hold my noted Vast Accumulation of Stuff and came across two different editions of Meyer’s No Enemy, But Peace. This was a 28-page comic book with one version in color, signed and numbered, and the other in black-and-white. The color comic was published in 2013. Flipping through the comic, I realized how I came to own these comics when I saw my name on the inside back-cover list of backers in the color version. I had donated to a Kickstarter campaign.

In 2013, I was having a pretty good year. I was making some decent money ghosting for several syndicated newspaper comic strips. So I donated to worthy organizations like the ACLU, the NAACP, the SPLC, Planned Parenthood and others. I also donated to many Kickstarter campaigns, some of which have still not delivered on what they were supposed to deliver. To his credit, Meyer did send me what he was supposed to send me. Okay, he falsely characterized a 24-page story as a “graphic novel,” but other than that...

I looked up Meyer’s successful Kickstarter campaign online. I can see why I backed it. It was a comic book written and published by a Iraq War veteran. I have a lot of friends and readers who have served or still serve in the military, some of them holding high rank. I’ve sometimes joked that I could hold my own coup with all the military friends I have.

Here is Meyer’s short synopsis of the comics:

The true story of Sgt. Marco Martinez, a former gang-banger who joined the Marines and earned the Navy Cross in Iraq. 
 
My regular readers know I love a good redemption story. Which was another reason to back the project.

Meyer, who says he served in the same unit as Martinez, claims this is the first comic book produced by Iraq War veterans about the war itself. I’m not sure that’s an accurate statement, but that wasn’t a selling point for me.

There was nothing in the Kickstarter campaign to indicate Meyer’s  future vileness. Which is why I have no actual shame about backing it. That was just my lead-in to the satirical bloggy thing that I’d originally planned.

As happens with too many comics and books that find their way into  my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I didn’t read the comic book until I found it in the aforementioned box. Since Meyer seems to claim it’s his politics that keep him from being a success in the comics field, I thought I should read the book.

If I had received this script as an editor, I would have thought it was a good basic idea that wasn’t well developed. I would have sent it back to Meyer with a few notes.

He needed to develop Martinez and the other characters better. They didn’t come to life in this comic book.

He should have included more on Martinez’s life as a gang-banger. The redemption of this criminal turned hero would be an emotional, powerful core for the story.

He should have dropped the tedious “Rifleman’s Creed” that takes up several pages of voice over captions during the action. It was long and pretentious.

The writing wasn’t even up to journeyman quality, but a good editor could’ve worked with Meyer to give his script more heart and style. The basic bones of the story were good.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I would be asking him to rewrite his script from start to finish. Something no writer wants to do. But, if he rewrote it in accordance with my notes and showing his determination to make his story the best story he could, I would have bought it.

The art? It was okay, but the human figures often seem stunted. It was a complaint I had about Pete Costanza’s art on Jimmy Olsen back in the 1970s. Everyone in those issues looked like they were four or five feet tall. You would think that would be a positive to a short fellow like myself, but it wasn’t.

Did Meyer’s apparent lack of success in the comics field lead him to his current state? I have no way of knowing. I will say that it is no small thing to produce a comic book, even one such as this. Anyone who does so earns some props from me.

Which brings us back to Comicsgate. My mistake was in responding at all to the Twitter trolls. They have their own hateful agenda and any time I spent with them took me away from my own writing. Which is a key difference between me and most of them.

I am a working writer. I have been for almost half a century. Over the past decade or so, I have never been without a paying gig on my desk for more than a day or two...and I always had my own projects to work on during those few days off. I might not always have the assignments I would prefer, but I always have work in the industry I have devoted my life to.

I’m used to comics fans of good character being upset because their old favorites don’t appeal to them anymore. I get that. But I also realize two other things.

Comics have to adapt to changing times. I don’t write the comics I write today the same way I wrote the ones I did in the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s and so on. I would lose interest in writing them if I had to do the same thing over and over again. It’s why I did a reboot on Black Lightning. I wanted reader who weren’t born when I created him to be able to relate to him and his world.

There is more variety in the comics industry right now than there has even been before. If you don’t like modern super-hero comics, you can find hundreds of reprints of super-hero comics more to your liking. You can find thousands of public domain super-hero comics online. You can even find new super-hero comics written and drawn in the styles of the past.

One more note before I put Comicsgate out of my mind. Some members of that grouping claim they object to the politics in comic books written by the likes of me. What they really mean is they object to politics that are not theirs. They object to the inclusive nature of many of today’s mainstream super-hero titles. But, even if one wishes to assume their complaints are not based on their prejudice against “the others,” they are wrong.

They should study their comic-book history. Comics have always been political. Superman ran crooked businessmen and politicians out of town, giving a beat down to at least one spouse abuser. The Justice Society brought food to starving patriots in Europe. A later story attempted to raise awareness of people with disabilities and that they were capable of accomplishing great things.

Captain America punched Nazis in his first issue and was far from alone. Comics heroes were fighting battles against the Axis powers well before the United States entered the war.

Even in the conservative 1950s and 1960s, Superman and Batman and others spoke out for tolerance and inclusion. That’s the American way. The comic books of today carry on the proud traditions of our best comics of the past.

I came to the realization that I love comic books more today that I have ever loved them in the past. I love the variety available to today’s readers. I love the diverse viewpoints that come from our diverse characters and creators.

As an expression of my love, I’m creating a new comics universe in between my paying gigs. I have come up with what I think is a novel approach to universe-building. My plan is to write the first issues of the first three titles in my universe, structuring the scripts so that the first eight pages of each offer a satisfying chunk of story. Then I’ll take those 24 pages and preface them with a two-page comics feature introducing my new universe. I’ll self-publish this comic book and see where it goes from there.

One thing I’m sure of is that I will do my best to include diverse characters in my new comics. Some will be challenging, such as my intention of including a positive conservative hero in at least one of the initial three titles.

[Note: I make a distinction between actual conservatives, a sadly diminished group, and the hate-mongers who have usurped that title for themselves.]

I own part of my renewed love of comics to the venom ejected onto the art form and industry by the likes of Meyer and his followers. The future does not belong to them.

I do feel some small pity toward them. I pity them that they cannot accept the terrific comic books being published today. Great comics from the past. Great comics from the present. Great comics from all over the world. Great comics by voices we haven’t heard from until recently. Their bigotry robs them of so much.

This is the true Golden Age of Comics. I’m more proud to be working in the industry now than at any other time in my long career. There is much to look forward to. Indeed, cribbed from the amazing Luke Cage series on Netflix, I have a mission statement:

Always forward.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

BLOGGY THINGS IN PROGRESS

The bloggy things I was writing yesterday have become more than I anticipated. I'm going to finish writing and posting the first of them later today.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

WHAT I OWE YOU



I have been having an interesting day. I'm writing three columns today - and, yes, I sometimes do go back and forth between then - while checking in on Facebook and Twitter occasionally. I don't think I've ever blocked so many people in one day. But it's reminded me of this:

The ONLY thing I owe you is to give you my best work on every article or book or comic I write. That's it. That's what I think you're entitled to.

Anything else...that's a bonus. 

If I answer your questions, that's a bonus.

If I discuss something with you, that's a bonus.

If I try to help you out with something, that's a bonus.

I try to be generous with others because so many comics creators have been generous with me. I think I do a lot for the comics community in general. Heck, just my listing comics birthdays, remembrances and historical notes every day on Facebook is evidence of that.

And not a day goes by without someone thanking for something I did for them. When I look in the mirror I see a good man and wonder where the heck that double-chin came from. My best guess is Kit Kit bars and potato chips.

I'm not required to debate you endlessly. I'm not required to continue reading your insulting comments. Your purchase of my books or comics doesn't include my putting up with you when I find you annoying.

You get my best work. Every time out. My work will not be tailored to what does or doesn't offend you. My work will be what it is and it will always be created honestly.

You buy my books and comics. You can't buy my integrity.

Tony Isabella

I'LL BE BACK ON MONDAY

Sometimes you just need to take some time off to hang out at your private clubhouse and reflect on the world around you. I'll be back with a new bloggy thing on Monday.

Friday, August 3, 2018

CONVENTIONAL MADNESS

Today and tomorrow, I will be holding my next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio from 9 am to 1 pm each day. I’ll have lots of cool, bargain-priced comics, magazines, books and more on sale. As with all of my garage sales, I will sign Isabella-written items free of charge.

NEO Comic Con is my next actual convention appearance. The one-day event is entering its fourth year; this will be my third appearance there. The convention takes place on Sunday, August 19, from 10 am to 5 pm at at the Soccer Sportsplex, 31515 Lorain, North Olmsted, Ohio. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for cosplayers with anyone age 13 and under getting free admission.

Portions from admissions along with individual donations will go to Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana Organization. Last year, the convention raised over $3000 for that organizations. With the help of sponsors Halleen KIA and Lakewood’s El Carnicero restaurant, it'll do the same or better this time around.

The NEO guest list is impressive for a regional show. Besides the creator of Black Lightning and Misty Knight - you might know him - the stellar roster includes Gary Dumm, Ted Sikora, Marc Sumerak, Darryl Banks, Dan Gorman, Phil Hester, Matt Horak, Angel Medina, Ande Parks and others.

I’ll be appearing on at least one panel (details to follow). I will also have two tables from which I’ll be selling Isabella stuff and much more. If you haven’t been able to attend my garage sales, this will give you a sampling of what’s available at them.

I will be charging for signatures at NEO Comic Con. For anyone new to my convention appearances, here’s the price list for that:

Items bought at my table: no charge.

Items not bought from me: one free signature; all others $2 per item.

Photo of me or with me: no charge.

Signature witnessed by representative from grading company: $5 per item.

Having me sign Certificate Of authenticity: $5 per item.

While we’re here, I'll catch you up on my appearance and garage sales schedules for the rest of this year and into 2019.

Some of these appearances are in a state of flux because we haven’t yet finalized all the details. Those appearances are in italics. I expect they’ll happen, but I’m erring on the side of caution. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like me, does it?

Here’s the schedule with occasional commentary...

August 10-11: Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale

August 19: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted)

August 24-25: Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale
August 31-September 1: Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale

This might be my last garage sale of the year, but I’m not making that call yet. If the weather remains good, I might add two or more sales  before the end of the year.

September 8-9: Hall of Heroes Comicon (Elkhart, Illinois)

I’ll have more information on this event next month.

September 28-30: Baltimore Comic Con

So many people have told me this is the greatest comics convention in the country and the show certainly has the guest list to back up that claim. Many old friends. Many comics creators I have never met but want to. At this time, I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing at this event, but I’m up for interviews, panels, signings and all sorts of crazy fun. If my memory is correct, this will be my first trip to Baltimore. I’d love to talk to publishers and others who would like to work with me, but I’m mostly coming to the convention for my friends and the fans.

I have nothing scheduled for October, but that could change if the right invitation comes along.

November 3-4: Akron Comicon

This is one of my favorite conventions. I always have a terrific time. Highly recommended.

November 9-11: Grand Rapids Comic Con

Another of my favorite conventions. I think this will be my fourth guest appearance at the event.

November 17-18: Great American Comic Convention (Las Vegas)

At present, the above will likely be my last convention appearance of the year. But, as with October, that could change if the right December invitation comes along.

Looking ahead to 2019...

March 9-10: Big Apple Comic-Con

I love going to New York. I’ll probably extend my stay by a couple days to hang out with friends and other loved ones.

Friday, April 12-13: BGSU Batman Conference

Bowling Green State University holds an annual comics conference  and, despite the lofty setting, these conferences are both fun and informative.

July 12-14: G-Fest

All praise Godzilla! I attend this convention mostly just for fun. However, for the 2019 event, I hope to have a collection or two of my monster movie reviews available.

July 17-21: Comic-Con International (San Diego)

This is a total leap of faith. As I write today’s bloggy, I have no reason to believe any entity will cover the considerable expense of attending this event. Still, given the amazing success of a TV series starring a character of my creation, my overall body of work in the comics industry and my insight into comics and the industry, Saintly Wife Barb talked me into attending. So did one of my best friends. So I’ll be there. Make of it what you will and contact me as soon as possible if you want to include me in your own plans for the convention.

If you’re a convention promoter who would like me to appear at your event, please e-mail me with your invitation and all pertinent info thereof. I’ll send you back my requirements package. Said package will include an appearance fee, hotel and travel. I’m a really fun date, but I’m no longer a cheap date. Don’t hesitate to e-mail me and, believe me, having helped Roger Price put on many conventions, I will understand if we can’t make it work.

The above holds true if you’re asking me to speak at a library, a school, a university or any other non-convention event. I tend to be flexible with my requirements for elementary and high schools, especially in the Cleveland area. But it all starts with a e-mail. That’s the best way to contact me.

One last thing. While going through my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I came across something truly horrific. It filled with shame. I’ll be writing about this tomorrow in the hopes that, it being Saturday and all, the mainstream media won’t see it and my secret shame will be short-lived. One can only hope.             

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, August 2, 2018

COAST TO COAST WITH MARVEL COMICS (PART TWO)

On Friday, June 22, in New York City with my son Ed, we attended a special “Marvel family” screening of the first two episodes of the second series of Luke Cage on Netflix. We flew back to Cleveland on Saturday and I spent one day at home in Medina before taking flight on Monday, June 25, for the second part of my coast-to-coast Marvel adventures. I was flying to Los Angeles with Saintly Wife Barb to attend the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp.

We had a direct flight. I had my usual aisle seat. Unfortunately, these planes are getting smaller all the time. While my briefcase used to fit easily (albeit tightly) under the seat in front of me, no matter where I was sitting, it didn’t on this flight. The aisle seats on the left side of the plane had less room. I’ll need to go shopping for a smaller briefcase.

Also on the plane was a family heading to L.A. to compete on Family Feud. Their enthusiasm was contagious. I hope they won.

For our overnight stay, we booked a room at a Holiday Inn Express near to where the premiere and after-party would be held. Because our room was not ready for a while, we checked our bags and went out in search of lunch. Neither one of us was feeling adventurous, so we had lunch at Johnny Rockets.

The hotel was slow to get our room ready for us, but that’s my only complaint. Our room was nice. Our bed was comfortable. The pillows were the most comfortable hotel pillows I’ve had in recent memory. It was within walking distance of such attractions as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Magic Castle.

Guest check-in for the premiere began at 5:30 pm at the will call tent at the beginning of the red carper on the northwest corner of Hollywood and Highland. Visible from some distance was a huge sign announcing the movie. Inside, check-in was fast and easy with water bottles provided to help attendees beat the heat. Adding to the fun were cosplayers dressed as Marvel Comics characters.
                                                                           

As we started down the red carpet, albeit not the red carpet set up for the stars of the movie, we ran into my old friend Jan Utstein- O'Neill. The last time I saw Jan had to be decades ago and probably in New York City. Today, she works in production finance at Marvel Studios and gets to go to lots of premieres. It was great catching up with her.

Quick sidebar. Every comics industry person I met at this premiere congratulated me on the success of the Black Lightning TV series. Since I don’t have an official role with the series, I often feel a little odd accepting those congratulations. On the other hand, I realize Black Lightning doesn’t exist without Tony Isabella having created him in 1976, so I’ve learned to accept the congratulations  in the spirit they are offered. However, I always mention the Black Lightning show runners, writers and cast. All of whom I love madly.
                                                                               

On the red carpet and inside the theater, we ran into more comics people. John Jackson and Meredith Miller were there. John and I go way back to the days when we both worked on Comics Buyer’s Guide, which remains about a thousand times better and more accurate than most of today’s comics “news” sites. Inside, John introduced me to artist Jorge Lucas, who drew many of John’s Iron Man comics and had come to the premiere from Argentina.
                                                                               
Marvel Studios had decorated the outside of the theater with giant props. There was a huge coffee cup and a Pez dispenser. Just about everyone with a cellphone took photos of these props, usually while standing in front of them.

You had to take your cell phone photos before entering the theater. Security was very tight at the premiere. All phones were placed in tamper-proof bags. The efficient and friendly security people were standing by to remove your phones from the bags when you exited the theater. Honestly, I thought that was pretty cool.

Inside the theater, I ended up sitting next to Michael Lovitz, the amazing attorney who represents me with both DC and Marvel Comics. Michael was the “plus one” of writer/artist/filmmaker Bob Layton, another one of his clients and another old friend of mine. Working in comics is like having an extended family that extends all around the globe.

We saw Ant-Man and the Wasp in IMAX, the first IMAX film I’ve seen in years. I was so impressed with the presentation I suspect I’ll be seeing more IMAX films in the future. I’ve reviewed the movie in my “Tony’s Tips” column over at Tales of Wonder, but here’s part of that review:

This sequel has everything that made Ant-Man one of my favorite Marvel movies. Despite the trippy adventures within the Quantum Realm, this is a seriously down-to-earth story centered on family. Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a good father to his delightful daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and the Wasp/Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are trying to find and rescue Hope’s long-missing mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm. Those are the obvious families.

Yet Scott Lang’s formerly criminal associates (Michael Peña, T.I., David Dastmalchian) are like unto a family themselves. We even get a paternal vibe from Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) and the Ghost/Ava (Hannah John-Kamen), the desperate young woman he tries to help. All these family elements resonate with me.


If you haven’t read my full review, you can find it here.

After the film, Barb and I attended the after-party. Marvel Studios put on an exceptional event. The space was large and comfortable, though some areas were more packed with people than others. There great food and drinks. I had several “Stingers” in tribute to the Wasp becoming the first female Marvel character to have her name in the title of a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. The “Stingers” are probably why I can’t remember the name of the after-party location or any of the food I ate.

But I do remember have brief but wonderful conversations with three of the movie’s stars. I would introduce myself as one of the Marvel writers listed in the Special Thanks credits. The stars I observed were friendly with their fans, but it seemed to me they were quite pleased to meet us comics folks.

When I spoke to Paul Rudd (Ant-Man/Scott Lang), I complimented him on the movie’s excellent writing. As he was one of the writers, his face lit up when I said that. His performance was spot-on terrific, but I think he appreciated my comments on the writing. Many great lines that hit their marks as well as the actors.
                                                                       

Barb was nervous about meeting Michael Douglas because she’s had a crush on him since he was in The Streets of San Francisco. I told Douglas that his performance in The American President helped make that movie one of my all-time favorites. When I introduced Barb to him, I mentioned her crush on him. He took one look at her and said “You’re much too young to have seen me in that!”

It had been a long day for us, but, before we left, I nearly bumped into Lawrence Fishburne. I introduced myself to him as the writer who gave his Bill Foster character super-powers in the comic books. He thanked me for that and chuckled when I told I hoped Professor Foster would have a “bigger” role in the next movie. He was just as hopeful for that. He was thrilled to be in a Marvel movie. I think he deserves to be an actual super-hero when next he appears in the MCU. Hey, Kevin Feige, sir, let’s make that happen.

Barb and I got a good night’s sleep. We had been dreading the long ride to the airport, but my dear friend Mark Evanier picked us up at the hotel, took us to breakfast and drove us to the airport. We are so blessed to have someone like Mark in our lives. Or, as Mark put, “I wish I had a friend like me!”

Barb is still a few years away from retirement, but I’m trying to get her to attend more conventions and events with me. She has been a rock during my shakier times in the comics industry and, now that things are going better for me, I love sharing these better times with her whenever possible.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
 
© 2018 Tony Isabella

GARAGE SALE: AUGUST 3-4

I'll be posting my bloggy report on the Ant-Man and the Wasp premiere later today. I'm just tracking down some photos before posting it. In the meantime...

I'm having another Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale on Friday and Saturday, August 3-4 at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH. Sale hours are 9 am to 1 pm each day.

I've added hundreds of new items to the sale (books, magazines, collectible phones and more. I have also lowered prices on many other items. I'll be starting the day with a dozen of our popular $10 mystery boxes. If they sell on Friday, I'll make more for Saturday. 

Here's a link to my Craig's List notice.

And here's my advertisement in the local newspaper:

                                                                          
More to come.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN JULY

July was a month for regrouping and surviving. I spent considerable time figuring out which of my many projects I wanted to move to the top of my “to do” list. I also tried not to let the continued evil of the Dumpster Administration get to me. Unfortunately, I also had to get through a lingering cold or flu or psychosomatic “Con Crud” that slowed me down for much of the month.

But, hey, I made it to August. With a little bit of luck, I’ll be able to announce a new project or two before the end of this month. In the meantime, let’s look at the things that made me happy last month with a little bit of commentary along the way.
                                                                               

July 1: ABC’S Take Two. Rachel Bilson is a former TV star just out of rehab. Eddie Cibrian is an ex-cop working in the private sector. They’re detectives. This crime comedy-drama is just plain fun to watch and that’s all I need from it.

[Six episodes in and Take Two is still great fun. I recommend you give it a chance.] 

July 2: I get to stay home this entire month. No conventions and, at present, just some business meetings. I’ll miss attending G-Fest  and Comic-Con International, but relish the chance to get moving on multiple projects.

[Staying home would have been a lot more wonderful if I didn’t come down with a serious case of “I’m not at Comic-Con” depression and the phantom “Con Crud” mentioned above.]

July 3: Alter Ego’s tribute to Flo Steinberg. An utterly wonderful remembrance of a Marvel Comics legend.

July 4: Our annual July 3 cookout/fireworks watching party. We can see Medina’s fireworks from our house. Especially cool was seeing friends Scott, Whitney and Eli for the first time in years.

July 5: Misty Knight and Colleen Wing’s barroom brawl in the third episode of Luke Cage’s second season. Action-packed and character-defining. A winning combination.

July 6: Finding some new angles to a story that will make writing it all the more fun for me.

July 7: This is gonna sound boastful, but I’m happy I’m the kind of writer who gives every job his all no matter if the paycheck will be large or small. But I do prefer large paychecks.
                                                                                

July 8: Gumballs by Erin Nations. Reading this brilliantly personal work, it hit me that transmen are way under-represented in comics. Which makes Nations work all the more vital.

July 9: The Complete Cosmo the Merry Martian. Not as complete as I would have liked since it doesn’t reprint the single-page gags from the short-lived series, but still long overdue and much appreciated by this fan of the Sy Reit/Bob White title.

July 10: Scooby-Doo Team-Up #25 by Sholly Fisch and Dario Brizuela. Dated June 2017, the issue features Green Lantern, Green Arrow and others in a story that’s hilarious on multiple levels.

[Scooby-Doo Team-Up might be my current favorite DC Comics title. And I’m really looking forward to a future issue I’m not at liberty to tell you about yet.]

July 11: Lunch with my friend, Medina neighbor and occasional boss Tom Batiuk. Because we’ve both been so busy, it’s been a year since our last “monthly” lunch. It was good to catch each other up on our lives and just talk comic books and strips.

July 12: Talking with my longtime pal Ken Gale on his comics radio show. I don’t know who in New York City was listening to us at one in the morning, but I enjoyed it a lot.

July 13: Spider-Man on Disney XD. Spidey is a character who works  in multiple incarnations. He attends a high-tech high school in this version, which just started its second season and has gotten off to a great start. Money problems. JJJ declaring him a menace. A sweet team-up with Ms. Marvel. I’m enjoying this.

July 14: Talking Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands with a couple of  garage sale friends who really got and appreciated what I did in that award-deserving series.
                                                                                 
July 15: Black Lightning has his own Lego figure. It’s a San Diego  exclusive, but still a very cool thing. I feel like my creation and I have finally arrived.

July 16: Sunday was a family day with Barb, Eddie and Kelly. We did brunch at Panini, looked at a few cars, unboxed my Black Lightning statue, watched some Indians baseball and went out for ice cream. I cherish such days.

July 17: “Day of the Only Child!” Maybe my favorite new Duck Tales episode to day as the nephews split up. Each individual adventure smoothly meshes with the others. I’m impressed.
 
[I may have a new favorite Duck Tales episode, the musical madness that was “Sky Pirates...In the Sky!”]

July 18: It Came from the Desert. Big ants. Big fun. It’s currently available On Demand.

July 19: Black Lightning is still a big deal at Comic-Con. I’m so thrilled for my creation and for the fine people creating the hit TV series.

July 20: When I’m lost and alone and sinking like a stone, I always manage to find my way back. But I’m never really alone. I have you.

July 21: This year’s Eisner Awards Hall of Fame inductees were all terrific choices. Especially glad to see Rumiko Takahashi honored.
                                                                            

July 22: Tenements, Towers & Trash. A fascinating look at New York City by cartoonist Julia Wertz.

July 23: Ricanstruction. Produced by Edgar Miranda-Rodriguez, this anthology benefits rebuilding Puerto Rico. Several of the too-short stories team his original character La Borinquena with DC heroes. I’d love to see several of these stories expanded into full-length comic books.

July 24: “In memory of Steve Ditko.” This appeared in the credits of Monday’s episode of Spider-Man. I don’t know if Ditko would’ve approved, but this fan was glad to see him receive the recognition.

July 25: Kudos to Supergirl writers Paula Yoo and Eric Carrasco for the powerful writing and to actor Mehcad Brooks for his magnificent performance in “The Fanatical” episode of the series. Keep speaking truth to power.
                                                                                 

July 26: Kyle Jones, son of my friend Jonathan Jones, sent me this cool drawing he did of Black Lightning.

July 27: A friend called to say he has a two-book deal and thank me for my encouragement and help. This is one of the reasons I fight for recognition and respect for my work...because that allows me to help others.

July 28: Luke Cage Season Two. It’s every bit as excellent as Black Lightning Season One.
                                                                                

July 29: Winchester. This take on “The House Ghosts Built” pushes my belief to the “not” side, but it’s an entertaining movie with solid performances by Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke and Sarah Snook.

July 30: I’ve created an entirely new super-hero universe and look forward to writing the first title set therein. No publisher yet, but why sweat the small stuff?

[I have received many e-mails and private messages on this, albeit not from publishers. Even so, I feel I should let you know that I’m  not looking for artists or additional writers at this time. I did this to give myself a setting for virtually any kind of super-hero or other comic series I wanted to create. I’ve started working on the first script for the first title. When that’s finished, I’ll move on to the first script for a second title. And so on until I am ready to pitch the universe to either publishers who understand I’ll not be giving up ownership of same or to financial folks who could get me the funding to publish it myself.]

July 31: Teen Titans Go! To The Movies. So much goofy fun. As was the Batgirl/Super Hero Girls cartoon shown before it. Is it just me or does Commissioner Gordon look like Mike Carlin in that cartoon?

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff with my way-too-long-delayed report on the Los Angeles premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #268

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Luke Cage Season Two is as outstanding as Black Lightning Season One. I'll tell you why!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

I'LL BE BACK SOON

New bloggy things are in the works, some of them half-written. However, I can't finish them until I finish the short comics script on my desk at the moment. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

NO GARAGE SALE THIS WEEK

There will not be a Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale this weekend. Several days of illness has put me way behind on the things I need to accomplish before the end of the month. I'll be back at the blog soon and back at the garage sales next weekend.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #267

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder: We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust by Neal Adams, Rafael Medoff, Craig Yoe and dozens of great comics creators; Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training, written by by Joris Chamblain and illustrated by Aurélie Neyret; and Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs by Tadahiro Miura!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

BLACK LIGHTNING: COLD DEAD HANDS

This is an ALL HANDS ON DECK request for your assistance in keeping intact the core values and integrity of Black Lightning in the current DC Comics comic books. I need your help on this.

The trade paperback collection of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, the six-issue series that updated my greatest creation for 2018 and beyond, will be published in mid-October. This volume reprints all six issues done by me and artist Clayton Henry and includes a new afterword written by me. It is a story of which I’m immensely proud and which is arguably my best Black Lightning writing ever. Besides updating Jefferson Pierce, the series also dealt with some serious real-world issues in the context of a super-hero universe. It was praised by most of the critics and readers and, naturally, vilified by the usual right-wing commentators.

The Previews ad you see at the top of today’s blog seems to be the extent of DC’s promotion of this book. Half a page in the middle of their monthly solicitation. No mention in their DC Nation magazine. Just this.

The Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands mini-series did not sell what I’d hoped it would sell. I can’t fault DC’s publicity department; they did a tremendous job setting up interviews and sending out all sorts of press releases. However, there could and should have been more support from upper editorial management.

At a time when it has become fairly common for most DC titles to have variant covers every issue, Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands had one. Just one. Given the chance, I could have provided DC with an all-star line-up of artists for additional variant covers.

When Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 sold out - and it did so quickly - DC did not publish a second printing. That hurt the sales down the line. The last word I had on this was that the first four issues of the series have sold out.

Even before Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands had finished its six-issue run, a run which firmly established Black Lightning as a headliner and not a sidekick, DC commissioned a Detective Comics series that turned my creation back into a Batman sidekick. On my watch, you’d never see Black Lightning subservient to any other DC super-hero. That’s not Jefferson Pierce.

Rumors abound that Black Lightning will be part of a new Outsiders title and, once again, be reduced to Batman’s sidekick. Even more offensive is the rumor that Batman won’t be leading the team. That Nightwing will be leading the team. In short, Black Lightning would be the former Boy Wonder’s sidekick.

If you want to see more Black Lightning comic books written by me, if you want to see Black Lightning treated as the headliner and the iconic hero he is, you need to send DC Comics a message they can’t easily brush aside. You need to order lots of copies of the Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands trade paperback.

Don’t wait for the book to come out. Pre-order it from your local comics shop or subscription service. Pre-order it from Amazon and other online sellers.

Pre-order copies to give out as gifts to comics-reading friends and family members. Pre-order copies to donate to your local libraries and schools.

I have been saying for decades that nothing would make me happier than to be writing and publishing Black Lightning stories until the day they pry my keyboard from my cold dead hands. I truly believe my vision of Black Lightning is far superior to any nostalgia-laden attempt to take the character backwards.

I am very grateful to Geoff Johns for reaching out to me and making these past couple years so wondrous. I am grateful to editors Jim Chadwick and Harvey Richards for their tireless efforts to make my story better. They never tried to make it their story. Everything they did, all the notes they gave me, was to make my story better.

I am grateful to primary artist Clayton Henry, helping us make the deadlines artist Yves Guichet and colorist Peter Pantazis for the dedication they showed in every page they did. I’ve never had such an excellent creative team as these guys and my editors. They have set the bar very high for my future works.

I am grateful to DC’s publicity department for all their hard work promoting Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. That gratitude extends to everyone who is part of the Black Lightning TV series. That TV series maintains the core values of my creation and tells stories that are important in today’s world. Their work inspires me to do better in my work. Always forward.

I am grateful to Dan DiDio and Jim Lee for not flinching as I wrote some very difficult scenes in Cold Dead Hands. Scenes that held up a mirror to terrible situations in our own world. That took guts, the same kind of guts I’d like to see in the form of their giving a green light to more Black Lightning comic books by me. Because I will never give Black Lightning less than my all. My creation will always be my top creative priority.

As always, I am grateful to the fans who have supported my efforts for closing in on five decades now. I’ll always do my best for you as well.

There’s lots going on with Black Lightning. Once I get some other things off my crowded desk, I hope to post “Black Lightning Beat” on a weekly basis. But, for now, I ask you to pre-order copies of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands and to let DC know that you want more Black Lightning stories by his creator.

Thank you.  
 
© 2018 Tony Isabella