Tuesday, March 20, 2018


My fondness for British weeklies led me to subscribe to The Beano. Published by DC Thomson, it’s the longest running British kids comic. It first appeared on July 30, 1938. Each new issue comes out on Wednesday.

My shorthand description of The Beano, which is aimed at pre-teens, is that it features a number of one-to-four-page stories about the Bash Street Kids and their neighbors im Beanotown. Most of the kids are mischievous bordering on maniacal. Some of them have developed skills (like dodging work) to a nigh-super degree. One or two have actual super-powers. Most of the adults in these strips are worst than the kids.

A typical issue of Beano will have Dennis the Menace (not the Hank Ketchum character, but one who made his debut almost simultaneously with the Mitchell lad) and his dog Gnasher; Minnie the Minx, who’s said to be tougher than all the boys; Billy Whizz, the fastest boy in the world; Calamity James, the unluckiest boy in the world; Bananaman, a youngster who turns into a super-hero whenever he eats a banana; Tricky Dicky, a prankster; Roger the Dodger, a juvenile con artist and others.

Beano all has giveaway contests, joke pages, puzzles, games, reader participation pages and a cool back cover feature. If a kid sends their “menace name” and photo to the comics weekly, said kid could be chosen to appear in their own back cover comic. In the issues I have before me, the spot went to Festive Finn (who’s excited about Christmas), Monday Morning Minnie (she hates Mondays); and Chilly Charlie (who’s always cold). I should send Beano a photo of me as a kid and see if I can land that coveted back cover.

Beano #3914 [December 9, 2017] is one of three issues I set aside because I wanted to write about them today. Most of the issue’s comic strips are part of a larger story about Beanotown being invaded by giant sentient bruessel sprouts during the Christmas season. What makes this tale even more special is its guest star...
That’s right. Peter Capaldi, the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, appears in this issue as himself. Which should send Doctor Who completists scurrying to find a copy of that issue for their collections.

Beano #3915 [December 30, 2017] has a Star Wars parody with Gnasher in the lead and other Beano characters playing the other roles in the classic original movie.

There was a hilarious nod to the 1966 Batman movie in Beano #3918 [January 20, 2018]. In the Bananaman strip, the title hero has to get rid of a bomb. Yeah, they went there.

Much to my child-like delight, my Beano subscription came with a Christmas gift. The Merry Prank-Mas Kit was a little dented when it arrived, but I had more fun with its contents that an old guy like me should be allowed to have. My favorite prank was a “snake in a tube.” The others: joke ketchup, fake pencil through finger, gross teeth, cockroach sweet, fake poo, trick snot and joke gift tags. The kit was one of my favorite Christmas presents.

Two more notes. Because I’m trying to reduce my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I’m not saving my issues of The Beano. You’ll find them in my VAOS garage sale, which I hope to commence before the end of April. Watch the bloggy thing for more news on them.

I would like to create an American magazine with the same sense of mischief that I see in The Beano. Depending on what my schedule is like this year, I may be starting on that soon.

As always, if you want to discuss convention or other appearances or my doing a project for you, you can email me. I’ll respond just as quickly as I can.

That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for the final installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” Then, starting on Thursday, I’ll have a bloggy or two on the Marvel Legacy and my going to New York to be interviewed on camera for a Marvel documentary.

Thanks for visiting.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Mine!, the ComicMix anthology that celebrates “liberty and freedom for all” and benefits Planned Parenthood; the delightful Bettie Page #6-8 from Dynamite; and Ant Wars, reprinting the classic 2000 AD serial from 1978!

Monday, March 19, 2018


My only remaining open-to-the-public appearance this month will be a workshop that’s part of the Cleveland Public Library and the Ohio Center for the Book’s Coffee and Comics program. These workshops are hosted by Rising Star Coffee and allow attendees to join comics creators for free coffee and instruction at the Rising Star Coffee Roastery.

I’ll be at the Roastery on Saturday, March 24, from 10-11:30 a.m. This workshop will focus on creating and developing characters in comic books and strips, including my thoughts on the importance of establishing core values for primary characters.

My workshop will be open to all ages and skill levels. Bring your drawing materials and sketch pads because there will be a test of sorts. You’ll be given a character description I wrote for one of the characters in Black Lightning: Cold Dark Hands and be invited to sketch your own version of that character.

While you’re drawing - I hope you’re prepared to multi-task here - I’ll be talking on the other topics included in this lesson plan. Will I rise to the teaching level of Gabe Kotter or Jeff Pierce? I guess we’ll find out together.

If there’s time, I will be happy to answer questions outside of the lesson plan. Likewise, if the Roastery hasn’t had enough of me by the time the workshop ends, I’ll sign one (and only one) Isabella-written item for any attendees who request this. There will be no charge for that one signature.

The Rising Star Coffee Roastery is at the Hildebrant Building, 3617 Walton Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44113. For more information, call the literature department at 216-623-2881.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a new bloggy thing.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

August, 2017. Marvel Comics has brought Tony Isabella to New York City for a special screening of The Defenders series that will soon debut on Netflix. His adventures continue...

I arrived at the ABC Building on West 66th Street and was directed to the 22nd floor. The screening was a special event for creators and families of creators who contributed to the show. Among those present were Arvell Jones and his wife Wanda, Larry Hama, Michael Gaydos, Martha Thomases and the wife and family of the late Archie Goodwin. I also met and chatted with Marvel’s Tom Brevoort, David Bogart and Brian Overton. Good people one and all.

The screening room was on the small side. My estimate was that it could hold less than a hundred people. We saw the first episode of The Defenders.

My initial reaction to that first episode was only slightly mixed. I thought almost all the principals - Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter and Mike Colton - were at the high level set by their star turns on Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. I thought Finn Jones (Iron Fist) wasn’t on the same level, but he did get better later in the later episodes of the eight-episode series, especially when he was interacting with the other leads.

Overall, having watched the entire series, I think Defenders was a good but not a great show. Sigourney Weaver was real scary as the “big bad” until she wasn’t the “big bad” anymore. Wai Ching Ho’s Madame Gao delivered a better and more nuanced performance than her fellow Hand members. Supporting players Jessica Henwick, Rosario Dawson, Eldon Hensen, Simone Missick, Rachael Taylor and Deborah Ann Woll were all excellent.

Where the show faltered was when smart characters did really dumb things to advance the plot and where the Hand hierarchy overplayed the melodramatic villain stuff. I know there are those who contend that bad choices make good stories - and I don’t necessarily find fault with that - but dumb choices infuriate me.

After the screening, Arvell, Wanda and I went to the Europan Café, which was just around the corner from the ABC Building. The Jones couple are among my favorite people, so I was glad for the chance to spend some additional time with them.

I would be flying back to Cleveland early Saturday morning. On my own for the rest of Friday, I decided to return to the AMC 25 and see another movie I had been wanting to see Spider-Man Homecoming. As with Atomic Blonde, the theatre showing it was on the top floor of the six-floor multiplex.

As I rode the escalator to the sixth floor, two young women ahead of me kept looking at me with puzzled expressions on their faces. When we got to the sixth floor and when they saw me heading to the Spider-Man showing, they figured it out.

THEM: You’re that comic-book guy!

ME: Huh?

THEM: You’re Black Lightning!

ME: He’s darker and taller than me.

THEM: No, you’re Tony Isabella! You created Black Lightning!

They were pretty excited to meet me, but I was just as excited to have been recognized by two young women who were probably a third of my age. They were avid comics fans and were looking forward to Black Lightning. We talked for maybe fifteen minutes - I try to get to my appointments early - and then took our seats.

Spider-Man Homecoming was nothing short of terrific. Tom Holland did a fine job as Peter Parker. Michael Keaton was even better as the Vulture than he had been as Batman. Marisa Tomei was a little unnerving as the hottest Aunt May of all time and because Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was perving on her, but I have enjoyed the actress’ work for many years.

Director Jon Watts and six other writers delivered a solid story. The interactions between Peter and Tony were great. Peter’s making mistakes due to inexperience and youth worked for me. I’m already eager to see the next Spider-Man movie.

After the show, I chatted with the young ladies again. They liked the movie as much as I did. Then they invited me to hit some bars with them and did so in a provocative manner. This is what went through my head.

If you combined their ages, they were probably still twenty years or more younger than me. If you combined their ages, they wouldn’t have been on this planet more than three years more than my happy marriage to Sainted Wife Bath has lasted. And, in all probability, they might have been looking for someone to buy drinks for their very likely underage selves. The suspense builds.

What did I say about choices? If you haven’t been paying attention to Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, I’ve not only been writing a younger Black Lightning than any other incarnation, but he’s also smarter than any other Jefferson Pierce. That’s right. He’s smarter than my original 1970s version. He’s smarter than my 1990s version. He’s smarter (though perhaps not as inspiring) than the CW’s version of the character. Some of my new Jeff rubbed off on me as I was writing the six-issue series.

I made a lame (worthy of Clark Kent) excuse that I had a very early flight in the morning. The young ladies were disappointed, but we parted as friends we’ll probably never see again.

I went back to the Econo Lodge and changed into a more comfortable t-shirt and jeans. The t-shirt was one of my Pop’s Barber Shop t-shirts, based on the Luke Cage series. I wasn’t full meal hungry, nor was I ready to go to bed. So I went to one of the neighborhood bars. That was a good choice.

One of the other customers recognized my t-shirt. He and his pals and I talked comics, politics and sports. They liked several of the comics I liked. They were interested in Black Lightning. They were pretty much in sync with my own politics, which didn’t surprise me in New York City. They were impressed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Most importantly, they were Mets fans. Damn Yankees!

I dined on bar food while drinking a beer and several soft drinks. This was a new experience for me. I seldom go to bars and usually don’t go to them unless I’m with friends. I blame the corrupting influence of Bar Rescue’s Jon Taffer.

I got a decent night’s sleep. After a day or two, the constant New York background noise doesn’t keep me awake. I got up in plenty of time to pack and catch a cab to the airport. My uneventful flight left on time. Before long, I was back in Medina.

I want to thank Marvel Comics for bringing me to New York for the screening. I cherish my relationship with the company. Maybe I’ll write comic books for them again someday and maybe I won’t. But I love being part of the Marvel legacy. Which will be the subject of my next trip report.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a short bloggy thing on my next public appearance. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Time travel alert! The Wayback Machine has been set for Wednesday, August 9, 2017.

Marvel Comics invited me to New York for a special screening of its Defenders series, scheduled to be released on Netflix on Friday, August 18. Misty Knight, who I co-created with artist Arvell Jones during our brief 1970s stint on Iron Fist, would be featured on the series. For that reason and because I’m as big a Marvel fan as the next fan, I accepted the invitation readily.

Even though I’ve done all of my most recent comic-book writing for DC Comics, I remain on excellent terms with Marvel. I’ve written introductions for a number of Masterworks and Omnibus editions. Marvel always kept its agreements with me and I’m still thrilled to be associated with them, even in small ways.

Because I wanted to give myself a relaxing mini-vacation, I flew in a couple days early. This would let me meet up with some dear old friends and wander my old NYC neighborhood a bit. Back in the day, I lived in a somewhat seedy (and boarding on sleazy) hotel so close to Times Square I could see the Great White Way from my penthouse rooftop. Don’t be too impressed by the “penthouse” description of my apartment. It was a one-bedroom apartment that was a penthouse only by virtue of it being on the rooftop of the hotel.

Living in that apartment was an exciting adventure up to the point where I got mugged in it. I’d come home from an evening out with a lady friend to find that two men had broken into the place and were still there. I scored a few punches to good effect, but mostly got the crap beat out of me. I’ll tell you more about the hotel and my time in New York when I get around to writing my memoirs of sorts. To sum up, the hotel and surrounding buildings were torn down and a Crowne Plaza hotel stands there today.
As I had done when I came to New York for the premiere of the Luke Cage show, I stayed at the Econo Lodge Times Square on West 47th at 8th Avenue. The rooms are really tiny, but it’s a decent place with a decent continental breakfast in a neighborhood that, though much changed from when I lived nearby, I knew well.

After spending decades in the way too Republican and way too white Medina, it was a joy to be able to walk a block and hear several different languages and inhale the smell of trucks offering food from just as many cultures. I needed (and still need) more color in my life. Once Sainted Wife Barb retires, I want to move somewhere that fills that need for me. Unfortunately, unless I see some huge, ongoing cash from the Black Lightning TV show, I could never afford to live in my old neighborhood. Sigh.

My Wednesday night dinner partner was Jim Salicrup, editor-in-chief at Papercutz. Jim and I go back decades. In 1972, he was one of the first to welcome me when I started work at Marvel in 1972. We had dinner at the terrific Virgil’s Real BBQ restaurant on West 44th. One of the best things about my old stomping grounds is that there are more great restaurants than I could possibly eat at even if I stayed for a year.

From Virgil’s, we went to Midtown Comics at Times Square. It was my first visit to the landmark comic-book store, which is one flight up from the street and occupies two huge floors packed with all sorts of comic books, graphic novels and related items. I managed to resist buying all sorts of the above, but it was a close thing that took all my will power. It’s a great place and - hint, hint - I would love to do a signing there sometime. Whatever it would cost Midtown to bring me out there for a signing, the store would likely get back from me as a customer.

We wandered to Bryant Park and continued to chat about comics and old friends and such. Jim is one of my favorite people and I wish we could see each other more often.

When my Thursday lunch plans fell through, I took a stroll that led me to the Hard Rock Café. I had a good lunch with a side order of conversation, courtesy of actress/waitress Olivia. It was slow at the restaurant, so we talked about our respective careers. It was a good way to kill an hour or so.

From there, I went to the AMC 25 to see Atomic Blonde, a movie I’d wanted to see but which had left my local theater before I got the chance to see it. Based on the Oni Press graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston with illustrator Sam Hart, the Cold War-era thriller was directed by David Leitch and starred  Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman and Sofia Boutella. Here’s the quickie synopsis from the Internet Movie Database:

An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

The movie was...okay. More action-oriented than the graphic novel, the action was where the film was most entertaining. Director Leitch didn’t make as good a use of the exotic settings as he could have. The twists and turns in the plot often slowed down the film. The acting, save for Theron and Boutella, didn’t impress me. Still, I think the movie is worth seeing just for the action scenes.

I was actually more impressed by the theater itself. Six stories of  screening rooms. Comfortable seating. A snack bar on every floor, though only two were open that afternoon. I can’t say Atomic Blonde was worth the $13.29 price of my ticket but I was impressed enough by the AMC 25 itself that I hoped to see another movie there before I flew back to Medina on Saturday.

Thursday dinner was another wonderful time. I visited Larry Lieber, the legendary Marvel writer and artist, at his apartment. We went to The Three Star on First, one of the neighborhood eateries for another terrific meal.

Larry is another of my favorite comics folks. We became friends and worked together while I was on staff at Marvel. While a freelancer, I did some work for him at the 1970s incarnation of Atlas Comics. We’ve kept in touch as much as possible, but this was the most time we’d spent together in decades.

What didn’t we talked about that evening? Larry told me about his life since we’d last met, the novel he was writing, a short story he did write which might be one of the most moving romance stories of all time and his penciling the syndicated Spider-Man newspaper strip. At 87, Larry is as creative, fun and interesting as he ever was. Like his brother Stan Lee, he was and remains an inspiration to me. I’ll see him again later this year.

Friday morning saw me rise early to stroll my old neighborhood. Gone is the seen-better-days hotel I once lived in, replaced by a huge Crowne Plaza Hotel. Most of the street I lived on has changed. The gigantic Sam Goody where I bought so many albums is gone, but the Eugene O’Neil Theater - owned by writer Neil Simon - is still going strong. Much to my surprise, a second theater is now across the street from it.

One of my favorite New York moments of the trip was seeing the trio of t-shirts pictured above. There were in the display window of one of those quintessential Times Square souvenir shops, just around the corner from the Econo Lodge. I was sorely tempted to buy the third shirt because it literally made me laugh out loud. I passed when I realized I couldn’t even wear it in my own house without upsetting Sainted Wife Barb, who thinks I’m way too antisocial even without advertising the sentiment.

I flagged down a cab and headed to the ABC Building on West 66th. My destination: the special screening of The Defenders that was my reason for this trip. I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about that screening and rest of my time in New York.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, March 16, 2018


For those of you just joining us...


My name is Tony Isabella. I do not own a mansion and a yacht, but, I would love to own a mansion. Especially if it comes with a wacky yet endearing staff.


I am a going-on-46-year veteran of the comic-book industry. I’m the creator and writer of Black Lightning, co-creator of Misty Knight and Tigra, and a writer of Captain America, Champions, Daredevil, Dracula, Ghost Rider, Grim Ghost, Hawkman, Iron Fist, the Living Mummy, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Star Trek and many others.

Like Superman, I was born in Cleveland, Ohio.  I was an editor and writer at Marvel Comics and other publishers. At DC Comics, I created Black Lightning, the company’s first prominent African-American super-hero.  I co-wrote the prose novels Captain America: Liberty’s Torch and Star Trek: The Case of the Colonist’s Corpse. I’m the author of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read, one of the most successful books of comics history and nostalgia ever, and the odd-but-strangely-wondrous July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume 1.  I was the lead reviewer and also a contributing editor of Comics Buyer’s Guide for over two decades.  I was a comics retailer and distributor for twelve years. I have  been a ghost-writer for several syndicated newspaper comics strips. I received the Inkpot Award at the 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego and a Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. Cleveland Magazine named me one of that city’s most interesting people of 2018.

My most recent comics work is the six-issue Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, marking my return to my creation. I write the mostly daily “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing” and the weekly “Tony’s Tips” review column. I lecture at colleges and such on comics history, comics writing and diversity in comics.  While developing several new projects for comics, movies and more, I am writing books that include both a “memoir-of-sorts” and compilations of my writings on comic books and his beloved B-movie monsters.

Perhaps most notable...Black Lightning is now a weekly, live-action series on the CW. The show has drawn much of its inspiration from my comic-book work on the character.

I have heard of something called “retirement,” but it is an alien concept. I live in Medina, Ohio with my pharmacist wife Barbara. Our all-grown-up children are Ed and Kelly; Ed is a professional engineer and Kelly is a credit card fraud analyst. I have a cat named Simba. Except for the cat, they all have much better and saner jobs than I have. The cat doesn’t need a job. She has me.


If you’d like to see me at a comics convention or some other event,
here’s my schedule for the remainder of 2018.

March 24: Cleveland Public Library Coffee and Comics

April 27-29: East Coast Comicon

May 5: Toys Time Forgot (FCBD)

May 18-19: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

June 8-10: Fingerlakes Comic Con

July 13-15: G-Fest

August 17-18: TerrifiCon (Connecticut)

August 19: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted)

September 8-9: Hall of Heroes Museum

September 28-30: Baltimore Comic Con

November 3-4: Akron Comicon

November 9-11: Grand Rapids Comic Con

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

To answer a FAQ, I am not adverse to adding events to my schedule. We’ll talk about that in a minute.

To answer another FAQ, I won’t be at that convention you would like me to be at because either I haven’t been invited to it or because the event was unable/unwilling to meet my requirements for being a guest at said event.

To answer yet another FAQ, I’m not currently planning to attend San Diego’s Comic-Con International. That’s an expensive event for me to attend and I can only attend when either the convention itself or one of my clients covers my expenses.


Why not?


If you would like to have me as a guest at your convention or other event, you must invite me and meet my requirements for appearing at your event. Though I’ve made exceptions in the past and will make them for a small number of shows dear to my heart, my requirements do include hotel expenses, travel expenses, sufficient table space and placement for me to sell and sign items, per diem for food and incidentals and an appearance fee. I am a great date, but I am not a cheap date. I don’t think I’m a terribly expensive date, but every convention or event promoter has to figure out if I can fit into their budget.

Many conventions have a problem with paying comics guests. Some of those have no qualms about laying out cash for some minor movie or TV actor. I cast no aspersions on their business models, but I do believe that paying comics creators will be standard business practice in a few more years.

If a convention or event meets my requirements, I will appear on up to two panels a day if they are not back to back. I will promote my appearance and their event on my social media. I will be available if their local print newspaper, radio station or TV station wants to do an interview. Most importantly, I will not charge the fans for my signature on their Isabella-written items.

If you are a publisher or filmmaker who wants me to write for you, you should contact me with as many details as you feel comfortable revealing to me. I am not looking for “back-end deals” that may or may not pay off on that back end. I have a great many projects of my own that I can work on and that likewise have no guarantee of a payday. I only put those aside for the paying gigs.

If you are a convention/event promoter or a client looking to hire me for a project, the best way to contact me is via e-mail. I will respond to your e-mail as swiftly as possible.

If “How are you still around?” is the question you want to ask, I can only repeat what I’ve told fans and fellow comics creators when they’ve asked that.

I’m still around because I refused to go away despite the efforts of several disreputable comics industry people and despite my two decades of struggle against their breaking of agreements and their slanderous comments. I kept writing and getting paid for what I was writing, even if my name wasn’t on it. I kept a visible presence on the Internet. I wouldn’t go away.

Thanks for indulging me today. From time to time, I find it useful and necessary to post something like today’s bloggy thing. I’ll be back tomorrow with something that’s hopefully a lot more fun than what I wrote today. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Michael Ryan, Ph.D, who is the head vertebrate paleontologist at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, contacted me a while back in the hope I could help him locate the houses where legendary Batman artist Dick Sprang lived in Fremont, Ohio. With the help of some comics history geniuses, I was able to provide Michael with the addresses.

Michael visited these houses with a friend. Michael has hopes that Fremont will honor Sprang in the future, but, for now, I'm not including the addresses of these houses.

My planned bloggy thing report on my August 2017 trip to New York for a special screening of the Defenders series on Netflix is still in the works. I put it aside because I had other pressing matters to deal with and because I wasn't thrilled with how it was coming out. I'll get back to it as soon as those pressing matters are dealt with. Thanks for your patience.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


RESOLVED: The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  This is why I’ve written over a hundred columns about him. Something about his short stature, but large courage, honor and fighting skills speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I decide to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them. We’ve reached the title’s extended twilight.  We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the now-bimonthly reprint series. This is the 137th installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.

The Rawhide Kid #150 [March 1979] has a new cover by Tony DeZuniga. This is the next-to-last issue of the long-running title. Which is, at least, going out with some spiffy new covers by some of Marvel’s top artists.

The issue reprints “The Gun and the Arrow!” (14 pages) from Rawhide Kid #98 [April 1972]. The cover to that issue was pencilled by Larry Lieber and inked by Bill Everett. The story was written and pencilled by Larry Lieber with inks by George Roussos. I wrote about this story on August 24, 2016. You can read that column here.

The inside front cover is an ad for Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the 1978 remake of the 1956 movie. There were two other remakes and a fourth is currently in development. The original movie scared the crap out of me. I watched it in the auditorium of Sts. Phillip and James Church and School.

The Church would show movies on Sunday afternoon to give parents a break from their kids and make a few bucks selling tickets, candy and popcorn. The original concept was to present good and wholesome films. We kids didn’t want to see those. So, slowly but surely, the movies changed from various inspirational tales of folks overcoming adversity with faith and such to thrillers in which science dealt (or tried to deal with) adversaries like Gorgo, the Giant Behemoth, Martians declaring war on our world and alien pod people. Now that was how to spend a Sunday afternoon!

There were two-and-a-half pages of classified ads and a smattering of half-page ads recruiting readers to sell cheap crap of one kind or another or cutting out the middleman and selling directly to those readers. Several full-page ads offered more novelty items, celebrity posters, toy soldiers, even more novelty items and more opportunities to make money selling stuff.

Comics fandom was growing and there were 28 ads for comics retail, up three from the previous issue. There was also an ad offering 3 mil comics storage bags at three bucks per hundred.

A full-page house ad touted the new Shogun Warriors title by writer Doug Moench and artist Herb Trimpe.

Heroes World had its usual full-page pitch. They offered Battlestar Galactic items and Marvel super-hero stuff.

The usual full-page Marvel subscription ad was updated with a new drawing by Marie Severin. If you subscribed to any two titles, you also got a Spider-Man marking pen.

Pizzazz was represented by the same full-page ad that had blandly been pitching the magazine for several issues.

New to this issue was a half-page ad combining a pitch for all five Spider-Man comics - “America’s Number One Super-Hero” - with useful information on Marvel’s subscription service.

The launch of Power Man and Iron Fist, which kept the numbering from Luke Cage’s now-cancelled solo series, got the full-page house ad treatment as well. I guess combining the two titles worked out because the new series would run 59 issues.

The Outlaw Kid reprint comes from The Outlaw Kid #16 [March 1957]. Joe Maneely was the cover artist.

“Treachery on the Trail!” (4 pages) was drawn by Doug Wildey. The writer has not yet been identified. This is the third reprinting of the tale. It also appeared in Outlaw Kid #7 [August 1971] and #23 [August 1974].


This is another fast-paced story. The Outlaw Kid sees a stagecoach being robbed. The Kid’s drives them off with his return gunfire. One of the coach’s drivers has been wounded. The injured man can’t travel, but the stage was carrying a $20,000 payroll to the town.

The Kid will take the stage back to town to get a doctor and also deliver the payroll. The robbers follow him.

The Kid outsmarts them by cutting lose the stage from its horses. The robbers flee for their lives.

The Kid gets the payroll to town safely. In his secret identity as rancher Lance Temple, his girlfriend Belle tells him she would like him to be a little bit like the Outlaw Kid.


The “Bullpen Bulletins” page starts with Stan Lee using his “Stan’s Soapbox” column to talk about the creation of Irving Forbush. You can read that amazing revelation below along with the rest of the page. As I’ve mentioned before, the Jim Shooter era Bullpen pages do nothing for me. 
The single-page Marvel/Hostess single-page comics advertisement is “The Incredible Hulk Changes His Mind!” He’s angry at puny humans, but cools down when a young boy gives him Hostess Cup Cakes. I’ve posted a scan of the page below.

There is only one more issue before The Rawhide Kid finish its long run. I’ll write about that issue next Wednesday.

Tomorrow, I’ll be writing about one of my not-so-recent adventures. That will be followed by more reports on my more recent adventures at conventions and elsewhere. I hope to get current on those trip reports before the end of the month.

Thanks for stopping by. See you tomorrow.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, March 12, 2018


This week in TONY ISABELLA'S BLOGGY THING...Marvel Masterworks: Daredevil Volume 12 with a new introduction by me and four Daredevil stories by me (as well as a new intro by Marv Wolfman and several of his DD stories); Valiant's Ninja-K #1-4 by Christos Gage with artists Tomas Giorello and Ariel Olivetti; and the wild final issues of U.S.Avengers by Al Ewing and Paco Diaz!

Thursday, March 8, 2018


My big weekend plans involve being the Comics Guest of Honor at the Cleveland ConCoction convention Friday through Sunday, March 9-11, at the Bertram Inn and Convention Center in Aurora, Ohio. I wrote about this convention on Monday and Tuesday...and you can learn more by visiting the event’s website.

I’ll be pacing myself the rest of this week and into next week as I work through a long list of odds and ends. There will be bloggy things next week, but I don’t know if they will start before next Tuesday. More on that in a bit.

My appearance schedule is filling up swiftly. I don’t anticipate adding any shows to March or April, but I never say never. If you are putting on a convention or some other event and would like me there, e-mail me and I’ll give you my conditions for my appearances. And, as always, it’s no foul if you can’t meet my conditions. I’m a great date, but I’m not a cheap date and, having worked with my pal Roger Price on dozens of his Mid-Ohio-Con shows, I know that money can get tight for promoters.

Here’s my current 2018 schedule...

March 24: Cleveland Public Library Coffee and Comics

April 27-29: East Coast Comicon

May 5: Toys Time Forgot (Free Comic Book Day)

May 18-19: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

June 8-10: Fingerlakes Comic Con

July 13-15: G-Fest

August 17-18: TerrifiCon (Connecticut)

August 19: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted)

September 8-9: Hall of Heroes Museum

September 28-30: Baltimore Comic Con

November 3-4: Akron Comicon

November 9-11: Grand Rapids Comic Con

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

To answer a frequently asked question, I’m not currently planning to attend this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. I’m leaving the dates open if something changes and I am able to attend, but, for the present, it’s most likely I won’t be there.

What will “pacing myself” look like next week?

As regards the bloggy thing, you can expect several trip reports. Though it happened last year, I want to write about my trip to New York City for a special screening of The Defenders. It was a very cool visit and I want to share it with you. It will certainly take more than one day's worth of bloggy things.

I’ve got some things to say about Marvel Legacy and my quick trip to Brooklyn, New York to be interviewed on camera for a documentary project about that publisher’s legacy. That also might run to two days.

After that, I hope to regale you with my convention reports on the one-day Action! event in Windsor, the glorious Pensacon in Florida and, of course, the Cleveland ConCoction.

Besides writing the travel bloggy things, I’ll be planning upcoming interviews, finalizing my convention plans and deciding on my next writing projects. Clearly, I do not completely grasp the concept of “pacing myself.”

This is an exciting and insanely busy time for me. But it would not have happened without the support of my family, my friends and my readers. I’ll do my best to never take any of you lightly.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you next week.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder... Bill Schelly’s Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom–The Whole Story; Timely Confidential: When the Golden Age of Comic Books Was Young by Allen Bellman with editing by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo and Audrey Parente; and Rick Norwood’s Comics Revue #381-382!


RESOLVED: The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  This is why I’ve written over a hundred columns about him. Something about his short stature, but large courage, honor and fighting skills speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I decide to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them. We’ve reached the title’s extended twilight.  We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the now-bimonthly reprint series. This is the 136th installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.

The Rawhide Kid #149 [January 1979] has a new cover by Gene Colan with inks by Bob McLeod. The cover kind of sort of depicts a scene from the story, save that the startled individual by the campfire is much younger inside the comic.

This issue reprints “The Young Gun” (14 pages) from Rawhide Kid #97 [March 1972]. The cover to that issue was pencilled by Larry Lieber and inked by Bill Everett. The story was written and pencilled by Larry Lieber with inks by George Roussos. I wrote about this story on July 27, 2016 and you can read that column here.

The inside front cover is the ad for that Amazing Energized Spider-Man that ran in the previous issue! The thirteen-and-a-half inches tall toy came from Remco and the company also offered an energized Green Goblin. Also repeated: a full-page subscription ads offering savings on Marvel’s top titles. If you ordered five subscriptions, you got a free sub for Star Wars.
Simon & Schuster has a full-page ad proclaiming “1979 Heralds a New Year of Marvel Greatness!” The volumes offered: Marvel’s Greatest Super-Hero Battles, The Mighty World of Marvel Pin-Up Book, Marvel Mazes, the Silver Surfer graphic novel by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, The Incredible Hulk Calendar, The Incredible Hulk and others.

There are two pages of classified advertisements. There are 25 ads from mail-order comic-book dealers, the regular ad for 3 mil comics storage bags at three bucks per hundred, and a large-ish for “The world’s biggest and best comic convention.” Given the ad was placed by Adam Malin, I’m guessing this event was the first or, at least, an early Creation con.
Clark Bars has a half-page ad for “The Famous Clark Bar Superhero Posters!” Your choices are Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Shazam, Thor or Wonder Woman. These posters were  $2.75 apiece with six wrappers from any famous Clark or Holloway candy. That’s six wrappers for each poster. That’s also a whole lot of candy to consume.

The Heroes World ad is a Star Wars special pitching dozens of cool action figures, stand-up posters and more. I’ve scanned and posted this ad at a large size, but I think you’ll still need a magnifying glass to see all the items and how much they cost.

There are two half-page and six full-page ads in this issue.  The half-page ads are from Fun Factory (novelty items) and Grit (sell the newspaper and make $2-$10 per week). The full-page ads are for Blammo Soft ‘n SugarFree Gum; Crossman Air Guns; Safety Wing Bike Reflector in conjunction with Whoppers malted melt candy; 100 toy soldiers for $1.75; full color posters of Shaun Cassidy and other 1970s celebrities on the inside back cover; and Lego Expert Builder toys on the back cover.

There’s a half-page ad for Marvel’s full-color adaptation of Jaws 2. The magazine-size comic was written by editor Rick Marshall with art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer. It was reproduced directly from Palmer’s hand-painted originals. Also in the magazine: an exclusive interview with Jaws 2 director Jeannot Swarc.

The full-page bare bones Pizzazz subscription ad from the previous issue is back in this issue. It offered a free six-month sub to any one of these Marvel comics: Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Captain America, Defenders, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Invaders, Marvel Tales, Thor or Star Wars.

The Outlaw Kid reprint comes from The Outlaw Kid #17 [May 1957]. John Severin was the cover artist.

“Fists of Steel” (4 pages) was drawn by Doug Wildey. The writer has not yet been identified. This is the second reprinting of the tale. It also appeared in Outlaw Kid #5 [April 1971]. I’m going to skip the usual spoiler warnings because, well, because there’s not much going on here that we haven’t seen before.

The Outlaw Kid is again cast as the guy who takes down bullies. In this story, its miners who come into town every Saturday and make life miserable for the citizens with their bullying and carousing. When they start shooting up a saloon, the Outlaw Kid shoots their guns out of their hands. He accepts a challenge to duke it out with the main bully. He beats him easily and then, when the others try to gun him down, again shoots the guns out of their hands. Ordered to pay for the damage they have caused, the miners mend their ways. Now the town enjoys their weekend visits.

Though the story is familiar - most of the Outlaw Kid reprints in Rawhide Kid have this same basic theme - I sort of like the notion of a masked bully-tamer. Someone should develop the idea for a new and contemporary hero. Maybe it’ll be me.

The issue’s “Bullpen Bulletins” page kicks off with Stan Lee using his “Stan’s Soapbox” column to talk about the Marvel philosophy on making comic books. It’s a subject Stan returned to on a number of occasions. The rest of the page, which you can read if you click on the image above this paragraph, is the usual less-than-thrilling plugs for upcoming projects. In the Jim Shooter era, these kinds of plugs just lack the sassy fun of editorial administrations before his reign.

This issue’s Marvel/Hostess single-page crossover is “Captain Marvel Meets the Dreadnought.” The Dreadnought is a raider ship that has hijacked the Omega Space Station’s shipment of Hostess Fruit Pies. The moral of the extremely short “story” is that it’s not right for evil to rule men’s destiny or to deprive them of their fruit pies. I dunno. I expect a more thought-provoking moral from a cosmically aware super-hero.

There are only two more issues before The Rawhide Kid ends its long run. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff and back next Wednesday  with a new installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.”

Happy trails to you, my bloggy friends.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


If March is not too late to make a New Year’s resolution, I have a new one to share with you. I will never again end a bloggy with the sentence “If all goes as planned, I will have a new bloggy thing for you tomorrow.”

Things did not go as planned on Monday. Everything on my “must do” list took twice and sometimes thrice as long as planned. I started writing a column about Marvel Legacy and the publisher flying me to New York to be part of a documentary about Marvel’s legacy. The writing did not go well. Rather than rush a bloggy thing on such an important subject, I’m pushing that column to Thursday.

On the plus side, Cleveland ConCoction has released two posters for the upcoming event. If you read yesterday’s bloggy thing, you know I’ll be at the convention. Heck, I’m named as their Comics Guest of Honor, yet another honor in this most amazing and surprising third act of mine.

At the top of today’s bloggy thing is the poster showing my smiling face and the faces of the other guests of honor. Right below this paragraph is the poster showing the incredible array of fantasy and science fiction authors who will also be appearing at this event. That’s a lot of wordsmiths in one place.

If you read yesterday’s bloggy thing, you also know how excited I am to be attending Cleveland ConCoction. I’m hoping I see some of my readers there as well.

Tomorrow’s “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” column is already written and ready to go. Fingers crossed.

See you tomorrow. I hope.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, March 5, 2018


The Cleveland ConCoction is my next convention appearance. It’s a multi-fandom convention that will be taking place Friday, March 9 through Sunday, March 11, at the Bertram Inn and Conference Center in Aurora, Ohio.

The event embraces all kinds of fan activities and interests. I’m there from the world of comics. Actor Sean Owen Roberts, who you’ve seen on Painkiller Jane, Supernatural, The Flash and various other genre TV shows, will be there. A whole bunch of fantasy, horror and science fiction authors are on the guest list. Cosplay, gaming and filk singing are also part of the programming.

Roberts is someone I’m hoping to chat with at length. Besides all the TV work, he was also in Ice Road Terror (2011). That was a cool monster movie that aired on the SyFy channel. As you know, my love of giant monster movies - I define giant monsters as anything freakishly bigger than it ought to be, like the Dumpster President’s ego and sense of entitlement - is second only to my love of the comics art form. Of course, with three days of convention events taking place late into the evenings, I expect I’ll have time to chat with many interesting creators and fans.

Registration for ConCoction starts at 10 am on Friday and 9 am on Saturday and Sunday. Adult membership in the convention is $50 for all three days and half that for children ages 7-12. There are also single day rates for adults and children.

Just glancing at the extensive programming schedule, I see panels on gaming, fandom, writing, anime, cosplaying, the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, steampunk, Star Trek and even belly dancing. Don’t worry. I am prohibited by federal injunction from belly dancing in public...and I think the world is better for that.

I’ll be participating in two programming events. On Friday, March 9 at 6 pm in the McKinley Room A, I’ll be doing a Q&A session. Just the place to ask me questions about comics I wrote 45 years ago and me squirm as I try to remember them. Or you can ask me about Black Lightning, my six-issue Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands series and the Tuesday night Black Lightning television series that’s pulling in the best ratings the CW has ever had in that time slot. Really, you can ask me just about anything. The worst that could happen is my pleading the Fifth.

On Sunday, March 11 at 10 am in Garfield Room C, the convention’s programming schedule will present “Coffee Hour with Tony Isabella.” While there’s always the possibility this hour will consist of me yawning while trying to recover for Saturday night’s parties, I’ll endeavor to be entertaining and informative.

When I’m not at these two programming events...or other programming events...or wandering around the convention...or checking out the art show, con suite or authors alley...I’ll be at my tables in the exhibit hall. As usual before a convention, I’m still figuring out what I’ll be bringing to sell at those tables.

I will be selling Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-5, though I  only have a few copies of the fifth issue at this time. It appears my reorders of the Black Lightning trade paperbacks - Volume 1 and 2 - will arrive in time for the convention. I’ll have copies of my script for Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 and the unique Black Lightning poster created by Ohio artist Lee Smith. I’ll also have mini-posters featuring Daredevil and Luke Cage.

I’m putting together boxes of Isabella-written items, non-Isabella-written hardcovers and trade paperbacks, and comic books priced at just one dollar each. There’s some real cool stuff in these boxes and the prices are best described as “bargain.”

I will not be charging for my signature at this convention. But I do ask that, if you bring me a tall stack of stuff to sign, you be cognizant of the line behind you. If there is a line behind you, I would sign some of your books and then ask you to either go to the back of line or return at a later time. I don’t want a fan standing in my line so long they miss out on all the wonderful stuff going on at the Cleveland ConCoction.

If you want to interview me during the convention, please contact me before the convention. E-mail is the best way to contact me on this and any other matter.

For more information on the Cleveland ConCoction, please visit the event’s website.

I’m looking forward to my first appearance at this convention. I’m hoping to see some of you there as well.

That’s all for today, my bloggy friends. If all goes as planned, I will have a new bloggy thing for you tomorrow.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Let me tell you about my first face-to-face meeting with TV’s first Black Lightning. David Adkins. Better known as Sinbad.

The funniest sketch in the entire history of Saturday Night Live was the show’s November 21, 1992 sketch on the death of Superman. Set at a memorial service for the Man of Steel after his heroic passing in then-recent comic books, the sketch featured heroes from DC and Marvel comic books.

Sinbad’s portrayal of a somewhat shady Black Lightning, Afro-mask and all, stole the sketch. Jimmy Olsen wouldn’t let him attend the service, despite Sinbad’s claims that he and Superman were tight. (Jimmy should have known this from my 1977 Black Lightning comics in which he and Superman guest-starred.) Black Lightning gave Jimmy a couple of well-deserved electric zaps and, on leaving, purloined the shrimp Aquaman had brought to the service.

I started getting e-mails and other online messages about the show as soon as it aired. Fortunately, I had taped it to watch when my then-very-young kids and my eternally-young Sainted Wife Barb were not asleep. I watched it the next morning...

...and was literally rolling on the floor laughing out loud. Only someone who loved Black Lightning could have done such a terrific job making fun of my creation. As I would learn in later years, my friend Sinbad was one such fan.

Sinbad and I first “met” over the phone. I had seen him many times since the SNL sketch and loved his comedy. We did the usual mutual admiration thing. Then Sinbad asked me if the Black Lightning movie rights were available. He wanted to try to put together financing to make the film. He didn’t want to play Black Lightning on the big screen. He wanted to produce it. I told him that DC Comics held the rights and suggested he contact them, offering my services in any capacity should he license those rights. Alas, back then, DC wasn’t interested in making money from Black Lightning.

We spoke on the phone a few times after that. Once, he told me he was taking his son Royce to Comic-Con in search of a complete set of my Black Lightning comics. Sinbad was a comics fan. So was his son. Once, when he was appearing at a Cleveland venue, he invited me to come see his show. I had to decline, though I don’t remember why I had to decline.

Then, on January 26, I got an online message from Sinbad. He would be performing at the Cleveland Rocksino that night and wanted me to come to his show. This time, what with Black Lightning being such a big hit, I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to meet this Black Lightning fan.

Despite the less-than-adequate weather and none of my family being able to attend, I drove to the Rocksino. This was my first visit to the casino. It’s not awe-inspiring, but it’s pretty nice. I hope to return when we’re past the winter weather.

When I picked up my ticket, I got the third degree from the person at the “call” window. How did I get tickets for this sold out show? How was I a friend of Sinbad? What did Sinbad have to do with this Black Lightning? Honestly, I wanted to pop the arrogant jerk in the snoot.

The usher who seated me was a different story. When I asked about the logistics of meeting Sinbad afterwards, he thought I had bought a VIP pass. When he learned I was Sinbad’s invited guest and why, he was thrilled to talk with the creator of Black Lightning. Never doubt that we comic-book fans are everywhere!

Sinbad’s opening act was a young comedian named Chase Anthony. He was pretty good. A little rough around the edges, but I can see him becoming a headliner sooner rather than later. Anthony remained on the stage while Sinbad performed, giving Sinbad someone to play off on. They made a good team. I was impressed that Anthony could also handle that role so well.

Sinbad’s act was wonderful. He started with Cleveland material that killed. Some of it might have been existing material he could adapt for any city, but most of it was Cleveland all the way. He did his homework. He went on to perform for about two hours, switching effortlessly from material about marriage to parenthood to politics and to every day stuff. With the exception of an asshat who took loud offense to his jokes about the Dumpster President, the audience loved him. If GOP-holes don’t want to feel uncomfortable listening to such comedy, maybe they should stop drinking the cyanide-laced fruit juice.

I was impressed by Sinbad’s performance and writing. I’ll never again pass on an opportunity to see him on stage. He's great!

There seemed to be a bit of a mix-up with the back stage security. I was originally told I would be brought back stage immediately. I ended up waiting with about a dozen folks who had VIP passes. After a wait of about fifteen minutes, we were all brought back stage to meet Sinbad.

The minute Sinbad saw me, he made a beeline for me and hugged me. While the other back stage guests waited patiently, we talked about Black Lightning and the comics and the TV show. We could have gone on all night, but I feel funny about keeping the others waiting for their moment with Sinbad. We talked for about fifteen minutes and then said goodbye.

Here’s some of what I learned in those fifteen minutes:

Until the TV series was announced, Sinbad had hoped that, some day, his filmmaker son Royce would make a Black Lightning movie. I like Royce already. Who knows? The crazy way my life is going, I might get a chance to work with both of them on something.

Black Lightning executive producer Mara Brock Akil used to work for Sinbad on The Sinbad Show. That was a 1993-1994 sitcom starring the comedian as a bachelor raising two orphaned children. I will track this series down. It sounds like something I’d enjoy.

Sinbad would love to appear on Black Lightning, even if all he did was a walk by scene. Hypothetically speaking, if I were to pitch a couple of second season episodes to the show, I think there would be roles for Sinbad in both of them. I’m just saying.

If I write more Black Lightning comic books for DC and legal signs off on it, I could see Sinbad appearing in a story either “playing” himself or being the model for a character.

But I’d much rather see Sinbad on the TV series. I really want to see a publicity shot of TV’s two Black Lightnings. Cress Williams and Sinbad. Come on, you want to see that, too!

One last thing. I was truly moved by Sinbad’s obvious love for my creation and my writing. He had Chase snap a photo of us and then posted it online. Seeing what he wrote about me was another amazing moment in a life now filled with amazing moments. I can’t wait to see what happens next in this third act of mine.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with a bloggy preview of The Cleveland ConCoction, the convention I’ll be attending Friday through Sunday. It’s gonna be terrific!

© 2018 Tony Isabella