Thursday, January 18, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #242

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Mark Vogel’s psychedelic Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture; Babes in Arms: Women in the Comics During the Second World War by Trina Robbins; and The 1964 New York Comicon: The True Story Behind the World’s First Comic Convention by J. Ballman!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

BLACK LIGHTNING BEAT 1/15/18

If I were reading this bloggy thing, what I would most like to read about today would be the star-studded DC Comics in D.C. event held this past weekend in our nation’s capital. The keystone of that stellar event was the world premiere of the Black Lightning TV series. And I am going to write about the huge deal that was. But I’m going to write about it tomorrow.

Today...you get a Black Lightning mission statement and an amusing in the “It’s funny because it happened to someone else” school of comedy telling of the journey my son Ed and I took in traveling to Washington, D.C. We’ll start with the heavy stuff, work our way to the funny stuff and, hopefully tie it all together so that you’ll be slapping your foreheads and saying “I saw how he did that.” Or maybe not. This isn’t an exact science.

Black Lightning is much bigger than Tony Isabella. Black Lightning is bigger than the comic books, the TV series and all the talented  people who have worked on the comics and the TV series. All these people, myself most especially, must recognize that and recognize the great responsibility that comes with being associated with this character. The question we must always ask ourselves is not what we would do, but what Jefferson Pierce would do. I think of Jefferson as the man I want to be. The TV show’s Salim Akil has said this as well. We didn’t share that thought with one another. It was simply the unspoken engine which drives us both.
 
I began to recognize and understand and embrace this mission when I started attending the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia. It started when black readers would come up to me, sometimes hugging me with tears forming in their eyes and tell me Black Lightning was the first comic they ever bought for themselves  because it’s the first time they saw themselves in a comic. In all fairness, for other readers, they can probably say the same for the comic books featuring the Black Panther, the Falcon or Luke Cage. But, as the creator of Black Lightning, it was a profound moment to realize how important my character was to so many readers. It was a life-changing moment.

I have told the tale of how, growing up in the very segregated city of Cleveland, my first black friends were comic-book fans met when they attended meetings of the Graphic Arts Society comics club I’d founded and which held monthly meetings at the Cudell Recreation Center. Yes, the same place where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by police officers who should not have been police officers. The horror of Tamir’s slaying will never diminish and, even when I think of those fun meetings, I can never forget the terrible crime that was committed by those officers and the loss of a young life that should not have ended there.

Those three comic club friends - Bruce Burke, Leroy Crayton, Dennis Knowles - were the start of the journey that has defined much of my comics career. “Diversity” wasn’t in my vocabulary back then. But I thought there was something fundamentally unfair about the lack of black comics heroes for my friends. When I started working for Marvel Comics in 1972, I eagerly embraced assignments on Hero for Hire and Black Goliath.

My work on those Marvel heroes was why DC Comics wanted me to write a black super-hero for them. They handed me two completed scripts of an amazingly offensive title called Black Bomber. I refused to “punch up” those scripts and take over writing the series with its third issue. I convinced DC to kill the series and created my own super-hero. Black Lightning.

There have been ups and downs with my relationship with DC Comics. There was an unintentional glitch in inviting me to the “DC Comics in D.C.” event. But, once DC was aware of that glitch, the company and its representatives bent over backwards to include me and make me feel like an honored guest. I’ll tell you that story in my next bloggy thing. Or maybe, given how long-winded I can get, I’ll start telling that story.

The mission statement:

Everyone working on Black Lightning, whether it be in the comics or on the TV series recognizes the importance of Jefferson Pierce and his story. Everyone working on Black Lightning is 100% committed to  bringing their dedication and talent to the work. It is a honor to be part of this. It is a responsibility to always give our best to this work.

******************************

Now that you have the mission statement, let me tell you how much it took to get me and my son Ed to the “DC Comics in D.C.” event. It was a harrowing adventure lacking only in Nazis for me to punch and snakes for me to dread.

Okay. That might be an exaggeration.

DC booked us for a noon-ish flight on Friday. We would have arrived in plenty of time to see a special screening of the Batman: Gotham by Gaslight animated feature and enjoy dinner with Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and others. Then United Airlines canceled that flight, putting us on a flight scheduled to leave at eight in the evening. So the movie and dinner were off the table, but we would still get to D.C. in time to get a full night’s sleep.

Because the snow-covered roads weren’t being cleaned efficiently or at all, my daughter Kelly drove us to the airport hours before our flight was due to leave. When we checked out bags, we learned that our flight had been delayed by an hour.

We had a nice meal at The Pub, one of the better restaurants at the airport, then headed to our gate. Where we learned our flight had been delayed again. This would keep happening for the next couple hours. Finally, the gate attendant told us we would be departing at midnight. The crew on the plane, which was coming from New Jersey, were going to fly us to Washington D.C.

Two things you should know. Just to build suspense. We were flying United, which is far from my favorite airline at the best of times and, besides us, there were only two other passengers booked on the flight. Both were young women, one of whom had been waiting for a flight since nine in the morning.

The weather was much improved by the time the flight arrived at our gate. The arriving passengers deplaned. We had been told the crew was good to go. Then, just as we were waiting to board, we learned the flight was cancelled. We would not be able to leave until six in the morning on Saturday.

You will never convinced me that United cancelled this flight for any other reason that the airline didn’t want to fly with just we four passengers. Their bottom line was the only concern...and they made no further accommodations for us.

Okay, they did give the young women blankets since they were going to try to sleep on the floor. The United personnel acted as if they were handing out cloth of spun gold.

The airport hotel was booked, but, even if there had been rooms for us, United would not have paid for them.

There would be no food or travel vouchers given to compensate us for the gross inconvenience.

When I request the United Air Club be opened so that we could, at least, sleep on comfortable couches, we were told that was utterly impossible. I briefly considered breaking into the club. I have skills I don't talk about.

The young women tried to sleep, but, when we saw them later, they told us they had managed maybe a restless hour apiece. It’s no fun to sleep in a nearly deserted airport.

Ed didn’t fare better. He tried to sleep on the only row of seats in the area that had three seats in a row without armrests. But the overhead lights were too bright and the continuous music was too loud. I didn’t even try to sleep. What I did do, being a cup half full kind of fellow, was make a new friend.

Sylvia is an always-smiling black women in her late 40s. She drives one of those electric carts used to carry passengers who might have difficulty navigating the long airport terminals wherever they have to go. She was waiting on a long-delayed flight to arrive and just tooling around the terminal.

I was walking around the terminal trying to get a jump on my Fitbit steps for the day when she pulled up alongside me and asked me if I wanted a ride. This was a smile that could not be refused, so I accepted.

We spent a hour or more just driving around the terminal. She asked where I was going and why. I told her about the “DC in D.C.” event and about Black Lightning. She told me about her previous career as a teacher and was excited to hear Jefferson Pierce was a teacher in the comic books and a principal on the TV series. She knows young men who have a knack for drawing and who read comic books, so we’re keeping in touch. The plan is for me to talk to the kids about all the skills that go into making comic books.

We talked about our children and our lives. I tried to cajole her into an electric cart race. She drove me to the airport’s Dunkin Donuts, which was the only 24-hour eatery in the place and waited until I got an egg sandwich. We kept checking on my son and the two young women to make sure they were safe. It was an unexpectedly fun way to kill some time during an otherwise horrible night.

Her late flight arrived, so she drove me back to the gate where Ed has trying to sleep. I gave her my card so she could contact me at some later date. Hugs were exchanged.

I was still pissed off at United. I plan on giving them what for in an email complaint. I don’t plan on ever flying the airline again unless there’s no other choice. But, all the same, I can’t say I’m sorry that I made a new friend. That’s what’s life should be about, especially in a country where we have a Dumpster president and his Republican allies who constantly try to drive Americans apart with their bigotry and hate speech.

Four hours later, our completely packed airplane left Cleveland at its scheduled departure time. Sure, it was going to an airport a half-hour further away from our destination than the airport where we had originally been scheduled to land. Sure, the taxi ride cost us $75 as opposed to the $15 for our Sunday morning ride to our original airport. But, at least, we were on our way to Washington, D.C. and one of the best days of my life.

I’ll tell you all about that electrifying day in tomorrow’s bloggy thing. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, January 15, 2018

MADE SOME NEW FRIENDS

I'll get back to blogging as soon as possible. There are one or two things I have to do today. But I hope to be back no later than tomorrow to regale you with tales of my recent adventures and so much cool Black Lightning stuff.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

BLACK LIGHTNING BEAT 1/11/18

There’s a lot going on with Black Lightning right now. There will be a star-studded premiere of the TV series at this weekend’s “DC in D.C.” event in Washington, D.C. I’ll be there as a guest of DC Comics, for which I thank them. Expect a full report on the event sometime next week.

Popping up all over are Black Lightning billboards, subway posters, magazine ads, TV ads and even, in Times Square, a Black Lightning tour bus. Advance reviews of the TV series have been nothing less than spectacular.

The six-issue Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands comics series by me, artist Clayton Henry, colorist Pete Pantazis, letterer Josh Reed, associate editor Harvey Richards and group editor Jim Chadwick has been getting great reviews online. I’ve been doing a whole bunch of interviews in support of both the comic book and the TV series. It is an exciting time for me.

I’ll be covering all of the above in future installments of “Black Lightning Beat,” but, for today, I want to go back away and speak about the importance of giving proper credit where credit is due. Warning: what seems to be ethical and straightforward to me might not seem that way to others.

Black Lightning Volume 2 [$19.99] will be hitting the comics shops any day now. For the first time ever, this trade paperback collects  my creation’s major appearances following his original 1970s run. I wrote a new introduction for the book, which is only fair since I was the guy who suggested and urged DC to do this book before a collection of my 1990s Black Lightning stories. I wanted to see as many Black Lightning stories back in print as possible and I wanted to see some talented writers and artists pick up some of that sweet reprint money. I aspire to a niceness that often eludes me at other times in my life.

Writers represented in this volume are Denny O’Neil, Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko, Paul Kupperberg and J.M. DeMatteis. The pencillers: Dick Dillin, George Tuska, Rich Buckler, Marshall Rogers, Mike Nasser, Romeo Tanghal, Joe Staton, Pat Broderick, Dick Giordano and Gerald Forton. It’s a terrific roster.

My delight over seeing my contributor’s copies of this collection was unfortunately marred by an embarrassing credit mistake. As I’ve told anyone who would listen and some who don’t want to hear from me ever again, the official creator credit line is: Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden.

DC Comics got it wrong in Black Lightning Volume Two. The company, through its representatives, have apologized for the credit error. They have promised to correct in the digital copies of the volume and in any future print editions. I accepted their apology because, if a lifetime in the comics industry has taught me anything, it’s that mistakes happen and they usually happen without malice. But do not equate my understanding with my being okay with this mistake. It pisses me off. It will always piss me off.

“With” might not seem like a huge difference from “and,” but there are reasons this revised credit line is part of my agreement with DC Comics. I’ve been reluctant to spell this out. My aim in writing and insisting on the revised credit this way was always intended to make the revised credit line ambiguous and open to interpretation. That has proven to be a mistake on my part.

I consider myself the creator of Black Lightning. Not a co-creator. The creator. As I have stated in many interviews over the decades, everything important about Jefferson Pierce and Black Lightning was created by me before I brought my creation to DC Comics. This was recognized by DC Comics with the original creator credit line that appeared in all of the character’s appearances during his original 1970s run and his solo stories in World’s Finest Comics.

This creator credit line was changed without my knowledge and in violation of my agreement with DC Comics when Black Lightning began appearing in Detective Comics. A writer, taking his cue from what he’d seen in movies and on TV, changed it to “Based on a character created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden.” That credit was a false on two counts. The character he wrote was not based on Black Lightning as created by me. It was Black Lightning created by me. Nor was Trevor von Eeden, as much as he contributed artistically to my first series, an actual co-creator of Black Lightning.

The further revised creator line of “Created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden" began appearing immediately after I inquired about buying out DC’s interest in Black Lightning. This was not, as I saw it then and see it today, remotely a coincidence. The DC editor/executive who allowed it was attempting to diminish my ownership claim to the character.

Some will claim that the original Black Lightning costume, in which my friend Trevor played a key role, is worthy of co-creator status. However, there were three other people involved in designing that original costume. I came up with the lightning piping on the suit and what I called the “Captain America boots.” Bob Rozakis came up with the Afro-mask. Joe Orlando opened up the shirt on the original costume because he wanted to show more of the hero’s black skin. Trevor pulled it all together with his own design elements. It was a good looking costume for the times. Disco was fun in the 1970s, too, but its time has passed as well.

There have been several Black Lightning costumes since then. None have materially changed the nature of my creation. Yes, some less-than-adequate writers have screwed up the character, but, today, in the new comic-book series and the TV series, we again have a Black Lightning faithful to my creation’s core values. With nary an Afro-mask or 1970s disco vibe in sight. Still, times have changed since 1976 and a newer sensibility is in place when it comes to listing the creators of comic books and comic-book characters.

Current comics industry standard is to list both the writer and the artist as co-creators. Do not mistake this convention for absolute accuracy. Sometimes a writer is the actual creator. Sometimes the artist is the actual creator. Sometimes an editor plays a key role in the creator of a character. The comics industry standard is more a convenience for the bookkeepers than verifiable historical fact. Editor Mort Weisinger was, at the very least, a co-creator of Green Arrow and Aquaman and other characters launched during his tenure at DC Comics, but you never see him created as such.

When DC Comics and I started negotiating an agreement to cover our past and future relationship, the Black Lightning creator line was a vital part of those negotiations. Some of the suggestions would have taken up two or three lines of copy, much as does the current credit on the Superman titles. I thought the longer suggestions for Black Lightning were clunky. The line that all parties eventually agreed upon was one suggested and written by me: Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden. That’s the credit line DC is legally obligated to use at all times.

SIDEBAR. That official credit line will probably not be used in the TV series. I was given the choice of two credit lines for the show. I chose the one preferred by Warner Bros because I recognize that comic books and TV shows, even those that draw from the same basic material and share the same core values, are not the same thing. I don’t know how the credit line for Salim and Mara Brock Akil will read in the TV series, but they definitely deserve to be credited for their work in developing and creating the TV version of Black Lightning. And I’m 100% fine with that. END OF SIDEBAR.

Here’s what the “with” in the official Black Lightning credit line means to me:

It means that I am the sole creator of Black Lightning while also recognizing Trevor’s contribution to the art of the original 1970s series. I never wanted Trevor to be ignored. I always wanted my friend to share in the financial rewards earned from the character. But do I consider him the co-creator of Black Lightning? I do not. I consider him the co-creator of Tobias Whale and some of the other supporting characters in the first 1970s series because, based on my script descriptions, he designed those characters. That’s what the official credit line means to me.

If you disagree with the above, well, that’s why I wrote the credit line to be somewhat ambiguous. However, whether you disagree with my interpretation, the official credit line is the official credit line. If you don’t use it, you commit an error of fact. Or, as in the case of one seedy comics news site, you’re just being bloody assholes. How sad to have that be one’s main claim to fame.

In the best of all possible worlds, when writers write about movies and TV shows born of comics, they would credit the comics creators who conceived the characters and situations in those shows. After all, it only takes one more sentence to say Green Arrow was created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. When you have an ensemble show like Legends of Tomorrow that features multiple leads, I understand not listing every creator of every character in your news article. I accept that most mainstream writers don’t care about or even know the writers and artists who created the characters. That’s a change that will be long time coming. If it ever comes.

But when it comes to comics websites - Bleeding Cool, Comics Beat, Comic Book Resources. Comics Reporter and all the others - there’s no excuse not to credit the comic-book creators and to credit them properly. These comics creators are of the tribe, so to speak. They are your people. They deserve your respect. They deserve that one more sentence it takes to show them that respect. To fail to do so is wrong. To deliberately fail to do so is dickish.

That’s what I wanted to say today. I’ll be finishing up some loose ends tomorrow in preparation for my weekend trip to Washington D.C. and the sure-to-be-sensational “DC in D.C.” event that includes the world premieres of the Batman: Gotham By Gaslight animated feature and the Black Lightning TV series.

I’ll be back on Monday, January 15, with the first installment of an entire week’s worth of “Black Lightning Beat” columns. We’ve got a lot to talk about. See you on Monday.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 132

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 132nd installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.

The Rawhide Kid #145 [May 1978] has a cover by Gene Colan (pencils) and Alan Weiss (inks). It’s an exciting cover, but it has nothing to do with the story inside the issue. Which might be a good thing as it turns out.
                                                                              

This issue reprints “Shotgun to Deadwood” from The Rawhide Kid #61 [December 1967]. The 17-page tale was written by Gary Friedrich, penciled by Dick Ayers and inked by Vince Colletta. Remarkably and unfortunately, this is the fourth time the story appeared in this series. It was reprinted earlier in Rawhide Kid #93 [November 1971) and Rawhide Kid #132 [March 1976].

I say “unfortunately” because the story is one of the most racist treatments of Native Americans in Marvel’s western comics. When I first discussed it on July 10, 2103, I wrote:

The story’s portrayal of Native Americans leaves a real bad taste in my mouth.  No demeaning cliche is ignored.  They are “redskins” and "savages."  They are working for Black Jack because he gives them “firewater.” They turn tail and run the moment they are faced with more than one gunfighter. Bad stuff.

You can read that entire column here.
                                                                                

The inside front cover of this issue is an ad for the new Pizzazz magazine. Unlike the Pizzazz ad in the previous issue, I think this one might have come out of the Marvel bullpen. At the very least, it features a quartet of Marvel heroes.

The paid ads were the usual mix. The half-page Jack Davis werewolf as for Slim Jim meat snacks was back. The rest of the page was the Grit newspaper recruitment ad for salesmen to hawk the paper. This time out, it took the form of a badly-drawn “The Adventures of Gritboy” comic strip.
                                                                                      

The Official Star Wars Fan Club has a full-page ad. The membership fee was five bucks, for which you got a poster, a transfer for a t-shirt, a jacket patch, a self-stick color decal, a Star Wars book cover, newsletter, membership card, an 8 by 10 color photo and also a wallet-size photo. The items were said to have been designed for the exclusive use of the fan club.

The usual three pages of classified ads are down to two-and-a-half pages this issue. There are 23 ads for mail-order dealers selling comic books, down just one from the previous issue. Also back is an ad for comics storage bags. The cost is three bucks per a hundred 3 mil bags.
                                                                                
Running through the other non-comics ads: Park-Rider skateboards; Universal muscle-building; Clark candy bars; a mail-order course in customizing cars and such; Sales Leadership Club soliciting folks to sell greeting cards for prizes or cash; 100 little dolls for $3; Fun Factory novelty items; Mike Marvel’s strong arms exercises; a secret agent spy-scope for your budding voyeur; and Olympic Sales Club looking for any suckers the Sales Leadership Club didn’t hook. The back cover ad was for Louisville Slugger collectors items like a bat ballpoint pen with a Johnny Bench autograph (fifty cents) and your choice of a bat pen and pencil set featuring autographs from either Reggie Jackson or Pete Rose ($1).  
                                                                                

Superhero Merchandise aka Heroes World has its usual full-page ad, but this one is focused on Star Wars. A Darth Vader costume with cape and mask cost $5.44 (including shipping). A “lazar sword” was $8.70. A selection of Star Wars books were also offered, ranging in price from $2 to $8.45. The Heroes Worlds ads were produced by Joe Kubert and his Kubert School students. There seems to be a lot of Kubert himself in this ad.

This issue’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page listed Archie Goodwin as editor; Jim Shooter as associate editor; Roger Stern, Jo Duffy, Ralph Macchio and Jim Salicrup as assistant editors; Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby as consulting editors; John Romita and Marie Severin as art directors; John Verpoorten as the production manager; and Irving Forbush as Fast-acting enzyme.

“Stan Lee’s Soapbox” tells of a young Virginia Polytech University professor who remarked sadly that the column seemed to have moved from Stan talking about philosophy and such to just plugging Marvel products. Our fearless leader promises the column will once again be what it once was.

In other news...

Marvel won a bunch of Great Britain’s 1976 Eagle Awards. Howard the Duck won for Favorite New Comic and Favorite Humor Comic with Steve Gerber and John Buscema winning Favorite Single Comic Book Story. Conan was voted Favorite Comic Book Character with Savage Sword of Conan getting Favorite Dramatic Comics Magazine. Chris Claremont won Favorite British Comics Writer for his work on Captain Britain. X-Men was named Favorite Dramatic Comic.

Special releases in February included Spider-Man Pocket Book #2, a reprint collection. Also released were a Marvel Treasury Edition starring the Defenders and Crazy Magazine’s “Annual Idiot Issue.”

The Bullpen welcomed Dickie McKenzie as a new Marvel proofreader.

Artist Bob Hall was lauded for both his comics work and for “The Passion of Dracula,” a stage play. That was followed by a plug for Tomb of Dracula by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.

The page ended with a “Coming Soon” image of Ms. Marvel in her new costume. Which I seem to recall was designed by Dave Cockrum.
                                                                          

This month’s comic-book style Hostess ad was “Thor Meets A Glutton for Gold.” The villainous Gudrun the Golden wants all the gold in Asgard, but is distracted from his goal by “golden bars of rich, moist cake. AKA Twinkies. Based on my limited art detective skills, I think John Buscema penciled this one-page strip.
                                                                                 

The last editorial page of this issue is a three-fourths of a page illustration of the Outlaw Kid by John Romita, Jr. Along with the drawing is the announcement that, beginning next issue, the Outlaw Kid will be joining the Rawhide Kid line-up of western super-stars. Four-page Outlaw Kid reprints will appear from issues #146 through #151, the final issue of the title.
                                                                              

The bottom fourth of this page is annual “Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation” required by law. In the previous year, the average total paid circulation of The Rawhide Kid was 108,622 copies per issue, down from the previous year’s 143,972. For the single issue nearest to the filling date, the title sold 104,171 copies, down from the previous year’s 129,305. This year’s numbers continued the downward trend. The total paid circulation of Rawhide Kid was 98,978. The paid circulation of the issue published nearest to the September 20, 1977 filing date was 96,378. When I worked at Marvel circa 1973 or so, I was once told that any title that sold less than 100,000 copies was likely to be cancelled.

That wraps up this installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” We have but six more issues to go until we reach the end of the trail for this title. Look for the next rip-roaring installment in just seven short days.

Tomorrow’s bloggy thing will be the first of several installments of “Black Lightning Beat.” With the Black Lightning TV show getting a star-studded premiere in Washington D.C. this week, with the show making its CW premiere on Tuesday, January 16, and with the great reviews the six-issue Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands comic book series is receiving, I decided to devote the rest of this week and most of next week to Black Lightning. Besides, it’s all anyone asks me about of late.

Power up, my friends. I’ll see you tomorrow.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #241

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Invincible Iron Man, Infamous Iron Man, Tara O’Connor’s Roots and Megumi Morino’s Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty!

Friday, January 5, 2018

ADDENDUM

While the bloggy thing will be back on Wednesday and Thursday, there will be no bloggy things on Friday through Sunday as I will be at the "DC Comics at D.C." event in Washington, D.C.

BACK ON WEDNESDAY

I've been occupied with some business and personal matters. Look for "Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing" to resume on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 131

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 131st installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.

The Rawhide Kid #144 [March 1978] has another terrific Gil Kane cover. This would be Kane’s last cover for the series. Subsequent covers would be by Gene Colan, Tony DeZuniga and others.
                                                                                 

This issue reprints “Frontier Fury” from The Rawhide Kid #112 [June 1973], just five years earlier. The cover to that issue was drawn by Larry Lieber (pencils) and Herb Trimpe (inks). In its original version, “Frontier Fury” ran 14 pages. For this reprinting, a full page was cut. Cutting pages from reprints was the job I most hated when I was working on Marvel’s color reprint titles. Thinking about it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

“Frontier Fury” was written and drawn by Larry Lieber with inks by George Roussos. It was one of the first Rawhide Kid stories I saw in various stages of progress. I was sharing an office with George and Larry was a frequent visitor.
                                                                              

Page six was cut from the original story to fit the page count of the reprint. I have included that missing page for you. The first caption of the original page seven was charged from...

And the ruthless landgrabber hasn’t long to wait!

...to what you see in this panel from the reprint.
                                                                              

I wrote about “Frontier Fury” on January 18, 2017. You can read my comments here.

This issue’s paid advertising is much the same as it has been for months. The inside front cover is the Johnston Smith company with its cheap-ass novelty items. Inside the issue, there’s a half-page ad for cheap-ass stuff from the Fun Factory. There’s another full-page ad for “Super Sea Monkeys,” but also a full-page ad for Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew t-shirts.
                                                                                   

Jack Davis drew another monster-themed half-page ad for Slim Jim meat snacks, which are “A little less than a meal. A little more than a snack.” Grit has a half-page ad looking for salespeople to sell the newspaper. There are also half-page ads for Clark candy bars and Mike Marvel’s secrets of developing strong arms.

Two more full-page fitness ads are in the issue. Something called “Synometrics” promises to turn belly fat into a rock-hard and lean stomach. Universal Bodybuilding offers a course they claim will put inches of powerful muscles on your body.
                                                                            
The inside back cover advertises “A Galaxy of Star Wars Treasures.” These include back packs, tote bags, t-shirts and more. The back cover has the American Seed Company signing up salespeople to sell seeds, make money and get prizes. Ho-hum!

There are the usual three pages of classified-style ads with 24 ads for mail-order dealers selling old comics. That’s up two from last issue. The only other comics-related ad is one for 3 mil comic-book storage bags. The cost is three bucks per a hundred bags.
                                                                              

Superhero Merchandise aka Heroes World has its usual full-page ad. The headline item is the Spider-Man Web-Maker. For $3.08, you got a tube of web-maker, Spider-Man, Green Goblin and Mary Jane plastic figures, a three-dimensional belt clip to hold your web-maker and a 3-D play city that pops out of the back of the package. The other advertised items: a Conn Hyperborean map ($5.45); Conan Gazetter ($5.45); posters of Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man and the Hulk ($3.10 each; all four for $10.23); and 38 x 50" wall buster posters of the Hulk and Spider-Man ($4.25 each).

Marvel’s half-page subscription ad, which we saw last issue, runs again in this issue. No changes that I could see.
                                                                                  

There was a new and frankly underwhelming full-page ad for Pizzazz, deemed “the new monthly magazine designed to appeal to the hearts and minds of young readers.” Nothing about this advertisement says “Marvel” to me. Not the art. Not the copy. I’m going to speculate that this ad was not produced by the Bullpen.
                                                                                 

This issue’s non-series short story is “The Legend of Grizzly-Bear Baker!” from Two-Gun Kid #68 [March 1964]. It’s written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Keller.

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


Tempers are short in the town saloon as two jerks argue about how many men legendary lawman Grizzly-Bear Baker shot in his day. One man is convinced it was over a hundred. The other says Baker never shot more than fifty owlhoots. The saloon owner tries to calm them down. It doesn’t work.

The two men start fighting. It’s fists at first, but then they get ready to shoot it out with one another. The saloon owner tells them to knock it off. They taunt him. Bad move.

The old gent punches them in their chins. One man starts to draw on the saloon owner, who kicks the gun out of the man’s hand. When the other man draws on him, the old man shoots the gun out of his hand. I think you know where this is going, but why don’t I let the last two panels of the story speak for themselves?
                                                                                    

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


This isn’t exactly a classic story, but it’s a fun one. Stan Lee’s script is to the point. Jack Keller’s art is clean with excellent storytelling. If anyone was doing comics like this today, I’d buy them. Maybe I should do comics like this today.

This issue’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page listed Archie Goodwin as editor; Jim Shooter as associate editor; Roger Stern, Jo Duffy, Ralph Macchio and Jim Salicrup as assistant editors; Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby as consulting editors; John Romita and Marie Severin as art directors; John Verpoorten as the production manager; and Irving Forbush as corporate non-entity. The absence of Len Wein, who had moved over to DC Comics, was not noted in this bulletins page.

“Stan Lee’s Soapbox” is a nice change-of-pace from the plug-a-thons of recent issues. Stan wrote about the lectures he gives at various colleges. He made sport of his poor memory and professed a special love for the question-and-answer portion of those talks. He loved having to think fast on his feet.

In other news...

Marvel Comics Super Special #2 would feature Conan the Barbarian in a novel-length epic based on a story by Robert E. Howard (Conan’s creator) and adapted by Roy Thomas and John Buscema with finished art by Alfredo Alcala.

Spider-Woman would soon debut in her own title. She was “revamped, redesigned and refined to a fare-thee-well” by writer Marv Wolfman and artists Carmine Infantino and Tony DeZuniga.

Luke Cage gets a new direction with his fiftieth issue as his book becomes Power Man and Iron Fist.

Jack Kirby’s new titles - Devil Dinosaur and Machine Man - will go on sale next month.

A coming issue of the black-and-white Marvel Preview will feature “The U.F.O. Connection” by writer David Anthony Kraft and artists Herb Trimpe and Klaus Janson.

Ed Hannigan left his assistant editor’s post to become a full-time penciler with Jim Salicrup replacing him. Mary Ellen Beveridge, the “Lady of the Fan Letters” left that post to become a colorist. Her replacement was “Heavenly” Helen Katz.

Roger McKenzie is writing Daredevil and Ghost Rider. Keith Pollard is drawing Fantastic Four and Iron Man.

Ron Haydock, who wrote many articles for Monsters of the Movies and other Marvel magazines, passed away.

The Bullpen Bulletins page ends with teases. A secret project being worked on by George Perez and David Anthony Kraft. Plus planning sessions with Stan Lee, Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum over an unnamed super-heroine.
                                                                                

No more editorial pages in the issue, but we do get Spider-Man in an Hostess Cup Cakes ad drawn by Sal Buscema. In “Spider-Man Spoils a Snatch,” some criminal is projecting multiple images of himself as he steals a precious gem. Spidey tosses cup cakes on the floor to make the villain reveal his true self...because nothing human can resist Hostess Cup Cakes.
 
That wraps up this installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” We have seven more issues to go until the end of the trail for this title. Look for the next guns-a’-blazing installment in just seven short days.

For tomorrow’s bloggy thing, I’ll write about my recent adventures in Cleveland. That will be followed by anywhere from one to three installments of “Black Lightning Beat.” There’s a lot to cover on that front.

Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll see you tomorrow.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

LAST CHANCE INTERVIEWS

If you want to interview me and haven't yet locked down an interview with me, you have until the end of business on Friday to do so. After that, the only interviews I will schedule will be those set up by DC Comics or the Black Lightning TV series. I need to concentrate on my writing.

Even if you've contacted me before - and this does not apply to the interviews I confirmed today - you need to contact me again. But not here.
 
Send me an email at
 
tonyisa at ohio dot net

I prefer to do e-mail interviews, but will do my level best to accommodate requests for phone interviews and even Skype interviews. However...

If all you want to talk about is the Black Lightning TV show - and I do realize what a big deal that is - you're going to the back of the line. Any interviews MUST include my work on Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands.

My love for the TV series is pure and true and boundless. But so is my love for my comic-book writing. I don't want that overlooked.

I am having surgery on January 8th. I expect to be back at work the next day. Keep that in mind when scheduling your interview with me.

Black Lightning's back! And so am I!

Tony Isabella

HALLOWEEN COMICFEST #5

Hey, kids! It’s time for our final look at the free comics given out for Halloween ComicFest.

Halloween ComicFest is the celebration of Halloween and comics! The event takes place October 28th at participating comic shops. FREE Halloween themed comics are available, along with a chance for fans to participate in "The Greatest Halloween Costume Contest Ever!" It’s a great event for comic and Halloween fans of all ages!
 
Like Free Comic Book Day, Halloween ComicFest happens but once a year. Every year, I get the books from my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. Some of the comics are digest-size and some are full-size. After receiving them - there were thirty comics for 2017 - I read and reviewed them. I judged the individual issues on three criteria:

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want to buy more of the same?

On a scale of zero to ten, each of those criteria is worth up to three points. Tony awards the elusive tenth point when he deems a FCBD offering particularly worthy.

Archie’s Madhouse Returns 2017 [Archie Comics] was a 16-page, full-color digest-size comics. It featured the 11-page “The House on Oak Street” by Rich Margopoulos with art by Gene Colan (pencils) and Rudy Lapick (inks), the one-page “Shadow of Doubt” gag strip and a cover by Bill Galvin. The Margopoulos/Colan story first appeared in  Life with Archie #278 [May 1990].

QUALITY: The lead story centered around an old house, which is said to be haunted. Archie is drawn to the house where, after a chilling night, he learns its secret. Solid writing combines with the fluid art of the legendary Colan for a good story. I especially loved how Colan could balance his distinctive style with the traditional look of the Archie characters. The one-page gag strip made me chuckle.

ACCESSIBILITY: The traditional Archie characters are so well known that almost any reader will be able to follow the story. There is a reason, often lost on current Archie writers and artists, these characters are still considered classic.

SALESMANSHIP: The inside front cover has an ad for nine different Archie collections. Only three of them feature the kind of stories
seen in this free comic book.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.

                                                                                  

Battle Angel Alita [Kodansha Comics] was a 32-page, full-size comic book featuring excerpts from the Battle Angel Alita Deluxe Edition, Sailor Moon Eternal Edition and the Akira 35th Anniversary Edition. The comic also contained several ads for Kodansha publications.

QUALITY: Varies. The Akira excerpt was the best written and drawn of the trio. The Sailor Moon excerpt was the most fun. The Battle Angel Alita excerpt didn’t hook me.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Akira and Sailor Moon excerpts were pretty easy to get into. There wasn’t enough of the Battle Angel Alita story to clue me in on what it was about.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are ads for collections of all three series. Plus ads for some other publications.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.

                                                                              

Grimm Tales of Terror Volume 2 #9 [Zenescope] was a 32-page, full-color, full-size comic book. According to the inside front cover, “this terror-filled series re-imagines the creepy stories you know and love for a new generations of readers.” This free comic book presented “The Bogeyman,” a 22-page seemingly done-in-one story by Joe Brueha, Ralph Tedesco, Troy Brownfield and artist Eric J. But I could easily see it as being the opening chapter of an ongoing  series.

QUALITY: Good. It was a solid story that didn’t develop characters as well as it could have, but the writing and art were both better than average.

ACCESSIBILITY: The inside front cover had everything you needed to know. The story unfolded in a straightforward manner.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There was an ad for various Grimm Tales of Terror paperbacks and ads for other Zenescope titles. The emphasis on most of the covers was more cheesecake than adventure or horror.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.

                                                                                     

Hotel Transylvania “Kakieland Katastrophe” Hollywood ComicFest #1 [Papercutz] was a 16-page, full-color, digest-size comic. It had a 12-page excerpt from the graphic novel by writer Stefan Petrucha, artist Allen Gladfelter and colorist Laurie E. Smith. When Stephen Cling, wealthy owner of a nearby theme park, wants to expand his holdings, he turns a greedy eye on the Hotel Transylvania. Though the hotel has become human-friendly, Cling uses social media to get people scared of monsters again.

QUALITY: First-rate. The monsters were a likeable bunch. Cling was a devious rat. The excerpt contained funny moments and a serious sense of danger for Drac and his friends.

ACCESSIBILITY: Pretty good. An inside front cover by Jim Salicrup, Papercutz editor-in-chief, helped set up the basics of the series. Drac and the other Hotel folks are like their movie counterparts. If you’ve seen the movies, you know the characters.

SALESMANSHIP: Pretty good. That same inside front cover editorial tells you about Hotel Transylvania and Stitched, a second Papercutz graphic novel.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.

                                                                        

Pokemon Omega Alpha and Alpha Sapphire [Viz Media] was a 16-page, black-and-white digest-size comic book. It features a 12-page chunk of a manga series inspired by video games. Anything inspired by a video game automatically gets a point deducted. Hidenori Kusaka was credited with the story and Satoshi Yamamoto with the art.

QUALITY: Poor. There wasn’t anything in this excerpt that made me want to read more of the same.

ACCESSIBILITY: Poor. If you don’t play the video games, you have to go to Wikipedia to find out what the games are about. As there is no entry for the manga, I haven’t clue one on how closely it might follow the plot of the game.

SALESMANSHIP: Minimal. As in a single ad for the first manga volume tucked into the bottom portion of the inside front cover.

SCORE: Zero out of ten points.

                                                                                 

Shiver: Junji Ito Selected Stories [Viz Media] was a 36-page, black-and-white, full-sized comic book featuring a 32-page story by Ito. It was one of the nine short stories selected by the renowned horror author for his collection of the same name.

QUALITY: Very good. This was an honestly scary story about a cursed jade carving and the strange deadly effect it has on people. Based on this story, I plan to read more of Ito’s work.

ACCESSIBILITY: Since this was a done-in-one story, it was easy to follow from start to finish.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The inside front cover advertises Shiver while the back cover advertises other Ito books.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.

Today’s column concludes my reviews of 2017's Halloween ComicFest’s free comics. The next time I do something like this series will be when I receive the 2018 Free Comic Book Day offerings.

Coming up tomorrow: a new installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Monday, January 1, 2018

THE SHADOW #107: THE KILLER

From Sanctum Books...

The Shadow #107: The Killer & The Museum Murders [May 2016; $14.95] presents two full-length novels. Both were written by Walter B. Gibson, writing under the house name Maxwell Grant. The theme the novels share is...treasure. Bad people want it. The Shadow doesn’t want them to have it. I’ll overlook the hilarious trivia that there are no murders in the second novel.

The Killer hails from The Shadow Magazine dated November 1, 1933. From the back cover:

The Killer launches a campaign of serial murder until he makes an appointed with death - and The Shadow!

The Museum Murders first appeared in the January 1, 1943 issue of The Shadow Magazine. From the back cover:

Precious treasures are moved to secret strongholds for wartime safekeeping, leading to vicious robbery attempts by two gangs of murderous cutthroats!

Will Murray’s informative “Interlude” essays are the first thing I read when I pick up a Sanctum Books publication. Murray knows stuff I didn’t even know I didn’t know and I always learn a lot from his writings.

Editor/publisher Anthony Tollin also contributes terrific essays to  these books. This time around, he has a concise biography of Walter B. Gibson and background on the Iron Munro comics story that rounds out this issue.

Created by science fiction editor and writer John W. Campbell for the novel The Mightiest Machine, Iron Munro was reinvented for the comic books. His first several tales were adaptations of the novel. They ran in Shadow Comics. The hero moved to Army and Navy Comics and this story, the second drawn by George Tuska, appeared in the second issue of that title [August 1941].

The front cover for this volume was painted by George Rozen. Art on the back cover is by Rozen, William Timmins and George Tuska with the interior illustrations by Tom Lovell and Paul Orban.

ISBN 978-1-60877-208-7

Keep reading the bloggy thing for more information on Sanctum Books publications.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


TONY'S TIPS #240

This week's TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I write about what I'm currently reading, including Dan Gearino’s Comic Shop: The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture; Nozomu Tamaki’s Don’t Meddle with My Daughter, Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl!

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN DECEMBER

Writing today’s bloggy thing for the first day of a new year puts me in a reflective mood. With 2017 in the books, I look back on a year of incredible highs and lows and, of course, Black Lightning looms large in the former category.

Being a long-distance part, however small, of the Black Lightning TV series that will debut on January 16, is something I will never forget. Early on in my new relationship with DC Comics, I was asked to write a paper on the character’s core values. I have seen those values reflected in the TV show. Other TV series highlights would include: speaking with show runners Salim and Mara Brock Akil just as they began their wonderful work; seeing that first incredible trailer for the series; seeing the reaction to that trailer when it was shown at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention; meeting with the Black Lightning writers in Burbank; watching the growing excitement for the series in the fan and national media; watching the first episode with my family and seeing my writing incorporated into that amazing debut; and the indescribable emotions I felt as, early in the first episode, one of the cast members recites lines that have been central to the character from the beginning of the first Black Lightning comic book in 1977:

Justice, like lightning, shall ever appear, to some men hope and to other men fear.

In 1977, Sainted Wife Barb was able to accompany me to Pensacon in Pensacola and ECBACC in Philadelphia. At the latter, she got to see me receive the convention’s Lifetime Achievement Award with my dear friend Don McGregor. Barb and I and Don’s wife Marsha had a great time with each other and with Frank Lovece and Maitland McDonagh. More recently, Barb was my “plus one” at a terrific party and photo shoot for Cleveland Magazine, which has named me one of its most interesting people of 2018.

At every convention I attended, even the Godzilla-oriented G-Fest in Chicago, fans were excited for Black Lightning. My son Ed and I had a great time hanging out with other kaiju fans at G-Fest. We’ll be back for the 2018 convention.
                                                                              

Writing Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands has been the fulfillment of so many dreams and hopes. To be reunited with my creation and be able to write scripts which are every bit as good as the best work of my 45 years in comics is a blessing. To be working with some of the very best people I’ve ever worked with - artist Clayton Henry, editors Jim Chadwick and Harvey Richards, colorist Pete Pantazis, letterer Josh Reed, publicist Clark Bull and so many others - has been one of the very best experiences of my career.
                                                                                  

The Akron Comicon reunited and honored me, original Black Lightning artist Trevor von Eeden and our original BL editor Jack C. Harris at its yearly event. At a special dinner which Barb attended, they gave us gorgeous plaques for our work on Black Lightning. It was a weekend I’ll never forget, especially, followed as it was, by the overwhelmingly positive reactions to my new Black Lightning series, Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands.

I would remiss if I didn’t also mention Marvel Comics in this 2017 report. I wrote introductions for a number of collections of comics from the 1970s and had a ball doing so.
                                                                                

Marvel brought me to New York for a private screening of the first two episodes of The Defenders. Misty Knight co-creator Arvell Jones and his wife Wanda were there with others whose comics work was an inspiration for the show. I got to hang out in the city for a few days, rediscovering my love of my old Times Square neighborhood. I had dinner with Jim Salicrup one night and Larry Lieber on another night. I visited Midtown Comics, one of the most impressive comics shops in the world. I saw the latest Spider-Man movie at the AMC 25 on 42nd Street and was recognized by two young women who were huge comics fans. This was further evidence that the comics I’ve devoted my life to have become a big part of our entertainment and social world, enjoyed and respected around the world.

In 2017, I watched my children Ed and Kelly achieve great things in their careers. I watched Barb continue to care for her patients in often trying circumstances. I spent precious time with old friends and made new young friends that have become very dear to me, much as the older fans and professionals accepted me into their circles when I was in my teens and 20s. In many ways, at age 66, I feel as young as I ever did. A world of possibilities lies open before me.

But 2017 wasn’t without problems. On a personal level, after some professional slights, I had to remind myself and then readjust to the reality that, no matter how much progress has been made in the proper treatment of comics creators, it was always going to be a steep learning curve for companies and fans alike. There would be ups and downs. I’ve faced worse and have come out on top. I’ll do so again.

The comics industry was rocked by some of the same scandals we saw in the larger worlds of entertainment, politics and sports. There will be more of these to come. We will be angered and shocked. But our art form and industry will be better off in the long run. I’m beginning to think endurance and stubbornness may be as important to creators as craft, dedication and talent.

Also, on a personal level, this was the first holiday season where I didn’t send out cards, didn’t sent gifts to the clients who have been so good to me, didn’t make my usual year-end donations to the worthy causes I support. Unexpected demands on my time and funds, some of them medical in nature, drained my available resources. I do hope to be able to make those charitable donations in the first quarter of the new year.

We lost so many great people this year. Len Wein. Bernie Wrightson. Joan Lee. Flo Steinberg. June Foray. Rose Marie. Forgive me, but I can’t list all the dear ones who have passed. All have left behind great memories and great works. All will be remembered and missed.

When it comes to darkness in the old year and the world, few things can match what has happened to America. A dumpster president who is a bigot and a racist, a con man and a traitor, a misogynist and a egotist, a liar who spreads hate even as he dismantles all of the protections and safety nets in our society. It is completely beyond my comprehension how anyone who has a brain and a soul and a belief in the American dream can support this man. It is especially hard to know there are comics professional who align themselves with the worst elements in our country. Not a day goes by when the dumpster president doesn’t tell some new lie, spread some additional hate, enact some new atrocity. I despair that I will not live long enough to see my country get back on course. I know that I must and that we must all keep resisting those soulless horrors.

The purpose of my “things that make me happy” posts on Facebook and Twitter is to remind myself that, in the darkness of times, there are still people and events and stories that lift my spirits, that remind me of better times, that give me hope of those better times returning.

Here are the things that made me happy in December...

December 1: The granddaughter of one of the great comics creators for whom I posted a Facebook remembrance sent me a message thanking me for that. Remembering our own is a passion of mine. I’m honored to do so.

December 2: Making good progress on getting our garage clear enough for two of our four cars.

December 3: The Ohio State Buckeyes won the Big Ten Championship. My son Ed and his pals were at the game.
                                                                              

December 4: New books by Casey Daniels. Her latest Pepper Martin novel features the ghost of Eliot Ness. A second novel introduces Evie Barnum, museum curator, amateur sleuth, sister of P.T. Barnum. Looking forward to reading them.

December 5: My son Ed passed his certification test the first time out and attained the rank of “professional engineer.” Our family is very proud of him.
                                                                                 
December 6: “The Resurrection” is everything I needed and wanted from and for the Black Lightning TV series. I can’t even begin to describe the emotions I felt because I can’t talk about it until it airs. I will say this...I turn 66 on December 22 and watching this show has made this the best birthday and Christmas of my life.

December 7: NBC’s Better Late Than Never returns on December 11th. Henry Winkler, William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman are back for new globetrotting adventures.

December 8: My “other daughter” Giselle is moving to NYC tomorrow. I’m going to miss her, but I’m excited for her. Here’s wishing her great happiness and success.

December 9: Planning a getaway, which could be between one and four days. Not even my family will know where I am. Because what happens in (redacted) stays in (redacted).
                                                                              

December 10: Chip Kidd. He’s arguably the world’s greatest graphic designer. I’m reading two fat books about him and virtually every page gives me something to think about.

December 11: Putting in a solid day of writing, especially after a week of little distractions and irritations. It’s all about setting priorities.

December 12: The first Lynn Stewart scene for Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #5. I’m loving reinventing this character and you won’t believe what’s coming in issue #6.

December 13: Alabama elected Doug Jones to the Senate. It’s a good start, America.

December 14: The first face-to-face meeting and subsequent battle between Black Lightning and Tobias Whale in Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #5.

December 15: Barb had me taste her twist on an old family cookie recipe. She made it better, so much so I asked her to make another three dozen just for me. I’m a greedy cookie monster.
                                                                              

December 16: Luke Cage Season One is now available on Blu-ray. I’ve ordered my set. Let’s hope we get some Misty Knight action figures and toys out of this. Are you listening, Funko?

December 17: Capeless Crusader. A new-to-me comics news site that responded to my blog on comics news sites by promising to be part of the change I sought. They have requested my comics birthdays &  historical notes & remembrances data, which I’ll be sending them in a day or two. I applaud their announcement and wish them the best.

December 18: Creating a more realistic writing schedule for myself while carving out more “me” time.
                                                                                

December 19: Best Wishes by Mike Richardson and Paul Chadwick. With just days to go in 2017, what a joy to read yet another contender for the year’s best graphic novel.

December 20: Thrilled to see Twitter post calling Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands my best work on my creation. Joyous over the many positive responses to this older writer’s run with the youngsters. Happy/sad to be starting the sixth and final script of the series. Anxious/excited as I wait to see where my career takes me next.

December 21: My one-day vacation. Stayed at the cool Hyatt Regency Arcade. Visited the wonderful Superman exhibit at the Cleveland Public Library. Hung out with friends old and new.

December 22: I woke up this morning at age 66 and didn’t crumble to dust. Then my son took me to Denny’s for a free birthday breakfast. Double win!

December 23: My birthday evening with Barb, Ed and Kelly. Pizza and pasta from my favorite Medina pizza place. Hooking up the Ultra HD Blu-ray player we got as a family gift. Watching Wonder Woman, my favorite DC Comics movie.

December 24: The Daily Show’s The Yearly Show 2017. A solid hour of comedy with a bite from Trevor Noah and the correspondents. Not an off moment in the show. Magnificent!
                                                                                   

December 25: That every time someone watches Hans Gruber fall from Nakatomi Plaza, an angel gets its wings.

December 26: Recognizing and then reconciling in my own mind that treating comics creators properly is going to be a lengthy learning curve and that some people will never figure it out.

December 27: Paul F. Tompkins as Gladstone Gander and B.D. Wong as Toad Liu Hai in the DuckTales episode “House of the Lucky Gander!” Not to mention clever writing and fantastic animation. My favorite episode to date.
                                                                                
December 28: James Remar playing Peter Gambi on the Black Lightning TV series. He brings so much to this vital supporting role. I hope I get to thank him personally someday.

December 29: Crisis on Earth-X. Many great moments, performances and twists. Special kudos to Franz Drameh (Jefferson Jackson) for bringing home the emotional heart of this sweeping story.

December 30: Since my “fame” has outstripped my wardrobe, I ordered two suits from Men’s Warehouse in Fairlawn. The gentlemen waiting on me were fellow geeks.

December 31: The Punisher on Netflix. Gut-wrenching thriller with a satisfying ending and only a few missteps. Props to Jon Bernthal, Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Amber Rose Revah.
 
Here's wishing all my beloved bloggy thing readers the happiest of New Years. I'll be back tomorrow with the finale of my Halloween ComicFest reviews. See you then.
 
© 2018 Tony Isabella