Sunday, June 3, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

We begin...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

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