Tuesday, July 16, 2019

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2019 REVIEWS #6

What Has Gone Before:

I’m reading and reviewing the Free Comic Book Day comic books sent to me by my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

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 and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book. 
 
We begin with...

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [IDW] has an 8-page story by multiple writers that leads into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #94 and a 12-page story by multiple artists that is little more than a recap of confusing continuity.

QUALITY: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is, at its core, a truly fun concept that works best when it is basic and suitable for all ages. It loses something when its stories get too complex and its action gets too graphic. Those are faults on full display in this issue. The “car chase” in the first story is well done. The recap is tedious.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are very well-known outside the world of TMNT comic books, but I don’t think their mass audience will recognize the characters as portrayed in this issue. The recap left me feeling like catching up on the continuity would be the equivalent of studying for a master’s degree.

SALESMANSHIP: If this version of TMNT interests a new reader, that reader can make use of ads offering literally dozens of volumes of TMNT comics. There are also house ads for Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader’s Castle, Sonic the Hedgehog and Usagi Yojimbo. The back cover of the issue, which should be prime ad real estate, has nothing but the TMNT logo on a black background. That is about as utter a waste of space as I can imagine.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.

                                                                                    

Lumberjanes: The Shape of Friendship [Boom! Box] features a 14-page excerpt from the forthcoming graphic novel of the same name and a second eight-page story. The former is by writer Lilah Sturges with artist Polterink; the latter is written by Kelly Thompson with art by Savanna Ganucheau.

QUALITY: Lumberjanes is not a book I have any particular interest in, which does not stop me from recognizing the quality of both the writing and the art. Not every comic book has to be for every comic book reader. I wish more online fans could accept that.

ACCESSIBILITY: The basics can be gleaned from the stories, but I’d have liked to have seen all the characters named. I think rosters of characters, especially with head shots and a few words about the characters are something more comics should embrace.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. Besides a house ad for a Lumberjanes book, the issue promotes eight other titles.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.

                                                                              

Ghost Hog [Oni Press] presents two stories of the title character by creator/writer/artist Joey Weisner and a brief excerpt from Pilu of the Woods by author/illustrator Mai K. Nguyen. Ghost Hog is as the title suggests, the ghost of a hog who was killed by a hunter and is trying to get a handle on this whole “being a ghost” thing.

QUALITY: The Ghost Hog stories are exceptional. They are funny and thoughtful. I want to see more of this. The Pilu excerpt was just too short for me to get interested in it.

ACCESSIBLE: The Ghost Hog stories are easy to get into. The excerpt from Pilu of the Woods isn’t easy to get into.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. There’s a full-page house ad for Weisner’s Ghost Hog. There’s a house ad for Pilu. Other house ads pitch four books by Eisner Award winner Katie O’Neill, Weisner’s Mermin books and, on the back cover, nine other Oni comics for kids.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.

                                                                                   

Brenna Thummler’s A Sheets Story [Lion Forge/Caracal] presents a thoroughly charming 25-page story about the friendship between a teenage girl and a ghost. It also features a brief interview with Thummler.

QUALITY: High. Thummler’s work is realistic and spritely. I’ll be looking for more by her.

ACCESSIBILITY: This was a breeze to follow. The story itself told me everything I needed to know about the characters.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are full-page house ads for Sheets and another graphic novel by Thummler. There are also house ads for several other comics by this publisher.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.

Look for more Free Comic Book Days reviews in the weeks to come. I hope to review them all before the Halloween ComicFest free comics arrive at my house.

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It’s good to be back, but I’ll be leaving again. I wrote this blog entry to post on the one full day I’m back in Medina before flying to the San Diego Comic-Con.

Attending G-Fest and Comic-Con back-to-back is going to be far more grueling than my usual convention adventures. I don’t how some of my fellow creators managed to do conventions weekend after weekend and remain relatively alive and relatively sane.

I’ll be back in Medina late Monday, July 22. I figure it’s going to take me a day or two to recover. If all goes well, I’ll be writing bloggy things by Wednesday, July 24, not to mention preparing for two conventions and two Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales in August. I am a crazy person.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 15, 2019

TONY'S TIPS #309

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder, I review the new Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Dynamite's Peter Cannon Thunderbolt #1-5 and IDW's Swamp Monsters. am anthology of marshland horror comics edited by Steve Barnes and Craig Yoe!
                                                                               
                                                                                  

Thursday, July 11, 2019

DROWNING ECHO


Friends and family members are frequently horrified by what seems to be my insatiable desire to watch as many cheesy horror/monsters movies as I can. When I’m too exhausted to write or otherwise use my time wisely, I’ll pop one of my vast accumulation of un-watched movies into the Blu-Ray player or all-region DVD. This is always a crap shoot, the closest I come to a gambling addiction. But there’s an upside to my mania.

Sometimes I find movies I really enjoy and I can’t wait to tell you about them. Sometimes I find movies that make my eyes go wide with how truly awful they are. I can’t wait to write about those movies either. In the case of the latter, the end result will usually be a blog entry like this one.

Drowning Echo [2019] is not listed under that title at the Internet Movie Database, though that was the title on the DVD I got through my local library system. The official title seems to be Nereus and that’s the name under which it’s listed. The mythological Nereus was a sort of Triton prototype. Neither of those titles is as good as the original working title: The Complex.

Here’s the IMDb storyline summary of this movie:

During a visit to friends, Sara begins having visions and is attacked by an unearthly creature in her friend's swimming pool; she soon discovers that anyone who comes into contact with the water is in danger and she is driven to confront the mystical and malevolent creature lurking in the depths.

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


Sara [played by Itziar Martinez] visits childhood friend Will at a motel-type complex with a few permanent tenants. At various times of the year, it does a good tourist business. However, Sara’s visit doesn’t come during one of those tourist times.

There’s a pool at the complex. A young woman vanished from it and her body was never found. Two residents saw the woman taken by some creature who appeared in the pool and then vanished. They saw more than the viewers did. All we see is a spooky gill-man kind of face and some water tentacles. The awesome tentacles you see on the DVD? They aren’t in the movie.

Sara starts investigating. Some residents reveal themselves to be bad people. Others become victims. One of them seems to be the host for the creature, but that’s not made real clear. Sara and another resident - the only one left alive - defeat the creature. But then we get one of those “oops” endings wherein Sara discovers she’s the new host for the creature.

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


Let’s cut right to the chase. This movie is a 108 minutes of sheer tedium. It seemed longer. The acting isn’t awful, but that doesn’t make up for the tedium. Drowning Echo is boring with no satisfying payoff for the two hours of my life it stole from me. I recommend giving it a very wide pass.

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Today’s blog entry is shorter than usual because, a few hours after I post it, I’ll be on my way to G-Fest, the amazing annual Godzilla convention. The legendary kaiju event runs from Friday, July 12 through Sunday, July 14, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel. On Friday, I will be giving a presentation called “Cheesy Monsters Raid Again!” It’s the second in a series of similar presentations I’ll be giving until I run out of cheesy horror and monster movies to share with the audience. In other words...forever.

The bloggy thing will be on hiatus while I’m traveling, save for an entry on Tuesday, July 16. On Wednesday, July 17, I’ll be flying to San Diego for Comic-Con International. You won’t see another blog entry until I return and recover from that event. I’m shooting for Wednesday, July 24.

I’ll be back sooner or later with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

COMICS COMICS COMICS

Digging into the comics waiting to be reviewed pile...

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki with artist Rosemary Valero-O’Connell [First Second; $17.99] tells of a young woman whose toxic relationship with her girlfriend takes a toll on not just her, but on her friends. I’m not going to lie here. This is an incredibly difficult graphic novel to read. We all know folks who stay in relationships long past any reasonable expiration date, suffer horribly because of them and yet still return to them time and time again. In this story, it’s a romantic relationship. But it has applications for other kinds of relationship as well. Hell, I should write my own graphic novel called DC Comics Keeps Breaking Up with Me.

Frederica Riley is someone who is easy to like, which makes it all the more painful when her dream girl turns out to be a nightmare. A recurring nightmare. Laura Dean is manipulative and totally self-centered. She expects more from Frederica than she is ever willing to give of herself.

Tamaki writes these characters with obvious insight. They and the supporting players are more than fictional constructs. I wouldn’t be surprised to meet them in real life. Valerio-O’Connell captures all the myriad emotions brilliantly. I’ll be very surprised if this graphic novel doesn’t land a bunch of nominations in the next batch of comics awards. Definitely recommended.

ISBN 978-1-62672-259-0

                                                                                  

Mysteries of Love in Space #1 [$9.99] is one of those wacky one-shots DC Comics publishes from time to time. The quality of the material is often uneven, but I’m a pushover for anthologies with weird-ass themes. I wish I’d be invited to participate in them because I can be as weird as the next creator.

There are some first-rate stories in this anthology. Writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Max Dunbar do a heartwarming sweet Bizarro story in which the character encounters someone who really gets him. Nice coloring by Paul Mounts and lettering by Dave Sharpe add to the joy I received from this story.

Space Cabbie, who used to appear in short stories in the DC sci-fi comics of the 1950s and 1960s, is a longtime favorite of mine. I’m not sure what his deal is in the ever-changing DC Universe, but I got a kick out of “GPS, I Love You” by Aaron Gillespie with artist Max Raynor, colorist Hi-Fi and letterer Sharpe. The story is kinda on the freaky side, but I liked it. Needless to say, I could write the heck out of a Space Cabbie series.

The best story in the issue is Lois Lane and Superman in “Glasses” by writer Dennis Hopeless, penciller Tom Grummett, inker Cam Smith, colorist Adriano Lucas and letterer Tom Napolitano. The tale has a nice take on the Lois and Superman relationship. It should receive a nomination in next year’s comics awards. It won’t because most of those awards ignore the mainstream, but it should.

                                                                          

From 2018:

Avengers Back to Basics by Peter David with artists Brian Level and Juanan Ramirez [Marvel; $14.99] is the first time in print for the graphic novel that was originally published digitally. It’s a time travel story that gets its heart from Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan as she gets swept up in and into Avengers history...and it’s a history that could be rewritten to dire effect.

Though I’m not generally a fan of time travel tales, I thought this story played to David’s strengths. He got to write the Avengers at various points in their lives while playing with some key events in Marvel Universe history. He did an excellent job with Kamala Khan, which is important to me on account of she has become my favorite Marvel Comics character. There are some shocking twists in the GN, all leading to a satisfying ending.

The art and storytelling are first-rate. The styles of the artists are similar enough that I didn’t even realize which of them had done which “issues” until I checked the credits for this review. Color artists Jordan Boyd and Erica Arciniega used their hues to tell the story without overpowering either the writing or the drawings. Letterer Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft did good work as well.

All in all, Avengers Back to Basics is a solid super-hero thriller and plenty of personality. I enjoyed it.

ISBN 978-1-302-91263-5

                                                                               

You already know I’m going to G-Fest this week and Comic-Con next week. I have some other conventions and garage sales scheduled for the rest of the year:

July 26-27: Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale (9 am to 1 pm on each of those days)

August 4: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted, Ohio)

August 9-10: Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale (9 am to 1 pm on each of those days)

August 16-18: New Mexico Comic Expo (Albuquerque)

August 23-24: Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale (9 am to 1 pm on each of those days)

September 21: Flaming River Con. I’m not a guest of this Cleveland event. I’m going to show my support for the LGBTQ+ comics community in my old home town. If I can get my hard-working wife to take some time off, I might even make a downtown Cleveland weekend of it.

November 2-3: Akron Comiccon

November 8-10: Grand Rapids Comic-Con (Michigan).

I may try to squeeze in one more Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale in early September. I’d also be available to be a convention guest in September, October and December. If you’re a show promoter who would like to book me for one of your shows, e-mail me for my appearance requirements.

If you’d would like me to speak at your college, library, school or other venue, the same holds true. I can talk about modern comics, comics history, diversity in comics or my career in comics. E-mail me for my appearance requirements and availability.

I’ll be hitting the road for G-Fest tomorrow morning, but I should be able to write and post a short bloggy thing before leaving. See you then.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

COMICS STUFF

Being a gathering of short comments and item on the comics we love so dearly and maybe even those we don’t.

On June 6, I wrote about Conan e Kazar #27, a 1976 Italian comic that reprinted one of my “It! The Living Colossus” tales in between reprints of Conan and Kull stories. After discussing the stories in the issue, I turned my attention to the back cover:

The back cover of this issue is an advertisement for L’Uomo Ragno [Spiderman] #153. My first thought was that this reprints an issue of Marvel Team-Up, but I was able to pin the cover to any specific issue. If any of my bloggy readers can identify the cover/issue, I will say wonderful things about them in a future bloggy.

John Sink came to my rescue. I don’t know how I managed to miss it, but that’s the cover of Marvel Team-Up #22 [June 1974]. The cover is pencilled and inked by John Romita. In that story by writer Len Wein, penciller Sal Buscema and inkers Frank Giacoia and Dave Hunt, Spidey and Hawkeye must stop Quasimodo from taking over all of the computers on Earth. I’m not sure they succeeded. I mean, how else can we explain Comicsgate and the ongoing Russian interference in our elections?

Thanks, John. For your efforts, you get a no-prize, not redeemable anywhere in the known universe.

                                                                                 

Marvel has reprinted thousands of vintage comics over the years in packages ranging from the traditional 36-page comic book to $100+ omnibus additions. However, with the exception of the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby run of Rawhide Kid, Marvel has not delved into its vast backlog of western comics. When I can pick them up for one or two bucks, I buy these Marvel western books, read them and then resell them in my garage sales.

Red Wolf #5 [January 1973] with its Gil Kane cover was one of those purchases. It’s a Gil Kane cover, always a good thing, with a new-at-the-time, 20-page story by Gardner Fox with artists Syd Shores and Chic Stone. It’s a decent enough story - Roy Thomas rewrote a lot of the dialogue - with pretty good art. Yet, reading it with my 2019 eyes, I’m thinking it’s a bit tone-deaf when it comes to its portrayals of indigenous peoples, though, in all fairness, it’s far less tone-deaf than some other Marvel western comics of the 1960s and 1970s.

I doubt we’ll ever see a collection of the original Red Wolf comics of the 1970s. The western version of the character was introduced in an issue of Marvel Spotlight and his own title ran nine issues. I'd buy it, especially if it also an introduction that addressed the tone-deafness of the stories and provided a more accurate history of indigenous peoples. I’m not sure anyone else would buy it. Which is too often the case with old comics I love.

                                                                         

I’ve written about Commando, the British war comics digest, several times in the past. This time out, I wanted to draw your attention to Commando #5155 [9/6/18].

Commando has gotten more inclusive over the years. The protagonists of “The Pact” and Indian Army soldiers battling the Japanese army in World War II. On the final page of the tale, writer Heath Ackley writes:

“The Indian Army was the largest volunteer force in history with over two and a half million soldiers in its ranks. They did not only serve in the Burmese campaign, but in Italy, North Africa, South Asia and France. Often overlooked, the Indian Army played a valuable role in gaining victory.”
A major book publisher’s representative once told me his company never lost money with books about World War II. It’s not something I wish to pursue, and I realize the book market has changed considerably since I owned a book store, but I wonder if a graphic novel about the Indian Army would succeed.

                                                                              

Sometimes I read something that comes highly recommend and, after reading it, I wonder why it came highly recommend. I usually decide it’s a case of “your mileage may vary” and leave it be. Sometimes I have something more to say. Albeit not a lot more.

I got four issues into The Long Con Volume 1 [Oni Press; #19.99]. Five years ago, a cataclysmic event destroyed everything within a 50-mile radius of a stand-in for the San Diego Comic-Con. Outside the radius, the government has quarantined the area. A reporter who survived the event goes back to report on what happened. He finds a great many fans and guests have survived. Indeed, those survivors think zombies rule the outside world. It’s the scoop of the century and not a bad premise.

My problem is that, four issues in, I don’t like any of the cast. They represent the worst of multiple fandoms and close to the worst of humanity. What some call lovingly written and drawn, I saw as an exercise in self-loathing. Ugh.

The Big Bang Theory was criticized on the same grounds on which I’m giving a thumbs down to this book. I contend there was almost more humanity in the Big Bang cast that I see in The Long Con. Which is why it was such a delight to see those characters change and grow over the run of the series.

Maybe that will happen with The Long Con. But I’m just not feeling it. If you enjoy the book, that’s terrific. Really. Not every comic book has to be to my taste. The comics world is big enough for all of us.

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Just some reminders.

I will attending G-Fest - the world’s best Godzilla convention - on July 12-14, Friday through Sunday, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hara Hotel. Following that, I will be at the San Diego Comic-Con from July 17-21, Wednesday night through Sunday, at the San Diego Convention Center. If you want to get together with me at either of these events, e-mail me as soon as possible. I will not be able to receive or send e-mail after tomorrow night until late Monday or Tuesday. After that brief window when you can reach me by e-mail, I will again not be able to receive or send e-mail from July 17-21. I will return from Comic-Con on July 22, albeit fairly late in the day. It’ll take me a day or two to recover from attending two big conventions back-to-back.

Whether at these events or afterwards, I’m always willing to talk to people who might want to hire me for comics or other creative endeavors...or who want to book me as a guest for their events. I’m also available for talks about comics, comics history and diversity at colleges, libraries and schools.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
 
© 2019 Tony Isabella

TONY'S TIPS #308

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019); Nurses Monsters and Hotrodders; and Six Days: The Incredible Story of D-Day’s Lost Chapter!
                                                                                 
                                                                               


Monday, July 8, 2019

THE ROAD TO COMIC-CON 2019

Comic-Con International: San Diego, also known as San Diego Comic-Con, happens July 17-21 at the San Diego Convention Center. July 17 is the preview night. I’m a firm believer in mission statements for such events, so here’s this one:

The SAN DIEGO COMIC CONVENTION (Comic-Con International) is a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation organized for charitable purposes and dedicated to creating the general public’s awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular art forms, including participation in and support of public presentations, conventions, exhibits, museums and other public outreach activities which celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.

You can find out about attending the convention, the exhibit halls, the incredible programming, the equally incredible special guests, directions to the event, publications and exclusive items sold at the convention by going to the Comic-Con website. I won’t attempt to duplicate the Herculean effort that goes into providing all that information. No one does it better than Comic-Con itself.

What I will be doing today is letting you know about my Comic-Con plans. That’s probably the only area of knowledge in which I know more than the Comic-Con website.

I’m not being brought to Comic-Con by any publisher or by the event itself. Like most attendees, I’m coming in on my own dime, joined by my Saintly Wife Barb, my daughter Kelly, Kelly’s roommate Lauren and my goddaughter Vanessa. I am forever surrounded by capable and beautiful women. It’s my special gift.

My family and I can get into Comic-Con every year because, back in 2013, the convention gave me its coveted Inkpot Award and has not asked for it back yet. To get it, they would have to pry it from my cold dead hands. Not happening. However, I would remiss if I failed to mention and thank the Comic-Con staffers and volunteers for the many courtesies and kindnesses done for me and my family. They have made my journey much easier for me.

I have few concrete plans during Comic-Con. I will be appearing on just one panel:

That '70s Panel
Friday July 19, 2019 10:00am - 11:30am
Room 8

It was a time of change in comics, with a new generation intermingling with the old and taking command. Hear what the comics industry was like in the 1970s from Mike Friedrich (Iron Man, Justice League of America), Tony Isabella (Black Lightning, The Champions), Trina Robbins (Wimmen's Comix, Wonder Woman), Arvell Jones (Marvel Two-in-One, Iron Man), Louise Simonson (Creepy, Power Pack), Walt Simonson (Manhunter, Thor), and moderator Mark Evanier (Groo the Wanderer, Blackhawk).


Although I’ll certainly be attending other panels as well, the one I am most interested in is this one:

Black Lightning Special Presentation and Q&A
Saturday July 20, 2019 5:00pm - 5:45pm
Ballroom 20

Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) and his family return to the small screen this fall! At the conclusion of season 2, Lightning (China Anne McClain), along with her father Black Lightning, had seemingly taken down Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III), as he's exiled to a black site for lockdown. Lynn's (Christine Adams) desire to save the pods almost costs her her life, while Khalil's (Jordan Calloway) and Jennifer's (McClain) relationship seemingly comes to an end once Tobias pulled his coattail-or shall, we say, spine? And we can't forget Anissa, a.k.a. Thunder (Nafessa Williams), who continued to fight her way through Freeland's corruption. Hear from some of the series stars for a lightning round of a season 2 review and a tease of what's to come for season 3! In addition, this supercharged series stars Damon Gupton and James Remar. Based on the characters from DC, Black Lightning is from Berlanti Productions and Akil Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti, Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil, and Sarah Schechter. Black Lightning returns this fall to The CW on Mondays (9/8c), with the last two seasons available for streaming on Netflix. Black Lightning: The Complete Second Season will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 1.


Beyond those panels, my plans are to catch up with old friends and make new friends. I hope to meet with someone from the publishing house who has bought the contract to my 1000 Comic Books You Must Read with an eye towards convincing them to do a new and expanded edition of that classic volume or, failing that, give the contract back to me so I can find another way to publish that edition.

I am not scheduled to do any signings at the convention. I would be available to do such signings for charitable organizations at the event. I would also be willing to do them at the booths of comics publishers I’ve worked with, though it’s unlikely I’ll be asked to do that. Not everyone loves me as much as you do.

I am always willing to meet with any publisher or producer that would like to explore working with me. I’m a friendly, hardworking, and frankly terrific writer. A meeting isn’t a contract or even a promise. Maybe we can work together, maybe we can’t. I will never be less than honest with you about what I can do and what I would be willing to do.

Here’s a tip. I can do a lot.

If you would like to meet with me for that or any other reason, you should e-mail me as soon as possible. I don’t take a computer with me when I travel. I’ll be home through Wednesday of this week - I’m attending G-Fest in Chicago - and return sometime on the following Monday. I’m home on the Tuesday before Comic-Con, but flying to the event early Wednesday morning.

The best way of reaching me during the convention is by cell phone text message. If you don’t have my cell phone number, e-mail me and let me know why you want to get together with me. I will e-mail my number to you. Better yet, if you send me your cell phone number, I will send you a text message giving you mine.

My Comic-Con dance card is very open. If I can help you with some advice based on my 47 years working in the comics industry, answer some questions about my career, look at your latest published work or other such things, don’t be shy about contacting me. I will try to make time for you in between looking at old (and new) comic books and other cool items I can’t afford.

For several reasons, I’m thinking this could well be my last Comic-Con. I want to make it as fun and productive as possible.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 7, 2019

G-FEST XXVI PREVIEW

Let’s start with the info on the convention website:

G-FEST is the largest regular gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster fans in the world. Held each summer, it typically attracts more than 1000 attendees, but has seen a gradual increase in attendance over the past few years. G-FEST 2018, its 25th anniversary, was the most successful convention to date, bringing in more than 3000 Japanese science fiction and fantasy film fans!

G-FEST is a family-oriented convention which caters to a wide variety of interests within the kaiju genre. G-FEST features presentations and Q & A sessions by actors and crew from the Japanese Godzilla films, fan presentations on topics of interest, contests and gaming, new and classic kaiju movies, the western world’s largest kaiju-oriented dealers room, and lots of fun and camaraderie.

G-FEST XXVI will be held from July 12th to July 14th, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare.

Special guests for G-FEST XXVI include actor Akira Takarada; director Shusuke Kaneko; actress Peggy Neal; director Yoshikazu Ishii; modeler Takuji Yamada; Sonoe Nakajima, the daughter of Haruo Nakajima; animator Philo Barnhart; and writer Tony Isabella.

The G-FEST double double feature film festival is returning to the Pickwick Theatre. The Kaiju Eiga Film Fest consists of Godzilla’s Revenge and Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster on Thursday afternoon, with The X From Outer Space and Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack playing on Thursday evening. The Friday and Saturday main features are Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Monster Zero. Sunday will feature a recent example of Shusuke Kaneko’s non-kaiju work, Linking Love in the evening.


G-Fest and promoter J.D. Lees, publisher of G-Fan magazine, is very kind to me. He lists me as a special guest or guest presenter when I attend the convention and honors me with the real guests at the event’s opening ceremony. I can’t say enough nice things about this convention and, even if I could, this column would be longer than War and Peace.

My special presentation this time around will be CHEESY MONSTERS RAID AGAIN! A few years back, I did a Monsters of Syfy slideshow. It was a surprise sensation. It was the last panel of the event and we filled a large ballroom with our images of the wacky creatures of the SyFy channel and a good-natured fun at the expense of those critters. So we’re doing something like it this year.

From the official G-Fest schedule...

Cheesy Monsters Raid Again

(2:00 PM, Ballroom 1) - A world in extreme danger...of laughing our butts off. We love our monsters, even when they’re dripping with cinematic cheese. Join comics writer Tony Isabella as we examine over fifty of the crazy creatures that we remember so fondly.


I had a ball putting together this year’s creature features list. Some of these movies are well-known. Others, I suspect, are films you’ve never heard of. One of them is so obscure and recent that I have no images for it, just a title card.

Besides the amazing programming, G-Fest has much to offer fans of Godzilla and other kaiju. There will be an amazing model room with sensational examples of creativity. There will be the usual packed-to-the-walls-with-great-stuff dealers room. Artists Alley will have some wondrous works of art, including some comic-book and graphic novel debuts. Celebrity autographs and photos will be available at very reasonable prices. G-Fest swag will be sold...until it sells out, which it usually does.

The Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hara hotel is one of the friendliest and finest convention venues I know. The hotel loves having G-Fest and goes the extra mile to make everything run smoothly. In addition, the hotel turns over one of its TV channels for 24-hour airing of a wide variety of Japanese movies and TV series, most of them in Japanese. You could literally experience kaiju all day and night. Sleep is highly overrated.

My son Eddie and I will be arriving at the convention on Thursday. Except for when Eddie is indulging his love of Italian beef - and Chicago has some of the best - we’ll be at the convention. If you want to meet up with us, catch us at the convention. If you want to set up something in advance, e-mail me.

NOTE: I do not travel with a computer. I’ll be offline while I am at G-Fest. So, unless you e-mail me before we leave on Thursday, I will not receive your message.

Because we’re driving to G-Fest, I’ll be bringing a box of various Black Lightning and Tony Isabella books. I won’t be set up in the dealers room or Artists Alley, but, if you want to buy a book from me and get it signed, it’ll be a simple matter for me to go to my room and get it for you.

That’s all for now. I’ll be posting a preview of my upcoming visit to San Diego’s Comic-Con in a day or two. Watch for it.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN JUNE

I’m running out of ways to say that life can be shitty, Trump and the Republicans even more so, but there is still hope for us all. I see it in the fact that, each and every day, I can find somebody or something that makes me happy. I post these happy things on my Facebook pages and on Twitter. At the end of each month, I gather them together for a blog entry much like this one.

Here are things that made me happy in June.

June 1: My first garage sale of 2019 was a rousing success. I made 137% of my two-day goal and got to hang out with some great local comics fans. It’s a double-win!

June 2: “There’s No Hope in Crime Alley” by Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano. A classic story that holds up no matter how many times I read it. I wish Batman was this good today.

June 3: “To Kill a Legend” by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano. One of the best Batman stories ever told. I would have liked to have seen the adult Bruce Wayne/Batman of the alternate world that our Batman visits in this tale.

June 4: Coming across the file for a former employee who stole from me and who felt I should thank him for not killing me when I caught him in the act. I’d pushed many of the details of this stuff out of my head, but, boy howdy, will this make an incredible chapter in my memoirs of sorts.

June 5: I’m starting to get Comic-Con Fever. It will likely be my last Comic-Con, so I’m hoping to see lots of old friends, meet some of my online friends for the first time in person and make some new friends.
                                                                              

June 6: Working on my “Cheesy Monsters Raid Again” presentation for G-Fest. My picks for prom queen and king are The Giant Claw and the Tabanga (From Hell It Came). Next year’s presentation will be Kong Kin Vs. Cheesezilla. Because I am quite mad.

June 7: Comic-book categories on Jeopardy. No matter how often the comics industry shoots itself in the foot, our art form has become forever part of the culture.

June 8: Medina, Ohio. Friday afternoon. It’s 80 degrees and sunny. Someone in a T-Rex costume is mowing their lawn. I think I can die happy now.

June 9: Friends from all over the country. Steve and Annie Olle of Washington D.C. came to my garage sale on Friday. They were merely passing through, but it was wonderful to see them. They even bought some of my Vast Accumulation of Stuff.

June 10: More friends from all over the country. Don Hillard from Oregon had a conference in Cleveland and stayed over Saturday and Sunday to hang with the Isabella family. Big fun. We love the guy!
                                                                                 

June 11: Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008) is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. But it was worth watching for the brief appearance by Felissa Rose, reprising her role as Angela Baker from the original Sleepaway Camp (1983).

June 12: Stan Helsing aka Scary Movie 5 (2009) is the kind of movie you watch on Amazon Prime when you’re too tired to make any better choice and, hey, it’s free. That said, I got a huge kick out of The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic as “message therapist” Mia.
                                                                            

June 13: DC’s new Dial H for Hero by Sam Humphries and Joe Quinones is insane. I like it.

June 14: Last night’s spaghetti and meatballs dinner with Barb and the kids. My idea, though I “wisely” delegated the actual work to them. It’s called “management skills.” Yeah, they didn’t buy that either.

June 15: The amazing people who come to my garage sales. Those who have been reading comics their entire lives. Others who have just started reading them. Always looking for something new or something new-to-them. This is comicdom at its best.
                                                                                

June 16: Thirty-five years today.

June 17: The way my mind works. I just wrote a one-page comic-book story for an anthology. If it doesn’t get accepted, I already know how to expand it into a 17-page comic-book story.
                                                                                   

June 18: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5 by writer Tom Taylor with artist Yildiray Cinar. The neighborhood concept was stretched a bit too far in the previous issues, but this brings it right back home as Peter Parker must face a family crisis.

June 19: I finished my list of movies to be included in my “Cheesy Monsters Raid Again!” at G-Fest. I swear some of the jokes for this are writing themselves.

June 20: Finding a box of Superman merchandise that dates back at least two decades. Hope to get it priced for next weekend’s garage sales.

[NOTE: I didn’t get a chance to price the Superman merchandise for my last June garage sale. Maybe for the garage sale I’ve scheduled at the end of July.]
                                                                          

June 21: Graphics guy Ron Hill did a great job creating four title cards for my G-Fest “Cheesy Monsters Raid Again” presentation and did them overnight. They look amazing!
                                                                            

June 22: Jurassic Predator. This 2018 British film has incredibly awful writing, laughably bad acting and a puppet T-Rex that never lets you forget it’s a puppet. Its budget was so long that the same fake entrails appear over and over again. It was ninety minutes of goofy smile on my face. Worth every penny of the $9.43 I spent to buy it.

June 23: We’re getting new neighbors. It looks like the sale of the house next door has finally been completed. Hope they like comics and garage sales.
                                                                                

June 24: DC SuperHero Girls: Spaced Out is another wondrous graphic novel by Shea Fontana with art by Agnes Garbowska. But what has me chuckling every time I recall it is a shot of Gorilla Grodd playing with puppies. Who’s a good doggie?
                          
June 25: A fan described me as a demi-god. I was going to respond and call that an exaggeration until I remembered the wise advice of Winston Zeddemore, “When someone asks you if you're a god, you say "YES"!

June 26: Receiving praise for Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands from one of the organizers of the protests when Tamir Rice was murdered. “Your reference to Tamir Rice and tensions with the police really hit home. You did a fantastic job writing this comic. Thank you for bringing some super hero hope to Cleveland.”
                                                                                  

June 27: Courtesy of a dear friend, I now have a wonderful “Rainbow Batman” pin showing the cover of that classic comic. I’ll wear it at SDCC to show support for the LGBTQ comics community. Warning: it’s small. If you lean down to look it at, I may have to remind you that my eyes are up here.

June 28: Celebrated my son Ed’s birthday with Barb and Kelly at the Blue Heron Brewery in Medina. We had great food and a great time. I recommend the BHB Burger and the Black Bottom Peanut Butter Pie.

June 29: A private message from a long-time fan wondering why I did not get more credit for my work. He wrote: “The best stories, like yours, aren’t “super-hero” stories. They’re well-crafted stories about extraordinary people and sometimes very ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.”

June 30: My last garage sale customer of the weekend was a guy who had ALS surgery the day before. He was on crutches, but wanted to come to the sale. He and his wonderful wife made my day. They were so nice!

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

TONY'S TIPS #307

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder... Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe; Conan the Barbarian by Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar; Injection Deluxe Edition Volume 1 by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey.
                                                                             
                                                                                


FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2019 REVIEWS #5

What Has Gone Before:

I’m reading and reviewing the Free Comic Book Day comic books sent to me by my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

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 and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.

We begin with...

Riverdale [Archie Comics] is a tough one for me to review. I used to be a big fan of Archie Comics titles. But when they became much less humorous and more soap opera and soul-deadening horror riffs, I found them less entertaining. I know “new” Archie has its fans. I want to see what those fans see in the comics. I don’t. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to use my local library system to read some of the collections of the recent material. I’m trying to keep an open mind. That said, this Free Comic Book Day has a ten-page story and a bunch of feature pages and house ads.

QUALITY: The writing on the comics story was adequate, but it did not bring me into the ongoing story. The art was likewise adequate. Adequate doesn’t win me over when there are so many great comics available to me. Also in the issue are pages from a Riverdale High handbook and the opening of a prequel novel.

ACCESSIBILITY: So-so. I never felt like I had a leg-up on the story or other material I was reading.

SALESMANSHIP: Top-notch. If a reader liked what they saw here, the ads will direct them to Riverdale collections, the handbook, the prequel novel, Betty and Veronica merchandise, a collection of the Sabrina comic book series, the current issues of Sabrina, Archie and Riverdale, the Sabrina TV series on Netflix, and the Riverdale TV series on the CW and the CW app.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.

                                                                            

The Tick [New England Comics Press] has never been high on my list of comic-book titles. I liked the original TV cartoon and TV live-action series much better. I have not yet watched any of the later small screen incarnations of the character. All that said, I really enjoyed this Free Comic Book Day issue. This issue has a new 12-page story by writer/artist Ian Nichols, a new 13-page story by writer Jeff McCleeand and artist Nichols, and an assortment of single-page features.

QUALITY: The first story confused me at first as it continued from last year’s FCBD tale, but that passed quickly and I was won over by the villains of the piece: the ultimate Tick collectors. All of the other material was also good fun.

ACCESSIBILITY: Outside of not knowing anything about the heroes who made brief appearances in the lead story, I found all of the Tick material easy to get into.

SALESMANSHIP: Low-key but effective. The back cover advertises all of the available Tick trade paperbacks. I’m going to see if I can get them through my library system.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.

                                                                                   

Gilbert [Papercutz] leads off with a 20-page excerpt from Gilbert #2: The Curious Mysterious by Art Baltazar. The title character is a young merman. Also in the issue is a six-page section introducing Monica Adventures, one of the most popular comics in Brazil. Monica has been around for years and has even teamed up with Astro Boy and the Justice League.

QUALITY: The Gilbert excerpt didn’t do anything for me story-wise, but I could look at Baltazar’s art all day. I was more intrigued by the Monica Adventures article and sample pages.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Gilbert story really needed “What Has Gone Before” material, something to give an unfamiliar reader a leg up into the character’s world.

SALESMANSHIP: Papercutz Editor-in-Chief Jim Salicrup was effusive in his praise of Gilbert and other Papercutz comics. A blurb at the end of the Gilbert story directed potential customers to the full graphic novel. There were ads for several other Papercutz graphic novels. The overall promotion seemed a little low-key for me.

SCORE: Six out of ten points.

                                                                                 

Malika: Fire & Frost [Youneek Studios] features a 24-page excerpt from the Fire & Frost graphic novel by creator/writer/art director Roye Okupe, artist Sunkanmi Akinboye, colorist Etubi Onucheyo and letterer Bode Joseph. It also has some editorial text and various advertisements.

QUALITY: Malika is always well-written and well-drawn. The problem here is that this excerpt doesn’t really give the new reader a good idea of what has gone before.

ACCESSIBILITY: I touched on this in the previous paragraph. There is no background given for the protagonists. There is a time travel element that isn’t explained well. Unless a reader has been avidly following Malika from the beginning, they will likely be lost when they try to read this FCBD issue.

SALESMANSHIP: Okay. There’s an editorial that attempts to explain the concept behind the Youneek Universe. There are advertisements for a Malika graphic novel and some other comics. None of the ads do a good job describing the products.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.

                                                                             

Animosity Tales #1 [AfterShock Comics] is the best Free Comic Book Day issue I’ve read as of this writing. It leads with an 18-page story by creator/writer Marguerite Bennett, artist Elton Thomas, colorist Marco Lesko and letterer Marshall Dillon. Long-time comics industry veteran Mike Marts is the editor. The issue also features a two-page summary of previous Animosity stories and a preview of the forthcoming Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter #1.

QUALITY: The Animosity Tales story is brilliant, weird and wonderful. I was enthralled from start to finish. The preview of Mary Shelley, Monster Hunter was also quite good.

ACCESSIBILITY: Top-notch. Even before you get to the “What Has Gone Before” summary, the lead story is easy to follow. The Mary Shelley excerpt is equally inviting.

SALESMANSHIP: I’d have given this issue high marks just because of the summary. Even though I now know what happened in those initial four volumes, I want to read them. There’s also a house ad for the most recent issue of Animosity. The back cover touts AfterShock Comics in general.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.

Look for more Free Comic Book Days in the weeks to come.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Sunday, June 30, 2019

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS TONY ISABELLA?

Last weekend’s garage sale was not a rousing success. I think that was due to the scorching heat. I only did 45.7% of my two-day goal. I haven’t done the final math yet, but, despite this slow weekend, it appears I’ve hit or come very close to hitting my goal for the summer to date.

Because I’m attending G-Fest in Chicago and Comic-Con International in San Diego, I won’t be holding another garage sale until the last weekend in July. Counting that late July garage sale, I’ll be doing four and maybe five more garage sales before the end of my garage sale season in September.

Here’s my schedule of remaining 2019 conventions and garage sales. I don’t want to do more than two conventions a month, but, if you are a event promoter who would like me to appear at your show, or someone who would like me to speak at your library or school, send me an e-mail and we’ll see what we can work out.

July 12-14: G-Fest (Chicago)

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

July 26-27: garage sale

August 4: NEO Comic Con

August 9-10: garage sale

August 16-18: New Mexico Comic Expo

August 23-24: garage sale

September 6-7: garage sale

September 21: Flaming River Con (Cleveland)

November 2-3: Akron Comiccon

November 8-10: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

I could conceivably add up to two appearances in September, October and December. I’m also starting to book my 2020 appearances, albeit with the likelihood I’ll only be doing one appearance most months. If you’re interested, contact me.

I’ll be writing about my G-Fest and Comic-Con international later this week. Watch for it.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.   

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

GARAGE SAILING

Come aboard, me hearties. This be the good ship Vast Accumulation of Stuff, setting a course for my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale. There be a lot of bargain-priced booty on my tables and you are most welcome to buy as much of it as you desire.

The Phantom just texted to tell me to knock off the pirate stuff. Apparently, the Ghost Who Walks also know what I write before I do. As the old jungle saying goes, “When the Phantom texts, you’d best be knocking off the foolishness.” This particular old jungle saying seems to lose something in the translation.

This garage sale will take place Friday and Saturday, June 28-29, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The sale hours are my standard 9am to 1pm. This will be my last garage sale until I get back from San Diego’s Comic-Con and recover from said event. Figure the next garage sale after this one will be the last weekend in July.
                                                                                

I’m writing this blog entry on Monday afternoon. Things are going well. I have five of my highly sought after $10 mystery boxes all packed and ready to go. I hope to have several more ready before I open the garage door on Friday morning.

I’ve added a few hundred new items to the sale while reducing the prices on a few dozen other items. I’ll be cutting out one quarter box and one dollar comics box to make room for more oversized trade paperbacks and hardcovers and another collectible phone or three.

My “fifty cents” table will have lots of new books and manga on it. When stuff doesn’t sell over a sale or two, I pull it for inclusion in the mystery boxes or reduce the price on it. The aim is to sell as much as possible. Downsizing.

One cautionary note. I don’t haggle. You may want to believe that everything is negotiable, but it isn’t. Haggling annoys me. Heck, I’m thinking of raising the price on one item because the would-be haggler wasted my time with multiple e-mails.
                                                                                 

I’ll have the usual Isabella books and comics, but I won’t have a dedicated box of my older Isabella-written comics. I’m organizing those and won’t be selling them until I’m sure I have decent file copies of everything I’ve written. I’m hoping to have a box of my older work before the end of the garage sale season.

I’ll also have the usual posters, but, after this sale, I will be taking off sale the spiffy double-sided Superman poster I conceived for Cleveland’s 1988 International Superman Exposition. The poster has sold for very high prices. I’m going to give my customers one more chance to buy them at the existing $20 price. Then they will be pulled for auction.

I’m feeling pretty good about what will be available for sale this weekend. If all has gone as planned, my son Ed and I will pay a visit to my secret Fortress of Storage. The plan is to look for a nice box of older comics, a few more collectible phones and some odds and ends that can go into mystery boxes. I’ll also be going through some of the storage areas in my house to see what other cool stuff I can excavate for the sale.

One last note. I sign comics and other Isabella items free at these garage sale. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just bought the items from me or if you’re bringing them from your collection. Unless you’re a dick, I’ll sign them without charge.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you this weekend. We’re gonna have a good time.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.   

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 24, 2019

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2019 REVIEWS #4

What Has Gone Before:

I’m reading and reviewing the Free Comic Book Day comic books sent to me by my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

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 and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.


We begin with...

Stranger Things/Black Hammer [Dark Horse is another Free Comic Book Day issue that has me at a disadvantage. Though Barb and Eddie (my wife and son) watched at least the first season of Stranger Things and liked it a lot, I have not yet watched. As for Black Hammer, I bailed on the Hellboy Universe a few years back as it became more complicated and depressing. This comic would be my first exposure to either feature. The issue has a 12-page Stranger Things story by Jody Houser with artist Ibrahim Moustafa and a 12-page Black Hammer story by writers Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes with artist/letterer by David Rubin.

QUALITY: The Stranger Things story was so well-written that, even with my lack of knowledge of the series, I connected with its young characters and wanted to know more about them. Apparently, Houser is writing a prequel to the first season. I plan to read that and, as soon as possible, start watching the TV series. The Black Hammer story was just okay.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Stranger Things story was inviting to this new reader/viewer. The Black Hammer story didn’t change my disinterest in the Hellboy Universe. Mind you, I think there’s a lot of decent work being down in the Hellboy Universe and might give it another shot in the future via the omnibus editions.

SALESMANSHIP: First rate. I was directed to the existing Stranger Things volume and the prequel series. There was a checklist of the Black Hammer trades. There were house ads for The Umbrella Academy, the Hellboy omnibus editions and Polar, which looked interesting. I’ll see if it’s available through my local library.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.
                                                                             

Star Wars Adventures [IDW] features a 22-page story from a series called Tales from Vader’s Castle. It’s written by Cavan Scott and drawn by Derek Charm. Tales from Vader’s Castle is an anthology of alleged scary stories told by rebels who have invaded the castle of Darth Vader. These are suitable-for-all-ages stories with cartoon-style art. House of Mystery, it ain’t.

QUALITY: I wasn’t impressed. The format (rebels telling stories as they slink through the castle) is awkward. The story presented here was kind of meh.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Star Wars Universe is very complicated. I find myself frequently confused when reading Star Wars comics. The tale in this issue was fairly straightforward given the format. Readers more into Star Wars than me probably found it easier to follow than I did. Your mileage undoubtedly varies.

SALESMANSHIP: Good job. There’s a full-age house ad for Tales from Vader’s Castle and plenty of other ads for a variety of Star Wars comics. If a new reader likes this free comic book, those other ads constitute a virtual shopping list to other Star Wars comic books and graphic novels.

SCORE: Five out of ten points.

                                                                                 

Robotech [Titan] features “Chapter 0" of a new series based on the re-imagined (for American television) anime series. I watched some of the American episodes and have read some of the earlier comic books based on the series. By no means am I proficient in the history of Robotech. This Free Comic Book Day offering has a 16-page story by  writer Simon Furman with art by Hendry Prasetya, color art by Marco Lesko and lettering by Jim Campbell; and a two-page story involving the singer Lynn Minmei by Furman, Campbell, and artist Sarah Stone.

QUALITY: The first story has a scattershot sequence of flashbacks that might have refreshed the memories of avid Robotech devotees but did nothing for me. Once I got past that sequence, I was much more interested in the well-written story. That lead story ended on an intriguing note. The second story was also quite intriguing as it opens with a tribute to a character who died and ends with that character appearing. I’m considering reading further.

ACCESSIBILITY: Not great. A “The Story So Far” summary doesn’t give new readers as much of a leg-up into the series as it should have. The flashback scenes in the story itself didn’t help much. I think I got more of a back story of Lynn Minmei in the two-page episode that followed the lead.

SALESMANSHIP: Solid. There’s an ad following the stories directing readers to Robotech trade paperbacks. The inside front cover plugs other Titan trades. The back cover ad is for a Robotech card game and a Robotech tabletop game.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.

                                                                                

Spawn #1 [Image] reprints Todd McFarlane’s first Spawn story from May, 1992. McFarlane is credited with story, pencils and inks with Tom Orzechowski on lettering and Steve Oliff on coloring. The cover is by Francesco Mattina.

QUALITY: Rereading this story for the first time in 27 years hasn’t improved my opinion of it. It’s not well-written, though I started liking the title more when McFarlane added more information on who Spawn had been and what was most important to him. This first story was lacking in the human drama. Even the art wasn’t as good as what McFarlane has been doing over at Marvel.

ACCESSIBILITY: Poor. Spawn is about to hit his 300th issue and this reprint doesn’t give the reader much of a leg-up. This free comic book could have used a lengthy “What Has Gone Before” summary for its inside front cover. There’s precious little connection between this story and whatever has been happening in the series in more recent times.

SALESMANSHIP: Marginal. There are several ads for Spawn collections in the issue and a back cover ad for Spawn #300. None of them are very enticing.

SCORE: Two out of ten points.

Look for more Free Comic Book Days in the weeks to come.

© 2019 Tony Isabella