Wednesday, February 26, 2020

PENSACON 2020

Pensacon is my first convention appearance of the year. Hands down, it’s my favorite convention. The organizers and the volunteers are friendly and capable people who treat guests better than any other convention, which is saying something because so many of the cons I attend treat me exceedingly well.

The Pensacola Bay Center is spectacular, as are Pensacon’s hotels and other venues. As for Pensacola, it’s one of the nicest cities I’ve visited in decades of attending conventions. The city really gets behind the event with the airport decking itself out in fan-inspired fun and several restaurants adopting themes related to the convention. Honestly, Pensacola is one of the very cities in which I could see myself living.           

Pensacon’s guest list is always mind-boggling in both sheer numbers of guests and the quality thereof. The vendors room is filled with great booths and organizations. The fans are amazing.  This will be my fifth year there and, in the previous years, I’ve only crossed paths with one fan I would consider a jerk. That’s out of the tens of thousands of fans who attended Pensacon over those four years. Small wonder I love the event as much as I do.

Let’s get to the details, taken from Pensacon website:

Pensacon takes place from Friday, February 28 to Sunday, March 1. The primary convention venue, the Pensacola Bay Center, is where ticketing, celebrity autographs and photo ops, and the vendor floor will be located. Other official venues include the Pensacola Grand Hotel (across the street from the Bay Center), the Saenger Theatre, the Rex Theatre, and the Pensacola Little Theatre. New this year is Voices of Pensacola, the UWF Historic Trust Bowden Building and the Museum Plaza Stage. Most official events and activities will take place from 1-8pm (on Friday) and 10am-6pm (on Saturday and Sunday).

The guest list includes more wonderful creators and performers than I can possibly name in this blog. Which won’t stop me from naming a couple dozen of them:

Barry Gregory, Keith DeCandido, Pat Broderick, Tom Cook, Mike Toth, Nancy A. Collins, Alex Kingston, Christopher Burdett, Mark Maddox, Matt Frank, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Kathy Najimy, Jim Butcher, William Katt, Nick Zann, Matt Ryan, Bruce Boxleitner, Victor Gischler, Katy Manning, Billy Zane, Jane Weidlin, Dee Wallace-Stone, David Warner, Akira Takarada, Susan Eisenberg, Robert Pope, Catherine Sutherland, Jen Broomall, and so many more that this is where I must direct you to the convention website for more information on this incredible array of talent.

I have a pretty hefty panel schedule this year:

Friday, February 28

Civil Rights and Social Justice Movements as Reflected in Comic Books (Pensacola Grand B; 1:30-2:15 pm)

Panelists: Tony Isabella, Thomas Strange, Mike Manning, Joshua Opper, Tom Boucher

                                                            

Cheesy Monsters Raid Again (Pensacola Grand B; 5:15-6 pm)

This is an encore of the presentation I gave at G-Fest last year. Soon to be expanded into an actual book.

Saturday, February 29

Comic Book Adaptations (Pensacola Little Theatre Courtroom; 12:15-1 pm)

Panelists: Jim Butcher, Nancy Collins, Victor Gischler, Robert Page and yours truly.
                                                                   

King Kong vs. Godzilla (Pensacola Grand B; 4-4:45 pm)

Panelists: Lemmie Crews, Matt Frank, Tony Isabella, Rafe White

Sunday, March 1

Classic Monster Movies (Pensacola Grand B; 1:30-2:15 pm)

Panelists: Tony Isabella, Mark Maddox, Mitch Byrd, Andrew Gaska

Writing for Comic Books (Pensacola Little Theatre Courtroom; 4-4:45 pm)

Panelists: Victor Gischler, Barry Gregory, Tony Isabella

In addition to the above panels, it was my honor to serve with Mark Maddox and Victor Gischler as one of the judges of Pensacon’s 2020 Short Film Festival. There were some outstanding short films this year and I urge you to see them during the convention.

When I’m not doing panels, eating, going walkabout to visit other guests at Pensacon, you will find me in Artist Alley with Saintly Wife Barb. Because we’re flying to Pensacola, we’re limited as to how much stuff we can bring to the show. At this time, I expect to have some copies of these trade paperbacks: Black Lightning, Black Lightning Volume Two, Black Lightning: Brick City Blues and Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands.
                                                                               

I will be bringing 10-20 copies of my exclusive variant edition of Marvel’s Greatest Creators: Tony Isabella #1 with the very first appearance of Misty Knight. There were only a little over 1000 of these printed. Selling for $10, they will be signed and numbered. The copies I’m bringing will all be relatively low numbers.

I’ll also be bringing a dozen or so copies of True Believers: What If Spider-Man Had Rescued Gwen Stacy?, a reprint of the issue many consider the best of the series. I had sold out of these in 2019, but was able to acquire additional copies from a comics retailer. These will be priced at $2 each.

Finally, I’ll be bringing a selection of posters and mini-posters. These are priced at $10 for full-size posters and $5 for the mini-posters. Be sure to stop my table and give them a look.

If you buy something from my table, I will sign it for free. If you want to take a photo of or with me, that’s also free. If you bring previously-purchased items for me to sign, I charge $5 per item and $15 per item if you have my signature witnessed by one of grading companies attending Pensacon.

All that’s left to be said is to repeat how much I love Pensacon. I’m looking forward to returning to the convention and hope to see old friends and make new ones.

I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

TONY TIPS #326

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...some advance info on my upcoming Pensacon appearance plus my reviews of The Wrong Earth Volume 1 by Tom Peyer, Jamal Igle, Juan Castro and Andy Troy; Forgotten All-Star: A Biography of Gardner Fox by Jennifer DeRoss; and Hedy Lamarr: An Incredible Life by William Roy and Sylvain Dorange:
                                                                              
                                                                                  


Saturday, February 15, 2020

KONG KIN VS. CHEESEZILLA


G-FEST XXVII will be Friday through Sunday, July 10-12 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare. I’ll be there and, as usual, I’ll be doing one of my award-deserving, mirth-filled presentation on the cheesy monster movies I love.

“Cheesy monster” isn’t a derogatory in my book. To me, it’s a genre of movies that, despite sometimes problematic writing, acting and special effects, are entertaining. I plan to write several books on these films. It’s not a cry for help. It’s love.

A few years back, I did a G-Fest presentation on “The Monsters of the SyFy Channel.” It was the last panel of that year’s convention. Fools that we were, no one had high expectations for it. Well, we packed a large ballroom with eager fans who laughed at and with the movies we showcased and even took part in an audience participation segment near the end of the presentation.

The success of that panel demanded a sequel. Last year, taking the name from the second Godzilla movie, I did a “Cheesy Monsters Raid Again” presentation. Once again, we packed a ballroom, got laughs,had fun and left the audience wanting more. I hadn’t even left the stage when I was being asked:

“What are you going to do next year?”
Okay, they weren’t paying attention. Because, at the end of my 2019 presentation, I announced my 2020 presentation:

KONG KIN VS. CHEESEZILLA

I’m going to be talking about and mocking (ever so gently) films starring giant apes and Godzilla wannabes. The giant apes must be at least as tall as the Son of Kong, though I will be stretching the “ape” designation to include other giant hairy creatures. An example of that might be Bigfoot, the 2012 flick in which the title creature kicked Alice Cooper to his apparent death several miles away from the scene of their confrontation.

As for the Godzilla imitators, they have to be big enough to knock down buildings and they have to be some sort of lizard. After all, we have standards to maintain. (We don’t.)

As I’ve done in the past, I’m calling on the readers of this blog and all my other online friends to suggest monsters worthy of the recognition this presentation offers. I need your help. I need your help because I will need to watch or rewatch dozens of movies to create this presentation. This is a literal cry for help. I’d like to finalize my list by the end of May.

If you have a suggestion, email it to me. I’ll do my best to track down and watch even the most obscure giant apes and lizards films. Because I’m clearly quite mad.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Friday, February 14, 2020

CITIZEN TONY HAS EXPECTATIONS

Since I started my campaign to represent my precinct on the Medina County Democratic Party Central Committee, I’ve given quite a bit of thought as to what I expect from our leaders. Because I expect no less of myself than I would expect from them.

In the case of the position I’m seeking, my responsibilities would be few but vital to our party. First and foremost, I’ll vote on who will lead our county party. Second, should any elected Democrat leave office before their term is up, I will help choose the person who replaces them in office.

The first weighs most heavily on me because it is a certainty. If I’m elected, I will be one of the people voting on our leadership and, in doing so, the direction our party will take. Here’s how I will judge that leadership.

They must support our Democratic candidates across the board. That might mean supporting candidates they have a personal beef against. That might mean supporting candidates who are running against their Republican friends. If they can’t or won’t do that, they’ll not get my support.

They must not labor under the illusion that their past service to our party entitles them to keep their positions or be named to new positions. I’m running because I’m tired of ineffectual “Medina Elites” making decisions without considering the best needs of the people. I’ve seen these clique-ish folks in our government, schools and even athletic organizations. We need new ideas and new people to make those ideas reality.

Our leaders must support equal rights and inclusion in our county without condition. I was appalled when I saw people who now seek to lead us sit on the sidelines when candidates championing Medina’s LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinance faced challenges from one-issue Republican candidates running on platforms of bigotry.

I don’t want to work with the Republicans. I want them to work with us. Their positions have proven injurious to our citizens and our democracy in general.

Finally, I expect our leaders to be willing to punch Nazis. It was good enough for Captain America in 1941 and it’s good enough for me today.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Thursday, February 13, 2020

TONY'S TIPS #325

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Some thoughts about the Joker and my reviews of the terrifying Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection; the scary fun House of Fear: Attack of the Killer Snowmen and Other Stories; and the refreshing Superman Giant #1!
                                                                                 
                                                                               

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

TONY'S TIPS #324

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Trevor von Eeden and I go to Atlanta plus my reviews of Tigra: The Complete Collection; Hope #1-6 by Dirk Manning and K. Lynn Smith; and Return to Romance: The Strange Love Stories of Ogden Whitney!
                                                                               
                                                                                  
  

Monday, February 3, 2020

CITIZEN TONY IS IN FOR A FIGHT


Last month, I announced I was running to be my precinct’s central committee member of the Medina County Democratic Party. I’ll cut to the chase before I give you the background as to why I have signed up for this fight:

Of all the central committee races, mine is the toughest battle. My opponent and those who support Medina’s old guard are pissed that I’m running against her at all. They’re pissed that anyone in the party is running against their ineffectual leadership. It’s going to take clear vision, dedication, hard work, and, sadly, money to get our message out and to win this battle.

When I announced my candidacy in my January 16 bloggy thing, on the very day I announced my candidacy three of my online readers donated $200 to my campaign. In a bit, I will tell you how I spent that money and how you, too, can donate to my election campaign.

Here’s the background:

I have often said Medina was way too white and way too Republican for me. But I’ve now lived here for over 35 years and, despite my irritation and downright ire with a city run by an elite who stay in their offices, elected and otherwise, way past their expiration dates, I love my city. I plan to die here. Hopefully later rather than sooner.

I felt pride when the Medina city council recently passed an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance with bipartisan support. It was the right thing to do. I was disgusted but not surprised when all those who voted for the ordinance found themselves with single-issue opponents in their reelection campaigns. The single issue was, of course, that every one of those opponents wanted to discriminate against the LGBT citizens of Medina.

In my ward, the opposition candidate was a vile zealot who railed against the LGBT community on his social media. His faux-Christian beliefs included subjecting women to male domination and forbidding his daughter from having male friends. I couldn’t countenance this man representing me on the city council.

I wrote a letter to the local newspaper praising the city council candidates who supported the ordinance and condemning the bigotry of those who opposed it. My family and I took it one step further.

Using screen caps of the zealot’s rants, we mailed a letter to all the Democratic voters in our ward. It cost us three hundred dollars to do this. Naturally, we were accused of smearing the opposition candidate because how awful of us to share his own words with the voters. We also had people coming to our home to thank us for the letter and the revelations included therein.

Our incumbent councilman crushed his opponent in the election. Even better, every single-issue candidate was defeated in their quest to discriminate against some of our fellow citizens. Once again, as is my wont, I wrote a letter to the local paper praising the citizens of Medina voting for fairness and against bigotry. It was a victory lap of sorts.

I believe with all my heart, intellect and soul that the solutions to the problems facing our cities, states, nation and world can be found in progressive liberal philosophies and policies. It has been proven over and over again that the Republican Party offers succor only for the already wealthy. They are gutting the middle class of our country. They are vilifying the poor. They oppose the diversity that has made our country great and can make it truly great again.

The Central Committee does not have many responsibilities. Our two main ones are electing a slate of fellow Democrats who will set the goals of our party...and appointing people to fill any positions left vacant by the elected official leaving their office before the end of their term. I am far and away the best choice for this position in my precinct.

I’m running against an incumbent Democrat who has been involved in our local and country politics for decades. It would be fair for me to describe her as one of the “elites” I mentioned above. She has become complacent in opposing Republicans, even going so far as to endorse the Republican mayor of our city in his election. Though she was in favor of the LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, she stayed well on the sidelines when the council members who voted for it were challenged for their seats. She is no longer effective in promoting progressive policies. I can do better.

I don’t want to work with Republicans. I want them to work with us. We have allowed them to set the agenda for far too long, especially given how little that agenda offers the vast majority of Americans. They have worked against the best interests of our citizens and of democracy itself. We need to change that.

My son Ed is part of a vibrant part of the party who are, indeed, seeking to change things. They want to lead the party. They want to promote a more progressive agenda. They want to support progressive candidates. Their opposition is the “old guard” that has failed to grow the party in our county and, like my incumbent opponent, did not show up to support our progressive candidates. They believed those candidates would be defeated.

Later today, I will drive to the post office to send out the first of two mailings to the Democratic voters of my ward. My son will be ordering the signs you saw at the start of today’s blog. Just this first mailing and the signs have put our campaign war chest solidly in the red.

I’m prepared to finance my campaign with my own funds if necessary. However, the more donations I get, the more I can do in my campaign and others. My race is on the March primary ballot. After my race concludes, whether I win or lose, any remaining donations will be used to support our other progressive candidates. If you wish to donate to my campaign, you can send the money to my PayPal account.

Next week, on Tuesday, February 11, I’ll be making my first public appearance as a candidate at Geeked Out bar and grill in Brunswick. This is a New Hampshire primary watch party.

Also next week, I’ll be sending out the second of my two mailings. When the campaign signs arrive, we’ll be getting them on the lawns of our neighborhood supporters. After that, I’ll be knocking on the doors of the Democratic Party voters in my ward to introduce myself and answer any questions they might have.

I fully expect there will be considerable pushback from my opponent and her fellow elites. I’m prepared to do a third mailing if need be to respond to that pushback.

There needs to be a change in Medina County and in the rest of our state and country. I’ve enlisted in that great endeavor. I hope you will as well.

Thanks for your time. I’ll be back soon with the usual comics and pop culture bloggy things.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Saturday, February 1, 2020

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN JANUARY

The highlight of January was my trip to Atlanta to film a cameo for the third season finale of Black Lightning and then hang out on the set for the season’s final day of shooting. Though I’m not able to tell you about those two days until the finale airs in March, I can share with you what else brought me joy last month. Here’s my list of what made me happy in January 2020...

January 1: Beginnings. Every year, every month, every week, every day...is a new beginning. Another chance to create something good. Another chance to make positive change in your life. Another chance to work towards a better world. And numerous chances to remember to write “2020" instead of “2019.”
                                                                                 

January 2: Ronald Rump The Poor Little Rich Brat #1 by Peter Wolf. Available on Kindle, this parody comic book is hilarious fun for readers of all ages...because even kids recognize when someone is a bully, crook and narcissist. I hope there’s a second issue in the works.

January 3: The New Year’s Day episode of Jeopardy had a “Comics & Graphic Novels” category. Included were Whiteout, manga, Spider-Gwen, George Takei’s “They Called Us Enemy” and Exit, Stage Left!: The Snagglepuss Chronicles.

January 4: Deputy. The new show about maverick deputy Stephen Dorff who unexpectedly becomes sheriff isn’t groundbreaking, but I like the lead, Bex Taylor-Klaus as his driver/bodyguard and the lawman’s refusal to allow his deputies to be used by I.C.E. The right-wing snowflakes will hate this series.

January 5: Bettie Page Unbound by David Avallone and several truly excellent artists. Wild adventure, breathtaking beauty, humor that is risque without being offensive and amazing variant covers. This has become one of my favorite current comics.

January 6: Nothing. I suppose it had to happen one of these days. Frustration has wrapped itself around me like a shroud. Maybe I’ll just take some joy in allowing myself an off day.

January 7: Yesterday was not a good day. Reading articles on Afros, Irwin Allen, Aquaman toons, sea-monkeys, Funny Face Drink Mix and Spier-Man/Hulk toilet paper helped. Thanks, Retro Fan #3.

January 8: My son Ed was elected the No. 2 delegate for Elizabeth Warren in the Medina County Democratic Party caucus.
                                                                                
January 9: MAD Magazine’s “The 20 Dumbest People, Events and Things of 2019!” With multiple hands on deck, MAD did what it does best. It made me laugh through the tears.
                                                                             

January 10: Gal Gohan by Narii Taiyou. This crazy, somewhat risque manga about a flirtatious student, her bashful Home Ec teacher and  the cooking club they start is funny and surprising. I’m enjoying it and a little ashamed I’m enjoying it.

January 11: The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezz. It’s been well over a decade since I read part of this manga and, holy crap, it’s terrifying. Literally makes me shudder.

January 12: Return to Romance: The Strange Love Stories of Ogden Whitney. Nine romance stories drawn by this most underrated artist in the 1960s and, though these tales are of their time, the writing  is pretty good as well.
                                                                              

January 13: My couch potato day. I watched Svengoolie: Revenge of the Creature with its shout-out to Scott Shaw, the two pre-Crisis episodes of Supergirl I hadn’t yet watched and, for the violent fun of it, John Wick and John Wick 2.

[NOTE: A day later, I watched John Wick 3. Because I could.]
                                                                                   

January 14: Tigra the Complete Collection. I enjoyed re-reading my stories and those of others, as well as the mini-series I’d never read before. I’d love to write Tigra again. Marvel should make this happen.
                                                                              

January 15: The Crisis on Infinite Earths finale was everything I wanted it to be and amazing things I didn’t know I wanted: Bebbo, Marv Wolfman, Sargon, Black Lightning’s reaction to his new reality and the Table of Justice. I’m positively giddy!

January 16: A great start to my day. Wrote and posted a blog entry. Ran four errands in an hour and brought laughter to two people that I encountered along the way. All before noon.

January 17: A neighbor told me I looked good. I feel pretty good, too. My blood pressure and blood sugar numbers are excellent. I’m sleeping better. I have more energy. I think I’m ready for the next battles.

January 18: Giving myself a break. I started stressing out over all the things I needed to do before going to Atlanta. Then I decided it was okay to move most of those things to after I returned from the trip. My relief was immediate.
                           
January 19: The Black Lightning show put me up in a suite that was bigger than anyplace I ever had while living in New York. It was so big that, when the manager brought me complimentary chocolates and water, I didn’t realize he was knocking on *my* door because I was in the bedroom on the other side of the suite.

January 20: Trevor von Eeden and I shot cameo appearances for the third season finale of Black Lightning. It was a fun, fascinating experience made even more so by director and showrunner Salim Akil asking us to take a bow.

January 21: On set for the last day of shooting for Black Lightning season three. Saw old friends, met some cool people, had lunch with Christine Adams and James Remar, gave books/pins to crew members. I’ll say more after the season finale airs in March.

January 22: Supergirl. The first post-Crisis episode was a mess. In a good way. Surprises galore. Twists I didn’t see coming. Emotional moments. I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
                                                                                 

January 23: Batwoman. I love Batwoman being out to the citizens of Gotham. I also love Malia Pyles as hacker Parker Torres and hope she’ll be a recurring character.

January 24: Comics fan Jon Cryer is the best live-action Lex Luthor of them all. I’m bored silly by the overuse of Luthor in the comic books, but Cryer has made the villain interesting again.

January 25: Major renovations at our home have begun with new floor in our downstairs family room. Besides the treadmill, it’ll hold my DVDs and Blu-rays. I’m giddy knowing they’ll all be organized and in one place.

January 26: When I announced that I was running to be my precinct’s central committee member of the Medina County Democratic Party, I received $200 in campaign donations from online friends. That will cover a good chunk of my mailing expenses. If you’d like more info, check out my bloggy thing for January 15.

January 27: Young Sheldon. Not only did the episode “Body Glitter and a Mall Safety Kit” give us the origin of Sheldon’s offering a friend a warm beverage, but the closing voiceover revealed a cool development in the adult Sheldon’s life.

January 28: Super-heroes have always leaned left. Dudley Hogarth, publisher of the Australian Phantom comics, acknowledged that in an editorial. The issue reprinted a 1972 story that showed awareness of the social climate and took a stand against apartheid and racial discrimination.
                                                                              

January 29: Combat Colin. I’m reading the collections of my pal Lew Stringer’s classic strip from Action Force and some other UK comics of the 1980s...and loving it. Action, comedy, great characters and huge explosions.

January 30: From Pulp Hero Press, Forgotten All-Star: A Biography of Gardner Fox by Jennifer DeRoss is an incredibly interesting and well-researched book on one of the most pivotal comic-book writers of all. Worthy of Eisner Awards nomination.

January 31: A life-long Republican just told me they’ll never again vote for a Republican. Disguised by what the party has become, they are ashamed they ever voted Republican in the past. They’ll support Democratic Party candidates in the future.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella