Thursday, July 18, 2024

G-FEST XXIX (July 12-14, 2024)


G-FEST XXIX was the vacation I was looking forward to and which I needed even more badly than I realized. This event is said to be “the largest regular gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster fans in the world.” It was held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, Illinois from July 12 through the 14th.

Getting a late start, my son Eddie and left the relatively peaceful city of Medina, Ohio, for the always raucous Chicago. Our six-hour drive was uneventful save for our GPS directing us to an alternate route that kept us off the Dan Ryan Expressway, shaved ten minutes off the drive and saved us a few bucks in tolls, of which Illinois has an abundant amount. Even if we hadn’t saved time and money, it was a blessing to not be on the Dan Ryan. If there’s a road, I can truly say I hate, that road is the Dan Ryan.

Another blessing was that some dear friends of ours were able and willing to pick up our convention badges. Pick-up ended at 5:30 pm Thursday - too early in my opinion - and we didn’t reach the hotel until close to 7 pm. I connected with those and other friends later that evening, enjoying some great conversation.

Digression. The Hyatt Regency O’Hare is my least favorite aspect of G-Fest. It disappoints on virtually every metric, save that, from what I was told, the hotel staff works well with the event. I’ll spare you my grievances here. I’ll be writing a letter to Hyatt in the next day or so and will likely share that missive with you in a near-future bloggy thing. I’m waiting on the arrival of my e-mail  bill which - I shake my head - hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll be calling the hotel to inquire about that. End of digression.

Thursday’s dinner was at the hotel’s Red Bar & Lounge. The drinks and food were fine, but pricy. For the same amount of money, if you are willing to leave the hotel, you can find much better and more varied options.

Friday’s breakfast was a buffet at the hotel’s O’H American Grill. This was by giving a poor restaurant one final chance and it failed miserably. So-so food. Scant variety. High price. Just a mile away, you will find a Denny’s with excellent food, reasonable prices and Carolina, one of the nicest waitresses I’ve met. She is a treasure who truly loves seeing the G-Fest attendees year in and year out.She even recognized us from a previous visit. We ate there Saturday and Sunday.

                                                                           



I wanted to attend several panels and presentations during G-Fest, so that was my priority. First up on Friday morning was “Jaws vs. Japan: Kaiju Sharksploitation,” presented by the very knowledgeable
Kevin Derendorf. He opened my eyes to the immense influence Steven Spielberg’s Jaws has on Japanese kaiju and shark films, as well as introducing the audience to a variety of shark films. I thought it was one of the best panels I’d seen at G-Fest.

Eddie loves Chicago’s Italian beef sandwiches. The hotel food being what it was, we drove to a nearby Portillo’s. I don’t eat a lot of red meat these days, but I had a craving for Fettuccine Alfredo and ordered that with garlic bread. Though I ordered a small portion, what I got was enough to feed two or three people. If our room at the Hyatt had a microwave and a decent refrigerator, I could have eaten the leftovers for at least two more meals.

                                                                                      



The next panel I wanted to see was Female Leads of Toho Films with Jessica Tseang. She and the other two panelists covered quite a bit of ground, offering some keen insights into the characters and the actresses who played them. Of course, I have to go outside Toho for my favorite female lead and female kaiju. The former would be Mara Corday, who played a rancher (The Black Scorpion), an assistant to a scientist (Tarantula) and a top scientist in her own right (The Giant Claw). My favorite female kaiju? No contest. It’s Gorgo’s mom all the way.

Kaiju World (aka the dealers room) was next. Every G-Fest, it takes my breath away to see the tens of thousands of Godzilla and other figures being sold. It took all my will power not to buy the large  Gorgo figure ($200) there. If I see it again somewhere, I might not be so strong.

From the same vendor, I did purchase Soul War, a graphic novel with a giant monster, 1940s Nazis and a menace from deep space. The book is written by Mac McClintok and Patrick McEvoy with art by the latter. I hope to read it soon.

Outside the main G-Fest area, the hotel had set up a food service offering burgers, pizza, tacos and such. Needing a snack, I bought a small pizza. It was good, but, like everything else at the Hyatt, too expensive. If the hotel thought it could get away with it, it would charge you for wear and tear on the floors you walk to go to the convention and your room.

The last presentation I attended on Friday as the kids edition of G-Pardy. It’s a Kaiju version of Jeopardy and usually entertaining. This time out, it took a long time to cull the prospective players, all twelve or under, to the three actual players. The match itself dragged because the traditional Jeopardy rules weren’t followed and because the kids didn’t seem to understand how Jeopardy is played. It was still enjoyable, but it could have been more enjoyable with better preparation of the players and a much stricter adherence to  the actual rules of the game.

Friday night saw me hanging in my hotel room, reading things like Justice League Vs. Godzilla Vs. Kong, The Punisher: The Bullet That Follows, a volume of the manga A Man and His Cat and short articles in Paperback Fanatic. Thursday and Friday were catching up with me and I needed an evening of quiet time.

                                                                            



I also watched Kaiju TV, which was running on two different hotel channels. This is a fun feature of G-Fest with a mix of dubbed and subtitled and virgin Japanese movies and episodes of TV shows. We saw Gamera, different Ultraman series and more.

I found the spacewomen of Gamera: Super Monster fascinating. This 1980 film is comprised mostly of clips from previous Gamera movies, but there’s considerable new footage of three lovely women fighting an evil counterpart to protect Earth from monsters unleashed by the woman’s alien masters. If I ever write a Gamera comic book series, you can bet the ladies will appear in it.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back soon with more coverage of my G-Fest XXIX experience. See you then.

© 2024 Tony Isabella


 

Monday, July 8, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN JUNE

 

 

June and July made me wonder if American democracy is coming to an end. You know what I’m talking about. I’m not ready to write about this at length, but I will soon.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to something that always puts smiles on my face. G-FEST XXIX, said to be “the largest regular gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster fans in the world” is returning to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL, from July 12–14. My son Eddie and I will be among the thousands of attendees there attending panels, hanging out with the good friends we have made there over the years, looking at great art and other displays, seeing movies, shopping the vendors room and, in the case of Eddie, eating his weight in Italian beef sandwiches. Of course, I will be eating more modestly as I am determined to get in the best shape of my life, the better to face and defeat the fascism of Trump and his maniacal followers.

I strongly urge you to check out G-Fest online, knowing you’ll have a wonderful time if you attend. If you want to meet up with me and have me sign Isabella stuff, drop me an e-mail and I’ll do my best to make that happen.

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

June 1: The sex, also known as the Trump hush money verdicts, was amazing. Afterward, all I wanted to do was cuddle. But we still have work to do to stop this most criminal, racist and treasonous president in our history from being elected. And his little GOP dogs, too.

June 2: The Vineyard by Brian Hawkins, Sami Kivela, Jason Wordie and Taylor Esposito. Published by Aftershock, this is a seriously scary story about very bad people and those who enable them. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t become a movie.

                                                  


                                

June 3: PRIDE IN THE CLE (Cleveland) was one of the most beautiful, life-affirming experiences of my lifetime. Thousands of good people showing love and support for the LGBTQ+ community. I plan to attend next year. Love wins!

June 4: The Normals by Adam Glass and Dennis Calero. Everything you know about your family and life is a lie and for reasons that are incredible. Glass has been popping up in my “things” often of late and deservedly so.

                                                                             


                                                          

June 5: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Laura Berlanti as the mysterious Juror 11 (Melania Trump)in Monday’s hilarious sketch. Next I would like to see her as a stern warden at whatever prison the Cheetos Criminal gets sent to.  

June 6: Wheel of Fortune. Vanna White’s words of appreciation for the departing Pat Sajak had her in tears. I wasn’t far behind her. They were and shall always be remembered as one of the best teams ever to appear on television.

June 7: Wheel of Fortune. Pat Sajak’s farewell comments. He was one of the best and perhaps best game show hosts in television history. Quick with a joke or a comforting word. He’s irreplaceable, but I do hope for the best.

                                                                            




June 8: IDW’s Godzilla Valentine’s Day Special by Zoe Tunnell and Sebastian Piriz is one of the most enjoyable Godzilla comics of all time. It’s a fun romance and a thoughtful look at the relationship between kaiju and the world. I love it!

June 9: Treated myself to an at home double feature night watching Hit Man and Madame Web on Netflix. Sometimes I don’t need to watch great movies, just entertaining ones that take me away from a world of madness for a few hours.

June 10: I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together: A Memoir by Maurice Vellekoop. His life is examined as we watch him navigate emotional issues that threaten to overcome him and which are relatable to gay and straight readers alike. Masterful.

June 11: Gundala. This 2019 Indonesian superhero film based on the comic-book character created by Harya Suraminata fifty years ago is choppy but also fascinating. It’s apparently the first in a series of movies and I’ll be on board for them.

                                                                       


                                                                   
June 12: This is Screwed Up, but I was Reincarnated as a Girl in Another World by Keyaki Uchiuchi and Ashi tells of an old scientist reborn as an orphan in a world of swords and sorcery. It’s great fun. I’m two volumes in and looking forward to more.

June 13: Captain America by J. Michael Straczynski Vol. 1: Stand. In a story that spans decades echoing the past and the present, we discover Steve Rogers was a hero before the sickly young man became an icon. I love this beautiful fitting retcon.

                                                                          



June 14: I received a text message from a garage sale customer who was delighted by the Godzilla Ramen Bowl (with chopsticks) that was in the mystery box he bought. When my customers are happy, I share in their joy.

June 15: The Fox Maidens by Robin Ha is a engrossing, poignant and often shocking tale of a young 16th-century Korean woman who is more than she appears. It’s a story of generational trauma and easily one of the best graphic novels I’ve read this year.

June 16: As of today, Saintly Wife Barb and I have been married for forty years. Now you know why she deserves the “saintly.”  I love her as much today as I did then. I am so lucky to have shared this long and happy life with her.
 

                                                                           



June 17: Last Thursday, OutSupport Medina held its annual Pride on the Square event. A beautiful gathering of great people who showed love and support for their fellows whether LGBTQ+ or straight. This is what America should look like.

June 18: Saturday’s garage sale was all the more special because a fan who came from Detroit picked up our mutual pal Tom Orzechowski. I don’t see Tom, my first hire as a Marvel editor, nearly enough. The conversations were great fun.

June 19: Dark Spaces: Good Deeds by Che Grayson, Kelsey Ramsay and Rondo Patterson is a scary tale of disgrace, redemption and violent justice with a twist I did not see coming. I’ll continue to follow this anthology series presented by Scott Snyder.

June 20: Death Drop Drag Assassin by David Hazan and Alex Moore is a “supernatural queer noir” series about a hitman turned drag queen trying to protect the community from a killer. I’m enjoying the mix of suspense and soap opera.

June 21: Fantastic Four by Ryan North Vol. 1: Whatever Happened to the Fantastic Four brought me back to the first family of heroes I loved as a youth. What else can I say, except that “The Night of Doom” might be my favorite Reed and Sue story ever.

                                                                            



June 22: The Big Bakeover on the CW. Award-winning British baker Nancy Birtwhistle has come to the U.S. to help struggling bakeries. It’s like Bar Rescue but nice and leaves me feeling good at the end of each episode. She’s wonderful.

June 23: Dark Horse published Drawing Lines: An Anthology of Women Cartoonists in 2020. The best and most unforgettable story in the book is “True Tales from the Shampoo Bowl” by Gail Simone with art by Rebecca Woods and lettering by Lois Buhalis.

June 24: The Equalizer. I just watched “Blind Justice,” which aired March 3. My friend Marvin Jones is awesome as a blind military vet surviving on his own and trying to mend his relationship with his daughter.

June 25: Grim Volume 1 by Stephanie Phillips with artist Flaviano and colorist Rico Renzi. Jessica Harlow is unlike any other reaper. She doesn’t know how she died and her search for that imperils Hell and Earth. I’m hooked.
 

                                                                                       



June 26: Eddie Isabella, born this date in 1988. I’m a Godzilla dad and he’s my Minya. He’s been a great companion to conventions and movies and screenings...and I’m incredibly proud of the fine man he has become. Vote for Eddie!

June 27: World’s Finest Teen Titans by Mark Waid with Emanuela Lupacchino and Mike Norton. I’m thinking Waid’s WF titles exist in their own private universe, which is fine by me. They’re fun with recognizable heroes and satisfying stories and art.
 

                                                                            



June 28: Becoming Who We Are: Real Stories About Growing Up Trans by writer/editor Sammy Lisel and artist/editor Hazel Newlevant and others. A suitable for young adults anthology that delivers on its title. Well-written, beautifully drawn, life-affirming.

June 29: Harlan Ellison’s Watching. Rereading his movie columns in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, I’m reminded of the poetry of his prose...and how often I still need to research his sometimes obscure but always apt analogues.

June 30: Harbingers of the coming apocalypse. There are more cheesy and just plain terrible giant creatures and shark movies streaming than I can watch. Between this and Trump, mankind has definitely earned its approaching demise.

And now...Tony’s Best of the Bloggy Thing Month. Three categories. Three winners.

BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH: Godzilla Valentine’s Day Special

BEST MOVIE/TV SHOW OF THE MONTH: Hit Man

BEST PERSON OF THE MONTH: Barb Isabella and Eddie Isabella (tie)

One more thing. My only Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales in July will be Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27, from 9 am to noon at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH 44256. I’ve already started adding great new items to the sales and will continue to do so right up to the moment I open the garage doors to my customers.

In the meantime, you can always check out my eBay store for amazing auctions. There will be a new batch of great stuff posted this weekend. Good shopping!

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Sunday, June 23, 2024

APPEARANCES


If you are one of the many fans who have written me hoping that I’ll be appearing at a convention near you, you’ll be disappointed this year. So will I. I was looking forward to meeting you and the other fans in your area. Sadly, the convention invitations haven’t been coming my way and, just like you, I don’t understand why this is the case.

One would think most conventions would be eager to have a 52-year comics industry creator on their guest rosters. I have history and stories to share and, from what the audience says, I tell them in an entertaining and informative manner.

I don’t think I’m a particular expensive guest. I ask for hotel and travel expenses, a modest per diem for food and incidentals, and an easily accessible booth where I can sign for the fans and sell some stuff. I don’t charge an appearance fee.

According to one fan, a promoter told him old comics guys like me don’t want to travel to conventions. It wasn’t that long ago that my Saintly Wife Barb and I flew just over 12 hours each way to be guests at an event in Singapore. If a convention is within, let’s say six hours of me, I can drive there.

I know one convention promoter who won’t invite me any longer to a convention I did several years in a row for him because I was “mean to Republicans online.” Which I don’t deny. But, save for answering questions from the fans about social issues in my stories, I don’t generally do politics at my appearance. Maybe I wear the occasional LGBTQ supportive t-shirt, but that’s pretty much it. Of course, the same promoter has no problem hosting toxic actors who actually do include their hate-driven politics in their presentations. I guess it’s a soul of the beholder thing.

For whatever reasons, I’m not getting the invitations...and I can’t afford to attend conventions on my own dime. I can’t afford to lose money attending conventions. With one exception that I’ll mention directly. But that one is a father-son vacation.

Here’s the slim pickings for the rest of 2024...


Friday, July 12: G-Fest (Chicago)

Saturday, July 13: G-Fest (Chicago)

Sunday, July 14: G-Fest (Chicago)

Sunday, August 4: NEO Comicon (North Olmsted, Ohio)

Friday, September 20: Literary Cleveland (1:30-3:00 pm)

Saturday, September 21: Flaming River Con (Cleveland)

Saturday, November 9: Akron Comicon

Sunday, November 10: Akron Comicon

G-Fest is the convention I attend with my son Eddie. I’m not a guest and, unless I’m called upon at the last minute, I don’t appear on any panel presentations. We go to commune with my Lord and Savior Godzilla, hang out with fellow kaiju devotees, attend panels and, in my son’s case, eat his weight in Italian beef sandwiches. Which are excellent in Chicago. One year, we also went to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play. Another year, we had dinner with some comics friends who lived in Chicago. It’s a vacation and not a work event.

NEO Comicon is a terrific convention held in the Soccer Sportsplex, a venue which has turf instead of the usual concrete. It always has a fine guest list and wonderful vendors.

Literary Cleveland will host Inkubator, its free annual conference for writers. I’ll be on a panel on comics writing. The organization is hoping to provide insight on the process, craft, and publication paths available for writing comics to help local writers who may be interested in learning more.

Flaming River Con is a nerd and pop culture con, celebrating queer culture. This event is dedicated to LGBTQIA+ geek culture, focusing on queer vendors, art, comics, books, zines, podcasts, panels, and workshops. The all-day activities include non-profits, programming, cosplay contests and Pokémon parties! It’s a family friendly event with free entry, though a $5 donation is suggested. This is a life-affirming event that fills me with joy.

Akron Comicon is, of course, one of my favorite conventions. I get to hang out with old friends and meet new ones.

I’ll have more details on all of the above events as we get closer to them. Today, I simply wanted to let you know I’ll be attending them and am looking forward to seeing you at them.

I am, of course, open to appearing at other conventions and events, including giving talks at libraries and schools. E-mail me and we can work out the details.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff. 

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Saturday, June 22, 2024

MY NEXT GARAGE SALES WILL FEATURE CAPES FOR KIDS


The dangerous heat that has hit Medina and much of the country has had an adverse effect on my garage sales. It’s been too hot to work in my garage during the day. So I’m trying to do my garage work in the early morning hours and late evenings. I’m confident this will allow me to fill the sales with all sorts of great stuff.

My next garage sales will be Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29 from 9 am to noon. Naturally, I almost never close the door exactly at noon if I have customers still shopping. With advance notice, I can sometimes accommodate Saturday afternoon or evening customers or Sunday customers. E-mail me to check on this.

These garage sales will feature “Capes for Kids.” I got a good buy on capes and masks for kids three and older and will be giving them out free to kids who accompany their parents to the garage sales.
I only have thirty of these sets, so this promotion ends when I’ve given out the last set.

This coming week, I’ll be restocking my garage as much as humanly possible. I’m using every suitable box I can find to put together as many mystery boxes as I can. I’m shooting for a dozen and think I can reach that goal.

There will be usual oversized hardcovers and trade paperbacks and boxes of comic books priced at a dollar. We’ll have a couple boxes of magazines, some Barbie collectibles, some Black Lightning action figures, Funko figures, the exclusive Tigra poster by Jay E. Fife and more.

I’ll have boxes of more expensive comic books, including many gems from the Silver Age of Comics. I’ll have boxes of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. I’ll have tables of books and manga and other stuff priced at a buck each. I’ll have some sets of non-sport trading cards. Thousands of cool items at bargain prices.

As always, I will be happy to sign your Isabella items for free at these garage sales. I’ll also do my best to answer your questions on my comics career and comics in general. I like to think of the sales as a convention in a garage. A small convention, but fun all the same. I think you’ll agree.

Here’s what I hope with be my finalized garage sales schedule for the rest of the summer:


Friday, June 28: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, June 29: GARAGE SALE

Friday, July 26: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, July 27: GARAGE SALE

Friday, August 9: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, August 10: GARAGE SALE

Friday, August 23: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, August 24: GARAGE SALE

Friday, September 6: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, September 7: GARAGE SALE

Friday, September 27: GARAGE SALE

Saturday, September 28: GARAGE SALE

I will have more details on these events as we get closer to them. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 20, 2024

NO GARAGE SALES THIS WEEKEND

 I'M NOT HOLDING GARAGE SALES THIS WEEKEND. It's been too hot to work in the garage safely. Weather permitting, my next garage sales will be next weekend, June 28-29.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN MAY

 

 

May marked the kickoff of my 2024 Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales. The first sales were held on Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, and Friday and Saturday, May 24-25. Over the four days, I achieved just over 93% of my goal for the sales, falling short by just $126.

Back-to-back sales are always problematic, especially when one of them falls on a holiday weekend. I went with the dates available to me. I’ll likely do back-to-backs again this summer.

My next garage sales are Friday and Saturday, June 7-8, and Friday and Saturday, June 21-22. These sales take place at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio and run from 9 am to noon each day. I can sometimes accommodate late shoppers Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning/afternoon. To set an appointment, e-mail me and I’ll do my best to work with you.

As seems standard these days, May was filled with things that did not make me happy, things generated by the criminal/racist/traitor Donald Trump and his vile lackeys in the GOP. But good people are fighting back against these villains and that pleases me greatly.

Here are the other things that made me happy in May...

May 1: My new more colorful garage sale lawn signs have arrived. I think they look beautiful and inviting.

May 2: Super Detention (2016). Set in a high school for kids with super-powers, this is an entertaining “X-Men Meets Breakfast Club” effort in which the unruly students must save their classmates from a super-villain. Fun and unassuming.

May 3: Roaming by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki. A beautifully  flowing graphic novel in which three young Canadian women vacation in NYC. With some personal drama along the way, this shows both the cool and the ugly in the city. Highly recommended. 5-3-24.

May 4: Free Comic Book Day at Sweets & Geeks in Medina. It’s a huge store filled with candy, odd soda pops, Funko figures, games a game room for onsite play. I had a blast talking with the friendly fans who came to the event.

                                                                             



May 5: Slay (2024). Currently available on Tubi, it’s drag queens and rednecks battling vampires in a backwater bar. Come for the pop culture references and stay for the heartwarming characters and the many surprises. Just a fun flick.

May 6: Bob Hearts Abishola. “Find Your Bench” was a perfect finale for one of my favorite TV comedy series ever. Every episode brought great performances of characters unlike any others on television. It was an epic and memorable run.

May 7: Funded by Kickstarter, The Dusk by Alex Segura, Elizabeth Little and David Hahn introduces a Batman-like hero who is neither brutal or mentally ill. The graphic novel is suitable for all ages. I hope there’s more to come.

                                                                                  



May 8: My Black Lightning Archives has a Champion Raglan T-Shirt, a cast & crew item from the second season. It’s a XL so I can wear it myself for a while before the Archives is (hopefully) donated to one of the historical Black colleges.

May 9: From 2016, Rough Raiders Volume 1 by Adam Glass and Patrick Olliffe is just plain fun. I may be late to the party, but I loved this team: Teddy Roosevelt, Houdini, Edison, Jack Johnson and Annie Oakley. There are two additional volumes.

                                                                                              



May 10: Won’t Back Down. Edited by Trina Robbins, this anthology in support of a woman’s right to choose is filled with poignant comics by over fifty creators. As Robbins well knew, it is a fight worth fighting as long as it takes.

May 11: Women Take the Conn. I enjoyed my friend Valentina Rossi’s essay on the insane artist Marta so much I bought the collection of Star Trek essays. Her insights into Marta made me want to write the character. Are you listening, IDW?

                                                                                 



May 12: Another very cool addition to my Black Lightning archives.A very rare varsity Black Lightning TV show cast and crew jacket. It even fits me! (Okay, it’s a tad tight.) I will continue to look for key items to add to the archives.

May 13: Groo: In The Wind by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier. It’s always a treat to sit down with a new Groo adventure. Hilarious and new reader friendly, this tale is laced with social commentary that makes its point without dominating the laughs.

                                                                              



May 14: My latest addition to the Black Lightning archives is this Garfield High School hat, a cast and crew item from season one of the series. That looks like a panther to me. So the school mascot was a black panther? That tracks.

May 15: B Movie Art: A Career in Black and White by Mike DiGrazia. A stunning collection of poster art from the man who created such iconic images as Sharknado, 6-Headed Shark Attack, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies and so many other cheesy delights.

May 16: Young Sheldon. Over three days, I watched the final nine episodes of the series. Great character moments. Scenes of joy and sorrow. Above all, a most satisfying finish to one of our favorite shows. Much like The Big Bang Theory that birthed it.

                                                                                     



May 17: Attack of the Meth Gator. From the Asylum and directed by  Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray, this fun film recalls the days when SyFy gave us wonderful mockbusters and other monster movies instead of its current tired old blockbusters.

May 18: My first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales of 2024 achieved 125% of my two-day goal. I’ve already started restocking for next week’s sales.

May 19: Cleveland Asian Festival. After Saturday’s garage sale, we attended this amazing street fair in Asian Town. So many terrific food trucks, sponsors and vendors along with beautiful costumes and  great entertainment. We’ll go back in 2025.  

                                                                                  



May 20: Atlas Artist Edition No. 1 featuring Joe Maneely. Edited by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo and published by Fantagraphics, this book is breathtaking in the beauty of the art and the obvious care that went into selecting its contents.

May 21: Shadow Doctor by Peter Calloway and Georges Jeanty. This is the true story of a Black physician caught between his calling and the mob in 1930s Chicago. It came out in 2021 and I want much more. Maybe even a movie.

May 22: CSI Vegas. Though it wasn’t planned as the series finale, I thought “Tunnel Vision” was an excellent and largely satisfying end to the series. Fine performances all around and fun forensic gobbledygook.

May 23: An NAACP Image Award nominee, Queenie: Godmother of Harlem: by Elizabeth Colomba and Aurelie Levy is the story of the legendary Stephanie Saint-Clair. A stylishly-told page turner, I recommend it to all who enjoy historical graphic novels.

May 24: My Black Lightning Archives. I added a second slightly different cast and crew jacket from the first season to my growing collection of memorabilia from the TV series. I hope to find more items in the future.

May 25: Radio Margaritaville. It’s Channel 24 on Sirius XM, owned by the Jimmy Buffet estate and has live broadcasts of Buffett's concerts as well as music by him and his fellows. It’s a favorite companion as I drive from here to there.

                                                                                        



May 26: Those of you who know the differences and recognize the distinctions. It’s not National Mattress Sale Weekend or Barbeque Weekend or even “Burger of the Summer” Weekend. It’s a somber time for honoring those who gave their all.

May 27: Fiesta Jalapeno. Once a week, I treat myself to a sit-down meal there, ordering the Speedy No. 3 lunch special. If any of my area friends want to join me, send me an e-mail. I’ll try my best to make it happen.

                                                                        



May 28: Elsbeth. The season finale, aptly named “A Fitting Finale,” boasted fine character moments, including a magnificent performance from André De Shields. Fashion, humor, and, of course, murder most foul. Looking forward to season two.

May 29: Rob Petersen. If you’ve purchased items from my eBay store and been impressed by the great packing and service, thank my pal.I find the goodies in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff. He’s the guy who handles everything else. A true friend.

May 30: Legend of the Hawkman by Ben Raab and Michael Lark. From 2000, this classy three-issue series isn’t 100% my take on Hawkman and Hawkwoman, but close enough for me to enjoy it immensely. Why won’t DC collect great Hawkman work like this?

May 31: Sugar. In this stylish series, Colin Farrell is incredible as a private detective looking for the missing granddaughter of a Hollywood icon. The mysterious John Sugar is a great character and the eight episodes deliver a most satisfying story.

And now...Tony’s Best of the Bloggy Thing Month. Three categories. Three winners.

BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH: Atlas Artist Edition No. 1 featuring Joe Maneely

BEST MOVIE/TV SHOW OF THE MONTH: Slay

BEST PERSON OF THE MONTH: Rob Petersen

I have a long list of things I want to cover in my upcoming bloggy things. I’ll do my best to get this feature on a more frequent and regular schedule. Thanks for reading.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN APRIL


The world and my country are becoming more unhinged by the minute. While I fully intend to address that insanity in future editions of the bloggy, I can’t do so right now lest I curl into a fetal ball of despair and rage.

So I instead turn to that which gives me hope and joy in a world of madness. Every day, to combat the encroaching darkness, I shine a light on something good and positive.

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

April 1: Though his broken ankle kept my great friend Mark Evanier from WonderCon, I spent a few hours the night before the event with him and Brinke Stevens at his place. It was a fun evening and much arcane knowledge was shared.

April 2: Godzilla X Kong The New Empire. It’s a great movie, much better than Legendary’s previous film. Great monster action and the critters exhibit real personality. Equally terrific human stories, which I think made for great kaiju movies.

                                                                               



April 3: WonderCon 2024. From the moment we arrived at WonderCon, we were treated with much kindness and respect by the showrunners, the crew, the volunteers, the creators and the fans. It was one of my best conventions ever.

April 4: WonderCon 2024. Jhonny Javier and Reese Goldman came by my table. Jhonny had come from Argentina a week prior. I was delighted to welcome him and be part of his first US convention experience. So many great WonderCon memories.

April 5: WonderCon. I receive great joy from “The Ripple Effect,” people whose lives I affected. Pam Noles credits my Cosmic Comics store for her love of comics. Today, she’s a L.A. stage manager who works for Comicon. Wonderful to see you again, Pam.

April 6: WonderCon. Hosted by Victor Dandridge and sponsored by the  Comic Arts Conference, my spotlight panel was amazing and a big hit with those in attendance. I love getting opportunities to educate and entertain.

April 7: WonderCon 2024. Joshua Reed was the letterer of my Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands series and did a wonderful job with my scripts. I got to meet him at the convention and sign his copy of
the trade. I hope I can work with him again.

April 8: WonderCon. Asked about Black Lightning, Cold Dead Hands, I was pleased to extol the editorial contributions of Jim Chadwick and Harvey Richards...and to hear other creators speak as highly of them. Wish we had done more together.

April 9: WonderCon 2024. I could post these happy things all month long and I wouldn’t begin to cover all the amazing folks I met and all the amazing times my family and I had. I’ll try to write a full convention report soon.

                                                                         



April 10: Post-WonderCon 2024. Our best and favorite meal of this trip was at 18 Folds, an Asian fusion restaurant in Anaheim. That meal was built around the incredible steamer party platter. It was $64 but enough deliciousness for the four of us.

April 11: Godzilla: Awakening by Max Borenstein and Greg Borenstein with art by Eric Battle, Yvel Guichet and Alan Quah. Reprinted in  Legends of the Monsterverse, it’s an exciting introduction to the Godzilla and Kong comics from Legendary.

April 12: Silver Age Classics: Konga Volume One. From PS Artbooks, this reprints issues #1-5 of the Charlton series adapted from the 1961 movie. Even the stories not drawn by Ditko are entertaining. More to come.

April 13: Caitlin Clark was hilarious and inspirational on Saturday Night Live. She held her own on Weekend Update while giving shout outs to other players and the women who paved the way for both her success and the success of women’s basketball.

                                                                                   



April 14: Gaytheist: Coming Out of My Orthodox Childhood by Lonnie Mann and Ryan Gatts is a compelling graphic novel about a young gay man (Mann) escaping from his birth religion. The more any religion controls its followers, the less I like it.

April 15: A Guest in the House by Emily Carroll. It’s a unsettling ghost story about a second wife who is surrounded by dark questions about her husband’s first wife. It’s downright chilling in places and would make a great scary movie. 

                                                                            




April 16: I Have No Shelf Control. This shirt speaks to me. It was a gift from a dear friend who knows me all too well.

April 17: Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa. A 2024 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ+ Comics, this teen romantic comedy captivated me from the start. High school drama, new friends, old friends. Just a treasure.

April 18: Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Finally watched it on Max. An excruciatingly bad performance by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta didn’t stop me from enjoying this film. So many great Arthur and Orm moments.

April 19: CSI Vegas. The “Atomic City” episode was the best of the season to date. Creepy murders. Moving scenes for the regular cast. John Ross Bowie as a quirky survivalist. A conclusion I didn’t see coming. Excellent television!

April 20: From Fantagraphics, The Atlas Comics Library No. 2: Venus Vol. 2 has arrived. Since I consider this title one of the most fun and fascinating of Atlas comics, I’m delighted to see the rest of it collected in such a great package.

April 21. The Legends of the Monsterverse boxed set from Legendary Comics. Having finished reading, I recommend it even more highly. Some of the stories are great, all are entertaining. And the bonus content is incredible!

April 22: The Daily Show. I was absolutely thrilled and surprised by the return of the wonderful Jessica Williams. The comedic timing between her and host Jon Stewart was flawless. I hope we see more of her on the show that invented news.

                                                                                   



April 23: My Black Lightning Glowing Logo Power Bank was a cast and crew gift from the TV series. When funds permit, I’ve been looking for such gifts on eBay. I want my BL Archives as cool as possible for whatever institution gets it after my death.

April 24: The newest Daily Show correspondents. Troy Iwata, Grace Kuhlenschmidt and Josh Johnson have been growing into their roles and doing a great job. Kuhlenschmidt is my favorite, but they are all terrific.

April 25: “What Remains of America,” a chilling story of a future by my old Marvel Bullpen buddy Scott Edelman, headlines Pulphouse Fiction Magazine #25. It’s a tale that holds great meaning for me as I see the insane world around me.

April 26: Not Dead Yet’s season finale was one of the show’s best episodes and laid fertile ground for a third season. Nell’s secret (she can talk to ghosts) is now known by a most unlikely character
and Lexi has bought the newspaper. More please.

April 27: Alma by John Holland and Hernan Gonzalez. The Chosen One is a 72-year-old grandmom with bad knees. That’s the irresistible premise of this series, coming soon to a Kickstarter near you. I’m going to support it and hope you will, too.

                                                                                     



April 28: My Black Lightning archives grows with the cool addition of this rare cast and crew Holloway black nylon jacket from the TV series. It’s a medium, so I won’t be wearing it, but it’s still a nice artifact from a great run.

                                                                               



April 29: Yet another addition to my Black Lightning archives. It’s a Black Lightning Season 1 cast/crew trucker cap. I can actually wear this one because it’s large enough to fit my head, even when people tell me I’m a legend.

April 30: I have Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale fever. My garage is full of boxes I’ll be going through to fill my inaugural sale with cool items. Opening weekend is May 17-18 and that’s just the start of an amazing summer.

And now...Tony’s Best of the Bloggy Thing Month. Three categories. Three winners.

BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH: Gaytheist: Coming Out of My Orthodox Childhood by Lonnie Mann and Ryan Gatts

BEST MOVIE/TV SHOW OF THE MONTH: Godzilla X Kong The New Empire

BEST PERSON OF THE MONTH: Mark Evanier

The start of my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales is Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The sales run from 9 am to noon each day. However, if there’s customers still shopping at noon, I won’t push them out the door.

If these hours don’t work for people, I am amenable to opening the garage doors most Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings, and all day Sunday. Just contact me and we’ll set up a time that works for both of us.

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

© 2024 Tony Isabella