Thursday, September 7, 2023
August seems like it was an insane blur of garage sales and getting ready for garage sales and watching a lot of landscaping happening courtesy of Saintly Wife Barb and the terrific handyman we hired a while back. We think so highly of him that we also had him working on our son Eddie and our daughter Kelly’s houses. Amidst the chaos, I also found time to do some serious thinking about what projects I’ll be commencing after my final garage sales on Friday, September 8, and Saturday, September 9. I’m feeling energized.
In case the title of today’s bloggy thing has you wondering, here are the things that brought me joy in August...
August 1: Hero Tomorrow was offering a great deal on all Apama and Apama-related comics to date. I have them all, scattered through my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, but now I can read them in their proper chronological order. Score!
August 2: We love our new landscaping. The front of our house and other parts of the lawn and yard look amazing. It’s a cleaner look that has been complimented by our neighbors, our mailman and even Amazon delivery drivers. Saintly Wife Barb is thrilled.
August 3: Cocaine Crabs from Outer Space. Just because.
August 4: The Uncanny Contrast. Recommend by a friend, this Korean series is a supernatural super-hero soap opera crime drama. The heroes have been given power to banish demons, but not for personal advantage. The lines get a little shaky.
August 5: Batman Superman World’s Finest Vol. 1 by Mark Waid, Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain. I neither know nor care what current DC continuity is, but I love what Waid laid down here, especially his treatment of the Doom Patrol.
August 6: The Shadow of the Cat. I watched this British thriller on Svengoolie. Solid writing and good acting as a cat seeks vengeance on those who murdered her beloved human. That the cat looked like my late Simba was oddly comforting.
August 7: I Am Wonder Woman by Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos. A particularly delightful entry to their “Stories Change the World” series. My only quibble is a timeline omitting the Kanigher, Andru and Esposito comics from the 1950s and 1960s.
August 8: InStock Trades. My go to dealer for graphic novels and my beloved omnibus editions. Their discounts are the best online and their packaging, which they recently upgraded even more, is second to none. Check them out. Tell them Tony sent you.
August 9: Bloom by Ted Sikora and Butch Mapa. I like origin stories concise, but reading the four-issue origin of this villainess was like watching a emotional, visually scary movie. I got chills. I want to see that movie.
August 10: Us by Sara Soler. This is a warm and welcoming graphic memoir love story of cartoonist Sara and her partner Diana with an emphasis on Diana’s gender transition. It’s an amazing book which I recommend without reservation to all.
August 11: Black Lightning appears in My First Book of Superpowers from 2021. Thanks to Mike Maloy for alerting me to this children’s book so I could get a copy for my archives.
August 12: My pal Svengoolie sent me an autographed copy of his new hilarious Svengoolie: Lost in Time comic book. I have an invite to visit him in the dungeon when next I get to Chicago. Which ain’t as scary as driving the Dan Ryan Expressway.
August 13: Sins of the Black Flamingo kicks off with a flamboyant thief pulling a caper and morphs into a mystic thriller. Kudos to Andrew Wheeler, Travis Moore, Tamra Bonvillain and Aditya Bidikar for a fine story with great characters. More please.
August 14: In the new season of Harley Quinn, Harley and Ivy strive to find a life-work balance. This is made all the more hilariously with Harley having joined the Bat-Family and Ivy running the Legion of Doom. Not for kids.
August 15: Saintly Wife Barb and I went to Medina’s Regal Cinemas to see the 10th anniversary edition of Sharknado. This new edition is all spruced up and the bonus content is terrific. A fun night at the movies with a classic goofy thriller.
August 16: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Mainline Comics. Published by TwoMorrows, this amazing volume collects the entire run of the western hero title and choice stories from Foxhole, Police Trap and In Love. A must-have for any Simon/Kirby fan.
August 17: My Adventures with Superman is too multi-versal for my tastes because I love smaller stories, but it won me over with its portrayal of Monsieur Mallah and the Brain. I would love to write comics with this version of those characters.
August 18: Apple Crush by Lucy Knisley. The second in the creator’s Peapod Farm series has Jen navigating moving on to middle school. Suitable for all ages, it’s further proof Knisley’s work belongs in all libraries. She’s a literary treasure.
August 19: I made a trip to the Fortress of Storage with son Eddie. We excavated two dozen books of amazing items, including memorable Superman merchandise. The challenge will be pricing all this stuff and getting into the rest of 2023's garage sales.
August 20: Blue Beetle. What a wonderful departure from the usual DCU doom and gloom. It’s the Reyes family that makes this movie so down-to-earth special. I would love to write a Nana limited series. I love a feisty grandmother with guns!
August 21: In Uncaped by Mike Spring and Dennis Tirona, super-hero Lady Olympus sees a vision of her life with comics store worker and musician Lucas, who she’d never previously met. It delivers on the romance and the comedy. I enjoyed it.
August 22: My neighbor put up a beautiful shed in his back yard. It took one day. I’d look out my window every now and then and it’d be further along. At one point, I asked if he were Amish. Got a laugh. I love this kind of stuff.
August 23: Frank Frazetta’s Mothman #1 by Tim Hetrick and various artists. Intrigued by the notion of new comics stories inspired by Frazetta’s paintings, I gave this a try and enjoyed it. I’ll keep reading and try some other Opus titles.
August 24: Funko’s new Mary Jane Watson figure. I don’t know what the heck Marvel has done with this icon in their comic books, but MJ’s Romita-drawn surprise revelation back in the 1960s is one of the great moments in comic books.
August 25: Wow! In the first day of this weekend’s garage sales, I made 112% of my two-day goal and met some Facebook friends who came from Michigan and Texas and stopped by to chat while scoring cool stuff and free signatures. A very fun day.
August 26: Super Suspenstories #1 by William Satterwhite. A recent order brought me the origin of Columbia, the spirit of America. It is not the most polished comic book, but it’s got heart and purpose and I hope to see more of this character. 8-26-23.
August 27: The Talk by Darrin Bell. This brilliant autobiographical work is intense and fraught with lessons necessary for the survival of young Black men and for the education of others who still just don’t get it. Required reading.
August 28: The unsung hero of my VAOS garage sales. One of my best customers has been helping me with pricing. He puts boards in bags. He lifts heavy boxes when my knee hurts. He organizes stuff. The sales wouldn’t be so great without him.
August 29: Sandman Mystery Theatre Compendium One by Matt Wagner, Steve T. Seagle and Guy Davis. If you haven’t read these unsettling stories, you should. If you haven’t reread them in a while, they’re just as engaging the second time around.
August 30: My Vast Accumulation of Stuff excavations are resulting in my finding a great many random issues of terrific 1960s/1970s Marvel, DC and Dell comics. You’ll see them in my garage sale this weekend.
August 31: Punisher War Journal by Torunn Grønbekk and a trio of artists was interesting. Frank’s commanding the Hand in two tales. The third is a poignant look at his return home from overseas wars. Not a Punisher fan, but I enjoyed this volume.
With my garage sales coming to a close for the summer, I’m hoping to post more bloggy things. Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Monday, August 21, 2023
Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are my favorite game shows. I rarely miss an episode of either. I love Jeopardy because it’s all about facts. Hard facts. There are no absurd alternate right-wing facts on the show. Just real facts.
Wheel of Fortune is a party show. You can sit down with your family and friends and try to shout out the answers to the puzzles before them. It can get silly - as can Jeopardy - but it’s one of the most good-natured shows on television.
Sadly, corporate greed is pushing them away from me. I’m very sad that I don’t know when I’ll be able to watch them again.
For the present, Jeopardy is on the wrong side of the picket line. Its writers are on strike. Co-host Mayim Bialik, a member of SAG-AFTRA and maybe even the Writers Guild, has refused to cross that picket line. Several of the finest Jeopardy champions also refuse to cross the picket line. Much to my disappointment, Ken Jennings has chosen to disrespect the picket line. It’s not a good look for you, Ken.
Just as bad as Jennings failure to support the unions is what the Jeopardy producers are planning for the upcoming season. They are going to use recycled material. They are going to use questions from past seasons. Besides being an insult to the striking writers, it’s one of the dumbest ideas I can manage.
There are common characteristics among Jeopardy champions. They are huge fans of the show, having watched it with their parents since their childhood and continuing to today. They also have remarkable memories. They wouldn’t be champions if they didn’t.
So the plan is to ask contestants, who have watched damn near every episode of Jeopardy and who almost certainly have amazing memories, to answer questions they would’ve seen on the show before. Forget about how smart the contestants are. Now the key factor on Jeopardy will be how fast they can buzz in.
That’s not my Jeopardy.
Closing question. Will the striking Jeopardy writers be paid when their material is recycled?
Wheel of Fortune? The show isn’t as fact-intensive as Jeopardy, but it appears it will be using recycled puzzles as well. Once again, memory will overshadow deduction in determining who will win each game. But that’s not my only problem with Wheel.
Pat Sajak is leaving the show after one more season. Sajak doesn’t always remain appropriate in his back-and-forth with contestants, but he is one of the most quick-witted hosts in television. He is unfailingly friendly and even kind with the contestants. Much more often than not, his quips land well.
His announced replacement? Ryan Seacrest.
If there is a more over-exposed and under-talented personality on television, ignoring the right-wing clowns on the fake news shows, I don’t know who it would be. He’s a dullard who couldn’t even hold his own with Kelly Ripa who, frankly, carried Seacrest when he was her co-host. His New Year’s Eve celebration hosting is even worse than perpetual man-children Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. He is an aging pretty face with no substance.
Pat Sajak is not irreplaceable, but his large presence needs to be filled by someone much more qualified than Seacrest. I’d recommend Wanda Sykes, but she’s already my go=to recommendation for almost everything. If they make a movie about my life, I want her to play me. She’d be better in the role than me.
Then there’s the disgusting mistreatment of the lovely Vanna White, whose beauty, charm and congeniality is a crucial element of Wheel of Fortune. By Hollywood standards, White is insanely underpaid for what she brings to the show. She hasn’t had a raise in decades and the powers-that-be don’t seem inclined to give her one. The lawyers are now involved and it could get ugly. Another reason not to watch Wheel of Fortune. I stand with Vanna!
Here I sit. I’m crushed two of my favorite programs will no longer be on my weekday watch list. I blame the greedy CEOs. The cost of agreeing to the modest demands of these unions would cost maybe 2% of their inflated earnings. Such greed is not good.
I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Friday, August 18, 2023
Don’t get me started. I mean that literally. Generally, I commence these “made me happy” pieces by detailing all the excrement I went through the previous month as a contrast to the things that brought me joy. Not this time. I’ll sum up the past three months by letting you know it was too much for me. Way too much. I don’t even want to think about it, much less write about it. So...
Without further adieu, here are the things that brought much-needed joy to me in July...
July 1: Simba is home again. She never really left. I feel her presence throughout our home. I often catch glimpses of her in her favorite spots. We will love her forever and we know she loves us too. My little buddy.
July 2: Black’s Myth by Eric Palicki and Wendell Cavalcanti. So a private detective werewolf, a half-djinn and The Minotaur walk into a mystery. That’s not exactly what happens, but what does happen is
an entertaining bit of spooky noir. Recommended.
July 3: The 24-hour Godzilla channel on Pluto TV. Okay, yes, I have seen these movies at least a dozen times over. But I never dreamed I’d be able to turn on the TV and always see Godzilla, anytime, day or night, for free! All praise the great scaly one!
July 4: Pluto TV also has a 24-hour channel devoted to the cinema classes from by The Asylum. Between this and the Godzilla channel, I’m almost wishing I could afford to retire. I think I need we need a bigger TV.
July 5: My new Weony blood pressure monitor. More consistent than my previous one. The downside is no longer ignoring I really need to adhere to a meal plan for my Type 2 diabetes. I’ll let you know how that goes.
July 6: Published around this time last year, Amazing Fantasy #1000 celebrates Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary with a terrific anthology of short stories by a variety of top comics creators. The issue is an absolute delight. Kudos all around.
July 7: Dead Man’s Party #1 by Jeff Marsick and Scott Barnett. One of my random Indy Planet buys, I liked it so much I ordered issues #2-5. The protagonist is an assassin given a diagnosis of incurable cancer. There are delicious twists.
[I finished the five-issue series and am thrilled to report it was great to the last page. Recommended.]
July 8: Days of Sand by Aimee De Jongh. When it comes to the next round of comics awards, I’ll be shocked if this powerful story of a government photographer in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of 1937 isn’t among them. It’s an instant classic.
[Days of Sand was eligible for some of this year’s awards. It got nominated, but did not win. It should have.]
July 9: Sweetness & Lightning by Gido Amagakure. A widowed school teacher with his young daughter share meals and the cooking of the meals with a neglected student. A bit heavy on the recipes, but so charming and heartwarming.
July 10: I Am Batman 2: Welcome to New York by John Ridley follows Jace Fox (who’s *a* batman not *The* Batman) to the Big Apple. Good intentions are soon complicated by politics and a terrifying serial killer. Looking forward to the third book.
[I Am Batman has been cancelled. DC’s vision of what makes for good comics is so far removed from mine that it could be company policy to cancel anything I like.]
July 11: Will Meugniot’s Adventures of Cat Passmore, Sub: Human is so deliciously fresh and fun it could’ve been picked from the fruit tree of the comics gods. It delighted me from start to finish. You can get it from Indy Planet...and you should!
July 12: A Jeopardy player revealed that, in his younger days, he used to create fake library cards so he could take out more books.Host Ken Jennies quipped, “Best Jeopardy crime ever!”
July 13: Bokksu Snack Box. Barb and I deserved a treat for what we went through in June. We’re getting a box of delicious stuff from Japan every month. Biggest likes so far: the white strawberry candy and the 20th Century Pear Biscuit.
July 14: The Out-Laws. This just released action comedy stars Adam Devine as a bank manager whose future in-laws are bank robbers on the run from their murderous partner. It’s 95 minutes of goofy fun, crazy action and a terrific supporting cast.
July 15: We have a new refrigerator in our kitchen. We had to buy it because our just-five-years-old fridge kicked the bucket. We’re hoping to get at least seven years out of this one. Now comes the restocking of the food.
July 16: Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge. I haven’t enjoyed a HGTV show this much since they rebuilt the Brady house. Crazy designs. Lots of Barbie history. Now I want them to build Avengers Mansion or the Hall of Justice.
[I am not kidding about either of those. Come on, HGTV. Time to get your share of the super-hero market.]
July 17: A Very British Affair: The Best of Classic Romance Comics. Curated by David Roach, this anthology of love comics features some amazing art, writing with a distinct British accent and a sense of the history of these magazines. Well worth reading.
July 18: My pal Mike Buckley is making his first comics convention appearance in far too long as a guest of the Gem City Comic Con at the Dayton Convention Center, July 22-23 in Dayton, Ohio. Mention my name and he’ll sing to you.
[Nobody asked Mike to sing to them. The fools!]
July 19: Casa Isabella has a spanking new driveway, which glistens in the sun. Seriously, in direct sunlight, it’s darn near blinding. Yes, the future is so bright we’ve got to wear shades. We will be able to park on it in a few more days.
July 20: From IDW, Bermuda by John Layman, Nick Bradshaw and Len O’Grady is a four-issue sci-fi thriller. Fast paced action, solid characters and a satisfying ending. If there’s a trade paperback, get it for your home, public or school library.
July 21: Lonesome Days, Savage Nights #1 by Steve Niles, Salvatore Simone & Syzmon Kudranski. From 2020, a werewolf on the side of the angels fighting the criminals who killed his beloved. I loved this first book. Where’s the second already?
[The second book is in the works, but clearly not progressing fast enough to suit me.]
July 22: Dark Blood by Latoya Morgan. A decorated soldier is home, living his life while dealing with Deep South racism. Experimented on without his knowledge, he now has powers he doesn’t understand. A dangerously engaging series. Highly recommended.
July 23: Finding Dee #1 by Dee Fish. “Sometimes Finding Yourself is a Transition.” A charming, funny and down-to-earth comic book about the cartoonist’s transition. It was published in 2017 and there’s a collection due this fall. Take my money.
[I bought and am enjoying all the issues published to date. I’ll be writing about them when I do my next “queer comics” blog.]
July 24: Executive Assistant Iris by David Wohl, Eduardo Francisco and John Starr. Back in 2011, I read some issues of this secretary, bodyguard and assassin. I liked them and meant to read more. Now I have and I like them even more.
July 25: Chu Volume 2: (She) Drunk History by John Laymen and Dan Boultwood. Saffron Chu, the master criminal sister of “my asshole cop brother Tony” returns with hilarious time-spanning capers that had me chuckling throughout. Highly recommended.
July 26: Our shiny new driveway was installed a week earlier, but we couldn’t park our vehicles on it until this date. Not only does it look fantastic, but it’s a lot safer for an old guy who walks with a cane a significant part of the time.
July 27: By most accounts, Comic-Con International in San Diego was a big success despite the impact of the writers and actors strikes.Related media fans found their way to the comics creators, panels and vendors and enjoyed themselves. Thumbs up.
July 28: Todd McFarlane Toys is producing a Black Lightning figure that’s due out in the fall of this year. I can’t wait to buy two of them, one for me and one for the lucky college that will eventually get my Black Lightning archives.
[This will be a WalMart exclusive and could be in their stores as early as mid-October.]
July 29: Netflix has added a bunch of intriguing looking movies and TV shows from South Korea. I liked the first episode of Mr. Queen and will be sampling others. I just wish Netflix wasn’t being such a dick when it comes to the writers strike.
July 30: NEO Comicon 2023. The one-day event was the largest in the show’s history. Thousands of attendees. Tens of thousands of comic books, Funko figures and more. Great comics creators and craftsman. Pure joy for the fan’s heart.
July 31: NEO Comicon 2023. One of the really cool things about the event was hanging out with my pal Mike Buckley, who I haven’t seen in several years. Also on hand was Tom Orzechowski, who was one of the best hires I ever made as a Marvel Comics editor.
I feel better now. I hope you do, too. I’ll be back soon with more bloggy thing fun.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Sunday, August 13, 2023
Continuing our reading of Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus. The book collects Batman #101-116 and Detective Comics #233-257.
Just one issue after Batman uncovered Kathy Kane’s secret life as Batwoman and bullied her to hang up her cape, the world’s greatest detective has to figure out another hero’s civilian identity. His own!
Written by Edmond Hamilton, “Batman and Robin’s Greatest Mystery” [Detective Comics #234; August, 1956] finds the dynamic duo losing their memories to a machine used on them by a criminal scientist. Our heroes must recover the memories to stop the scientist’s next and biggest crime. What I found most appealing was how Batman’s deductive logic mirrored what he had done in the Batman. I like a certain consistency in a character’s modus operandi. Of course, now that someone had uncovered Batman’s identity, he had no choice but to give up his career as a caped crusader.
What? That only applies to female crime-fighters? Goddess spare us from the patriarchy.
Batman #102 [September, 1956] has three stories. Written by a not-yet-identified writer, “The House of Batman” is drawn by the team of Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. It’s a weak effort in which a deceased millionaire leaves money for Gotham to build a downtown headquarters for Batman. Actually, the “deceased millionaire” is a criminal secretly using the house as his headquarters. What a dump plan. He was just begging to be caught.
Bill Finger’s “The Batman from Babylon” is drawn by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris. The synopsis:
When Brand Bartor is arrested for dressing in a Batman costume, the crook turns the tables on the Caped Crusader by implying Batman should be arrested for impersonating a Babylonian Batman!
We get some hypnotic time travel that never made sense to me even as a kid. It turns out Batman was that Babylonian Batman. A little bending of the truth and Batman is off the hook. It’s silly, but the art is sweet.
Finally, Bill Finger’s “The Caveman at Large” justifies the cover based on it when an amnesic actor finds is way into the Bat-Cave. Drawn by Moldoff and Paris, it’s another weak tale in a generally less than classic issue.
From Detective Comics #235 [September 1956], “The First Batman” by Bill Finger with artists Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye was an early retconning of Bruce Wayne’s family history and, indeed, the origins of his Batman persona. It was based on a costume Thomas Wayne wore to a society masquerade ball. When, on that pivotal night as Bruce Wayne contemplated his own masquerade, the bat flew into his window and unknowingly triggered the future Batman’s memories of his dad wearing the costume.
Wayne also learns Joe Chill wasn’t a trigger-happy stick-up robber. Chill’s murders of his parents were ordered by gangster Lew Moxon, seeking revenge for Thomas Wayne putting him in jail years earlier.
In a tight ten pages, Finger brought readers a recap of the birth of Batman, new details about past events and a satisfying ending.
What kind of man Thomas Wayne was has been retconned several other times in recent decades and sometimes in unsavory ways, but I think this first one got it right.
Batman #103 [October 1956] had the usual three stories, two of them written by Batman co-creator Bill Finger. Drawn by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, “The Broken Batman Trophies” is a weak six-page tale that telegraphs everything about itself by the middle of its second page. On a live TV show, Bruce Wayne gets a cut on his chin from a falling boom. Batman comes on to receive trophies from people he’s help but “accidentally” destroys them all. It’s mentioned on that second page that the camera will do a close-up on Batman when he’s handed the prizes. A child could figure out what Bats is up to and I’m certain of that because I was around four-and-a-half years old when I first read this story.
Arnold Drake wrote “The League of Ex-Convicts” with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. A reformed ex-con starts an employment agency for other reformed ex-cons. Three ex-cos get jobs, but each is framed for crimes on their jobs. I saw the conclusion coming a mile away. One of the people who hired them was doing the crimes, knowing the ex-cons would get the blame. Not a bad concept, but the eight-page length didn’t give us enough time with the accused men or to see how they suffered. I would love to give this premise the “book-length” story treatment.
Finger returns for the cover tale, also drawn by Moldoff and Paris. In “Bat-Hound, Movie Star,” Ace helps the Dynamic Duo track down a criminal and gets cast in a movie with the salaries of the crime-fighters going to charity. The earlier criminal escapes from jail, disguises himself and gets hired as the stunt coordinator with no background check in evidence. He rigs the stunts to kill the good guys. They don’t die and bring him to justice. Another story which didn’t set well with my younger self because, for there to be any suspense, Batman had to do really dumb things..like not checking the contents of his utility belt. I hate it when smart characters do stupid stuff to advance the plot. You can see that goes back to my childhood. I was a clever lad.
Detective Comics #236 [October, 1956] has “The New Model Batman” by an unknown writer and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff. Moldoff also drew this cover. Which made me laugh here in 2023. I thought Batman got some of that crazy “War on Drugs” money and, much as all the police forces that got it, used it for weapons of war that were way more than needed.
Released from prison, scientist Wallace Waley vows vengeance on the man who put him there. I don’t think I have to say who that man is. He devises anti-Batman weapons and sells them to other criminals, reserving a super anti-Batman weapon for himself. These anti=Batman weapons include defenses against the bat-ropes, the Batmobile and presumably more than can be shown in a ten-page story. Batman comes up with ways to thwart them all. But our unknown writer disappoints us in a major way. The super-weapon, so often mentioned during the course of this story, becomes a super-stunt on page seven...and it ain’t all that super. Thumbs down on this one.
That’s all for this installment of our deep dive into Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus. Look for another installment soon.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Sunday, July 9, 2023
June is usually a very happy month for me. My Saintly Wife Barb and I were married on June 16, 1984. Our son Eddie was born on June 26, 1988. My summer garage sales most often begin in June. The weather is generally pretty nice, except when we’re attacked by death smoke from Canada. I knew those folks weren’t as nice as they pretend to be. They have revealed their true nature. But this June. It was a nightmare.
The worst event of the month was the passing of Simba, our beloved cat of fifteen years. She came to us a stray after she gone through brief stays with two of our neighbors. She became my buddy, hanging out in my office, napping with me, watching cheesy monster movies. In the case of the latter, I think she enjoyed watching those giant animals eating humans. Totally understandable. She’ll never leave my thoughts, but her loss was devastating.
Then, in no particular order...
Pinprick leaks in pipes destroyed both our downstairs bathroom and our laundry room. Getting them rebuilt (more or less) was expensive and time-consuming.
Our screened-in back porch had to be largely rebuilt at the cost of thousands of dollars. Simba loved hanging out on that porch. Sadly, she only got to sit out there once after it was finished. Which it really isn’t since the screening on the porch’s door has already become loose. We are hoping the installer will just fix the thing without any drama or further expense.
We did dodge a bullet. A roofer told us we needed a new roof. That turned out to be not the case. The roofer was just looking to get us to give him thousands of dollars. Nice try.
The scanner on my printer won’t work. Apparently, Hewlett Packard is insisting I have to register the device with them so they will able to collect data they have no right to. I’m going to call them next week and, if they won’t bend on that, I’ll be shopping for a new printer/scanner that’s not from Hewlett-Packard.
Note: I’ve owned and used this scanner for several years and never had this problem with it.
On the afternoon of the same day my scanner went wonky, our kitchen refrigerator went off the rails. Home Appliances, from whence we purchased the fridge, won’t come out to look at it until July 10th.
Because who needs a working refrigerator in July?
Note: we bought a smaller refrigerator for the garage and hope that will take care of us for now.
And don’t get me started on the criminally corrupt GOP appointees on the Supreme Court. These robed monsters don’t seem to understand or, more likely, don’t care that SCOTUS rulings are supposed to be
based on the Constitution, not ideology or religion. They remain a threat to democracy and our country.
Also don’t get me started on the moronic right-wing comics fans who have no concept of the largely progressive history of the American comics industry and especially its super-heroes. Comic books didn’t suddenly become “woke.” They were always progressive. They opposed the fascism you so eagerly embrace on your path to the dustbin of history. I’m so tired of these idiots I’ve started blocking them for being so damn cruel and ignorant.
Take a breath, Tony.
However, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t embrace my search for joy in these often terrible times. On that note, here are the things that made me happy last month...
June 1: The Game Show Game, which ran four episodes on ABC, was an entertaining look at that part of the television industry. It left Saintly Wife Barb and I wanting more, so I hope we get an extended look at game shows on The History Channel.
June 2: Honestly, the Doctor Strange by Aaron & Bachalo Omnibus was not my Doctor Strange. It’s creepier and kookier than the classic version of the character and Strange has a much more disconcerting personality. Even so, I loved it. A lot.
June 3: Progress. On my coming garage sale launch (June 9-10) and on needed home repairs. One bathroom is being remodeled, our new back porch is set for next week and our landscaping looks terrific.Thanks to all who make this possible.
June 4: Walt Disney's Mickey and Donald: "For Whom the Doorbell Tolls" and Other Tales Inspired by Hemingway is just that, comics of those Disney icons based on short stories by the famous author.It’s entertaining and intriguing. A definite keeper.
June 5: Medina’s Tokyo Hibachi & Sushi. An informal restaurant with terrific food, lovely decor and fast friendly service. As the only Asian eatery open on Mondays, it’s become a regular option for me on that day.
June 6: I dreamed I was the answer to a Wheel of Fortune toss-up.One of the contestants got it right from just the “L” and the “T.” Pat and Vanna added that I was a lovely man and a fan of the show.
Ball’s in your court, Jeopardy.
June 7: The LeBron James Family Foundation opened an “I Promise” development in his hometown of Akron. It will provide a home for 50 families. Whether playing in Cleveland or not, James will always be my favorite basketball player.
June 8: Aimée de Jongh’s Days of Sand is a graphic novel set in the U.S. Dust Bowl of the 1930s.hen the Medina Library system didn’t have a copy, I asked they order one. They did and it will be sent to me soon. I love libraries.
June 9: Pros and (Comic) Cons. Editor Hope Nicholson put together a fun comics and prose anthology. I especially enjoyed Bud Plant’s historical journey and the pieces by woman and gays, proof of our industry’s true growth.
June 10: I avoid repeating “things” as much as possible, but I must again praise Rle Aruga’s Perfect World. In the second volume, the romance between Tsugumi and wheelchair user Itsuki grows stronger, even as they face serious new challenges.
June 11: Another repeat. Yuto Suzuk’s Sakamoto Days gets wilder and more fun with each new book. The legendary hitman retired, but that hasn’t stopped assassins from coming after him and even joining his hilarious extended family. I love it!
June 12: Another terrific Vast Accumulation of Stuff find. I have no memory of how I got them, but I just unearthed several Japanese-language volumes of the Ranma manga. They will be part of my manga- for-a-buck display at my garage sales.
June 13: Flung out of Space is a graphic biography by Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer covering a few pivotal years in the life of the novelist and comics writer Patricia Highsmith. It’s well-written, well-drawn and most engaging. Highly recommended. 6-13-23.
June 14: She-Hulk by Rainbow Rowell Vol. 1: Jen, Again (2022) is a fun take on my favorite Marvel Universe attorney. It’s got heart, humor and neat guest appearance. Much preferable to the grotesque takes on the character seen elsewhere.
June 15: Though I haven’t read Miss Fury: Joy Division yet, I think it’s pretty cool that the copy I borrowed from my local library is autographed by writer Billy Tucci.
June 16: I had an incredibly terrific Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale, followed by taking Saintly Wife Barb to the also very terrific Brown Derby restaurant in Medina to celebrate 39 years of marriage. Doesn’t get better than that.
June 17: Another glorious day in Medina. Chatted with cool people at my garage sale. Saintly Wife Barb and I attended Medina’s most excellent Juneteenth celebration on the town square. Had lunch at Jane’s Diner, another fine local restaurant.
June 18: I had a swell Father’s Day. My first ever visit to Half-Price Books. A new keyboard to replace the faded-letters one I’ve used for two decades or more. Lunch at Tokyo Hibachi with Saintly Wife Barb, Eddie and Kelly. Just perfect.
June 19: In Gido Amagakore’s A Galaxy Next Door, a lovely princess from a mysterious island becomes an assistant to a struggling manga artist raising his two young siblings. Honest laughs and romance. I’m looking forward to future volumes.
June 20: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Sometimes challenging but always rewarding, this animated feature earns a place among the best super-hero films of all time. The second part of this amazing epic can’t get here soon enough for me.
June 21: Miss Fury: Joy Division by Billy Tucci, Maria Laura Sanapo and Edu Menna. Set in World War II, this brutal and gripping tale of the classic heroine behind enemy lines has emotional weight and a satisfying ending.
June 22: The Wrath of Becky. A teenage girl slaughtering neo-Nazis.My hero. The sequel is almost as good as the original. Lulu Wilson again shines as the title protagonist with the end scenes teasing a third movie. Take my money!
June 23: Mafia Mamma. The always terrific Toni Collette shines as an American woman in full midlife crisis who finds herself the boss of a mob family in Rome. Great performances by the bast. Dark but hilarious humor. Barb and I loved it.
June 24: There was no garage sale today, but I couldn’t turn away the fan who came from North Carolina to get his Black Lightning #1 and Hawkman #1 signed. I let him shop the garage and also gave him a signed Black Lightning Funko figure.
June 25: For 15 years, I had the greatest little buddy a man could have. She hung out in my office, climbed comic-book boxes to look out the window, took naps with me. We gave each other a good life.
I’ll miss her forever.
June 26: As of today, Eddie Isabella is eligible to be President of the United States. My son is one of the finest men I know and, even if he weren’t my son, I’d vote for him. Plus: he goes to Godzilla movies and conventions with me.
June 27: Guilty pleasure! I got a great deal on Wonder Woman: The Silver Age Omnibus from In Stock Trades, my go to retailer for such pricier items. I can’t wait to start reading this wacky tales from my childhood.
June 28: The kindness shown us on the passing of Simba. Our friend Shari brought us a peach pie and a lovely framed photo of our pet. Our other daughter Giselle sent us LukPhylia cat memorial gifts. We are blessed with good people in our lives.
June 29: No matter what this insane world throws at me, I’m way too stubborn to quit. You might think about that before you’re looking at your bloody heart in my hand.
June 30: Last year about this time, Sophia came to one of my garage sales and asked me to sign her cast. This year, she brought me this great picture she drew of Simba as a memory of my furry little pal.
I hope Sophia is what the future looks like.
I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Friday, June 23, 2023
Welcome to the longest-titled bloggy thing I have ever written. The title is so long it should’ve been divided into two bloggy things, but I’m eager to get started on my multiple-part report on my trip to Singapore and the convention I attended at the beautiful Gardens by the Bay. We begin with an e-mail I recently received from some Tik Tot creator...
Hello Tony! I have read Black Lightning had a very controversial origin. It’s said when DC contacted you, they wanted you to write a racist white man who transformed into a Black superhero, and that you thankfully changed their mind before they published it. I have read he transformed by saying the “N word” and wondered if that was really something DC thought appropriate. I have also read elsewhere the change was triggered through stress. I have a tiktok channel with 120k+ followers. We would like to know more about it, and if he really did transform by saying the N word, or if the N word was ever used in the original stories you saw. Thank you for creating Black Lightning, I would love to hear more about it! Below is a link to a short video I made about the subject. Please feel free to confirm or deny anything I said there or direct me to more accurate sources on the topic. Have a great day! I hope to hear from you soon.
This e-mail didn’t quite sit right with me. I think the “confirm or deny” was a trigger for me. However, what I really found appalling was that this gentleman, who apparently has a huge following, felt it was acceptable to post potentially erroneous information to his audience. They deserve better than that. Especially since he could have easily found most of the answers he sought by doing a simple online search.
This kind of shoddy comics journalism is common. A recent article on Comic Book Resources on my What If story “What If Gwen Stacy Had Lived?” got it 100% wrong, missing the actual meaning of the story completely. I am one of the easiest creators to reach online and, last I checked, I was still living. A responsible writer would have contacted me. Which might have destroyed the click-bait value the writer was going for, but I’m one of those old-fashioned sorts who thinks reporters should reported the truth.
Rich Johnson’s Bleeding Cool is notorious for its “Let you and him fight” style of gossipy click-bait. The site once had value and did do some useful reporting, but it has increasingly embraced the sleazy side of the force.
Those are only two examples of shoddy comics journalism. There are too many others to even list. As long as comics fans accept these low standards, there will be more.
You want me to write about the Black Bomber, don’t you? Everybody does. I get asked about the character frequently. Even from people who have heard the story. I suppose they just like the way I tell it. If I were a singer, this tale of wonderment would be the song I sing for the encore.
Before I tune up the old guitar, let me address something from the above e-mail I’ve never addressed before. Because I never heard it before receiving the e-mail.
The white racist did not transform into the Black hero by shouting the N-word. To the best of my recollection, the N-word wasn’t used in either of the two completed Black Bomber scripts. I don’t know who made this up, but it wasn’t true.
When I moved from Marvel to DC, I was given two completed scripts of a planned new hero called the Black Bomber. This character was a white racist who’d taken part in chemical camouflage experiments intended to allow him to better blend in to the jungles of Vietnam. No, really.
The effects of the experiments didn’t kick in until the soldier was discharged from the military and again living in the United States. Then, in times of stress, the white racist would turn into a Black super-hero. Neither identity was aware of the other. Both of them had girlfriends who witnessed the transformations and said nothing. No, really.
In each of the two scripts, the white racist in his white racist identity rescued people who he couldn’t see clearly. In both cases, he had risked his life to rescue a Black person. In both cases, he wasn’t happy about this. To quote what he said after rescuing a child in a baby carriage, “You mean I risked my life for a jungle bunny?” No, really.
The cherry on top of this shit sundae was the hero’s costume. Which looked like a basketball uniform. No, really.
DC Comics wanted me to “punch up” the two existing scripts and take over the writing with the third issue. I declined. I told them that these were the most offensive scripts I had ever read in my four years in the comics industry. I told them they could not possibly publish these scripts.
My DC bosses were aghast. What did I mean they couldn’t publish a couple of scripts they had paid for?
I responded that, if they published those terrible scripts, their offices would be set upon by a mob wielding pitchforks and torches. They asked how I could know this. I told them I’d be leading that mob. This was one of the proudest moments of my career.
How often does one get to truly put their principles ahead of their well-being? At the time I was declining this gig, I was just about as broke as I’ve ever been in my life. I had no income to speak of. I would have been homeless save for the kindness of friends who let me stay with them. I mostly ate at McDonald’s because it was cheap and just filling enough to keep me going. Yet here I was risking my perhaps only chance of gainful employment in the comics industry because it was the right thing to do. Every time some asshole tries to troll me because of my devotion to Black Lightning and my quest to keep my creation consistent with his core values, I laugh because I know those jerks would never have done what I did. Morally vacant cowards.
It took me somewhere between seven and ten days to convince DC that I was right about this. But I had to boil it down to something the all-white hierarchy could understand:
“Do you actually want your first headline Black super-hero to be a white racist?”
They had never thought about it that way. I was given two or three weeks to create a new Black super-hero.
And so the legend began...
I’m asked about Black Vulcan even more often than I’m asked about the Black Bomber. I suppose I should retell that story in the near future. However, coming up next, with an occasional interruption, I’ll be taking several blogs to report on the fabulous trip Saintly Wife Barb and I took to Singapore to attend the wondrous Cosfest: Legend of the Floral Guardian at the amazing Gardens By The Bay. I can’t wait to share it with you.
© 2023 Tony Isabella