Saturday, February 10, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN JANUARY

 

 

My new year did not get off to the greatest start. I seemed to have been aged out of the comic-book industry, at least that part of it where companies that pay decently want to hire the likes of me or even seriously consider anything I pitch to them. The few nibbles I’ve gotten from any comics publishers involving my producing and paying for an entire comic book or graphic novel without financial assistance from the publishers. Then, after receiving the finished work, they’ll publish it and graciously give me 50% of the profits. By the way, they also want 50% of any ancillary rights to whatever I’ve created and, in some cases, control of those rights. You can imagine my six-letter, two-word response.

This doesn’t mean I have given up on the notion of writing comics that will entertain you as much as my previous comics have. Maybe even more than my previous comic books have. I intend to explore a number of options to achieve that goal. I also intend to find some new revenue streams, including running eBay auctions and opening an eBay store. Those will launch later this month.

I making some personal changes as well. The one I’ll tell you about now is...my iconic mustache is no more. I shaved it off and it will not be returning.

I’ve spent just over half a century playing comic-book writer Tony Isabella and, in more recent years, comics legend Tony Isabella. I did not give myself the latter sobriquet. It was bestowed on me by various individuals and organizations. I accept it, even though my bar for legendary status is much higher. If it sells my convention and other appearances, I’ll use it.

The real Tony Isabella was trained in playing that role from Stan Lee originally and then by my associations with Harlan Ellison and other actual legends. The real Tony Isabella is actually anxious, awkward and painfully shy. If I were the clubbing type, I’d wear a button reading “Painfully Shy. Please Help.”

I will play comics legend Tony Isabella when the occasion calls for it. I know that’s who the fans and promoters want to see. But I’m exploring other roles in my private and professional lives. Which you’ll see when I’m ready to show them to you.

One thing that remains constant no matter what role I’m playing is my love of comic books and other entertainment. Other things that remain constant are my commitment to support the LGBTQ+ community, especially the trans community and my unwavering opposition to the bigoted, dishonest and treasonous Republican Party that is working overtime to destroy our democracy and turn our nation fascist. I don’t know where these vile people got their sense of what’s right and wrong. It’s not from the Bible, flawed as that work is, or from the Constitution of the United States. It’s just shit they made up.

Me? I learned everything I know about right and wrong from Batman (before he went psycho), Black Lightning, Captain America, Spider-Man and Superman. I have more faith in the lessons I learned from those characters than I would in a stack of bibles.

I’m also cool with Jesus. You know, the guy whose amazing Sermon on the Mount is too “woke” for some “Christian” churches and who those churches consider weak. I wish I had a ruler long enough and tough enough to smack their wrists until their hands fall off.

New year. New and yet also same old Tony Isabella. Still finding something to bring me joy every single day of the year.

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

January 1: Adventures Into Terror is the first volume in the Atlas Comics Library by Fantagraphics. Edited by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, it reprints and restores issues #1-8 of that 1950s horror anthology from future Marvel. Great fun and must-reading.

                                                                                   



January 2: What Would Velma Do? Life Lessons from the Brains (and Heart) of Mystery, Inc. by Shaenon H. Garrity. Obsessed with Velma? Then this fun insightful book is for you. Scooby-Doo is the gift that keeps on giving.

January 3: The Wrong Earth: We Could Be Heroes #1 by Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle. The two-issue series takes place between the previous series and the next. It’s good fun with very unlikely heroes trying to substitute for the real deals.

January 4: Billionaire Island by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh and Chris Chuckry. I revisited the place where the ultra-rich can do whatever they want. It was even more hilarious the second time around. It’s chicken soup for your have-not soul.   

January 5: The Variants by Gail Simone and Phil Noto is a wonderful Jessica Jones story embracing Marvel at its best. Terrific lead and supporting players, top-notch writing and art, a easy continuity. One of the best super-hero tales of the year.

January 6: Papaya Salad by Elisa Macellari. The first graphic novel from the Thai-Italian illustrator tells of her great-uncle Sompong in Europe during WWII. A riveting journey that explores fascinating cultures and histories. Highly recommended.

January 7: Ghosts UK. The Brit spooks were initially too mean for my tastes, but, in episodes “Bump in the Night” and “Perfect Day,” they won me over by working together to help Allison and Mike. Well done, good spirits.

                                                                          



January 8: Maniac of New York 2: The Bronx Is Burning by Elliott Kalan and Andrea Mutti finds Detective Zelda Pettibone and mayoral aide Gina Greene trying to end the murderous menace of Harry. It’s a good sequel to the original slasher thriller.

January 9: A generous friend sent me the new Black Lightning action figure from McFarlane Toys. I hadn’t been able to find it in local stores. It proudly watches over me as I create new and hopefully exciting comics and more.

January 10: On The Way by Paco Hernández and José Ángel Ares is a quiet tale of a newly single cartoonist taking a pilgrimage. Along the way she meets interesting people, several surprises and a new knowledge of who she is.

January 11: JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice by David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns with Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino and Guy Major. Just a fun super-hero team-up from several years back that I somehow missed on its first publication. Most entertaining.

January 12: HGTV. House Hunters and House Hunters International are my happy place. Not only do I enjoy these shows, but they are free of the disgusting political ads run by Ohio Republicans. I’m open to suggestions for other fun HGTV shows.

                                                                              



January 13: Commando #5444. This issue from 2021 reprints the first issue of the long-running British comics digest. I’m a subscriber, several years behind in my reading, but I get a kick out of these war stories from across the centuries.

January 14: Saintly Wife Barb makes the best brownies. If you come to my house, eat as many of them as you can and then hide the rest where I will not find them.

January 15: 1/6 by Alan Jenkins, Gan Golan and Will Rosado. What if the attack on the US Capitol succeeded? I’ve read the first issues of this brilliant, scary and scarily accurate series. It’s from One Six Comics and is must-reading for everyone.

January 16: The 75th Annual Emmy Awards. I was under the weather. This was nice comfort television. Some funny bits. Some wonderful reunions. Anthony Anderson was a fine host. His mom was hilarious. GLAAD honored. Two very enjoyable hours.

January 17: Black Panther: Reign at Dusk by Eve L. Ewing with Chris Allen and Mack Chatter. T’Challa is banished from the throne. He’s living in crime-ridden Birnin T’Chaka. My grasp on the back story is shaky, but, overall, I found this engaging.

January 18: Rescue cats Bear and Cheri will be joining our family on January 27. Cats Off the Square held a birthday celebration to honor Betty White and we made plans to bring them home as soon as we get the house ready for them.

January 19: Rescue cats Bear and Cheri made the front page of The Gazette in an article noting they were the two longest residents of Cats Off the Square. I hope their stay with us will be much longer.
I’ve missed having furry friends around me.

January 20: Saintly Wife Barb, dynamic daughter Kelly and old man Tony spent the morning shopping for Bear and Cheri. The next step is figuring out where everything goes.

                                                                           



January 21: Jimmy’s Bastards by Garth Ennis and Russ Braun. Via my local library system, I read the first volume in this insane take on James Bond and such. It’s brilliant and hilarious and I cannot wait for the second volume.

January 22: American Nightmare. This Netflex true crime documentary in three parts is chilling and riveting. A kidnapped woman. Awful cops victimizing the victims. Courageous people and one absolutely awesome policewoman. Must-watch TV.

January 23: Superman vs. Meshi by Satoshi Miyagawa and Kai Kitago. How odd does manga get? The plot of every self-contained chapter of this is “Superman goes to Japan to eat at chain restaurants.” Also, Aquaman can talk to sushi. Strange but fun.

January 24: All Eight Eyes by Steve Foxe and Piotr Kowalski. From Dark Horse, this is a pretty good giant spiders hiding in the city graphic novel that would translate well to the big or small screen.
I’d watch it.
 
January 25: Jon Stewart returning to The Daily Show. I wish it was for more than Mondays and beyond the election cycle, but I’ll take it. Bonus: he’s producing the show, which should make for a better and stronger take on what’s going on in the world.

                                                                     
January 26: Hello Fresh Steamed Hoisin BBQ Pork Buns with Cucumber Slaw and Ponzu-Soy Dipping Sauce. Oh my Godzilla! These pork buns were delicious! I could eat them every week.

January 27: Bear and Cheri are now in their forever home with us. They are being slow to adapt to Casa Isabella with Bear hiding most of the time. Cheri is a bit more social. But they are being loved and cared for. That’s the most important thing.

January 28: What's the Deal with Dead Man's Curve?: And Other Really Good Questions About Cleveland by Jim Sweeney. Since most of my original comics series will be set in the Land, this has become an invaluable source of information and inspiration.

                                                                        




January 29: Night Court. The episode “Wrath of Comic-Con” gave us John Larroquette cosplaying as a Klingon and the delectable Wendie Malick as Catwoman. Stand aside, Taylor and Travis. This couple is even hotter than you two cuties.

January 30: When I Was Your Age: Life Lessons, Funny Stories and Questionable Parenting Advice From a Professional Clown is by Kenan Thompson. A very entertaining insightful autobiography by a comedy legend. He’s the real deal and I love him for that.

January 31: After completing my first month of therapy - never you mind for what - I believe I’m finally getting a grip on surviving and hopefully thriving in 2024. I’m opening up new chapters in my life. They could be page turners.

That’s it for now. If you have business to discuss with me, be it  convention appearances or writing gigs, the best way to contact me is through my e-mail. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Friday, January 19, 2024

THE STRANGE WORLDS OF MY COMIC BOOK DREAMS


I sometimes have what I call “comic book dreams.” These are dreams that feature comics industry people I know or have known. Some are down to earth. Some are fantastic. The further I’m removed from the comics industry, the less I have these dreams. This one is from a couple months back.

The setting is Florida. I’m at a convention, but it doesn’t seem to be a convention I have ever attended. I’m sitting on a park bench outside the convention center with Stan Lee. Just chatting with my former boss and mentor. My forever inspiration. Fans from the con notice us, but, remarkably, they don’t interrupt our conversation.

Stan asks about my memories and relationship with Jack Kirby. His respect for Kirby is evident. We also talk about Larry Lieber, his brother and one of my dearest comics industry friends. He’s happy to hear I take Larry to dinner whenever I’m in New York City. His love for his brother is also evident.

The conversation gets a bit dark when he asks me about a former DC Comics executive. This is a guy who screwed me over worse than any other comics person. This guy was far from the only one. I don’t have the energy to make a list and rate them. Stan doesn’t want to bad-mouth the guy, but says he even made Stan more than a little uncomfortable.

Our conversation ends when Stan notices an elderly Jewish couple in some distress. He points them out and goes to help them. I chuckle because, though Stan describes them as “elderly,” they are younger than he is. They seem to be lost.

As I head back to the con, I hear Stan talking to them in Hebrew. I’m guessing it’s Hebrew because I don’t understand a word of their conversation.

My dreams often feature people who are no longer with us but who were and remain important to me. My father Louis turns up often. So does  Stan, my comics father.

Expect to read more of my comic book dreams as I have them and when I remember them well enough to write about them. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.     

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

AUTOGRAPHS AND SKETCHES BY MAIL

 

 

I have always tried to give back to my fans, but I have to realize things are changing for me. I seem to have aged out of the comics industry. Outside of writing for John Lustig’s LAST KISS, I have no paying gigs in the field. Unfairly, my bills do not recognize this sad fact of my life. The bills keep coming.

When I started in the industry, none of the creators were charging for their signatures. That didn’t change for me until sometime in past several years.

The trigger came for me at a Wizard World convention. Some comics creators had started charging a minimal fee for their signatures. A few bucks at most. Most of them would sign any one item for free.
I wasn’t charging. I overheard a fan clutching his autographed photo of some “C” TV actor - and I am being kind - telling his friend, as the fan snorted derisively, that he would NEVER pay for a comic creator’s signature. He was quite delighted paying $40 for a background zombie’s autograph/photo, but not for the signatures of comics creators. I began charging for my signature on the spot.

I was charging $5 per signed item with the first item signed free. I was not charging for photos of or with me. After a year, I raised the charge to $10 per item with the first one still free. I stopped offering one free signature when, three days after a convention, I saw a comic book I had signed for free at the convention on eBay with a much inflated price.

I have toyed with raising my signature price to $15, but have held off doing that. Often the money I make from signing is what keeps me breaking even on the events I attend.

Some fans would also ask me for sketches. I combined funny writing with very bad drawings of “Godzilla.” I can’t draw arms or, really, much of anything. I have given these sketches out for free. Which is a practice I’ve now ended. I’m changing the name of the monster I draw. As soon as I get a logo designed and figure out what paper and stock to use for my sketches, I will be selling them online and at conventions. I’m thinking $50 for originals and $20 for prints. That’s likely too high, but, hey, no one is putting a maser cannon to your head.

Sometimes I get requests for signatures and sketches by mail. Most of the time the people requesting these recognize I’ll be charging for these. Sometimes they assume if they send me a self-addressed stamped envelope with a piece of paper in it that I’ll comply with their requests. Please look above to remind us how I’ve seemingly aged out of the comics industry and how my bills keep arriving at my house on a regular basis. I can only dream of a time when I also receive monthly royalty checks for my past work. These days, when I receive these “give me something for free” letters, I throw them in the trash.

I do recognize not everyone can come to a convention to get their Isabella stuff signed by me. So I will sign items and do sketches by mail. Keep in mind that I’m not yet offering sketches and prints by mail or elsewhere. But here’s how the other part works...

Send the items you want signed to:

Tony Isabella
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

Include $10 per item and return packaging with the postage already affixed. That way, I can sign your items and place them in the next day’s outgoing mail.

If you have a certain spot for my signature, tell me where it is in your cover letter. If you have a certain pen or pens you want me to use for my signature, send them with the items. Let me know if you want the pens back or not.

If you’re a high-end collector, keep an eye out for CGC’s special signings with me. I get together with them, sign the comics as you request and they verify my signature and grade the items prior to slabbing them. This is more expensive than sending items directly to me, but I know many collectors prefer this way.

I’m working on other things to help my financial situation. I hope to have my Ebay store up and running before the end of the month. It will offer cool things from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff. Watch for the launch date.

If I can figure out how to do it, I might even launch an Only Fans page. Get your minds out of the gutter. It won’t have sexy photos and videos of me. I’m thinking new and unseen columns, remembrances of my comics career, videos on comics, my life and the world around us. If that doesn’t bring in enough cash, well, I have been told I have a cute ass and good legs.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.     

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN DECEMBER

 

 

Scary and stressful is how I can best describe 2023. As seems to be the case in recent years, the comic-book industry showed virtually no interest in hiring me...and that has a debilitating effect on my actually writing comics. However, I am quite happy with the gags I wrote for John Lustig’s fun and slightly naughty Last Kiss feature and will continue contributing to it in the new year.

Physically, I’m in good health, save for a bad right knee that has me in almost chronic pain. It’s arthritis and not yet to the point where replacement is necessary. Most of the time, I’m rocking the sleek Prince tribute I call “Purple Cane.” In pain or not, I remain hilarious.

Mentally? How can anyone be mentally and morally comfortable in a world where Donald Trump, the most criminal, racist and traitorous president in U.S. history is the Republican Party frontrunner for this year’s election? Despite his over ninety indictments on very serious charges. The kind of charges that should put him in prison for the rest of his disgusting life. Meanwhile, the Republicans are continuing their cruel and unconstitutional assaults on the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans people.

Yet I remain hopeful for the new year. I’m working on various new projects with the hope of getting them to the marketplace. I have taken steps to improve my mental and physical well-being. I hope to be invited to many conventions in this country and abroad because I love meeting all kinds of readers.

As always, even in my darkest moments, I find happiness in a great many things. I love sharing them with you. Here are the things that brought me joy in December...

December 1: GalaxyCon Columbus. From the moment I arrived, I was in pop culture heaven. The convention and volunteers made me feel most welcome, as did the fans and my fellow professionals. It was one of the most amazing conventions of my career.

December 2: GalaxyCon Columbus. Reuniting with old pals like Mike DeCarlo and Steve Englehart. Meeting new ones like Dan Chichester, Tana Ford and Tim Seeley. Chatting with fans of my writing. That’s what makes a great convention.

                                                                          



December 3: GalaxyCon Columbus. The special “Do You Remember Mid-Ohio-Con?” tribute panel was nothing short of amazing with so many former guests celebrating Roger Price and the stellar convention he created. Much joy was shared by all.

December 4: GalaxyCon Columbus. I’m a sucker for convention-themed specialty drinks and the Hyatt Regency’s Big Bar on 2 had a doozy. The “Space Cadet” was Malibu rum, strawberry puree, pineapple juice and a blue Curacao glitter swirl. Delicious.

December 5: GalaxyCon Columbus. I was honored to be on the amazing “Horror in Comics” panel and be recognized for my 1970s work as an editor and writer on Monsters Unleashed and such. I would love to edit a magazine like that today. Publishers?

December 6: GalaxyCon Columbus: I enjoyed being on the Ghost Rider panel with Cory Smith and Scott Hepburn. I’m intrigued by all the Rider has gone through since I wrote Johnny Blaze. Catching up will be interesting.

                                                                                



December 7: Dial N For Naked! My wacky pal Will Meugniot presents “The Untold and Totally Untrue History of the Nudie Age of Comics!” Published in 2018 and available on Amazon, this book is hilarious and actually suitable for most ages.

December 8: The iZombie Omnibus by Chris Roberson, Michael Allred and Laura Allred. I wanted to reread this legendary thriller before I embark on watching the TV series, which I only watched for most of its first season.

December 9: Strange and Unsung All-Stars of the DC Multiverse by Stephanie Williams looks like big fun. I haven’t started reading it yet, but I bet a bunch of writers are using it to created pitches for new comic books and movies.

December 10: Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism by Rachel Maddow is a fascinating frightening history of when vile Americans sided with Hitler. It does give me hope we will crush the fascists of today as we did in the 1940s.

December 11: Godzilla Minus One. I’m loving the box-office success and critical acclaim this spectacular movie is receiving. Made on a relatively modest budget, the movie goes beyond Godzilla fandom and into deserved favorable mainstream attention.

                                                                            



December 12: Funko Pop! Even as I prepare to thin my own collection for next year’s garage sales, I continue to be amazed, amused and pleased by Funko’s ingenuity and variety, Their new “tasty treats” figures are proof of both.

December 13: Delivery drivers. United States Postal Service. UPS. FedEx. Amazon. They bring us cool stuff. Their jobs are not easy, even more so at this time of the year. So, when you get the chance, thank them for their hard work.

December 14: My home town of Medina installed two electric vehicle charging ports in the parking deck next to City Hall. It’s a smart thing to do and, so far, no one is screaming “woke” at this common sense addition.

December 15: Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. My supply of my most recent work was dwindling, but I was able to purchase over a dozen mint copies at an affordable price. I’ll have them at my convention appearances as long as they last.

                                                                            



December 16: Taylor Swift. Time magazine chose well in naming her 2023's Person of the Year. Not only is she a talented performer, she inspires fans to be considerate, kind and inclusive. She’s her generation’s Dolly Parton.

December 17: Transitions: A Mother's Journey by writer and artist Élodie Durand is the sometimes heartbreaking but ultimately happy real-life story of a woman working to accept her transgender son. Essential reading because the need is so great.

December 18: The Parker Girls Omnibus by Terry Moore. This spin-off from Strangers in Paradise finds the efficient and gorgeous ladies investigating the murder of one of their own. Why don’t they make  women-led action/suspense movies this good?

December 19: Hallows’ Eve by Erica Schultz and Michael Dowling was a easy-to-follow solid story with a satisfying conclusion. I really like title super-heroine Janine Goodbe and hope to see more of her.
She’d be great in a Disney+ Halloween special.

                                                                                    



December 20: Lobo #1 [Dell; 1965]. I just re-read this outstanding comic by D. J. Arneson with art by Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico. Racist distributors killed Lobo after two issues, but it deserves to be reprinted and continued.  

December 21: My 2023 Christmas sweater is a tribute to Die Hard, a great Christmas movie and, as I now realize, also a great Hanukkah movie. It’s a heartwarming movie that brings people of all faiths together. Ho ho ho Hans.

December 22: Santa Suossos. For my birthday, Barb and our kids took me to this great Italian restaurant in Medina. The pasta and pizza were delicious. We’re going to order pizza from there for our New Year’s Eve celebration.

[Santa Suossos crushed my dream by not being open on Sunday. But I will have a fix of their pizza soon.]

December 23: If birthdays were measured in dear friends, I would be 5,000 years old. Thanks to all of you who sent warm greetings on my birthday. They were appreciated more than I can express.

December 24: Downfall by Inio Asano. A sometimes soul-crushing tale of a manga artist who doesn’t much like manga, who only cares about selling books and who doesn’t care about anyone’s pain but his own. I know comics creators like him.

December 25: With few bumps in the holiday road, Christmas Eve and Christmas 2023 were happy times for me. None of the bumps were all that unexpected and both were minor annoyances. Next year, I plan to dress as a sexy elf.

                                                                            


                               

December 26: It’s a Wonderful Knife. Billed as a horror comedy, the movie is a legitimate thriller that respects It’s a Wonderful Life. Low on gore, high on emotional stakes with a terrific performance by Justin Long. Highly recommended.

December 27: Bill Foster finally gets into action as Giant-Man in the second episode of What If...? Season Two. I’m sure that pleased Lawrence Fishburne, who was disappointed he never got to go big in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Thanks, Marvel Studios!

December 28: Rite Aid in Medina. I got my flu shot this morning and it was a quick and painless experience. I arrived a little early, but was given a shot within five minutes. No fuss, no muss, no side effects. Science rules!

December 29: Maniac of New York Vol. 1: The Death Train by Elliott Kalan and Andrea Mutti doesn’t break any new ground in the slasher genre, but it’s artistry, characterization and intensity make it a must-read for fans of that genre.

                                                                               



December 30: Love from Godzilla by Olivia Luchina with artwork by Jordan Bradley and Milo Moore. This small book is the most charming young readers book I can imagine. Every single page will make even older readers go “Awww!” Highly recommended.

December 31: The Hunters by Jimmy Palmiotti and Chad Hardin wraps up 2023 in style. It’s a hard-hitting western with cool characters and a can’t-turn-the-page-fast-enough story. It’s another triumph for the crowd-funded Paperfilms.

Thanks for stopping by today. I wish you the happiest of new years and great success in achieving your personal goals. I will be back soon with more stuff.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

BATMAN THE SILVER AGE OMNIBUS 3

 

 

It’s 1956 or thereabouts. Born in December 1951, the young Tony is an avid watcher of The Adventures of Superman and that love brings him to the neighborhood bookie-adjacent newsstand on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland. The newsstand sells more racing forms than Tony had ever seen, not that Tony knows what those are. The actual bookie is next door.

The newsstand also has more magazine and newspapers than Tony has ever seen before. Most glorious, it also has more comic books than he’s ever seen before. Tony learned to read from comic books when he was four years old, but he was only now becoming the avid fan we know today.

Superman and Action Comics were his favorites, but he was getting interested in this Batman guy as well. Soon, Batman would eclipse Superman to become Tony’s favorite super-hero. Because Batman, with no super-powers per se, seemed an attainable role model for a young would-be hero. He could train himself just as Bruce Wayne had. If Dick Grayson could do it, so could young Tony. Alas, he lacked the essential element of dead rich parents. Still, Batman remained his favorite until Spider-Man swung around.

We’re continuing our reading of Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus. The book collects Batman #101-116 and Detective Comics #233-257. Let’s get back into it...  

Detective Comics #237 [November 1956] presented “Search for a New Robin” by a currently unknown writer and with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. This rather lightweight ten-pager consists mostly of a disguised Bruce Wayne imaging what his life would be if his new Robin was one of the two rather unpleasant youngsters he meets in his temporary new identity.

The weak premise is that, while appearing with Batman at a bridge dedication ceremony, a dummy of Bruce Wayne is shot by a gangster. The dummy tumbles into the river and everyone thinks Bruce is dead. Taking on a new identity, he knows Batman must work solo for fear of exposing Robin’s identity. It’s faulty logic, but, after Bruce’s daydream of a new Robin or two, the police find the bullet-riddled
dummy. A half-ass explanation of why Wayne had taken on a different identity mercifully brings this story to an end.

                                                                            



Batman #104 [December 1956) has one of my favorite covers of this era. Drawn by Sheldon Moldoff, it evokes the giant dinosaur movies that were captivating me. Beyond that, the issue has three terrific stories, starting with “The Man Who Knew Batman’s Secret” by writer Edmond Hamilton with art by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris. In just eight pages, we see a Gotham City imperiled by master criminal John Varden. Complicating Batman and Robin’s hunt for Varden, quirky amateur detective Thaddeus Crane accidentally discovers Batman’s secret identity. Varden is determined to kidnap Crane and get him to reveal Batman’s identity. Even as a kid, I saw the ending coming a mile away but was still excited to learn Crane was actually loyal butler Alfred, the key element of Batman’s plan to capture Varden and his men. I was around five years old and my detective skills were pretty darn sharp.

Bill Finger’s clever “Robin’s 50 Batman Partners” was also a hit. Again drawn by Sprang and Paris, the tale has Batman injured with Robin having to do solo hosting duties at a gala honoring some of Batman’s greatest cases with appropriately gigantic displays. The bad guys figure they can easily take down Robin, but the Boy Wonder uses the exhibits to take them down instead.

“The Creature from 20,000 Fathoms” is by Finger, Moldoff and Paris. No hoax here. The fire-breathing monster is the real deal. Batman and Robin must battle the dinosaur as a member of their exhibition tries to kill them to protect a treasure he discovered. This would have been a standout story in most Batman issues of the time, but it came in a close third to the other two.

                                                                               



Detective Comics #238 [December 1956] featured writer Dave Wood’s highly entertaining “The Doors That Hid Disaster!” The cover is by Sheldon Moldoff with the interior art by Moldoff and inker Charles Paris.

Super-criminal Checkmate thinks he has escaped Batman and Robin but has instead doomed himself by hiding in a chamber holding deadly radioactive material. He plans his ultimate revenge against the duo by having his gang carry out his plans after his death. They lure Batman and Robin into a building filled with deadly traps that the crime fighters have faced before. But repeating those escapes would kill them. It’s a great “battle of wits” adventure.

What makes the story even more fun are the mentions of Batman foes that never appeared previously and are not seen, even in flashback, in this tale. It’s only a matter of time before some modern Batman writer introduces us to such evil luminaries as the Bowler, Harbor Pirate and Wheelo.

                                                                           



Detective Comics #239 [January 1957] has a wash cover by Sheldon Moldoff and Jack Adler. The writer of “Batman’s Robot Twin” has not yet been identified, but the art is by Moldoff and Charles Paris. The brilliant but naive Professor Carden happily shows his latest invention to the clearly shady Dr. Dall. It’s a robot that can be programmed with the knowledge and personality of anyone. Dall tells the professor the robot is too dangerous to be given the thoughts and personality of anyone other than Batman. Realizing the robot won’t be used for evil with this thoughts and could even be a boon to crime-fighting, Batman agrees.

Dall cuts the brakes on a crane, forcing Batman to leave the robot before he can give it any commands. Dall then clobbers Carden and takes control of the robot. He takes control of the robot, but is stymied because the robot won’t reveal Batman’s secret identity. That’s Batman’s personality coming through.

Dall sends the robot to capture Batman. On his own, the robot goes to the Batcave. A high voltage shock will erase the robot’s memory, but the robot knows that’s what Batman will attempt and foils him. Batman escapes. Dall uses the robot’s knowledge to help him break into a diamond-cutting factory. Another clash of Batman vs. Robot Batman commences.


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


This time, Batman tricks the robot into high-voltage wires using a tactic our hero just thought of and which the robot could not know about. Batman disguises himself as the robot, tricking Dall and his gang into a locked truck.

Even with its memory erased, Batman and Carden agree the invention is to dangerous to be used. It ends up yet another souvenir in the Batcave.

I’ll have more from Batman’s Silver Age adventures in the hopefully near future. Thanks for stopping by.

© 2023 Tony Isabella

Sunday, December 24, 2023

THE TONY ISABELLA AVENGERS

 


Today’s bloggy is a fun exercise in building a team, specifically, the Avengers team I’d like to write. The notion first hit me when, after watching the second season of Loki, I said Sylvie would make a good addition to the Avengers.

My next idea was to create a team of Avengers that kind of sort of copied the original team with different characters. That idea came and went and came back.

I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends how many members should my new incarnation have. The responses ranged from three to infinity. The most frequent number was seven. I thought that was a perfectly workable number of members. Then I started putting together a team I’d love to write and seven didn’t seem as definitive as I thought.

No Avengers team would be complete without CAPTAIN AMERICA. Steve Rogers was my first choice for that role. However, it also struck me that a position as important as Avengers leader needed back-ups. So, on my Avengers team, Steve’s role would occasionally be taken over by Captain America Sam Wilson or Captain Carter.

My next choices were GIANT-MAN and THE WASP. The former would be a back-from-the-dead Bill Foster because killing him off in Civil War was as monumentally stupid as Civil War itself. The latter would be Janet van Dyne because I always liked her and think she’d be great fun to write. Super-capable, feisty, smart, fashionable. What’s not to love there?

SYLVIE. She’s Loki, but not as self-assured as the original god of mischief. Her coming into her considerable power could bring some interesting situations into the series.

SHE-HULK. Okay, yes, she’s an obvious choice, but she’s a favorite character of mine I’ve never gotten to write. Look at that. I just re-created the original Avengers line-up. That’s five.

The next two members are MISTY KNIGHT and TIGRA. Because I created them and have long wanted to write them again. That’s seven.

But I’m not done yet.

JESUS RIDER or maybe just THE RIDER. Long-suffering Johnny Blaze has his soul redeemed by accepting Jesus as his lord and savior. He no longer has his Hell-spawned powers. What he has are supernatural powers given him by Jesus. He accepts there are many other god-like beings in the Marvel Universe. He doesn’t disrespect them at all. He has chosen to follow Jesus, who, of course, preached loving all people. Including gay people. Like Johnny himself.

People do come out late in life. Having his authentic self seen and accepted and loved by the One who rescued him from Hell’s agonies means everything to Johnny. If you object to my having a gay hero on this team, there are dozens of Avengers teams who don’t have any members of the LGBTQ+ community on them. That’s eight.

The final member of my Avengers team is HALLOWS EVE. I really like Janine Godby. Her masks are a super-power we don’t see too often. The only changes I would make: only she can use the masks and they always return to her. That’s nine.

If you like this Avengers line-up, feel free to tell Marvel you’d like to see me write such a title. Just expect to be disappointed. I doubt many of the current Marvel Comics editors know who I am or anything about my work. If they do know who I am, they likely think of me as an old guy who couldn’t possibly still write great comics.Such is life.

One more thing. If you count Captain Carter and Sam Wilson, my team actually has eleven members. Which is way too many.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2023 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN NOVEMBER


November was another wild ride in The Adventures of Tony Isabella. It started with the wonderful Akron Comicon. It continued with all manner of household projects, including emptying the final storage unit of the Fortress of Storage. At one point, we had three units. Now we have none. This will save us just under a hundred bucks per month. Three cheers and a tiger for us.

November ended with the American release of Godzilla Minus One, now my second favorite Godzilla movie of them all. The Japanese Gojira is still first, but that’s a combination of recognizing the movie that started it all and my sentimental love for it.

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

November 1: My mom is 97 years old as of Halloween. She enjoys life at Emerald Village in North Olmsted, hanging with her many friends and roaming the halls with her walker. She is often given mail to deliver to other residents. Happy birthday, Mom!

November 2: Go Find Daddy. The latest Ed Runyon mystery by Steve Goble finds the investigator trying to find a cop-hater believed to be a cop-killer to tell him his daughter is dying. Very emotional and intense, it’s the best in the series to date.

                                                                                  



November 3: Quiz Lady. Streaming on Hulu and starring Sandra Oh and Awkwafina, this woman-driven comedy is hilarious and heartwarming. Terrific supporting performances from Will Farrell, Holland Taylor and Tony Hale. It’s a good time and recommended.

November 4: Akron Comicon 2023. It was another great weekend with terrific fans, guests and vendors. The highlight was dinner with my dear friends Laurie Jacobson and Jon Provost, who I haven’t seen in way too many years. Love you guys!

November 5: Akron Comicon 2023. I wore my “Trans Rights are Human Rights” shirt Saturday, receiving literally dozens of compliments and thanks. It’s important to stand up for and with a community so cruelly and unfairly targeted by the GOP.

November 6: Akron Comicon. From Scream, actresses Nancy Anne Kidder and Leonora Scelfo were my delightful next-door neighbors. The fans loved them and so did I. I’d like to see their mean girl characters return in Scream 7!

                                                                               



November 7: Funko’s 80th anniversary Spider-Man Pop! I love getting figures of the original looks of my favorite comic-book characters. Though I plan to reduce my Funko collection, I’m still buying such figures when I see them.

November 8: Trans lives matter. The shirts for my next convention appearance have arrived. I urge my fellow comics professionals to stand with and support people so cruelly and unfairly targeted by the GOP. Do not say nothing.

November 9: My “No Hunting” sign is ready to go when Medina’s law allowing bow hunters to come into neighborhoods and slaughter deer takes effect. I wonder how many holiday reindeer displays they will skewer in their zeal.

November 10: All-American Comics #16. I love facsimile editions of old comics. They’re a window to our past. But I’d gladly pay $9.99 if they were the same dimensions as the originals. Much better for  a true feel for the material.

                                                                             



November 11: Loki Season Two was terrific throughout and ended in a most satisfying manner. But now I want a third season showcasing Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) coming into her own as a Loki. I can see a place for her in The Avengers.

November 12: Punchline and the Vaude-Villains. Ted Sikora and the rest of the Apama-Verse are clearly having a blast focusing on the wondrous foes our hero and the city of Cleveland are facing. As a reader, I’m having a great time reading these comics.

                                                                            


                

November 13: Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schulz by Luca Debus and Francesco Matteuzzi. We are living in an age of great cartoonist biographies, as witness this one, told in comic strips with a Schulz-ian vibe.

November 14: Wheel of Fortune. On the November 14 episode, the 92-year-old Liz amazed Pat Sajak and everyone else with her incredible puzzle-solving abilities. Her and her son won over $65,000. It was an inspiring competition.

November 15: Saintly Wife Barb, our neighbor Sue and our jack-of-all-trades handyman Brad got all of my boxes out of the garage and into our basement. Part one of our massive basement/garage/living room project. More to come.

November 16: Tony’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff Basement Project is pretty much finished. With help from my friend Rob, all the boxes are out of the garage and living room. Watch for a VAOS update in the near future.

November 17: Public-domain heroes. Dozens of comics creators have been putting their own spin on Golden Age characters. Their results are decided mixed, but fun. I might want to do something like this in the future if I knew the artist would be paid.

November 18: Hoverboy the Republican Super-Hero by Ty Templeton and Steve Molnar. This odd comic from 2008 has a funny premise and an amusing faux-history. It’s not great, but it does have its moments. Perfect for fans who like weird comics.

                                                                         

 

November 19: The Marvels. I loved this movie. A trio of incredible women in the leads. Unexpected humor. Sincere feelings. Nick Fury being Nick Fury. All tied up with one of the best credits scenes. I’m still on board. Make mine Marvel!

November 20: Zatanna and the Ripper Volume One by Sarah Dealy and Syre. From Webtoon, we get this intriguing story of a time-tossed Zatanna, just turned 21, trying to catch the infamous murderer and find her way back home. Recommended.

November 21: Published in 2017, Classic Monsters as Sharks by Todd Loren and others is incredibly silly and all the more fun for that.Sharkula, the Frankenshark Monster, Sharkzilla and more! Look for this insane masterpiece at Indy Planet.

                                                                              



November 22: Strong Girl Nam-soon. I’ve watched the first episode of this Korean series about a supernaturally strong young woman on Netflix and loved it. It’s a great mix of comedy, crime-fighting, drama and super-heroics. Recommended.

November 23: The Daily Show. John Leguizamo’s brilliant takedown of Univision for airing a shameful softball interview with Donald J. Trump aka Public Enemy Number One. The actor also wrote a terrific op-ed piece on this for the Los Angeles Times.

November 24: Dolly Parton (and not for the first time). She is an amazing force for good in the world and one of our greatest singers and songwriters. At 77, she was breathtaking in her Dallas Cowboys cheerleader uniform. Good golly, Miss Dolly!

                                                                          



November 25: Ghosts UK. I binge-watched the first four episodes and enjoyed them. I think the US version is better, but there were some brilliant things in the original. Especially the caveman. But some of the ghosts are really nasty.

November 26: Spy Superb by Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt. The world’s greatest spy is actually just a useful idiot. This graphic novel has action, espionage, humor and a high body count. It needs to be a movie. Highly recommended.

November 27: Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. I watched the first two episodes of the Apple TV+ series and was mightily impressed. It has an intriguing story, excellent acting and movie-quality production values. This will be a keeper on home video.

November 28: Marvel Super Stories. Fifteen short stories by an all-star line of cartoonists, the anthology is edited by John Jennings, who also contributes a Daredevil story. Aimed at younger readers, the book is suitable for all ages. More please.

November 29: Floor Peijnenburg. Absolutely rocking her real estate business and more, the Netherlands-based beauty is my favorite of the HGTV real estate agents. She’s fun and sassy, often addressing the audience directly.

November 30: Godzilla Minus One is my second favorite Godzilla film of all time. It has the best human stories of any Godzilla movie, the Cold War political content makes it that much more real and the Godzilla scenes are amazing and intense.

December looks to be as busy as November. Maybe more so. I had the best time at GalaxyCon Columbus on December 1-3. I have some cool tasks on my “to do” list, among them getting the bloggy back up to speed. I can’t promise daily columns, but I think I can do better than I’ve done in recent months.

Here’s wishing the happiest of holidays to all my bloggy friends.Thanks for visiting and thanks for your patience as I worked my way through various situations.  

© 2023 Tony Isabella