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