Wednesday, August 31, 2011


When I resumed writing this blog, I fell into my bad old habit of
looking at something or reading something and thinking, “I should
write about that in the blog.”  This is a sure recipe for creating
an unsightly pile of stuff.  However, this time, unlike all those
other times - yeah, right - I’m determined to whittle down the pile
to a manageable size. Starting today.

With the occasional break for longer pieces and longer reviews, I’m
going to chop away at the “I should write about that” pile of stuff
until it surrenders or, at least, becomes a much smaller pile of
stuff.  Wish me luck.


Courtesy of the Cleveland area library system, I’ve been reading an
awful lot of wonderful comics material written by Warren Ellis.  On
rare occasion, I come across a work that’s too mean-spirited for my
taste.  However, for the most part, I am entertained and slightly
in awe of the things Ellis does really well.

Ellis’ command of science, real and imagined, impresses me much the
way a cigarette lighter would impress a fearful Neanderthal. Comics
like Ocean, Orbiter, and The Ministry of Space are among the Ellis
works I’ve enjoyed of late.  If someone were to make the statement
that Ellis is the best science fiction writer in comics, I’d likely
nod in agreement.

Sometimes it’s the storytelling that excites me.  Fell and Global
are among my favorite Ellis comics both for their stories
and how those stories are told.  Quick, to the point, but including
every bit of information the reader needs.  I’m currently awaiting
the third volume of Freakangels, which is giving me a lot to think
about as I consider a web-comic series of my own.

I don’t have a clever ending for this item. But I will continue to
request Ellis books from the library.  I suspect it will me a long
time before I get through all of them.


The Avengers has been filming in Cleveland, Ohio for several weeks
with comics guy Mike Sangiacomo and fellow Plain Dealer reporters
doing an excellent job covering the shoot.  I don’t know when I’ve
had so much fun reading a series of newspaper articles.

What I didn’t know until this week is that a second movie has been
filming in my birthplace as well.  Two weeks into a six-week shoot,
I, Alex Cross will be the third movie based on the James Patterson
novels about a detective/psychologist who works with the police and
the FBI.  Cleveland is standing in for Detroit where the film was
originally supposed to be shot until Michigan Governor Rick Synder
- a Republican, of course - screwed things up big time.  I feel bad
for Detroit and Michigan, both of which deserve better, but pleased
that Cleveland got the gig.

One unfortunate note.  While the cast and crew of Avengers got
along wonderfully with Cleveland and its people with nary an unkind
moment, that hasn’t been the case with the Alex Cross movie.  Actor
Matthew Fox was arrested, accused of assaulting a woman bus driver
while intoxicated.  Sigh.

Shooting on I, Alex Cross has been quiet for the most part, but The
Plain Dealer
reports a car-flipping and stuntman-on-fire scene will
be filmed in front of City Hall.  That’s barely worth noting in the
wake of the large-scale Avengers pyrotechnics.  All the same, I’m
looking forward to seeing both movies.


Before she was one of Josie and the Pussycats, Josie was the star
of She’s Josie, one of the greatest teen humor comics of all time.
Written by Frank Doyle and drawn by Dan DeCarlo, who created Josie,
the earliest issues featured full-length stories filled with laughs
from start to finish.  Doyle was a master of timing, the comic-book
equivalent of Neil Simon. DeCarlo matched the writer beat for beat.
I love these issues.

Alas, my readers, I have been grievously remiss in failing to tell
you that World of Archie Double Digest has reprinted several of the
early issues of She’s Josie.  These classic tales have appeared in
issues #2, 4, and 7.  Whatever it takes to track them down, it’ll
be well worth the effort.


From a history standpoint, Archie Archives Volume One [Dark Horse;
$49.99] is a welcome addition to my vast accumulation of stuff.  It
collects selected stories from Pep Comics #22-38, Jackpot #4-8, and
the first two issues of Archie Comics.  That said, the book wasn’t
as much fun as I’d hoped.

The Archie characters are not as keenly, surely developed in these
early stories as they would be in later years.  The writing lacks
the cleverness that would likewise come with time.  Even the art is
less compelling than it would become.  The stories are interesting,
but not terribly entertaining.

Another aspect of two of these inaugural tales also gave me pause.
Two of the stories feature racial stereotypes that I found nothing
short of disturbing and unsettling.  I don’t for a moment suggest
they should’ve been altered or excluded.  History is history, warts
and all.  But these stories should have had introductory copy that
takes note of the shameful stereotypes.  Dark Horse has done this
with Little Lulu reprints; there’s no good reason for not doing it
in this volume as well. 

Whether or not Archie Archives Volume One is for you depends on the
magnitude of your interest in comics history.  For me, this volume
is a must-have.  Your mileage may vary.

ISBN 978-1-59582-716-6


Comics artist Mike DeCarlo (Marvel, DC, Disney, Simpsons, Cartoon
Network, Archie, etc.) has set up a website for fans who would like
to commission special pieces for him.  He does all the usual head
shots, body shots, group shots, etc., but he also does “specialty”
art: drawings for all occasions, celebrity art, “morphing” clients
into comic settings, and cover recreations.  Then there’s what he
calls the “crazy stuff”: light-hearted fantasy pictures, somewhat
“naughty” drawings, and other imaginative commissions.  I enjoyed
my visit to his site and I think you will, too.  You can check out
for yourself here:

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff. 

© 2011 Tony Isabella

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