Sunday, October 2, 2011


While chatting with crazy great colorist Paul Mounts at the Detroit
FanFare, he called me the “Commissioner of Comics.” I knew what he
was referring to, but only because I had come across this artifact
in an old file cabinet:

This manifesto first ran in a 1996 issue of Comics Buyer’s Guide.
It got some favorable attention at the time.  Cocky guy that I am,
I printed up copies of it to hand out at conventions. I don’t know
if anyone actually sent their favorite comics retailers, creators,
and publishers my manifesto.  It was talked about for a few weeks
and then, as such things do, it faded from the conversation.
I’d forgotten about it until it surfaced in that old file cabinet.

Looking over my manifesto, beyond wincing at the odd typo, it seems
to me that some of what I “demanded” has been accomplished to some
degree or another.  However, what I’d really like to learn is what
YOU think. 

Were these “demands” worthy demands then and are they still worthy
demands today?

Has the comics industry accomplished these goals?

Should they?

This is more than some desperate ploy to get you to comment on this
blog.  I’m really interested in what my readers, some of who are
probably seeing this manifesto for the first time, think of what I
wrote back then and how it might apply (or no longer apply) to the
comics industry in 2011.  I want to hear from you.

I’ll even make it worth your while.  I’ll send an autographed comic
book or trade paperback to the writers of the five best comments I
receive on this subject.  I’ll even throw in one of my certificates
of authenticity verifying that whatever comic or trade you get is
from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff.

I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts.    

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. The salient thing about that list of hopes & dreams is that it needed to be made in the first place. Every single person, as an individual, in any position along the path from "Hey I have an idea for a comic!" to "Hey, I bought two copies of this, try it and see if you like comics!" would tell you, if asked, that each of those items was only natural and to be expected - yet here we are, with so few of them actually occuring. Of te whole list, I would say that only 3 & 6 have become moderately commonplace.

  2. Sadly, #4 is even worse now than it was then.

  3. Fifteen years later, and comic books and graphic novels are not only accepted in libraries, but celebrated and used as a major point of attraction-walk in to any public library and see the amount of comics and graphic novels. Comic book companies work hand in hand with the American Library Association, publishers target libraries, and, speaking locally, comic book stores work hand in hand with neighborhood libraries to cross promote (and donate!). This is a change that shouldn't only be celebrated by hard core comic fans as an expansion of the industry in to a previously hostile territory, but by educational proponents as well-for a great article, read Steven Krashen's
    Ray Sablack - Librarian, Dallas Public Library (who was just up in Mr. I's neck of the woods)

  4. It's fantastic to see that some of these demands have made progress in the past 15 years. It's sad to see that some haven't.

    Overall, I think that the demands are spot on. It's a fantastic list. But I do think there's one thing missing -- a demand for positivity. The comics community (especially online) often gets stuck in a trap of harping on the worst about comics and ignoring some of the best.

    Imagine if you've heard good things about The New 52 but you're not much of a comics reader. You do a Google search about it and one of the top results is a bitchfest about Catwoman. You click thru and see all the vitriol in the post and in the comments. Would you turn into a customer? HELL NO!

    Now I'm not saying that there shouldn't be criticism. Far from it. For example, I think discussing the negative qualities about the recent Catwoman comic is a worthwhile pursuit. However, I think it's a good example of the negative getting more coverage and exposure than the positive.

    I adopted a "fanifesto" a few years ago and my primary stipulation was to focus on the things that I love about comics, not the things I hate. I use my passion and positivity to spread the word about books I care about, and celebrate the great things about the medium. I complain now and then because that's natural. But I make sure that's only a small component of what I do and not my main focus. And when I do criticize, I make it constructive, not destructive.

  5. Wow. I've been a comic book lover for close close 30 years. Not a just a collector... but a reader and fan. It's great to see some of the strides the industry has made in the past few years, and disappointing to see where the industry still lags behind.

    I've alway thought that kids are who publishers and retailers should be targeting. I love the kids line DC Comics publishes, they're great for younger children but seem too childish for a kid 10 or 11 and older.

    I've been very disturbed by some of the books that have been labeled for Teens recently. A lot of graphic violence... and don't get me started on the whole Catwoman, Starfire debacle.

    Give kids great stories with great characters. It's what I wanted when I was younger. It's what I want now. Intricate story lines aren't an obstacle, kids are pretty sharp. My first comic was a Justice League comic that featured are cross over between the JLA, JSA, All-Star Squadron and Crime Syndicate. It blew my 10 year old mind away, and required some lengthy questions to my so-so patient comic book store owner to figure some things out (since this was pre-internet)... but figure them out I did and I've been a fan ever since.

    Comic Book retailers need to step up their game as well. I was forbidden to go to most shops on my own when I was a kid because they were creepy, musty hole in the walls that seemed to employ people who only bathed on a regular basis.

    Not to be a shill for my local comic book store... but Local Heroes in Norfolk, VA is the most kid friendly comic book store I've ever seen.

    They have a huge all ages section right when you walk through the door. The staff is friendly and helpful. And they have a comfortable reading area.

  6. Amazing how "common sense" these items all are, yet some have yet to be implemented in real life.

    Yes, comics (graphic novels to be more exact) are now found in almost every library that I have been to in the last 5 years or so, but they still seem to have a negative stigma attached to them until "we the comic people" point out to our friends and acquaintances that there are some great (and adult orientated) stories to be found therein.
    As for comics being found in schools, that is extremely rare. I just retired after teaching middle school (11 to 14 year me the prime age for reading comics for both genders) and trust me that it is difficult to get administrative permission to bring comics into the school. Each year I tried and finally succeeded in being allowed to bring comics in for students to read during study halls after they had completed all of their work, yet the student's interest in comics was very limited. I brought in a large and diverse selection and was for the most part rebuffed.
    As for the comic store's themselves, I think that natural selection has proven itself as the number of stores has been shrinking over the past few years nationwide. Yes, I will admit that some great and well run stores have closed, but for the most part it has been the lower tier (unclean, unkempt, and poorly manned with incompetent and non-comic reading personnel).
    I'm not going to discuss each of the items in the manifesto (as much as I would like to) but at this point most people have stopped reading this comment due to its length.

    Todd Wilson

  7. This reader had difficulty posting, so I'm posting it for him.

    I tried leaving a comment on your Manifesto post, but I couldn’t tell if Blogger was eating it or what. So on the chance that it did go through several times, I apologize and if it didn’t make it to you, what I was trying to say is below.

    Terry Bosky
    Collection Development
    Palm Beach County Library System

    Number 8 is going well, at least on the library front. We were actually just at a con, promoting our comic collection (in print and PDF formats).