Sunday, November 20, 2011


Yes, It’s another “me” bloggy thing, but, this time, I’m answering
frequently-asked questions of somewhat recent vintage. For ease of
reading, I’m rewriting these questions, all taken from e-mails and
phone conversations, to make them more direct and shorter. Since
most of these were asked in the course of private communications,
I’m not identifying the person or persons asking them.

If you’ve asked me one of these questions, do not assume you were
the only one asking it. You weren’t. Every question here is one
I was asked by at least three people. That was the number at which
I could say to myself, “Okay, at least three of your readers will
care about the answer to this.”

We begin...

QUESTION: Have you seen 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die?
Are you upset that someone’s doing a book similar to your own 1000
Comic Books You Must Read?

ANSWER: I have seen the book. In fact, I see it every day because
it’s sitting on a box near my desk and I’m reading and enjoying it
in small daily doses. The sucker is over 900 pages and there is a
lot to learn from it.

Beyond the title, I don’t think it’s similar to my book at all. I
wrote a personal history of the comic book with an emphasis on the
American comic book. General editor Paul Gravett and his writers
wrote about comics from a more international viewpoint and covering
more than just comic books. Some readers will prefer my approach,
others will prefer Gravett’s. I think my book is more fun and that
Gravett’s is more educational, but I also think serious students of
comics should have them both.

However, I will confess that an evil part of me hopes Gravett gets
as many “how could you leave out (insert name of favorite comics)”
e-mails and letters as I have. It’d be nice to think someone else
shares that experience with me.

QUESTION: Are you going to read and review the second month of DC’s
“New 52?”

ANSWER: I’ll likely read some of the second month issues. At this
time, I only have the first week of the second month issues and the
good friend I borrowed them from has dropped Men of War, Omac, and
Red Lanterns from his DC buying list. I doubt I would’ve read Omac
or Red Lanterns even if he had bought them. And since DC doesn’t
send me review copies anymore, it’s unlikely I’ll be reading those
DC comics my friend doesn’t buy.

I don’t have much interest in some of the first week books he did
buy: Animal Man, Hawk and Dove, Static Shock, and Stormwatch. On
the other hand, I take a certain perverse delight in actually being
current on so many DC titles. I’ll probably give in and read even
those four comics.

As for reviewing them...unless something’s really good, I probably
won’t comment on them. There are still hundreds of online critics
writing about every blessed/damned issue of these “New 52" titles.
I pity them and I pray for them.

QUESTION: Will you be attending the San Diego Comic-Con next year?

ANSWER: Probably not. As much as I would love to attend the show
and hang out hundreds of friends and tens of thousands comic-book
enthusiasts, I can’t afford or justify the expense of my doing so.
Especially since I would want to go to Los Angeles afterwards and
spend time with other close friends. Frankly, if I could afford to
go to one place or another, I’d choose Los Angeles simply because
it offers the opportunity for more quality time with those friends.

I’m aware that there are people who, every year, suggest Comic-Con
bring me in as a guest. So far, the good people who run the event
haven’t invited me. No foul on them. They probably get hundreds
of suggestions like that. However, if they did offer to bring me
to the show as a guest and pay my basic expenses, I would accept in
a heartbeat. However, short of that, or short of some other party
bringing me to the show, I won’t be there.

QUESTION: Will you be attending the New York Comic-Con next year?

ANSWER: Too soon to say. Despite my misgivings about the venue and
the convention, I had a wonderful time hanging out with old friends
and meeting the Atlas/Ardeen guys. But, when I added up the cost
of attending the show, it was well over $1500. I’m going to have
to carefully consider returning in 2012. The deciding factor will
likely be how much paying work I have next year.

QUESTION: How can I get you to review my book or comic book?

ANSWER: There’s no sure answer to this. I mean, it helps when you
send me a physical copy of your book or comic book because I don’t
review stuff from PDFs or discs or websites, but I can’t guarantee
a review. The best I can do is offer some tips on what to avoid in
your quest for a review here or in my Comics Buyer’s Guide column.

Use a little common sense in what you send me. Don’t send me a few
pages from a book or a comic book. Send me the whole thing. I’m
not going to review fragments.

I’ll review an individual issue of a comic book, but make sure the
issue is one I can read without having read previous issues.

That common sense stuff. Use it before you send me a book or comic
book that isn’t close to being of professional quality. Deep down
inside, you know if what you’ve created is of that quality. Don’t
con yourself and waste my time.

Once you send me something to review, don’t send me e-mail after e-
mail asking me when I’m going to review it. I have a lot of things
to read. It may take me a while to get to your book or comics and,
when I get to it, I may find I have nothing to say about it. Even
if I like it.

Here’s a really important one. Don’t come up to me at a convention
party to bug me about a review. Especially if you’re so stinking
drunk that you’re about to fall on your face. If you do, know that
the only thing on my mind at that moment is getting away from you.
Trying to catch you when you start falling on your face is a real
distant second on my “to do” list.

Don’t contact me to complain about a negative review. I know it’s
personal to you, but it’s not personal to me. My job is to inform
my readers of things they might like or dislike. You’re not going
to change my mind or convince me to issue a retraction. I’m like a
carpenter in that I measure twice so I only have to cut once.

If the above seems overly harsh to you, you probably don’t have the
emotional tools to present your work to the public. There will be
people who love your work and people who hate it. That comes with
the territory and you must learn to deal with it.

Always remember this. The people like myself who review your work
are writing reviews and not commandments. None of us are going to
be the final word on anything. If you enjoy the work you’re doing
and find readers who enjoy it as well, then you’re doing just fine.
Cherish that.

Feel free to keep the questions coming. I’ll be back tomorrow with
more stuff.

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. Hey Tony. I'm a big fan of your work that was recently re-released in trade for (Vampire Tales). Could you talk in depth about those great books and your experiences with the other writers/artists?


  2. Do you want to hear about Vampire Tales specifically or the black-and-white magazines in general?