Thursday, January 19, 2012


It was during Mid-Ohio-Con, watching Thom Zahler work on drawings
for his fans, that I decided it would be very cool to commission a
piece from him teaming up Black Lightning with Darkblade from Love
and Capes
.  I posted that drawing on January 3.

Before Thom finished that piece, I decided it would be cooler still
to have a whole bunch of drawings of Black Lightning with other
characters I love.  So, taking advantage of a hole in my pal Terry
Beatty’s busy schedule, I commissioned him to do the above drawing
of Black Lightning with Ms. Tree.  Created by Terry and writer Max
Allan Collins, this gorgeous hard-boiled detective has been one of
my favorite characters since her 1981 debut. 

Like Thom, Terry did a great job on the commission.  Both of their
drawings will go on my office wall when I renovate my work space in
two years.  Funds permitting - and, alas, they are extremely tight
at the moment - I plan to add more Black Lightning team-ups to my
budding collection. 

Thom and Terry are two of my favorite artists.  Both of them are on
my double top secret “artists I want to work with” list.  If you’d
like to commission work from Thom, go here:

If you’d like to commission work from Terry, e-mail him at:

And, if you want to hire a terrific writer, e-mail me at:

Hey, as long as I was plugging Thom and Terry, I figured I might as
well get in one for myself.


Speaking of wondrous comics team-ups, I recommend frequent visits
to Super-Team Family...The Lost Issues website.  Created by a mad
genius named Ross, it began in 2010 as The Brave and the Bold...the
Lost Issues, switched to Marvel Two-In-One...the Lost Issues for a
spell, switched back to The Brave and the Bold...the Lost Issues,
and is currently doing business under its present name. 

Ross mixes and matches character images from all over the history
of American comic books and, occasionally, other sources, to create
team-up covers that have never existed.  When you see them, you’ll
wish they did exist and that you could read the amazing comic books
they represent.  Whenever I need a smile, I head over to:

You should do likewise.


Several readers have e-mailed me asking for my reaction to what is
apparently the new DC Comics logo.  While I’m still sort of hoping
it’s a prank of some sort, I’ll respond to the requests as if it’s
the real deal.

The new logo looks like it was designed and approved by people who
are both out of touch with their audience and embarrassed to work
in comics.  It’s ugly and it’s stupid.  So ugly and stupid that I
think it should be reserved for those DC titles who best exemplify
ugly and stupid.  I’m thinking Catwoman, Deathstroke, and Red Hood
and the Outlaws
, to name three.

In a doubtless futile effort to stave off the e-mails I’ll receive
in the wake of the above: yes, I’m biased against DC Comics.  If a
publishing company cheated you on royalties and other agreements
for 35 years, you’d be biased against them as well.  But, when my
readers ask me a question, I answer without bias and as honestly as
humanly possible.

I truly hope DC and all other comics publisher flourish.  DC makes
it possible for some talented people to make a living.  Okay, they
also make it possible for many untalented editors, executives, and
freelancers to make a living.  But my point remains.  I want them
to do well.  Because, who knows?  Maybe someday the company will be
run by people with the morality to do right by creators and honor
their agreements with them. 


Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are two of my all-time favorite artists.
You would expect I’d love talking about them with other Kirby and
Ditko fans.  However, increasingly, that’s not the case.  Instead,
I avoid quite a few online conversations.

The source of my discontent is that small but loud group of Kirby
and Ditko fans who mistakenly believe that they must express their
love for these great comics creators by diminishing, disparaging,
and even viciously insulting other comics creators who collaborated
with Kirby and Ditko.  Any word said by Kirby or Ditko in anger or
frustration becomes unquestionable truth to these zealots and woe
befall any who do dare to question.

Larry Lieber is one of the nicest and most modest comics creators
I know.  He has always been unfailingly honest in relating the how
and why of his comics work.  Yet I’ve seen a Kirby zealot call him
a liar because he refused to believe that Larry wrote full scripts
(from Stan Lee plots) for the giant monster stories Kirby drew in
the 1960s.

I’ve seen a so-called comics historian base wild speculation after
wild speculation on an alleged phone conversation with Steve Ditko
decades ago.  A conversation of which he has no recording or
transcription.  In his case, because he once interviewed
me for a book on the direct sales market, and subsequently tried to
twist facts to give himself a pivotal role in the creation of that
market, I tend to disbelieve anything he claims.

One of the worse cases of this comics “idol worship” happened on a
mailing list dedicated to the work of Gene Colan, one of the most
talented artists ever to work in comics and a sweetheart of a man.
Yet one of his fans savaged Don Heck for, as near as I can figure,
the crime of not being Gene Colan.

When admiration turns to zealotry, rational thought seems to vanish
from the conversation.  Everything the idol has ever done or does
today is the greatest thing ever, even when it obviously isn’t the
greatest thing ever or even good.  It’s one thing to avoid making
negative remarks out of respect for a beloved comics creator, but
it’s irrational to loudly proclaim that mediocre work is more than
that.  Who do you think you’re kidding?

I’m all for comics creators making comics for as long as they want
to.  I wish there were countless good-paying opportunities
for them to do so.  I have no problem with their fans buying even
mediocre work out of love for a creator’s past work.  I’ve done it
myself more times than I can count and I don’t regret the expense
in the slightest.

I just don’t want to listen to the zealots anymore.  In their mad
fervor, they do no justice to the memories of Kirby, Ditko, or any
of their other favorites.  Thankfully, their petulant little
rants cannot diminish the greatest of Kirby, Ditko, and all those
other beloved comics creators. 

Those guys made those great comics.  The zealots are just flapping
their gums in the vain hope of being part of that greatness.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff. 

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. Dave sez,

    Well said, sir!
    I haven't had the opportunity to meet Thom Zahler, but I enjoy Love & Capes!

    I have met Terry Beatty at least twice and he was very friendly and passionate about Ms. Tree! It was very cool to talk to him about her.

    I enjoy Ross' website, too. It is disappointing that the best comics are the ones that were never made.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks that the new DC logo is ugly.

    Great blog today!

  2. Thanks for the plug, Tony! I was happy to draw that Ms. Tree/Black Lightning team-up for you -- and even happier to hear it'll share wall space with a Thom Zahler Love and Capes team-up drawing -- I love that comic! I do want to note, however, that my current work load has me too busy to take on commissions right now, so anyone looking for some custom art by me would be better off waiting a month or two.

  3. Thanks, Tony. I've never understood why some "fans" think that they "improve" Kirby's or Ditko's or Colan's reputation by trying to smash or destroy someone else's reputation.

  4. Tony,

    I just want to warn you that you are now over the edge of a slippery slope! I know because I'm sliding down it just ahead of you.

    BTW, Thom did a nice one for me. A recreation of my favorite L&C cover to date - Terry's on my list when I get the right idea; really enjoyed Ms. Tree.


  5. I'm amazed someone thought for a moment that my final item was their invitation to engage in exactly the kind of pro-bashing that I decried. I'm not at all amazed that the poster dealt exclusively in speculation that fit his view of events. But he wasn't there and he doesn't know. Those are the two most common traits of the bashers...and their remarks will not be allowed here.

  6. L...please e-mail me. I'm not approving your comment, but I'm happy to discuss the situation with you privately.

  7. Mr. Isabella,

    Nice post. Ms. Tree is, indeed, a lovely & savage work.

    Mr. Colan was one of the kindest Creators I've ever met, very free with his time and willing to give me his opinion/advice on an unColan-related art purchase of a piece I treasure to this day. I'm lucky to have a nice Dr. Strange sketch, bought from him.

    I'm always greatly interested in your comics-creators memories, and would love to hear any more of your own stories from the industry.

    Thanks, as per usual.