Monday, May 28, 2012


Fantastic Four Annual #1 came out in July 1963 and changed my life.
It made me realize that writing and drawing comic books was a for-
real job...and I wanted that job.  I have worked at many other jobs
in my six decades on Planet Earth, but, when anyone asks me what I
do, I always tell them I’m a comic-book writer.  To celebrate that
awakening, I’m writing about other comic books that were shipped to
newsstands in that pivotal month.

The Adventures of Little Archie #28 [Fall 1963] is not a comic book
I would’ve read back then.  The only issue of Little Archie I owned
as a kid had a dinosaur on the cover.  My love of such prehistoric
critters outweighed another strong emotion.

Comic-book stories about adults and teens when they were children
creep me out.  I didn’t care for Little Archie.  I didn’t care for
Superbaby.  I shuddered at stories when the Legion of Super-Heroes
or Lois Lane were turned into toddlers.  Even Tiny Titans has been
a tough sell for me and it’s hilarious.

It’s not directly related to this phobia of mine, but TV shows like
Toddlers and Tiaras and Dance Moms disgust me.  The idea of tarting
little kids up with the full consent and participation of parents,
teaching them to shake their little asses like strippers, and then
putting them on TV for the delight of pedophiles...that’s as wrong
as it gets.  Every adult who appears or works on those shows should
be arrested, convicted and jailed.  But I digress.

The Adventures of Little Archie #28 was a 68-page comic book.  The
comics stories were divided between Bob Bolling and Dexter Taylor,
both of whom wrote and drew their stories.  The cover is by Bolling
and, according to the Grand Comics Datebase, it’s the only time he
drew a cover based on one of Taylor’s stories.

Most of the Little Archie adventures are just that.  The kid goes
after a car thief, befriends an alien frog-creature come to Earth
to investigate the “inferior human race,” contends with a stranger
trying to steal a doll from Veronica and, with Betty, survives an
auto accident because he and she were wearing seat belts.  A few of
the stories are of the more realistic “kids learning valuable
lessons about life” variety.  Sounds like an entertaining mix for
those readers who aren’t creeped out.

Maybe I should face my phobia and write some kids comics.  Little
, anyone?


Sainted Wife Barb and I were driving around Medina running errands
Saturday afternoon.  We drove past the recently-closed Super K Mart
that was once our favorite place to shop in Medina.  It was open 24
hours a day for a long time.  It had groceries, clothes, and much
more.  It was a life-saver when we discovered we were out of milk
or bread for our young children and they had to be up, dressed, fed
and at school in a hour or so.  We bought Christmas presents there.
Video tapes.  CDs.  Toys.  Trading cards.  We bought lunch meat and
cheese at its deli counter, birthday cakes at its in-store bakery.
Good prices, good selection, good service...until all those things
became not so good.

The Medina K Mart started slipping even before it had significant
competition from Buehler’s, Giant Eagle, Marc’s and Walmart.  Each
and every one of those stories worked hard to get business.  They
made regular improvements, added new services, kept their stories
in a clean and tidy manner.  K Mart just deteriorated.  It cut its
hours.  It never seemed as clean as it should be.  I would always
check the dates on stuff because it wasn’t unusual to find outdated
products on the shelves.  After a few years, there was no reason to
shop there.  Even when it held its going-out-of-business sale, it
raised prices rather than lowering them.  Sad.

Barb and I have lived in Medina for over 25 years.  Businesses and
stores and restaurants have come and gone.  We miss some of those
places to this day.  Others we’ve forgotten. 

Most of the kids our kids grew up with are away at college most of
the year.  Some of them won’t be moving back home when they finish
school.  Probably not even our own kids.  Those are the changes we
really don’t want to face but know we must.  Sadder.

Awash as I am with melancholy nostalgia, it seems like a good time
to update my friends and readers on a few things.

My planned summer-long garage sale won’t start until sometime next
month.  Our garage needs to be cleaned and prepared before we set
up the tables that have been loaned out several times in April and
May.  I have to organized the stock from last year’s sales and add
a bunch of new stuff to the mix.  I want to make sure my customers
have lots of cool things to choose from.

The plan is still to hold at least two advertised sales per month.
But we’ll be leaving the “store” up so that fans and retailers can
contact me and make appointments to shop on days and at times more
convenient to them.  My plan is to restock the “store” frequently,
encouraging return visits.  I’ll keep you posted.

Several times this year, I’ve alluded to a situation weighing quite
heavily on me and that I couldn’t write about.  I’m still not ready
to write about it, but that time is coming soon.  Until then, know
I have resolved the situation and, as much as possible, will move
forward and away from it.  Sometimes you have to make really tough
decisions.  I’ve made one of those and am satisfied it was my best
course of action.  Cryptic much?

Besides I’ve resolved the situation, I will again be able to attend
conventions.  At the moment, I’m only scheduled to appear at one:
The Akron Comicon, Saturday, November 10, from 10am to 6pm, at the
University of Akron Student Union. 

If you’re a convention promoter who’d like to have me as a guest at
your event, e-mail with details.  If my schedule allows it and if
we can work out the nuts-and-bolts of my appearance, I’d be happy
to attend your convention.  The same holds true if you want me to
speak at your school or library or other function.

Podcasts, radio, TV?  I’m not in love with them, but I’ll at least
consider them.  If we’re talking TV, we probably need to find me a
handsome media double.  Otherwise your viewers might think they’re
watching a rerun of Tales from the Crypt.

While I’m still not eager to do a lot of interviews, especially if
they want to cover the same ground I’ve covered in dozens of other
interviews, I will try to accommodate such requests.  Just show me
a little common courtesy, okay?  Don’t send me questions before I
agree to the interview.  Don’t expect overnight responses because
I fit these things in around my writing and my family and household
obligations.  Finally, though I can scarcely believe I have to say
this, you’re supposed to say “thank you” after I’ve answered your

I used to work from time to time as a consultant, advising comics
publishers, editors and creators.  I got paid for that work, but I
never really liked doing it.  At least a couple times a month, I’m
asked to look over someone’s proposal for a new comic book, comic
strip, etc.  As a favor.  Often a favor being asked by someone with
whom I’ve never had any real prior contact.  I almost always turn
that down and some of the favor-seekers get real nasty when I turn
them down.  I don’t think I owe every one who’s ever bought one of
my books or read my columns my free creative services.  So, like I
said, I almost always turn down such requests.

I’m getting mellow in my dotage.  Just last week, I was asked to
read and make suggestions on a writer’s proposal for a new project.
I was in a good mood and agreed to do so.  Much to my delight and
surprise, I had fun showing the writer a few different ways she
could take her characters and stories. 

The moral of the above is that I no longer have that hard-and-fast
rule against lending a helping brain on occasion.  I expect I will
still turn down most of the requests, but it’s not the closed door
it once was.

We’ll resume this discussion tomorrow.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. You know, I think I'd read "Tony Isabella's Li'l Punisher!" Especially if you just went completely Grand Guignol on it, and had improbably-heavily-armed infants producing levels of gore and carnage that would would give Ghastly pause. Yeah, it's totally a sicko idea, but I'm sort of laughing at it already.

    I've also got a movie recommendation for you, if you can see it for free: Tom Hanks' "Larry Crowne," a very sweet story in which almost nothing happens, following the adventures of a guy in his 50s who's been let go from his lifetime retail job, and is going to college to try to improve his employability. His neighbor, played by Cedric the Entertainer, runs a perpetual yard sale, and I think you'll get a kick out of him.

  2. I think I have mentioned my own personal fondness for Little Archie and the gang. Before I became hopelessly addicted only to super-heroes I found those books a treat and actually preferred them to the continuing love triangle of the teenage group.

    Admit to being curious about the situation that you have referred to for a while now. While glad that it has been resolved, it still seems like something which didn't make one of my very, favorite comicbook writers happy in the end. I look forward to hearing more about the final outcome.

    Finally, happy to hear that you will be going conventions again, but sadly neither SDCC or the San Diego Comic Fest in October seem likely it appears.