Sunday, July 29, 2012


My second garage sale was another success and I'll be writing about it on Thursday. 

In other news...

Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing will resume on Wednesday with another Rawhide Wednesday.  As of this writing, I will be able to extend this weekly feature three issues past what was collected in the Essential Rawhide Kid.  Currently trying to track down an affordable copy of Rawhide Kid #39.

This week, I'll be working on some pitches, writing my monthly Comics Buyer's Guide contributions, and working on my reading room.  So I can't accommodate appointment customers to my garage stock until the following week.  Next garage sale is August 10 and 11 and, as always, there will be restocking prior to the garage sale.

See you on Wednesday.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Thanks to everyone who came and shopped at today's garage sale.  I'm restocking tonight for tomorrow's sale.  840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH, 10 am to 3 pm.


Just out from TwoMorrows is Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of
by Dewey Cassell with Aaron Sultan [$24.95].  I haven’t had
a chance to read it yet, but this tribute to the great artist and
lady looks like big fun.  It’s a chronological journey through her
career with a whole lot of art, interviews, and photographs.  There
are rare and even unpublished pieces, not to mention a brief chat
with yours truly.  I look forward to reading and reviewing it very
soon, but you don’t have to wait for my review to order this book.
Just flipping through will convince you.

In other Marvel matters...

I’m a mere two weeks behind in my reading of all those Avengers and
X-Men titles.  I’d be caught up, but the friend who loans me comic
books has been out of town for a few weeks.  In any case, here are
my current thoughts on these titles...

Astonishing X-Men #44-47 was yet another alternate reality story.
How many of these do we need in any given year?

Astonishing X-Men #48-51 had a contingent of X-Men battling mind-
controlled Marauders in New York City, but the heart of the story
arc was Northstar proposing and marrying his beloved Kyle.  It was
good stuff.  Not great stuff, but good stuff, with a fine emotional
payoff that made me proud that comic books can and will do stories,
uplifting stories, that challenge bigotry and ignorance.  For all
the complaints that can legitimately be directed against Marvel’s
multiplicity of titles, the confusion they engender, and the huge
events that overshadow the possibility of more meaningful stories,
we can still get this development, a positive message that reaches
more people in an X-Men title than it would in most.  My kudos and
thanks to writer Marjorie Liu, artist Mike Perkins, and everybody
who worked on these issues.

Avengers #22-24 reprinted the classic battle between the Avengers
and Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers.  What?  That wasn’t a reprint?
Could have fooled me.

Avengers #24.1 has a repaired Vision who is major pissed off at how
things went with his life, marriage and other matters.  This take
on the character interests me, so thumbs up to writer Brian Michael
Bendis and artist Brandon Peterson.

Avengers #25-27 are tied in with the Avengers Versus X-Men event.
Good comics by Bendis and artist Walter Simonson.

Avengers Academy by Christos Gage remains my favorite Marvel Comics
series and one of my favorite super-hero comics.  I like how these
young characters have their own minds and must make their own very
tough decisions.  I like that their adult mentors recognize this,
even if it sometimes takes them a while to get there.  I love that
there is always a core of heroism, hope and humanity to this title.
Of all the titles connected to “Avengers Versus X-Men,” this is the
title that most does so on its own terms and, if you can only read
one Marvel title, this is the title you should read.

Avengers Assemble by Bendis and artist Mark Bagley is a perfectly
readable super-team comic book, but it never manages to rise above
that level.  Indeed, it strikes me as a combination attempt to cash
in on Marvel movies - such as the blockbuster Avengers and the in-
the-works Guardians of the Galaxy - and advance promotion for those
movies.  Readable super-team comics are a rare enough commodity in
the current marketplace that I’m delighted Marvel’s publishing this
one.  It’s worth checking out.

Marvel events are hit and more miss with me.  Sometimes they start
with great ideas.  I’d include “Civil War” and “Secret Invasion” in
that category.  Other times, they blow chunks.  That would be “Dark
Reign” and “Fear Itself.”  Most of the time, these events run too
long and involve too many titles.  Some of the time, even the blow
chunks events manage some decent issues and spin-offs.  Either way,
any way, my preference for stories that reflect individual writers
over group plotting will never be a concern for Marvel.  Clearly,
their readers like these big events because they keep buying them.
The free market has spoken. 

Avengers Vs. X-Men is a great idea.  The stakes are high for each
of the opposing forces and the positions each side has taken make
logical sense to me.  The Avengers have seen the harm that usually
follows the acquisition of too great power.  The X-Men have faced
the virtual extinction of their species.  I can’t say either side
is overreacting to this crisis.  Heck, it’s only been in the most
recent issues, as the Phoenix Five (Cyclops, Magik, Colossus, Emma
Frost and Namor) have drifted away from the humanity they used to
share with the Avengers and even their fellow mutants, that I have
been able to chose a side.  True to traditional Marvel event style,
I think the story is going on too long, but I continue to find it
exciting and thought-provoking.

Some related notes:

Something I don’t like is that many of the most noble of Marvel’s
heroes have become raging dicks.  Captain America used to stand for
America at its best and now he’s a combination of Nick Fury at his
worst and “Civil War” Tony Stark at his worst.  I mourn the loss of
yet another of my favorite heroes, Batman having left the room a
long time ago.  Now the Steve Rogers I admired is all but gone from
the pages of Marvel Comics.  Tragic.

Cyclops has become a new Magneto.  Oddly enough, that development
intrigues me.  Scott Summers, the best of the X-Men, has become a
rigid and tyrannical leader.  He has created/sanctioned mutant hit
squads in “ends justify the means” fashion.  He’s become a monster
and he doesn’t even realize it.  Damn, that’s practically a mutant
Shakespearean tragedy.  Well played, writers.  Well played.

I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 26, 2012


My second garage sale of the summer will be held at 840 Damon Drive
in Medina, Ohio, on Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, from 10 am
to 3 pm.  My first garage sale of this summer, like my one and only
garage sale of last summer, was very successful.  As a result, many
of my readers have asked for my advice on how to run a successful
garage sale.  It’s easy.

What you do is retroactively become one of the leading reviewers in
comics, going back over two decades, and have publishers send you
hundreds of comic books each and every month.  Then, having amassed
a Vast Accumulation of Stuff that fills four large rooms in your house
and a storage unit costing you nearly $100 a month, you will have enough
stock to make big bucks selling comic books fivefor a buck, trade
paperbacks for two bucks, etc. Changing the past is so simple
Mitt Romney and I wonder why everyone doesn’t do it.


The first garage sale I ran, over two decades ago, was a complete
bust.  I had several tables of comic books priced at the going rate
or less.  I teamed up with a friend of mine who sold baseball and
other trading cards at flea markets and small comics/cards shows.
I took out an ad in the local newspaper.  I didn’t make ten bucks,
and that included my 10% cut of my friend’s sales.  I didn’t even
think about doing another garage sale until last year.

I was inspired by my pal Chris Yambar’s Lawn Con.  Chris invited a
bunch of fellow comics creators to set up tables on his lawn.  He
got newspaper coverage of the event.  Much fun was had by all and
some creators made some decent money at the show. 

My original plan was to rip off Chris’ concept.  But Chris is much
better at organizing than I.  My lofty plans for “Garage Con” fell
apart almost immediately on my crafting them and I had to run with
a comics-centric garage sale whose only “guest” was myself.  That
worked out better than I’d hoped.

Over the past two decades, I had gotten more and more involved in
the online comics community.  I had a message board and a Facebook
page and a blog and a Twitter account.  Baby, I rode every one of
those promotional ponies like I was a Kentucky Derby jockey.  Yes,
I also advertised my garage sale on Craig’s List and in the local
newspaper, but it was the online comics community that brought my
garage sale across the finish line and into the prize money.  And
this is where I stop with the equestrian sports analogies before I
hurt my brain going for dressage references.

Last summer, I don’t think I had more than three dozen customers in
the two days of my garage sale.  However, most of them were comics
fans who had seen my “ads” for the sale online, who knew in advance
how low my prices would be, and whose patronage allowed me to make
a nice chunk of cash over those two days. For this summer’s garage
sales, I’ve tried to build on what I learned.

The big question mark this summer is whether or not I can continue
to do well at garage sales spaced but two weeks apart.  Will there
be enough customers to sustain the profitability of these frequent
garage sales?  I hope so, but, either way, I’ll let you know what
happens this weekend and throughout the summer.

As per the many requests I received in my ridiculous new position
as a garage sale guru, here are some thoughts and tips on how you
might be able to hold your own successful sales.

Be highly motivated.  While my main goal is to make enough money to
pay some bills and make some renovations/repairs to our Tardis-like
house, I have other goals as well.

By the end of this summer, I want to turn a room currently filled
with boxes into a combination library, mailing station and reading
room.  The comfy chair and a suitable worktable are already there,
but I envision bookcases and a corner of easy-to-use Drawer Boxes
to hold and organize the comics and books I’m keeping for the time
being.  It’ll be my fan-cave.

Within the next couple years, I want to reduce my basement storage
space to one wall and stop renting the secret storage fortress.  In
doing this, I’ll be able to move my family’s non-comics items from
the storage unit to the basement.  Not renting storage space will
save me close to a hundred dollars a month.

Price to sell.  This works best when you have the kind of volume I
have, but it can work for anybody.  You can make money by selling
a lot of items and, realistically, much of what I have would never
go for anywhere near guide of even cover prices.

So my prices run like this:

Comic books and magazines...25 cents each, 5 for $1.

Trade paperbacks...$2 each.

All-ages trade paperbacks...$1 each, because I want to encourage
young comics readers to love comics as much as I do.

Hardcovers....$5 each.

VHS tapes...25 cents each, 5 for $1.

Manga paperbacks...$1 each.

Though I sell my 1000 Comic Books You Must Read at $20 per copy to
match the Amazon price, issues of Grim Ghost and other things I’ve
written are at their original cover prices.  That pricing reflects
the finite supply I have of those items.

Don’t give up on any section of your garage sales prematurely.  I
barely sold any manga or VHS tapes last summer, but, this summer,
I’ve sold multiple stacks of each.  If they stop selling, they may
be donated or go into the trash, but, for now, they remain part of
my garage sales.

Signage, signage, signage. Price everything clearly.  I print out
signs for each section of the sale.  I post a general price list on
the refrigerator in my garage.  I even print out a sign informing
customers that not all items are suitable for all ages and that I
will be happy to help them find items that are age-appropriate for
their kids.  Mothers have actually thanked me for that sign...and
for addressing their concerns.

No haggling. I’m adding a sign to that effect to my garage sales.
There are people - usually not comics fans - whose greatest joy in
attending garage sales is to whittle down already low prices as if
they were conquering barbarians.  It’s a game to them, but it’s a
game that can and will drain energy better used to serve your more
civilized customers. 

Your garage sale is a business.  It can be fun - mine are - but it
is a business.  The innate negativity of these hagglers should not
be tolerated.  It’s bad for business.

That said. I have no problem with taking a few bucks off for large
purchases or for returning customers.  If someone buys 118 comics,
I’ll charge them for 100.  If someone buys 160 trade paperbacks, I
might charge them for 150.  The happier I keep customers, the more
they buy and, hopefully, the more they encourage their friends to
come to my garage sales.

Word of mouth.  Be cheerful and make the experience a fun one for
customers.  They will tell others about your sale.  That’s one of
the reasons my anime and manga sales picked up this year.  

Be prepared. Make sure you have sufficient change for your garage
sales.  If you’ve priced your items in increments of quarters and
dollars you’ve already reduced the kind of change you need.  I try
to start each sale with a couple rolls of quarters and fifty bucks
each in one and five-dollar bills. 

Have a calculator and a writing pad at your sales station.  Yeah,
you could do the math in your head, but, after several hours in a
garage in the summer, your head might not be functioning at 100%.
Accuracy is a good thing in business.    

Other necessities: fans of the whirling variety and water bottles.
It can get hot inside my garage in these summers of global warming.
Stay cool and hydrated.

Make the Internet your best friend.  I mentioned this earlier, but
it bears repeating.  When doing a comics-centric garage sale, you
have to reach as far outside your neighborhood as possible.  Even
in these days of wider acceptance of our comics passion, the vast
majority of your neighbors are not comics fans. 

Reach out to comics fans and retailers within driving distance of
your garage.  Let them know, as much as you can, what you have for
sale and how low your prices are.  I’m not so good at the “letting
them know” because I don’t really know what I have in any given box
until I go through it, but I talk about my low prices frequently.
I’m confident my customers will find a lot of stuff of interest to
them and love those low prices. 

See that? I mentioned low prices three times in one paragraph and
I didn’t even break a sweat.

I have an advantage over most of you when it comes to these garage
sales.  I enjoy a certain minor celebrity from my four decades as
a comics professional...and I’m not at all shy about exploiting it
to attract customers. 

If you, too, work or have worked in comics, use it to benefit your
sale.  If you don’t and haven’t worked in comics, come up with fun
ideas to attract some local publicity.  Maybe give a comic book to
anyone who shows up in a comic-book costume.  Maybe give a comic to
any kid who gives you a drawing of their favorite comics character.
Take photos so you can use them to promote your next garage sale.

Two successful garage sales don’t really make a garage sale guru.
We can make that call at the end of September when the last of my
2012 garage sales are concluded.  In the meantime, I hope the above
conversation has been of some help to you.

If you’d like to check out my garage sales, here’s the schedule for
the rest of the summer... 

Friday, July 27 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, July 28 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, August 10 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, August 11 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, August 24 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, August 25 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, September 7 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, September 8 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, September 21 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, September 22 (10 am to 3 pm)

Thanks and I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing:

The Rawhide Kid is one of my favorite comics characters.  Inspired
by Essential Rawhide Kid Vol. 1, which reprints Rawhide Kid #17-35,
I write about the Kid every Wednesday.  There are spoilers ahead.
You have been warned.

The Rawhide Kid #32 [February 1963] marked the end of Jack Kirby’s
run on the title, though he would still draw covers and return for
one memorable non-series story.  This issue’s cover was penciled by
Kirby and inked by Dick Ayers.  While I don’t dispute that inking
credit, I can’t help but nod in agreement with comics historian and
Tony-friend Nick Caputo when he comments “there is little of Ayers’
heavier lines evident.”
  It’s a dramatic cover, but not as strong
as it could have been with those heavier lines.

“Beware of the Barker Brothers” (13 pages) is packed with Rawhide
Kid action and plot.  Our young hero arrives broke and hungry in a
rugged frontier town.  When he tries to sell his saddle blanket, he
is tossed out of the local saloon and set upon by the town bullies.
By now, we should all know how bullies fare in such confrontations
with the Kid.

Impressed by the Kid, Blade Barker offers him a job on his ranch.
Despite a warning from one of the townspeople, Rawhide accepts the
job.  Hair-trigger is an apt description for the Kid’s temper right
now.  The first thing he does on arriving at the ranch is to take
down another bully. 

Surprisingly, Barker has Rawhide working in the house itself.  But
it’s part of Barker’s regular scam.  When the Kid knocks over what
is said to be an expensive vase, he’s told he has to keep working
at the ranch until he’s paid it off.  This is how Barker keeps men
working for him and his equally slimy brothers.

A digression about Blade Barker.  He’s a ringer for a now-disbarred
lawyer I knew.  When I reread this story, I made the connection in
an instant.  Kirby and Ayers capture the man’s character perfectly.

The Kid leaves the ranch and goes to the town’s sheriff.  But the
sheriff is related to the Barkers and won’t believe they are doing
anything illegal without proof.  Not wanting to get in trouble with
the law - this story must take place in a territory where Rawhide
isn’t already wanted - the Kid returns to the ranch...and quickly
learns Barker and his brothers are selling rifles and ammunition to
the Apaches.  Unfortunately for the Barkers, the Apaches decide to
use their new firepower to attack the ranch.

What follows is one of the most thrilling climaxes in Kirby’s run
on the character.  The Kid leads everyone in a daring escape right
through the attacking warriors, who nonetheless manage to blow the
ranch to bits with Barker’s vast supply of gunpowder.  The sheriff
comes on the scene, gets a confession from one of Barker’s men and
arrests the pack of them.  He tells the Kid his debt to the Barkers
is “washed off -— real clean.”

As he rides off on his horse Nightwind, the Kid thinks: “Well, I’m
as broke as ever —- and a heap more tired now! But I got me a full
belly and a clean conscience –- and I reckon a man can’t ask for
much more’n that!”

The published credits for this story and the issue’s second Rawhide
Kid story are as follows:

Script...Stan Lee
Art...Jack Kirby
Inking/Lettering...Dick Ayers

Stan Lee teamed with Al Hartley for “The Judge,” the issue’s non-
series story.  Judge Harper Bates comes to Tornado, a town so wild
the sheriff takes prisoners to the next town to be tried.  Bates is
determined to change that.  The local owlhoots disrupt the Judge’s
makeshift courtroom, but Bates is packing under his black robe and,
with the sheriff’s help, he quickly restores order to his court and
tames Tornado:

“For that was the breed of man who tamed the west...Judge Harper
Bates and the countless others like him!  Dedicated men –- honest
men –- courageous men –- who proved that a steady gun hand and a
fighting heart are also weapons on justice!”

Hartley isn’t known for his work on adventure comics, but he does
a nice job with this one.  I especially like the shocked expression
on an owlhoot’s face when the Judge shoots the gun right out of the
man’s hand.

“No Guns for a Gunman!” (5 pages) is the last Rawhide Kid story to
be drawn by Kirby and it’s a wild one.  An exhausted Rawhide checks
into a hotel.  He’s clearly made a few bucks since the end of the
Barker Brothers adventure.

Two owlhoots - I love the word “owlhoot” - recognize him and sneak
into his room while the Kid sleeps.  They remove the bullets from
his guns.  The next day, hoping to make the reputations as the men
who beat the Rawhide Kid, they call him out in the street.

The Kid out draws them easily, but instantly realizes his guns are
empty.  As an editorial note explains:

“The one thing Grizzly didn’t figure on is the sensitivity if the
trained gunfighter’s touch!”

Hey, if you can’t believe Stan and Jack...

The Kid dodges and weaves through the gunfire and proceeds to beat
the ever-loving crap out of his cheating opponents.  When buddies
of the owlhoots look to intervene, Rawhide deals with them just as
violently.  In this issue, the Kid definitely has some major anger
issues and he definitely works through them.

The tale ends on a somber note.  The townspeople cheer the Rawhide
Kid for dealing with the local bullies.  However, as our young hero
walks away, he realizes:

“The cheers of the crowd – it don’t mean a thing! Sooner or later
I’ll stop hearin’ those cheers - the first time I lose!

Look for another Rawhide Wednesday next week as the Kid gets a new
and surprising artist.  But I’ll also be back tomorrow with other
stuff.  I blog, therefore I am.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1692:

Here’s a strange one from 2000: Star Combat Tales #1 [ACG Comics;
$5.95]. Published in Canada by Avalon Communications, the 68-page,
black-and-white comic was one of over 140 titles reprinting stories
from Charlton and ACG.  Most of those didn’t see a second issue.
Avalon ceased publishing in 2003 and hasn’t been heard from since.

The cover shot of Lee Marvin is lifted from James Bama’s original
poster for The Dirty Dozen.  Inside the issue, the cover-advertised
Lee Marvin index is little more than a list of his films that was
likely cut-and-pasted from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

The stories are all Charlton reprints and they show the surprising
variety to be found in that company’s war comics of the late 1960s
and early 1970s.  Some spoilers ahead.

“The Fifty Mission Stare” (art by Demetrio Sánchez Gómez) focuses
on a World War II fighter pilot’s fear of being killed before he’s
completed the fifty missions that will get him a ticket back home.
It concludes with him being shot down, captured by the Germans, and
relieved that he’ll spend the rest of the war in a POW camp.  It’s
as weird an ending for a war story as I can recall.  Gómez also
drew “Who’s a Hero?”, a typical story about brave soldiers doing
their jobs without fanfare.

“Four Volunteers” (art probably by Rocco Mastroserio) is a gung-ho
adventure of four GIs taking on vast numbers of enemy soldiers to
capture a German officer.  “Channel Tag” is a more grim tale with
Allied patrol boats trying to travel between Britain and France,
their missions complicated by a traitor in the French Resistance.

The highlight of the issue are two stories by writer Will Franz and
artist Sam Glanzman.  Don’t look for gung-ho action in these tales
of The Iron Corporal or The Lonely War of Captain Willy Schultz.”
The former is an Australian soldier fighting in the Pacific while
the latter is a serial about an American officer unjustly accused
of a murder and, in this episode, working with Italian resistence
fighters behind enemy lines.  These are brilliant sequences, but
neither one will bring you to a happy place.

You might be able to find ACG comics from this era in bargain bins
at conventions and comic shops.  They’re worth the effort.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 23, 2012


From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1692:

“We stand today on the edge of a new frontier, the frontier of the
1960s, a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, a frontier
of unfulfilled hopes and threats. The new frontier of which I speak
is not a set of promises; it is a set of challenges.”

-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

In CBG #1691, I presented an incomplete breakdown of comic books
published in my birth month of December 1951 with a promise to do
the same for comics published in December 2011 in this exciting
issue.  Were I a politician, I’d claim I never made that statement
then wince as Jon Stewart ran a clip of me saying exactly what I
claimed I never said.  At which point I’d blame the liberal media.
I’m not a politician.

However, I am a columnist who came to a realization I didn’t care
much about the comics published in December 2011 when there were so
many more past months that did interest me greatly.  My career and
life in comics has had several milestone months: the month I first
went to work for Marvel Comics, the month the first first issue of
Black Lightning was published, the month I bought a comics store,
Superman’s 50th anniversary, the month I closed my comics store and
the month the second first issue of Black Lightning was published.
Then there’s the month (July 1963) I bought Fantastic Four Annual
#1, realized folks made comic books for a living and decided I also
wanted that job.  That’s the month I’m breaking down for you this
time around.

Mike’s Amazing World of Comics lists 137 comics published in July
1963, down from the 153 it lists for December 1951.  The gap is
certainly wider than indicated.  Several 1951 publishers were missing
from Mike’s list while the relatively small ACG and humor mags MAD, 
Cracked, and Sick are the only omissions that come to mind from 1963. 

DC was the most prolific publisher:

DC.....28 issues (20.4%)
Gold Key.....26 issues (19%)
Charlton.....25 issues (18.3%)
Harvey.....18 issues (13.1%)
Marvel.....15 issues (11%)
Archie.....14 issues (10.2%)
Dell.....11 issues (8%)

Missing in action: Fawcett, Quality, Fiction House, Eastern Color,
and United Features.  These departed publishers accounted for 29.4%
of our incomplete December 1951 totals.

There were 62 comic books based on licensed properties in December
1951, 40.5% of our incomplete total.  It was down to 35 comic books
and 25.6% in July 1963.  Noting once again that there will be some
overlapping, here’s a breakdown by genre:

Humor.....20 issues (57.1%)
Celebrity, Movie, TV.....11 issues (8%)
Funny Animal.....11 issues (8%)
Adventure.....4 issues (2.9%)
Comic Strip.....3 issues (2.2%)
Mystery.....2 issues (1.5%)
Western.....2 issues (1.5%)
Doctors/Nurses.....1 issue (0.7%)
Science Fiction.....1 issue (0.7%)
Teen Humor.....1 issue (0.7%) issues (0%)

Humor dominated the comics racks more than in 1951 with 60 issues
to the earlier year’s 41.  That’s 43.8% to 26.8%.  Once again, I’ve
broken the humor books into categories: funny animal, teen, kids,
domestic, babes (such as Millie the Model) and miscellaneous, while
adding supernatural humor to cover Casper, Hot Stuff and Wendy the
Good Little Witch
The Flintstones and The Jetsons gave me pause,
but, ultimately, I decided that, despite their backgrounds, both of
those were domestic humor titles with, at least in their TV show
counterparts, stories not far removed from TV family and marriage

Crime comics are gone from the racks in 1963, as are sports comics.
There are two new genres: doctors/nurses and hot rods.  Horror has
metamorphosed into “mystery.”

Super-Heroes.....24 issues (17.5%)
Teen Humor.....16 issues (11.7%)
Miscellaneous Humor.....11 issues (8%)
Adventure.....10 issues (7.3%)
Kids Humor.....10 issues (7.3%)
Supernatural Humor.....10 issues (7.3%)
Funny Animal.....9 issues (6.6%)
Romance.....8 issues (5.8%)
War.....8 issues (5.8%)
Science Fiction.....7 issues (5.1%)
Western.....7 issues (5.1%)
Doctors/Nurses.....5 issues (3.7%)
Domestic Humor.....5 issues (3.7%)
Mystery.....4 issues (2.9%)
Hot Rods.....2 issues (1.5%)
Babes Humor.....1 issue (0.5%) issues (0%)

Super-heroes are beginning their decades-long domination of comics
racks, rising from 7.8% to 17.5%.  Romance fell from 13.7% to 5.8%
while westerns comics fell to 5.1% from the December 1951 total of
17.7%. Teen humor comics rose from 5.9% to 11.7%.  Miscellaneous
humor rose from 3.3% to 8%.

Genres showing gains: kids humor, war, science fiction, domestic
humor.  Genres showing loses: adventure (slightly), funny animals,
horror/mystery, babes humor.

I won’t be doing such breakdowns every issue.  How often I do them
depends on reader response.  If you fell asleep after I mentioned
Fantastic Four Annual #1, I won’t do them ever again.  Of course,
that might force me to go with editor Brent Frankenhoff’s monthly
themes.  His October theme is “Halloween Costumes of Comics Pros.”
Trust me when I say you do not want to see me in my Dr. Manhattan
costume. I look like a pervy Papa Smurf.


If you need a reminder of how dearly Harvey Pekar will be missed,
look no further than Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland [Zip Comics/Top Shelf
Productions; $21.99].  With compelling art by Joseph Reminant, this
108-page graphic novel is both an autobiography of the writer and
a historical/social/political/artistic history of the city in which
he lived.  Indeed, it’s the city Pekar made his by revealing it to
his readers across the country and the world.  Not even Superman,
Cleveland’s other iconic comics con, was ever so in tune with the
heart and soul of the city and its people.

Critics and reviewers far more literate than me, such as Alan Moore
in his introduction to this book, will wax more eloquently on the
craft and genius of America’s comic-book everyman.  I’ll settle for
telling you that Pekar’s voice speaks strongly to me as a reader,
a writer, and a former Cleveland resident.  It didn’t speak to me
when I first read his earliest American Splendor comics, but I did
eventually “get” him and his work.  My comics experience and yours
would be incomplete without Harvey Pekar.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland is the best graphic novel of 2012.  Every
other graphic novel is competing for second place.

ISBN 978-1-60309-091-9


That other Cleveland comics legend features prominently in Superman
Versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero
Battled the Men of Hate
[National Geographic; $16.95]. Author Rick
Bowers, a noted journalist who frequently writes of the struggles
to secure civil rights, explores the histories of Superman and the
real-life villains of the Klan to their seemingly inevitable clash
on the airwaves.

The more I learn about the Klan, the scarier that vile organization
reveals itself to be.  These racists exercised great power and not
just in the South.  They were a powerful political force in nearby
(to me) Akron Ohio at one time and, if you want to talk chilling,
I can direct you to a old photo of hooded Klansman assisting Santa
Claus in giving out presents to clearly frightened white children.
The Klan were and remain a clear and present danger to my country,
diminished though they may be in today’s America.

Superman was created as the champion of the oppressed.  Something
that was lost as he deferred increasingly to authority in the 1950s
and 1960s.  When he opposes authority today, it appears to be more
because it interferes with him personally than because it oppresses
the downtrodden.

Yet in the years following World War II, at a time when the comic
book was under fire on many fronts, Superman’s radio program earned
praise for stories preaching tolerance within its exciting stories.
In 1946, Superman’s battle with the “Clan of the Fiery Cross” hit
the airwaves with locomotive force.  The Clan was so similar to the
Klan - its members used actual code words from the Klan - that the
program needn’t have bothered with the alias.

The book is a page-turner, a thriller.  Its tight 160 pages make it
perfect for an afternoon’s reading. Superman is at his finest as a
hero for social justice, when he fights for and is one of us.  I
wish that guy was still around.  In the meantime, Superman Versus
the Ku Klux Klan
reminds us of the character’s greatness and shows
a path for restoring him to that greatness.

ISBN 978-1-4263-0915-1


Big Nate Goes for Broke [Harper; $14.89] by Lincoln Peirce is the
fourth “chapter book” based on the author’s comic strip, which has
been running since 1991.  Title hero Nate Wright is a sixth-grader
who aspires to greatness.  His energy and rebellious nature combine
with his disinterest in his school work to put him at odds with his
teachers and various bullies.  He’s no stranger to disappointment,
but Nate is always game for the next challenge.

Peirce combines prose with panels from his comic strip, including
pages drawn by Nate.  Though I can’t speak for the book’s intended
audience (ages 8-12), I get a kick out of this storytelling method.
Like the earlier books in the series, Big Nate Goes for Broke is a
fun book with an appealing hero.  Check it out.

ISBN 978-0-06-199662-7


Heroes for My Daughter by Brad Meltzer [Harper; $19.99] showcases
60 heroes, role models for his daughter Lila.  It’s a follow-up to
Meltzer’s Heroes for My Son [Harper; $19.99] and is as powerful a
exaltation of real-life heroism, both boisterous and quiet, as the
earlier volume. 

Part of the fun of this book is seeing what hero you’ll find next
when you turn the pages.  I won’t give away too many of Meltzer’s
choices, but I will tell you that any book of heroes that includes
the Three Stooges speaks to me deeply.  I think you’ll be surprised
to learn why Meltzer selected those performers.

There are stories here that will bring tears to your eyes, others
that will remind you how much amazing courage and good is present
in our world.  Though Meltzer makes no such claims, these are holy
books for today.  No ancient writings translated my men driven by
their agendas and their eras.  Just simple tales of humanity at its
best.  Lessons brave and true for 2012.  I recommend them highly.

Heroes for My Daughter: ISBN 978-0-06-190526-1

Heroes for My Son: ISBN 978-0-06-190528-5


Charlton Spotlight #7 [Argo Press; $7.95] features a “conversation”
with cartoonist and former Charlton editor George Wildman and his
friend and fellow cartoonist Hy Eisman.  Lots of information about
the odd-but-beloved Charlton Comics.

Also in the issue, writer Paul Kupperberg and publisher Ron Frantz
share memories of Dick Giordano, another former Charlton editor and
one of comicdom’s most accomplished artist, editor, and executive.
All told, Charlton Spotlight is 48 pages of comics art and history
in a handsome magazine.

Charlton Spotlight is only available directly from editor Michael
Ambrose.  You can find ordering details at:


I have never found zombies very interesting.  Seen one Night of the
Living Dead
and, as far as I can tell, you’ve seen them all, though
I did enjoy Shaun of the Dead.  One original, one brilliant spoof.
Zombie-wise, I was good.

Other exceptions to my “not finding zombies interesting” semi-rule
are the Simon Garth stories in Marvel’s Tales of the Zombie (1970s)
and The Walking Dead.  Two movies, two comic books.  Zombie-wise,
I was still good.

Then comes Rex, Zombie Killer #1 [Big Dog Ink; $3.50] by writer Rob
Anderson and artist Dafu Yu.  Fifty-six full-color pages of three
dogs, a cat and a gorilla seeking safe haven in the aftermath of
your basic zombie apocalypse.  Terrific characters, crisp writing,
good art and storytelling, thrills a’plenty, and outstanding bang
for your three and a half bucks.  Zombie-wise, I’m now quite a bit
better than good.

Rex, Zombie Killer is a smart smart comic book.  The only downside
is that reading it will make your brain all the more appetizing for
those darn zombies.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I'll be a guest at this year's Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, September 28-30, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. 

The guest list includes Stan Lee, Neal Adams, William Shatner, Elisha Dushku, Dean Cain, Alan Davis, Paul Jenkins, Dan Parent, and many others.

I will have a table in Artists Alley, but I won't be selling anything at the show.  What I will be doing, besides signing your Isabella-written books and comic books at various scheduled times, is meeting with prospective creative partners. 

If you're an artist who wants to work with me, e-mail me and we'll set up a meeting at the convention.

If you're an editor or publisher who wants to work me, e-mail me and we'll set up a meeting.

I'm most interested in doing my creator-owned properties - artists will get a share of those properties - where I can tell my stories my way.  But I'm not adverse to work-for-hire gigs if the contracts for doing them are fair and reasonable.

I had a ball at last year's Wizard World event in Columbus and I'm sure this year's event will be just as much fun.  Hope to see you there.


Just a reminder that my next public garage sale will be held at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio, on Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, from 10 am to 3 pm. 

I've restocked, though, with the addition of a new table, I'll be adding even more comics and other items to the sale before it opens. 

Ads have been placed on Craig's List and in the local newspaper.  Sainted Wife Barb tells me there will be a neighborhood garage sale going on at the same time, so garage sale devotees will be able to hit several sales within a block or so of my sale.

Hope to see you there.


Thursday, July 19, 2012


Here's the revised schedule...


840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

Friday, July 27 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, July 28 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, August 10 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, August 11 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, August 24 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, August 25 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, September 7 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, September 8 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, September 21 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, September 22 (10 am to 3 pm)

Friday, September 28 (10 am to 3 pm)

Saturday, September 29 (10 am to 3 pm)

Watch for updates.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back in Medina

Back in Medina. Accomplished everything I set out to do in Marietta and the tales thereof will make amusing reading. So much to write about when the bloggy thing returns on Monday. Should I write about Marietta? The garage sale? Things I've read recently? The news out of Comic-Con? This ain't a democracy, but I'll be happy to read your requests.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

UPDATES 7/15/12

I'm going to be offline for a couple days. I'm going to Marietta with my son Eddie so that I can take care of some stuff at his house while he's at work.

The garage sale was a tremendous success. We equaled last year's sales and sold a lot of stuff (manga and VHS tapes, manga books and magazines) that didn't sell at all last year.

I'll be writing about the garage sale when my bloggy thing resumes on Monday, July 23.


Friday, July 13, 2012


My garage sale was very successful.  My thanks to all my customers.

In fact, it was so successful that, when my son Eddie came home for the weekend earlier tonight, he and I drove to my secret storage fortress and brought 8-10 boxes of comics, manga, trade paperbacks, and even hardcovers back to the garage.  We are restocked and ready for tomorrow's sale.

That's 840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH, Saturday, July 14, from 10 am to 6 pm. 

In other Tony news...the bloggy thing may not resume until next weekend.  I'll be going back to Marietta with Eddie on Sunday to handle some business with his new house and may not get back to Medina for a few days.  So, if you can't in touch with me online, that's why.

Look for another garage sale update tomorrow evening.



One of the reasons I write stuff like the last four days’ worth of
this bloggy thing is because, if comics freelancers like me don’t set
the record straight, you’ll be stuck with the bullshit propagated
by comics executives and those who believe anything and do anything
those executives tell them to believe or do.  Not every executive
and his/her employees are like this, but plenty fit that profile.

I have a dear industry friend who has been screwed over many times.
Yet one lie that seems to anger him as much as anything that’s been
done to him is the fantasy that he was somehow rescued from a lousy
job and given a break in comics.  The truth of the matter is that
he had a really good non-comics job before he was hired by one of
the major comics companies.  He took financial and other risks to
take the comics job and he worked as hard or harder as anyone that
I worked with back in the day.  His reward was to be tossed aside
and insulted by his ratbag superiors.

Yeah, it’s extremely important to set the record straight.  So while
I read and mostly enjoyed the Jenette Kahn interview in Back Issue
#57 [TwoMorrows; $8.95], I was ticked off that the interviewer got
virtually every “Tony Isabella fact” wrong as he tried to jog the
memory of his subject.  I wrote a more grumpy than friendly letter
to the editor of the magazine.

Here’s what I wrote:   

Re: Back Issue #57

I enjoyed the Jenette Kahn interview in Back Issue #57.  Despite my
contentious relationship with DC Comics, I always liked Jenette and
thought she did a lot of good things for DC creators.  Not enough,
mind you, but that’s been the case with the company for longer than
I’ve been alive.  I like to remind fans that Liebowitz and Donenfeld
swindled Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, arguably the company’s
first creator, out of the company the Major founded.  DC’s record
in the ensuing decades is spotty at best.  But I digress.

My enjoyment of the Kahn interview was marred by interviewer Robert
Greenberger getting virtually every “Tony Isabella” fact wrong as
he fed questions to Jenette.  For the record...

I was NEVER an assistant editor at DC Comics.  I was NEVER one of
Sol Harrison’s Junior Woodchucks.  I didn’t even like Harrison and,
in my world, he ranks as low as Liebowitz and Donenfeld.

I was NOT hired as a “story editor,” that ridiculous position that
DC created because Vince Colletta had been given such a tough time
by editors and writers whose deadlines he routinely saved.  I had
been a full editor at Marvel Comics and, when DC asked me to join
its staff, the position offered and accepted was as a FULL editor.
On my first day, I learned DC had failed to honor another agreement
made with me.  Ultimately, the company would fail to honor almost
every agreement it made with me.

Technically, I guess I did replace Bob Rozakis.  I’m not sure his
transition from editorial to production was as straightforward as
Greenberger would have.  I recall it as a shameful treatment of a
loyal, talented employee.  But that’s Bob’s story to tell.

I usually refer to the six months or so I spent in the DC editorial
offices as “my mercifully brief time at DC.”  It was a nightmare
of arrogant and petty decisions, which I’ve touched upon in my blog
and which I’ll doubtless discuss further at some near-future time.

I saw the writing on the wall when I was told I couldn’t personally
give Dick Ayers his first Freedom Fighters script.  I had to give
it to Levitz to give to Colletta so that Colletta could then give
it to Dick.  Yeah, it was as stupid as it sounds.

I had worked with Dick at Marvel.  We were friends.  I knew he did
his best work when given a pep talk by an editor or a writer.  But
I was told I had to somehow deliver this pep talk through Colletta.
My goal was, as always, to create the best comic books I could.  I
didn’t see how I could do this if I couldn’t talk to the artists.

My memory is a little foggy on this last bit.  Either on my final
day on staff or during my first Black Lightning series, I outlined
to a friend still working at DC exactly what was going to happen at
the company in the next several years.  To this day, when I speak
with my friend, he expresses his amazement that my predictions were
all dead on. 

Please correct the misinformation Greenberger wrote about my brief,
my mercifully brief time, working in the DC officers.  Naturally,
I’ll be doing this in my blog as well, but it would be nice if the
readers of Back Issue were told the truth as well.

Hey, I warned you it was a grumpy letter.

I’ll be taking a couple days off for my garage sale.  I’ll be back
on Monday with more stuff.   
© 2012 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I had a sort of garage sale preview night tonight because two of last year's customers were passing through the area. Last year, these guys drove 200 miles round trip on two consecutive days to come to my sale. I'm so excited about this sale that I even did some restocking a few minutes ago.

If you're anywhere near 840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH, tomorrow or Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm, you should check out this sale. 1000s of comics and other items at crazy low prices.

If you can't make it this weekend, e-mail me to set up an appointment to shop at your convenience. The garage will be set up for sales through September.


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing: For three days now, I
have been writing about Black Lightning, debunking the falsehoods
being spread by DC and various online jerks.  This has depressed me
more than not being at Comic-Con with my friends, but I’ll soldier
on for this last bloggy thing on the subject.  Do I have to add the
“for now” qualifier?  I didn’t think so.

Let’s talk about Jim Starlin and Thanos...because a friend asked for
a comment on the former’s rumored lawsuit against Marvel over his
creation of the latter.  I prefer to respond to this request in my
own house. 

I have no specific comment on this alleged lawsuit.  It’s none of
my business unless, for some reason, Starlin requests my assistance
in some way.  He’s a good guy and I’m in his corner if he needs me.
I’d rather address the larger issue of why such lawsuits should be
unnecessary and why comics publishers should make their creators so
happy that it never comes to this point.

Because it’s good business.

We have a comics industry where almost no creators have come close
to receive the financial benefits they deserve from their creations
or the respect that should come with those creations.  Having that
as such a major part of comics history, why would anyone ever want
to create something new for DC or Marvel? 

If it’s possible to create a “Superman” or a “Spider-Man,” or, for
that matter, a “Black Lightning” or a “Thanos,” it won’t happen at
DC or Marvel or any other work-for-hire publisher failing to reward
creators properly.  Creators shouldn’t be plantation workers.  Not
if a publisher wants them to do more than pick the crops.  Not if
a publisher wants new creations.

I was thrilled with my partnership agreement with DC Comics until
the company chose not to honor it.  I would’ve happily worked with
DC for the rest of my professional life, creating new characters,
developing new concepts, making both DC and myself a great deal of
money.  That agreement, had it been honored, would have been about
the most motivating force I could imagine.

Moving on...

I was going to write further on the estrangement between Trevor Von
Eeden and myself, which is not based entirely on our disagreements
on matters concerning Black Lightning.  Without going into detail,
I’ll simply say there were plans for us to work together and that
didn’t happen because a) I didn’t like the way the publisher kept
changing what I’d originally agreed to and because b) Trevor hated
the alternate project I proposed.  Trevor took this more personally
than I did and I didn’t think continuing the discussion would be of
benefit to either of us.  If that’s my bad, then it’s my bad and I
won’t put it on anyone else.

Having written about this stuff for four solid days, I’m all done
answering Black Lightning questions for a while.  If I didn’t get
to what you wanted to know, well, I probably answered it somewhere
before.  If I didn’t, you’re out of luck for the next few months or
so.  Mister Tony needs a break.

We’ll close with some fantasy speculation...

I don’t expect there will ever be anyone running DC Comics who is
smart enough to reunite Black Lightning and his creator, that would
be me, and to let me redevelop the character in a way that retains
his essential strengths and fits in with modern times.  And I sure
don’t expect to regain my ownership of the character.  However, in
that wondrous alternate universe where, through some miracle, I do
regain my ownership of Black Lightning, here’s what I would strive
to accomplish...

I would recreate Black Lightning without any connections to the DC
Universe.  He would still be a man of faith and a reluctant warrior
who fights because it’s the only way he can protect his community.
He would still be a positive role model in his civilian and heroic
identities.  But the new series, while still filled with exciting
action and human drama, would delve more deeply into the political
and social issues that concern me.  So I’ve probably already lost
the red states.

My first choice to draw my new Black Lightning series would be Eddy
Newell because he’s the finest artist who ever drew my character.
Eddy would do as much of the art as he wanted and, from the get-go,
he would receive 10% of any money made from the character.  That’s
how highly I value his work.

Eddy is no speed demon.  There would be room for other artists to
draw Black Lightning as well.  My next choice for this assignment
would be Trevor Von Eeden.  Regardless of whether or not he would
be willing to work with me again, Trevor would continue to receive
the 10% he currently and allegedly receives from DC.  While I may
not consider him Black Lightning’s co-creator, I see no reason he
can’t make some money in reward for his work on the first series.

I’d contact some of the Hollywood folks who wanted to work with me
on Black Lightning projects only to be turned away by DC Comics and
see if they would still be interested in doing so.  I thought some
of these folks would have done wonderful things bringing Lightning
into other media.

While I would not allow DC Comics further use of my creation, I’d
allow them to reprint his existing appearances in exchange for the
company allowing me to use their characters in reprints of my own
Black Lightning stories.  There would be a fair standard royalties
agreement that worked both ways.

Eventually, if the character became successful enough, I would love
to establish some sort of Jefferson Pierce Foundation to encourage
the work of comics writers and artists of color.  I’ve wanted to do
something like this since the first time I attended the East Coast
Black Age of Comics Convention.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.   
© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tony Isabella's Garage Sale (July 13-14)

Just a reminder...

My garage sale will be held at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio, on Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14, from 10 am to 6 pm each day.

There will be 1000s of comic books and other items for sale at ridiculously low prices.

Comic books at 25 cents each or 5 for $1.

Magazines and manga at 25 cents each or 5 for $1

VHS tapes and some DVDs at 25 cents each.

Trade paperbacks at $2 each.

Hardcovers at $5 each. 

Cash only.

I'll probably be selling copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read and some other Isabella-written items, though not at the above discounts.  I'll sign anything I've written on request.

Tony Isabella


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing: Now you have two days’
worth of bloggy things to read to get up to speed on what’s what in
the behind-the-scenes history of Black Lightning.  There won’t be
a quiz, at least not for you.

There are, as previously noted, so many things I’d rather be doing
than writing about Black Lightning at the moment.  I’d rather write
about my son Eddie’s new digs and new jobs.  I’d rather review the
comic books and other items I’ve read lately.  I’d rather work on
my first garage sale of the summer.  I would even rather sulk about
not being at Comic-Con than write about this stuff again.  But here
I am again.  Sigh.

By the way, speaking of that garage sale, it will be at 840 Damon
Drive in Medina Ohio.  It will take place on Friday and Saturday,
July 13 and 14 between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm.  There will be
thousands of comic books and other things on sale at ridiculously
low prices.  I will happily sign things I’ve written.  And, if for
some reason you decide to spend the night in this area, I suspect
you can find a decent hotel room for far less than the $500 they’re
charging in San Diego. 

Okay, back to Black Lightning stuff...

On Monday, I was remiss in not mentioning the many good turns Paul
Levitz has done for comics creators, including myself.  When Kenner
produced the first Black Lightning action figures and I inquired as
to how I could buy them in quantity - I wanted them for family
members and the younger brothers of the inner-city teens I’d worked
with while researching the second Black Lightning series - Levitz
arranged for a case of the figures to be sent to me gratis.  He’s
not a bad guy, despite his unwillingness to intervene in DC’s bad
treatment of me and my creation.

I knew some know-it-all would take a statement I made in Monday’s
bloggy thing and try to turn it back on me.  I wrote:

I know the thrill of being asked to write great characters and, at
times, I’ve crossed a line freelancers shouldn’t cross when offered
such assignments and when the original creators are still alive and
very capable of and eager to write their creations.  In my youth,
it was because I didn’t understand the issues involved.  As
recently as my Grim Ghost mini-series last year, it was because I
stupidly didn’t remember that Michael Fleisher created the Ghost
and was credited as the creator in the original comics.  While it
doesn’t seem too likely I’ll be writing more Grim Ghost comics, if
that happens, I will do my best to contact Michael and do right by

The person who called me on this made assumptions based on what he
thought I would do if I were offered the opportunity to continue my
Grim Ghost writing.  Not surprisingly, he was wrong about that and
other statements he made about me and my situation.

I have tried to contact Michael Fleisher without success.  I wanted
to send him the comics I had written and ask him how he felt about
my continuing to write the Grim Ghost.  If any one has more current
contact information for him, please send it my way.

If I am asked to continue on the Grim Ghost and if Michael approves
of my continuing on the character, I’ll include his creator credit
in every script I write...and I’ll send him 10% of whatever I make
from writing his creation.  If Michael doesn’t approve and despite
how much I could use the gig, I won’t take it.  If I can’t contact
him, I’ll take the gig and put aside 10% of whatever I make in the
hope I will someday be able to contact him.

Moving right along...

One question frequently asked by online jerks is why I haven’t sued
DC Comics over its many violations of our partnership agreement and
its non-payment of money owed to me.  Some posters do acknowledge
the difficulty of suing a corporation with deep pockets that’s part
of a bigger corporation with deeper projects.  Additionally, sans
the prospect of big payoff, such as exists with famous characters
like Superman or even lesser characters like Blade and Ghost Rider,
the financial burden of that lawsuit would fall entirely on me and
my meager resources.  No law firm with the chops to take on a giant
like DC is going to take the case on a contingency basis when the
likelihood of even a decent payoff is the longest of shots.

There’s another equally valid reason I haven’t sued DC:

I don’t think I could win that lawsuit.

We’ve seen the courts favor corporations over creators in similar
lawsuits even, as in the case of Blade, when the corporation could
not produce any documentation supporting its case.  We’ve seen the
slimy tactics of DC’s lawyers in their efforts to deny the rights
of Jerry Siegel’s heirs.  Those lawyers surely contributed to the
poor health and death of Joanne Siegel and it sure seems to me as
if their overall battle plan is to outlive the heirs. 

So I could fight a battle I don’t think I could win, devote my life
to that battle and not have the time to enjoy my family or to write
other things.  I suspect many of the anonymous posters making snide
remarks about my not filing a lawsuit against DC Comics don’t have
families, have never created anything, and have never written/drawn
anything professionally.  As I once said, and which my pal Harlan
Ellison quotes with surprising regularity, “Hell hath no fury like
that of the uninvolved.”

Come right down to it, I have everything I need.  A wonderful wife
and kids.  Good friends.  A good life, even when the work and the
money aren’t what I would like them to be.  If I were to put Black
Lightning above all that, I wouldn’t be the writer who created that
character and who wrote him as I did.  My priorities reflect who I
am and who I want to be.

Remember the question implied in the title of today’s bloggy thing?
The answer is that I’ll be wrapping this up tomorrow.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing: Just read what I posted
yesterday and you’ll be pretty much up to speed.

Words fail me for the second time in recent memory.  I can’t fully
express how much I truly loathe having to write today’s blog.  It’s
almost as much as I loathe those usually anonymous trolls who pull
blatant nonsense from their asses and attempt to pass it off as the
truth or who parrot the misinformation spread by comics publishers
in their neverending spins of reality.

Digression, of which I’m sure there will be many.  Do not take the
above as a blanket condemnation of all comics publishers in every
situation.  Some try to do the right thing and sometimes succeed.
Some want to do the right thing and haven’t figured out how to do
that yet.  Some follow a long tradition of being dicks.  It’s more
like the “real world” than many fans and some professionals want to
believe.  End of digression.

My gut tells me to ignore the trolls.  Not one of them has created
anything.  Not one of them have achieved even my modest success in
the field.  Not one of them has a life as good as mine...and I can
say that even at the present time when I’m just about unemployed in
the comics industry.  They are petty jealous ignorant trolls who hate what
they cannot be and what they will never have.

My heart? That’s a different story.  I’m painfully aware how often
comics publishers attempt to spin and even rewrite history to make
themselves look noble...and to deny credit and proper compensation
to creators.  When faced with lies spread by publishers or trolls,
lies I absolutely know to be lies, I feel compelled to at least try
to set the record straight.

Here are some Black Lightning facts.

Black Lightning was not a work-for-hire creation.  I entered into
a partnership agreement with DC Comics to produce comic books with
my creation.  It was supposed to be an equal partnership with both
sides making all decisions jointly to our mutual benefit.  As part
of this deal, I was to receive 20% of all monies earned from Black
Lightning except for the profits from the traditional comic books
we would be creating.  I would receive my cut from merchandising,
from other media use, and, though it was a very small part of the
industry at the time, any hardcover, paperback, or trade paperback
reprints of material featuring Black Lightning.  This was a simple
straightforward agreement which DC immediately violated.

The first time DC Comics violated our agreement was when it named
Bob Rozakis as the editor of Black Lightning without my approval.
However, since I liked Bob, thought he’d be a good editor and knew
(or thought I knew) that I’d still have creative control of the
title, I didn’t object.  After the sometimes malicious chaos I had
to deal with at Marvel after Roy Thomas stepped down as editor-in-
chief, I was eager to make my new relationship with DC work.  They
loved me, right?  They wouldn’t hurt me.

The second time DC Comics violated our agreement was when it hired
Trevor Von Eeden to draw Black Lightning without my prior approval.
It had been my intention to recruit one of Marvel’s young artists.
DC wanted me to bring that “Marvel magic” to their comics, so that
seemed like the way to go.  But, after meeting Trevor and seeing
his enthusiasm, I was okay with him drawing Black Lightning.  He
did good competent work drawing my scripts.  It wasn’t outstanding,
but it was good.

It is an utter falsehood to claim that “Tony took an idea to DC and
Trevor helped flesh that idea out and bring the character to life.”
Everything important about Black Lightning was created before the
series had an artist.  Trevor never contributed to the plots or the
scripts.  He was given full scripts and he penciled them.  That’s
a fact that can be backed up by Jack C. Harris, who became editor
of the title after Bob Rozakis moved to production.

Trevor did play a primary role in designing the original costume.
He claims he came to that design meeting with the costume already
designed and has shown a page of drawings as proof of this.  I’ve
been accused of calling him a liar on this matter, which I’ve never
done.  What I have done is state that my memories of that meeting
aren’t the same as his.

My memory is that I talked out the costume with him and Rozakis as
he drew the costume, much as if he were a police sketch artist.  I
didn’t remember his page of drawings and neither do the other two
living people - Rozakis and Harris - who participated on that day.
I didn’t call Trevor a liar.  I said our memories differed on what
happened that day.

Coincidentally or not, the original Black Lightning outfit bears a
strong resemblance to the uniform worn by Richard Roundtree in the
movie Earthquake.  I didn’t realize that until decades after Black
#1 (1977) when someone sent me a still from that movie.
Trevor says he hadn’t seen the movie and I have no reason to doubt
him.  But, creativity and subconscious being tricky things, it is
possible he saw Roundtree’s outfit in a trailer.  I don’t see that
as calling Trevor a liar. 

I consider Trevor the primary designer of the original costume, but
key elements of it were suggested by others.  Rozakis was the guy
who came up with the Afro-mask.  Joe Orlando asked for Lightning’s
shirt to be more open.  I asked for “Captain America boots” because
I wanted my creation to be as inspirational as the creation of the
esteemed Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.  That’s four designers at work,
even ignoring the Roundtree outfit and accepting Trevor’s drawings
as the initial visuals of Black Lightning.

Although some churls would cast me as Bob Kane screwing over Bill
Finger, I don’t accept that view.  Although it is now standard to
credit both writer and artists as co-creators of a character, that
wasn’t the standard at the time I created Black Lightning and not
the sole credit called for by my agreement with DC.  Indeed, I was
credited as the sole creator for the first several years of Black
Lightning’s existence.  That’s a fact easily verifiable by looking
at the original comic book stories.

Does Trevor deserve co-creator status?  No one at DC ever tried to
make that case to me.  The company simply retroactively granted him
that status and, allegedly, started giving him half the money that
the agreement called for me to receive.  All of that violated the

Because I pride myself on fairness - that was the motivation for my
working on so many black characters - I struggled with my position
about Trevor’s co-creator status.  Outside of drawing characters I
described in my scripts, he didn’t “flesh out” my ideas and didn’t
inspire my stories.  I could make a stronger case for Eddy Newell,
the artist who drew my second Black Lightning series, inspiring my
writing because Eddy’s gritty and realistic approach allowed me to
follow the stronger vision I had for the character in that second,
highly acclaimed series.  Ultimately, I stand by my position that
Trevor is not the co-creator of Black Lightning.  That status is a
falsehood put in place by DC Comics. 

The Trevor stuff is complicated and the aforementioned churls do
a disservice to him and me by misrepresenting the situation.  All
I can do is write about the things that I know to be true and, on
those occasions when I’m unsure of my memory, either reach out to
other participants to those events or state the uncertainty of my
memories.  I’ve done both in past blogs.

I object to Trevor’s co-creator credit, but the only reason I have
a problem with his receiving payments is that DC takes the money
out of my cut.  If DC feels Trevor deserves compensation for his
work on the first Black Lightning series, the money should come out
of their end.

Digression.  Several years back, when DC Direct - I think that was
the name the company used - manufactured a spiffy Black Lightning
action figure, they didn’t pay me.  At least not initially.  When
I inquired about this payment after waiting patiently for a year,
DC’s representative looked into it and told me the company had paid
all the creator royalties to Trevor by mistake.  I can’t verify if
this was true or not.  DC did eventually pay me what they owed me
on the action figure and I reported that in my blog.  They have not
paid me on many other items, but today’s blog is already running
too long.  Another time.

Digression.  Last year, before it became impossible for me to have
any discussions with Trevor, I suggested we copy each other on the
royalty statements we received from DC.  From past conversations,
I was pretty sure he wasn’t getting paid on everything that I was
getting paid on.  If DC was going to take half my money and give it
to Trevor, I wanted him to get all of that half.  Trevor declined
and even took offense at the suggestion.

I have been respectful to Trevor and his talents.  When DC okayed
my second Black Lightning series, he was my choice to draw it.  I
was told he wasn’t available and/or wasn’t interested.  It must be
hard for DC's representatives to keep their stories straight when
lying is their corporate way of life.  Which is one of the reasons
I strive to write about this stuff accurately and truthfully.

Several years back, Trevor and I met for the first time in decades
at the first East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention I attended.
We shared a table and talked about all sorts of things.  He showed
me that page of Black Lightning drawings, which, both then and now,
I don’t recall having seen before.  When he misplaced the page in
his portfolio, he came very close to accusing me of having stolen
it.  That was awkward.

At the same convention, realizing I would likely never write Black
Lightning for DC Comics again, I suggested to Trevor that he make
a pitch for the series.  I knew he respect the character and, if I
couldn’t do it, he might as well take a shot at it.  To the best of
my knowledge, I have made this same suggestion to only two writers:
Dwayne McDuffie and Gail Simone.  That I suggested it to Trevor is
evidence of my respect for him and his abilities.

I’ll have a bit more to say about Trevor in tomorrow’s blog.  Yes,
I know that means there will be no “Rawhide Wednesday” this week,
but I want to get through this stuff as swiftly as possible without
posting the equivalent of a novel online.

Godzilla help us, I’ll be back tomorrow.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tony's Garage Sale

Hey, kids!

Couldn't make it to Comic-Con this week?  Come to my garage sale where you can buy 1000 of comics and related items at ridiculously low prices.

It will be at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio, on Friday and Saturday, July 13-14, from 10 am to 6 pm. 

I'll be happy to sign Isabella-written items and, if it gets dull, I might even hold an impromptu panel.  Okay, probably not.  But you never know.



Paul Levitz is rightfully regarded as one of the smartest people in
comics.  Yet he said what may well have been the dumbest thing that
has ever been said to me in my four decades in the comics industry.
It was in an e-mail exchange.

I should preface this by saying Paul was a friend before I moved to
New York to work in comics, showed me great kindness when I first
moved to New York, and is someone I still consider a friend.  This
despite the sad facts that, when Paul was in a position to change
DC’s oft-despicable treatment of me, he not only failed to act but
actually added to my misery.  Despite that, I continue to wish all
the best for Paul.  Some people you forgive, others you don’t, and,
even in my own heart and head, I can’t explain why that is.

We were having one of our not-infrequent discussions about DC not
honoring its agreements with me.  That’s when Paul wrote, and I’m
paraphrasing this, “Why would you want to write Black Lightning
again when the character has brought you so much pain?

To this day, I can’t tell you if Paul was being really dumb, really
clueless or knowingly misrepresenting the situation.  Because Black
Lightning and particularly writing Black Lightning has never been
anything other than the greatest joy of my professional life.  Any
pain has come from DC’s failure to honor its agreements with me and
its destructive behavior towards my creation.


It’s hard for me to pigeonhole DC Comics and its employees.  True,
the company has a history of screwing over creators dating back to
Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, its founder, and rewriting history
in attempts to make its actions less contemptible.  Sadly, too many
fans accept the DC spin as truth.  But are the executives and the
employees knowingly evil, ridiculously clueless, looking out only
for their own interests, honestly okay with these actions, or just
delusional about what’s been done?  The range of possibilities is
far greater than most imagine.

There are a dozen things I would rather write about today.  I want
to write about my Sainted Wife Barb and my excellent adventures in
helping our son Eddie move into his new digs in historical Marietta
Ohio.  I want to write about my upcoming garage sale, which will be
at 840 Damon Drive, Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14, from 10 am
to 6 pm.  I want to write about the comics and the other things I
have read recently.  I want to dive into my folder of interesting
things I haven’t written about yet.  The last thing I want to write
about is my “contentious” relationship with DC Comics or the latest
violation of their agreement with me. 

However, once The Beat, one of my favorite comics news site, broke
the story about the coming entry of Black Lightning into DC’s “New
52" universe, and once my initial comment of “Words fail me” turned
out not to satisfy anyone, I knew I’d have to write about it again.
Because, whether I write anything about it or not, there will always
be that small army of gutless trolls who anonymously post egregious
misinformation about the situation.  To someone who cares about the
history of comics and the writers and artists who have contributed
so much to my enjoyment of comics, it’s almost impossible to allow
that misinformation to go unchallenged.

So, here I am, writing about it again, two days before this year’s
Comic-Con, hoping that the truth will overcome the crap that floods
the Internet in situations like this.  I can’t say I’m confident I
can succeed in this, but I have to give it a shot.


It started with a news item at The Beat: “DC Finally Remember that
Black Lightning is Amazing” by Steve Morris.  Black Lightning and
the Blue Devil would be teaming up in an upcoming story arc for DC
Universe Presents
.  The Blue Devil was created by my friends Dan
Mishkin and Gary Cohn in the 1980s.  However, the writer for this
arc was not me or Dan or Gary.  It was Marc Andreyko, an excellent
writer who, nonetheless, apparently doesn’t realize that this was
far from joyous news for any of us.

Looking at the sketches of the characters included in the article,
I thought they were awful.  Black Lightning looked like a teenager
and also like Marvel’s new Power Man.  The Blue Devil looked like
he hadn’t had a decent meal in months.  From what Morris reported,
this would be a “buddy” series, not unlike the Power Man/Iron Fist
series from Marvel. 

Please understand Black Lightning is not a work-for-hire creation.
Everything vital to the character was established before I agreed
to a partnership deal with DC Comics, an equal partners partnership
deal.  Neither partner could do anything with the character unless
the other was in agreement.  I know I was highly motivated to make
this extraordinary deal work.  DC...not so much.

DC’s doing this story arc without my approval is just the latest in
a long series of violations of our original agreement.  Only once
in the past have I agreed to a use of Black Lightning that I didn’t
write myself and that was Mike Barr’s Batman and the Outsiders.  I
was okay with Mike writing my character and, when he told me about
his series, I gave it my blessing.  However, I suspect that, had I
not given my blessing, DC still would have gone forward with that
series.  I’ve come to expect that.

So...Black Lightning teaming up with the Blue Devil, the changes in
his appearance, his being written by Andreyko, DC’s choices for the
artists...are all violations of my agreement with DC.  Knowing that
fighting DC is, at present, an un-winable battle for me, my initial
comment to the news was:

“Words fail me.”

A little while later, when Dan Mishkin tagged me in a Facebook post
on the news, I replied:

“Forget it, Dan.  It’s DC Town.”

In short, I didn’t want to deal with this crap again.  That’s when
Andreyko, innocently, I’m sure, crossed a line.  He posted this to
the original Beat article:

“tony and dan: i love these characters and will treat them well. i
hope you like it:)”

I’m delighted Marc loves my creation.  I’m less thrilled he will be
eating my lunch.  And, since there’s no reason on God’s Earth that
I should read his imitation of my creation, we’ll never know if I’d
like it.  I never read the unclean thing that was Black Lightning
Year One
and, judging from what readers have told me, that turned
out to be a good call on my part.

While I would generally wish Andreyko well because I have enjoyed
other things he’s written, I don’t wish him well on this project.
I don’t think he’s a bad guy.  Not in the least.  That he made an
unintentionally dumb post doesn’t make him a bad guy.  I know well
the thrill of being asked to write great characters and, at times,
I’ve crossed a line freelancers shouldn’t cross when offered such
assignments and when the original creators are still alive and very
capable of and eager to write their creations.  In my youth, it was
because I didn’t understand the issues involved.  As recently as my
Grim Ghost mini-series last year, it was because I stupidly didn’t
remember that Michael Fleisher created the Ghost and was credited
as the creator in the original comics.  While it doesn’t seem too
likely I’ll be writing more Grim Ghost comics, if that happens, I
will do my best to contact Michael and do right by him.

But I digress. 

When the “what do you think of this” e-mails and Facebook messages
started coming in by the dozens, I hoped to respond to this unhappy
situation as briefly and swiftly as possible.  I posted this brief
message in my blog on Thursday, July 5:

Yes, I have heard the news about Black Lightning.  You don't have
to e-mail me, private message me, phone me, or post links on my
Facebook page.  My only public comments to date have been "Words
fail me" and, to my friend Dan Mishkin, "Forget it, Dan.  It's DC

But, really, if you've ever read anything I've written about Black
Lightning and DC's continued refusal to honor its agreements with
me, and if you have half a brain, you already know how I feel about
the news.

I figured/hoped that could stand as my comment on this new series.
I hadn’t figured that several comics news sites would run with the
story and my comments.

If I’d figured on the additional news stories, I could’ve predicted
all sorts of mostly anonymous jerks would electronically emerge to
post the usual insults and misinformation online.  I would usually
ignore these cretins and creeps, but, this time, I’ll take another
run on enlightening those who actually care about the facts of the

Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about this.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Friday, July 6, 2012


I'll be offline for a few days helping my son Eddie move into his new apartment.  I figure this is a good time to take a break from the Internet. 

I mean, it's not like I'm in the comics news or anything...or that mostly anonymous trolls are going to be posting  made-up shit about me. 

See you soon.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Latest Updates

Yes, I have heard the news about Black Lightning.  You don't have to e-mail me, private message me, phone me, or post links on my Facebook page.  My only public comments to date have been "Words fail me" and, to my friend Dan Mishkin, "Forget it, Dan.  It's DC Town." 

But, really, if you've ever read anything I've written about Black Lightning and DC's continued refusal to honor its agreements with me, and if you have half a brain, you already know how I feel about the news.

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to release any further statements.  If I decide to do so, I'll most likely post them in a future bloggy thing.

In other news...

My son Eddie placed Craig's List notices for my first open-to-the-general-public garage sale of the summer.  If you can't make it to Comic-Con this year, come to Tony Isabella's Garage Con, July 13-14, 10 am to 6 pm, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio.  More details to follow.

I'll be largely unavailable this weekend.  Sainted Wife Barb and I will be helping Eddie move to his new digs and his new job.  He'll be living in Marietta, Ohio and working in Parkersburg, West Virginia. 

More to come.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

First Garage Sale of the Summer

Having placed an ad in the local newspaper, I guess I should announce that my first open-to-the-public garage sale of the summer will be July 13-14, 10am-6pm. Address is 840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH.  Additional details to follow.


Happy Fourth of July!

Here's wishing a happy and safe Fourth of July to all my bloggy thing readers, whether they are Americans or not.  We should all celebrate the quest for true freedom and equality here and elsewhere.  Maybe someday, maybe in my lifetime, we'll achieve that here and elsewhere. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


There have been a few bumps in the road, but here are some updates for you.

I'm not posting a new list of Vast Accumulation of Stuff items for sale this week.  I have several orders from last week that need to be packages and shipped.  My apology to those who haven't received their orders yet.  I will ship them all this week.

My son Eddie is moving to his new digs this weekend, so I may not be available if you're trying to contact me.

New bloggy things will resume on Monday. 

My garage is now ready for me to start setting up my summer-long garage sale.  After the July 4th holiday, I'll be working on that.  A couple of new tables should arrive this week.

I'm excavating a room filled with boxes of various size and contents.  Should be some good stuff in there for the garage sale.

My first public garage sale will be on July 13th and 14th.  If you're bemoaning that you're not attending the Comic-Con  in San Diego and are within driving distance of my Medina garage, you can come to my sale, buy lots of cool but cheap stuff, and talk comics.  Look for details when the bloggy things resume.

I plan to hold public garage sales every other week.  After the first public garage sale, fans and retailers will be able to make appointments by e-mail to come to my garage and shop.  My plan is to restock on a daily basis. 

I'm still available for paying writing gigs and convention appearances.  E-mail me.

That's all for now.  Have a happy and safe week.