Sunday, September 30, 2012


Thanks to the fans who attend Wizard World Ohio Comic Con this weekend in Columbus and to the staff working the show.  I had a fun time and hope to see you all again soon.

Regular bloggy things will resume on Wednesday.

Friday, September 28, 2012


UPDATE. I will be going to Ohio Comic Con, but I won't be 100%.  I'll put in some time at my Artist Alley table tonight and more time on Saturday and probably almost no time on Sunday.  If possible, I'll try to have times posted at my table.

This has been one annoying week.  After I had a letter published in a local newspaper, I started getting harassing phone calls from, you guessed it, fucking Republicans.  Because they believe in freedom of speech for everyone who agrees with them. It's been a week of annoyances and distractions while I'm struggling to finish a writing gig.

Adding to the mental mess, I think I made the final break with my birth family after one of them told me she thinks Obama wasn't born in America.  It's a small thing, but, added to the other crap from various members of said birth family, I think the camel's back has been well and truly broken.

On the good news front...

Remember when my van broke down on the way home from my son's graduation?  It costs us over a grand to set it to rights.  Well, it turns out the manufacturer has just recalled the van for exactly what happened to us.  It looks like we'll get most and maybe all of that grand back from them.

I hope that's a sign that October will be much more productive and relaxing for me.

See you when I get back from Columbus.


Master Comics #125 [December 1951] was heading towards the end of
the title’s 133-issue run [March 1940-April 1953].  The figure of
Captain Marvel Jr. on the cover is drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger and
the art on the four insert panels strikes me as pulled from the art
of the interior stories they promote.

The Grand Comics Database only lists some credits for these stories
and gives no information on what the stories are about.  I think we
all know what that means...

Captain Marvel Jr stars in “The Bed Mystery” (7 pages), which might
be penciled by Bill Ward.  Freddy Freeman wakes up to find his bed
damp and tries to find out how that happened.  His super-hero self
is baffled until he remembers that smutty magazine Freddy got from
his friend Billy.

Ozzie and Babs ask the question “Tennis, Anyone?” (7 pages).  This
is a teen humor feature.  I don’t know what happens in this story,
but I bet there are “love” puns and “serve” puns” and someone gets
tangled up in the net.

Nyoka, queen of some jungle or another, tries to find “The Missing
Pink Elephant” (7 pages) in an adventure possibly written by Rod
Reed and drawn by Al Jetter.  Nyoka gets drunk with Dumbo and meets
a horrible end when she tries to tickle the young pachyderm’s ass
with his magic feather.  This is why we needed the Comics Code, my
friends.  Because comic-book writers are perverts.

Movie cowboy Tom Mix tries to solve “The Two-Way Crime” (8 pages).
The story was possibly penciled by Carl Pfeufer and inked by John
Jordan.  Cowboys are lonely.  They need human contact.  Don’t judge
them too harshly.

More vintage comic-book covers will appear in future installments
of my bloggy thing.  I’ll try to clean up my act for them.


Scarlet Spider #7-9 [$2.99]. Reluctant hero Kaine reluctantly teams
up with the Rangers to stop another of Roxxon Industries’ schemes
gone horribly wrong.  It’s not a blindingly original story arc, but
it’s fun. 

The Rangers are the super-heroes of the Southwest: Texas Twister,
Red Wolf, Firebird, Living Lightning and an alien hero named Fifty-
One who I haven’t seen before.  It scares me to say this, but I’d
buy a well-written comic book featuring this team.  Heck, if anyone
asked me, I’d write a comic book featuring this team.  Especially
if I could keep them in the Southwest and not involved in whatever
event du jour is going on in the rest of the Marvel books.  I think
we could all use a few more fun super-hero comics.


Don’t let Marvel’s wacky numbering stop you from checking out The
Sensational Spider-Man
#33.1 and #33.2 [$2.99].  This Tom DeFalco
story involves Russian gangsters, human trafficking and the new and
really scary Vulture.  Drawn by Carlo Barberi with inks by Walden
Wong, it’s a grim adventure for our wall-crawling hero.  But, grim
or not, it still falls into the “street-level” stories that I feel
work best for Spider-Man.  I recommend it.


Grace Randolph’s Supurbia [Boom!; $3.99 per issue] comes across as
a super-hero soap opera.  Personal intrigues get more play than the
action, which is fine by me who has seen many thousands of battles
in many thousands of super-hero comics.

As much as I love the concept, I’m less thrilled with its execution
to date.  Randolph’s stories have a lot of the shock and raw sex of
actual soap operas, which is why I found them so tiresome.  But it
has some good characters, most notably among the lovers and spouses
of the super-heroes.  These supporting characters are the stars of
the comic and the decisions they make at the end of this four-issue
series not only make great sense but seem to promise a larger role
for them in the ongoing series.

Supurbia isn’t a great series, but it’s a darn good one.  I plan to
stick around for the ongoing title.

Hermes Press is doing an excellent job reprinting The Phantom comic
strip and comic books.  There have been three volumes of Lee Falk’s
strips and a volume each of the Gold Key, King and Charlton comic
books.  While my budget can’t stretch to get the newspaper strips,
most of which I have in one form or another, I’ve been buying the
comic-book collections.

The Phantom: The Complete Series: The King Years [$49.99] reprints
issues #18-28.  These were the Phantom comics after King Features
pulled the license from Gold Key and went into self-publishing.  It
proved to be a less-than-wise decision.

I enjoyed the Phantom comics published by Gold Key, but these King
issues are of markedly lower quality.  Even when their basic plots
have some merit, writer Bill Harris rarely brings any cleverness or
drama to his scripts.  The lettering on these stories is so large
that it cripples the Bill Lignante art, which, truth be told, isn’t
as good as what he’d been doing for Gold Key.  It was a struggle to
read this volume.

If you’re a Phantom completist and I seem to be one, you will want
to buy this volume.  Otherwise, I recommend you skip it in favor of
the newspaper strip reprints, the Gold Key reprints, and even the
Charlton reprints, which have an energy of their own and some great
artwork by Jim Aparo.

ISBN: 978-1-61345-009-3

I’m taking some days off to attend the Wizard World Ohio Comic Con,
today through Sunday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in
downtown Columbus.  For much of the event, I’ll be at my table in
Artist Alley signing Isabella-written comics on request, accepting
review items for this blog and talking to any artists or publishers
who would like to partner with me on projects.  I hope to see you
there.  It should be a terrific convention.  

I’ll be back on Wednesday with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I've been sick all day, so sick that I might have to cancel my going to Wizard World Ohio. But I'm not so sick that I can't see through the Republican front organization, based in Utah, that just tried to scam me into doing free work for them. Nice try, creeps.


The Marvel Family #66 [December 1951] was one of a dwindling number
of super-hero comics still being published in my birth month.  The
title would run another two years, ending with issue #89 [January
1954].  This busy and wordy three-panel cover was penciled by the
legendary C.C. Beck and inked by Pete Costanza.

“The Miracle Stone” (18 pages) is divided into three chapters.  The
title object, as per the cover, can bring untold power to whoever
owns it.  Captains Marvel and Marvel Jr., along with Mary Marvel,
obviously don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands. 

Wendell Crowley was the editor of the title, but the Grand Comics
Database doesn’t have any credits for the Marvel Family story.  We
do know that Otto Binder wrote many Marvel Family stories in this
period and also that Kurt Schaffenberger drew some stories. 

Other comics features in the issue were Headline Harry (4 pages) by
writer/artist Howard Boughner and Fiddler's Folly (4 pages)by some
unidentified writer and artist.  I have no other information on either
of these back-up features.

While the current DC Comics brass is obviously and heavily invested
in their recent banal re-imaginings of Captain Marvel and his kin,
I think there would be a market for Showcase Presents editions of
the Marvel Family stories.  I’d buy them and I can’t say that about
too many DC products.

More vintage comic-book covers to come.


Bakuman has become one of my favorite manga series.  It’s the story
of manga creators Mashiro and Takagi, young men determined to rise
to the top of their field.  For Takagi, there is also another goal.
He wants to create a manga that becomes an anime starring Azuki, a
fledgling voice actress and the love of his life.  Takagi and Azuki
have vowed to remain apart until they each accomplish their goals.
The series is written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata,
the creators of Death Note.

As a comics creator, Bakuman’s portrayal of the manga industry is
fascinating to me.  I can’t speak to its accuracy, but the ongoing
story of these young creators, their rivals, and their editors is
as exciting as any battle manga. 

In Bakuman Volume 14 [Viz; $9.99], the series takes a surprising
turn with the introduction of its first true villain.  An intense
fan of Mashiro and Takagi’s work is determined to become the next
manga star.  He enters a manga contest and does well enough to be
offered a series.  But his work is driven not by his own creativity
but by the group-think of 50 manga fans he has gathered together
online.  It’s popular but soulless and, when his idols reject such
an approach, he determines to crush them.  Mashiro and Takagi are
just as determined to beat him in their magazine’s ratings.  It’s
a battle of creativity versus artifice.

A new volume of Bakuman comes out nearly every month.  The series
has ended in Japan, but there’s still plenty of volumes coming our
way before we catch up with that finale.  I recommend you give the
series a try.  It’s terrific.

ISBN 978-1-4215-4290-4


I usually manage to read several Archie Comics stories in any given
day and usually enjoy them.

Archie Double Digest #232 [$3.99] is notable for a brilliant Wilbur
tale by writer Frank Doyle with art by Dan DeCarlo and Rudy Lapick.
Wilbur actually made his debut before Archie, but he never achieved
the success of the Riverdale redhead.  In “The Wolf Man,” Wilbur’s
rival Alec tries to mess with Wilbur’s relationship with Laurie by
getting several other girls to pretend to know Wilbur and to have
engaged in steamy woo with him.  It’s a funny story with the sure
pacing and timing of which Doyle was a master. 

Archie #635 and #636 [$2.99] are a case of overreaching with good
intentions.  In the first, the “Occupy” movement comes to Riverdale
and, in the latter, gender differences are explored.  Neither tale
comes off well because neither subject can be easily portrayed in
this particular setting.  Resolutions come too easily in the first
story while the second goes for stereotypical gags.  I do applaud
Archie Comics taking such risks, but they didn’t pay off for them
in these issues.

Betty and Veronica #261 [$2.99] is the first part of a story spun
from the stuff of Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I found
the story a bit confusing, perhaps because of my unfamiliarity with
Twilight, and also thought some plot elements were added awkwardly
to prop up the story.  Hopefully, the continuing chapters will pull
the story together.

Jughead is taking a break for retooling and, I confess, I’m nervous
about what that means.  Jughead has always been my favorite Archie
character and I would hope that any new take on him would still be
recognizable.  Archie Comics are usually pretty good at this sort
of thing, so my fears are likely groundless, but, hey, who says a
comics fan has to be rational all the time?


Jeff Lemire reworked Kid Eternity for National Comics: Eternity #1
DC; $3.99] and I think his new version has potential.  The new hero
is a NYPD medical examiner.  After a near-death experience, which
experienced claimed the life of his father, he has the ability to
bring forth the spirit of a deceased person for 24 hours.  He tries
to use this power to solve murders.  Though it would probably get
compared to Tru Calling, Lemire’s Eternity could make an excellent
TV series. Detectives, especially quirky detectives, seem to be an
easy sell to TV networks and viewers.

The 40-page one-shot was drawn by Cully Hammer and Derec Donovan.
They did a fine job, but the too-dark coloring by Val Staples got
in the way of the storytelling on several pages.  I don’t know when
“mud” got to be the most popular computer color, but I really wish
it would be used more sparingly.

More Kid Eternity would be a good thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy the next ten issues of the title.  Because
that’s what the Kid would have done.

Our young hero faces his second costumed villain in as many issues
and this one actually has super-powers of a sort.   The Rawhide Kid
#38 [February 1964} has an exciting cover by Jack Kirby (pencils)
and Sol Brodsky (inks).


“Revenge of the Red Raven” (18 pages) is written by editor Stan Lee
and drawn by Dick Ayers.  It opens with the Kid busting up a bank
robbery by Red Raven and his gang.  Since there’s only three of the
outlaws, it only takes three pages for Rawhide to capture them and
leave them tied up for the sheriff. 

In prison, Red’s cell mate is an elderly Navajo medicine man who
offers Raven a dangerous secret.  The medicine man is old and sick,
but is determined this secret will not die with him.  The secret is
a costume with wings, woven by the Navajo.  With this suit, a man
can actually fly. 

The medicine man tells Red the wings have near magical powers, but
that, to use them, Raven must strengthen his arms through special
exercises.  It takes long weeks of training, but Raven is finally
able to fly.  As the medicine man breathes his last, Red makes his
escape from prison.

It takes but days for the new Red Raven to track down the Rawhide
Kid.  He ambushes the Kid and guns him down from the sky.  The
outlaw doesn’t realize Rawhide is still alive.

Nightwind, the Kid’s horse, gallops off looking for help because he
is the Lassie of horses.  The valiant steed catches the attention
of a Navajo warrior and leads him to the fallen Rawhide.  The young
brave takes the Kid back to his village to recover from his injury.

Now I wasn’t going to say anything about the coincidence of a bad
guy named Red Raven gaining the power of flight.  I’ll give almost
any story one coincidence.  But it also turns out that the brave is
the son of the medicine man who created the winged suit and, going
for the Trifecta, the brave also has a winged suit and knows how to
train the Rawhide Kid how to use.

Weeks pass, Rawhide learns how to fly.  Red Raven robs anything and
everything at will.  The Kid goes after the winged outlaw and narrowly
misses being gunned down from above a second time.  The Kid takes
to the air, but the more experienced Red still has the advantage of
experience in using his wings.  The three-page aerial battle that
follows features terrific Ayers-drawn action.  The deciding factor
is the Kid’s greater skill with a gun. 

The Kid and the young brave burn both winged suits.  There is too
much evil in the badlands of the Old West and they can’t risk the
suits falling into the young hands.

The brave takes Red Raven to the sheriff while the Kid rides off,
musing on this most recent adventure:

“It’s too bad it hadda end like this! The secret of flight could be
a great thing for men! But, maybe some day in the future when we’re
really ready for it...! Who knows??!”

This issue’s non-series story is “This Is a Stickup” (5 pages) by
Lee and Gene Colan.  They also teamed for last issue’s non-series
tale, which, you may recall, was not to my liking.  They certainly
redeem themselves this time around with an action-packed, humorous

Three outlaws are getting ready to rob a bank.  Inside, a young man
is applying for a job as a teller.  The outlaws charge in with guns
drawn and demand the banker open the safe and hand over the money
in it.  The banker refuses because the townspeople have all their
life’s savings in the bank.  Not surprisingly, this argument does
not dissuade the robbers.

The job applicant tries to reason with the outlaws.  The leader of
the gang knocks him down.  As the banker starts to open the safe,
the young man attacks the gang with his bare fists.  What follows
is a fast-paced fight scene with the teller taking down all three
of the crooks.  It’s the sort of action that would serve Colan well
when he started drawing actual super-heroes for Marvel.

The story is already great fun, but Lee and Colan put the icing on
the cake with the final exchange between the banker and the young
man who wants to be a teller.

BANKER: Now then, son, before we were interrupted, you were about
to tell me why you wanted to work in a bank!

MAN: Oh yes! As I said, it’s a simple reason...I’m a very mild-
mannered man and I hate violence! So I feel a bank is the safest,
quietest place for me to work!


I’m not sure how one pronounces “!!” but I know I chuckled out loud
when I first read this story and again when I reread it for today’s
bloggy thing.  I love this little gem of a story.

Come back next Wednesday for more Rawhide Kid and, of course, I’ll
be back tomorrow with other stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Marmaduke Mouse #29 [March 1952] hit the newsstands in the month of
my birth, which, as we all know by now, was December 1951.  To the
best of my recollection, I’ve never read a Marmaduke Mouse story.

Most of what I know about Marmaduke comes from Don Markstein’s
Toonopedia. The character first appeared in Hit Comics #35 [Spring
1944], but, after several appearance there, he got his own title which
ran 65 issues from Spring 1946 to December 1956.

Marmaduke was created, written and drawn by cartoonist Ernie Hart.
He was an odd jobs kinda guy in the service of King Louie, a lion,
but, near the end of his career, Marmaduke’s stories were domestic
humor stories. 

The Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999 has Hart working on
the feature for only the first few years of Marmaduke Mouse’s run.
The website lists Jack Mendelson as a writer for the feature from
1947 through 1956.  Hal Cooper and Al Grenet were Marmaduke Mouse
cover artists during the same period, but there is no listing for
interior artists.  As always, I would appreciate anything else my
bloggy thing readers can tell me about this character and whoever
wrote and drew his adventures.

Keep watching this space for more vintage comic-book covers from my
birth month.


I’m only making two convention appearance this year and the first
of them is this weekend. 

Wizard World Ohio Comic-Con is at the Greater Columbus Convention
Center, 400 North High Street in Columbus.  Show hours are 5pm to
9pm on Friday, 10am to 7pm on Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday.
I’m one of over 150 guests and will have a table in Artists Alley.

I won’t be selling anything at my table, but I will be doing three
other things:

1. Signing Isabella-written books and comics.  I’m not so keen on
signing other items because, in many cases, I haven’t been paid for
these items (action figures, etc.) or not paid the full amount that
is owed to me.  But I don’t want to be a complete dick about it so
I’ll try to flexible, especially if you make a donation to the
Hero Initiative. They do good work.

2. Meeting with any legitimate artist, editor, or publisher wanting
to work with me.  I’m open to a wide range of possibilities, which
would include partnering with any of the above to bring some of my
own projects to the readers.  I’m not even against doing work-for-
hire writing if the conditions are acceptable.

3. Accepting review copies of comics, books, movies, or anything I
can review here.  I don’t normally make guarantees on whether I’ll
review something or not, but, because of my long association with
this convention, I will guarantee to review at least 31 items that
I receive at the con...averaging one a day for each day in October.
I live on the edge, baby!

I’m looking forward to attending the show and hope to see a bunch
of my bloggy thing readers there.


My final garage sale of 2012 was another success.  Friday was the
best single day of any of the sales while Saturday was the worst.
I attribute the latter to the chilly weather and rain forecast at
the start of the day, as well as my failure to consider the impact
of college football.  By 11:30 am, the garage was devoid of buyers
and there were only a few later arrivals.  It’s a learning process.
Next year, weather permitting, I hope to start the sales earlier in
the year and end them in early September.

Comic books priced at five for a dollar and trade paperbacks priced
at $2 a pop continued to be my best sellers.  But I also sold quite
a few Black Lightning issues from the 1970s at $10 for the premiere
issue and $5 for the others...and several copies of the Dare-Devil
one-shot I did with Eddy Newell in 2000.  Clearly my customers want
more vintage Isabella-written comics and I hope to have those for
them in next year’s sales.

I had two different Superman posters from 1987 on sale at $20 each
and sold about a dozen of those.  One was a 74 by 26-inch poster,
a dramatic shot of Superman on a yellow background; the other was
the two-sided Superman/Clark Kent in Cleveland poster that was made
for 1988's International Superman Exposition.  Both posters will be
available for mail order in October.

At a time when I’m not getting many writing gigs, especially good-
paying writing gigs, the money from these garage sales has been a
God(zilla)send.  Just as pleasing to me was watching the faces of
my excited customers as they found great comics at bargain prices.
That’s why I turn down offers from comics dealers who want to buy,
for example, every Marvel/DC trade I have.  While those dealers are
and always have been welcome to come to the garage sales and buy as
much as they want, my favorite customers are the fans and readers.
With the garage sales finished for the year, my next project is to
get my stock out of the garage and back into storage.  Which will
involve rearranging my Fortress of Solitude to allow better, safer
access to the boxes.  At the moment, I can best describe the boxes
in the Fortress as...Comic Book Jenga.  It made Sainted Wife Barb
very nervous on our last visit there.

One last note for today...

My online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales will return sometime in
early October.  I’ll be offering lots of great stuff at very good
prices.  Maybe not garage sale prices, but very good nonetheless.
I hope my bloggy thing readers will support these online sales as
enthusiastically as my local customers supported my garage sales.
It’s what Godzilla would do.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Monday, September 24, 2012


Marge's Little Lulu #44 [February 1952] is a rarity among the comic
books from my birth month of December 1951 in that I have actually
read this issue.  It was reprinted in Another Rainbow’s oversized
Little Lulu Library in 1987. 

Another Rainbow didn’t list credits, at least not in this volume of
the library, and the Grand Comics Database also comes up short in
that regard.  But it’s probably a pretty good bet that the stories
were written/laid out by John Stanley and finished/inked by Irving

Here’s the deal with Lulu.  She’s the nicest, smartest kid in her
social circle.  Tubby can be crafty and heroic, but he’s simply not
in Lulu’s league.  It’s obvious why girls loved Lulu, but I think
boys liked her because she was an underdog who always came out on
top...and what kid hasn’t felt like an underdog at some time during
his or her young life?


In “Mumps” (8 pages), the West Side Gang has seized the clubhouse
of Tubby and the boys.  The boys try various schemes to get rid of
their rivals, but none work.  Lulu offers to evict the West Siders
if Tubby and the guys will let her join their club.  She does this
by faking mumps and scaring the young hoods away.  Naturally, Tubby
goes back on his word...but Lulu turns the tables on him.  She does
have the mumps and now so do the boys.

In “The Apple Watcher” (6 pages), Tubby and his gang figure to take
advantage of the hour Lulu will be watching Joe’s fruit stand and
steal apples and such.  A concerned Lulu outfoxes them by leaving
her dad’s fully-packed-with-tobacco pipe in the Fellers’ clubhouse.
The boys can’t resist trying it and are soon too sick to carry out
their planned raid.

“The Merry-Go-Roundup” (10 pages) is one of those delightful stories
within a story in which Lulu entertains Alvin by telling him some
outlandish tale.  In this case, it’s about a merry-go-round horse
that comes to life and merry-go-round horse rustlers.  I love how
Lulu’s story unfolds.  She’s making it up as she goes along, which
is what kids do, and Stanley conveys that brilliantly.

“Lulu’s Diry” is a two-page text page with illustrations featuring
entries from our heroine’s diary.  I almost never read text pages
in old comics, but I always read these clever efforts.

Tubby shines in “Riding the Pookle” (6 pages) in which he outfoxes
the West Side Gang before they can launch an attack on his group of
kids. Lulu would have been proud of him.

More vintage comic-book covers to come.


Regular readers of my bloggy thing know I enjoy detective fiction
set in or around my native Cleveland.  The Milan Jacovich mysteries
by Les Roberts are among my favorites.  They are relatively short
get-to-the-point novels in which characters age and sometimes leave
the series...and in which the Cleveland references are both accurate
and delicious.

Whiskey Island [Gray & Company; $24.95] has the middle age Jacovich
feeling his years and working with an assistant.  “K.O.” O’Bannion
is a young Iraqi war veteran with a juvenile record who is training
to become a private investigator.  He’s socially awkward, something
of a wise ache, managing anger issues, and good with his fists if
the occasion arises.  Which, this being a private eye novel, said
occasion is certain to arise.

A crooked Cleveland councilman is about to go down hard on various
federal charges, the end result of a long career brokering favors
and profiting from the payback thereof.  Unless someone kills him
first.  The councilman hires Jacovich to protect him...which means
finding out who on a long list of suspects is behind the attempts
on the councilman’s life.

Adding to the mix is Detective Sergeant Toby Blaine, fresh from an
impressive career as a Cincinnati cop.  I won’t reveal exactly how
she stirs the mix, but I will say she’s a terrific new character and I
hope she stays around for many more books in the series. 

Whiskey Island gets its starting point from real-life corruption in
Cleveland.  Roberts has his own opinions about several of the real-
life participants, convicted or not, and that comes through when he
writes their fictional counterparts.  A knowledge of these cases is
not necessary for non-Cleveland readers, but it adds a neat layer
for those of us who follow the local happenings.

Roberts’ strengths are his characterization, his accurate settings
and the little touches inherent in those strengths.  When Jacovich
worries about getting another concussion or frets about changes in
his diet, it rings very true.  He has been hit on the head quite a
bit in past novels and he does love good Cleveland food. 

This new Jacovich mystery was a great way to unwind after my last
garage sale of the year.  I recommend it highly.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Sunday, September 23, 2012


One last romance comic book from my December 1951 birth month and
then we’ll be on to other genres for a spell.  Lovers #38 [cover-
dated March 1952] had a cover penciled and signed by Al Hartley.
It’s a classic Atlas cover layout of the era: one large panel and,
running down the left hand side of the cover, a series of smaller
panels illustrated other stories.

Lovers took over its numbering from Blonde Phantom.  Issues #23 to
#86 [May 1949 to August 1957] added up to a total of 64 issues.  I
don’t much information on the issue’s four stories, but, thanks to
the Atlas Tales website, I know their page lengths and a couple of
artistic credits.

That I don’t know anything about the plots of these stories isn’t
a concern to me.  Because I can make stuff up real good.  Here we
go again...

“The Last Embrace” (7 pages). Still trying to cash in on the horror
market wherever possible, this Atlas romance story involves rigor
mortis.  Maybe Oswald shouldn’t have hugged his dead wife so long
after he killed her.  Maybe some one will come by the family crypt.
But it’s so terribly far away from the mansion.

“Worth Waiting For” (5 pages). Penciled and signed by Morris Weiss,
this is a tale tries to cash in on the crime genre.  A woman vows
to wait for her imprisoned lover.  To make ends meet, she herself
takes up a life of crime.  On the day her lover is released, she’s
sentenced to prison.  He vows to wait for her.  To make ends meet
while he’s waiting...

“Which Man is Mine?” (4 pages). Near-sighted Abigail won’t wear her
glasses because she thinks they make her look unattractive.  When
the disc jockey at the homecoming dance announces a ladies choice
dance, hilarity ensues. The unknown writer of this story sold this
same script to...every comics publisher with an Archie-type title.
Talk about re-purposing!

“The Talk of the Town” (7 pages). See that cab driver on the cover?
Something’s not right about him.  Connie and Marion will soon be
the least of Jack’s problems.  The pencils on this story have been
attributed to Bernie Krigstein.  He probably did a brilliant job,
but he would’ve done an even better job on my version of the story.

Truly I am the god of romance.  Keep watching this bloggy thing for
more vintage comic-book covers from my birth month.


Kevin Keller #4 [Archie; $2.99] takes Archie’s newest pal, his family and
Veronica to London for the Olympics.  Kevin’s dad has been chosen
to be a torchbearer.  The Keller family has dual citizenship, which
strikes me as just a little too convenient.

Just to be clear, I love this title, its star and his wonderfully
supportive family.  That Archie Comics is publishing this comic is
courageous in a country in which one of the major political parties
has enshrined bigotry against gays in its platform.  The Riverdale
world of Archie and Kevin Keller is nurturing and safe, regardless
of one’s personal circumstances.  I wish I lived there.

I’m entertained by and pleased with the work of writer/penciller
Dan Parent on the title.  It’s one of the few currently published
comics series I collect.  But...

Kevin and his family are too perfect.  I understand the tendency to
make them so.  He’s the only gay lead character of any title from
a major mainstream publisher.  He and his family are role models in
an industry sorely lacking in role models.  But...

No one in Riverdale is perfect.  Every major character screws up in
his or her unique way.  Kevin deserves to have his own foibles and
follies.  In this issue’s London adventures, he channels Archie’s
klutziness.  It was amusing, but each incident had me thinking “How
Archie of him.”  When I should and want to be thinking “How Kevin
of him.”

Kevin Keller is still a very young character in comics years.  He
isn’t fully developed yet.  I contend that he’s a good kid who can
handle not being perfect.  He’s strong with a strong family...and
he can take a few knocks.  Lord knows everyone else in the Archie
cast gets their fair share of egg on their faces.

Archie Comics and Dan Parent should be proud of Kevin Keller.  But
they need to be tougher on him.  Not necessarily with stories that
reflect the prejudice he would face in the real world.  Just with
stories that reflect he’s human and a teenager. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Here’s what I know about Love Tales #53 [Spring 1952].  Its cover
was signed by Al Hartley, but Atlas Tales only lists him penciling
the cover.  The cover story is “The Downfall of Lizbeth Webster!”

Here’s what I think I know about Love Tales #53.  For some reason,
it’s the second issue of the title to hit newsstands in my birth
month of December 1951.

Here’s what I don’t know about Love Tales #53.  What stories were
inside the issue, who wrote or drew them, what they were about  and
how many pages each of them ran. 

While I’m waiting for further enlightenment, here’s my version of
the cover story.

Lizbeth Webster came to the big city with dreams.  She ended up in
one of those ten-cents-a-dance joints.  But she never lost sight of
her dreams, even as all her dance partners blurred into a faceless
amalgam of men who told her how pretty she was and how she was too
good for the place and how they wanted to get to know her better.
She never gave into their dubious charms.

Lizbeth reinvented herself.  Eventually, she started moving around
in better circles. But her heart had hardened and she found herself
no more interested in her well-heeled suitors than she’d been with
the average Joes who came to the dance hall.

Cut to the cover scene.  Lizbeth has noticed the man watching her from
the background.  He’s been watching her at several gala events like
this one.  She knows him somehow.  Finally, he approaches her and
holds up a ticket from the dance hall where she used to work.  In
horror and mortification, Lizbeth flees the event.

The man follows her.  When she stumbles, he helps her up and then
apologizes for his dumb approach.  He realizes now that she doesn’t
remember him.  He was a weary soldier, home after being wounded and
soon to return to Europe, when he danced with her at the hall.  She
was so sweet to him that it reminded him what he was fighting for.
The memory of her kept him going.

The man tells Lizbeth he was crazy about her then and just as crazy
about her now.  What Lizbeth feared was her downfall turns out to
be the start of her new and wonderful life...with a man who loves
who she was and who she is and from whom she’ll never have to hide
the former.  She asks him for the ticket and moves into his arms as
they dance right there on the sidewalk.

I’ll have one more Marvel romance comic-book cover for you in the
next bloggy thing and then we’ll move on to other kinds of comics
from December 1951.


I read Invincible Iron Man #521-523 [Marvel; $3.99] this week and
enjoyed them.  I’ve been critical of the title recently because it
seemed writer Matt Fraction was telling the same basic story over
and over again: Tony Stark gets knocked down hard, loses everything
and fights his way back without actually managing to put an end to
the same damn villains.  I’m looking at you, Mandarin.

That said, Stark’s determination and inventiveness are often great
fun to watch.  But I would like to see an end to these now-tiresome
villains and a new story.  If this is the only Iron Man story that
Fraction has in him, then he’s well past his expiration date on the


Here’s what I wrote about Justice League Dark #1 about a year ago:

“Justice League Dark #1 [$2.99] lives up to the “dark” part of its
title.  I’m sure many readers will enjoy writer Peter Milligan’s
take on this Justice League spinoff and the characters featured in
it.  I don’t think I’m one of them, mostly because this first issue
struck me as somewhat mean-spirited in its darkening of some of the
characters.  I especially don’t care for this version of Zatanna,
though I recognize my adolescent lust for the original cute-
and-cuddly Zatanna may be a factor.  But the debut is interesting
with appropriately disturbing Mikel Janin art.  Assuming the friend
who is loaning me his comics buys the second issue, I’ll probably
stick around for a while.”

Well, my friend bailed on the title after that first issue, though
he started buying the comic book again with a writer switch to Jeff
Lemire.  However, before I realized he was buying the title again,
I had a chance to pick up issues #1-12 at a very reasonable price.
And did so.

The Milligan issues were tedious and I was more than a bit annoyed
that his final story was a tie-in with I, Vampire, a title I’d no
interest in from the start.  It turned out to be all to the good.
The pathetic Shade the Changing Man left the team and was replaced
by Black Orchid and Andrew Bennett from the afore-mentioned vampire
series.  Both work much better in this team.

Lemire came onboard with issue #9.  He started off with an alliance
of suitably scary sorcerers and demons, led by Felix Faust, then
threw in characters like Tim Hunter (The Books of Magic) and Steve
Trevor.  There were good character bits with John Constantine,
Zatanna, Deadman, and the rest of the cast.  Janin continued to do
a fine job with the visuals.  I’m four issues into this story arc
and happy I sprung for the issues.  Of course, given I’m trying to
reduce substantially my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I’m more happy
that my friend is buying the title again.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Friday, September 21, 2012


As we examine comics released in my birth month of December 1951,
we’re hitting a stretch of romance comics.  Today’s is Love Tales
#52 [March 1952]. Continuing its numbering from Human Torch, this
title ran 40 issues from #36-75 [May 1949-September 1957].  At the
time of this issue, it was “on sale every month.” Strangely enough,
this is the first of two issues said to have hit the newsstands in
December 1951.  You’ll see the other one tomorrow.

What little info I have on Love Tales #52 comes from Atlas Tales,
a very spiffy online resource.  Al Hartley drew and signed the cover,
which illustrates “I Love You, You Fool!” The site does not have
credits or a page count for this story.

What’s the story about? In the absence of any actual knowledge of
its plot, I’m just going to make up stuff again.  I see it as the
touching story of a man whose ambition is to become a court jester
and the woman who loves him.  He is crushed when he finally comes
to realize the United States has no monarchy, but his woman helps
him re-purpose his clownish skills as a Fox News commentator.  They
live happily ever after in a world devoid of truth or logic.

Also in the issue...

“Come Back, My Heart”, which is a slightly more romantic version of
a horror story involving grave robbers.  There is no page count or
credits for this story.

“Have Faith, My Love,” written by Hank Chapman with pencil art by
Jay Scott Pike.  Both signed their work on this tearjerker about a
monk and a nun who can never express their love for one another on
account of their vows of silence. 

“The Truth About Trudy Lester” is a 6-page story whose pencil art
has been attributed to Bernie Krigstein.  The sad truth about poor
Trudy is that she is a hopeless dreamer looking forward to the day
when women receive pay equal to that of men doing the same work and
where men don’t pass laws about her body and health care.  Oh, I am
so gonna get some good liberal loving tonight.

Some publisher should bring back romance comics.  I would clearly
be great at writing love stories.


Earth 2 by James Robinson with art by Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott
is my new favorite DC Comics title.  Okay, yes, I know that sounds
like damning with faint praise because it’s been established that
I don’t like the way DC does business or makes comic books, but it
actually is meant as a compliment.

Earth 2 is set in an alternate universe wherein alien invaders laid
waste to many of Earth’s major cities and where Superman, Batman
and Wonder Woman died saving the world.  Years later, the planet is
still healing from those terrible losses, there is a world army to
defend against future threats and new super-heroes are beginning to
emerge.  Heroes unsanctioned by any government.

Robinson has done a terrific job developing new versions of Flash,
Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and others.  There’s a sense of wonder at
what this world will become and a sense of tension that very dark
days lie ahead.  Penciller Scott has developed into one of the best
super-hero artists of the present era and her work compliments the
writing well.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Sure, “what happens next” will almost certainly involve some sort
of crossover with the main DC Universe because when have you ever
known DC not to muck up a good thing?  However, for now, I’m loving
this title and recommend it most heartily.


First X-Men #1 was an interesting start to a new series co-written
by Neal Adams and Christos Gage with art by Adams.  I’m not sure if
it takes place in an alternate continuity or if it’s supposed to be
hitherto unknown events in the current Marvel Universe.  As long as
it keeps to itself, I don’t much care which it is.  More and more,
I cherish stand-alone super-hero titles.

The founders of this new mutant team are Wolverine and Sabertooth.
They seem to be just fine working together and Sabertooth, though
certainly a scary character, doesn’t seem to be the bloodthirsty
sociopath of the “real” Marvel Universe.  Before the issue’s end,
they meet a few more mutants, including a reluctant Charles Xavier.
There’s a “coming next issue” nod to Magneto as well.

I’m intrigued by this new series.  Adams is one of my favorites as
is Gage.  There was plenty of good stuff in this debut issue.  I’m
looking forward to what happens next...which is something that sets
the good super-hero comics apart from the bad ones.


Hawkeye #1 offered a different take on the character.  Writer Matt
Fraction gave him Oliver Queen’s money and played him as more of a
solitary hero despite his long history with the Avengers.  Artist
David Aja brought a different look to the storytelling, though it
was a good match with Fraction’s writing.  Matt Hollingsworth used
his excellent coloring artistry to pull the whole thing together in
fine fashion. 

The issue is a done-in-one story involving a slumlord determined to
empty a building by whatever means necessary.  It’s the territory
Green Arrow used to roam before DC’s New 52.  Does archery build a
social conscience?  In any case, I like ground-level super-heroics
tied to the real world.  If Green Arrow isn’t going to walk these
streets, then, by all means, let Hawkeye do so.

If you’ve kept count, that makes three positive reviews of super-
hero comics in one bloggy thing.  Given my love of the genre, that
delights me.  More please.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Thursday, September 20, 2012


We're less than 18 hours away from the start of my final garage sale of the year.  It will be Friday and Saturday, September 21-22, from 10 am to 3 pm each day, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. 

I'm excited about this finale.  I have more comic books, hardcovers, and trade paperbacks on sale than at any of my previous garage sales.  I have posters, Black Lightning scripts, Black Lightning action figures, Isabella-written comics, magazines, nearly a complete run of Shonen Jump at a quarter per issue, VHS tapes at a quarter each and paperbacks at a quarter each.  You should be able to pick up a whole bunch of winter reading for relatively little cash. There will be additional discounts available as well.

I want to thank my customers for supporting these garage sales and I have every expectation that I'm have even more of them in 2013.

I hope to see you tomorrow and/or Saturday.  Be well.



By now, you know the drill.  Love Romances #21, cover-dated March
1952, reached newsstands in my birth month of December 1951.  Which
is why I’m leading off with it as I have done with so many vintage
comic-book covers from that eons-distant month. 

The Al Hartley cover is from the 7-page “Love on the Rebound” and
I think we can all figure out what that story is about.  However,
I don’t know who wrote or drew it and I don’t know anything at all
about the other three comics stories in the issue except for their
titles, their page lengths and that someone attributed the pencils
on “I Take This Man...” (6 pages) to Bernie Krigstein.  That won’t
stop me from making stuff up.

“No Turning Back” (6 pages) is the story of two lonely people who
meet on a treacherous road where only one of their cars can pass at
a time.  The problem’s not safe for either of them to back
up or down the road.  While they try to figure out what to do, they
fall in love.  Sadly, distracted by their growing ardor, they fail
to avoid the landslide that sweeps their cars and them off the road
and to their deaths.  Love hurts.

“When Kisses Grow Cold...” (4 pages) is typical of those pre-Comics
Code stories at a time when horror was making a big impact on the
industry.  Two lovers, one dead, and a morgue.  You can figure out
what happens next.

“I Take This Man...” sounds like a wedding story, but it’s actually
a historical romance about a beautiful-but-cruel slave owner who
unexpectedly falls in love with her latest purchase.  She sets him
free, knowing that if he truly loves her as well, he’ll come back
to her.  He doesn’t.  Because he’s not an idiot and she’s still a
cruel slave-owner.

I should write and publish a new version of this issue someday.  I
can see “Love on the Rebound” in a basketball setting. 

More vintage comic-book covers to come.


Getting reading for my garage sale has me in a comic-book reading
mode.  Here are notes on some of the comics I most recently read:

Avengers Vs. X-Men has become exceedingly tiresome, but, every now
and then, something good emerges from the contrived and overblown
drama of the series.  Case in point: Avengers Vs. X-Men #9 (of what
seems like 100).  Five writers are credited with the story: Jason
Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Jonathan
Hickman.  Aaron is credited with the script.  Comics creators, editors
and executives who desperately want to be Hollywood players are
responsible for this new comics group-think that plagues the industry.

But I come not to bitch, well, not much, but to praise this issue
of the series.  It comes down to Spider-Man battling two Phoenix-
juiced mutants: Colossus and Magik.  At a publisher that seems to
have some trouble accepting the essential courage and optimism of
the super-hero, this issue is a shining testimony to Spider-Man and
heroism at their best.  Even if you haven’t been reading Avengers
Vs. X-Men
, I recommend you read this issue.

Speaking of Spider-Man...

Remember how much I loathed the first two issues of the brand-new
Captain Marvel? That’s how much I enjoyed Avenging Spider-Man #9
and #10 which teamed up Carol Danvers and the wondrous wall-crawler
in a story by Kelly Sue DeConnick with way spiffy art by Terry and
Rachel Dodson. 

The sad news is that Carol Danvers isn’t suited for solo stardom.
The happy news is that, teamed with a likeable partner like Spidey,
she comes off much better.  This is a Carol Danvers I like and it’s
surprising that this Carol and the unpleasant one in her own title
are written by the same writer.

Maybe this is what Marvel should do.  Put Captain Marvel on a team
with mostly likeable characters.  They can be a little annoying and
maybe a little rash, but essentially likeable.  She could be the big
sister on such a team.  I think she could even shine in that role.
Worth considering.

More on Spider-Man...

Peter Parker, Spider-Man #156.1 is a done-in-one story by the great
Roger Stern with art by Roberto De La Torre.  The tale takes Peter
back to the one place to which he never wanted to return.  It has
the feel of Stern’s past efforts without being the least bit dated.
It’s the Spider-Man of 2012, but written by a guy who knows exactly
who Spider-Man is and how he rolls.  Every time Stern turns up on
a Marvel title, I end up slapping my forehead in consternation that
he’s not the regular writer on any Marvel title.  I’m gonna blame
this on Hollywood as well.

One final Spider-Man note for today...

In past bloggy things, I’ve expressed that I like Peter working as
a scientist after too many years of being J. Jonah Jameson’s bitch.
But, even as I’ve had my fill of JJJ and then some, I’m becoming a
lot less thrilled with this whole super-scientist bit for the hero
who’s supposed to be one of us.

I mean, we were told that Spider-Man couldn’t stay married to Mary
Jane because it wasn’t realistic, that he wasn’t one of us any more
because of it.  Okay, yes, it was a load of dung, but that’s what
Marvel tried to sell us and, for a time, I was willing to accept it
and move on.  But how is being super-scientist guy any more fitting
for Peter than his marriage to Mary Jane?

The only answer’s not.  Indeed, I would make the case that
it’s more outrageous than the marriage which Marvel decided it must
undo.  The current Peter Parker isn’t the Peter Parker that Marvel
wanted to restore.  He’s not a bad character, but he’s far removed
from the core Spider-Man.

This is why I continue to believe that the best thing for both the
Marvel and DC universes would to blow them both to atoms.  End them
completely. Then figure out who these classic characters are sans
the egomania of remaking them to fit your whims and then relaunch
them into this brave new world of 2012 without any prior back story
other than what is introduced in the relaunch. 

It’s been fifty years of Spider-Man and more for other characters.
Time for a combination of classic and fresh. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  I’m
not inclined to accept substitutes, so I ignore the version which
appeared a while back because a couple giggling juveniles at Marvel
thought it would be funny.

Inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy the next ten issues of the title.  Because
that’s what the Kid would have done.

The Rawhide Kid #37 [December 1963] has a great cover by Kirby and
inker Sol Brodsky with cover copy almost certainly written by Lee.
Kirby’s western comics covers almost always had a lot of characters
on them, all in motion. 

“The Rattler Strikes” (18 pages) is “by Stan Lee and Dick Ayers,”
which could mean Lee co-plotted the story with Ayers.  Certainly,
the pacing is somewhat different than in Lee’s collaborations with
Kirby and there are a couple quirks near the story’s end.  This is
a fun story with super-hero overtones.

The story opens with the familiar bit of Rawhide being recognized
by lawmen and running for his freedom.  One of the lawmen insists
that “He won’t escape us! We got ‘im surrounded–-and the Kid’s only
I’m not so sure about that.

On the second page, the Kid jumps over one of the lawmen whose gun
is empty.  The lawman exclaims “He timed his move just right! My
gun’s empty!”
Spider-Man and Daredevil would be proud.

Rawhide also has an uncanny bond with his horse Nightwing.  Maybe
I can believe a normal human could train his horse to remain ready
for a quick escape, but, a few panels later, to throw off those
pursuing him, the Kid dismounts his trusty steed and tells Nightwing
that he should “keep a’runnin’ and then circle back here!"  Which
Nightwing does.  Maybe it’s time for a new X-Men spin-off.

The Kid gets into a brief fight with an acrobat at the circus where
he’s hiding.  Nightwing returns and then escape the lawmen.  Things
don’t get much better though.

When the Kid reaches a town where he’s not wanted, which seems odd
from my modern perspective, the sheriff nonetheless tells him
to get out of town.  With no civil rights lawyer in sight, the now-
bitter kid moves on...but not before the sheriff tells him about a
costumed criminal called the Rattler.  This super-villain moves and
reacts with the speed of his namesake.  The sheriff thinks the Kid
might be the Rattler.

Later, when the Kid crosses paths with the sheriff and posse trying
to catch the fleeing Rattler, the sheriff realizes he was wrong to
judge the Kid as he did.  He asks the Kid to join him in catching
the Rattler, but the Kid turns his back on him.

For one page.

Coming across a family who have just been robbed of their savings
by the Rattler, the Kid returns to town and is duly deputized.  He
vows to bring the Rattler to justice.

The action scenes that follow are exciting and well-done.  Reading
this story for the first time in decades, I liked that the Kid was
able to beat the Rattler at his own acrobatics and that the Rattler
wasn’t the obvious suspect.  The only weak element is how the Kid
figured out the identity of the villain and that the “how” came out
of nowhere.  Still, it’s one down note in an otherwise entertaining
tale of western action.

The Kid doesn’t remain in the town where, presumably, he could’ve
continued on as deputy.  But he learned a lesson:

“I learned that it takes a heap of patience and courage to be a
lawman–-to face all kinds of dangers in order to protect the
innocent from killers like–-the Rattler!”

From here on in, longer Rawhide Kid stories are the norm for this
title.  But each issue also includes the text stories I never read
as a kid or an adult and a short non-series comics story.

“The Mob Strikes” (5 pages) is drawn by Gene Colan and written by
Lee.  A man is arrested for murder and the citizens don’t want to
bother with a trial.  The mob breaks into the jail to get the man
when they are stopped by the victim’s widow.

Her husband was cleaning his gun and it went off accidentally.  The
accused tried to help but the sheriff - just passing by - thought
he was trying to rob the dead man.  So he arrested the man on the
spot.  Without even talking to the grieving widow.  Sheesh!

“And so the mob drifts away-–silently–-slowly–-shamefully!
Individually, they are ordinary, average people...but when they
gather together, they become one of the most dangerous, most
unreasoning things a man can face...a mob!”

This isn’t one of the better Marvel western shorts.  Stan manages
to kick it up a notch with the last panel, but neither he nor Colan
seem particularly inspired here.

But, hey, there’s always next issue, right?  Which I’ll be writing
about in one short week.

In the meantime, I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Here's the latest on my final garage sale of the year, which will be held Friday and Saturday, September 21-22, from 10 am to 3 pm, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio.

On my most recent trip to the Fortress of Storage, I found a small quantity of the above 74 x 26 inches poster from 1987 or thereabouts.  When I checked on eBay, I only found one of these posters - a used one - and the buyer was asking over $100 for it.  Hoo-hah!

I will be selling 6 of these posters on Friday and 6 on Saturday for only $20 each.  One to a customer.

If I have any left after the garage sale - and once I figure out what a secure mailing container and poster will cost me - I'll be selling them online.

More good news...

I had a great time going through the boxes I brought from my most recent visit to the Fortress of Storage.  Lots of good stuff.

I've also been going through some boxes of stuff from my office, future reading room, and basement.  As a result of this digging, my last garage sale of 2012 will have more comics, trade paperbacks, and hardcovers on sale than any of the previous sales.  Some amazing stuff, including comics you've probably never heard of before.  I'm excited for you!

Some bad news:

I wanted to hold a "mystery sale" to thank all my customers for supporting my garage sales.  Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts have deep-sixed that plan.  However...

To thank my customers, I will be knocking at least a buck off every purchase over $5, two bucks off any purchase of $10 or more, three bucks off any purchase of $20 or more, four bucks off any purchase of $30 or more, and five bucks off any purchase of $40 or more.

There is a chance of rain on Friday and Saturday, but, since my entire garage sale is in my garage, that won't be a concern once you get here.  But, please, drive safely to and from the garage sale.

Finally, for those who have asked, my online sales will resume in October.



From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1694:

The next-to-last Harvey Comics romances hit the newsstands in late
1958, but the publisher would take one final half-hearted crack at
the genre in late 1962 and early 1963.  First Love Illustrated #89
and #90 were 12-cent, standard sizes books reprinting already-dated
comics stories and features from the 1950s.  That was also the case
with Hi-School Romance Datebook #1-3, bimonthly “giant” issues with
dates from November 1962 to March 1963.

Hi-School Romance Datebook #2 [January 1963] turned up in my Vast
Accumulation of Stuff.  It’s 68 pages of cover-to-cover comics and
features with the only ads being small bottom-of-text-page panels
promoting Sad Sack, Wendy the Good Little Witch and Little Audrey.
The uncredited cover looks to be new, but it could just as easily
be retouched art from the 1950s.

There are eight comics stories.  While I think I see the art of Bob
Powell in a couple of them, the writers and artists of these tales
have yet to be identified by the Grand Comics Database.  The issue
also contains twenty single-page features on dating, odd romantic
customs, fashion and more.

The stories are your typical romantic triangles with a few notable
exceptions.  In “I Tried to Elope,” the 15-year-old heroine and her
18-year-old beau use forged documents to thwart the objections of
the girl’s parents.  In “Lovesick Fan,” a woman meets and dates the
celebrity piano man of a nightclub band.  No rock-and-roll in this
“vintage” tale of the 1950s.

The single-page features are a hoot.  One is a young lady’s guide
for getting ready in the morning.  After a “beautifying” breakfast
of “fruit juice, cereal, toast and coffee,” the page recommends she
“check once over: slip not showing, stocking seams straight, suit
pressed spic-and-span, gloves clean and neat.”

Readers of this comic could also get the best five-to-ten-years-old
advice on their T.Q. (telephone quotient), acting their age, how to
lose a man, the rules of romance, being a little independent (but,
apparently, just a little), and the answer to that most important
of questions: “Is he for you?”

Hey, if you can’t trust in what you read in comic books...

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Monday, September 17, 2012


From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1694:

“It's a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.”

- Walter Winchell (1897-1972)

How’s your summer going?  I’m writing this in early July and my own
summer has been a whirlwind of family events, including my son Ed’s
graduation from The Ohio State University and his landing a job as
an engineer two days later.  There have been household projects as
well.  Among them, setting up my garage for my summer-long Garage
Con.  That will involve public garage sales every other weekend and
private shopping for comics fans and retailers by appointment.  My
enthusiasm for this is tempered only by my realization that these
sales represent the merest tip of the iceberg that is my legendary
Vast Accumulation of Stuff.

My friends who are more active in the comics industry are zipping
around the country from convention to convention.  I get exhausted
merely thinking about their schedules while simultaneously envying
their adventures and stamina.  Perhaps 2013 will find me on the con
trail with them.  Perhaps not.

My summer vacation plans are modest.  I’d like to spend a few days
in a secluded cabin somewhere with just enough modern amenities to
keep me from starving to death while I kick back with a large stack
of novels, graphic and otherwise.  Of course, being alone in some
secluded cabin flies in the face of everything I’ve learned from a
lifetime of watching monster movies.  Did you hear that?

Even while juggling personal and professional responsibilities, I
have still managed to read a whole bunch of comics collections and
graphic novels.  Cue the reviews.


When Dark Horse announced its Adventures Into the Unknown Archives
Volume One
[$49.99], I reacted to the news with puzzlement.  A UK
publisher had already released such a volume and their first volume
had the first five issues of the 1950s pre-Code horror comic to the
Dark Horse version’s four.  Given that the two competing books were
priced about the same, I figured Dark Horse had already lost this
battle of the archive editions.  I figured wrong.

Dark Horse’s version offers vastly superior reproduction.  Each and
every page is easy-to-read and vibrant.  Details I’d missed in the
UK book were clearly visible in the Dark Horse edition.  That more
than made up for including one less issue.

The stories themselves, originally published in the late 1940s, are
sometimes pretty good and sometimes not. At the very least, each is
interesting and offers a window to the comics world of that decade.
There are werewolves, ghosts, vampires and other classic creatures
of folklore.  Though the editorial voice often declares there is no
such thing as the supernatural, the sincerity of the storytelling
begs to differ. 

On the downside, save for a credit roll on the volume’s title page,
this edition doesn’t credit the writers and artists of these tales,
even though some of those credits can be found at the Grand Comics
Database.  Noted fantasy author Frank Belknap Long wrote all of the
stories in the first issue and, artists whose work appeared in the
issues reprinted herein include Fred Guardineer, Paul Reinman, Al
Feldstein, Leonard Starr, Edvard Moritz, Jon Blummer, Pete Riss and
Max Elkan.  To the best of our current knowledge, archives editions
like this one must strive to identify those who created the stories
they contain.  It’s the right thing to do.

I’m not ready to call a winner in this Archives competition until
I see a second volume from each publisher.  But, if you only have
access to the Dark Horse version, don’t hesitate to give it a shot.
It’s a darn fine book.

ISBN 978-1-59582-930-6


Showcase Presents Young Love Volume 1 [DC; $19.99] reprints issues
#39-56 of the title from 1963-1966.  It’s a welcome addition to my
personal comics library, but I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly.
With the exception of those stories written by Robert Kanigher, the
writing is uniformly bland.  Kanigher, teamed with John Romita in
his post-Atlas, pre-Marvel days, delivers actual drama and passion
in the ongoing “Private Diary of Mary Robin, R.N.” series.  These
are tales of tears and triumphs, duty and denial.  Mary is a great
character, dedicated to nursing but longing for true love as well.
Romita did a sensational job illustrating these stories; his art is
much more exciting than anything else in this 541-page collection.
There is some repetition over the course of the 14 episodes of the
series, but its quality is consistently high.

Romita is the star of this volume’s artistic line-up.  None of the
other artists even comes close to his work.  But don’t rely on the
book’s credits to identify those artists for you.  The errors are
numerous and, in several cases, ridiculous.  For accurate credits,
visit the Grand Comics Database, whose members have been discussing
and correcting these credits, sometimes using the actual editorial
records of the era, as fast as they can.

I do recommend Showcase Presents Young Love Volume 1 to devotees of
comics and comics history, but it’s a guarded recommendation.  I’d
also recommend that DC show more care in producing these volumes,
especially when it comes to identifying the DC writers and artists
who created the stories therein.

ISBN 978-1-4012-3438-6


Lovingly, brilliantly crafted by P. Craig Russell,  The Fairy Tales
of Oscar Wilde Volume 5: The Happy Prince
[NBM; $16.99] is arguably
the most beautiful graphic album of 2012.  It is a simultaneously
heartbreaking and heart-lifting story of the friendship between the
statue/spirit of a beloved prince who died too soon and the humble
barn swallow who tries to help the lad alleviate the sufferings of
his most destitute subjects.  It’s a glorious parable for our own
troubled world with its vast divide between the rich and the poor.
My regard for this wonderful book comes from deep within my soul
and I recommend it without hesitation or restraint.

ISBN 978-1-56163-626-6


Comics blogger Brian Cronin returns to better bookstores and comics
shops everywhere to ask the burning question Why Does Batman Carry
Shark Repellent?
[Plume; $15].  If you read and enjoyed his first
book - Was Superman a Spy? - you’ll love this kind of sequel just
as much.  It’s filled with commentary, lists and just plain goofy
facts on such topics as weird members of the Green Lantern Corps,
superhero pets, commie villains, superheroes who have been stabbed
by Wolverine, death threats to comic-book creators, Professor X’s
most significant lies, strange comic-book ads, inventions crossing
from comic books into real life and much more, including the answer
to the book’s titular question.  It’s a great book to keep at hand
for when you have five or ten minutes to spare and need to get your
smile on for whatever you have to do next.  Buy a copy for yourself
and a few more to use as birthday/holiday gifts for your comics-
reading friends.  Share the mirth.

ISBN 978-0-452-29784-5


If you’re feeling like some old-time comedy fun, check out The Best
of the Three Stooges Comicbooks Volume 1
[Papercutz; $19.99], even
if whoever titled the book doesn’t realize “comic books” isn’t one
word.  This handsome hardcover presents nearly 200 pages of classic
Stooges comics from the 1950s in full color.

From the early part of that decade, we get ten stories written and
drawn by Norman Maurer.  These are witty misadventures wherein the
Stooges (Moe, Larry, and Shemp) commit wonderful Stooge mayhem.  In
several of these tales, their nemesis is Benjamin Bogus, a con man
who always thinks the boys will be an easy mark because, well, they
are, but who still manages to come out on the losing side.  It’s as
if the trio were a force of good...or maybe that should be a farce
of good.  Either way, I got a kick out of Maurer’s story and art.
I’d recommend the book just for that.

The volume also presents several stories from the later 1950s when
Dell was publishing the Three Stooges comic books.  Shemp is out,
Curly Joe’s in and the great Pete Alvarado is drawing a somewhat
more animated version of the trio.  Though these stories aren’t as
sharp as those by Maurer, they’re still entertaining.  This volume
would make a great gift for fans of the Stooges or humorous comic
books in general.

ISBN 978-1-59707-328-8


A portly werewolf, a demon trapped in a little girl’s body and a
pizza delivery boy walk into a bar...and that’s just one of several
scenes in The Incredible Adventures of Dog Mendonca and Pizzaboy
[Dark Horse; $12.99] that made me smile and, occasional, laugh our
loud.  Written by Flippe Melo and drawn by Juan Cavia, this full-
color graphic novel is an occult adventure comedy with gargoyles,
vampires, Nazis and other monsters.  It’s not an award-winner, but
it is great fun and, as such, perfect for summer reading. 

ISBN 978-1-59582-938-2


School may be out for summer, but Jinx: Little Jinx Grows Up by J.
Torres, Rick Burchett and Terry Austin [Archie; $16.99] also makes
for fun summer reading.  Cute “Li’l Jinx” from all those charming
Joe Edwards stories and gag pages is starting high school.  It’s a
new world for the now-teen and her friends, a world where nothing
is as simple as when they were younger.
Torres and company temper the teen angst with humor.  Their cast of
characters ring true, though these youngsters aren’t as dramatic as
the kids I watched grow into adults in my Medina Ohio neighborhood.
That makes for comfortable “all ages” entertainment, though part of
me wishes Torres has explored some of the concerns and problems I
saw my kids and their friends face in high school.  That’s just me,
I guess, always wanting to see comics envelopes pushed, especially
when such stories include comedy and character growth.

Still, that’s a book I want to see and not the book I’m reviewing.
The book I’m reviewing is a fine effort on all counts and I think
my CBG readers will enjoy it.

ISBN 978-1-936975-00-6


I’m not a fan of post-Apocalyptic science-fiction.  I’m all about
hope for the future and personal jet packs and sassy robot maids.
That said, Marksmen Volume 1 [Image; $15.99] with too many names in
the credits was more entertaining than I had anticipated.  In this
particular post-catastrophe America, the warring factions are true
believers, one side putting its faith in science and the other in
its charismatic leader.  It’s blind science versus blind faith and
while I’m on the side of the scientists - that hypocritical leader
of the other side is more than willing to use science to get what
he wants - there is no shortage of flawed humans on either side of
this conflict.  There are heroes, villains, and individuals sort of
caught between those choices.  I liked the graphic novel enough to
look forward to what comes next.

As for those ponderous credits - I hate the Hollywood mentality of
too many modern comics - Marksmen was “created by Michael Benarova,
David Baxter, and Dave Elliott.  The story’s by Baxter and Elliott.
The script is by Baxter.  The pencil art is by Javier Aranda with
finishes by Garry Leach.  While all those cooks doesn’t hurt this
story too much, it’s been death on too many occasions to change my
preference for one writer and one artist in the comic books I read.
Or one talented creator who does both well.

Marksmen color is by Jessica Kholinne and Benny Maulana.  Lettering
is by Bebe Giraffe.  Catering services were provided by...okay, now
I’m just being ornery.  Marksmen is worth a look.

ISBN 978-1-60706-486-2


Okay, now that you’ve run to your friendly neighborhood comics shop
and purchased all these fine items I’ve reviewed this month, you’re
ready to kick back in your comfy chair with your favorite beverage
and lose yourself in some great reading.  But, hold on, how are you
going to open that beverage?

If you’re me, you reach for The Mighty Thor Bottle Opener [Diamond
Select; $19.99], which I bought for myself as a Christmas gift last
year.  It’s five inches of beverage-opening power made in China,
which must be a suburb of Asgard.

It is not a bottle opener for ordinary human beings.  Indeed, cut
into its metal head, are the words Whosoever holds this hammer, if
he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.

Well, as I’m both worthy and thirsty, so I’m gonna open a cold root
beer and start reading the comics goodies I’ll be reviewing in next
month’s CBG.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I'm having way too much fun going through boxes to add stock for my last full-blown garage sale of the year.  I've already filled the existing boxes with new stuff and have figured out how to add several more boxes to the display.  Lots of DC comics from 2003 and thereabouts.  Star Wars comics from Dark Horse.  CrossGen comics and trades.  Lots of other trades.  A couple dozen hardcovers.  Good stuff.

Among the more pleasant surprises:

About a dozen copies of one of my favorite comic books, the 2000 Marvels Comics: Dare-Devil one-shot I did with Eddy Newell.  I love this alternate version of DD, which is set in the actual Marvel Universe.  This is the Daredevil comic book Marvel was publishing in 2000.  I had so much fun with the story that I'm excited to have copies for my garage sale customers.  Though it didn't lead to more Marvel work for me and Eddy, it's still one of my favorite comics.

I also found a few copies of the original Black Lightning series from back when DC acknowledged me as the sole creator of the character.  Those will be on sale as well.

I found a quantity of another swell item, but I'm saving that announcement for tomorrow. 

Last full-blown Tony Isabella garage sale of the year.  Friday and Saturday, September 21-22, 10 am to 3 pm.  Stock up on your winter reading at crazy low prices.

More tomorrow...along with an actual blog entry!


Friday, September 14, 2012

GARAGE SALE UPDATES (September 21-22)

I found some more of the two-sided Superman poster that was created for the 1988 International Superman Exposition in Cleveland, the birthplace of the Man of Steel.  I'll be selling them at my garage sale for $20 each. 

If you can't come to the garage sale and want to score one of these posters, and if you live in the Continental United States, I'm selling them for $25 each (including shipping and handling).  E-mail me and we can work out the details. 

Superman was on my mind when I opened up a long box from my Fortress of Storage.  I found around 200 Superman comics from around 2001.  This batch includes Superman, Adventures of Superman, Action Comics, etc.  I also found over a dozen Superman trade paperbacks and other cool stuff.

I'm finding new and wonderful items for the sale every day.

This last full-blown Isabella garage sale of the year will take place on Friday and Saturday, September 21-22, from 10 am to 3 pm each day at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio.  I hope you can make it.


Thursday, September 13, 2012


Pushing forward this week.  I just finished my next Tony's Tips column for Comics Buyer's Guide with a real nice mix of reviews.  Some old stuff, some new stuff, some stuff that probably no one else in comics but me would review. 

I'm slowly restocking for my final garage sale of the year.  An unopened DC box from 2003 had almost a hundred comic books and over a dozen trade paperbacks in it.  It's stuff that should make my customers happy.

With Ohio being a key and maybe THE key state, I'm getting bombarded with Republican calls and robo-calls.  Because you know I'm going to vote for Romney.  I mean, look at how he tried to use the tragedy in Libya for his personal gain and did so with knowing misinformation. And look how the GOP flacks are trying to explain that way.  What a party!

And that smirk on Romney's face as he walked away from the podium.  I know that classic smirk well.  I saw it on every lying bully who beat me up and got away with it when I was a kid. 

If I weren't a godless (but not Godzilla-less) liberal, I'd pray for the souls of the Republicans.  You know, the ones they traded to Grover Norquist and/or Satan.

I'm in fine grumpy form today.  Have a nice day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Some stuff stuff does...and it'll be a few days before I can get back to blogging.  It's nothing I can't handle, so don't be concerned.


Love Letters #19 [Quality; March 1952] appeared on newsstands in my
birth month of December 1951.  There were 31 issues from November
1949 to June 1953 before the title changed its name to Love Secrets
and continued for another 25 issues to December 1956.  The secret
of the issue shown above is that I know nothing about it save what
can be seen on the cover.

I don’t know who the cover models are, but, for some odd reason, I
looked at them and said “They could be a young Johnny and Virginia
Romita.”  I also don’t know what stories were in this issue and who
wrote and/or drew them.  All I know is that the following artists
worked on the book in or around 1951: Harry Anderson, John Buscema,
Sam Citron, Chuck Cuidera and John Forte.

My bewildered brain awaits enlightenment from bloggy thing readers
who know more than I do.  Which, clearly, is not a difficult feat
to accomplish.


Speaking of love...

Sainted Wife Barb must love me beyond reason.  Last Saturday night,
after my garage sale, after her weekend job, after dinner, after we
went to Target to score Candy Corn Oreos and M&Ms White Chocolate
Candy Corn, she actually watched Sand Sharks with me.  That’s the
very definition of above and beyond.

It’s taken Sand Sharks an usually long time to get to DVD and the
SyFy Channel.  I can see why.  Despite fun performances from Corin
Nemec, Vanessa Evigan and Robert Pike Daniel, the movie feels like
a homework assignment completed hours before class. 

The borrowing from Jaws is clumsy, the CGI monsters don’t have a
fraction of the  screen presence of the Jaws shark and the script
omits things that could’ve been interesting.  For example, we are
told a party thrown by Corin Nemec’s maniac hustler character years
before resulted in deaths, but no details are ever provided.  And,
unless both Barb and I dozed off at the same time, we never saw how
two other characters, trapped on rocks surrounded by waiting sand
sharks - Tremors steal - escaped that predicament. 

Finally, I saw the last scene shocker coming the moment they set it
up just prior to the sand sharks crashing a beach party.  Still, I
don’t really expect quality entertainment from movies such as this.
I just expect mindless fun that takes me back to my days watching
Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson hosting monster movies on Cleveland TV.
And, last Saturday night, watching the movie with Barb and hearing
her hilarious comments on the film, added to the fun.  In my book,
that’s a win-win.

By the way, Candy Corn Oreos are tasty.  M&Ms White Chocolate Candy
Corn? Like awesome exploding in your mouth.  I must have Barb hide
these from me.


Regular readers of my bloggy thing will recall I had an issue with
Back Issue magazine over misinformation about my earliest dealings
with DC Comics was injected into an interview by the interviewer.
I’m delighted to report that issue has been resolved.

Back Issue has agreed to correct the misinformation in an upcoming
issue and I’ve agreed to fact-check any Isabella references their
readers include in their articles.  What I’m doing is strictly in
the interest of getting the facts right.  I don’t care if someone
hates the work I’ve done in comics - well, okay, I do care a little
- but I’m determined to correct errors of fact about myself as much
as possible.

I’m also cooperating with Back Issue writers on the condition they
send me their articles before publication.  Again, I’m only looking
at the facts involving me or my work and not the opinions thereof.
In recent weeks, I’ve answered questions on Super-Villain Team-Up,
Super-Team Family, The Champions, Marvel’s British weeklies and
probably a few others I’ve forgotten. 

Back Issue is an entertaining and informative magazines, one that
I enjoy greatly.  So I’m happy to help its writers get their facts
correct.  It’s not always pleasant to recall the past, but I think
the importance of preserving comics history, even the minor comics
history in which I played a part, is important.


Speaking of those British weeklies...

When I started at Marvel Comics on Halloween 1972, my first job was
putting together The Mighty World of Marvel, which reprinted early
issues of Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the Hulk.  Before long,
that one mag became three with the additions of Spider-Man Comics
and The Avengers Comics Weekly.

While going through boxes in my Fortress of Storage, I was crushed
to discover that the issues of those weeklies on which I had worked
had been destroyed by water damage.  Apparently, this happened just
before they were moved into storage. 

I have no idea what the back-issue market is like on these British
weeklies.  I’m afraid to see what they’re going for on eBay.  But,
if any one out there among my bloggy thing readers has copies for
sale or trade, please contact me.  I’m looking for issues from 1972
through 1974, which I think covers my time working on the weeklies.

Trade deals could even include my writing for your comic books and
websites.  The barter system lives!



While reading a review of Bigfoot on my pal Christopher Mills’ cool
DVD Late Show page, I found myself wondering if any one is keeping
tabs on the celebrities killed in monster movies.  I’m not talking
films like Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid where characters played by pop
music celebrities meet their demise.  I’m talking about celebrities
playing themselves and getting killed.

Bigfoot kicked Alice Cooper about twenty miles in the movie of that
name.  Micky Dolenz of the Monkees got eaten by a giant python in
Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid.  Joey Fatone of NSYNC got gobbled up in
Jersey Shore Shark Attack.  

There must be others or, at least, there should be.  Additions and
suggestions are both welcome.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a new Rawhide Wednesday.

© 2012 Tony Isabella