Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I’ve never particularly liked writing end-of-the-year or New Year
columns.  This year is different.

I had a pretty good year, despite the lack of writing assignments
in my chosen field.  I found other ways to earn money and took some
pride in the comics industry’s inability to rule my life or define
who I was.  I take additional pride in addressing the comics field
on my own terms...with clean and honest hands and able to speak to
things that delight or disturb me.

I learned how to handle stress better than at any other time in my
life.  Sometimes it meant walking away from people I cared about.
Sometimes they started to understand that the dynamics between us
were changed forevermore and, if they wanted me in their lives at
all, they needed to accept that.

My wonderful wife and kids thrived in 2012.  I am in constant awe
of how accomplished and cool they are. 

I am joyful for the reelection of President Barack Obama.  But I am
not overly optimistic that he’ll be able to speed up the amazing
progress he made during his initial term.  I consider it “amazing”
because, from the moment he won, the Republicans had made opposing
him at every turn their top and only priority.  Quite frankly, they
disgust me.

If I were asked to name the biggest threat facing democracy in my
country, it would be the Republicans.  With their exclusionary and
outdated positions, they are unable to win elections without gaming
the system.  Unfortunately, they are willing to game the system at
every turn, be it with voter suppression laws disguised as a guard
against largely non-existent voter fraud or through gerrymandering
districts to give themselves an unfair advantage. 

In Ohio, we lost two dedicated Democratic congressmen because the
GOP, with the participation of its Republican candidate, redrew the
lines to put them in the same district and then make certain those
lines included the most solidly Republican areas in my part of the
state.  That’s what I call election fraud.

As I write this bloggy thing, I don’t know if we’ve manages to go
over any fiscal cliffs.  I do know that, if the tax cuts expire, it
won’t actually hurt the wealthiest Americans at all.  Because they
can/will cut jobs, cut wages, cut benefits, outsource jobs and more
to ensure their obscene wealth grows to more obscene heights.  I
wish more people of wealth and power would follow the example of
the CEO of Costco, whose yearly salary is but six times that of his
average employee.  Moreover, because of how well those employees
are treated, I’ve never heard any of them complaining about their
boss’s earnings.

Turning from politics to comics...

As I have often stated, this is the true Golden Age of Comics.  It
is a time when comics fans and readers can choose from an enormous
assortment of comics and collections and graphic novels and manga
in every genre imaginable.  It is a time when classic and perhaps
not-so-classic comics are as readily available as the newest comic
books and graphic novels.  It is a time when the budget-challenged
comics fan can obtain a wide selection of comics material through
his local library.  It is a great time to be a comics fan.

Super-hero comics don’t dominate my comics reading as they did in
my youth.  Nevertheless, I am nonetheless appalled by how dark and
savage the DC and Marvel super-hero comics have become.  Maybe the
heroes have left me behind, but I see the genre being, at its true
heart and soul, a genre of heroism and hope and optimism. 

A recently prominent comics writer for a major company has claimed
readers want to see their super-heroes suffering and in pain, nay,
in agony.  Speaking for myself, I read the genre to see the heroes
triumph over insane odds and bring decency, fairness and justice to
a world where those things struggle to survive.

In an industry where wannabe Hollywood players write and edit the
comic books, there’s a schizophrenic tone to most Marvel/DC books.
We don’t get individual voices of talented writers.  What we get is
mediocre group-think and situations where talented writers become
little more than typists accepting dictation from editors who lack
discernable creative credits of their own.

I see comic-book publishers/editors/writers launch plots they know
will be controversial - not in itself a bad thing - and then go all
online douche bag when readers respond to those developments.  In
a recent exchange on Twitter, a comics editor went so negative at
any questioning of a story’s logic or quality that I was not only
disappointed by his behavior but appalled by his arrogance. It was
as he didn’t realize the characters in his charge had already been
quite successful for decades before he was hired.

I think we can all see why neither DC or Marvel is likely to hire
me any time soon.  I made a choice long ago to stick to my ideals
and I do not regret that choice.

On the other hand, my most recent comics-related dream had Disney
hiring me to be a kind of Jiminy Cricket to Marvel Comics.  My job
was to keep Marvel editors and writers from being online jerks.  As
I was being nervously led to a staff-wide meeting by Mark Waid, he
joked that I was hired to be Preparation H for a bunch of flaming
assholes.  Which only made me more nervous.

I’ll leave it to the dream experts among you to figure out what my
dream means.  I describe it here only so I won’t forget it.  I also
caution you that a) the real Mark Waid is not responsible for the
dream Mark Waid and b) I don’t really think the Marvel editors and
writers are assholes.

New Year’s Day columns frequently include the writer’s resolutions.
I’m not a big fan of that, but, as previous noted, I spent part of
my recent birthday making a list of 20 resolutions for my own New
Year.  Except for the first two, I’ll share them with you in mostly
general terms.

My first two resolutions involve writing goals I’ve set for myself.
These are independent of any paying gigs I might get.  Since both
involve weekly goals, I don’t want to talk about them until I meet
those weekly goals for a few months.

I want to bring my vision for my office and for my reading room to
reality.  Decades of accumulation make these tasks more difficult,
but I am determined to see them through.  You can expect updates as
the year goes on.

Resolutions four through seven involve improving my health.  With
San Diego’s Comic-Con International in my future - I’ve been named
a special guest for this year’s event - I want to be in good shape
to enjoy the convention.

Six other resolutions involve spending more times with people that
I love and care about.  One of those will be more difficult because
the person will be in a federal prison and visiting him will mean
several hours of travel.

Two resolutions center on the every other week garage sales I will
be starting as soon as the weather permits.  Even before the sales
start, I want to hit my Fortress of Storage every week and retrieve
a couple boxes for processing.  With a bit of luck, I should have
a very nice selection of comics and other items for my garage sale
customers.  Keep watching this blog for details.

Is writing a webcomic in my future?  I don’t know.  I do know that
I will be studying the format in this new year.  I plan to read a
month’s worth of a different webcomic each week and sample as many
different types of webcomics as possible.

Besides my own Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I have the comics that
a good friend has been lending to me for over a decade.  I already
read several of them a day, but, in the new year, I’m going to set
aside at least fifteen minutes a day in a quiet room and read more
of them.  If I can get his comics in my possession down to a couple
boxes by year’s end, I’ll be quite pleased.

Another resolution is to upgrade my current PC and to buy a laptop
for when I’m traveling or for when I just want to write somewhere
other than my office.  Unlike most of my resolutions, this depends
on my 2013 earnings.  Fingers crossed on that.

My final two resolutions are to launch two special Facebook pages.
While they are a lower priority than all of the above, I definitely
want to do them.  Keep watching this blog and my Facebook page for
my progress on these.

That’s it for my New Year’s Day column.  I’ll be back tomorrow with
a new Rawhide Kid Wednesday.  See you then.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. Tony, though he was only a dream version of Mark, the comment was so Waid-like that I "heard" him saying it!

  2. Webcomics I suggest you look at:

    http://tmi-comic.com/ -- partly becaue I think the author's perspective meshes with your own, partly because it shows what you can do with 3D modeling software (no need for an artist)

    www.faans.com -- both for the two "Fans!" series, and for the recently wrapped "Webspinners" and because the author has worked with a variety of artists during his career.

  3. Tony,
    Re: "I am nonetheless appalled by how dark and
    savage the DC and Marvel super-hero comics have become."

    I certainly second that. I don't know who that "prominent writer" is that you mention later, but their view seems nearly universal. I don't know what it will take to reverse course? I'll keep hoping it does.

    You have some great resolutions for 2013. I hope you get to keep them all!

  4. It would be even MORE of a Golden Age of Comics right now if Tony Isabella were writing more comics on a regular basis. My opinion, for what it's worth. :)