Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I'm afraid all these folks who visited my bloggy thing for the first time today are going to be really disappointed when/if they come back tomorrow and find me writing about old western comics. 

Such is life.

Approving comments to today's bloggy thing took up way too much of my time, even though I approved every one of them.  But I felt some of them were insulting to other posters.  As of right now, I won't be approving such comments.

I will have some further Dragon*Con comments of my own at the end of the week.  Nothing I've read here, nothing I've read on Facebook, nothing I've read in private e-mail or messages have changed my stand on Dragon*Con one bit.  The arguments against what I stated, earnest or not, simply do not change anything.
My further comments may clarify what I've stated today.  They won't change the essential message.

I will still be checking your new comments for approval on a regular basis, just not as regularly as I tried to do today.

I hope some of the new visitors - there were three times as many hits as on any previous day of this bloggy thing - will return to see the lighter side of this venue.

Thanks for your attention and, for the most part, your respectful responses to my blog.


I’m not remotely a fan of Dragon*Con.  Back when I was writing Mike
Gustovich’s Justice Machine in the mid-1980s, the title’s publisher
sent Mike and I to the show to promote our book and the rest of the
company.  Mike was in dragon-heaven, by which I mean he bought so
many dragons of various shapes and sizes that I almost pretended I
didn’t know him on the flight home.  These days, given the baggage
fees charged by most airlines, it’d probably be cheaper to create
an actual dragon.  I came away from the event thinking it was the
sleaziest convention I’d ever attended.

On my first day at that long-ago Dragon*Con, a young woman offered
me sex if I would let her stay in my hotel room. It was the most
uncomfortable elevator ride - yes, we were in an elevator and we
weren’t the only passengers - of my life.   I generally relate this
tale in discreet terms and describe the offer far less explicitly
than she did.  In reality, she didn’t disguise it in the slightest.
Making me more uncomfortable was her age, as in underage.  Maybe 16
at best.  When I declined her offer, she looked at me as if I were
a freak.

One evening at the convention, looking for some of the few people
I knew or a relatively quiet party, I stumbled into an honest-to-
gosh slave auction.  With slaves being pretty clearly offered for
the sexual entertainment of their buyers.  Maybe it was some sort
of elaborate role-playing thing, but it creeped me out.  It would
not be the last thing that creeped out that weekend.  I never had
the slightest interest in returning.

Dragon*Con didn’t blip on my radar again until I learned Ed Kramer,
one of the event’s founders, had been arrested on child molestation
charges.  The evidence against him seemed pretty damning, so I was
surprised when some people leapt to his defense.  But, as he would
not be involved in the convention and because I had no interest in
attending the convention, I didn’t think about Dragon*Con for many
years after this initial news story. 

Thirteen years in which the predatory Kramer managed to avoid going
to trial through one artifice or another.  Thirteen years during
which, as a co-owner, Kramer continued to receive a huge chunk of
Dragon*Con money with the other owners of the show proclaiming they
were helpless to cut off his annual cash flow, reportedly $150,000,
which was allowing Kramer to delay his trial and, worse, continue to
attempt to prey on other youngsters.  Thankfully, after his most
recent arrest, he has been denied bond and is in prison awaiting
his ridiculously overdue trial.

Up until recently, I had been vaguely aware of attempts to boycott
Dragon*Con or, at the very least, convince the co-owners to do the
right thing and end payments to Kramer by any means necessary.  I
didn’t follow these attempts closely, but I knew several of those
involved in the attempts to be good and honorable people.  I didn’t
get involved because I didn’t see what I could add to the efforts.
That was a mistake on my part.

On April 22, The Beat ran an update titled “Dragon*Con Founder Ed
Kramer files dozens of complaints from jail while looking extremely
creepy.”  I was horrified by both the news reporting and the too-
many comments from posters who apparently didn’t see or understand
the clear moral issue at hand.  My own response:

“The comments from Dragon*Con are sounding more and more like
bullshit to me. They can walk away from the show and start a new
convention. I think they want the name value of Dragon*Con. Which
means we should do everything we can to make the name Dragon*Con
synonymous with child molestation. Destroy the name value.

“That said, I can’t imagine how anyone – fan or professional – can
attend that convention knowing Kramer profits from it.

“Get a moral clue, people.”

I won’t dial back those comments a notch.  I also posted them on my
Facebook page where the discourse got so insulting I felt I had to
delete the thread.  In the aftermath of my Beat comments and what
I posted on Facebook, I began to get a great many private messages
and e-mails from people.  Some of these thanked me for my comments
and other attacked me, usually anonymously, in the time-honored way
of the troll.  After a while, I also began receiving e-mails from
people telling me of their own non-Kramer experiences at Dragon*Con
and my horror hit a new level.

I must be very clear about this.  This is an opinion piece.  It is
not investigative reporting.  I’ve not attempted to verify what I
have been told, which is why I won’t be writing about it in detail
and why I don’t accept it as unvarnished truth.  But some of these
messages I received rang true to me and, if even 10% of what I was
told is accurate, the title of today’s bloggy thing is not just a
clever play on the title of a popular movie, but my fervent wish.
I think Dragon*Con should die at the end.

Perhaps the other Dragon*Con co-owners can’t simply walk away from
the event to start a new one.  But they most certainly can resign
their positions on whatever board manages the convention and their
roles in putting on the show.  Being part of even a privately-owned
company, being part of a board, having a job with Dragon*Con, none
of these are slavery.  You can walk away. 

Yes, they would also be walking away from what I’m told are pretty
sweet jobs and profits.  Yes, I understand that would be difficult
for any of us.  But, to repeat what I said in my Beat post, their
efforts are enriching Kramer and have allowed him to fend off any
justice for over a dozen years and have allowed him to place other
young people in jeopardy.  How can anyone remain a party to that?
Moral choices are seldom as easy as this one.

A close friend of mine took the side of the Dragon*Con co-owners in
a discussion of the matter.  I don’t deny the founders might well
feel they are acting in the interest of their own families.  But,
in the over a dozen years they have had this steaming pile of crap
before them, they claim there has been no way they can scoop that
poop and dispose of it properly. 

In all those years, they couldn’t find attorneys with the same or
even greater skills than Kramer’s representation? I can’t buy that.

I have been told of criminal assaults and other illegal activities
at Dragon*Con and that they are not solely the acts of “outsiders.”
If anyone can document these assaults and activities, they should
come forward and do so.  If anyone witnesses criminal assaults and
activities, they should report them to the proper authorities ASAP.

Dragon*Con is not its own world with its own laws.  Sleaziness may
not be a crime - though it often is - but some of what was reported
to me was certainly criminal in my opinion.  It also appears that
Dragon*Con’s internal security is, at best, woefully inadequate for
an event of its magnitude and, at worse, complacent or unconcerned
about such things.  The show generates a great deal of profit.  At
the very least, those profits should be used to make Dragon*Con a
safer environment for attendees.

I have been told of a great many celebrities (writers and artists
and actors and producers and so on) who will no longer attend the
convention.  Some have gone public with their decision...and others
have not.  I would urge all to go public.

Whatever you get from attending Dragon*Con, whether it be sensual
delights or good times with friends or professional advantage, it’s
not worth what else comes with the convention.  It’s not worth the
continued cash flow to Kramer.  It’s not worth the danger to some
attendees.  It’s not worth the sleaze.

That I will not attend Dragon*Con may well be meaningless.  I made
that decision over two decades ago and have not regretted it in the
least.  Indeed, even what I write here today, while it will surely
anger some people and generate a few impotent threats against me,
might not have a great deal of meaning in an age when everyone with
online access can have a blog or post their opinions, informed or
otherwise, with general impunity. 

What I do accomplish today is to make my stand against what I feel
is an intolerable situation.  One writer making a stand.  Probably
lost in the electrons that dance across your screen.  Nevertheless,
something I had to do, something I believe to be the right thing to
do...and I hope I’m not alone in that.

But, maybe, just maybe, if enough others make a stand, if respected
voices in our fan and professional communities make a stand, then
maybe today’s title will prove prophetic.

Dragon*Con dies at the end.

Which is as it should be.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Monday, April 29, 2013


Hey, kids! I'm writing about funny comic books in this week's edition of "Tony's Tips" at the Tales of Wonder website.  Check it out at:




Veteran bloggy thing readers know I’m fascinated with comic books
published in my birth month of December 1951.  For today’s vintage
cover, we have Tom Corbett, Space Cadet #378 [Dell; February 1952],
a.k.a. Four Color #378.  The Four Color title was used to test the
market for new titles.  After three Four Color issues, Tom Corbett
got his own ongoing title which ran until September–November 1954.
Tom Corbett comic books have also been published by Prize (1955),
Eternity (1990) and Bluewater (2009). Since I’ve never read Tom
Corbett’s comic books and juvenile novels or watched the TV series
that ran from 1950-1955 on five different networks, all I know of
the character is what I just looked up on Wikipedia:

Tom Corbett is the main character in a series of Tom Corbett, Space 
Cadet stories that were depicted in television, radio, books,
comic books, comic strips, coloring books, punch-out books and
View-Master reels in the 1950s. The stories followed the adventures
of Tom Corbett, Astro and Roger Manning, cadets at the Space
Academy as they train to become members of the elite Solar Guard.
The action takes place at the Academy in classrooms and bunkrooms,
aboard their training ship the rocket cruiser Polaris, and on alien
worlds, both within our solar system and in orbit around nearby

However, thanks to the wondrous Grand Comics Database, I can tell
you quite about Tom Corbett, Space Cadet #378.  The cover painting
is by Alden McWilliams. Who also illustrated the 32-page interior
comics story written by Paul S. Newman.  The GCD even has a brief
synopsis of the story:

In the year 2351, Captain Strong and three Space Cadets, Tom
Corbett, Astro, and Roger Manning, are sent on a training mission
to Titan, Saturn's largest moon. The quartet must convince the
inhabitants of Titan that they aren't spies from Earth, planning to
take the radioactive ore that provides life-sustaining heat to
their cities.

“Space Academy: The University of the Planets!” runs on the inside
front cover of the comic book.  Drawn by McWilliams, it describes
the Space Academy.

The inside back cover is a photo of Mars with a brief description
of the planet’s climate.  The photo came from the American Museum
of Natural History in New York.

The back cover features a full-page drawing of a “rocket blasting
off from crater-marked moon, with Saturn in the background.”  The
artist is McWilliams.

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


There’s some “me” stuff to catch up on today, but I’ll be back to
reviews by Thursday.  First up...Free Comic Book Day.

I’ll be appearing at Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop on that most
stellar of holidays.  Their store is located at Kamm’s Plaza, 17462
Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.  That’s Saturday, May 4, and I’ll
be signing from 3-5 pm.  John says the first 100 people who show up
for my signing get a free copy of Essential Marvel Horror Volume 2,
which reprints a number of my 1970s stories.  It’s a generous offer
and I hope my area readers take advantage of it.


Garage Sales A Go-Go

My legendary garage sales are almost upon us.  As usual, I’ll have
lots of comic books priced at a quarter each or five for a dollar.
I’ll have comic books suitable for all ages at the same low prices,
along with magazines and regular paperbacks.  I’ll have the usual
$2 trade paperbacks and $5 hardcovers.  In addition...

I’ll be selling copies of my 1000 Comic Books You Must Read for a
mere $20.  I’ll be selling rare Superman posters at $20 each.  I’ll
have a selection of Isabella-written comic books, books and stuff
at around the going rate for such items.  But, wait...there’s more!

Depending on how much I can fit into the garage, I’ll have DVDs and
VCR tapes for sale.  I’ll have comics-oriented shirts and jackets,
some of them limited editions.  I’ll have a selection of toys and
stuffed animals and Beanie Babies.  But, wait, there’s still more.

For the first time, I’ll have a selection of higher-priced comics
and books.  While they won’t be at the bargain prices of the other
comics and books, they’ll be priced substantially below their going
rates.  I expect most of these to go fast.

My first garage sales of the year are scheduled for...

Thursday, May 9 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, May 10 (9 am to 2 pm)

Normally, the garage sales are held on Fridays and Saturdays, but
one of my nephews is getting married that weekend.  If the Thursday
sale proves successful, I might had some Thursdays to the regular
Friday and Saturday mix.

My garage sales are held at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio.  There
is some parking on Bradley Court, which is where my driveway is and
some parking on Damon Drive across from my home.  However, you must
read and obey the parking signs and not block any mailboxes.  I’m
not responsible if you get ticketed.

I started setting up the garage on Friday and I’m already getting
excited.  I hope to see many of my bloggy thing readers there...as
well as comics fans from all over the area and the regulars coming
up from as far south as Columbus. Hoo-hah!


My next convention appearance will be at the East Coast Black Age
of Comics Convention
(ECBACC) on Saturday, May 18, from 11 am to 7
pm at the Enterprise Center, 4548 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA.
The activities include a comic book marketplace filled with amazing
new works by cartoonists and other creative types, a kids corner,
panel discussions and workshops.  The guest list includes Jonathan
Gayles, Eric Battle, Jerry Craft, Chris Cross, William Foster III,
N Steven Harris, Joe Illidge, Alex Simmons and more.  I’ll have a
bit more to say about this great event in the very near future, but
for now, I urge you to check out the East Coast Black Age of Comics
Convention (ECBACC) page on Facebook.


Going forward, these bloggy things of mine are going to break down
something like this.  Three days out of the week, you’re going to
get comics.  Wednesdays are for the Rawhide Kid and that’s extra!
Three days are going to be other things: movie reviews, blasts from
my past (which may be about comics) and social and political stuff.
I’m not going to be religious about this, but that’s the plan for
the time being.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Going through my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I found a file folder
marked EARLY SCRIPTS.  Inside the folder were complete scripts and
script fragments from the late 1960s.  I’d written most of these in
the two-column format I learned from Stan Lee’s Secrets Behind the
.  We conclude the exploration...

My file folder yielded six pages of the first chapter of “The House
on Satan’s Hill.” Translated into the format I use today, here’s
the first page of the script:


Panel 1. A full-page splash panel.  It shows an ancient mansion,
quite large, seen through a clump of withered trees.  It is night,
but a full moon illuminates the scene.  Several bats are flying
through the panel.

CAPTION (ON A LARGE BAT-WING): A new adventure told in the grand
old cliffhanging tradition!

CAPTION (ON RIGHT OF PATH): This is the story of a family’s revenge
against the town it hated.  This is a story of an unholy scientific
secret and of lives tainted by the touch of the devil!

Of all the unfinished scripts in the folder, this is the one I am
most tempted to revisit and complete.  The following pages tell how
“In the early 17th Century, the Allen family was almost slaughtered
by the God-fearing people of Maine.”

This script was likely written in late 1970 or so.  I was as lapsed
a Catholic as I could be while still living with my parents.  I had
a brief flirtation with evangelicals before realize they were even
crazier than the Catholics.  The key is this caption:

It seemed that Mr. Allen had disagreed with a theological view of
the town minister.  The jealous old fool immediately branded him an
agent of Satan.  In a time when those thought to be witches were
murdered, the Allens seemed doomed.

In later years, I would temporarily embrace born-again Christianity
as my faith, but then logic and reason swayed me back to my current
non-aligned path.  However, I retained a fascination with the more
mythological aspects of religion and would often use them in comics
I wrote for Marvel and other publishers.

The following script pages describe various atrocities committed on
the Allen family by their neighbors and all introduces a motorcycle
gang.  I might have been going for a 1950s vibe with this caption:

But a new fear has crept into the hearts of the townspeople. A
motorcycle gang.  The youngsters break no laws, yet the townspeople
call them bad because they never rode cycles when they were young.
Because these young people have different ideas than them.

We get a scene where one of the two surviving Allen family members
is abused by townspeople, followed by the demise by explosive ray
of said tormentors.  The leader of the motorcycle gang thinks the
ray came from a mysterious red dirigible he spotted over the town.
He decides to follow it as the fragment ends.

I remember a few things about this script.  The motorcycle-riding
hero was inspired by Steve McQueen in The Blob.  The other living
Allen family member was a beautiful young woman.  Her brother might
have been the power behind the scarlet dirigible, but I might have
had some other twist in mind.

This script might have been intended for a fanzine - I was writing
scripts for Carl Gafford’s Minotaur - or it may have been a pitch
for The Unexpected, which was being edited by Murray Boltinoff at
DC and which had moved away from the science-fiction adventures of
Space Ranger.  Your guess it as good as mine.


The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves was a Charlton “horror” anthology
whose stories were hosted by the title character.  There were four
pages of a script entitled “The Tournament” in my folder, probably
written in late 1969 or early 1970. Graves had taken an active role
in several stories, battling evil ala Marvel’s Doctor Strange.  I
don’t know where I was going with this script.  It reads like I was
just making it up as I wrote with no clear idea what it was about
and how it would conclude.  No wonder I never finished it.


The folder had three different drafts of the first page of a story
called “A Woman’s Way” and then two additional pages.  What there
is of the story shows an attractive young woman walking through an
alley and finding a brutally beaten young man.  I don’t know where
I was going with this, but I sort of like the captions and brief
bit of dialogue leading into the title...

CAPTION: Her name is Annie...those who live in this neighborhood
call her Annie of the Alleys and laugh.

CAPTION: But she says the alleys are free from the evils that run
the streets and she prefers an occasional drunk to the ever-present

CAPTION: But the evil of the streets has crossed into her domain
this day!

CAPTION: The sight of the crime leaves her mouth too dry to scream,
but as the tears well up, the young woman gasps out a single

ANNIE: God help us!

I might have been going for an Eisner-esque style of storytelling
as I was an avid reader of “The Spirit” whenever I found stories of
that legendary character.  However, as I read these script pages,
what truly knocked me for a loop was the credits caption following
the title of the story...

CAPTION: Something about a young woman and a defeated man and a
little more by

Tony Isabella—-Writer

Dave Cockrum–-Illustrator

Shut the front door! Dave and I were fanzine friends.  I wrote for
many Marvel-oriented fanzines and he drew illustrations for them.
I know we had exchanged letters about working together, but I did
not realize I had ever started a story for him.

The VAOS is full of surprises!


In 1970, I abandoned the two-column format for the method I’ve used
for full scripts since.  The penultimate item in my EARLY SCRIPTS
file folder was the complete script for “The Quiet Type,” which was
drawn and published in Minotaur.  I’m not 100% who drew this story
because my Minotaur issues have yet to be discovered as I excavate
the VAOS.  The script says it was intended for Gerry Mooney, but I
sort of kind of remember it was actually drawn by Carl Gafford and
almost certainly drawn on ditto masters.  This was an ancient form
of comics fan communication not unlike the paintings on the walls
of prehistoric dwellings.  Beyond telling you I wrote this script
as a tribute to the creators of DC’s Bat Lash and as a “thank you”
to the exceedingly kind Sergio Aragones who I met in the aftermath
of the 1970 New York Comic Convention, I don’t want to say too much
about this one.  I’m still hoping the fanzine in which it appeared
turns up and I find a way to reproduce it darkly enough that I can
actually run it in this bloggy thing of mine.


The final item in the folder was two pages of “Once Upon a Spring
Day,” a short story featuring Avengers butler Jarvis wooing a lady
friend with a tall tale of his adventures with the team.  I could
tell you about them, but, what the heck, why don’t I scan and share
them with you?

Nothing’s too good for my bloggy thing readers.

Hope you enjoyed this four-day excursion into my “training years.”
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Going through my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I found a file folder
marked EARLY SCRIPTS.  Inside the folder were complete scripts and
script fragments from the late 1960s.  I’d written most of these in
the two-column format I learned from Stan Lee’s Secrets Behind the
.  We continue the exploration...

In yesterday’s bloggy thing, you got four pages of the unfinished
“Dial H for Hero” script I wrote in 1968.  Today, you get the three
pages I wrote of a “Hunter’s Hellcats” script.  I wrote these pages
in 1968 or 1969.  However, before I get to these pages, I need to
give you some background.

Our Fighting Forces was a family-oriented war comic for over four
years in the 1960s.  It starred the brother of a famous DC Comics
character, then twin brothers fighting in Vietnam and, finally, the
father of those twin brothers. 

The long-running “Gunner and Sarge” series came to a close in Our
Fighting Forces
#94 [August 1965]. The next issue introduced “The
Fighting Devil-Dog,” cover-blurbed as “the great Sgt. Rock’s Marine
brother.”  Created by writer/editor Robert Kanigher with art by Irv
Novick, Lt. Larry Rock held the cover spot for a mere four issues
before being replaced by another new feature.

“The Hunter” made his debut in Our Fighting Forces #99 [April 1966]
in a Kanigher/Novick story set in Vietnam...“The savage war that’s
riddling all the rules!”

Phil and Nick Hunter were the twin sons of U.S. Army vet Ben Hunter
and followed their father into the military.  The twins shared an
almost telepathic connection.  Phil became a Green Beret but left
the military after several tours of duty. Brother Nick joined the
Air Force and was shipped to Vietnam.

When Phil learned Nick had been captured by the Viet Cong and also
started to have nightmares of his brother’s captivity and enhanced
interrogation, he reenlisted and went into the jungles of Viet Nam
to find and rescue his brother.  He succeeded.

The “Capt. Hunter” feature ran through issue #106 with Howard Liss
writing most of his adventures, including the finale, and Jack Abel
drawing several of them.  “Trial by Fury” (14 pages) was the finale
and led into Our Fighting Forces’ next cover feature, “Lt. Hunter’s
Hellcats.”  This new series was set in World War II and starred the
then-Lieutenant Ben Hunter.

“Hunter’s Hellcats” was possibly inspired by E. M. Nathanson’s 1965
novel The Dirty Dozen, which was adapted into the blockbuster 1967
film of the same name. Since the movie didn’t premiere until mid-
June of that year, DC was already up and running with the concept.
In this DC series, Ben Hunter was a former homicide detective who
recruited his squad of from military stockades with each of his men
having been criminals in their civilian lives.

Legendary editor and writer Robert Kanigher was in command of Our
Fighting Forces
when the Hellcats debuted in a story by Howard Liss
with artist Jack Abel.  Liss and Abel would do seven more stories
during the feature’s two-and-a-half=year run.

When Joe Kubert became the editor of DC’s war comics, Kanigher took
over the writing of “Hunter’s Hellcats.” Russ Heath drew one story,
Frank Thorne drew three and Art Saaf did the final five.  My best
guess is I wrote my three script pages in late 1969, either just
before or after the series end in issue #122 [November-December,
1969].  I’m presenting them in the two-column format I was using at
the time.  Here they are...

As with yesterday’s “Dial H for Hero” script, any professional or
hopeful comic-book artist who’s wanted to draw a Tony Isabella
script has my permission to just that.  Draw them and do with them
as you please, though it would be polite to give me a look at them
and provide a link to wherever you post them online.

I’ll wrap up my exploration of my EARLY SCRIPTS file folder on the
morrow.  See you then.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Friday, April 26, 2013


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Going through my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I found a file folder
marked EARLY SCRIPTS.  Inside the folder were complete scripts and
script fragments from the late 1960s.  I’d written most of these in
the two-column format I learned from Stan Lee’s Secrets Behind the
.  We continue the exploration...

I was a fan of the “Dial H for Hero” feature that ran in House of
, especially when it was drawn by Jim Mooney.  I was not at
all pleased when “Dial H” ended and HoM reverted to a mystery-
slash-horror anthology.  The first issue of the new/old format was
all reprint.  Which made me think it wasn’t too late to bring back
“Dial H for Hero” and increase its popularity by connecting it to
DC’s other super-hero titles.  In the spring of 1968, I wrote four
pages of “The Origin of the Hero Dial.”

For clarity, here are those four pages “translated” into the format
I use for scripts today...


Panel 1. Full-page splash showing the shadows of the Guardians of
the Universe sitting watching a projection of Giantboy battling the
Thunderbolt Machine.

ONE OF THE GUARDIANS: We are all agreed then, brothers! Because of
his outstanding achievements and the grave peril threatening Earth,
the time has come to reveal to young Robert Reed...


CAPTION: Story by Tony Isabella / Art by Jim Mooney


Panel 1. Scene shows Robby and Suzy sitting in jeep as Robby drives
through woods.

CAPTION: Our tale opens as Robby and Suzy are driving through
Littleville Woods on a history project.

ROBBY: Gramps was glad to let me borrow the jeep when I told him I
needed it to come here and search for arrowheads for our history
teacher, Mr. Coombes.

Panel 2. Scene shows Robby and Suzy stepping out of jeep. Robby is
holding picnic basket.

SUZY: Let’s stop here for lunch, Robby!

ROBBY: Okay, Suzy! I can’t wait to see what Miss Milly packed for

Panel 3. Scene shows Suzy and Robby sitting at picnic lunch with
cloth spread out over ground under huge tree. Policeman is walking
toward them.

ROBBY: Hi, Officer Bailey! Care for some roast chicken?

OFFICER: No thanks, Robby! I’ve got to relieve Tom behind the
station desk!

SUZY: Remember to be on time for our school party! You and Officer
Smith are the guests of honor!

OFFICER: Tom and I will be there! Probably before any of you kids!

Panel 4. Scene shows Suzy and Robby looking up in horror.

CAPTION: After Officer Bailey has left...

SUZY: Robby, look! That fiery thing is coming at us! We’ll never
get away!

Panel 5. Scene shows fiery meteor hitting woods as the woods go up
in flames and smoke.


Panel 1. Scene shows two Guardians standing over two glass cases
which contain Robby and Suzy, both of who are unconscious.

CAPTION: Minutes later, far off in a distant galaxy...

FIRST GUARDIAN: Are they completely healed?

SECOND GUARDIAN: Yes! We should be thankful that they were exposed
only for seconds to that terrible fireball.

Panel 2. Scene shows the two Guardians standing and talking.

FIRST GUARDIAN: And the other earthling...the police officer?

SECOND GUARDIAN: We were too late for him! It is sad! But there
will be enough time for sorrow later!

Panel 3. Scene shows Robby and Suzy getting up from glass cases.
Guardian is standing nearby.

GUARDIAN: Arise, Robby Reed and Susan Johnson! You are needed to
save your earth, nay, your universe!

Panel 4. Scene shows Robby and Suzy standing and talking to the

ROBBY: What’s this all about? Who are you?

GUARDIAN: Your questions shall be answered! I am one of the
Guardians who gave the power ring to Green Lantern and many like
him throughout the universe!

Panel 5. Scene shows prehistoric cavemen fighting with stone axes.

CAPTION: “Many eons ago, evil spread through the universe because
of the forbidden act of the most evil creature alive, Krona!*

NOTE: *See Green Lantern #40, October, 1965.

Panel 6. Scene shows Krona imprisoned in energy sphere.  Sphere is
traveling through space.

CAPTION: “We thought we were rid of him when we imprisoned him in
an energy sphere and hurled him into endless space!”


Panel 1. Scene shows Guardian talking to Robby and Suzy.

GUARDIAN: We decided to combat the evil one of our race had
created! The power rings were our second attempt!  Your mystic dial
was the first! Because it was so unpredictable, we rocketed it into

SUZY: Robby, what’s all this about a mystic dial? What’s going on?

Panel 2. Scene shows Guardian’s hand passing over Suzy’s head.
Both are glowing.

GUARDIAN: There is no need to explain! At my will, let your mind be

SUZY: Now I remember how I once was a super-heroine and assisted

NOTE: *See House of Mystery #169, September 1967.

Panel 3. Scene shows Krona fighting Green Lantern.

CAPTION: “But Krona returned and almost destroyed the universe once

Panel 4. Scene shows Guardian talking to Robby and Suzy.

GUARDIAN: Now he has returned to work his evil! In some
mysterious manner, he has caused all power rings and batteries
to cease functioning!

Panel 5. Scene shows huge head of Krona.  Guardian, Robby and Suzy
stand thunderstruck.

CAPTION: Suddenly, appearing as if by magic...

KRONA: The manner is not so mysterious! Allow me to explain!

GUARDIAN: By the creator of all things! Krona has invaded the
domain of the Guardians!

Panel 6. Scene shows huge head of Krona speaking.

KRONA: Just a mental image, my friend! As for your Green Lanterns,
a cosmic storm increased my mental powers for a brief time.  In
that time, I regained my human form and prevented you from stopping
me! Prepare for doom! It is now inevitable!


Take a breath, Tony!

I think you can understand why I’m sometimes hesitant to read my
old scripts.  I think I pulled an eye muscle wincing at my starting
every panel description with “scene shows.”  Not to mention at some
of the less-than-glowing captions and dialogue.  That said...

Bringing Robby into the DC Universe proper was a good idea as was
restoring Suzy’s memory so that he could have someone with whom he
could talk, have a super-powered partner and, most importantly, let
Jim Mooney draw a cute girl every issue.  I think I established the
menace effectively and quickly.  The death of the policeman added
a very serious note to the story and I was a very serious teenager
back then.

A major wincing came when the Guardian revealed the hero-dial had
just been flung into space willy-nilly.  On the other hand, it is
fairly consistent with the decision-making skills of the Guardians
over the years. Arrogant blue dummies, they are.

I have no memory of where the story would have gone from these four
pages.  I suspect I would have gone into more detail re: the origin
of the Hero-Dial, being as how that was the title of the adventure.
I’m sure Robby and Suzy would have become various super-heroes to
fight Krona.  It just now occurred to be that they could turn into
Green Lanterns at the end of the story to defeat Krona as the rings
they wore would be powered by the Hero-Dial.

Frequent wincing aside, I enjoyed revisiting this ancient script of
mine.  I might well take another swing at this kind of storytelling
in the future.  In the meantime...

If you’re a professional or hopeful comic-book artist who’s wanted
to draw a Tony Isabella script, here are four pages of script you
can use to get that out of your system.  You don’t need to ask my
permission.  Just draw them and do with them as you please, though
it only be polite to give me a look at them and provide a link to
wherever you post them online.

I hope you’re having as good a time going through my EARLY SCRIPTS
file as I am.  There will be at least two more installments of the
exploration coming your way this weekend.

See you tomorrow.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Thursday, April 25, 2013


If I had realized growing up that I would someday be fascinated by
my own history, I would have taken better notes.  If I had realized
so many of my beloved readers would also appear to be fascinated by
my history, I might have burned those notes.

My Vast Accumulation of Stuff has yielded boxes of file folders I
hadn’t seen in decades.  As I recently posted, one of these folders
was marked EARLY SCRIPTS and contained a number of script fragments
and completed scripts done in the two-column format I learned from
Stan Lee’s Secrets Behind the Comics.

I had long recalled, erroneously as it turns out, that I purchased
my now well-read copy of Secrets Behind the Comics at one of Phil
Seuling’s New York Comics Conventions in 1971 or 1972.  The scripts
in this newly uncovered file folder put the lie to that.  Some of
them were written while I was still in high school, which means I
owned Stan’s book earlier than I had previous realized.  Which, in
turn, means that I got it at either the 1966 World Science Fiction
Convention in Cleveland or the Detroit Triple Fan Fare I attended
in 1968. I’m leaning towards the former.

What pegs the earliest of these scripts to my high school years is
that three of the completed ones were written for characters that
my friends Terry Fairbanks and Mike Hudak and I had created for our
limited-edition Marvel Madhouse comic book.  When I say “limited,”
I mean “really limited,” as in we sent our originals to the actual
Marvel Bullpen every other month.  Marvel would then return them to
us with a friendly note thanking us for our mania.  The one note I
have found in the VAOS so far was written by Fabulous Flo Steinberg
“for Stan Lee.”

Light Wave was my creation.  He was a Russian cosmonaut who got his
powers on a failed space mission and defected to the United States.
A caption on the second page of the 20-page script reads:

The closed doors of the Kremlin hold many secrets. Let’s look in on
one of them.

The first-page credits indicate the story was to be drawn by Gary
Lunder, who, like me, was a student at St. Edward High School.  I
think Gary drew some pages and I may have them somewhere, but they
haven’t turned up yet.  We lost touch after high school and briefly
reconnected several years back.  Gary passed away from cancer, but
I was able to get him to a Mid-Ohio-Con and introduce him to Herb
Trimpe, his favorite Marvel artist.

The Gladiator was created by Terry Fairbanks.  The splash page of
my 20-page script describes the character as “America’s unofficial
agent, dedicated to preserving the American way of life.”
He was a
Kirby-esque hero without any super-powers per se.

Vibra was created by Mike Hudak as “Sound Wave,” but I changed the
name and some other aspects of the character for the script.  This
hero got his super-powers when he was locked in an experimental
sound booth by spies from Red China.  I was quite the cold warrior
in my youth.  The credits on this 20-page script read:

Whimsically written by Tiptop Tony Isabella
Dextrously drawn by Slick Mick Hudak

I think you can understand why I haven’t worked up the courage to
read more than a page or two of these scripts.

The commie-bashing continued in the 11-page Newsboy Legion script
I wrote.  The title caption:

Taking advantage of the evils of the Suicide Slum environment, the
Red Truth-Bender tries to turn Suicide Slum into a communist
satellite.  But he failed to take into account the intense loyalty
of four boys and a man who, with all the skill and courage at their
command battle to stop “The Red Truth-Bender of Suicide Slum!”

Oddly enough, despite it featuring DC Comics characters, this story
was supposed to appear in an issue of Marvel Madhouse.  Thanks to
an older collector who was constantly selling low-grade comics to
supplement his disability checks, I actually owned a few issues of
Star Spangled Comics from the 1940s while in high school and before
DC reprinted any Newsboy Legion stories in Jimmy Olsen.

Another completed script in this folder is a 22-page Challengers of
the Unknown/Phantom Stranger tale titled “The Stranger Who Walks
the Night.” The story involves the Challs trying to recover papers
that could jeopardize the Czechoslovakian revolt against the Soviet
Union in the late 1960s.  The only “unknown” element of the story
is the Stranger.  On the other hand, there is a scene in which Red
Ryan reveals some sordid details of his past and that he is or was
a Roman Catholic.

I can accurately date when I wrote this story - March or April of
1969 - because I submitted the script to Challengers editor Murray
Boltinoff and he responded in a letter dated April 28, 1969.  He’d
only read a few pages of the script before he got sidetracked and,
while he was encouraging, he stressed that he always discussed any
scripts with writers before they wrote them, that DC usually only
worked with writers who had proven themselves and that DC did not
solicit material from outside sources.  I didn’t make a sale then,
but Murray was always terrific about answering my questions about
the comics business.

There was one more completed script in the folder and that one was
actually published.  We’ll talk about it and the script fragments
in tomorrow’s bloggy thing.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Because I'm still unable to get into the Fortress of Storage, I have to again make a change to my previously-announced garage sale schedule. 

The Friday, May 3 garage sale has been canceled

I'm adding a Thursday, May 9 garage sale to the schedule. 

Here's the revised schedule:

Thursday, May 9 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, May 10 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, May 24 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, May 25 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, June 7 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, June 8 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, June 21 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, June 22 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, July 5 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, July 6 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, July 12 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, July 13 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, August 9 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, August 10 (9 am to 2 pm)

TENTATIVE Friday, August 23 (9 am to 2 pm)

TENTATIVE Saturday, August 24 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, September 6 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, September 7 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, September 27 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, September 28 (9 am to 2 pm)

These garage sales are held in my garage at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, OH.  They feature incredibly cheap comic books, trade paperbacks, hardcovers and more. 

Hopefully, the Fortress of Storage door will be fixed in the next few days and I can move forward with preparing for the garage sales.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 22, 2013


A quick note.  I’ll be mentioning this a few more times between
now and Free Comic Book Day, but I will be appearing at Carol and
John’s Comic Book Shop on that most stellar of holidays.  The shop
is located at Kamm’s Plaza, 17462 Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.
That’s Saturday, May 4, and I’ll be signing from 3-6 pm.  John says
the first 100 people who show up for my appearance will get a free
copy of Essential Marvel Horror Volume 2, which reprints a number
of my 1970s stories.  What a swell deal!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


OMG! I just came across a thick file folder marked EARLY SCRIPTS and there are wonders inside it. A complete Challengers of the Unknown script featuring the Phantom Stranger. A complete Newsboy Legion script featuring "The Red Truth-Bender of Suicide Slum!" The first chapter of what looks like an attempt to do an old-time movie serial in comics form. Scripts for the super-heroes I created in elementary and high schools. And some script fragments - Dial H for Hero? - that I haven't figured out yet. Almost all in the two-column format I used on the Huntress script I ran in my blog. What a kick!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


The Tony Isabella Message Board is still down and I have not the slightest clue when it is coming back or if it actually is coming back.  In the meantime...

Jim Guida has set up The Temporary Fully Approved Tony Isabella Message Board page on Facebook.

A special guest forum has also been set up for our testing.

Please let me know what you think about these efforts.

Tony Isabella

Friday, April 19, 2013


The garage sale scheduled for Friday, April 26 (9 am to 2 pm) and Saturday, April 27 (9 am to 2 pm) has been cancelled.  Because of an assortment of unfortunate occurrences, including a problem with the door to my Fortress of Storage, I had to cancel my first planned garage sale of the year.

The rest of the schedule is still intact, though there may be a date change for one of the August garage sales.

Look for an updated list soon.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013


The bad news...I need to take a few more days off from the bloggy thing because I'm just writing too slow to maintain the daily schedule and do some other work I have to do.  If my stupid hurting hand will cooperate, I should be back by Monday.


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

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 more issues of the title.  Because that’s
what the Kid would have done.

Larry Lieber’s cover for The Rawhide Kid #54 [October 1966] has a
dramatic shot of the kid and all sorts of action going on in both
the background and the foreground.  Not counting the Kid, I spotted
a dozen figures shooting at Johnny Clay, running from the gunplay
or sprawled on the ground.  Not to mention the flames coming from
guns, bullets striking the ground and gun smoke drifting across the
background.  Now that’s a western comic cover!

“The Last Showdown” (17 pages) credits Lieber for “script and art”
with inking by Vince Colletta.  Stan Lee is the editor, Artie Simek
is the letterer and yours truly is the reader enjoying this action-
packed with a dash of romance tale.

The story opens with Rawhide washing off trail dust at a stagecoach
station.  A stagecoach arrives, a lovely young woman disembarks to
stretch her legs and two oafs hit on her.  When the jerks continue
to harass her, the Kid commences to beating on them for two pages.
Linda Barlett, the young woman, is ever so grateful.  Johnny is all
happy to be of service and mysterious.

Linda: I’m Linda Bartlett! Are you a cowboy, Johnny?

Johnny: No! Just a drifter!

Linda: How forlorn-sounding! Where do you drift?

Johnny: Away from trouble, when I can!

Linda gets on the stage and expresses her hope their trails cross
again.  And, of course, they will.

Miles away, the plot thickens as Monk Dawson is released from jail
after several years.  He’s determined to get revenge on the lawman
who put him behind bars, which, naturally, is Ben Barlett, sheriff
of Serenity Falls and the uncle of the lovely Linda.  Uncle Ben is
due to retire at the end of the month, having grown old in service
to the citizens of his town.

A quick digression.  Coincidence plays a large role in this story
and, indeed, in many if not most stories of the era.  Yet because
of the storytelling skill of Lieber and other practitioners of the
comics craft, it never bothered me as a young reader.  Though I may
be more aware of the coincidences now, they still don’t bother me.
I’m just enjoying the story.  End of digression.

While the effervescent Linda tells Uncle Ben about the wonderful
young man who rescued her from the bullies and the sheriff finds it
unusual that he’s never heard of this Johnny Clay, the Rawhide Kid
is feeling “the stirrings of his heart.”

Risky though it might be for a wanted man, Johnny wants to see Linda.
He moseys into town, keeping a low profile.  He spots Linda at her
hotel and she introduces him to her uncle who recognizes Johnny as
the infamous Rawhide Kid.

Johnny tries to make a clean getaway, but he can’t fight an entire
town without hurting some innocent citizen.  Sheriff Barlett takes
him into custody.  The lawman barely has the Kid in a cell when he
learns Monk Dawson is heading to town.

Linda and the townspeople all think the sheriff should get himself
out of town.  But Uncle Ben can’t shirk his great responsibility as
sheriff.  If he did that, if he dumped his problem onto the lawman
who replaces him, he’d be worst off than if he were dead.

“Yuh see, honey...a man can get by without most anything except the
very quality that makes him a man...his honor!”

The Kid offers to back Sheriff Ben’s play, but the lawman will not
trust someone he considers a ruthless outlaw.  As Monk Dawson and
his gang rob the bank, Barlett goes out to face them alone.  He’s
outnumbered and surely doomed.

Linda is torn.  Johnny rescued her at the stagecoach station, but
he’s a criminal.  How can she trust him?  But, given the odds her
uncle is facing, how can she not?

Sheriff Barlett is astonished to see the Rawhide Kid is as good as
his word.  Just hearing the Kid’s name puts the fear into Dawson’s
men.  We get four pages of gunplay and fisticuffs, including a bit
of karate Johnny picks up from Captain Cragg, an outlaw he fought
in two previous stories.

The victorious Kid asks the sheriff if there is unfinished business
between them.  Barlett doesn’t think so.  Rawhide could’ve escaped
when he was set free, but he didn’t.  He saved the lawman’s life.
Johnny has earned a break.  Even so, he shouldn’t hang around the
town in case Barlett changes his mind.

Lieber goes for a sad romantic ending.

Linda: Where will you go, Johnny? What will become of you?

Johnny: I don’t know! Maybe it doesn’t much matter what happens to
a fugitive!

Linda kisses him tenderly.

Linda: It matters, Johnny...from this day on, it matters...

Chicks dig bad boys.  Even when they’re not really bad.

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page follows the Rawhide Kid story.
The page led with the announcement of the Marvel Super-Hero Show
featuring adventures of Captain America, Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, the
Hulk and Thor...cobbled together from actual comic-book art.  That
was followed by a second announcement of the many Marvel products -
paperback books, record albums, costumes and more - that would be
available in stores.

The page continues with plugs for the Thor Special and the Marvel
Super-Heroes Special, for subscriptions to Marvel titles and for an
upcoming issue of Fantasy Masterpieces with a cover penciled and
inked by Jack Kirby.  Further down is Stan’s thank you to Princeton
University for the warm welcome he received when he spoke there, a
cute item about new Marvel writer Denny O’Neil being upset because
he hasn’t been mentioned in the Bullpen Bulletin, and the result of
a “poll” on whether or not Marvel should continue to take potshots
at its competitors.  The voters split 50/50 on the important issue.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” completed the page.  Fantastic Four
featured the Silver Surfer and the Thing having at it.  Spider-Man
battled the Rhino for the first time.  Sgt. Fury presented the tale
of how Sgt. Fury, Dum-Dum Dugan and Captain Sawyer met.  The afore-
plugged Marvel Super-Heroes King-Size Special reprinted the origin
of Daredevil, the Avengers’ first encounter with the Space Phantom
and a 20-year-old battle between the Sub-Mariner and the original
Human Torch.  When I read the story in 1966, it seemed so ancient
to me.  Today, I marvel at my having worked in the comics industry
for over 40 years.  Time flies.

For the first time in several issues, the non-series story is not
a reprint.  “The Passenger” (5 pages) has quite the pedigree.  It’s
penciled by Don Heck, inked by Bill Everett and written by a young
Denny O’Neil.  It’s one of those weird “alternate history” stories
of which Stan Lee was so fond.

Legendary river man Mike Fink is annoyed by a “dude newsman” who’s
taken passage on his flatboat.  He taunts and bullies the newsman,
who looks exactly like Gene Barry in the Bat Masterson TV series of
the era, complete with his signature cane.  When pirates strike,
they steal Fink’s cargo, seize the dude and leave Fink and his crew
tied to a barrel of TNT with a lit fuse.

The dude gets hold of a gun, outshoots the entire gang of pirates
and shoots out the fuse of the TNT.  After the outlaws are jailed,
a grateful Fink hands the dude’s fancy cane back to him.

Fink: Say, if’n you don’t mind me askin’...where’d a fancy-pants
news hawk like you learn to do that kinda shootin’?   

Dude: Before I got into the newspaper business, I used to be a
sheriff in Kansas!

Dude: You may have heard my name!  It’s Bat...Bat Masterson!

Fink: Wal, I’ll be...

Here’s the problem with this story as summed up by an indexer note
on the Grand Comics Database:

Major anachronism: features both legendary Ohio River keelboater
Mike Fink (ca.1770-1823) and western lawman W. B. "Bat" Masterson

Mike Fink died thirty years before Bat Masterson was born.  Despite
that goof, this is an amusing little tale.

A house ad follows.  The top half of the ad page promotes Kid Colt
#130 [September 1966], a “Super Special All Request Issue.”
The next two issues of the title will also be 68 pages, but with a
new story in each of them.  Those two new stories will be the last
Kid Colt stories drawn by Jack Keller.

The thin middle section of the ad page lists 26 more members of the
Merry Marvel Marching Society.

The bottom section is an ad for the double-sided Thing sweat shirt
drawn and signed by Jack Kirby.  It sells for $3.15 plus 25 cents
for postage and handling.  According to the ad, this is “positively
the last time you will feast your eyes on this breathtaking display
of the result of Marvel’s sneaky venture into the garment business
because we won’t be advertising it anymore!”

That piques my interest.  I’d love to learn about the ins and outs
of these Marvel t-shirts and sweat shirts.  Were they successful at
all? Did sales start strong and fizzle out? Beyond supplying art,
were any of our Bullpen buddies involved in the venture? Any info
would be appreciated.

Topped by a ad for the Merry Marvel Marching Society, the “Ridin’
the Trail with Rawhide” letters column has four letters.  Three of
them are against the notion of the Kid being a lawman. The fourth
wants to see Rawhide, Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid teaming up in an
ongoing title and also wants to see Rawhide on TV.  That gives the
uncredited letter-answerer a chance to plug the Marvel Super-Hero
show mentioned in the Bullpen Bulletins.

That’s all for now, my amigos.  Happy trails to you until our next
exciting edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow
with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Does anyone know how to credit a Wikipedia entry? In the entry for Theodore Sturgeon's "It!", there's this paragraph:

"Marvel also published an adaptation of the original story in Supernatural Thrillers #1.[2] Tony Isabella wished to write an ongoing series featuring Sturgeon's creature, but was denied because of the similarity to Man-Thing, reusing the name and logo for It! The Living Colossus since writing duties on Man-Thing were not available."

That's not correct. When Supernatural Thrillers #1 sold very well, someone high up at Marvel wanted an "It!" comic book. When Roy Thomas and I discussed this, we decided that we couldn't do a continuation of the Sturgeon story because we were already publishing Man-Thing as an ongoing series. That's when I suggested we look at the sales of our monster reprint titles and how we discovered that the two issues that reprinted the Colossus stories by Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby had sold better than other issues of those titles. I started developing what became It! The Living Colossus!

I never wanted to write Sturgeon's "It!" Nor did I seek the Man-Thing assignment which was quite wonderfully being written by Steve Gerber, though I did write a Man-Thing story for an issue of Monsters Unleashed.


For just under two months, I’ve been suffering an ailment called
“trigger finger.”  This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Trigger finger, trigger thumb or trigger digit is a common disorder
characterized by catching, snapping or locking of the involved
finger flexor tendon, associated with dysfunction and pain. A
disparity in size between the flexor tendon and the surrounding
retinacular pulley system, most commonly at the level of the first
annular (A1) pulley, results in difficulty flexing or extending the
finger and the “triggering” phenomenon. The label of trigger finger
is used because when the finger unlocks, it pops back suddenly, as
if releasing a trigger on a gun.

I’m experiencing this in my right pinky finger, which turns out to
be far more painful than I could have imagined.  One of the reasons
this bloggy thing of mine went on hiatus was because I could only
write so many hours a day before the pain would become too intense
for me to continue.  I had to put my paying gigs first, which meant
the bloggy thing had to put aside.

Since I couldn’t manage much after I finished writing each day, I
got in the habit of watching movies on Blu-ray or DVD.  Most came
from my local library system, but I also bought others via Amazon
gift cards kindly sent to me by readers.

Cue the reviews...

Gorgo [1961] may well be the first giant monster movie I ever saw.
To save us from the perils of inappropriate movies, the parochial
school I attended would show movies every Sunday afternoon in its
auditorium.  They showed many fine and wholesome movies, but what
really packed the house was when they showed monster movies.  Much
to my delight, the school started showing a lot of monster movies:
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, The Beast From
20,000 Fathoms
and Gorgo, just to name a few.

Gorgo is the tale of a boy and his mom facing the folly and greed
of man. Curious Gorgo visits a small island run by a harbor master
whose claim of being archaeologist is little more than a cover for
his treasure-salvaging operation.  Two equally avaricious salvage
ship operators want in on that action.  They capture Gorgo and make
arrangements to exhibit the monster in London.  What could possibly
go wrong with a plan like that? 

I love Gorgo.  Yes, the title monster and his even more monstrous
mother move awkwardly through their scenes.  They lack the grace of
Ray Harryhausen’s Beast and the awe of the rampaging Godzilla, but
the movie draws viewers into its story and such complaints are soon
forgotten.  Watching it on Blu-Ray, some of the flaws become more
obvious, but it’s still a terrific film and remains one of my all-
time favorites.

My love for Gorgo encompasses the Charlton comic books that ran for
several years in the 1960s, even the ones not drawn by Steve Ditko.
I even have the novelization of the movie, as well as those written
for Konga and Reptilicus. I’ve not read any of them yet, but there
will come a time in the not-so-distant future when I read and write
about them for your amusement and edification.


Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast [2011] is one of those movies I had
to see, even if I had to pay for it.  The Internet Movie Database
summarizes the movie:

Twelve years ago during a scientific expedition, three animal
biologists stumbled upon a great discovery that ended in tragedy.
Whatever killed them has awoken and now the legend of the Ancient
Snow Beast could prove to be more than just a legend.  

Written and directed by Sam Qualiana, who also stars in the film,
Snow Shark is hilariously bad.  For the most part, all we ever see
of the shark is a fin moving through the snow.  When we finally see
the shark near the end of the movie, it looks like an inflatable.

The cast of characters is impressive.  Every few scenes, a bunch of
them get killed off so that new characters can be introduced.  I’m
wondering if Qualiana sold the roles to raise money for the movie.
I hope he gave a discount to the two actresses who go topless in a
hot tub before getting eaten.  I hope he didn’t give a discount to
the sheriff’s son who gets his junk eaten while taking a piss in a
snowbank.  Because the kid had to know that was coming.

My snarky comments aside - I cut out the one about Qualiana getting
a good price on rubber guts and fake blood - there are two sort of
neat scenes in the movie.  Both come near the end of the film, so
I’m activating the


After the title snow shark is exploded, the two surviving members
of the hunt are heading for town.  That’s when they see a bunch of
fins cutting through the snow.  Yeah, I saw this scene coming, but
it was still effective.

My favorite scene takes place in the town cemetery.  The widow of
one of the first batch of shark hunters is paying her respects at
his grave.  In the distance, you see a shark fin gliding across the
graveyard.  The shark doesn’t attack.  The scene is merely a cool
reminder of the ongoing threat.

I had to pay for Snow Shark.  However, if you come to my first
garage sale (April 26-27) , you can get it for less than my cost. 
It was fun to watch one time, but just the one time.

I have more movie reviews coming your way soon: Alex Cross, Attack
the Block, Darby’s Rangers, Enthitan (Robot)
and The Heroic Trio.
One of those is really bad.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


This week in TONY'S TIPS at the Tales of Wonder blog:

Gorgo! Konga! Reptisaurus!


Monday, April 15, 2013


[The above photo was taken by Hoy Murphy.]

I’m back from hiatus to tell you about my son Eddie’s and my road
trip to Huntington, West Virginia and Tricon, the Tri-State Comic-
.  The event took place on Saturday, April 6, at the Big Sandy
Superstore Arena.  I picked up Eddie at his house in Marietta, Ohio
and, from there, we drove a couple hours to Huntington, the home of
the Marshall University Thundering Herd, and, of course, also the
home of the man who brings the thunder and lightning to everything
he does, comicdom’s own Beau Smith.  Seeing my old pal Beau was one
of many great things about Tricon.

The Big Sandy Superstore Arena is a very cool facility.  It’s big
enough for a good-sized convention or, as on the night before the
convention, a Willie Nelson concert.  Eric Watkins and the rest of
the Tricon promoters and volunteers did a great job of making the
fans and the guests feel welcome.

There were over a dozen comics and media guests at the convention,
dozens of vendors (including several comics publishers), dozens of
cosplayers and a couple thousand attendees.  I got to spend a bit
of quality time with Beau, Billy Tucci and Steve Scott and fandom
buddy Hoy Murphy.  I even managed to make the rounds long enough to
say hi to Duane Swierczynski and express my admiration for his work
on IDW’s ongoing Godzilla series.

I sold and signed several copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read
and signed other Isabella-written items.  Eddie hit the vendor tables and
came away with about a hundred bucks worth of swag, mostly anime-
related.  He also attended and enjoyed the “Writing the Relaunch”
panel with Swierczynski and Robert Venditti.

There were several outstanding cosplayers at the show.  My favorite
was a Dalek suit with all the bells and whistles.  Also represented
were Catwoman, Hawkgirl, Iron Man, Harley Quinn, Batman, Riddler,
Wonder Woman, Sally Jupiter, Deadpool, some darling junior versions
of Supergirl and Robin and, of course, Beau Smith, a man so awesome
he is often mistaken for an action figure.

The wisest thing I said at Tricon was probably what I told a young
writer: “It’s better to be the writer and owner of your own comic
book than the 407th writer on Spider-Man.”

Eddie and I had a great time at Tricon and we hope to return there
next year.  After the show, we fueled up at Five Guys and a Burger
and headed back to Marietta.  With Eddie not feeling like watching
basketball and the Cleveland Indians taking a drubbing, we watched
Airplane!, a fine funny film that can still makes me laugh out loud
more than 30 years after I first saw it...“Flying a plane is no
different than riding a bicycle, just a lot harder to put baseball
cards in the spokes.”

It was a fun weekend.  My thanks to Tricon for inviting me and for
making my time in Huntington so pleasant.

And now that I know where Beau Smith lives...


Writer Chris Charlton stopped by my Tricon table to give me Black
of Heart
#1 [Assailant Comics; $4.99].  Set in Brooklyn after World
War II, it’s a chilling tale of a homicide detective with a broken
marriage and the serial killer he’s trying to catch.  The killer is
a particularly creepy sort, the kind of insane murderer we see on
TV’s Criminal Minds every week.  However, placing that killer in a
time far (but not too far) away, a time when law enforcement didn’t
have the technological tools or psychiatric knowledge of present-
day investigators and profilers, gives the story a freshness that
has me eager for the second issue.

Artist David Hollenbach gives the visual an appropriately sinister
atmosphere with an impressive command of his blacks, greys and odd
splash of red.  It remains me of the better wash tones the black-
and-white horror magazines only occasionally achieved back in the
1970s.  Of course, for all I know, Hollenbach manages this on his
computer, but the end result is that it looks great.

You can order Black of Heart #1 and other Assailant Comics titles
via the publisher’s website.


Bad Place Productions editor Jonathan Hodges gave me a review copy
of The Serial Squad! #3 [$3.99], which is written and drawn by my
friend Paul E. Schultz.  This is a fun adventure series set during
World War II in which the stars of movie serials, their abilities
augmented by clever devices, battle Nazis.  Schultz’s storytelling
is lively, but his writing and art could use a little fine tuning.
The writing could benefit from some “What Has Gone Before” info for
new and old writers and a little more clarity when it comes to who
is who.  The art could benefit from color or perhaps some greys to
make the black-and-white look a tad fuller.  Even so, I get a kick
out of this series.

Hodges also gave a digest-size comic featuring a preview of “Coming
of the Congo King,” the next Serial Squad adventure.  An intriguing
element of the preview is that an actor starring in a movie series
has figured out that it’s the actual serial actors doing the great
deeds of the Serial Squad.  He wants in on that action and acclaim
and is trying to organize other stars like himself into a group he
calls the Hollywood Heroes.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the
story develops.

The Serial Squad strikes me as a property that could easily rise to
a new level of success if it could be put into the hands of movie
buffs who love the serials of the 1940s.  People of my generation
are living longer and, when we have money, we aren’t the least bit
shy about spending it on items that trigger our nostalgia impulses.
It’s a market the comics industry should not ignore.

To order copies of The Serial Squad!, visit the Bad Place website.
Tell him Tony sent you.


One closing note.  I’ll be mentioning this a few more times between
now and Free Comic Book Day, but I will be appearing at Carol and
John’s Comic Book Shop on that most stellar of holidays.  The shop
is located at Kamm’s Plaza, 17462 Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.
That’s Saturday, May 4, and I’ll be signing from 3-6 pm.  John says
the first 100 people who show up for my appearance will get a free
copy of Essential Marvel Horror Volume 2, which reprints a number
of my 1970s stories.  What a swell deal!


For my Medina readers who came here expecting to read my thoughts
on the current crisis with our city schools and about my past run-
ins with superintendent Randy Stepp, that has been pushed back to
Thursday.  I wasn’t happy with my first draft of the piece and want
to take a little extra time to get it right.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Saturday, April 13, 2013


A recent e-mail request from Roy Thomas...
PS Artbooks and I are still looking for hi-res scans or loaned copies of PRIZE COMICS #16-18 & #32 for the Dick Briefer Frankenstein stories therein.  For some reason, these seem to be rarer than it makes much sense for them to be.  Does anyone have any facilities for spreading the news to Facebook or other lists, or some such?  PS Artbooks in England will give out copies of the $50 forthcoming ROY THOMAS PRESENTS FRANKENSTEIN, VOL. 1, in exchange for this, as well as other expenses.  (Please don't send me any hi-res scans, though, as I'm not on broadband and hi-res stuff causes me horrendous problems with my server.)  We can't put out that volume until we get hold of these four stories, though otherwise everything is all set for printing.
If you can help Roy and PS Artbooks, email me and I'll put you in touch with them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


The Tony Isabella Message Board, usually found at Comics Community/World Famous Comics, has been offline for a few weeks now and I have no information as to when it will be back up.  The sponsor of the board is switching to new servers, but the board isn't a high priority for them.

If you were a regular visitor, you know that it was also the home of Bob Ingersoll's movie quizzes and many other features.  It was a friendly message board with several deputies to make sure the trolls and spammers were kept at me.  I don't know if we'll have the same preventive measures available to us when the board returns.  Whenever that is.

It has been suggested that I find a new home for the message board.  The problem there is that I simply have too much on my plate to find that new home and set up a new message board on it.  That doesn't mean I'm uninterested in the notion.

If any member of my message board or, for that matter, any other trustworthy soul, wants to find a new home for the message board, I'd love to hear from them.  What I would need for a new message board would be an easy-to-read and easy-to-participate look for the board.  There would have to be ways to block spammers and persistent trolls. 

Interested parties can contact me via e-mail.

Monday, April 8, 2013


This week in Tony's Tips at Tales of Wonder...I review Dynamite's MASKS comic book and offer advice for giving new readers a leg up.  You can read the review here.


My son Ed and I had a great time at Tricon in Huntington, West Virginia this past Saturday.  I'll write more about the convention when I resume writing full-size bloggy things next Monday, but, for now, I want to thank Eric Watkins and the other promoters and Tricon volunteers...the friendly fans who attended the show...and my pals Hoy Murphy, Steve Scott, Beau Smith and Billy Tucci for making the show so much fun for us.  Thanks to all!

Friday, April 5, 2013


I’m being called a “living legend” with alarming frequency and it
just sounds silly to me.  One of my standard responses is “Yes, I’m
the Sasquatch of the comics industry, rumored to exist but with no
actual evidence that I do.” 

Lately, however, as I prepare for this summer’s Vast Accumulation
of Stuff garage sales, I’ve been pondering if there might not be a
bit of advertising advantage to accepting the title.  I can throw
common sense out the window if it puts a few more bucks in my bank

On that basis, here is the schedule for this summer’s GARAGE SALES
OF THE LIVING LEGEND at Casa Isabella:

Thursday, May 9 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, May 10 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, May 24 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, May 25 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, June 7 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, June 8 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, June 21 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, June 22 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, July 5 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, July 6 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, July 12 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, July 13 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, August 9 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, August 10 (9 am to 2 pm)

TENTATIVE Friday, August 23 (9 am to 2 pm)

TENTATIVE Saturday, August 24 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, September 6 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, September 7 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, September 27 (9 am to 2 pm)

Saturday, September 28 (9 am to 2 pm)

These garage sales are at my house.  The address is 840 Damon Drive
in Medina Ohio 44256.  I advertise the sales in the Medina Gazette
and on Craig’s List.  I also plug the heck out of them on Facebook,
Twitter and in this bloggy thing of mine.

I’m trying a couple of “Friday only” garage sales to accommodate a
couple of schedule conflicts.  It looks like I’ll be appearing at
a comics shop on Free Comic Book Day (May 4) and I’ll be attending
a family wedding on May 11. 

I’m starting the garage sales an hour earlier this summer because
there was almost always a line of people waiting to get into them
when they were 10 am to 3 pm.  The new times also factor in that
I generally spent most of the 2pm to 3pm hour sitting in an empty
garage, staring at my cell phone and thinking about closing early.

There will be no special showings this year.  The amount of sales
these brought in almost never justified the extra time I spent in
my garage when I could have been watching cheesy monster movies on
the TV.  Priorities, man, priorities.

I won’t start laying out the garage sales floor plan until I return
from Tri-Con next week.  I have to reclaim tables lent to beloved
family members and decide if I need to buy a couple more to replace
those I’m using inside my house.

There will be boxes of comic books priced at a quarter each or five
for a buck.  There will be suitable-for-all-ages comics and digests
priced at a quarter each or five for a buck.

There will be magazines, paperback novels and VCR tapes on sale at
a quarter apiece. 

There will be trade paperbacks at two bucks each and hardcovers at
five bucks each.  They may be ridiculously cheap mystery boxes of
trades and hardcovers.  I’m still thinking on that one.

While supplies last, there will be some rare Superman posters for
$20 each.  I will not be selling these posters through the mail on
account of they sell briskly at my garage sales with less effort.

I will be selling copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read at the
garage sale.  The price will be $25 apiece unless I get a deal from
the publisher, which does happen on occasion. I’ll also be selling
other Isabella-written items at cover price or higher. Signatures
are always free and I’m always happy to sign any Isabella-written
items you already own.

There will some additions to the garage sale this year, though I’m
not sure of all them will be available for the very first sale of
the summer.  Here is what’s coming:

I am putting together some boxes of higher priced books and comics.
These will be individually bagged and priced.  These items will not
be priced as ridiculously low as most of my stock, but they’ll be
cheaper than the going price.

I will be selling DVDs of cheesy monster movies that I figure I’ll
never watch again.  There might be some other different genres of
movies represented as well.  I’m figuring on pricing most of these
at three bucks a pop, cheap enough that you won’t hurt too bad when
you watch them. 

I’m going through my closet and pulling out comics or pop culture
t-shirts, shirts, sweatshirts and jackets I haven’t worn in years
and don’t expect to wear in the future.  Prices will vary on these.
There will be some limited edition jackets in the mix.  I’m trying
to decide if I need to require buyers to sign a form agreeing not
to try to clone their own Tony Isabella from DNA that might be on
these items of clothing.

I’ll be selling Beanie Babies, stuffed animals, games and toys at
the garage sales.  Some of them are pretty cool, some others not so
much.  Most will be really cheap.

I know my beloved customers will have fun at these garage sales and
add a lot of terrific comics and such to their own accumulations of
stuff.  Would a living legend lie to you?

This bloggy thing of mine is going on spring break, but will return
on Monday, April 15.  See you then. 

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Today’s bloggy thing is pretty much about me, me, me.  It’s not so
much a matter of ego as it is sorting out recent/upcoming events in
my life so that I can remember and organize all the stuff I have to
do over the next few months.

Let’s start with Tricon, the Tri-State Comic Con, which I will be
attending with my son Eddie on Saturday, April 6 at the doubtless
spectacular Big Sandy Superstore Arena, One Civic Center Plaza in
Huntington, West Virginia.  The show runs from 10 am t0 6 pm, but
VIPs can get in at 9 am and Early Birds at 9:30 am.  Tickets cost
an extremely reasonable seven bucks and kids under 10 get in free.
Here’s what I’ll be doing at the show:

I’ll be selling copies of my best-selling 1000 Comic Books You Must
and signing them on request.  I’ll also be signing any other
Isabella-written or Isabella-edited items which readers would like
me to deface with my signature.  No charge for autographs and also
no limit on how many items you’d like me to sign.  However, if you
have a bunch of stuff for me to sign and there’s a line behind you,
I may ask you to wait a bit so I can accommodate those with just a
few items.  I don’t want them stuck in front of my table when there
are more than likely other guests they’d like to see as well.  In
fact, given the great names on the guest list, I’m certain there’s
other guests they’d like to see.

As much as possible, I’ll be checking out the exhibitor tables for
issues of Rawhide Kid I need.  I’m collecting all the Johnny Clay
issues, even the ones that are all reprint.  It’s the thrill of the
hunt, amigos.

I also hope to have some quality time with my old friends who will
also be at the show and to make new friends as well.  It’s one of
the main reasons I attend conventions.

Depending on my signing line, I’m happy to look at samples of your
artwork.  Keep in mind that I am not an artist and will be looking
at your work from a storytelling perspective.  If you would like me
to keep you in mind for any future projects I may launch, you will
need to give me some sort of sample portfolio to take back to the
home office with me.

I’m also attending conventions in May, June and July.  We’ll talk
about those in a near-future bloggy thing.


Tony’s Tips, the Comics Buyer’s Guide column I wrote for a couple
of decades, has found a new online home.  It will appear weekly at
the Tales of Wonder blog.  The focus on the column will be comics,
comics and more comics...with the occasional side trip into my life
as a fan and my career as an industry professional.  The first new
column was posted on Monday, April 1, and new columns will appear
every Monday.  Check it out.

You should also check out the general Tales of Wonder site.  I’ve
been buying items from the company for several years now and have
recommended their prices and services to friends even before they
hired me to revive Tony’s Tips.  Gee, I should ask them if there’s
an employee discount.

I’m thrilled to be writing Tony’s Tips again and, judging from the
e-mails I’ve been receiving and the comments on the blog, many of
you are thrilled as well.  I’ll keep writing the column as long as
you keep reading it.


Some local to my home town of Medina readers have asked if I plan
to blog about the current situation with the Medina City Schools.
In a nutshell, the District has an arrogant, incompetent and quite
arguably dishonest superintendent in Randy Stepp.  Complicating the
situation is a Board of Education mostly filled with - you guessed
it - arrogant, incompetent and arguably dishonest board members.
Stepp has received incredible perks from his position and many of
them have come without board oversight.  This has been playing out
at a time when our school district is in financial trouble, has cut
vital programs and services for the students and is attempting to
pass a school levy next month. 

Three previous levies have failed to pass.  I voted against two of
them because I didn’t trust Stepp or the school board to use that
money wisely and for the benefit of the students.  The only way I
would vote for the May levy would be if the three culpable members
of the board resign before April 15.

I would make Stepp’s being fired or quitting a condition except I
don’t know how much that would cost the district.  He has already
gotten a quarter of a million dollars for his personal educational
growth and the district may be on the hook for any tax liabilities
that may incur due to Steep’s generosity to himself.  Apparently,
the board members couldn’t be bothered to keep an eye on what this
crumb bum was doing.  If a new board is elected, they should strip
Stepp of any spending power.  The man shouldn’t even be allowed to
buy a pencil without strict oversight.

My local readers have asked me to write about Stepp because I have
had a number of run-ins with him since he was the principal of the
high school my children attended and since he was promoted to his
current position.  I am searching my electronic and physical files
for documentation of these run-ins.  That’s one of the main reasons
I haven’t written the piece yet, though I continue to work on it in
and around my other paying gigs and projects.

The other main reason is that the piece will anger some of the very
people who requested it.  Because you can’t separate the failings
and malfeasance of Steep and the school board from the Republican
majority that rules Medina.  The attitudes and conduct of Stepp and
the board members reflect the attitudes, conduct and positions of
the national Republican Party, a brew made even more unpalatable by
the presence of our local Tea Party nut jobs.

If my non-Medina readers want to get up to speed on this situation,
I direct them to the Medina City Schools Outrage Page on Facebook.
You could literally spend days reading all the news and comments on
the page.  It’s like staring at a grisly accident.

Some closing notes.  The (Medina) Gazette for April 3 reports that
“Five years ago this week, Medina School Superintendent Randy Stepp
turned a four-day national conference for school board members into
a weeklong stay with his family at Orlando’s Universal Studios with
taxpayers footing most of the bill.”

The Medina teachers, recognizing the financial problems of Medina
schools, have approved a contract that gives them no pay increase,
has them paying more for health care and requires then to teach an
extra class each day.  They will only be getting the pay increases
they earn from their additional education and longevity.

Steep, that prince of perks for himself, has cut the work hours of
school cafeteria workers by 15 minutes a day to avoid paying their
health care under current law.  Because who cares if the folks who
prepare and serve food to kids are healthy.

More on Stepp soon.  In the meantime, come back tomorrow and we’ll
talk about my upcoming garage sales.  I guarantee that bloggy thing
will have more laughs than this one. See you then.

© 2013 Tony Isabella