Thursday, July 31, 2014


I’m exhausted. July came in like a killer grizzly bear and went out like a sharknado. I need to take it a little easier in August. So this bloggy thing of mine will be irregular for the next three or four weeks. I might post new material on a daily basis or I might go days without posting.  If that sound sconfusing to you, join the club. I haven’t figured it out entirely myself.

The last several weeks have been crazy busy for me. I did jobs for almost every comic-strip cartoonist for whom I’ve worked over the past year.  I did my “script restoration” thing on another of those The Garfield  Show albums for Papercutz. I put on two garage sales, including the wild Driveway Con 2014. I wrote weekly “Tony’s Tips” columns for Tales of Wonder, a dozen full-sized bloggy things andat least as many shorter posts.  I took a stand against local “Open Carry” supporters.

None of the above should be construed as complaining. I’m thrilled to be this active at my age of sixty-two and a half. I hope I can stay this active for another decade or three. Heck, I’m hope I can become even more active in the future.

Something else in my life also took a physical and mental toll on me. After suffering decades of abuse and disrespect from people in my life, I finally found the courage to do what I should have done years ago. I said “enough” and severed any kind of regular contact with those people. I’m not without feelings for them. I wish them well. If I can help them financially or in many other ways without  suffering abuse and disrespect, I will do so. But I had to consider my own well-being and that of my wife and my kids. I’ve worked very hard over the past two decades to get to the happy place where you find me today. I want to enjoy that happy place.

I apologize for being “mysterious” about the situation I have left.  I have no desire to cause those people any additional pain beyond that which their own actions have inflicted on them. I don’t even wish them that self-generated pain, but I’ve come to realize it is beyond  my ability to fix their situations.

August will be a busy month, but in a different way than July was a busy month. I want to get several weeks ahead on my “Tony’s Tips” columns. I want to backlog some bloggy things. I want to sit down and answer interview questions that have gone unanswered for just too darn long. I want to write two articles for one of my all-time favorite magazines. I want to get to work on some actual comic-book strips for an independent publisher.

Digression. This is where I took a break to watch Sharknado 2: The Second One with Sainted Wife Barb, who, apparently, loves me beyond all reason. The movie was even crazier than the first one and, of course, I loved it. Look for my review of this generation-defining  movie in early August. End of digression.

Besides the writing mentioned before my digression, I have several household and personal projects on my mind. Dozens of e-mails that I need to answer. Dozens of online articles that I bookmarked and want to read. Dozens of comic books sent to me by a publisher that has been exceedingly generous to me, comic books waiting patiently to be read and reviewed. That’s all just part of my list.

From Thursday, August 7 to Sunday, August 10, I’ll be at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio for PulpFest 2014. I attend the event more to see old friends than anything else, but I always find some interesting books and panels there.

Since I won’t be at Pulpfest all the time, I’d love to spend some time with the Columbus comics community. Drop me a line and we can get together for a snack or a meal.

There will be two of my “famous” Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales in August. Here’s the schedule:

Friday, August 15: 9 am to noon
Saturday, August 16: 9 to noon
Saturday, August 16: 5 pm to 7 pm

Friday, August 29: 9 am to noon
Saturday, August 30: 9 to noon
Saturday, August 30: 5 pm to 7 pm

I’ll also be doing two more garage sales in September and, weather permitting, one in October. Those dates and times:

Friday, September 12: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 9 to noon
Saturday, September 13: 5 pm to 7 pm

Friday, September 26: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 9 to noon
Saturday, September 28: 5 pm to 7 pm

Friday, October 10: 9 am to noon
Saturday, October 11: 9 to noon
Saturday, October 11: 5 pm to 7 pm

The October event will be Halloween-themed, but I’m still working out exactly what that means. I hope to have some special stuff for the other garage sales as well. More about that as we get closer to their dates.

I have two and only two more convention appearances scheduled for 2014. Those are...

Friday, October 31: WIZARD WORLD OHIO (Columbus)

Saturday, November 1: WIZARD WORLD OHIO (Columbus)

Sunday, November 2: WIZARD WORLD OHIO (Columbus)

Saturday, November 8: AKRON COMICON

Sunday, November 9: AKRON COMICON

I’d like to attend more comics and other conventions in 2015, but that mostly depends on my being invited to them by event promoters willing to cover my expenses or my making enough money to attend on my own dime. Fingers crossed, my family and I will be returning to San Diego’s Comic-Con International in 2015.

I’d also like to appear at more libraries and schools in 2015 and beyond. “Visiting professor” has a nice ring to it.

Bob Ingersoll and I had a blast when he went to Los Angeles earlier this year so that I could visit some old friends sans a distracting convention. I’d like to repeat that trip and maybe hit a few other cities as well.

Come September, I hope to carve out a few hours every day to work on the hundreds of projects on my bucket list of “things to write before I kick the bucket.” As those projects are readied, I’ll be looking for artistic partners and publishers. But I’m getting well ahead of my immediate future. Back to August.

My online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales will resume on Monday,August 11. I hope to post these sales weekly throughout the rest of the summer and throughout the year.

Future bloggy things will have more comics and movies reviews and probably a lot less politics and personal comics history.  I know I will need/want to speak out publically on various issues, but the insanity of the right and the cowardice of the left do bad things to my blood pressure.

As for my personal comics history, I’m kind of bored with answering the same questions over and over again. In the past twelve months,I’ve turned down three offers to publish my autobiography for the simple reason that telling my story completely and honestly wouldrequire the naming of names. Which, in turn, might cause pain to a number of people to whom I don’t wish to cause pain. Whatever they did to me, whatever wrongs I suffered at their hands, I ended up ina pretty good place. I can afford to be generous.

Future bloggy things will continue my “July 1963" and “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” series. I’m writing those columns to reward myself when I complete something on my August “to do” list. I’ll slot them into the bloggy thing schedule as I finish them.

Reading over what I’ve written, I admit I have a skewered notion of what constitutes “taking it down a notch.” If orange can be the new black, why can’t crazy be the new sane?

Thanks for reading the bloggy thing, my friends.
© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 28, 2014


I have a lot to tell you about my combination Driveway Con and Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale, held this past weekend at Casa Isabella in Medina, Ohio. It may take me most of the week to post everything I want to say...for reasons you’ll understand after you read tomorrow’s bloggy thing.

Driveway Con came about in a perfect storm of events that started when I took a stand on a local political issue and continued when my friend and neighbor Tom Batiuk started talking about how much we would have liked to attend San Diego’s Comic-Con International this year. Things just grew from that. You’ll get all the fun and silly details this year.  For now, taken from a posting he made to the Timely-Atlas-Comics mailing list, I’m going to let my good friend Tim Stroup give you the bare bones.

Tim compared Driveway Con 2014 and Comic-Con:

“[Tony’s Driveway Con] had things Comic-Con has: cosplayers, trivia contests, mingling with the pros, exclusive announcements from the pros and a dealer’s room. Advantages over Comic-Con: no lines and great dealer’s room prices. And I doubt Comic-Con had that A Dare With Judy issue in any dealer’s stock. Now if only I had found that Starbuck Jones issue. Looking forward to what Tony comes up with next.”

We got seven cosplayers: Supergirl, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, No-Face from Spirited Away, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Wonder Girl from the New 52.In a spectacularly stupid move, I didn’t not arrange to have anyone taking photos of the cosplayers. I’ll try not to make this mistake again. I have an idea I’ll write about later in the week.

Picking the winner of the costume contest was much harder than I’d anticipated. It came down to Boba Fett and Wonder Girl. I took memost of yesterday to make the decision.

Boba Fett, as cosplayed by Dan Guinto, wins the grand prize of $50 in Vast Accumulation of Stuff cash. But I’m also awarding a second-  place prize of $25 in VAOS cash to Jesse Adkins for her cosplay as Wonder Girl. Dan and Jesse can pick up their prize “money” at the next garage sale.

At various times during the garage sale, I asked 22 multiple-choice trivia questions. If a customer answered correctly, he or she got $1 in Vast Accumulation of Stuff cash. All told, I handed out $33 in VAOS money over the weekend.

I promised a honest-to-Godzilla comics convention-style panel for Saturday. With the help of Mike W. Barr and Tom Batiuk, I delivered on that promise. We had a lively discussions on our favorite comic books and comic strips. Tom revealed some upcoming plot twists in Funky Winkerbean. We answered questions from the dozen or so folks who were sitting in my driveway listening to us.

Several customers asked if I could do more creator events like this one, possibly in another area venues. I think that’s a possibility and I’ll be working on it.

The garage sales were very successful for me. I hit more than 200% of my weekend goal. I sold thousands of comic books, magazines and more. I had two or three customers tell me they completed various collections at the sales.

After Friday’s sale, I had to go to the Fortress of Storage to get more stuff to sell for Saturday. I also had to go to the bank for more singles and fives, something I have never had to do with any other garage sale.

After Saturday morning, I ran out of the plastic shopping bags we use to bag up customer purchases. I had to go to my emergency stock for the Saturday evening hours.

About those Saturday evening hours...they were also a success. We got six or seven customers between 5 and 7 pm, all fans who could not make our morning hours. Because this evening session proved to be convenient for the customers and worth my time, I plan to offer Saturday evening hours at most of my future garage sales.

That’s the short version of the weekend. Tomorrow’s blog will be of a more personal nature, but that will be followed by more detailed blogs on what went into Driveway Con 2014.

Thanks for reading the bloggy thing, my friends.
© 2014 Tony Isabella



This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Bill the Boy Wonder and other Batman stuff I like.


Just a reminder...

Your comments are appreciated, but they won't appear until I approve them. This policy was adopted to protect the bloggy thing from spam and trolls. Thanks for your cooperation.

Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Last week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder, I reviewed three recent collections of vintage comic books from the 1940s and 1950s. Check it out.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


The local weather reports now have partly cloudy skies with no rain until 1 pm or so.  If that holds up, the morning portion of the garage sale and the convention panel should be fine.


Today's garage sale (840 Damon Drive in Medina, OH) kicks off around 9 am this morning and runs to 11 am or so. Weather permitting, we'll then hold the comics convention style panel with Tom Batiuk and Mike W. Barr in my driveway.  If the weather doesn't permit, I'll try to reschedule the panel for a future garage sale or in some other Medina venue entirely.

I'll also have evening garage sale hours from 5-7 pm.

If it's raining hard in the morning, I'll close the garage door and customers will be able to enter the sale through my patio.

If we have thunderstorms tonight, I won't hold the evening hours and will try that again in August.

Look for a Driveway Con report in the bloggy thing next week.

Friday, July 25, 2014


This week's Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale runs this morning from 9 am until noon at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. It continues on Saturday in two sessions, 9-11 am and 5-7 pm. This is the first time I’m attempting evening hours. If you’ve been reading the bloggy thing this week, you know we’re trying a bunch of other new things as well.

I’ve scheduled four days of garage sales in August:

Friday, August 15 (9 am to noon)
Saturday, August 16 (9 am to noon)

Friday, August 29 (9 am to noon)
Saturday, August 30 (9 am to noon)

If this Saturday’s evening hours are successful, I’ll schedule at least one and maybe two Saturday evening garage sales on the above weekends. If this Saturday’s evening hours are compromised by the bad weather currently being predicted for Saturday night, then I’ll definitely schedule a Saturday evening garage sale for August 16.

That’s all for today’s update. Keep watching the bloggy thing formore announcements. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.  
© 2014 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 24, 2014


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale kicks off tomorrow morning at 9 am and runs until noon at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. It continues on Saturday in two sessions, 9-11 am and 5-7 pm. This is the first time I’m attempting evening hours.

This weekend’s garage sale has also been called both Driveway Con and Garage Con, the latter in the Funky Winkerbean comic strips by my friend and neighbor Tom Batiuk. I have planned some cool special stuff for the weekend.

The heart of the garage sale is, as always, the thousands of comic books priced at a quarter each or five for a dollar. In addition to the comic books, I’ll also be selling magazines, trade paperbacks, hardcovers, mass market paperbacks and other items at low prices.All day today, I’ll be restocking for the garage sale.

Because this is Comic-Con week in San Diego and I couldn’t attend that stellar event this year, I’m trying to bring a little tiny bit of that excitement to this weekend’s garage sale.

I’m encouraging fans to come to the garage sale in comics-oriented costumes. They will be rewarded for their willingness to entertain me. Just showing up in a costume earns you $1 in Vast Accumulation of Stuff money, which you can use at my garage sales throughout the summer. If I really like your costume, you’ll get $5 in VAOS money. If you come as any of four Isabella creations - Black Lightning, Misty Knight, Tigra, Tobias Whale - you’ll get $10 in VAOS money. My favorite costume of the weekend will earn its wearer $50 in VAOS money. If this crazy idea is successful, I will likely repeat it at least once more before the end of the summer.

At random times during the garage sales, I’ll be asking multiple-choice trivia questions based on my comics career. If you’re chosen to play and answer correctly, you’ll get $1 in VAOS money.  Again, if this trivia contest is successful, it will likely be repeated at some future garage sales.

There will be a honest-to-Godzilla convention-style panel held on Saturday at 11 am. Weather permitting, we’ll set up a panel table in my driveway. Mike W. Barr (Batman, Camelot 3000, Star Trek) and Tom Batiuk (Crankshaft, Funky Winkerbean) will be talking about our favorite comic books and strips and answering your questions about our work. The panel will run roughly an hour from whenever we get started. Some chairs will be available, but you’ll have to carry them to the driveway from my patio and elsewhere in the yard. If you want to be assured of a seat, it’s recommended you  bring your own chair.

Let’s talk about the weather for a moment. Friday’s prediction is for a sunny day during the garage sale. Saturday could be a little dicey. Here are my contingency plans:

If it rains, but the weather isn’t too threatening otherwise, the door of my garage will be closed. You will be able to enter through my back porch.

Unfortunately, if it’s raining or worse, the comics panel will be cancelled. I can’t move it inside the garage. However, if I have to cancel it, I’ll try to reschedule it for some future date, perhaps at some other Medina area venue.

Ohio weather is generally only somewhat predictable. I’m hoping for the best possible weather for this weekend.

A few more quick notes...

There is no early entry to the garage sale and no special showings of the garage sale. The sale hours are the sale hours. Should this weekend’s attempt at evening hours prove successful, I’ll schedule more of them.

No dealers will be allowed at the garage sales. These sales are for the fans and the readers. If dealers choose to ignore this message, which I have repeated several times, they will be refused service.

There will be no parking in my driveway. While street parking is available, you should pay attention to the street signs that tell you where you can’t park. We’ve never had any garage sale customer ticketed and I’d like to maintain that record.

I caution parents not to make the assumption that all comic books and other items are suitable for all ages. That’s why I have copies of the following information sheet on the first table in my garage:







Tony Isabella

As you might have gathered from our title and opening illustration, it’s crunch time for this weekend’s garage sales. I’ll be spending the rest of the day restocking for the sales and doing the dozens of little jobs that always precede these sales.

The August garage sale schedule will be posted at the garage sale and online tomorrow. Figuring it out is one of those little jobs I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale is Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26, at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. This will be another short update, but I’ll have much more to tell you in Thursday's update.

I went to the Fortress of Storage over the weekend and brought back a dozen boxes of stuff for restocking. However, when I unloaded the boxes from my van, there were twenty of them. Apparently, I was so excited about this garage sale that I lost count as I was loading the van. Math is hard.

Some of my funny Facebook and other friends have asked me a couple of questions about the garage sale. The questions made me laugh and all, but, cautious guy that I am, I’m going to answer them anyway.

QUESTION: Are all the hotels in Medina booked?

ANSWER: They wish. Just in case anyone was serious about spending the night in Medina, I did a web-search of hotels and motels within a five-mile radius. The Internet gave me a list of eleven: Towne Motel of Medina, Castle Noel, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Red Roof Inn, Motel 6, Hampton Inn, Super 8, Rodeway Inn, Quality Inn and Suites, Medina Motel and Best Western. While I can’t vouch for any of them, I will mention that Castle Noel is a year-round Christmas museum and gift shop. In other words, not a hotel.

QUESTION: Will there be a shuttle bus from the Medina High School parking lots to your garage sale?

ANSWER: No. Parking is on the street, though I urge you to look at and follow the posted parking signs. I have no idea how many people will be coming to this garage sale, so I can’t offer you a lot of advice. If it comes down to it, those high school parking lots areonly a block or two away from my house. There is no parking in my driveway on either day.

QUESTION: How much does it cost to get a badge for the Driveway Con panel?

ANSWER: You don’t need no stinking badges.

QUESTION: Are you afraid we’ll draw too much of the crowd away from Comic Con?

ANSWER: That does weigh heavily on me, though that particular pain might be due more to those twenty boxes I was lifting than anything else.  

If you have other questions, the odds I answered them in one of my earlier updates is pretty good. If you have a question that I have not yet answered, ask it in the comments section, on my fun-tastic  Facebook page or via e-mail. I’ll either respond to you directly or in tomorrow’s update.

That’s almost all for now. Later today I’ll be posting the “note to parents” I always have available at my garage sales. Watch for it.

Tony Isabella


Bloggy thing reader Tom Batiuk is the creator of Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft, two popular newspaper comic strips. My friend and neighbor Tom is also a comic-book fan, which should be obvious from his frequent use of comic-book cover homages in Funky.  I love when he does this because it’s both a clever use of a Sunday page and in keeping with my own comic-book fanaticism.

Tom used the Larry Lieber cover of The Rawhide Kid #70 [June, 1969] a few weeks back for his July 6 strip. If you’re not reading the strip, Les Moore is a schoolteacher and writer. His book about his first wife, who fought against but ultimately died from cancer, was optioned by Hollywood. Cue the ominous music.

I knew Rawhide was going to appear in Funky Winkerbean, but I was caught completely off guard by Dan Thompson’s Brevity for July 20. What a treat to see so many Marvel super-heroes in the 1970s style outfits. The Rawhide Kid is among them, but you might have to look real hard to find him.

Give up? The Kid can be seen - barely - just behind Luke Cage and just under the Wasp.

I’m going to take credit for raising awareness of the Rawhide Kid - the real Rawhide Kid - in the comics community. I think the least Marvel could do at this point is continuing reprinting the stories of my friend Larry Lieber. I also wouldn’t say no if they asked me to write new Rawhide Kid stories. Even if neither of those come to pass, my reward is knowing I’m fostering well-deserved recognition for a terrific character and the equally terrific work Larry Lieber did on that character.

One more note. I still need a few dozen issues to complete my own Rawhide Kid collection. If you have any of the following issues andare willing to part with them for a price I can afford, I would be very interesting in buying them from you.

The issues: 92, 93, 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 111, 112, 113, 118, 119, 120, 122, 123, 125, 127, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 148, 149, 150 and 151.

I’m also interested in other Marvel comics that featured the Kid. E-mail me if you’re selling any of the Rawhide Kid issues I need or any of those other appearances. Thanks.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale is Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26, at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. Preparing for this show has been wild - I will have a much longer update for you tomorrow - but, today, I need to do something I never thought I’d need to do vis-a-vis my garage sales.

I’m hiring!

Given the insane amount of publicity this garage sale has received this week, it has become clear to me that I need to bring in some additional help for Friday, July 25. I’m looking to hire just one person to work from 8 am (an hour before the garage door is raised and the sale opens) to noon.

My preference would be for someone from the Medina area with enough knowledge of comic books and related items that I might be able to offer them additional employment down the line. I’d also prefer to hire someone I know, either because I’ve known them for some time or because they have been regular customers at my previous garage sales.

The job pays the minimum wage that should be the minimum wage all across this country: $15 an hour. This beats IKEA and Costco, but not Ben and Jerry’s. On the other hand, you won’t be tempted with ice-cream goodness if you’re working for me.

Initially, this job entails helping me out at Friday’s garage sale. If that works out, the job could expand to helping me bag and price the more expensive comics and books I excavate from the Fortress of Storage and other secret places.

If you’re interested, send me a private e-mail or a private message on Facebook. I’d like to make my decision sometime tomorrow, so, if you’re interested, apply for the job today or tonight.

Please spread the word to your friends and keep reading the bloggy thing for further updates.

Tony Isabella


Doctor Octopus is no longer the Superior Spider-Man. Ultimately, he failed at his attempt to be a better Spider-Man, but not, I think, at becoming a better man. Oh, he wasn’t a good man when he let his memories slip away into nothing so that Peter could once again take control of his body. Not by a long shot. Even so, he died a better man who sacrificed his existence to protect a women he truly loved.  

I recall a pretty smart fellow by the name of Stan Lee once telling me that no hero is all good and no villain is all bad. I took that to heart then and, over time, I’ve come to believe the best stories are the ones that take place in the grey.

Writer Dan Slott and others, but primarily Slott, spun some interesting tales during the year or so this story unfolded. They surprised me along the way. They had me eager to see what comes next. I wasn’t wild about the brutality of some of these tales, but that brutality sort of had to come with the territory.

If I have a lingering complaint, it is in the ongoing vilification of J. Jonah Jameson. Jonah has become a pathetic caricature of the layered character he once was. As I’ve said before, it’s time to write him out of the series. No heroic/meaningless/tragic death. Send him on his way and let him find his own peace and redemption. He’s no longer a proper foil for Spider-Man. He’s just unbearably sad in every way.

Some random thoughts...

At one point in this extended story, it appeared Doctor Octopus had utterly wiped out every last vestige of Peter Parker. It currently appears every last vestige of Otto Octavius is gone, Obviously, if Peter could fight his way back, so could Otto. I really don’t want to see that happen.

One of the things I dislike most about modern super-hero comics is the overuse of villains, how they commit the most horrific crimes and escape any fit punishment, how they keep coming back from the dead. More stories should end. Completely end. Which would have the added benefit of forcing writers to come up with new ideas and new villains.

I love that Anna Maria Marconi is still part of The Amazing Spider-Man. She’s a great character and can be a great ally and confidant to Peter...and he’s going to need a good friend to deal with the mess Octavius had made of his life.

I love the mess Octavius has made of Peter Parker’s life and also Spider-Man’s life. There are lots of great stories to be told here and, because of the weird circumstances, they will force Slott and others to look at Spider-Man and Peter Parker differently. Pete has to go up fast and he’s got to stay grown up.

Most of the traditional Spider-Man supporting players have really good reasons to move on and out of the book. The writers should go with that. I love Mary Jane and Aunt May and Robbie Robertson and the rest as much as anyone, but they’ve had their moments. Time for some new stories.

Because it has to be said...Slott and company have managed to make Norman Osborn scarier than ever before. I would not have thought it possible. I used to think Osborn was played out. These days, not so much. Should there be some distance before he returns? Certainly. But I think he’s earned the top spot among the Spider-Man villains.

In the meantime...I am intrigued by the introduction of the second person who was bitten by the radioactive spider on the fateful day Peter got his spider-mojo. I’m somewhat less intrigued that there will be all sorts of spider-heroes and spider-villains coming into the series. But Slott earned considerable credit with the Superior Spider-Man storyline. I’m happy to sit back and see what he can do with these new plot elements.


I have been remiss in reviewing actual somewhat current comic books in recent months. I’ll try to do better by an industry that still published some entertaining and even excellent comic books.

Previous seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith went on too long. By the time they reached their season finales, I was more relieved than satisfied. Yet hope springs eternal and I’m very optimistic about each title’s tenth “season.”

Magic is kind of sort of back. The rules are changing. The heroes have a steep learning curve. This notion has possibilities unless it becomes too complicated for good storytelling.

Some of the character stuff fascinates me. Buffy is trying maybe a little too hard to be *the* slayer. Willow needs an emotional arc. Xander is being haunted by his best girlfriend ever and I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing Anya come back from the dead. She’s probably the Buffy/Angel character I would most like to write.

I can see it now...Anya and Cordelia. Two hot babes, back from the dead and the best of frenemies as they pursue former flame Xander. Are you listening, editor Scott Allie?

Giles is already back from the dead, but as a very young teenager. Much hilarity has ensued.

The Xander/Dawn romance is shaky. As it should be. Because that one was creepy from the get-go.

Angel and Faith have parted ways. Angel is trying to bring relief to the newly-born “Magic Town.” Though these stories are not quite clicking three issues into the season, I think the overall plot has potential.

Faith is working for Kennedy’s version of Haliburton. Kennedy has gone over to the dark side, even though she hasn’t realized it yet. I sense the unseen hand of Wolfram & Hart...and I think Faith will have to take Kennedy down sooner or later. I’d vote for sooner so she get back to being Angel’s partner.

I like both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith. If you’re a fan of the original TV series, I think you’ll enjoy them as well.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 21, 2014



Today’s bloggy thing continues my 138-plus-part series on the comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics.  I’ve added the “plus” to my description of this series because there may be a few issues I missed in my initial explorations.

Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gals was launched in 1952 and ran to September, 1991 for a total of 224 issues. The first 83 issues were at least 52 pages and were designated as “Archie Giant Series” on the cover. This should not be confused with the Archie Giant Series Magazine title that featured a variety of titles, such as Betty and Veronica Summer Fun and Archie’s Christmas Stocking.

Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gals #26 [Fall, 1963] was a 68-page issue with a cover featuring the Thinker statue that appeared in the earliest episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis television show.  Makes me want to write an Archie/Dobie crossover.

The inside front cover of the issue advertises a “Treasure Chest of Fun.” The fun comes from the variety of novelty items offered by Honor House Product Corporation. These items included a silent dog whistle ($1), See-Behind glasses (75 cents), a bank vault with an alarm ($1.49), and an atomic smoke bomb (20 cents).

Archie is possessive of Veronica and seemingly feared by the other boys in “Brute Farce” (6 pages). The fear is feigned on account of Veronica has made its clear she won’t date (secretly) any guy that doesn’t go along with this routine. The Grand Comics Database has not yet indexed this issue, so I can’t give you definitive writer and artist credits on this or any other story in the issue.  If I had to guess I would go with Frank Doyle as the writer (because the story builds so nicely to its punch panel) and Dan DeCarlo as the penciler.

Next is a full-page subscription ad for Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gals. In 1963, you could get five giant-sized issues for a dollar.

Jughead stars in “A Matter of Competition!” (6 pages). When all of the girls are smitten with the handsome new history teacher, Archie and the boys can’t get a date to save their lives. Jughead makes an off-handed remark that the only way to change that is to get this new teacher transferred. Archie’s father has a cousin on the school board and, in a shocking abuse of power, that cousin does get the teacher transferred. His replacement is even more handsome.

Jughead also stars in two half-page gags: “Female Fearful” and “No Hits..No Runs...Nothin!”

Next is Archie in “Mister Clean” (6 pages). The story starts with  Veronica looking Laura Petrie hot as she vacuums. Before the story  is finished, the bumbling Archie manages to prevent Veronica’s dad from being taken by a phony diamond merchant.

Archie loses whatever points he gained with Mr. Lodge in the three-page “Caddy-Baddy!” Mr. Lodge is playing against someone he wants to sign a million-dollar contract. Mr Lodge knows he has to lose if he wants to make that deal. He figures having Archie as his caddy makes that a sure thing. Yeah, that will work.

“Archie Club News” (2 pages) has three cash-winning club members. Cathy Webb (Roanoke, Virginia) won $5 for writing about her family vacation. Barbie Williams (Santa Barbara, California) won $3 with her descriptions of what goes on around her house. Linda Cole (Los Angeles, California) wins $2 for her jokes.

Li’l Jinx stars in “A Helping Hand,” a single-page gag strip by Joe Edwards, who wrote and drew all but one Li’l Jinx story or strip during the character’s long run.

Another house ad. For a quarter each, fans could order any of eight Archie Giant Series comics: Archie Annual #15, Archie Giant Series Magazine #22 (Archie’s Jokes), The Adventures of Little Archie #29, Archie Giant Series Magazine #24 (The World of Jughead), Archie Giant Series Magazine #20 (Archie’s Christmas Stocking), Archie Giant Series Magazine #21 (Betty and Veronica Spectacular), Archie Giant Series Magazine #23 (Betty and Veronica Summer Fun) and the issue I’m writing about today.

Archie stars in and wears “The Helmet” (5 pages). The helmet is a safari helmet that offers protection from the sun, can serve as a weapon and attracts lovely young ladies. Veronica takes issue with that last one.

Another one-page Jughead gag: “Food for Thought”. The gags in this issue are disappointing, a contrast to the mostly excellent longer stories.

Jughead stars in “Blood Brothers” (3 pages). Researches are taking blood from the male students for a study. When they get to Jughead,the sample consists of hamburger gravy.

Two half-page paid ads are next. Archie speaks for U.S. Royal Bike Tires on the top half of the page. Below, the Ed Sale Studio says it can teach you play guitar in seven days or it will refund your
$2.98 payment.

Archie stars in :The Other Cheek” (6 pages) wherein Reggie tries to con both Archie and Principal Weatherbee. Guess who ends up with a week’s detention?

Two more half-page ads. The top half offers Kissing Dolls for half a buck. You get a complete set: one girl and one boy. Yeah, I know.It was 1963.

The bottom half of the page offers “100 Little Dolls” for $1. They are made of “genuine Styrene plastic and hard synthetic rubber.” I think I might have dated a woman like that. Once.

Betty and Veronica star in “Splinter Group” (6 pages). Archie gets a splinter in his finger. Veronica takes him to the nurse’s office.The nurse is gorgeous and kisses Archie’s boo-boo. I’m guessing she loses her job because, when Archie gets another splinter, the new nurse is somewhat less than gorgeous.

That’s followed by a Betty and Veronica Pin-Up page, another Li’l Jinx gag page and a paid ad for the “Magic Art Reproducer” that we have discussed in a previous July 1963 installment.

Archie gets caught whispering in Miss Grundy’s class in “Sound Off”(6 pages). She and the principal try to punish him by not allowing him to speak. This backfires on Weatherbee.

A full-page ad drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger showcases Gilbert Auto-Rama”s “Fly-Over Chicane.” The boys racing their motorized vehicles have big smiles on their faces. Like when you and your pals found that copy of Playboy.

Archie stars in the three-page “Be Prepared!” He and Mr. Lodge do some bonding over Veronica’s being ill. It’s nice while it lasts.If there had been a fourth page, Lodge would have had Archie shot. Oh, what? Too soon?

House ad. If you ordered a 10-issue sub to Archie, Jughead, Laugh, Pep, Betty and Veronica, Life with Archie, Archie’s Joke Book or Archie’s Madhouse, you would have gotten the free gift of a lucky penny horseshoe. The ad claims it’s Archie’s favorite lucky pocket piece. That covered the first person who subscribed, but what about the others? And how many lucky pocket pieces did Archie have? And, if he hadn’t given them away, would he be alive today. Oh, really?Still too soon?

On the inside back cover, the National Youth Sales Club would have awarded you great prizes or big cash profits for selling Christmas and All-Occasion Greeting Cards. I wonder if they had a card that you could send to a kid who got taken by this scam.

The back cover advertises Daisy B*B rifles and an indoor range to shoot at. What could possibly go wrong? Don’t worry. I’m not going to make another joke about Archie getting shot dead. Thanks to that damn Obama, I’m only allowed a two-joke clip.

Gosh, hasn’t this trip back to the summer of 1963 been great fun?Wouldn’t you like to do it again soon? I know I would. Keep reading the bloggy thing for more fun from the past, from the present and from the future.    

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 20, 2014


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale is Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26, at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. To ease my disappointment at not being able to attend Comic-Con International in San Diego, I’m working hard all week to make this garage sale my best garage sale ever.

First off, I’m playing with the schedule a bit to accommodate those fans who can’t make to the garage sale during the regular morning hours.  Here are the scheduled hours:

Friday, July 25: 9 am to noon

Saturday, July 26: 9 am to 11 am

Saturday, July 26: 5 pm to 7 pm

As always, the garage sale will offer tens of thousands of comics and other items at low prices. I'm doing major restocking for this sale. I made one trip to the Fortress of Storage on Sunday and came back with a dozen boxes. I anticipate making at least one more trip to the Fortress before the garage sale.

I'm lowering the price of my rare Superman posters to $10 each for that weekend. On my next trip to the Fortress, I plan on bringing back at least one and maybe two full boxes of these posters. When you come to mt garage sale, you’ll see one of the posters standing on the front lawn to welcome you to Medina.

Everybody loves my $5 mystery boxes. I’ll be putting together more of these boxes for this garage sale. My previous record was a dozen boxes. I’m aiming to top that.

From here on in, no dealers will be allowed at my garage sales. I’d rather sell my Vast Accumulation of Stuff to fans and readers.  If any dealers come to the sale, they will be refused service. I’m not kidding about this in the slightest. My garage sales are strictly for the fans.

Wait! There’s more!

On Friday and Saturday, I'm encouraging people to cosplay at my garage sale.

If you come to my garage sale in a comics costume, you get a coupon worth $1 in garage sale merchandise. That’s just for showing up in a comics costume.

If you come to my sale in a comics-oriented costume that knocks me for a loop, you get a coupon worth $5 in garage sale merchandise.

If you come in a costume I really like of one of four Tony Isabella creations - Black Lightning, Misty Knight, Tigra or Tobias Whale - you get a coupon worth $10 in garage sale merchandise.

If you have the very best costume of the weekend, I will give you a coupon worth $50 in garage sale merchandise.

But, wait, there's more.

On Friday and Saturday, at random times, I'll select a customer and ask them a trivia question that involves something from my career in comics. If you answer the question correctly, you get a coupon worth $1 in merchandise from the garage sale.

But wait, there's still more.

I’m talking about...DRIVEWAY CON!

On Saturday, after the garage sale closes at 11 am, we'll be holding an honest-to-Godzilla comics convention style panel with Tom Batiuk (Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean) and Mike W. Barr (Batman, Camelot 3000, Star Trek). The three of us will be sitting around talking about our favorite comic books and answering your questions.

The panel will be held in my driveway. There will be some chairs available from my patio, but you might want to bring your own chair to make sure you have a place to sit.

This weekend’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale is about the fans and about the fun of comic books.

Please spread the word to your friends and keep reading the bloggy thing for further updates.

Tony Isabella

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Here's wishing great times and safe travels to all who are attending Comic-Con next week. I wish I could be there. I must find some company or publisher who will hire me and bring me out every year. I'd be a sensational booth babe.

To answer yet another question asked of me in private...

I'm never going to tell one of my readers that they shouldn't tell comics editors or publishers that they would love to see Tony Isabella writing comic-book stories for those editors and publishers. I wouldn't mind getting back into mainstream comics with a situation that was a good fit for me and the company who would be hiring me. But...

Don't get your hopes up. Let me tell you something that happened to a friend of mine. No, really, not to me, but to a friend of mine.

When word came that a publisher was going to be relaunching a title on which the writer had enjoyed great success when we wrote, a great many fans sent e-mails and letters to the publisher suggesting the writer be hired to write the relaunched title. They also sent a great many e-mails and letters to the writer himself...and suggested the writer let the company know he was interested.

"What the heck," my friend thought to himself, "I might as well give them a call."

So he did.

When he mentioned he had been hearing from fans who wanted to see him return to the title, the company representative to whom he was speaking - and I can only imagine the company guy with his nose in the air and a sneer on his face - responded:

"Oh, yes, we received your letters." 

The company guy didn't believe that the fans would really send letters recommending the return of the writer to the title. He thought my friend had orchestrated the campaign. 

By posting this blog, I have done far more on my own behalf than my friend did back then. He wasn't believed. His fans weren't believed. It's fair odds whatever editors and publishers you mention me to won't believe you're on the level. I can't do anything about that.  

If you think it's worth a shot, then take the shot. It's your call. I'm not exactly waiting by the phone.


Have a wonderful time at Comic-Con. If you give it a chance, you'll soon realize that it's the real happiest place on Earth. 

Keep watching the bloggy thing for some stuff.


P.S. I will not be approving any speculations as to the identity of the friend mentioned in this post. The name of the writer isn't important to the point I'm trying to make.  


To answer a private message in public...

I wasn't kidding. Dealers are no longer allowed at my garage sales. I want to sell my Vast Accumulation of Stuff to fans and readers.

If dealers come to my sales, they will be refused service.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Here's a page from "Open and Shut Case" from Archie's Pal Jughead #100.


Here are the final two pages of "Watch the Birdie" from Archie's Pal Jughead #100.


Here's the final page of "Take Two" from Archie's Pal Jughead #100.


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 138-plus-part series on the comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics.  I’ve added the “plus” to my description of this series because there may be a few issues I missed in my initial explorations.

Archie's Pal Jughead #100 [September 1963] was the special 100th-issue celebration of the title. There were multiple variant covers, including a take-off of George Perez’s classic Superman holding the dead Supergirl cover. That was quite astonishing, since Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 would not actually be published for another 25 years.


Archie's Pal Jughead #100 has no mention of the milestone anywhere on the cover or inside the book. The cover is by the terrific Samm Schwartz. It’s a silent gag that’s perfect for Jughead.

The inside front cover is the we’ve-seen-this-before advertisement from Dean Studios offering various come-ons, including a miniature monkey. The issue’s other paid ads are for battle games, Popsicles, bike tires, sea-shrimp, toy soldiers, Daisy B-B guns, bike brakes and the ever-present “earn money and prizes by selling our cheap-ass greeting cards.” We shall speak of these no more.

“Take Two” (6 pages) finds Jughead at the beach with water skies, performing unintentionally for Veronica’s new movie camera.  While the writer of this story has not yet been identified, the Schwartz art is obvious and outstanding. Of all the great Archie artists, I don’t think any top Schwartz for hilarious action and body language thereof. For your amusement and edification, I’ll put the last page of this story in an addendum to today’s bloggy thing.

“Summer Madness” (2 pages) has six, two-panel gags with Jughead and friends. It’s drawn by Schwartz.

“Who Laughs Last” (6 pages) is a Frank Doyle-written delight with Schwartz art. Archie and Reggie, mightily annoyed by their friend’s “moldy old jokes,” decided to turn the tables on Jughead. It does not go well for them.

Sidebar. Doyle is my all-time favorite Archie writer. His dialogue is always clever and in character, but his pacing is like that of a wonderful told joke. He build to his scripts' always satisfying payoffs. I don’t just enjoy his work. I study it.

Next is a full-page house ad for Archie Giant Series Magazine #24: The World of Jughead. It’s a world of laughs!

“Watch the Birdie” (5 pages) is one of those rare stories in which Jughead does not come out on top. Jughead thinks he and Archie are in the woods to do some bird-watching. Archie is more interested in watching Betty and Veronica, who have come there to get away from men. But when the guys turn to leave, Betty says: Actually, we’ve been away from men for over an hour.

Veronica adds: How much solitude can a girl take?

Disgusted, Jughead leaves the trio to continue his bird-watching. Which turns out to be a bit more difficult than he had anticipated. The Schwartz-drawn story ends with a funny two-page sequence that you can find in yet another addendum to today’s blog.

“Archie Club News” (2 pages) is 75% submissions from club members and 25% house ad to join the Archie Club. Members win cash prizes if their submissions are published.

Gary Pollack of South Euclid, Ohio won five bucks for five jokes. The best is this one:

A sweet old lady asked a clerk at the post office to weigh her package for her because she was afraid she hadn’t put enough stamps on it.

The clerk weighed the package and said, “You’ve put too much postage on it.”

“Oh, dear,” replied the little old lady, “I do hope it won’t go too far!”

Andrew W. Menkes of Brooklyn. New York won three bucks for writing about insects while Ken Merin of Great Neck, New York won two bucks for jokes featuring Archie characters:

Jughead: Archie, let’s eat lunch.

Archie: OK, let’s eat up the street.

Moose: But, Arch, I don’t like cement.

“Open and Shut Case” (5 pages) by Doyle and Schwartz is the final story in the issue. Reggie tries to talk Jughead into walking with his eyes opened instead of half-closed. Jughead tries it, but his eyes have trouble adjusting to the sunlight. The experience ends up being too painful for both Jughead and Reggie. It’s a great Doyle script and great physical Schwartz artwork. I’ll share a page with you in an addendum to today’s blog.

That wraps another July 1963 column. I hope you’re enjoying reading them as much as I’m enjoying tracking down and reading these comic books. I’ll be back on Monday with another installment.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 17, 2014


My next online VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF sale will be posted on Tuesday, July 29.  Between my ongoing writing gigs and my working to make my July 25-26 garage sales truly outstanding, something had to give in my schedule.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for garage and online sales updates. 


“Weird Al” Yankovic belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  No one represents the silly side of rock quite that way Yankovic does. But there’s far more than good-natured comedy in his spoofing. Many of his songs double as wry commentaries on the human condition and the foibles of men.  “Skipper Dan,” a recent original song, is a darkly humorous tale of human hubris and failure to attain one’s highest aspirations. Even as we laugh at the animated video and the amusing lyrics, there is a part of us that responds to the all too common situation of the man who believed he would be the next Sir Lawrence Olivier. That’s writing.

Mandatory Fun, Yankovic’s newest release, landed this week. It has twelve songs: six originals, five spoofs and the kind of crazed polka medley that only Weird Al can perform. Yankovic has promised eight videos from the album will debut this week. I’ve watched the first three of these and they are brilliant. I’ll have something to say about them in a bit.

The six originals are a mixed bag. “Lame Claim to Fame” deals with tenuous links to fame, but the theme’s simply too easy a target for  a writer of Yankovic’s skill.  “Sports Song” is better, but, again, an easy target. “My Own Eyes” goes for the gross-out and presents nothing more complicated than that. “First World Problems” almost works, but, once again, the target’s too easy for someone with Yankovic’s skills.

“Mission Statement” is the best of the originals. It’s built around corporate jibber-jabber and the word play is sensational. I really hope this one made it to a video.

“Jackson Park Express” is an ambitious depiction of a relationship that takes place on a subway train without the protagonist speaking a word to the woman with whom he falls in love. However, it does slip into that too easy gross-out territory. Though the song doesn’t entirely succeed, it is a magnificent attempt.

On to the spoofs...

“Handy” re-imagines Izzy Azalea’s “Fancy” as a paean to the nigh-supernatural prowess of a handyman. It’s funny and suggests enough visuals to make a hilarious video.

“Foil” - taking off from Lorde’s “Royals” - starts off as a salute to the utility of aluminum and then takes a wonderful turn to the strange. This is the second video from the album and it guest-stars the wonderful Patton Oswalt.

“Word Crimes” - from Robin Thicke’s ”Blurred Lines” - is brilliant. It’s a love letter to those of us who wince when the possessive is used instead of a contraction or vice versa. The animated video is equally brilliant. This might be the best song/video on the album, but there’s another contender for that spot.

“Inactive” isn’t that contender. Yankovic turned Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” into an indictment of American sloth. It is another too easy target for the master.

“Tacky” is more boisterous and less thoughtful than “Word Crimes,” but this send-up of Pharell Williams’ “Happy” is damned infectious and boasts a video filled with appearances by some of the coolest people in show business. Forced to pick between the two, I’d give this one the “best of album” trophy.

That leaves “Now That’s What I Call Polka,” the traditional polka medley. Featured music includes songs by Miley Cyrus, PSY, Carly Rae Jepsen, One Direction and more. Some of these songs might have made for good spoofs, but there are already multiple spoofs of them on YouTube. I doubt the young “Weird Al” Yankovic ever dreamed he would be facing such so much instantaneous competition from those he doubtless inspired.

Mandatory Fun runs about ten bucks on Amazon. Even if most of the originals aren’t memorable, there are other fine tunes to help you get your smile on. I can’t imagine not recommending a new “Weird Al” album to my friends and readers. He’s a musical genius with crazy hair and eyes. We must treasure him.

Once more in closing. “Weird Al” Yankovic should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The place will never quite right until Yankovic is honored for his tremendous body of work.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


From The Rawhide Kid #59, here's a classified advertisement for Alter Ego, the fanzine edited and published by Roy Thomas and the past incarnation of the magazine currently edited by Thomas and published by TwoMorrows. I was working a couple of part-time jobs by this time, so I was able to afford a subscription. I always wondered if Roy got a discount on the cost of this ad.


From The Rawhide Kid #74, here's that great full-page shot of the Apaches attacking the relay station.


The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 59th installment of that series.

Our young hero takes a punch to the gut on the cover of The Rawhide Kid #74 [February 1970]. The cover is penciled by Larry Lieber, who writes and draws the interior story, and inked by John Tartaglione, who inks the interior story. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but, though the indicia gives the official title of this series as The Rawhide Kid, the cover logo always omits the “The.”

“Attack of the Apaches” (20 pages) combines familiar western themes into an exciting story. You have a lawman turned bounty hunter who gets the drop on the Kid. You have the Kid too weary from his life of being hunted to resist. You have a group of people trapped by a band of Apaches in a lonely relay station. You have the unexpected alliance of the bounty hunter and the outlaw. In short, Lieber has lots of intriguing elements to play with.

The story opens with the exhausted Kid checking into a hotel room. He’s not looking for any trouble. All he wants is a soft bed and uninterrupted sleep. The bounty hunter spots him, waits until he’s sure the Kid is in bed and then breaks down the door. As mentioned above, Rawhide doesn’t resist:

So this is how it ends...after all the running...and the hiding. Maybe it’s just as well! I’m tired of being hunted like an animal! Let it end here and now, once and for all!

The young outlaw and the manhunter don’t bond. The outlaw realizes the bounty hunter doesn’t care if he’s guilty or innocent. In the bounty hunter's experience, every outlaw he catches says he’s innocent. The former lawman tells the Kid he got tired of risking his life for low pay and people who couldn’t have cared less. So he went into business for himself.

Along the way to Waco, Rawhide and the bounty hunter here a whole bunch of shooting. It’s coming from the relay station. In a great full-page shot, Lieber shows how desperate the situation is for the people inside the station. The bounty hunter has enough lawman in him that he knows he must help them.  He unties the Kid and gives him back his guns, taking the chance Rawhide will fight alongside him. Hey, the Kid is the hero of this title. If he turned tail and ran, he wouldn’t deserve to have his name in the logo.

The Kid and his captor shoot their way through the Apaches and into the station. Inside, they find four men and a woman. The attack of the Apaches is repulsed, but it’s certain they will be back to try again.

The courageous station master slips out the window. He figures he can slip past the Apaches and reach the  Army post ten miles away. With the sunrise, the station master returns. His body falls from his horse. He never got through to get help.

The Apaches attack again. The Kid and the others do their best to hold them off. Suddenly, the Apaches retreat:

Crazy Wolf has seen too many of his brothers slain this day. There will be no more Apache blood spilled!

The relay station survivors bury the station master and head out. Right into an ambush. A landslide blocks one end of a pass and the Apaches block the others. Rawhide and company surrender. They are brought before a vengeful Chief Grey Hand:

You are just the first of countless white-eyes who will pay for the wrongs that your people have done to mine. All of you but one will suffer the vengeance of the Apache.

Next surprise:

You, the outlaw called Rawhide Kid are free! Because you are a foe of your own people! It serves me purpose to keep you alive!

The Kid contemplates this turn of events:

What’s the price of my freedom? The lifelong memory of five people who I deserted when their lives were on the line!

Rawhide turns from his horse and demands a trial by combat, a fight to the death for the lives of the captives. The chief doesn’t get it, but is bound by Apache law to grand the request.

The Kid must face Crazy Wolf, the strongest of the braves, in the “no weapons allowed” fight. Rawhide takes a beating, but he fights back. Crazy Wolf didn’t expect this tough of a fight. He grabs his knife and goes for Rawhide. The Kid ducks under the charge and his opponent goes sailing off a high cliff. Fight over.

The captives are released. Because: In this neck of the woods, an Apache chief’s word is worth more than a handful of prisoners.

Rawhide tells the bounty hunter they have unfinished business, but the former lawman disagrees.

Not any more! I couldn’t turn over to the law a man who risked his neck to save our lives! I’ve known many outlaws, son...but never one of your cut! I don’t know where the notorious Rawhide Kid belongs...but, as far as I’m concerned, it sure ain’t in jail! Adios, hombre!

“Attack of the Apaches!” has never been reprinted in this country. That’s a genuine shame.

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” get a full page this issue. There’s a teaser about Doctor Strange guest-starring in a comic this month. There’s a shout-out to Barry Smith, who drew a story in the third issue of Tower of Shadows. There’s a longer shout-out to the great Joe Sinnott that praises his inking and his penciling. A quick news item says the Scorpio story from S.H.I.E.L.D. will be wrapped up in The Avengers. There’s a shout-out to the returning Wally Wood who will do some stories for the mystery comics. There’s a plug for All in Color for a Dime, the book of comics history that was edited by Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff and which has an article Roy Thomas wrote in 1962. There’s a shout-out to Herb Trimpe with a mention of how sales of Incredible Hulk have been rising since Trimpe started drawing the title. Whew!

The best line of the above comes at the end of the Wally Wood item: “Now if only a cat named S.D. would dig up our phone number again! Oh well, we can always dream!”

“Stan’s Soapbox” is a touching love letter to all those who produce Marvel’s comic books. He says he has never known a more ethical or honorable creative group.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” for the month is filled with terrific  and not-so-terrific villains: Monocle, the Kangaroo, the Rhino, the Leader, the Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man and more. These done-in-one stories weren’t always as strong as their predecessors, but I was still digging them.

This issue’s classified pages had ads from comics dealers Richard Alf, Howard Rogofsky, Robert Bell, Comics Sales, F.L. Buza, Passaic Book Center and Grand Book. There was also an ad for...let’s save that one for an addendum to today’s bloggy thing.

The Mighty Thor #172 (“The Menace of the Mind Slave” shares a half-page ad with The Invincible Iron Man #22 with Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo. The other half of the page advertises the still-new Marvelmania International fan club.

A full-page house ad announced Kid Colt Outlaw #142 and The Ringo Kid #1 were now on sale. Both were recent returns to Marvel’s line-up, were all reprints and had reprinted Joe Maneely covers.  Colt had been back for three months following an 18-month hiatus. This issue’s contents were reprinted  from Kid Colt Outlaw #73 [June 1957].

Ringo Kid Western ran for 21 issues from August 1954, to September 1957. The revived Ringo Kid would run 30 issues from January, 1970, to November 1976. This first issue reprinted stories from issues #10 and #11 of the original series.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page had three letters this time out. Mike Francis of Manhattan Beach, California wanted Rawhide to face costumed villains like the Tarantula...continued stories...guest appearance by other Marvel western heroes...more detailed background...two pages of letters...and guest appearances by modern-day Marvel heroes and villains.

Vicky Jerome of Manitoba was crushing on the Rawhide Kid big-time. She didn’t care if his clean-cut face and clean clothes were less than realistic. She liked him just the way he was.

On the other hand, Blaine Anthony of Reno, Nevada, thought the Kid should grow some whiskers or a mustache. He also complained about the too-bright coloring of the clothes of the characters appearing  in the stories.

That’s it for this edition of Rawhide Kid Wednesday. I’ll be back tomorrow with something different.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


When my son Ed saw Showcase Presents The Great Disaster Featuring the Atomic Knights [DC; $19.99] on my desk waiting to be reviewed, he exclaimed: “The Great Disaster Featuring the Atomic Knights? That would be the best name for a band ever!”

The Great Disaster is a 576-page black-and-white softcover volume reprinting all 15 of the Atomic Knights stories from the 1960s by John Broome and Murphy Anderson. Those stories are the center of a sandwich made mostly from far inferior meats.

Before you get to the Atomic Knights material, there’s a three-part Weird War Tales serial written by Sheldon Mayer that suffers a bit from being split into three chapters. It’s readable, but just.  It is followed by a so-so Superman story that sort of ties into Jack Kirby’s Kamandi story with “the last boy on Earth” discovering the abandoned costume of the Man of Steel. It’s not really much of an appetizer to this meal.

The first course consists of 19 very short “The Day After Doomsday” stories from Weird War Tales, The House of Secrets, The Unexpected and House of Mystery. The stories are mostly two pages in length; a couple are longer. The writers include Len Wein, Paul Kupperberg, Steve Skeates and others. The artists are a mix of then-beginning artists, old pros and artists from the Philippines. Almost all of the stories are mean-spirited, which, while not inappropriate for horror comics, is a sad divergence from the heroism and optimism of the Atomic Knights stories.

The Atomic Knights adventures are comics classics. Broome, Anderson and editor Julius Schwartz created the near-future world of 1986. A nuclear war lasted twenty days and wiped out civilization as we know it. Pockets of humanity survived and were led by good people like average solider Gardner Grayle, school teacher Douglas Herald and his sister Marene, the scientist Bryndon and brothers Wayne and Hollis Hobard. Finding suits of ancient armor that allowed them to resist radiation, the six became the protectors of the small town of Durvale. They also reach out to assist other pockets of humanity, some as far away as New York and Los Angeles.

Despite the grim circumstances that define their lives, the Atomic Knights are beacons of hope. One small step at a time, they begin rebuilding civilization. They deal with alien and human villains. They invent the tools they need to survive. They connect with other humans across the country. They open their homes to homeless boys. They never stop looking towards the future.

Broome’s stories are inventive and written with a subtlety perhaps lost on the younger readers of the 1960s. Anderson’s art is among his best with sure storytelling and exciting visuals. I have read these stories three or four times apiece. They have never failed to entertain, impress and inspire me.

The Atomic Knights stories are followed by Atlas the Great, a one-shot by Jack Kirby that was one of the few “fails” of his career. It is a rambling thing with a protagonist who never comes across as someone you’d give a rat’s ass about. You can almost taste Kirby’s growing dissatisfaction with DC on every page.

Hercules Unbound #1-12 are next. In this series, Hercules has been imprisoned on a remote island for centuries, only to free himself four weeks after World War Three. Gerry Conway wrote and presumably created the series, which has terrific art by the team of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (pencils) and Wally Wood (inks). This inaugural team remains in place for the first six issues as Hercules makes a few friends, meets intelligent animals not unlike those in Jack Kirby’s Kamandi and battles various menaces as he seeks revenge on his old for Ares, the God of War. These stories aren’t great, but they are quite readable.

When Conway, Garcia-Lopez and Wood leave, Hercules Unbound rushes down the drain and fast. Despite the presence of talented writers and artists, the series becomes mean-spirited, killing off most of the supporting characters. Convoluted and unconvincing explanations are given for past events. Even worse, an attempt to shoehorn the Atomic Knights into the title is just plain awful. They even kill off one of the Knights in a freaking flashback. Sadly, this isn’t the worse thing done to the Knights in this collection. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Hercules is followed by a mediocre four-chapter serial that ran in the back of Kamandi and continues in the mean-spirited vein of “The Day After Doomsday” shorts. A final “Day After” story is included in this section.

Now we get to the worst. DC Comics Presents #57 teamed Superman and “The Atomic Knights” in a frankly dumb story that explains away the Broome/Anderson stories as the fantasies of a Gardner Grayle stuck in some sort of sleep deprivation pod for years. To make its point that nuclear war would be bad - Wow! That never occurred to me! - the story craps all over one of the best series DC ever published in the 1960s or any other decade.

The volume concludes with a tedious two-page text piece that tries to tie all of the above plus a few other titles like OMAC into some sort of logical continuity. It’s an embarrassing exercise in anal-retentiveness...and that assessment comes from yours truly, a damn Jedi of anal-retentiveness.

Even though 576 pages for twenty bucks is a good deal, I recommend you take a pass on Showcase Presents The Great Disaster Featuring the Atomic Knights. You’d be better off looking for a copy of the hardcover published by DC in 2010.

Though The Atomic Knights carries a cover price of $39.99, you can generally find the book cheaper on the secondary market. It’s just the 15 Atomic Knights stories in full-color with an introduction by Anderson. I bought a copy of this hardcover after I’d finished the Showcase Presents volume because I didn’t want those great Broome and Anderson efforts to catch bad-comics-cooties from the rest of the stuff in the Showcase Presents volume.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a new installment of our award-deserving “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” series. See you then.

© 2014 Tony Isabella