Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing: The multi-talented Thom Zahler (of Love and Capes, Long Distance, My Little Pony fame) and Yoda, I mean, me, drove to Michigan for the Grand Rapids Comic-Con, a terrific event that took place October 21-23 at The DeVos Place.  We pick up this convention report on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning found me walking the very short distance between the luxurious Amway Grand Plaza and the con. Someone had used chalk to draw arrows on the sidewalk. I would later find out these were there to direct folks taking part in a breast cancer awareness run. Imagine my delighted surprise when I spied a Bob Camp chalk drawing along the way. Bob had seen the run volunteers marking the sidewalk and drew them a keen picture of Stimpy from The Ren & Stimpy Show. When I got to the convention, I thanked Bob for showing me the way to the event.

Bob was shared a booth with J. David Spurlock, author, illustrator, editor, comics historian, artist's-rights advocate and the founder of Vanguard Productions. He’s represented or worked on books about some of the greatest comics creators of all time, including Wally Wood, Carmine Infantino, Jim Steranko and many others. We got a few chances to chat during the weekend. He gave me a t-shirt emblazoned with the classic “Wood” signature; I gave him a copy of the Black Lightning trade paperback published earlier this year.

Sidebar. Since the Black Lightning trade was published, I have sold well over sixty copies of the book at conventions. After the Akron Comicon, I’m down to just one copy for sale and will be reordering for next year’s appearances. If your friendly neighborhood comics shop owner isn’t keeping the book in stock, they are leaving money on the table. End of commercial message.

Sidebar the second. Speaking of table sales, I bought a nice stack of Isabella-written comics on the first day of the convention. The seller gave me a good price on the comics and, by the end of this convention, my sales of them had come close to my costs for them. Within the first hour of the Akron Comicon, I was well in the black on this purchase. If you have good condition copies of my work at a price that allows me to make a decent profit on them, I’d be interested. Especially if you have Black Lightning, 1000 Comic Books You Must Read and Grim Ghost #1 (second series).

Besides seeing old friends and making new ones, one of the biggest joys of attending a convention is seeing all the great cosplayers. Our header photo is (obviously) of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, heroes I wrote in the 1980s. I never got the chance to tell these folks how much I loved their costumes or to have a picture taken with them. That will change next year as I upgrade from my ancient dumb phone to a much smarter model and when I start offering a wee incentive to cosplayers who portray characters I’ve created or worked on or just plain love. Look for details in January.

The cosplay at Grand Rapids Comic-Con was spectacular. I got a big kick from seeing minions (from Despicable Me) as the Hulk and Thor.  Among the other great costumes: a Victorian Wonder Woman as well as an adorable little Wonder Woman with her mother, who was dressed as the Doctor. Wonder Woman was a popular cosplay choice. I lost count of how many such cosplayers I saw.

There was a pretty cool Wednesday Adams. I saw a face-off between two Beetlejuice cosplayers. There was a Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmatians. Sailor Moon was channeled multiple times. Other great costumes included Ms. Marvel, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Reverse Flash and Loki. Doctor Strange was also in the house in various incarnations of the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko creation.

One disturbing note was the number of underage cosplayers dressed as Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, Curmudgeon that I am, I’m not comfortable with young girls dressed in the provocative costume of an abuse victim and vicious sociopath. I enjoy good Harley comics as much as anyone, but that underage cosplay creeps me out.

Speaking of old friends and new acquaintances, I got a chance to at least say “hi” to and sometimes chat with a pantheon of comic-book greats. In no particular order: Steve Lieber, Matt Feazell, Misty Knight co-creator Arvell Jones, legendary Golden Age artist Allen Bellman and Rodney Ramos.

On a not-remotely-cheery note, it was from Ramos that I learned of the passing of Preacher artist and co-creator Steve Dillon at the way too young age of 54. I’ve been a fan of Dillon’s work since his early appearances in 2000 AD and Warrior, not to mention Hellblazer and Hitman. If there’s a comic-book heaven, and there should be, I know Dillon is doing even more fantastic work than he did during his time on this mortal vale.

Of course, there’s no shortage of people who want to make comics, either of their own creations or for big publishers like Marvel and DC. I enjoyed speaking with a couple of young women who came to my table seeking advice and, somehow, after thinking about what kind of advice I could offer, I actually have what I think is some good advice and tips for aspiring comics creators. However, because of its length, that’s a subject for a very near-future bloggy thing. Look for it between these Grand Rapids Comic-Con columns and those on the Akron Comicon.

Saturday went by fast. I signed a whole bunch of Isabella-written comics with the frontrunners being Black Lightning, Iron Fist, Champions, Tigra, Hawkman and, surprisingly, Satan’s Six. That last one was a title created by Jack Kirby, developed by me under Jack’s instruction to make the book mine and published by Topps Comics. I wasn’t wild about the art, but I think I wrote some amusing stories  for the series and would love to see them collected.

Saturday was exhausting. I was too tired to go out for dinner, so, when I returned to the hotel, I ordered room service. The meatloaf dinner was really tasty and the cost was about what you expect from room service at a nice hotel. Not a bargain, but not what I would consider exorbitant.

I channel-surfed as long as I could stay awake. I watched the last half-hour of Jurassic World, the last hour of Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed - I don’t feel the least bit guilty about the pleasure I derive from the live-action Scooby Doo movies - and an intriguing episode of Untold Tales of the E.R.

There was one more day of the Grand Rapids Comic-Con to come. I’ll tell you about in tomorrow’s bloggy thing.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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