Friday, December 30, 2016


These last two months of 2016 have been a struggle in so many ways. Even with the horrifying prospect of Trump and his demonic legion of deplorables running my nation (into the ground), I am eager for 2017 to arrive. There’s a lot I want to do next year and maybe it will include some of the comic-book and other characters I’ve been writing about this week.  

On Tuesday and Thursday, I started to answer this frequently-asked question: Which character or series that you’ve never written would you like to write?

We continue on that subject...

Space Cabby. When I first encountered this recurring character in old issues of Mystery in Space, I loved the idea of a space taxi. Maybe we didn’t have the flying cars and personal jet packs we had been promised in so many works of science fiction, but maybe, just maybe, we could travel between the planets and the moons in a cab. Alas, the Space Cabby stories were too short to address what must have gone into the creation, the operation and the maintenance of this interplanetary transportation option.

That’s what I would do if I were writing Space Cabby. I’d show the how and the why of his occupation and the solar system (and beyond) in which he earns his living. I’d spend more times with his fares and his fellow drivers. I’d try to include action, humor and human drama in these extended tales. Sort of a combination of TV’s Taxi and Hill Street Blues.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This is my favorite of the various Star Trek series. It got better each and every season and, when it came to an end, I thought it was too soon. There were lots of stories to be told in and around that station. I would like a chance to write them.

Spoiler alert. In my Deep Space Nine adventures, sooner rather than later, you would most definitely see the return of Commander Sisko. He’s one of the best and most inspirational characters in the Star Trek Universe.

Sugar and Spike. I love the original Sheldon Mayer stories, which should not be taken as a dig at the recent Sugar & Spike: Metahuman Investigations series. I’ve never read that series, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. So much so that I ordered a copy of the collected edition and will be reading it soon. No, when I say I want to write Sugar and Spike, I’m saying I want to write those cute babies with a language all their own, getting into mischief and struggling to figure out an adult world that just does not seem to make sense. I wish I could assure them that it’ll ever make sense. It won’t.

I have been told Mayer never wanted anyone else to write Sugar and Spike. If he were still with us, I would respect that. But, as he is not still with us, I’d relish the challenging of writing those great creations of his as well as he did. I don’t think I (or any other writer) can do that, but I believe I could bring readers an entertaining comic book set in our modern world. Heck, at age 65, I might well be as confused about aspects of the modern world as a couple of babies would be.

Tremors. I actually pitched a Tremors comic to a publisher after I saw the second movie in the series. My pitch has the original trio of graboid-fighters - Valentine McKee, Earl Bass and Burt Gummer - dealing with hard times and heartbreak. Burt is still in love with ex-wife Heather while Val and Earl are estranged from their ladies: scientists Rhonda LeBeck and Kate Reilly.

All the guys have left is the town of Perfection and the valley it lies in and they might not have that for long. The government is in the process of eminent domain-ing the whole area. The feds believe that graboids can be used as weapons in the Middle East. What could possibly go wrong except everything?

When everything goes wrong, the government nukes the valley. Which solves the immediate problem but also spreads “monster spores” all over the United States and elsewhere. However, behind every atomic cloud is a silver (albeit radioactive) lining.

Val, Earl, and Burt find themselves in demand as monster-hunters. Not just graboids, but other creatures mutated by contact with the “monster spores.” This would allow for a variety of creatures and locations. But, wait, there’s more.

Heather, Rhonda and Kate form their own monster-hunting business. Nothing like a healthy does of competition and graboids to rekindle the flames of love.

Some of the above has shown up in other Tremors movies and even the too-short-lived TV series. There’s a new Tremors TV series in the works even as we speak. So, while the above pitch might not useable today, it’s what I pitched back in 1997.

The Web. All of the revivals of this 1940s super-hero have missed the mark by miles. The one I thought was a stroke of genius - even though its execution has flawed - was the 1960s version of the hero from “Mighty Comics” aka Archie Comics in masks and tights. Hear me out on this one.

John Raymond, college professor, criminologist and mystery writer, should have been one smart super-hero. Not unlike the FBI agents we have seen in shows like Criminal Minds. I’d play him that way with one exception. He’s absolutely helpless when it comes to his wife Rose Wayne. The grim crime-fighting stuff would be lightened by the comedic possibilities of the unflinching Web trying to balance his day job and his night job and keep his marriage intact. Though the comedy of this situation was played too broadly in the 1960s comic books, it’s still a novel idea.

Pulling this off would be challenging. Which is one of the things I look for in my comics projects.

Weird Science. This John Hughes movie from 1985 is one of my all-time favorite movies. Two high-school outcasts manage to create the beautiful and magical Lisa, who was played by Kelly LeBrock, who I was in love with until she married Steven Seagal. And maybe even a little after that.

There was also a Weird Science TV series which ran for 88 episodes from 1994 to 1998. It starred Vanessa Angel as Lisa and it wasn’t as good as the movie. But it was still fun.

I pitched this as a comic book to a couple of different publishers, but could never get one of them to even explore acquiring rights to the property. I still think it could work in today’s marketplace. It’s got comedy, nerdy heroes, teen angst and a powerful woman as one of its three leads. I didn’t have a master plan for the comic. I just figured on doing done-in-one stories that would take place in current times. That’s still what I would do.

The Whisperer. One of my favorite pulp heroes, second only to Doc Savage. Here’s what I’ve written about him in the past:

The Whisperer is Police Commissioner James “Wildcat” Gordon...and now you know where Batman co-creator Bill Finger got the name for the only cast member besides Bruce Wayne and his other self to appear in the Dark Knight's first story and the name of one of his other DC Comics creations. Gordon fights especially cunning and  violent lawbreakers by posing as a mysterious criminal mastermind. The Whisperer is a quirky character - I’d love to write him myself - but his foes are much more down-to-earth than those who foolishly opt to go up against Doc Savage or The Shadow.

Gordon is almost a prototype Wolverine.  He’s short, bad-tempered, feisty and dismissive of authority.  He regularly defies the mayor of the unidentified city in which he operates.  Every now and then, he punches out his politically-appointed deputy commissioner. I  not only could write this guy, I could be this guy.

In the couple of years since I wrote that, I’ve been amazed at how many people have agreed that I could, indeed, be the Whisperer. I don’t know if that’s a compliment, but I’m good with it.

Given the character’s rather fluid approach to law-enforcement, I would probably set a comic-book series in the 1930s. But don’t hold me to that. Given the craziness of America 2016, Gordon might well be able to get away with his wilder antics in a Trump-run country. Either way, writing new adventures of The Whisperer would be great fun for me.

As long as I didn’t identify too strongly with him.

Zippo. Yeah, the 1940s super-hero who fought crime in Clue Comics for eight issues. He had wheels on his feet and did amazing things with them. Let me be honest with you...

Zippo isn’t actually a character I want to write.

At present, when I sum up my comics career, I can tell people I’ve worked on everything from Amazing Spider-Man to Young Love. That’s right. I’ve worked on comic books from A to...Y.

See the problem there? I mean, I could cheat and count Zatanna on account of I wrote her once in an issue of Hawkman. Which doesn’t seem like enough to me.

I need to write a comic book whose title starts with the letter Z. Only then will I feel complete.

“Z” suggestions are welcome...especially from publishers who have or who are willing to start a comic book with a title that starts with “Z”. My fate is in your hands.

On that bit of silliness, thanks for sticking with me through 2016. I’ll be back tomorrow with some sort of “appropriate for the final day of the year” bloggy thing. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella


  1. They've continued the story of DS9 in the novels, including Captain Sisko's fate. They've been pretty fun, and I'd love to see you chip in there.

    As for a comic character who starts with Z, why not a Zatanna series? (There's also Zauriel, Zealot, and Zabu the Sabre-Toothed Tiger.)

  2. Take heart! The life expectancy of Trump's legions of lesser educated white males is going down! When he gets done hacking at medical care programs that decline will accelerate!