Friday, March 31, 2017


Pensacon 2017 took place Friday through Sunday, February 17-19, in Pensacola, Florida. It was held mostly at the Pensacola Bay Center, though many events and programs were at the Pensacola Grand Hotel, Rex Theatre, Pensacola Little Theatre and Saenger Theatre. This is a show too big for one convention center. This was my second visit to Pensacon, already one of my favorite shows of all. The Pensacon folks are so nice that I have to up my own nice game just to keep up with them.

Pensacon is so great because it’s an amazing mix of dedicated and smart promoters, eager and friendly volunteers, terrific guests and vendors, and a city that has taken the convention to its heart and given it a big old hug. From the airport with its countless banners and signs to supportive shops and restaurants around town, this is a hometown convention that feels both intimate and national, nay, global. But I’m getting ahead of myself...

I like to relate my whole convention experience, so we will start today with my trip to Pensacola. My daughter Kelly drove me to the Cleveland airport.

My Delta flight to Atlanta - because the universe would end if the airlines offered more direct flights to anywhere - was packed and late arriving in Cleveland, though the Delta pilot was able to make up the lost time along the way.

New pet peeve about air travel: passengers who push the envelope on luggage limits. When you check in for your flight, the airline has a display that allows you to determine if your bag is the right or wrong size for the overhead compartment or to be stowed under the seat in front of you. Your luggage isn’t going to get any smaller between where you check in and where you board the plane. Unless, of course, you’re Henry Pym, Scott Lang or Ray Palmer.

When we arrived in Atlanta, I had the first of my “hero” turns. A young woman traveling with a baby and a small child had the former balanced on a suitcase while she was trying to get everything ready for them to disembark. The baby started to slip...and I caught her. Okay, maybe not as impressive as flying into a burning building and rescuing an entire family, but not too shabby for someone not born on Krypton.

My second “hero” turn came on one of those lightning trains which carry passengers from one gate to another in Atlanta. I have ridden enough of these to know that you need to hold onto something before the sudden starts or stops. A big guy near me didn’t know that and started falling backwards when the train stopped. I moved my body so that I could keep him upright until he could grab onto a pole. I figure the Justice League will recruit me any day now. Or maybe it’ll be the Great Lakes Avengers.

The Atlanta airport is huge, but very nice with lots of great places to eat and shop. There was a violinist, part of some promotion with a local music college, I think, playing “Don’t Stop Believing” as I made my way to the gate for the second leg of my trip to Pensacola.

Our Delta flight from Atlanta to Pensacola was over booked. So was the Delta flight across from our gate. Listening to the Delta folks trying to get people to change their flights was amusing. It was as if the two gates were competing against each other. Our flight got up to $600 bucks in Delta dollars and a guaranteed seat on a flight leaving four hours later. The other gate got up to $800 in Delta dollars plus an overnight stay in a hotel plus a guaranteed seat on an early morning flight.

On our flight to Pensacola, before takeoff, the pilot came to the back of the plane because he didn’t want those of us seating there to fell left out. He was a friendly, even jovial man and the kids sitting near me were thrilled by him giving them little airplanes. Our flight was a quick fifty minutes.

For the weekend of the Pensacon, the Pensacola airport becomes the Pensacola Intergalactic Airport. There are banners hanging around the airport. The gates are called “Stargates.” Even the restrooms are part of the fun.
Pensacon guests are met at the baggage claim by volunteers, who can take them to the convention shuttles or, if the guests wish to have a quick drink and snack, a green room set up by the Pensacola International/Intergalactic Airport for its travelers. I went to the green room where I was greeted warmly by the wondrous Maria, Pensacon’s Titan of Transportation. I love this woman and her staff more than I can adequately express and, as this multi-part report continues, you’ll see why.

Sainted Wife Barb would be joining me for the weekend, but she was coming in on a later flight. My shuttle companions to the Pensacola Grand Hotel were actor and voice artist Carlos Alazraqui and singer and voice actress Samantha Newark.

Alazraqui was Deputy James Garcia on Reno 911, has done a bunch of voiceovers for cartoons like Rocko’s Modern Life and Family Guy, appeared as Nestor in Happy Feet and Happy Feet 2, is the voice of the Taco Bell Chihuahua, is a stand-up comedian and, with Reno 911 castmate Cedric Yarbough, has become one of the most requested acts on the college circuit.

Newark was the voice of Jem and Jessica in the classic Jem and the Holograms. She’s done voiceover work in films, games, TV series and other cartoons. She writes original songs, some of which are heard on games, and has released three albums.

Pensacon has a nice balance of comics, literary and media guests. There’s something for everyone and no fan will feel their special interests were shortchanged.

Pensacon’s Mike Ensley greeted me at the hotel and made sure I would have everything I needed for the convention. My hotel room was, as expected, very nice. Our view was railroad tracks that ran next to the hotel, but the trains were more soothing than anything else. It fit in with my take on Pensacola: it’s both one of the nicest big cities and one of the nicest small towns. Friendly people, plenty of entertainment and restaurants, cozy neighborhoods. Add it to my short list of places to which I would consider moving.

Since Barb’s birthday was Friday, I wanted to surprise her when she got to the hotel. Maria’s transportation team drove me to Publix, a nearby grocery store. I bought a small bouquet of flowers in an attractive small vase. When I got back to the hotel, I set up the birthday display: the flowers, a card, some candy, a small seashell and some other stuff. Hey, when you marry someone wonderful who is so far out of your league but who stays with you for over 33 years, you need to bring your “A” game to your life together.

I walked down to the lobby just as Barb arrived. We saw my friend of many years Julio Diaz. We saw my friend of somewhat fewer years John Dell. Later that evening, we would run into Carlos Alazraqui, meet screenwriter and TV producer Neo Edmund, and have a nice chat with Alexi Vanderberg, an old friend from my New York days who is the guy behind the incredible Bard’s Tower display featuring lots of terrific writers and stacks of their books. I’ll talk about the Tower later in this convention report.

Neither Barb or I had eaten, so we asked for suggestions and were driven to the Union Public House on S. Reus Street. Here’s a quick snippet from their website:

The Union Public House is a crafty southern pub where it all comes together. Excellent food and drinks combined with unparalleled customer service is our mission. Fresh and creative ingredients will be paired with fresh and creative ideas. Exceptional food, superb drinks, and stellar service will be the norm.

The Union Public House is in the running for our favorite eatery in Pensacola. From the outside and even from the inside, you’d think it a typical neighborhood bar. But its food and drink menu make it clear it’s so much more.

Barb and I split a UPH burger, which was ground short rib stuffed with cheddar and bacon. It was so delicious we each could have eaten a whole burger, but we were trying to keep from gaining weight while we were in Pensacola.

I rarely drink alcoholic beverages of any kind, but this was going to be my “Bar Rescue” weekend. I would try at least one signature drink at every restaurant we visited. At the Union Public House, it was the “6 Feet Something” (1 part Hangar 1 Citron, 1 part Cynar, 2 parts sparkling wine, 2 dashes Bitter Truth Celery Bitters). This was one tasty cocktail and I had a second one as well.

After dinner, we were picked up by the Pensacon Transportation Team and driven back to the hotel. We were happy and we were tired and we were looking forward to the first day of the event.

Come back tomorrow for the second part of my extended Pensacon 2017 report. No “hero” moments for me, but I did get to introduce Barb to one of my heroes.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Well, now that the rest of you have gotten your first look at actor extraordinaire Cress Williams as Black Lightning...

Within hours of DC’s release of the above image, I was asked what I thought of the Black Lightning suit designed for what we all hope will be an ongoing Black Lightning TV series on the CW. In fact, I was asked this over two dozen times before I posted some quick remarks on Facebook and took the rest of the night off.

First off, please understand, for a plethora of reasons, that I am simply not at liberty to discuss certain Black Lightning things in any detail. That said...

I’m a cheerleader for Salim and Mara Akil...and the CW...and I like this costume. I think it fits the CW super-hero universe perfectly. If it came in “short and chubby,” I’d wear it. Though I would not look nearly as cool as Williams.

Some things I can address...

Black Lightning's powers are natural. He's a metahuman or whatever they call people with natural powers in the CW super-hero universe. Don't worry. Be happy.

I confess I’m getting a wee bit annoyed by fan calls for Static to appear on this show. Now I love Static and the Static Shock cartoon series, but, were it my call (and it isn't), you would NEVER see Static in this series. Black Lightning doesn't need Static. Static doesn't need Black Lightning. They are great characters who can stand on their own.

The Outsiders. I feel the same way about them, though a live-action Metamorpho would be epic. They are terrific characters, but Black Lightning doesn't need them. Every other DC/CW super-hero show has turned into a show about a team of heroes. Again, though it’s not my call, but I think Black Lightning should be different. Variety is a cool thing.

And, please, all you wanna be Black Lightning writers and actors, stop emailing me. I have no power there...and that's fine with me. Comics and TV are not the same thing. I don't know how to do a great TV show. Salim and Mara do.

If the time comes when I do branch out into TV or movies, it'll be when I feel I've mastered the necessary skills to do those things well. For now, I'm concentrating on the things I already do well.

When I can say more about any of the above, I will. For now, please know I am a very happy man. I am all wrapped up in my cuddly new DC Comics blanket and feeling the love.


Black Lightning is getting all sorts of virtual “ink” from several comics and media news websites. With some reservations, I am over the top thrilled with this coverage of my favorite comics creation and character. However, some of the coverage does come up short in areas I consider key. So I have devised a point system to help you judge those websites.

If a site includes the information that Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden, that earns the website two points. Legalese aside, companies don’t create characters. Creators create characters.

If the site gets the credit line correct - it’s officially “Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden” - it gets another point. The difference between “and” and “with” may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it’s the official DC Comics credit. Use it.

If the site spells my friend Trevor’s name correctly - it’s “Eeden” and not “Eden” - it gets another point. Seriously, kids, turn off your auto-correct and look at the actual comic books Trevor’s been drawing brilliantly for decades.

If the site also mentions my friend Eddy Newell’s name and spells it correctly - it’s “Eddy” and not “Eddie” - it gets another point. Eddy drew my second Black Lightning series in the 1990s.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with the first part of my multi-part report on Pensacon 2017. Teaser: little old blogger me had two “hero” moments before I even got to Florida.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


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 104th installment in that series.

There would be no more new Rawhide Kid stories in the long-running title of that name. But there would be two more new Rawhide tales by Larry Lieber. One would not see print until 1975. The other one ran in Western Team-Up #1 [November 1973].

Western Team-Up #1 had a cover pencilled by Lieber with alterations by John Romita. The Grand Comics Database opines the cover art was inked by Lieber and Romita.

The cover story was almost certainly intended for Rawhide Kid. At 14 pages, “Ride the Lawless Land” was the same length as the new RK tales that had been appearing in Rawhide Kid. Like those stories, it was written and penciled by Lieber, lettered by June Braverman and colored by George Roussos. The only difference between this one and the previous Rawhide Kid stories is that it was inked by Vince Colletta instead of Roussos. In previous bloggy things, I have been critical of Colletta’s inking on western stories of the 1960s and 1970s, but he did a pretty decent job here.

The Dakota Kid was not an existing Marvel character. I don’t think he was intended to be an ongoing character. He was just one of the many intriguing characters Lieber created during his run.

I also don’t think Western Team-Up itself was anything more than a tryout of sorts and a way to use up an inventory story. Certainly, if the book was intended as a ongoing title, it would have led with a better-known western hero such as Kid Colt or the Two-Gun Kid. This was the only issue of the series.

That’s the prologue. Let’s look at the story.


“Ride the Lawless Land” opens with the Rawhide Kid taking a break after outdistancing a posse. He hopes he’ll be able to find peace and quiet in the Dakotas. One panel later, someone is shooting at him, though just to get his attention.

That someone is Cliff Morgan, who says people around here call him the Dakota Kid. He has a rep as a fast gun and thinks he can take the Kid. Rawhide refuses to fight without a reason. He just wants to find a job. This impresses Morgan, whose father - the Colonel - is the biggest rancher in the area.

The Colonel wants nothing to do with "gunslinging trash." But Wayde Morgan - Cliff’s brother and clearly the good son - convinces his dad to give Rawhide a chance. Cliff and Wayde have a sister, though she never does more than agree with her brothers and try to put in a good word for the “gunslinging trash” that is Cliff and the Kid. She’s never named in the story, so, as is the case with all of the unnamed women in stories like this, I’m going to think of her as “Tigra” Morgan.

This is a ridiculously plot-heavy story. Some of the pages get real crowded with small panels to move it along. Try to keep up with me as I relate the goings-on.

Rawhide gets a job. The Colonel berates Cliff, saying he should be more like his brother. Rawhide takes to the work. Logan, the foreman of the ranch, plots with owlhoots to rustle the spread’s cattle. Cliff neglects his work to go visit his girlfriend Lily Lamont in town. Wayde has to fill in for him.

In the town saloon, Luke Thompson, a thug-ish saloon customer, gets fresh with Lily. Cliff tells him to leave his girl alone. Thompson calls him out. Thompson gets shot dead:

Holy cow! Morgan let Thompson clear leather...and then he drew and fired before Thompson could squeeze the trigger!

The sheriff arrests Cliff. Even though the sheriff is confident Cliff will be cleared, the Colonel is pissed at “that irresponsible whelp” and wonders when his son will become a man. Meanwhile, the Colonel’s good son is no match for the rustlers when they attack. He’s gunned down by them.

The Colonel is devastated and angry. When the treacherous foreman opines the Rawhide Kid must have tipped off the rustlers, the old man accepts the theory instantly. Rawhide has to flee for his life.

Lily helps Cliff escape from jail so her beau can settle the score for his brother. The sheriff knows Cliff has crossed a line with this reckless action:

Now he’s done it! Before he could’ve beaten the charge against him easy! But now he’s a fugitive from justice! And there’s no turning back!
The Colonel doesn’t welcome Cliff. He says his son belongs in jail awaiting a hangman’s noose. He blames Cliff for Wayde’s death and tells his son to get out of the house and never comes back.

Believing Rawhide responsible for his brother’s death, Cliff hunts him down. Along the way, he gets into several gunfights and his rep as a fast gun grows. When Cliff finally catches up with the Kid, he finds Rawhide has tracked down the rustlers.

Cliff and the Kid see that it was Logan who was working with these rustlers. The gunplay begins and ends a few panels later with only the two young men left standing. Cliff thinks its over, but the Kid knows better.

RAWHIDE: For you it’s just starting! You broke out of jail! Now you’re a fugitive on the run - like me!
CLIFF: And there’s no turning back, is there?
RAWHIDE: There never has been...for any of us!

Back at the ranch, “Tigra” asks her father if he’ll ever find it in his heart to forgive Cliff.

THE COLONEL: It’s too late! I’ve lost both my sons! One was killed and the other does killin’!

Elsewhere, Cliff and the Rawhide Kid part company. Each to follow their own perilous path in an uncertain world.


“Ride the Lawless Trail” could have easily been a 20-page story. Though I remain convinced it was a leftover story from the ongoing Rawhide Kid title, I can see why it could pass as an actual team-up between two heroes and a back-door pilot for the Dakota Kid.

Cliff and his family get more “screen time” than the Rawhide Kid. The family dynamic described above was very different from all of Marvel’s other western heroes. If westerns were as prevalent on TV today as in the era of the great Warner Brothers shows, I could see the Dakota Kid being a series I would have watched.

Before we get into the issue’s second story - more proof to me that this issue was meant to be an issue of Rawhide Kid - let’s look at what else was in this comic book.

Marvel comics of this era didn’t have the classiest paid ads. There were several pages in which dozens of classified ads were crammed together on the same page. Here’s a quick rundown of some of what a reader could expect to see:

Prizes or cash for selling greetings cards; iron-on designs for t-shirts; Charles Atlas making you a man; health aids to help those who are “too skinny”; sell the newspaper Grit to earn cash or neat prizes; Corgi toy cars; information on getting a “high pay job in drafting”; learn how to play the guitar in seven days; train at home to be a veterinary assistant; Honor House novelty items like a Raquel Welch pillow; get in a job in conservation; the “genuine Spider-Man medallion coin” discussed in a previous installment of Rawhide Kid Wednesday; “gain weight [to] be muscular and admired”; and attend LaSalle Extension University.

The only editorial page beyond the stories was a half-page “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” topping the usual half-page ad for the fan club FOOM (Friends of Ol’ Marvel). This was the same page that appeared in the all-reprint Rawhide Kid #117 [November 1973].

That brings us the issue’s second story, an untitled six-page story starring the Gunsmoke Kid with art by the legendary Jack Davis of EC and MAD and magazine covers and advertising art fame. Davis drew a bunch of stories for Marvel in the 1950s and came back to do some more in the early 1960s. This one first appeared in Kid Colt Outlaw #87 [November 1959] and was the last Gunsmoke Kid story.

The GCD has a synopsis for this not-very-good story:

Gunsmoke Kid and a prospector turn an Indian tribe allied with a claim jumper against their ally by playing on superstition

The superstitious Piute braves are tricked when the Kid makes them think the claim jumper is a werewolf. That’s a mite hard to swallow these days, but few western comics of the past treated indiginous people with respect. After reading this story, I wondered if some Marvel staffer had added the opening caption to somewhat temper the story. It reads:

The Piutes were a noble tribe, and when a group of renegades tried to convince them to rise against the white man using the old tribal magic and superstition, they were tossed out onto the desert plains to find for themselves against a wild and unruly west.

If any of my bloggy thing readers have the original comic in which this story was first published, I’d love to know if my speculation is correct.

The story doesn’t give much of a sense of who the Gunsmoke Kid was. But the Marvel Wikipedia makes him sound interesting enough to have had his own series:

The Gunsmoke Kid was a gunslinging terror by the time he was seventeen years old. All that changed, however, when his father was shot, robbed, and left for dead. It was too much for his poor mother, a husband dead and a son who was getting into fights all over the territory. She wrote him a letter begging him to give up his gunslinging, but her health was already failing. She was dead by the time her son arrived home.

From that day on, the Gunsmoke Kid was a changed man. He made a promise to his mother that he would mend his ways, and her death just deepened that resolve. He kept her photo near to him to remind himself of that promise. He would still get called into fights as a result of his reputation, but he no longer went for kills. And instead of looking for fights, he looked for people in need. He figured that by saving others, he was also saving himself. He was a gunfighter with a conscience.

He brought in the man who killed his father alive, and found the evidence the law needed to convict him. His other adventures have included helping a man on a gold rush save his claim from a jumper who had a whole tribe of renegade Piutes backing him up. He ended up tricking the Piutes into thinking their friend was a werewolf. Another time, he helped a rancher expose a rival who had been rustling his herd, and defended the herd until he had gotten evidence on the rustlers. The head of the rustlers turned out to be a wanted man, and the law was only too glad to take him in. His subsequent activities are thus far unrevealed.
The more I learn about the Rawhide Kid and Marvel’s other western heroes, the more I wish I could read (or even write) new adventures with them. I’ll probably have to settle for coming up with my own new takes on such characters without infringing on Marvel’s claims to them.

Rawhide Kid Wednesday will return next week. Come back tomorrow and I’ll have something else for you.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I go to the movies to see and review Logan. Plus: Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman "77 and the new super-hero comics Alters by Paul Jenkins and Leila Leiz.


If you told me I could sleep for two days, I would doubtless clasp you to my bosom in an inappropriate manner. That’s how exhausting, albeit often wonderful, the month of March was for me. We’ll talk about March later this week.

Today, because the bloggy thing has been on hiatus this month, I am just now getting around to posting this list of things that made me happy in February. Life can be challenging and sometimes cruel. That’s the way of things. But, a while back, I decided I would take a few moments out each and every day to mention briefly something that cheered me up, that made me feel good, that lifted my spirits. Because, if we don’t take the time to count our blessings, however large or small they might be, we risk surrender to those who would crush all joy in the name of their own ego, greed or hatred. And I don’t surrender. Ever.

Here is the list of my February delights.

February 1: A hilarious Gotham moment. A revived Jerome asks Leslie who killed Galavan. Her response? “Which time?”

February 2: Bruce kicking Jerome’s ass on Gotham, but not killing him.

February 3: Another terrific Gotham moment. Jim Gordon punching the face off Jerome.

February 4: A hilarious Gotham moment. Jim asks Harvey if he should have killed Jerome. Harvey says, “Nah. He’d probably just come back to life.”

February 5: Barb is home from her cruise. We celebrated with pizza and the two most recent episodes of Bones.

February 6: Kite-Man lives! My favorite goofy Batman villain was in the recent Batman #6.

February 7: Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover. Always there to lift my spirits in the hard times.

February 8: Michelle Wolf’s brilliant takedown of Kellyanne Conway on The Daily Show.

February 9: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for his stance on immigration. This is what America should be.

February 10: The official Iron Fist trailer. It looks like Marvel and Netflix have done it again.

February 11: Bob Buethe for posting that “Bruce Wayne’s obnoxious  cousin Van (in NBC’s Powerless) actually came from the comics. His first and only comic-book appearance (1962) was in Batman #148's “The Boy Who Was Robin.” I love obscure comics trivia.

February 12: All the friends who have told me Black Lightning is in the new Lego Batman movie. Giving me an excuse to see a movie that I wanted to see anyway. As it turns out, all my friends were wrong. It was Black Vulcan. But I was still happy so many friends thought of me.

February 13: Getting up every morning and facing the challenges of the day. I win some, I lose some, but I never surrender.

February 14: Teen Vogue. A great place to get political and fashion news. The magazine and the website rock!

February 15: “No one’s just one thing.” Wisdom from Laverne Cox on The Daily Show.

February 16: Fiesta Salons in Medina. Terrific haircut and no wait. Looking good for Pensacon.

February 17: I’m now a card-carrying member of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). I’m proud to stand with that organization.

February 18: Die, Kitty, Die! by Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz. It’s an honestly funny and sexy satire.

February 19: Sharing Pensacon 2017 with Sainted Wife Barb. I love showing my family the best parts of my comics life.

February 20: Chuck Rozanski, lord of the Mile High Comics empire, for his unwavering support of the LGBTQ community, the homeless and so many others.

February 21: Pensacon staff, volunteers, fans and guests for being some of the best people I know.

February 22: Maria and the rest of the Pensacon transportation team for taking such good care of Barb and I.

February 23: Being next to comics legend Jose Delbo and his lovely family in Pensacon’s artist alley.

February 24: Seeing Neal Adams at Pensacon and thanking him for all he has done for me and other comics creators.

February 25: Pensacon volunteer Jonathan Jones for being incredibly helpful. He even brought space heaters from his own home for Jose Delbo and myself.

February 26: Seeing old pals like John Dell, Julio Diaz, Mike Grell and so many others at Pensacon.

February 27: Seeing fan friends like Darrell Donell Tai-Pan Ratliff at Pensacon and making new ones like AJ Zipper.

February 28: Appearing on a “Diversity in Comics” panel with Rodney Ramos, Nen and Jeremy Whitley at Pensacon. I like panels that make me think.

Give me a few days to get my bloggy thing thoughts together and I will tell you about Pensacon at length. In the meantime, come back together for another installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday,” which features one of the last new Larry Lieber stories.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Monday, March 27, 2017


DC Comics/Entertainment has authorized me to release this statement on the company's behalf and my own:

DC Comics/Entertainment and Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella have reached a mutually-beneficial agreement on Tony’s past and future contributions to the company. DC is pleased it will again have access to Tony's talents and insights. Tony is thrilled to be once again associated with one of the top entertainment powerhouses of our era. This is good news all around.

With my numerous March professional and personal commitments now completed, and the publication of the above statement, I can return to full-scale blogging. Thanks for your patience during my hiatus.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Sunday, March 26, 2017


The cowled Black Bat is one of my favorite pulp magazine crime-fighters. He’s part Batman and part Two-Face and part Matt Murdock of Marvel Comics fame. Attacked with acid while prosecuting a vile criminal, District Attorney Tony Quinn is known to be scarred from the attack and thought to be blind. But his vision was restored to him and enhanced. Now he fights murderous evildoers with his aides Carol, Silk and Butch.

The Black Bat #3: The Black Bat’s Spy Trail and Captains of Death  [$14.95; March 2016] features two book-length Black Bat adventures from the March 1940 and May 1943 issues of Black Book Detective. These stories are written by the prolific Norman Daniels under the Thrilling Publications house name of “G. Wayman Jones.” Here are the title page blurbs for each of these novels.

The Black Bat’s Spy Trail:

Battling valiantly against sabotage, wholesale murder and espionage, the nocturnal champion of the victims of crime flies into the Valley of Death - ready to fight grim traitors bullet for bullet and blow for blow!

Captains of Death:

When the diabolical Dr, Mars and a sinister crew of saboteurs stalk, the Black Bat and his allies go all out to exterminate the Nazi rats who plot destruction!

In “The Belfry,” author and pulp historian Will Murray’s discusses how the Black Bat proved himself very adaptable, switching from his domestic criminal foes to the Nazis and their ilk. In the earlier of this issue’s two novels, the villains were not explicitly called Nazis. Two years later, that wasn’t a concern.

Publisher Anthony Tollin adds the informative content of this book with “The Mask of Kin Platt,” the writer/artist who took over the Mask comic-book series - the name change was part of a deal struck with DC Comics over the similarities between Batman and the Black Bat - with the July 1940 issue of Exciting Comics. Finishing out this volume is that six-page comics story.

Sanctum always delivers considerable bang for your bucks. It’s why I recommend their books so highly and so often.

ISBN 978-1-60877-201-8

Keep reading the bloggy thing for more information on Sanctum Books publications.

Friday, March 24, 2017


Back Issue #95 [April 2017; $8.95] is the “Creatures of the Night” issue of the Bronze Age fanzine edited by Michael Eury. The cover is by Bill Sienkiewicz and Klaus Janson, adapted from the splash page of 1981's Moon Knight #6.

Inside the issue, the “Pro2Pro” column offers a dialogue between Moon Knight creator Doug Moench and Sienkiewicz. An interview by Mike W. Barr, one of the best of the Batman writers, also appears in the issue. Other articles discuss: the Johnny Blaze version of Ghost Rider, Night Nurse, Eclipso, I...Vampire, Batman’s wardrobe, Batman pencil art and Nightcat. The 84-page magazine is filled with history and inside information, side by side with never-before-seen and rarely-seen artwork. It’s the Bronze Age and Beyond!

Keep watching the bloggy for more on TwoMorrows publications.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Alter Ego #145 [March 2017; $9.95] is the special Star Wars issue of Roy Thomas’s comics fanzine. As an editor and writer at Marvel Comics in 1977, Thomas brought the Star Wars property to Marvel, adapted the movie for the first six issues of the title and worked on a few more issues beyond that.

Star Wars has often been called the comic book that saved Marvel. This issue features a long and informative interview with Thomas on the origins and pitfalls of the comic. It also has interviews with original artist (and co-adapter of the comics version of the movie) Howard Chaykin, penciler Rick Hoberg and inker Bill Wray. The Star Wars section of the issue concludes with Lee Harsfeld’s article on the 1978 adaptation of Star Wars, which was published by Pendulum Press for its younger readers and drawn by Charlton Comics mainstay Charles Nicholas.

Also in the issue: Michael T. Gilbert on comics and jazz; a piece remembering historic fanzine publisher G.B. Love and Houston comics fandom; a lively letters column; and a look at African-Americans in the comics published by Fawcett in the 1940s.

Alter Ego is a star. It’s my favorite magazine of comics history and I recommend it to one and all.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for more mini-reviews on notice on books and magazines from TwoMorrows Publications.

Monday, March 20, 2017


So here I am playing hooky from the two books I’m working on this week to let you know how cool The Bronze Gazette #78 [Spring 2017; $10] is. Which is very cool.

Gary Chaloner is the cover artist. Inside there’s more of his art and his article on his creation Red Kelso. Inspired by Doc Savage, Kelso’s adventures take place before Doc’s. If both characters were part of the same universe, Kelso might have inspired Savage to his lifetime of adventure, invention and protecting the innocent.

The 54-page digest magazine also includes an article on the fantasy Doc Savage covers of Keith Wilson, BG’s Art Director; Will Murray discussing “The Doc Savage Sequel I Didn’t Write”; an interview with J.G. Jones, who wrote Doc near the end of DC’s failed “First Wave” imprint; articles on cover mysteries with the Bantam Books series; and more.

I recommend The Bronze Gazette for its fascinating articles, great illustrations and top-of-the-line production values. You can learn more about the magazine at its website.

© 2017 Tony Isabella


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Rick Norwood's Comics Revue starring Modesty Blaise, Tarzan. Flash Gordon, the Phantom, Buz Sawyer, Alley Oop, Rick O'Shay and more; Ronald Wimberly’s Black History in Its Own Words; and Movie Comics: Page to Screen/Screen to Page by Blair Davis!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


This week at TALES OF WONDER...something different for my 200th TONY'S TIPS column for the site!

Monday, March 13, 2017


This bloggy thing of mine is still on hiatus, but, having finished a challenging portion of one of my three major March projects, I’m treating myself to a stealth posting.

I have made no secret of my love for cosplay. Seeing fans in their costumes is one of the things I like best about appearing at comics and other conventions. However, because of the way some conventions arrange their artist alleys or exhibitors areas, I don’t always get to see many of the cosplayers. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. My own cheap-ass hands.

At every one of my remaining convention appearances in 2017, I will have money and a certificate for cosplayers. Here’s how that will work...

I have a list of cosplay I’d like to see at my 2017 appearances.  Many are characters that I created or co-created (Black Lightning, Misty Knight and Tigra). Others will be characters I wrote, such as Hawkman, Hawkwoman, the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider and others. Some will just be characters I love like the Blonde Phantom, Cosmo the Merry Martian, Herbie Popnecker, the original Sugar and Spike, the classic Zatanna, Mademoiselle Marie, and others. 
If you come to my convention booth/table cosplaying as these characters, I will give you a dollar and a special certificate.

A dollar? Yeah, but it’s the thought that counts and I will have at least fifty bucks on hand to hand out at each convention. If this frivolity is as successful as I hope it will be, I’ll up the bank to seventy-five or a hundred dollars per event.

The certificate? That will be a whole lot cooler. It will have all kinds of flowery language and a terrific design. It’ll be suitable for framing. All I need is a really good designer.


If you want this gig, e-mail me. I’ll send you the copy that needs to be included on the certificate as well as which characters need to appear on it. Quote me your price, send me a quick rough and we will be good to go on this gig. Besides paying you, I’ll praise you in this bloggy thing and tell other prospective clients how to get in touch with you. This gig won’t make you rich, but it might lead to other work and it will surely make some cosplayers happy.

Here’s the character list...

Batwoman (1960s)
Batwoman (modern-day)
Black Lightning
Black Widow
Blonde Phantom (Golden Age)
Chalice (Alters)
Cosmo the Merry Martian
Doc Savage
Dreadnought (novel by April Daniels)
Emma Peel and John Steed
Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze; 1970s)
Godzilla or other giant movie monsters
Grim Ghost (Atlas)
Gwen Stacy (1960s)
Herbie Popnecker
IT! The Living Colossus
Jimmy Olsen (1960s)
Koro Sensei (Assassination Classroom)
Lady Killer (Dark Horse)
Little Lulu
Lois Lane (1960s)
Luke Cage
Mademoiselle Marie
Magicman (ACG)
Mary Jane Watson (1960s)
Misty Knight
Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan)
Ms. Tree
Nemesis (ACG)
Pat Savage
Rawhide Kid (1960s/1970s)
Richie Rich
Rocket (from Icon)
Rocket Racer
Sara Lance
Sugar and Spike (1960s)
Top Cat
Usagi Yojimbo
Zatanna (1960s)

Okay, now that I’ve written this down, it sounds like I’m the kid who could only get a dog to play with him by tying a hamburger around my neck. However, I’m willing to come off as pathetic to see some great cosplay. If it works, it’ll be fun. If it doesn’t work, well, it won’t be the first time a plan of mine went awry.

Feel free to spread this bloggy thing cosplay contest all over the Internet. By my next convention, I’ll have a phone that will allow me to take decent photos. You better believe I will share them with my readers here and elsewhere. Always forward.

I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Saturday, March 11, 2017


Saturdays seem to have become my day for sharing bad news with you. This time around, the news is that the bloggy thing won't be returning to its usual full-sized entries until April 1. 

I'm not happy about this. However, as this bloggy thing doesn't add a dime to my income, it has to be what suffers when I have multiple deadlines on paying work. Someday, when I come up for air, I'll figure out how to add a "DONATE" button to this blog or launch a PATREON account to support this and other Isabella efforts. But that whole "coming up for air" thing won't happen until I complete my insane March workload.

How bad is my mood today? I'm thinking of putting a "Beware of the Tony" sign on my office door.

Two of my three most pressing gigs are bringing me joy. One of them has hit some bumps in the road, but these haven't dimmed my enthusiasm for the project. Not one little bit.

The third of my most pressing gigs - the one I have to complete by Monday - that has become a royal pain in my ass. I may write about it as some future date. But not today.

On the home front, things are pretty much okay. My health is much improved over recent weeks. I'm picking up speed every day. Still, there are some concerns with members of my family and also my birth family. Those do weigh on me. I can't do much or anything about these troubles, but, not being a monster, they do weigh on me.

On the mother-in-law front, her divorce from her scumbag of an ex-husband happened yesterday. As she has Alzheimer's Disease, she hasn't been told of this. (My wife has power of attorney.) She knew he was divorcing her, though she didn't know he was pursuing a mail-order bride from Romania. I'm hoping karma crushes this creep's balls.

My mother-in-law doesn't know - but may suspect - that she will never return to the home where she lived for close to four decades. The house has to be sold, but there have been some problems there as well. We think the sale will be completed soon, but it's been frustrating as all get out. I'll have more to say about that at some future time.

On my Facebook page, I recently posted that, just on the matter of my mother-in-law, there are five people who should be damn glad I am not the Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo Spectre. My mother-in-law didn't particularly care for me, but I am still outraged by how many miserable people have been taking advantage of a sick and delusional old woman. Not to mention what this does to Barb, who's always tried to do what's best for her mom. I hope every one of them meets a horrible fate. Because I'm nowhere near as good a person as Barb.

I'll try to post some short bloggy items in the weeks to come. I hope you'll stick with me until I can get back to full-scale entertainment and edification. As always, I thank you for your patience, your support and for being such wonderful fans, friends and readers.

Grumpy Old Tony signing off for now.  

Monday, March 6, 2017


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...The hilarious Goodnight Batcave by Dave Croatto with pictures by Tom Richmond; the charming Dramacon Vol. 1 by Svetlana Chmakova; and the scarier-than-ever Harrow County Volume Four: Family Ties by writer Cullen Bunn with artist Tyler Crook!

Saturday, March 4, 2017


I have some announcements today which I really wish I didn't have to make.

Due to illness (nothing serious, but still slowing me down), pressing deadlines and some unfortunate family matters that aren't being resolved as quickly as we would like, I have cancelled my appearance at next weekend's FantastiCon in Toledo. 

I have also cancelled my appearance at next month's Gem City Comic Con, though it appears I was never actually invited to that fine show, never actually agreed to be at the show and have not been listed on the guest list for that show. I'm pretty sure both the convention and yours truly wanted me at that show, but stuff fell through the cracks.

This full-scale return of this bloggy thing of mine will also be pushed back to Wednesday, March 15. That's the best case scenario. It could end up being pushed back again.

This remains an exciting time for me, but it is also a challenging time. Thanks for your patience as I hunker down to do all the things I need to do.

Tony Isabella