Saturday, November 25, 2017


When I was a guest at this year’s Akron Comicon, I was kept so busy behind my table that I barely got a chance to walk around the show and had no time whatsoever to shop. That doesn’t mean I came away from the event empty-handed.

My dear friends from WBNX-TV, Cleveland’s CW station, were on hand with their usual booth full of swag. They are really excited about the soon-to-premiere Black Lightning TV series and brought hundreds of posters they had printed for this and other events. I signed a great many of those posters and came home with a stack of them to bring to my 2018 convention appearances.

Hanging next to the WBNX poster is a poster created by Lee Smith. Lee is the Columbus-based publisher/creator of The Ohio Chronicles, a swell series of digest-sized comics on our state’s history. As a surprise gift for me, Lee designed an incredible Black Lightning poster that features all the copy from Black Lightning #1 (1977), overlaid on the cover of that first issue. The photo above doesn’t begin to do this print justice.

Lee gave me a framed copy of the poster and 499 additional copies of the image. For contractual reasons, I can only sell one hundred of these at my future convention appearances. The others will be signed and either donated to comics-related charitable efforts or  given out as gifts to stellar individuals who go the extra mile to keep Black Lightning riding high.

Sometime in the near future, I’ll get a better image of this poster to share with you. For now, take my word that it’s truly a groovy collectible. Keep watching this bloggy thing for more information on where you might be able to acquire one.

My friends Mike and Janice Olszewski gave me Cleveland Radio Tales [Gray & Company; $15.95]. This is their third book on local media, following their Cleveland TV Tales and Cleveland TV Tales Volume 2. While the book, by its very nature, is Cleveland-centric, I think anyone who has either worked in radio or who grew up listening to radio stations not unlike our home-grown wonders will enjoy all the great anecdotes Mike and Janice present herein.

The back cover touts the talk show host, astrologer and “vampire” who performed an exorcism live on-air. A host who did his show in the nude. A host who made up live big-band concerts, some of which featured long-dead performers. The tale of how the not-yet-famous Jack Paar almost lost his job saving the city from an invasion from Mars. The courageous DJ who broke FCC rules to stay on the air and report on the 1968 Glenville riots. There’s even the story of how Gene Simmons of KISS came to town and was interviewed in full KISS regalia at the Cosmic Comics comic-book store I owned and operated in downtown Cleveland from 1978-1989. And so much more.

The Olszewskis have a knack for this kind of book. It’s filled with great stories told in conversational style and accompanied by rare photographs. The chapters are short enough to be read and enjoyed whenever a reader has a few spare moments. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ll be picking up a few of these to give out as Christmas gifts to area friends and family members. It’s a swell collection of amazing blasts from the past.

ISBN 978-1-938441-90-5

The first time I met Matthew K. Manning, he was a kid excited to be attending one of Roger Price’s legendary Mid-Ohio-Cons and doubtless excited to meet the Tony Isabella. Some many years later, Manning is an accomplished comics writer and historian with many dozens of books and comic books to his name. He’s also a friendly guy and I enjoyed chatting with him during the Akron Comicon.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures [DC/IDW; $19.99] is the trade paperback collection of the six-issue comic-book series that teamed up those classic defenders of the night. Drawn by Joe Sommariva, the story features a legion of Batman's and the Turtles’ greatest villains as well as Batman allies Batgirl, Nightwing and Robin. When Manning graciously gave me a copy of the book, he said it was one of his favorite gigs ever. I can see why. These stories are fun from start to finish.

The “but we live in different realities” situation is handled via portals that show up unexpectedly in both Gotham and in the NYC of the Turtles. The portals mean that any villain can and does appear, much to the consternation of the heroes. The interactions between the Batman family members and the Turtles are simply wonderful. I hope this team-up isn’t a one-time thing.

The back cover blurbs of this collection praise it for its thrills, its all-ages accessibility and classic properties. I’m absolutely on the same page with all of them. I enjoyed the heck out of this book, got caught up in the “who’s next” fun of which villain would appear next and was even surprised by the identity of the “big bad” behind it all. I loved it.

We’re close enough to Christmas and other winter holidays for me to recommend this book as a gift for younger comics readers. Anywhere from five or six years old to seventy or eighty years old. Because fun doesn’t have an age limit.

ISBN 978-1-63140-909-7
After going through some serious medical issues, the one-of-a-kind Chris Yambar is making new comics again. The one-of-a-kind designation is a federal regulation. Or so I’ve been told.

Yambar’s The Fire-Breathing Pope [Moordam Comics; $5.95] is a older Yambar creation and I predict big things for the diminutive, fiery man of the cloth. Here’s the inside front cover copy:

Everybody loves the Fire-Breathing Pope! In a world of anger, destruction and dogma, the Fire-Breathing Pope appears as a ray of sunshine. He’s all about love, hope, peace, hot peppers and cigars. These days, everyone had an addiction. He is addicted to fun and whimsy. This follow-up to the creation of Mr. Beat is more enlightening than a holy day of obligation. If you’re looking for a good time, you have genuflected in the right direction. This collection contains some of the best and blessed for those new to the Fire-Breathing Pope cult. It’s okay to laugh. I am Chris Yambar and I approve this message.

I like the Fire-Breathing Pope more than Mr. Beat, and I’ve been a big fan of Mr. Beat. In a less sensitive era, I could see the FBP being a major hit on the newspaper comics pages. Open your heart to him and you’ll agree.

In addition to the FBP, Yambar gave me Mr. Beat: Automatic Refills [$5.95}, a collection of choice riffs with the beatnik coffee guru, and the “gross, creepy, evil fun” that is Zombie BBQ [$5.95]. The latter is not for the faint of heart.

Look for Yambar and his comics at a convention near you, if you’re near a convention near him. Otherwise, for information on getting his comics, write him at:

Moordam Comics
23 S. Hartford Avenue
Youngstown, OH 44509


Though my pal George Broderick, Jr. says his biggest ambition is to become one of the most beloved characters in American Folklore, it should be noted that I think of his as the best cartoonist you’ve never heard of. George does it all. He writes. He draws. He colors. He letters. He edits. He publishes. His Holy Cow Comics are among the best all-ages comic books being produced today, though they’re also filled with material older readers will appreciate as well. His annual Christmas comics are always a delight. If I were a big-time publisher, I would have collected his Christmas comics and his Holy Cow Comics a long time ago. I think they would be huge with mainstream audiences. In short, I’m a fan. Even if I were tall, I’d be a fan.

Broderick’s most recent offerings were Holy Cow Comics #12 ($4.95; featuring part three of The Quack Quack Diaries), Holy Cow Comics #13 ($4.95; featuring the adventures of Captain Awesomesauce) and The Saga of Julbock, The Christmas Goat ($8.95).

“The Quack Quack Diaries” are told in chapters of two pages each. The prose captions have has a child-like quality mixed with a bit of commentary and sass. Holy Cow Comics #12 follows Quack Quack to college and then into the job market. As always, the plucky duck’s path through life is filled with pitfalls and twists.

Captain Awesomesauce (Holy Cow Comics #13) is a gentle spook of the super-hero comics of the 1960s with a science geek who turns into a powerful hero. His billionaire employer’s daughter is crazy for the scientist, but her father despises him. Yet if our hero should reveal how he gained super-powers, his boss would claim all of the research for his company. That’s not something that should end up in the hands of the unworthy.

The Saga of Julbock is a clever Christmas adventure involving the title goat, whose life was changed when he was present at the birth of Jesus. Now sort of a self-appointed guardian of Christmas, the courageous young goat does battle with Krampus and the demon’s plan to destroy the holidays.

For information on how you can buy George’s wonderful works, visit his website
That’s all for today, my bloggy readers. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new installment of Black Lightning Beat, the first in a series of annotations on Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1. I hope you’ve read that issue because there will be spoilers.

See you tomorrow.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

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