Friday, December 28, 2018


My friends...

I have hit some bumps in the road this week. Nothing serious, but I'm having some trouble organizing my schedule. If you're waiting on a response from me, please e-mail me again. Use e-mail to contact me and not Facebook, Twitter or anything other than e-mail. That remains the most organized part of my disorganized life.

Most interview requests are going on the back burner because I have some projects to finish before the end of January. I might also being taking a trip of several days in January. This being a one-man operation, there's only so much I can juggle at once.

Thanks for your incredible patience and your continued support.



Christmas 2018 is a few days in the past as you read today’s bloggy thing. I did not dress up as Santa  with an axe this year because I had declared a "War on Christmas" truce. Which doesn’t mean an occasional review of a ho-ho-horror movie won’t find its way into the bloggy thing between now and Christmas 2019.

Christmas 2018 was filled with much joy and a few annoying moments. Those annoying moments came from stupid people saying stupid things. The stupid pisses me off, but only briefly once I remind myself how utterly inconsequential such people are to my life and the lives of  those I love. Onward to the fading days of this year and the bright hope of the year to come

What you’re getting in this bloggy things are reviews of comics I  read through my local Medina library system. Borrowing comics from a library is an inexpensive way to read graphic novels, manga and  books you might not otherwise sample. If you’re me, you like some of those books so much that you buy them for your own home comics library. Support your local library.

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips [Image Comics; $16.99] is the first original graphic novel by the stellar team that brought us Criminal, Kill or Be Killed, The Fade Out and more. Its tight 72 pages tells the tale of a teenage girl with a fascination for artistic drug addicts and how her dangerous ways impact an upscale rehab clinic. Like most of the protagonists of the impressive Brubaker and Phillips oeuvre, Ellie’s character and her world are shades of grey where life-changing surprises can and do await just around the corner.

With every new Brubaker/Phillips projects I become more of a fan of their work. Mostly I have read them through individual issues or in books borrowed from the library. Come 2019, I plan on adding them to my own library, preferably in hardcovers. Any chance of seeing a Criminal Omnibus in the near future?

ISBN 978-1-5343-0846-6


Mend: A Story of Divorce by Sophia Recca with art by Nam Kim and Gerry Leach [Zuiker Press; $12.99] kicks off a series of graphic novels written by young adults for young adults. Zuiker Press is an “issue-based literary house” whose authors tell their personal stories in advancement of various causes. In Mend, Recca tells the tale of her parents’ divorce, her blaming herself for that divorce and her mission to make sure both of them remain in her life. It’s a gutsy thing for a 14-year-old to write about her life in such a revealing manner. But...

Mend comes off like a television “afternoon special.” In a sense, it’s a real-life “Mary Sue story” whose young protagonist is almost too good to be real. As I've said many times, we are all the heroes of our own stories.  I have a lot of respect for Recca, but the emotional content in this book needed to be stronger.

I do applaud the founders of Zuiker Press for launching this company. Michelle Zuiker is a retired educator. Her husband Anthony Zuiker is the creator and executive producer of the CSI franchise. Their work here is admirable, as is that of the various other educators and lawyers involved in the graphic novels.

Perhaps I expected too much from Mend. I confess I was so excited by the news of what Zuiker Press was doing that my disappointment may have been colored by that excitement. I suggest my readers take a look at Mend and other graphic novels in the series to make their own determinations. Also available at this time is Click: A Story of Cyberbullying. Coming this spring will be Imperfect: A Story of Body Image and Colorblind: A Story of Racism.
ISBN 978-1-947378-00-1


Over half of the manga I read comes from the library. Since manga series often run over a dozen volumes, it’s an economical way for me to sample these series. Recently, I read the first two volumes of Tsuyoshi Takaki’s Black Torch [Viz; $9.99 each].

Jiro Azuma is descended from ninja and can talk to animals. When he rescues what appears to be a black cat, he discovers it is actually a supernatural creature named Rago. During an attack by other such creatures, Jiro is injured. To save him, Rago bonds with him. The two are now forever linked.

Jiro and Rago find themselves in the middle of a war between demons and ninjas. The demons hate them, considering Rago to be a traitor. The ninjas don’t fully trust Rago. Even so, Jiro and Rago are made part of the special Black Torch squad of ninjas fighting mystical monsters.

Black Torch is not unlike a modern Western-style super-hero team. There are conflicts between team members. Some of the young heroes are hiding secrets. The Black Torch trainees are looked down upon by the more experienced squads and must prove themselves.

While I wouldn’t rank Black Torch as a great manga series, I have enjoyed these two volumes. I’ll continue to follow it.

Black Torch Volume One:

ISBN 978-1-9747-0046-2

Black Torch Volume Two:

ISBN 978-1-9747-0152-0


Taishi Tsutsui’s We Never Learn Volume 1 [Viz Media; $9.99] kicks off a shonen manga series about an brilliant but poor high school student who can earn a scholarship if he helps three geniuses get into their universities of choice. The catch is that these beautiful young ladies want to pursue subjects other than those in which they are already proficient.

Nariyuki Yuiga is the tutor of the young women. Fumino Furuhashi is a literature genius, but terrible when it comes to math. Ogata Rizu is a math and science genius, but not so great when it comes to the arts and literature. Uruka Takemoto is a stellar athlete, but struggles with all her subjects.

Yuiga must keep up with his own studies while tutoring the girls. The girls must find ways to work with him and each other to achieve their goals. The girls must also deal with the growing feelings for Yuiga, even as their tutor is puzzled by the unfamiliar territory of having a close relationship with his students. Because all these kids are supporting one another in their individual goals.

This is a gentle comedy drama. These are likeable kids. There are humorous moments, but they are the natural stuff of the day-to-day efforts and relationships. I found the first volume pleasant and am eager to see how the series progresses.

ISBN 978-1-9747-0302-9

That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


Monday, December 24, 2018


Christmas is not unconditionally merry for me. There are reasons, but I’m not going to go into them in what is intended to be a very short holiday message.

The greatest gift I could have been given this year would have been to have witnessed the Dumpster President and his hench-people led from the White House in cuffs. That would have been a perp walk for the ages. The second greatest gift would have been guys like Mitch McConnell also being led away. Although, in Mitch’s case, I would settle for someone turning him over on his back so that he couldn’t run away from the damage he’s done to our country.

Several friends are not going to have a merry Christmas this year. Some have foregone hope for so long that they don’t seem capable of considering tomorrow might be better than today if they would only meet it halfway. Some are not accepted by their families or other loved ones. Some are living paycheck to paycheck and some have no paycheck to get them through these long dark nights of our American crisis. For all the happiness that should come with the holidays, there is grief and there is a sense of helplessness.

Maybe the best gift any of us could receive would be hope for that better tomorrow. For a tomorrow that shows the world our country is not as racist as the Dumpster would have it. For a tomorrow where decisions that affect us are made on some basis other than childish petulance. Where truth is not hooted down as fake news. Where our leaders aspire to our land’s better angels and do not use fear and hatred to serve the rich and the powerful.

I hope for a better America. I hope we will be able to undo all the damage already done by not just this Dumpster Presidency but all of the immoral actions taken by the Republican Party to deliver this national nightmare unto us. Make no mistake, the villain currently claiming to be President is the end result of decades of schemes to suppress votes, to silence the oppressed, to make our country not a beacon of inclusion and liberty, but a dark shadow of bigotry and fear and ignorance.

I would ask that those of us who are able to do so donate to those good people who fight the fight for all of us. Candidates who will serve the public good and not just the big-money crowd. Groups who shine the powerful light of truth on lawlessness and oppression. Dedicated heroes who fight for justice for all. Americans with big hearts who welcome inclusion because they know our diversity will always make us stronger.

On this Christmas, I am grateful for all the love and support shown to me and my work. I hope I can continue to entertain you and, on occasion, educate you. I will always try to do better in all areas. I will always strive to be more than I was yesterday.

Always forward.
© 2018 Tony Isabella

Sunday, December 23, 2018


This is the final entry in my 2018 War on Christmas holiday horror film marathon. Silent Night (2012) is a kind of sort of reboot of the classic Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), which I wrote about in 2016. I’ll be providing links to that review and my reviews of the original movie’s four sequels later in today’s bloggy thing.

Directed by Steven C. Miller with a screenplay by Jayson Rothwell, the movie stars Malcolm McDowell going big as a small-city sheriff determined to catch the city’s Santa Claus cosplayer serial killer without bringing in state or federal law enforcement. He claims he doesn’t want to ruin the town’s annual Christmas Eve Santa Claus Parade, but it’s clear early on that he wants more to his cop life than writing parking tickets.

Jaime King plays Aubrey Bradimore, a new-to-the-force deputy still dealing with the unexpected death of her husband. Her father [John B. Lowe] is a retired police officer and one of the Santa Clauses competing in the parade. Aubrey has doubts about her ability to do the job, but her father is encouraging.

The movie is rated “R” for bloody violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use. There is a lot of gore in this movie. I’ll give you some specifics in a bit.


Our murderous Santa’s first two victims are a police officer who’s cheating with a married woman. The cop is wrapped in Christmas tree lights and electrocuted. The woman is dismembered, though we don’t see that on screen.

Because of the thought-to-be-missing-but-actually-well-done cop, Aubrey has to come into work on Christmas Eve. Before she leaves her parents’ house, the camera lingers on a mysterious small wrapped gift that is mysterious because the camera lingers on it. Several other gift boxes of the same size and type will also be seen throughout this movie. We don’t discover what’s in them until nearer the end of the carnage. Spoiler: lumps of coal.

Initially, it seems the Santa slaughter is confined to people who have been naughty. A bratty teenage girl. People filming soft core porn at a local motel. The model for the porn escapes through the window, but Santa chops off her leg and tosses her feet first into a wood chipper. This is where we learn the town’s cops are really bad at being cops.

A video camera found at the motel shows the porn shoot, the deaths of two porn people and the model. The cops never go looking for the model. Indeed, they never mention her again. Escaping the carnage because she left before the slaying Santa showed up is the mayor’s slutty daughter. It’s pretty easy to spot the future victims here.

To the movie’s credit, we get some great red herrings. Donal Logue plays a traveling Santa, the worse non-serial killer Santa you can imagine. Mike O’Brian plays drug dealer and Santa cosplayer Stein Karsson. Curtis Moore plays a pervert preacher who tries to put the moves on the grieving Aubrey and takes photographs of the cleavage of the mayor’s daughter and other well-endowed Christmas carolers.

Aubrey is the most competent of the cops, but she’s slow to put it all together. From the drug dealer, she learns of an past incident years ago in another town. The husband of a woman cheating on him donned a Santa outfit and a flame thrower to get revenge on her and her lover. Aubrey’s investigation reveals other Christmas killings and that Logue’s traveling Santa was in the same town as at least one of them.

One by one, the suspects are eliminated. Aubrey shoots the dealer when he pulls a gun on her. When she spots his mysterious gift, she figures out the killer Santa is targeting his victims. She calls it in, but stops to check on her dad first. Sadly, the serial killer got there first. Which confuses Aubrey since he knows her dad was a good cop and man.

The killer gets to the police station well before Aubrey. By now, it seems Santa is going after more people than just those who could reasonably be considered naughty. He doesn’t like police officers or even clerical police workers either.

The climax is flamboyant, as in actual flames. Aubrey gets knocked around by Santa, but, when things looks bleak, she gets hold of his flamethrower and cooks him. She manages to rescue a clerical worker as the station burns down around them. We get a shot of the killer’s Santa hat, mask and beard. He has managed to escape.

The now badly-scarred killer leaves the town in his truck. We get a flashback explaining why he targeted Aubrey’s dad and other cops. The killer was the son of the earlier killer with the flamethrower and has been hiding in a truck when his father was killed. Aubrey’s dad was the officer who stopped that first killer by firing at him and igniting the flamethrower’s tanks. This is pretty much the origin of Batman. Just kidding.

The survival of both Aubrey and the killer seemed to set the stage for a sequel. Which doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon if at all. Probably for the best.

One more thing. Beyond the now-cliched Santa with an axe slaughter, two scenes mimic scenes in the original Silent Night, Deadly Night. In the original, the young man who will grow up to be the killer is visiting his non-responsive grandfather in a nursing home. Gramps suddenly and scarily wakes up to tell his grandson how Santa will kill any child who has been naughty even once. He tells the young lad to run before he lapses back into immobility and silence. That scene is repeated in this movie, albeit with the boyfriend of the mayor’s daughter. As in the original, the boyfriend is the only one present when Gramps gets all talky.

Later in the film, the mayor’s daughter gets impaled on the antlers  of a mounted deer. The same thing happened in the original movie, but with the much more attractive Linnea Quigley.


Before we get to my final thoughts on Silent Night, here are links to my reviews on the original movie and its sequels.

Silent Night, Deadly Night [1984]
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 [1987]
Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! [1989]
Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation [1990]
Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker [1991]

I enjoyed Silent Night. McDowell was fun to watch. King, Logue and  O’Brian gave excellent performances. The red herrings were something we don’t see often or as well done in other slasher movies. I did think the gore was over the top, but understand that’s actually an attraction for some viewers. If there’s a sequel, I’d likely watch it. But I don’t need to see this movie again.

Silent Night was made on a budget of five million dollars. I don’t think it turned a profit. Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer” rates it at 64% with an audience score of 33%. The Internet Movie Database users have it at 5.2 stars.

I’d planned to do two more ho-ho-horror movie review, but I ran out of Christmas cheer after seeing blackface in one of the films and watching a trailer for the other that did nothing for me. Comet TV recently showed To All a Goodnight (1980) and I recorded the film. I’ll probably watch and write about it in the near future as part of a bloggy thing on that network’s movies.

I’m already planning next year’s War on Christmas movie marathon. How many different Krampus films have been made? I suspect I’ll be finding out in the New Year.

Thanks for joining me for this holiday madness. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


Saturday, December 22, 2018


I am 67 years old today. My life isn’t perfect, but I do not doubt that I have it better than so many others in my industry, my nation and the world. I am well aware of how blessed I am.

I have a loving family and friends. I have the respect of so many people in the comics industry. I have the knowledge that I created characters and stories that mean a great deal to many people...and I am aware of the great responsibility that comes with creating an iconic character like Black Lightning. No matter how much it might annoy some folks at a certain large comics publishing outfit, I’ve no intention of ever forgoing that responsibility.

I have a body of work of which I am proud. I know I can continue to produce good work for a good many years to come. With an exception here and there, I don’t know what form that work will take. What I do know that I'll continue writing as long as I can give the work 100%. I expect to be writing for many years to come.

My birthday has turned into a two-day celebration. This is mostly due to the demands of the holiday season. That Jesus kid is such an attention diva. But he’s got his good qualities, too.

Yesterday, my son Eddie took me to see Aquaman and it is a wondrous movie. Great characters, messages and story. I didn’t even realize it ran two and a half hours until I read my pal Mike Sangiacomo’s review in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

Yesterday evening, Saintly Wife Barb, Eddie and Kelly had a variety of food from one of our local pizza places. Eddie paid for my first year of the DC Universe streaming service - which needs a lot more Black Lightning - and set it up on our smart TV. There will clearly be some binge-watching in my future.

Today, I am overwhelmed by all the birthday greetings I’m getting online and elsewhere. Wow!

Tonight, when she gets home from work, Barb has some more presents for me to open. Eddie and Kelly may drop by as well.

My birthday present to myself is to not beat myself up over those things I can’t get done before Christmas. I will be writing about some more holiday horror movies, posting each bloggy thing as soon as I finish it. I will be responding to the hundred-plus e-mails, online messages and the like sitting in my files waiting for those responses. My goal is to be caught up on this before the end of the year. Because, sometime early next year, I hope to be making a very special trip that I can’t tell anyone about at the moment. I will likely continue to be a shameless tease in 2019.

Like Pops in the Luke Cage series on Netflix, my mantra is “Always forward.” I thank you for coming on my journey with me.

Happy birthday to me. Happy holidays to you.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, December 21, 2018


For those readers wondering what the heck’s been going on with this week’s bloggy thing, I’m going all in on “naughty” this holiday season by writing about Christmas-themed horror movies. Starting on Monday, I’ve reviewed Slay Belles, Mrs. Claus, Christmas Blood and Two Front Teeth. It’s the most wonderful time of the year...if you like Krampus, serial killers, serial killers dressed like Santa Claus and vampiric elves.

For today’s cinematic Christmas cookie, we head to Finland and Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. The 2010 fantasy horror movie followed two earlier short films about a company that ships a very unusual product around the world. This full-length movie  is the Rare Exports origin story.

Directed and written by Jalmari Helander, the film is rated “R” for some nudity and language. The version I watched had subtitles, so a viewer has to be able to read to see any bad language. As for the nudity, that’s something you’ll find out about in the “spoilers” section. Here’s the Internet Movie Database summary:

In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 meters deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up. This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.

A British research team is drilling deep into a mountain. They’re looking for the ancient figure that shaped modern versions of Santa Claus. This is not a jolly kind of Santa. It’s a Santa that would punish naughty children by torturing and killing them. The stuffy executive in charge of the team actually hands out safety rules to the drillers that include no profanity or smoking or drinking and so on. They scoff until someone uses salty language.

Two boys have cut through a fence to watch the proceedings. This is naughty. Even more so when, because of the opening in the fence, a pack of wolves slaughter the nearly 500 reindeer that their village had been counting on to get through the winter. The younger of the two boys has been researching the ancient Santa and is alarmed that he and his friends will be punished by him. What of the more surprising elements of this movie for me was how little gore there is. You see the dead reindeer, but it’s not until late in the movie that we get an actual onscreen death.

By this time, things have gotten scary. Our young hero’s father has discovered what he thinks is a dead man who looks like Santa in a wolf trap. But the creature isn’t dead and he’s not Santa. He’s an elf who looks like the traditional Santa, one of dozens and maybe even hundreds of similar creatures who have been unleashed on the desolate setting of the movie.

Except for our young hero Pietari, all of the other children have been taken and trussed up in sacks. The Santa elves have made off with every radiator in the village. They’re using the radiators to thaw out their kaiju-size boss man. The kidnapped kids are there because it’s been eons since “Santa” has eaten.

Pietari, his father and two other men from the village are all that stand between Santa’s murderous elves and mankind. Wonderfully, it is the timid Pietari who overcomes his fear and devises a plan to save the captive children and end this menace. He’s even willing to sacrifice himself to accomplish this. That’s one tough little guy.

Using the trussed-up kids and a helicopter, Pietari and one of the villagers lure the Santa elves into an electrified enclosure. Back at the village, Pietari’s dad and his friend blow the frozen Giant Santa to pieces. This stops the Santa elves just as they are about to slaughter Pietari. With their boss dead, they don’t know what to do. They just stand around in the enclosure.

Pietari’s dad and his friends go into the export business to make up for their losses from the reindeer. They hose down and clean up the Santa elves. They teach them how to be proper Santas. Then they ship them all over the world.

Warning. The nudity comes during the hosing down scene and several Santa-penises are shown. This might have been the inspiration for the Bat-penis (aka Batawang) in the flaccid Batman: Damned comics published by DC Comics under their Black Label imprint. I just made that up now, but feel to spread it online. Some comics demand to be ridiculed as often as possible.

For me, the only disappointing element in the film is that we never got to see a kaiju-sized Santa Claus or any subsequent kaiju-style rampaging. Hmm...maybe it’s time for a new take on Miracle on 34th Street.


I enjoyed Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Without being obvious about its humorous aspects, it is a funny film. I loved how Pietari [Onni Tommila] finds his inner hero and the relationship between him and his father [Jorma Tommila]. The film builds suspense and then explodes into the scary stuff and the action stuff. It has a satisfying conclusion.

Rare Exports runs 84 minutes. The Norwegian backgrounds are quite spectacular and the movie has developed a cult following. It scored 84% on the Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer” with an audience approval percentage of 71%. IMDb users gave it a 6.7 rating.

My final comment? This is a movie worth watching and one that you can probably enjoy every couple years or so.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another holiday horror movie. We’ve got three more days to go before Christmas and I’ll have a fearful film for each of those days. You’d best believe that murderous creatures are, indeed, stirring.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


Thursday, December 20, 2018


My War on Christmas continues with another cinematic treat for you to wash down with a glass of all the presents you didn’t get from Santa even thought you were really good that year. It’s the full-size Dick Sprang Batmobile with that big freaking bat on its front that would have allowed me to terrorize the bullies who terrorized me as a kid. It’s the puppy my wife won’t give me this year. It’s the sight of the Dumpster President doing the perp walk as he’s led from the White House in cuffs. Yeah, it’s all the great stuff that you and I totally deserve that we’re not getting this Christmas. Or maybe any Christmas. Santa and Jesus need to get their holiday shit together!

Made for the princely sum of $200,000, today’s ho-ho-horror movie is Two Front Teeth (2006). Written by Jamie Nash, directed by Nash and co-conspirator David Thomas Sckrabulis, this comedy horror film stars Johnny Francis Wolf and Megan Pearson as a couple with more important things to worry about than their marital problems. Here is the Internet Movie Database summary:

It's the night before Christmas and Gabe Snow, a tabloid writer haunted by the Ghosts of Christmas past, is investigating a Yule Tide conspiracy. Gabe knows that Flight 1225 was brought down one foggy Christmas Eve, by a flying creature with a "glowing nose". Now, a blood-sucking Vampire - Santa Claus - has put Gabe on his list and unleashed the demonic fury of the North Pole. An army of zombie elves, who have no interest in Toys or pointy hats or dentistry, are about to turn Gabe's white Christmas blood red. Will Gabe find the true meaning of Christmas? Can he stake a heart that's two sizes too small? What will he find under his tree?

If one didn’t know this was a low-budget film, the poorly-devised animated sequences that cover some of the movie’s major plot points would tip you off. Most notable is the event that drives the film. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is hit by a passenger plane, which then crashes killing all on board. The enigmatic Pete [Joseph L. Johnson] puts the fatally injured Rudolph down and takes the creature's glowing nose. This is something we learn later in the movie as we also learn the nose has amazing powers on its own. But let’s turn to our hero and heroine.

Wolf plays reporter Gabe Snow like a timid Clark Kent who is not just pretending he’s timid. As his wife and others characterize him, he's kind of a pussy. He has his own seriously screwed up issues with Christmas, which makes him working for something called The X-Mas Files a really odd career choice. Gabe’s passion for writing mostly bogus stories about Christmas mysteries has estranged him from his wife, who is currently cheating on him with a mall Santa.

Pearson is absolutely wonderful as Noel Snow, who is passionate and kinky and really bad-ass when it comes to fighting demonic elves. Yes, there are demonic elves. There are also warrior nuns who have taken a vow of silence and are known as the Silent Knights. This is that kind of insane and insanely hilarious movie.

The vampire Santa seeks Rudolph’s nose. Pete and the Snows have to prevent that from happening. Before the end of the movie, we learn the secrets of the evil Santa and those of two other immortal icons of holidays. I don’t want to reveal more because I don’t want to spoil this film  for you. I liked it a lot and think you will, too.   

Running 85 minutes, Two Front Teeth does drag on occasion, but not for long. It shows its low budget frequently, but overcomes those financial limitations with a “can do” madness, comically horrific special events and the earnestness of its actors.

Pearson is especially fun, even though she has but five credits on her IMDb entry. She doesn’t seem to have appeared on screen since 2007, which is a shame. I think she could have been a great heroine for movies like this one.

Two Front Teeth is highly recommended by me. Heck, I think it will hold up over multiple views. As full of humbug as I am at this time of year, it bought me some silly joy. It goes on my nice list.

You’d better watch out, my beloved bloggy readers. Because I’ll be back tomorrow with another cinematic assault on Christmas.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Before we get started today, I want to wish each and every one of you “Happy Holidays!” Yes, that’s right. I wrote “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Because this is my continuing assault on everything you hold dear. Sure, rational people understand that both greetings convey good will, but I’m going after the irrational bozos among you. Because, this year, Santa isn’t just deciding if you are naughty or nice. He’s added third and fourth boxes to his checklist. Maybe you’re naughty. Maybe you’re nice. But, this time around, delusional and just plain stupid are also options.

This is your Not Drunk Uncle Tony coming at you with today’s review of yet another Christmas-themed horror movie. Who needs alcohol if you can be this obnoxious without the hard stuff?

Today’s cinematic “War on Christmas” salvo is Christmas Blood, the 2007 Norwegian horror movie written and directed by Reinert Kiil and starring actors you’ve never heard of playing characters named Etterforsker and Fengselsbetjent.   Here’s the lengthy summary of the movie from the Internet Movie Database:

Murderer gets caught after terrorizing and killing people during Christmas night for past 13 years in Norway. After being in solitary for almost 6 years, psychopath escapes couple days before Christmas night. Police tracks next target of the psychopath to be in small village in the northernmost part of Norway. Group of friends are having reunion in the same village and unexpectedly end up being in part of Santa's plan.


Christmas Blood takes a long time of its 104-minute running time to get going. The movie opens with a flashback to the seeming death of the serial killer, who doesn’t die despite being shot a few times in the head at close range. Like when lying on the ground after he was shot a few other times. Unless I’m missing something because of the sparse dialogue/captioning, the detective who shot him is not informed that the killer survived. Apparently, it’s not revealed to the public either. I mean, what could go wrong with locking up this guy who won’t die and who attacks hospital workers on occasion and who eats nothing but porridge?

The flashback is shot very dark. At first, I thought it was to hide the gore. After a while, I decided the camera work just wasn’t very good. The film’s visibility comes and goes.

The movie also takes a lot from other movies. The killer is said to be a creature of pure evil much as Michael Myers is characterized in Halloween. He goes around in a Santa Claus costume swinging an axe like a number of other holiday horror movies. The police are mostly wildly incompetent.

Apparently, the killer is working through his own “naughty or nice” list of people who have committed crimes. During his incarceration, he fell behind on his schedule. Some of his intended victims died while he was locked up. One woman, who was on the naughty list and the mother of our final girl, killed herself. Don’t worry. The Santa from the block with the axe isn’t that picky. He’ll even kill folks not on his list.

The final girl’s college friends come to visit her in a town that seems deserted. Maybe her neighbors all decided to go someplace a bit warmer and less bloody for the holidays. Besides the friends, we get the fiancé of one of the other girls and two jerks who come to the house via Tinder.

Other key characters include the original detective who thought he had killed the hatchet-wielding Santa and the current detective on the case. They never really bond.

With the exception of the final girl and one of her friends, most of the other characters are nasty pieces of work. Some of them are intent on asking the final girl question after question about her mother’s suicide. The one black character has sex with the fiancé of one of the other girls and is an utter shit throughout the film. The fiancé can’t keep his Little Richard in his pants. Most of the other girls like to play scary pranks on the final girl. And those two Tinder jerks, one of them tries to rape one of the girls while she sleeps. The other...

Okay, the other nice character is a beautiful girl who can’t speak and who wears sexy holiday outfits and lingerie. She’s quite eager to do the whim-wham with the non-rapist Tinder guy until he calls her a retard. Smooth, man.

That’s the cast. The retired detective wants to kill Santa and the other one wants to take him in. At one point, the retired detective drugs the other one to get his gun. This gets the drugged detective killed.

Some of the deaths are well-staged. Most of the blood resembles the thin syrup is almost certainly is. The only murder that got to me was that of the girl who couldn’t speak.

The retired detective blasts away at the serial killer in the snowy main road of the empty town. He puts him down and shoots him in the head again. When he turns to check on the final girl and then turns back, Santa has taken a powder.

I’m not quite sure what happened in the final scenes. I think that the final girl drove away. I know the retired detective went back to the house where the still-living current detective is bleeding to death while wrapped in Christmas lights. There’s a gunshot, but I’m not sure if the retired detective mercy-killed the other cop or if he shot himself. The killer is last seen at a distance, standing in the middle of the street.


Christmas Blood was originally released as Juleblod. It received a 4.3 user rating from the Internet Movie Database. I would rate it much lower, but a good part of my disdain can be attributed to the poor camera work, the sparse information given in the subtitles and the unsatisfying ending. Your murderous mileage may vary.

Come back tomorrow for more ho-ho-horror.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Holiday gift suggestions like taking your loved one to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, buying them the deluxe limited edition of Batman: The Completed Animated Series or buying them Disney Masters Vol. 4: Daan Jippes and Freddy Milton: Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: The Great Survival Test:


My War on Christmas continues with yet another holiday-theme horror movie. This time, it’s Mrs. Claus [2018]. Directed and written by Troy Escamilla and starring Brinke Stevens, this slasher flick is a solid B production with a lot going for it. Here’s the summary from the Internet Movie Database: 
A group of college students attending a Christmas party at a sorority house that has a sinister past are stalked by a bloodthirsty killer disguised as Mrs. Claus.


Ten years ago, a sorority member’s vicious hazing of a new member let to that new member killing the girl and then hanging herself. Today, the sister of the murdered sorority member has joined that same sorority and is living across the hall from the room in which her sister was murdered. Bad choices, anyone?

On the eve of the sorority’s Christmas party, Angela [Mel Heflin] gets an e-mail from a “Mrs. Claus” promising vengeance on her and the sorority. We’ll later learn Mrs. Werner, mother [Helene Udy] of the girl who hanged herself, has harassed Angela and her family on occasion. There had been at least one restraining order against her in the past, though Angela considers her mostly harmless. In what I thought was a nice touch, after the first girl is brutally killed this time around and before we “meet” Mrs. Werner, the movie gives us other suspects. I named four possibilities, though, one by one, three of those were eliminated. Seriously eliminated. The fourth, a Santa collecting donations for sick children, appeared once and was never seen again.

Another thing I liked about this slasher film is that, outside of Angela’s late sister and Mrs. Werner, the college students lining up to die are all fairly likeable. They are far from perfect, but they are not bad kids at all. So, when they are murdered, there is a certain sadness.

Campus cop Julie Cornell [Brinke Stevens] investigates the seeming disappearance of the first new victim. The killer manages to hide all the bodies and clean up the crime scenes, so the college kids don’t really know what’s going on until it’s too late. This might be a typical slasher film, but, for the most part, it’s smart about the basics.

Another nice touch. For the most part, the victims are dispatched with holiday-themed items. Not as well done are the copious amounts of blood that flow from wounds like water from a garden hose. That the camera dwells on the flow makes for some tedious post-slaying scenes. Whatever the “blood” was made of, it does look delicious.

You know the way movies like this go. One by one, the college kids are killed. Angela, her boyfriend Kyle [Billy Brannigan] and campus cop Cornell are the only ones left when the killer is revealed to be the last remaining suspect. Except...

Mrs. Santa pulls off a twist I didn’t see coming and follows that with another twist I didn’t see coming. The battle between Angela and the twist I didn’t see coming is exciting. However, that final battle is marred by a nonsensical “one year later” scene. I mean, I have my theory as to the what and why of that scene, but it still made for a lousy ending to the movie.


I enjoyed Mrs. Claus, which was originally titled Stirring. I was not impressed by the look of the masked killer or the lack of any real reason, beyond the e-mail near the start of the movie, for calling said killer “Mrs. Claus”.

I probably don’t have to mention how much I absolutely adore Brinke Stevens and her lovely Bettie Page bangs. Should I ever get myself into the movie-making business, I’d love to work with her.

Mrs. Claus runs a tight 86 minutes. The IMDb gives it a user rating of 4.2, which I think is on the low side. It’s a perfectly spiffy Christmas slasher film. It’s not a classic, but I don’t regret the time I spent watching or writing about it.

Come back tomorrow for more ho-ho-horror.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


This holiday season has proven to be more challenging and time-consuming for me than I anticipated. My apologies to anyone waiting on responses from me. Those won't be happening until sometime after Christmas and maybe not until the new year. I'm currently planning a trip that could have me away from my office for several days, so that's also a factor.

Let me stress that all is well. I'll be posting today's bloggy thing a little later in the morning.

Happy holidays to all!

Tony Isabella

Monday, December 17, 2018


‘Tis the week before Christmas and all though the bloggy thing, our Tony is doing a frightful yuletide movie binge. From here through December 24, I’ll be writing about a different holiday-themed film every day. It’s my twisted take on the War on Christmas.

Slay Belles, not to be confused with the Ru Paul album of the same name, is a 2018 movie directed by Dan Walker and written by Jessica Luhrssen and Walker. It stars Barry Bostwick as Santa with Kristina Klebe, Susan Slaughter and Hannah Wagner as urban explorers Alexi, Dahlia and Sadie. Here’s the Internet Movie Database summary:

It's Christmas Eve and three cosplaying women come across the malevolent Christmas demon Krampus. The girls must team up with Santa Claus himself to battle the creature and save the world.


“Cosplaying” is a stretch. For the holiday-themed episode of their YouTube show The Adventure Girls, the ladies go to the abandoned Santa Land amusement park wearing sexy Christmas outfits. For those of you who care about such things, there is one lightning-quick boob shot. I mention this only so you don’t spend the entire 77 minutes this movie runs looking for more.

On their way, the girls stop at a bar owned by the prickly Cherry [Diane Salinger]. They also learn from a local park ranger that a number of children have gone missing and some mutilated bodies have been found. The operating theory is a hungry bear.

The girls break into Santa Land, which is played by the remains of the for real Santa’s Village in southern California. Before long, they run into Krampus as the demon places bloody body bits into a Christmas present box. He sees them and chases them into a cabin. Inside the cabin: Santa!

Bostwick clearly has a great time playing Kris Kringle. After his magic convinces the girls that he’s the real deal, he explains that Krampus is the demon of Christmas evil and hints at some mystical connection between himself and the monster. This is where I nailed the ending of the movie. But I digress.

Santa and the girls capture Krampus by shooting him with some sort of tranquilizer gun. When Krampus goes unconscious, Santa passes out as well. One and one equals...well, let’s just say the ladies aren’t good at math.

Krampus escapes. Santa and the Adventure Girls run for their lives. Krampus kills some people, including Sadie’s estranged boyfriend. He responds to her phone call just to die. Ranger Sean [Stephen Ford] shows up and the girls shoot him with the tranquilizer gun. More fleeing and a little more killing ensues. Oh, yeah, and those bloody bits Krampus put into the Christmas present box have turned into hairy balls with teeth. They try to chomp the girls, but get shot into dead hairy balls pretty quickly.

I’m cutting to the chase. Bar owner Cherry is revealed to be Kris’ ex-wife. Cherry’s new main squeeze is Krampus. When Krampus is shot  and Santa suffers the same injury, the girls finally suss out how strong the connection is. However, by that time, Cherry and Krampus have taken off in Santa’s sleigh to spread their murderous mayhem all over the world. The girls save the world by decapitating Santa with an axe. Santa dies. Krampus dies. The sleigh explodes, which probably means Cherry dies as well.


On the plus side...

Slay Belles isn’t a very good movie, but it’s good and funny enough for one viewing. Bostwick and Salinger clearly have fun playing their characters. Klebe, Slaughter and Wagner have a likeable chemistry. The Krampus suit is decent.

On the minus side...

The acting and the writing could and should have been better. The basic idea was good.

The night scenes were shot way too dark. That seems to be a common problem with movies like this. Sometimes it’s because the effects don’t look good, sometimes it’s just bad camera work. I’m guessing it’s a combination of both those things in this movie.

Richard Moll is wasted as a ranger in this movie. His character is  totally unnecessary to the movie. He doesn’t get any good dialogue or action scenes. As a fan of this actor’s work, I felt cheated by how poorly he was used.

Rotten Tomatoes says 92% of the audience liked this movie, which is probably fair given that it is a fun little holiday horror romp. Its average rating was 4.8/5.

Slay Belles is available on Prime Video for $4.99 (rent) or $7.99 (buy). The DVD is $15.99, but Amazon has it for $11.99. The Blu-ray is $26.99, but Amazon has it for $20.25.

The DVD cover art is shown at the top of today’s bloggy. The actual movie poster is way more fun:

Without even breaking a sweat, I found seven more Christmas horror movies in my vast accumulation of movies I own and haven’t watched yet. I’ll be watching one of those for tomorrow’s bloggy thing. It doesn’t matter if you’re naughty or nice, you’re getting my reviews of these movies right up to Christmas Eve.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


Sunday, December 16, 2018


Black Lightning’s midseason finale aired last week. I kind of sort of knew what was going to be happening in the first season of the TV series based on the character I created. That was not the case with this second season. I was constantly and pleasantly surprised by the chances the episodes took and how well the cast and writers pulled them off. Since some of you may not be current on the show, here’s our traditional warning:


The Pierce family has been put through the wringer. Jefferson lost his job as principal and saw his beloved Garfield High turned into a bureaucratic “zero tolerance” parody of its former promise, complete with metal detectors at all its entrances. Yet the moving scene where Jeff announced this to the students made it clear he’s had a positive effect on them.

Lynn, still dealing with having had to kill a man at the end of the first season, is caring for the metahumans in suspended animation. The government has its own agenda and that included bringing in a heartless monster whose science-over-humanity machinations led to the deaths of half of those metahumans.

Anissa is struggling to find balance between her own true self and her other identity as Thunder. She can be reckless and has crossed more than a few lines along the way.

Jennifer is horrified by her powers and, taken out of school, feels like a prisoner in her own home. Her love for Khalil (Painkiller) and her desire to see him freed from Tobias Whale saw both of these rebellious teens making bad choices.

Peter Gambi has enemies beyond those faced by the Pierce family, a situation which led him to fake his own death and has impacted his ability to help the people he loves most in this world. Above all else, Black Lightning has become the most out-there family saga on television and I couldn’t love it more. My creations have gone to emotional places that surprise and delight me.

Jefferson isn’t always thinking through his actions. I feel closer to him than ever. Because, as I’ve said in the past, there is a lot of me in my creation. If anything, he’s handling things much better than I would in his shoes. But I sympathize with his desperation, fear and helplessness because those feelings would be my feelings in those circumstances.

Tobias Whale has become such a formidable villain in this season. I’ve witnessed my wife screaming at the TV when he commits acts of brutality. She wants him ended. Me...I think the Tobias Whale we’re seeing on the TV series is a much better and more complex and scarier Tobias Whale than any of the versions I’ve written. Watching him do his evil is like watching a chess master.


Great new villains. Surprising revelations. Amazing performances. The best writing of any comics-based TV series. Breathtaking action sequences. Outstanding graphics and music.

Black Lightning is the best show on television. Watching it every week is like getting a new and beautiful grandchild every week. I love the series and everyone who contributes to it. Since I’m not writing Black Lightning comics at the moment - not by my choice - the show is the only version of my creation that I consider to be consistent with the character’s core values and my own.

Black Lightning will return from its midseason hiatus on Monday, January 21. If I can pull things together by then, I’ll be bringing you my scene-by-scene commentary of each new episode shortly after it airs.


Over at DC Comics...

I wish I could report that I’m writing an ongoing Black Lightning series or even another mini-series, but, apparently, DC Comics has no interest in my writing Black Lightning or any other project for them. I just hope I don’t have to wait another twenty years to be reunited with my creation.

For now, fans of my Black Lightning comic books should be on the lookout for February’s Black Lightning: Brick City Blues trade paperback. This book will feature my 1995 stories with Eddy Newell, some not remotely good stories by another writer, the Kwanzaa tale Eddy and I did for DC Universe Holiday Bash #2 and an all-new foreword by me. Readers have been asking for this run to be collected almost from the moment it ended and I’m delighted that it’s finally coming back into print.

Another worthy Black Lightning item for that month will be Scooby-Doo Team-Up #46. Thanks to the clever and often hilarious writing by Sholly Fisch, this has become my favorite DC title. I can’t wait to see what Fisch has in store for my creation.

Two other new comics with Black Lightning were also on the February schedule, but the orders on both have been cancelled. The first was The Other History of the DC Universe #1, a prose and art comic book by noted screenwriter John Ridley. I was intrigued by this out-of-DCU-continuity series and even ordered a copy.

Why were orders cancelled? DC must have been somewhat impressed by it, having bought the cover of the Previews catalog to showcase it. Then...something happened. Several online pundits have speculated on the why of this. Theories include the disastrous launch of DC’s Black Label imprint and the uncomfortable fact that Michael Davis pitched a similar project to the publishers several years ago and had it rejected by the company. I’m not remotely in the DC loop, so I’ll just wait and see how it plays out.

Orders were also cancelled on Batman and the Outsiders #1 and #2. This is the ill-conceived title in which Black Lightning regresses to just another Batman sidekick, despite how out of character that is for him. Official word is it was pushed back because of coming  events in the DC Universe. From where I stand as the guy who knows Jeff Pierce better than anyone working for DC, I’d be deliriously happy if this title never appears.

DC also again offered two previous Black Lightning trades. One is Black Lightning Volume Two, which features 1970s stories by writers other than me and a new introduction by me. The other one is Black Lightning Year One, of which I have a low opinion.

Not offered again were Black Lightning Volume One, which reprinted my 1977 run on the character, and Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, this year’s Isabella-written reboot of my creation. I think CDH is the best comics story I’ve ever written, so I’m disappointed it and the reprint volume were not offered again.

Unless I love Black Lightning comics not written by me, I’ll likely not comment on them. However, that’s just a guideline I have given myself. It ain’t carved in stone.


One more item. Not to be a nag, but the *official* Black Lightning credit line is “Created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden”. That’s the credit line DC Comics is *required* to use. I wrote it. DC agreed to it.

“With” was always meant to be ambiguous. Neither Trevor nor myself consider him to be a co-creator of Black Lightning. My including him in the credit honors his role as the primary designer of Black Lightning’s original costume and his other artistic contributions to my first series.

I should always be referred to as the *creator* of Black Lightning and not *co-creator*. If the ambiguity in the official credit leads you to refer to Trevor as *co-creator* that’s something that I can live with me. He’s my brother and my friend, someone I want to work with again. Indeed, he was my first choice to draw both my second Black Lightning title in 1995 and Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands.  I’ve asked him to draw the cover of my Black Lightning and My Road to Diversity book-in-progress.

Going forward...

“Black Lightning Beat” will be appearing regularly in this bloggy thing of mine. Even without me writing new Black Lightning comics, there’s always news and cool stuff to report. Look for the another installment very soon.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


Friday, December 14, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Spider-Man/Iron Man: Marvel Team-Up by Gerry Conway, Bill Mantlo, Ross Andru, Jim Mooney, Sal Buscema and other Marvel Comics creators of the 1970s and reprinting one story by me. Also: After the Rain 1 by Jun Mayuzuki and I am Sonia Sotomayor by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos:

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


The holiday season is upon us with all its attendant madness. Here in Medina, I’m also working on my 2019 appearance schedule. Which means it’s time for our continuing bloggy thing on what it takes to get me to your event.

Here’s where we start. If you want me at your convention or other event, you must e-mail me. Don’t contact me on Facebook or Twitter. E-mail me and I’ll send you my appearance requirements.

In 2019, most conventions I drive to will have to provide me with the following: travel expenses, hotel expenses and appearance fee. If a convention flies me in, it needs to provide airfare for me and a companion...and an aisle seat. At 67, I’m not as spry as I used to be and, even when I was younger, I was a nervous flier. Think of my companion, who will be either a family member or a friend, as my comfort human being.

Besides appearing at your event, I’m willing to do two panels a day as long as they aren’t back to back. I can do a solo presentation. I can host or appear on panels. I can do a performance of one of my stories, using audience members to “play” some of the characters. In the case of the last, I will need someone to prepare the story for projection on a large screen.

I will do pre-event publicity with your local radio or television stations. Ditto newspaper reporters.

Those are the bare bones of my appearance requirements. I’m not a cheap date, but I am a fun-within-reason date.

My 2019 schedule is starting to come together. Shows in italics are tentative at this time.

February 2-3: North Texas Comic Book Show

February 22-24: Pensacon
March 9-10: Big Apple Comic-Con

May 18: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

July 12-14: G-Fest

July 17-21: Comic-Con International
August 16-18: New Mexico Comic Expo

November 2-3: Akron Comicon
November 8-9: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Pensacon, Akron Comicon and Grand Rapids Comic-Con are very likely. It’s just a matter of working out a few details.

Comic-Con International is very iffy. That’s an expensive event to do on my own dime and, at this time, the convention hasn’t invited me and no publisher or other company has arranged to bring me to the event. I want to attend. I am bone weary of Black Lightning panels and promotions taking place sans the guy without whom there would be no Black Lightning. I’m trying to figure out how can I afford to attend. Suggestions are welcome.

With the exception of the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention and G-Fest and my garage sales, I charge for my signature. The first one is free. After that, they are $5 each. If you’re bringing a comics-grading company person to witness the signature, the price is $10 each. Those prices could go up. When I have raised the price in the past, it’s been because actual fans have urged me to do so. But, at the moment, I think those prices will stand.

If you want me to sign something for you via the mail, here’s the procedure for that.

My address is:

Tony Isabella
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

Send the item in a package that includes a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return mailing. That way I can sign it and pop it back in the mail immediately.

Let me know how and where you want the item signed. Do you want it personalized? Do you want it signed on the cover or on the splash page inside the book?

As with other items, I’ll sign one item for free. Additional items will cost $5 each.

There are some thankfully few folks who criticize me for charging appearance and autograph fees. There will be conventions who won’t have me as a guest because of this. I’m not going to be debate my policies beyond this:

I’ll be 67 years old on December 22. I’m in relatively good health and intend to keep writing until they pull my keyboard from my cold dead hands. However, in my field, there is never a guarantee of a next job after the job you’re working on. I’m working to put money aside for my retirement or any health problems that arise. So, yes, I am charging these fees.

We live in a convention world where “Zombie #3” gets paid to come to conventions. I’m not asking for the kind of money a convention will pay for a bona-fide movie or TV actor. But the money they would pay “Zombie #3"? Yeah, they can pay me that, too.

Of course, there are other ways you can contribute to my financial well-being and that’s by buying my books. The titles currently in print are:

Black Lightning Volume 1 ($19.99)

Black Lightning Volume 2 ($19.99)

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands ($16.99)

July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One ($17.95)

And, coming in February of 2019:

Black Lightning: Brick City Blues ($19.99)

One more thing. I also speak at libraries, schools and other venues. In 2019, to name one example, I’ll be speaking at a prison. Obviously, getting an appearance fee and expenses helps my ability to give these talks. However, whenever possible, I will work with these institutions. I’ve had a pretty good career and life. Paying back seems like a small enough thing to do.

If you have any questions related to today’s bloggy thing I haven’t answered above, feel free to e-mail me. I’ll do my best to answer in a timely fashion, even at this busy time of the year.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella



Good morning, my friends. I'm running behind on my schedule - no battle plan survives contact with the enemy - but hope to post a new bloggy thing for today before the end of the day.

Monday, December 10, 2018


Magazine subscriptions make great holiday gifts. They remind loved ones of your love for them all year long. The other day, I wrote about some magazines I thought would make wonderful presents for people in your life. Today, I’m writing about some other magazines I also think would serve that role just as admirably.

Edited by Eric Norwood, Comics Revue [Manuscript Press; $19.95 per double-numbered issue] is another of my mostest favorite magazines. Yeah, I know “mostest” isn’t really a word, but it aptly describes a journal that delivers 128 pages of classic comic strips in each and every issue.

Let’s look at issue #389-390 [October 2018] as an example. On the cover, we get a way cool shot of gunslinger Hipshot Percussion from “Rick O’Shay” by Stan Lynde. Set in the Old West, the strip presented adventure, humor, social commentary or a combination of the three. This issue reprinted a story from 1976.

The issue also featured complete stories of Mandrake the Magician from 1937, the comical Sir Bagby from 1962, the Phantom from 1959 and Casey Ruggles from 1952: Serials included two different takes on Flash Gordon, Alley Oop, Buz Sawyer, Tarzan, Gasoline Alley, Steve Canyon, Krazy Kat, Steve Roper and Garth.  When a new issue arrives at Casa Isabella, I try to prolong my enjoyment by reading just one story a day. “Try” is the operative word there.

A one-year, six-issue subscription is a bargain $59. For ordering information, go to:


As the pastor of the First Church of Godzilla, the closest thing I have to holy scriptures is the quarterly G-Fan magazine edited and published by J.D. Lees. It can be a flawed scripture. There’s been a little too much right-wing jingoism in the mag’s “Gfantis” comic strip and then some fairly absurd defense of same, but just about everything else in the issues is wonderful.

G-Fan #121 [Fall 2018; $6.95] had articles on the secret history of Destroy All Monsters, one of the actors playing a Ghidorah head in the next Godzilla movie from Legendary, G-Fest XXV, King Kong, The Meg, alterations of Godzilla movies for release in the United States and more. The highlight of the issue was a replica of the original pressbook for Destroy All Monsters.

Four issues of G-Fest will cost $25 in the US and $26 in Canada, where the magazine is based. Both subscriptions are postage paid. The only drawback to the magazine is that it makes me want to run out and buy all the amazing things it shows and, since some of the stuff is only available in Japan, I’d be chalking up more frequent flier miles than I can afford.

For more, go to:


My friend Martin Arlt’s Mad Scientist [$7 per issue) comes out on an irregular basis, but the arrival of each new issue delights me. Issue #33 [Summer 2018] has an amazing paper cutout cover inspired by The Lost World [1925] by John Rozum, who you might know better as a top-notch writer of comic books. It illustrates Arlt’s 17-page article on that classic movie.

Other articles and features cover Viewmaster dinosaurs, the sequels that time forgot, the rhedosaurus (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), famous and obscure paleo-monsters and Hal Hardy in the Lost Land of Giants, a Big Little Book.

Subscriptions to Mad Scientist are not offered, but you can go the magazine’s website 
to order this current issue and back issues. Order a stack of back issues for the monster-loving friends on your gift list. They’ll love them!


We have to go across the pond for the next two magazine on Tony’s recommended gift list.  Published by D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd., the black-and-white digest-size comics magazine Commando releases four issues every two weeks. The four-pack is equally split between new and reprint stories.

I compare Commando to the non-series back-up stories that would run behind Sgt. Rock and the Haunted Tank in DC’s great war comics of the 1960s. Each 63-page tale is complete unto itself and suitable for all ages. The reprints are generally set during World War I and II, but some issues range much further. Indeed, a science-fiction adventure or two has worked its way into the mix.

I’m months behind on my reading of Commando, but that’s a factor of how often issues are released and not any lack of fondness for the series. Some of the recent issues I’ve read have featured courageous women fighting for their country, soccer rivals and soldiers striving to achieve redemption for past mistakes or outright sins.

Commando doesn’t come cheap for those of us in the United States. My recurring one-year subscription runs me just south of $200 per year. You either have to be lousy rich, which I am not, or really love someone to give them a Commando subscription.

The other D. C. Thomson publication I recommend and subscribe to is Beano, Britain’s longest-running children’s comics weekly. Quirky kids, who could only be considered as truly bad in a world that was much nicer than ours, are Beano’s reigning stars: Dennis the Menace (who made his debut the same time as the American Dennis the Menace, but not related to the Mitchell kid), Minnie the Minx, Roger the Dodger, Billy Whizz (the world’s fastest boy), Calamity James, Bananaman and more. The humor won’t appeal to all readers, but I’m still enjoying the magazine enough to sign up for a recurring subscription at around $125 a year.

For subscription information, I suggest you go directly to the D.C. Thomson website:


TV Guide is my final magazine gift recommendation for this holiday season. I have a nostalgic love for this magazine. When I was just a wee lad and the magazine was digest-size, I used to love reading every new issue and deciding which programs I would watch. Yes, we only had three channels back then, but it was still magic.

The current TV Guide is magazine-size and carries information and schedules on a great many more channels, but, every day, I check out what’s on that day and decide which shows I’m going to record. I wish that I had that “record” option when I was a kid. Even with just three channels, there were hard decisions to be made.

If you tell me TV Guide isn’t as fun as it once was, I won’t argue with you. But it’s still fun and it’s still useful. I’ll subscribe as long as I own a TV set.

TV Guide is one of those ridiculously cheap subscriptions. A year subscription (52 weeks, though some weeks are doubled up) costs $20 and, currently, you get a free wine tote with your order. Pay via credit card and you’ll get an extra eight free issues. You can buy a subscription at:

That’s all for today, my friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella