Tuesday, September 4, 2018


More often than is good for me, I find myself overwhelmed by the multiplicity and speed of events that impact me in some way. There are moments of joy and there are moments of sadness. I took blows to the heart with the passing of creative folks like Russ Heath and Gary Friedrich and Marie Severin and Neil Simon. They were people whose work meant a great deal to me.

I didn’t know Russ well, but we had a few friendly conversations at conventions over the years. I think he would be on anyone’s list of the best four or five war comics artists of all time and probably on similar lists for all the other genres in which his magnificent art appeared. He received assistance from the Hero Iniative and was a staunch advocate of that organization.

Gary and I were friends, albeit convention and long-distance ones. He was exceedingly friendly and gracious to me, the guy who ended up following him on Ghost Rider. He had nothing but good things to say about my work on his creation. At one point, I was seeking to learn who owned his Hell-Rider and Butterfly creations of the very early 1970s with the hope of getting those rights and then working with Gary on new versions of those underappreciated heroes.

Marie was the light of the Marvel Bullpen during the few years of my employment therein. She could do everything. She was gracious, kind and devilishly clever when someone raised her ire. We weren’t even lunch buddies, but she remains one of the best memories of my time in New York City.

Neil Simon was an influence and an inspiration to me. He’s one of the best and funniest writers of all time. I learned a lot studying his works. I never met him, but I read his plays to this day. The Odd Couple is my favorite.

Alongside the sadness of their passing, there is the joy that their lives and the work brought me. I glad I got to know them, even, in the case of Simon, from afar.

Life is always going to be a mixed bag. Things look pretty grim in my country and my industry. But, for all those things, it’s never hard to find other things that make me happy. I try to note one of these other things every day.

Here’s the August list:

August 1: Black Lightning: Brick City Blues is on the schedule for early next year. It collects the 1995 series. I’ll be writing the intro as soon as I come up more superlatives to describe the work of artist Eddy Newell.

August 2: Jiro Taniguchi’s Guardians of the Louvre is a beautiful graphic novel with so much heart and soul and insight. It literally brought me to tears.

August 3: The “Once Upon a Time” episode of Lucifer raised the bar re: respect for comics creators. In that episode, Neil Gaiman was the voice of God. I’d settle for playing a grumpy old man in Black Lightning.
August 4: I love comics more right now than I’ve ever loved comics in my life. Besides the incredible variety of material both new and old, it’s the wondrous diversity of characters and creators that renews my passion daily.

August 5: I find myself quite delighted Nicholas Cage finally got to play Superman, albeit in Teen Titans Go! To The Movies. Now he and I should talk Ghost Rider 3.

August 6: My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame is a beautiful, emotional, reflective and riveting manga. I cherish it.

August 7: I have an intriguing idea for the conservative super-hero I wanted to add to my new universe. If my research pans out, I may have to start thinking about doing four titles initially.

August 8: Dynamite’s Project Superheroes. As individual issues, I didn’t find them entertaining. In trade paperback, I’m liking them much more. Not classics, but solid reads.

August 9: So many e-mails, Facebook/Twitter messages and calls from good folks having my back against Comicsgate. Of course, Comicsgate would be outnumbered if it was just me against them. But it’s not just me. Not by a long shot.

August 10: A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo. Her new novel of former Amish police chief Kate Burkholder - set in Ohio - is one of the best in the series.

August 11: I got a fan letter on my Craig’s List garage sale post. She wrote: “Even though I'm not in the market for anything you're selling, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your ad and looking at your picture. Really brought a smile to my face!  Good luck with the sale.” Of course, now I have to maintain that in my future ads.

August 12: Going back to Duck Tales again. “The Last Crash of the Sunchaser!” was such an emotionally-charged episode. Unexpected and heartbreaking. Can’t wait for the next episode.

August 13: Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss. It’s a great book to celebrate thirty decades of one of my favorite TV series.

August 14: The Asylum’s Megalodon, which premiered yesterday on the Syfy channel. Michael Madsen’s final scene was insanely wonderful. This is why I love The Asylum.

August 15: A great start to my day. Finished writing introduction to a collection of my work. Booked my hotel room for next year’s G-Fest. Gonna take the rest of the day off. More or less.

August 16: Incredibles 2. I’m begging you, Brad Bird, don’t make me wait another fourteen years for the next one.

August 17: Flaming River Con, first LGBTQIA+ geek comics convention in the Midwest. It’ll happen on Saturday, September 22, at the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River, Ohio. I plan to attend.

August 18: Sirius XM’s Studio 54 channel. Now that’s music to get your day off to a swinging start. Reminds me of my days not dancing at discos. You’re welcome.

August 19: NEO Comic Con 2018. I had a wonderful time at this show. Congratulations and thanks to promoter Shawn Belles and his amazing team.

August 20: 6-Headed Shark Attack. I like my shark movies real big and stupid. This was my favorite of the films leading to The Last Sharknado with Santa Jaws a close second.

August 21: Duck Tales continues to amaze me. “The Shadow War” had so many surprises and so much heart. It’s the best animated show on television.

August 22: Keeping relatively sane in an insane industry by taking more time for myself. A movie a week at the local theater. Lunches with friends. Some social evenings. Pacing myself for the long haul because I ain’t going away any time soon.

August 23: Randy Rainbow. I love this guy’s personality and songs. Comedy is wonderful medicine for what ails us in this era of the Dumpster President. You can listen to Randy on You Tube here.

August 24: Had lunch with Andrew Farago and Shaenon Garrity, who were visiting family in my neck of the woods. It was a fun and came at a time when I needed it. If you’re a comics pro passing through Medina, e-mail me and maybe we can get together.

August 25: Being trolled by Comicsgate clowns. No better proof that I’m on the right side of history.

August 26: This year’s garage sales ended on a high note as I made 147% of my goal. I had great conversations with fans and friends. This goes into the books as a big win.

August 27: My son Ed’s housewarming party was a huge success. The place looked great and it was nice to see so many of his old Ohio State University buddies there.

August 28: I was interviewed by the local CW affiliate for a piece to run just before the second season of Black Lightning starts. They let me pick the location. So we filmed at the Historic Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island, the scene of the climatic battle between my guy and Tobias Whale in Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #5-6.

August 29: That whatever my differences with DC Comics, the company is honoring its financial agreements with me. That wasn’t the case under the previous management.

August 30: Despite the sadness of their passing, it makes me happy to have known Gary Friedrich and Marie Severin, to know they were among the creators who made me want to create and to know I’m part of the Marvel Comics legacy of which they were such an important part.

August 31: The unexpected twists my life takes. A one-day trip to Los Angeles has now become six days. Catching a surprise break on a hotel for same. Getting a great chauffeur in my best friend Bob Ingersoll. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


  1. Thank you Mr. Isabella for maintaining such a positive attitude. Thank you for posting your thoughts and standing up for what is right. (If only I had a tenth of your backbone...)
    Most of all, thank you for Black Lightning.

  2. Tony, I'm so pumped to read that Brick City Blues will be released next year. I love all your BL work (including the latest mini-series), but that '90s series is near and dear to my heart, even more because I inadvertently got rid of it a few years back. (It was in the wrong long box.)