Friday, March 29, 2019


I had not planned to post any new bloggy things until April 1, but then this happened...

I don’t know if this is significant or not. I do know I haven’t had any of what I call “comic book dreams” since DC Comics kicked me to the curb last year and reduced Black Lightning to Batman’s support Negro. But I had one this morning just before waking.

I was a younger, more fit Tony Isabella. I was working on a super-hero movie in a world where super-heroes existed. My position with the production was ill-defined. I seemed to be there to do whatever was needed at the time. I did some writing. I did some production assistant stuff. I did some holding hands for actors in need of a friend or just someone to listen to them.

The movie was financed by Tony Stark. Some of the actors were super-heroes themselves. Peter Parker was playing a character not unlike Spider-Man. Starfire of the Teen Titans was playing herself, but she was a very angry young woman.      

Donald Trump was the President of the United States with the same vileness  of his administration as in our world. Because the public was fearful of super-heroes - Trump went after them with the same bigotry and racism he exhibits in office - the heroes kept things very low-key.

What I remember of the dream was that it unfolded like one of those great old Batman stories where Batman and Robin were in some weird adventure with a group of people from many walks of lives. All of them were dealing with problems of one sort or another. During the adventure, they came together and overcame their problems. In real life, I sort of wrote my take on that story - “The Desolation Run” in an issue of Ghost Rider - in tribute to Bill Finger.

I only recall bits and pieces of my interactions with the heroes. I was friendly with Peter Parker. I helped an older hero realize he still had value and, yes, I do realize the older hero might be some projection of my own situation in a comics industry that seems to have little use for me.

The most vivid memory is my talking down Starfire from a moment of anger that could have destroyed her and others. Someone wrote down my words to her and the scene was added to the movie. In fact, it was the climax of the movie and the last scene filmed.

As the actors, stars and others left the set to get ready for the wrap party, I lingered to contemplate what an amazing experience it had been for me. Peter walked over to me and suggested I visit him in New York. The older actor came over and said, if this did turn out to be is swan song, he was glad he got to know me.

The last person to come up to me - and I hadn’t even realized that he was on the set - was Tony Stark. He’d been watching him during the filming. He said I had a lot to offer the entertainment world and the world beyond it. He handed me a piece of stationery for a company called “Tony Isabella World Works” and told me that, when I decided what I wanted to do next, the funding and the staff was already in place for it.

That’s when I woke up.

I have missed these comic-book dreams. Maybe this particular one was a subconscious sign that I’m overcoming my depression over my recent setbacks in the comics industry. Maybe it means nothing. But, if I have more such dreams and recall them with the vividness with which I remember this one, I’ll share them with you.

Well, maybe not the one with Black Widow, Misty Knight, Tigra and Zatanna...

© 2019 Tony Isabella



Wednesday, March 27, 2019


I'm still working on odds and ends, but I wanted to update my upcoming appearances schedule. This does not include the dates of my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales. Depending on how well my preparation for the garage sales goes, those garage sales will start in late April or early May. 

I try to limit myself to two appearances per month. As you can see, there are still many appearance opportunities available at this time. If you would like to be a guest at your event, e-mail me sooner rather than later. I'll send you my requirements and we can take it from there.

Here's the schedule...

April 12-14: Great Philadelphia Comic Con

April 27: Cleveland Public Library Coffee and Comics

May 4: Free Comic Book Day (TBA)

Just waiting to confirm the final details on my FCBD appearance. 

May 17: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention opening ceremonies and Glyph Awards presentation

May 18: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

July 12-14: G-Fest

July 17-21: Comic-Con International

My family is more into going to Comic-Con than I am. The convention isn't bringing me in. Nor are any of the publishers who I've enriched with my creations and stories. I'm just acclaimed enough to be unlikely to get the Finger Award. Also, to date, no one has expressed any interest in hiring me for anything. I will do some panels with Mark Evanier and those will be, as always, great fun, but that's all that's on the horizon at this time. I'll let you know if any of this changes.

August 4: NEO Comic Con

August 16-18: New Mexico Comic Expo

September 21: Flaming River Con

I'm not attending as a guest. I'll be there to show my support for the local LGBTQ community.

November 8-10: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

As we get closer to each event, I'll post more details.



Tuesday, March 26, 2019


It will be several days before I can start posting new bloggy things. I'm working my way through some stuff while handling a whole bunch of odds and ends. My target return date in April 1. That's not a joke. It just happens to be the return date I believe I can achieve. Besides, I made with the funny yesterday. Thanks for your patience. Thanks for your support. Have a great week!

Monday, March 25, 2019


Ever since I posted the above photo of me wearing a Black Lightning vest during my visit to the Black Lightning set, fans have asked if I’ll be making a cameo appearance in the third season. Naturally, due to the hundreds of non-disclosure agreements I have signed in recent years, I can neither conform nor deny any of the rumors that have arisen in the wake of my silence.

However, I was recently contacted by a “journalist” who wanted to interview me for a story revealing a number of cameo appearances I might be making in the future. To be honest, I hate to see these appearances leaked because it will minimize the delightful surprise when viewers recognize me. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that no one will believe this “journalist,” especially if he breaks this  story on my own blog.

I offered him $20 (American money) and a six-pack of warm beer for the exclusive rights to the story. After some dickering - I added a signed copy of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, a signed photo of myself, a towel and a coupon for 30% off at Walmart - he agreed. Here is his report:
An exclusive scoop by Talbot Wacker

Comics fans have been wondering when Tony Isabella, the co-creator of Black Lightning, would be making a cameo on the show that stars the super-hero he created and sold to DC Comics in the 1970s. What they didn’t know until I, the best investigative reporter in all of comicdom, am right now revealing to them, is that Isabella’s career is about to explode in a new direction.

Podcasts, public service announcements and televised appearances on various news programs with Isabella have been circulating through the entertainment industry for months now. According to whoever is in charge of Warner Bros this week:

“Isabella has a presence that astonished us. We showed the videos to every one and they all concluded that he was a really nice guy who we all loved. We couldn’t pin down why we liked him.  We just did. Everybody wanted to use him in everything from our super-hero shows to our movies to orientation videos for whoever will have my job next week. We tried to sign him to an exclusive contract, but he called me Bullwinkle and said something hilarious about how that trick never works. I felt something deep in my lady parts and I’m not even a woman.”

While actual details are scarce to the point where some might think I, the best investigative reporter in all of comicdom, was pulling his information out of his ass, I can confirm that I am exclusively listing these thirteen upcoming appearances.

Isabella plays Dr. Helga Jace’s estranged husband. She keeps him in a pod in Markovia.


Isabella plays Danson Queen, yet another half-sibling Oliver knew nothing about. He’s a terrible person who hits on Felicity, Dinah, Laurel and Thea. He’s accidentally shot in the crotch with an arrow when Oliver tries to teach him archery.


Isabella is a super-speedster from a future alternate world where he is wanted for going to all-you-can-eat buffets and cleaning them out in seconds.


Isabella plays a Time Bureau employee who wins the organization’s “Ugly Sweater” contest. The prize is a trip to meet the historical figure of his choosing.  Hilarity ensues.


In a flashback, Isabella plays the young J’onn J’onzz’s imaginary friend Zook. Pixilation was required.


Bizarro-Brainiac. He keeps shrinking himself and getting stuck in a variety of bottles. Expect lots of spit-takes as various members of the cast almost drink him.


Gets eaten by an crocodile.


Recurring wannabe villain Kite-Man. He never actually commits any crimes. He just crashes into trees and yells ‘Rats!”


Isabella plays a geriatric Scrapper from the Newsboy Legion talking about Suicide Slum in the 1940s.


Mazikeen tries Tinder. Swipes right when she meant to swipe left. Ends up dating character played by Isabella. He makes her laugh, so she sleeps with him. Walk of shame is epic.


Voices exchange student Zook.

THE BATMAN (2021):

Bruce Wayne’s wacky next-door neighbor.

In an as-yet-unsold pilot, Isabella plays a washed-up comics writer who discovers and reconnects with Beebo, his favorite toy from when he was a boy. With no other outlet for the writer’s creativity, his imagination flows into Beebo and brings the stuffed animal to life. Mystical hilarity and vengeance ensue.

As the best investigative reporter in all of comicdom, I stand by each and every one of these exclusives. If any or all of them don’t happen, it’s only because the industry hates me for being the best investigative reporter in all of comicdom. For more exclusives, you can visit my best comics news site in all of comicdom at [redacted by Tony Isabella].

Tony here. I’m now regretting spending that twenty bucks plus the cost of the signed copy of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, the signed photo of myself and the towel. As for the coupon for 30% off at Walmart, it expires tomorrow. I doubt Wacker will clear customs in time to use it.

In other entertainment news, I saw Captain Marvel with my kids Eddie and Kelly. Tomorrow, I’ll bring you my review of the film. See you then.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Thursday, March 21, 2019


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...A Fire Story, a powerful account of how cartoonist Brian Fries and his wife Karen lost their home in wildfires that scorched northern California in October, 2017; Garfield Complete Works: Volume 1: 1978 & 1979; and Moteki Love Strikes! 1 by Mitsurou Kubo

Monday, March 18, 2019


I'm kind of sort of taking the day off. My online posting of any kind will be limited today as I finish a couple of pressing items on my "to do" list. The bloggy thing will return no latter than Thursday. I'm shooting for sooner, but that depends how long it takes me to finish those pressing items.

Sunday, March 17, 2019


The Center Action Network is one of the organizations I contribute to when I get a decent-sized check from DC or Marvel. It enables LGBTQ centers and their constituents to act as effective, powerful champions; protecting social services, health care, programming, and funding within the LGBTQ community. A few days ago, I received this e-mail from them:

In another spiteful assault on the transgender community, the Trump administration instructed the Armed Services to begin discharging transgender service members effective April 12.

“This is another blatant attack on what ultimately makes our military the strongest in the world. Serving our country has nothing to do with race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity; and everything to do with believing in our Constitution, the one thing that makes us all uniquely American,“ said Lora Tucker, CEO of CenterLink.

Today, close to 15,000 transgender troops proudly serve in the military, and President Trump’s ban has been denounced by former military leaders, members of Congress from both parties, and the American Medical Association. This announcement reverses those gains and ignores the progress made. There is no legitimate reason for this action, only hate at its darkest levels, and we must demand that it stop.

This is an exercise in a raw bigotry from a cowardly draft-dodger who received four bogus draft deferments for alleged “bone spurs.” This is policy doubtless made at the behest of his homophobic vice-president and designed to delight the phony Christians who see him as their golden ticket to the end of days. It’s a disgusting insult from the most dishonorable of men to the troops who have served so honorably in spite of having to overcome great obstacles to serve their country.

I am not a fan of what passes for “Christianity” in this country. It ignores the teachings of Jesus Christ as I learned them during my twelve years in Roman Catholic schools. It attempts to enshrine its discriminatory beliefs into the law of our land. It is absurd that these same bigots paranoically rant about “Sharia law” being made law in the United States without recognizing their attempts to accomplish their version of the same. The main difference is Sharia law in the US is a fantasy with no basis in reality and what they are trying to do could become a vile reality. 
“Christians” who support the Dumpster Trump and his blatant bigotry are lousy Christians and worse Americans. Their freedom of religion doesn’t constitutionally include the right to impose that religion on all Americans. They are not the law of the land.

I have many dear friends who are transgender. Some I know through our online interactions. Others I know from what we laughingly call real life. I have held them while they cried because of the hatred directed at them and because their dream and their right to be who they are is continually under attack. But I don’t think one needs to know a transgender person to recognize how terrible, how wrong, how un-American the Dumpster’s actions are.

I urge you to stand up for transgender rights, just as I urge you to stand up for the rights of all who are being targeted by Trump and his legion of bigots and racists. Write your elected officials. Donate to LGBTQ organizations. Vote for candidates who will fight for what’s right and decent.

This is not going to be an easy fight. The opposition is stacking the courts with extreme right-wing judges. It is writing districts to hold on to the power it can not keep without such evil tactics. They are clever and determined villains.

We have to be heroes. Every one of us. All of us.

For information on the Center Action Network, visit their website at

This “Citizen Tony” pieces have become the most difficult for me to write. There is not a day that goes by without the Dumpster lying about something or pushing forward his inhuman agenda. There is not a day that goes by without his Republican Party goons or his fellow travelers in the white supremacist movement doing terrible things. And, all the while, he gushes over murderous dictators who are not remotely our allies. It is a scary time for America.

I’m going to try to include “Citizen Tony” in the bloggy’s regular rotation. I’ll try to focus on just one issue at a time. Of course, the hard part will be deciding which issue. There are so many that need to be addressed. But I’m in the fight and I’m staying in the fight as long as I can draw breath.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Saturday, March 16, 2019


The North Texas Comic Book Show (Saturday and Sunday, February 2-3) was held at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas. From the outside, the building looks like something you’d see in a Star Trek movie. Inside, its nearly 100,000 square feet make for a facility that can easily hold a major comics event and more.

The convention area was huge. It held over three dozen guests from the world of comics plus dozens of vendors. The aisles between the rows of tables were wide and easy to navigate.

There was plenty of room in my booth and, as a added convenience, the convention took an incredibly comfortable chair from one of the venue’s offices for me. I don’t think my back has ever felt as good after a convention as it did after this one. Other conventions will be hard-pressed to provide me better seating. Which doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. Hint, hint.

The show provided sandwiches, drinks and snacks during the convention, so I never sampled the concession stand fare. However, from walking by the stand, it seemed like a clean, efficient and tasty operation.

The center’s restrooms were likewise clean and efficient. Yeah, I know most convention reports don’t talk about restrooms, but some of my readers are almost as old as I am. You know what I mean.

I got to the center a little before the start of the convention. As Amy Chu had liked the cheesy Godzilla sketch I did for her son, I did one for her as well. Here it is:

I signed a lot of comics on Sunday, including some late 1960s X-Men issues that contained letters written by me and published in those issues. I’m starting to get more of these. If I can ever get good copies of all of the 50+ letters I had published as a fan, I might collect them in a book. Any equally demented collectors out there want to assist me in this effort?

Everybody has a podcast these days. I didn’t keep track of all the ones I did that weekend, but two stand out. The first was with my friend Elliot S! Maggin, one of the premiere DC Comics writers of the 1960s through the 1980s. I wish the company would put together a volume of his best stories. I’d sure buy it.

The other podcast I remember was with my pal Chandler Rice, who put on the Las Vegas convention I attended last November, who has a huge comics business and who represents a number of great comics writers and artists. We had some technical difficulties and had to tape the podcast twice, but we got it done.

My Sunday panel was “Diverse Characters in Comics" with Amy Chu and Denys Cowan. Again hosted by Moises Chiullan, it was a conversation we need to have whenever comics fans gather at a convention. Lots of great comments from Amy and Denys. Me? I got a pretty good laugh when I spoke of how hard it was to find white male role models in comics when I was growing up.

Cosplayer Hannah Cortez was back as Wonder Girl. Of course, I had someone take a photo of her in front of my booth.

I also took some photos of the Black Widow recruiting me to sign up with the Avengers. That’s British Pixie, a professional cosplayer, model and costume builder who was born in Manchester UK and is now based in Houston TX. She does great work and you can see more of it on her Facebook page or her Instagram page.

No disrespect to the ladies, but my favorite cosplay of the weekend was far and away Josh Lee’s “Deadpool on the couch.” If you’ve seen Deadpool 2, you know what scene Lee is recreating. He designed his brilliant costume so he could kneel and have the couch level with the floor. Several fans posed for photos of themselves sitting next to Deadpool. It was unforgettable cosplay.

Former retailer and DC Comics executive Bob Wayne paid a surprise visit to the convention. Bob did me a number of good turns while he was at DC, even after I was unceremoniously bounced from my second Black Lightning series in 1995. He’s a good people and it was nice to see him looking so happy and healthy.

Near the end of the show, I had a nice chat with Neal Adams, one of the people I admire most in the comics industry. We talked about a bunch of stuff, including his past and continuing efforts to make things better for comics creators. I usually see him at a bunch of conventions during the course of a year and always try to at least take a few moments to thank him for all he’s done for me and other comics creators. Nothing but respect for the man and his work.

At the end of the convention, I walked back to my hotel with Larry Hama. He’s another guy it seems like I’ve known forever. We talked about mutual friends and nutty situations in comics. I’m blessed to know and be friends with so many talented creators.

I was too tired to go out that evening, so I ordered pizza from the  hotel restaurant. The women who delivered it to my room was happy to see I was watching The Intern and not the Super Bowl. The only reason to watch the latter would have been if I were sure the New England Patriots would be crushed. Maybe next year.

I had a decent night’s sleep, interrupted only when a “ghost cat” crawled on to the bed and laid down against my leg. It was exactly what my cat Simba (back in Medina) does to me many nights. Okay, I was probably dreaming, but, dream or ghost, it woke me up.

My flight home was uneventful, which isn’t a bad thing for a flight to be. I’ve had some pleasant encounters on airplanes - You will be amazed by one I had flying back from Pensacon. - but uneventful is fine by me.

My overall impression of the North Texas Comic Book Show is that it’s a terrific event for fans of 1970s and 1980s creators. It’s a well-run show that treats both fans and pros well. If my schedule permits, I’d certainly consider a return visit.

I have two more con reports - Pensacon and the Big Apple Comic Con  - in various stages of completion. I’ll probably run a couple other things in between them.

My next convention appearance will be the Great Philadelphia Comic Con, April 12-14, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania. I’ll have more to say about that event in early April.  For looks like a wonderful convention.

On April 27, I’ll be giving a talk and workshop for the Cleveland Public Library. Watch this space for more details.

April is also when I start getting ready for this year’s legendary Tony Isabella Garage Sales. I’ve been buying copies of 1000 Comic Book You Must Read on the secondary market, so I’ll be adding those to my offerings. Sainted Wife Barb wants this year’s garage sales to be the best ever, mostly so she can reclaim parts of our house from the Vast Accumulation of Stuff and maybe reduce our existing storage units from two to one or even none. Exciting times.

Thanks for stopping by the bloggy today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Friday, March 15, 2019


I heard the command “Go west, young man”, so Friday, February 1 saw me board American Airlines Flight 2331 for Dallas/Fort Worth and the North Texas Comic Book Show. The flight was pleasant, save for a flight attendant I’ll tell you about in a bit. I had a great seat (8B) with no one in front of me and no one next to me. So I had no one leaning their seat back into my space and, since my briefcase could go under the seat next to me, plenty of leg room for myself.

Added bonus. The flight was crowded enough for the counter agent to ask for volunteers to have their carry-on bags checked through to our final destination without charge. Since my carry-on was filled with books, I was happy to volunteer. Checking it through earlier would have cost me $40.

The flight attendant? An arrogant jerk in charge of the first class section. He shamed a woman trying to use the first class restroom  and she was so embarrassed she turned back. He was obsessive about trying to close the curtain between his domain and the rest of us. Amusingly, all of the other flight attendants seemed to delight in pushing the curtain to the side.

When the attendant tried to block other passengers who were nearer to the first class restroom than the ones in the back of the plane, they brushed past him. His obvious distress amused me.

When I arrived at the airport, convention promoter Chris Latshaw met me at the baggage claim. He drove me to the Dallas Marriott Las Colinas. The hotel seemed to have been recently renovated and had a very modern feel to it. My room was great and the hotel’s Bistro Fiera restaurant was excellent. I had the same waitress every time I ate there and, by the end of my stay, I gave her copies of some of my books.

The only drawback? A Christian women’s group gathering had filled most of the Las Colinas. Relax. This isn’t some anti-religion rant. My problem was that none of them had inside voices. You could sit the entire restaurant away from them and still couldn’t hear your phone for their volume. If they passed within a floor of my room, I could hear them. It was like sitting next to a deaf relative who
shouts because they think YOU can’t hear them. I’m sure they were very nice people, but the convention was quieter.

I spent a pleasant evening reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story, enjoying a delicious piece of cheesecake and watching Bones reruns. With a good night’s sleep, I  was ready for the Saturday morning start of the event.

The North Texas Comic Book Show prides itself on “putting comics back into comic cons.” There were so many guests from the 1970s and 1980s that it felt like a high school reunion to me, except a whole lot cooler than the high school reunions I never attend.

There was a terrific Tony Isabella banner hanging behind my table. To my right was legendary Superman writer Elliott S! Maggin. To my left was artist Aaron Lopresti, who drew the Star Trek: All of Me graphic album I wrote with Bob Ingersoll. Across the aisle from me were my dear friends Bill and Linda (Lessmann) Reinhold. Linda and I had some great moments reminiscing about the folks we worked with in the Marvel Bullpen at the start of our careers.

During the course of the convention, I also chatted with Mike Zeck, Bob McLeod, Larry Hama, Joe and Hilary Staton, Keith Pollard, Larry Hama, Al Milgrom, Denys Cowan, Larry Stroman and, of course, Neal Adams. As I can’t say often enough, many of the benefits creators receive today are because Neal fought the battles decades ago. He’s a good man and a good friend. I’ve learned a lot from him over the years and I’m still learning from him.

A young man named Fabian was my assistant for the show. Because of him, I was able to spend more time answering questions and signing comics for the fans. I can multi-task if I have to, but it sure is easier to have someone backing me up.

Among the fans who came to my table were the delightful Veronica Bigio Maupin from the Black Lightning!!! Discussing the TV Show group on Facebook. She came with her supportive and terrific hubby and kids. It was great meeting them. I also did a video shout-out to that group, but neglected to write down the name of the member who filmed and sent it. I’ll try to correct that omission before we get to the end of tomorrow’s bloggy thing. What? You thought I could cover this magnificent two-day event in just one column?
Rick Brooks, whose been reading my columns and comics for decades, was also at the con. He gave me a copy of his Battle Lines Undrawn prose novel [Mirror Publishing; $10.99]. Aimed at readers ten to eighteen, this amazing story chronicles a young man’s enlisting to fight our country’s enemies overseas and finding an equally serious threat within our borders. I liked it a lot.

Charlene R. Jones gave me Blackstarr: Birth of a Supernova Part 1. A full-color comic drawn by Cory Thomas, it introduces a new hero and showcases her budding talent as a comics writer. It’s the first project to be launched under her Shugalene Publications company. I don’t have ordering information on the issue, but you can contact Jones via her website.
Hannah Cortez, cosplaying as Ms. Marvel, one of my favorite heroes, graciously posed for a photo for the blog. She’d return on Sunday as a different character.

The panel programming took place in the back of the hall bleacher section. Moises Chiullan moderated a Tony Isabella spotlight panel that was a retrospective look at my 46-year comics career. I don’t remember specifics, but I do remember the panel was well received by the fans who attended. Not for the first time, I wished someone would record these panels for online presentation.

I had a good day at my table with signatures accounting for 60% of the money I made. I was slow to start charging for my signature - I didn’t start until 2018 - but now I can’t imagine not charging. I know it’s an expense for the fans, but, for me, it’s is often the difference between whether or not I can afford to attend a convention or other event. As always, I didn’t charge to sign any items purchased from me.

After the Saturday festivities, I was driven back to the hotel with writer Amy Chu, whose fine work can be seen in Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death and various KISS and Red Sonja series. We chatted about writers being asked to do sketches - she’s better at it than I am - and I quickly did one of my silly Godzilla sketches for her son Adrian.                                                                                

I’ve seen one of these Godzilla sketches listed on eBay for almost $400. Thankfully, no one bid on it. How much would you pay for one of my sketches? I’m actually considering adding created-on-the-spot Godzilla sketches at future conventions. With a new gag for each sketch. Pretty sure I can undercut that $400 price significantly.

That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for the second and final part of my North Texas Comic Book Show report.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Thursday, March 14, 2019


I’m back from the Big Apple Comic Con in New York. Saintly Wife Barb and I had a wonderful time, but it’ll be a while before I get to the full report on that event and our time in the city. Today, as I start sorting my notes for a marathon of convention reports - North Texas, Pensacon and the afore-mentioned Big Apple - I want to talk about some recent books I’ve enjoyed.

Kaiju for Hipsters: 101 "Alternative" Giant Monster Movies by Kevin Derendorf [independently published; $19.99] is one of those great books best read a few chapters at a time. Eschewing writing about well-known stars like Godzilla, Gamera and Mothra, Derendorf goes to the edges of the genre to talk about unsung gems and even some creature features perhaps best left unsung.

Several included films are compilations of episodes of Japanese TV series. Others are low-budget original productions. More than a few are parodies. Some are even non-studio works produced by filmmakers just starting out or just having fun. The variety within the genre will astonish many readers.

Gorgo, a favorite of mine, is written about early in this 418-page tome. For every film I’ve seen, such as Yongary, Monster from the Deep or Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit, there are a dozen movies I’ve never heard of. I plan on seeing some of those in the future. I’ve already watched Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds, albeit on YouTube. I bought the novelization of Gargantua in the hope it’s better than the made-for-American-TV movie I saw so long ago.

Trivia time. Zarkorr! The Invader (1996) took the name of its title from the alien villain of Marvel’s Tales of Suspense #35 [November 1962]. Kraa! The Sea Monster (1998), made by the same filmmakers, got its title from the human-mutated-into-a-monster cover-featured in Tales of Suspense #18 [June 1961}.

Derendorf’s 101 movie reviews...with an occasional bonus film...are  fun and informative. There are additional chapters for honorable mentions, more Ultraman movies, recommended documentaries, X-rated kaiju movies and even Godzilla and Gamera movies for hipsters. I’m in love with this book and recommend it to all of you.

Don’t let the book’s two-pound weight deter you. I also bought the Kindle version so I could take it with me on trips. Bonus: because I bought the physical book first, the Kindle version was free. It’s a monstrous good deal.

ISBN 978-1-98329-377-1


Michael D. Roberts’ Hot Type, Cold Beer and Bad News: A Cleveland Reporter’s Journey Through the 1960s [Gray & Company; $24.95] was one of last month’s things that make me happy. I wrote:

“A great book about a less-than-great newspaper. I worked at The Plain Dealer for about three years and this book brought back some memories.”

Roberts was at The Plain Dealer when I worked them and I remember him as one of the better people up there. The paper didn’t lack for arrogant pricks, incompetent jerks and worse. When I say worse, I’m thinking of the man who hired me to be a copy assistant and who was later convicted of real serious crimes, including the murder of an elderly woman. Fun place to work. If you believe newspapers should be the tools of the rich and the powerful.

But Roberts was one of the good guys. He always seemed like a class act and, in this autobiography, I learned of the wide and wide-ranging experience that shaped him. The guy reported from Vietnam, the Middle East, Kent State, the Cleveland riots, to name the war zones he covered. It’s an exciting, fascinating unvarnished look at the life of a good reporter. I think anyone interested in what good journalism used to be and can/should be again will enjoy the book.

My only quibble: Roberts repeats the “urban legend” that Superman was based on a classmate of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, a man who had a long career as a Plain Dealer big shot. Sometimes I think everyone who knew Siegel and Shuster in school would later claim they were this or that Superman character. And, with the exception of Joanne Siegel, they were all lying.

Don’t let that quibble stop you from checking out this swell book. It’s the real deal.

ISBN 978-1-59851-102-4


Suffer the Children by Lisa Black [Kensington; $26] is the fourth book in the authors Gardiner and Renner series. Maggie Gardiner is a forensics scientist for the Cleveland Police Department. Veteran bloggy thing readers know I have a special fondness for mysteries set in my home state of Ohio. Jack Renner is a homicide detective for the CPD. Gardner knows something about Renner that no one else knows; he’s a serial killer who murders in the name of “justice.” He kills killers who have escaped or who are sure to escape paying for their crimes. Circumstances force Gardiner to keep the secret, but she feels responsible for Renner’s past Cleveland crimes and is always fearful that he will commit more.

This book around, the uneasy pair are investigating the death of a teenage girl found dead at the bottom of a stairwell at a facility for juvenile offenders. Did 15-year-old Rachel Donahue take her own life or perish by misadventure...or was she murdered? When another resident dies...

Black tells a thrilling story, though the novel gets bogged down a  bit when various doctors and other employees “educate” the cops and the readers about the serious problems faced by these children and those who try to help them. Black’s heart is in the right place - you can feel her passion for the subject - but these mini-lectures do slow down the book.

I’m still recommending this novel. A twist in the overall story of Gardiner and Renner has me eager for the next book. Black’s other novels are also worth checking out.

ISBN 978-1-4967-1357-5

That wraps up today’s bloggy thing. I’ll be back on the morrow with my report on the North Texas Comic Book Show. See you then.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Monday, March 11, 2019


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...The magnificent The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Narrative of a Slave’s Journey from Bondage to Freedom by David F. Walker with illustrators Damon Smith and Marissa Louise, I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation by Natalie Nourigat and, from the dim reaches of comics history, the remarkable Sally the Sleuth!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


I will already be heading to New York City by the time many of you read today’s bloggy. I’m leaving a few days ahead of the Big Apple Comic Con so that I can spend some time with New York City friends before the convention takes over my life.

The Big Apple Comic Con is Saturday and Sunday. I’ve been posting links to the event’s site for days now. If you’ve visited it, you already know it’s going to be spectacular. I wrote about it in some detail in Friday’s bloggy thing.

Whenever I announce I’m appearing at a convention, I get comments  saying how much the person commenting wishes I would attend a con in their city. My response is usually the same:

If a convention or other event promoter contacts me by e-mail, I’ll happily send them my appearance requirements. If I have the dates open and they can meet my requirements, I’ll be happy to add their show to my schedule. I try to limit myself to two appearances per month, but that’s not carved in stone.

Having worked with my dear pal Roger Price on countless Mid-Ohio-Cons and other events, I know the financial and other constraints involved in such endeavors. I know not every promoter will be able to meet my requirements. While it’s unlikely I’ll do a convention without an appearance fee, I have made exceptions. Make your best pitch and we’ll see what I can accept.

Sometimes - thankfully, not often - a promoter or a fan will react in horror to my appearance requirements. I’m a great guest, but I am not a cheap guest. Nor am I a terribly expensive guest, but that may be an “eye of the beholder” thing.

The typical two-day convention takes up to six days of my life. There is a day of preparation for the event. There is a day of travel to get to the event. There is the event itself. There is a travel day to return home. There is a recovery day. Because, at 67 years old, though I am in pretty good health, I can’t bounce back immediately from what a convention takes out of me.

If a promoter can’t meet my appearance requirements, assuming they don’t get insulting about, I take no umbrage. I do understand the economics of such things...and I ask them to understand the economics on my end as well.

Here’s my 2019 appearance schedule as it currently stands:

April 12-14: Great Philadelphia Comic Con

April 27: Cleveland Public Library Coffee and Comics

May 4: FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (to be announced)

May 18: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention

July 12-14: G-Fest

July 17-21: Comic-Con International

[Comic-Con isn’t 100% certain, but it’s about 95% likely as I write this. At the moment, I’d be attending without support from the con, any publishers or any exhibitors. Mind you, I’m not at all adverse to accepting such support. I’d be willing to appear on some panels for the convention or the publishers...and put in some signing time at exhibitor and publisher booths. If I do attend, I’ll definitely be on some panels with Mark Evanier because, really, who could say “no” to that cutie?]

August 4: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted, Ohio)

August 16-17: New Mexico Comic Expo

I’m trying to lock down a couple of shows I attend every year and will add them to the list when that’s done. Whenever I go, I hope to see lots of old friends and make new ones.

That’s all for this morning quickie. The bloggy thing will return next week on Thursday, March 14. See you then.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


I’m back with another installment of “Black Lightning Beat”, albeit a shorter column than yesterday’s bloggy thing. At least that’s my plan as I start writing. Somethings these columns take on a life of their own.

I’ve spoken about Jefferson Pierce’s priorities in both the Black Lightning TV series and my recent Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. They, students, community. Abandoning those to become Batman’s sidekick or Katana’s partner-in-demon-fighting is totally out of character for my creation. A couple of DC Comics executives agree with me on that, but it doesn’t stop other people at DC from ignoring the most basic truth about Jefferson.

Here’s something else you should understand. Jefferson’s one true love is Lynn Stewart. There can be no other. Believe me, I tried to give him a new romantic interest in my 1995 comics series. It never rang true and, as soon as Lynn showed up during my run, it was all over for the other romantic interest. I wrote her out of the series in my unpublished script for Black Lightning #9.

I’m told the Black Lightning TV series planned or even filmed some sort of make-out scene between Jefferson and Kara Fowdy, played by the exquisite Skye P. Marshall. I’m guessing they realized it just wasn’t right for Jefferson. In short, I will always be a Jeff-Lynn shipper. Because it feels right and rings true.
Just this weekend, I was interviewed at considerable length about  Black Lightning, my life and my career by my dear pal Alex Simmons, himself an amazing writer and so much more. The first time my voice didn’t come through. So we had to do it again. It’s an exceedingly long conversation, which I fear I dominated, and you can listen to it by going here:

About the only thing I regret about the interview is that I tossed a cheap insult at a comics gossip website. I could make the excuse that I was very tired, which I was, but I still should have been a lot more temperate. My feelings about this website are well known, but I should have embraced my better angels.

I called the website to task for refusing to use the official and correct credit line for Black Lightning:
Created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden.

One of the things I know about the comics industry is that credits are not always accurate. A while back, it became more or less the custom to declare both the original writer of a character and the original artist as co-creators. That’s not always accurate. There are occasions where an editor played a key role in the creation of a character. There are occasions where someone who did not draw the first story introducing a character designed the character. I have a tendency to suspect corporate-mandated credits, especially if I know the complete facts of creation. In the case of Black Lightning, no one knows them better than me.

Everything about Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce was created by me before I pitched the character to DC. That’s why, for the first two or three years of the character’s existence I was credited as the sole creator. I still feel that’s the most accurate title for what I did.

Trevor von Eeden was primary designer of the first Black Lightning costume, the one I sometimes refer to as “Disco Lightning.” He was not the only designer. I asked for the lightning piping and what I called Captain America boots. Bob Rozakis came up with the insanely clever for its time Afro-mask. Joe Orlando opened up the shirt on account of he wanted to see more skin.

But Black Lightning is not defined by that costume. He had has four or five costumes since. I’ve written him with three costumes. When I write him, he’s the same guy no matter what costume he’s wearing.

My friend Trevor was named co-creator of Black Lightning after I’d approached DC Comics about buying my creation back from them. He’s told me of being stopped in the DC halls and being told he was now a co-creator. He’s also told me he doesn’t consider himself to be the co-creator of Black Lightning, though, sometimes, he has said otherwise. Though never to me. I choose to take him at his face-to-face word.

But, even if Trevor did consider himself a co-creator, it doesn’t change the fact of Black Lightning’s creation. The fact being I am the creator of the character.

The current official credit line was written by me. The ambiguous “with” was intended on my part to insure that Trevor was recognized for drawing the original series and all the hard work that entailed on his part. He was a young kid who was thrown into the deep end of the pool and, man, did he swim. I’ve tried to do what I could for him - whether he asked me to or not - because of that hard work. I will continue to do so.

When I did my 1995 series, I told DC I wanted Trevor as the artist. They told me he wasn’t available. That turned out to be a lie, but it was far from the first DC Comics lie.

When I did my most recent series, I told DC I wanted Trevor for the artist. They told me no one would work with him. They wouldn’t even assign him a variant cover. I’m not going to get into the bad blood between DC and Trevor. I kept asking if he could do a cover. I was told to stop sticking my neck out for him.

Mercurial artist that he is, Trevor doesn’t always make it easy on those who admire his talent and like him. If I were in control of Black Lightning’s comic-book fate, he and I would be working on a Black Lightning project right this minute. I’m not.

I am pleased I got to work with Eddy Newell and Clayton Henry on my subsequent Black Lightning series. I would love to work with them again. But I’d also like to work with Trevor again.

Those are the facts. You can choose to believe otherwise. But you would be wrong. Says the guy who knows.

In another case of Tony just going on and on, Jermaine McLaughlin interviews me for SYFYWIRE. You can read his article here:

Looking for Black Lightning swag? There’s not nearly as much of it out there as there should be, but here’s a wonderful selection from REDBUBBLE:

Yesterday, I said I would tell you about ways you can contribute to “Black Lightning Beat”. There are a lot of them.

If you have convention or other photos of yourself with the great Black Lightning cast, e-mail them to me with information of who’s in the photo and where they were taken. If you want to tell me all about your encounter with these cast members, I’d love that a lot. Just make sure that what you tell me is something you’re okay with my sharing in these blogs.

If you come across Black Lightning swag, tell me about it. While I do get royalties from DC Comics for this stuff, the statements do not often list what the items are. At best, they list the name of whoever is making the items. Since I want to amass as complete a collection of Black Lightning stuff as possible - I plan to donate my Black Lightning materials to a worthy university when I have no further use of them (on account of I’d be dead) - I appreciate you telling me about this stuff.

If you’re an artist, send me scans of your Black Lightning artwork. I’ll include it in a future “Black Lightning Beat” with information on how prospective clients can contact you.

Finally, if you work for a CW station and you have Black Lightning swag you give out, especially shirts, please contact me. I’ll try you comics or other items for that stuff.

That’s it for this installment of “Black Lightning Beat”. I’ll be back tomorrow with a brief message before I leave for New York City to attend the Big Apple Comic Con. See you then.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Monday, March 4, 2019


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Scooby Doo Team-Up Volume 6; The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story and The Comic Book Killer by Richard A. Lupoff! 


On the exceedingly rare chance you have stumbled into this blog of mine by happenstance and with no knowledge of who I am, allow me to introduce myself. I’m a 46-year veteran of the comics industry. I started my career in 1972 working with Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and Sol Brodsky. I have been published by multiple comics companies. Some of my creations have made it to the big and small screen. I’ve also written books on comics history, co-written prose novels, and spoken at libraries and schools. I’ve done a lot of stuff.

Most pertinent to today’s blog, I’m the creator of Black Lightning. Not the co-creator. The creator. We’ll be getting into that in tomorrow's bloggy thing.

What I try to do in this ongoing feature is pull together as much Black Lightning stuff as I can. These are items that don’t require an entire blog to themselves, but which are important nonetheless. I’ll tell you how you can get involved in this work in tomorrow’s bloggy thing.

February saw the long-awaited publication of Black Lightning: Brick City Blues [DC Comics; $19.99]. This trade paperback collects the eight issues of Black Lightning I did in 1995 with Eddy Newell and the black-and-white ‘Twas the Night Before Kwanzaa” story we did a few years later. Up until my most recent Black Lightning series, I considered the best writing I’d ever done for Black Lightning and, for that matter, comics.

My new introduction to the book covers the year I spent researching the real-life Brick City neighborhood of Cleveland before I began writing the new series. It covers my discovery of Eddy Newell at a Cleveland comics convention. It skirts over my being fired from the title by a rodent-like editor and, at that time, the latest in a series of DC or employees thereof, failing to keep their agreements with me. Ask me about that sometime.

Today, having reread those stories, I just want to celebrate that I got to do them and got to do them with my brother Eddy. The new costume in this series, as well as the general atmosphere of these stories, is all praise to Eddy. He nailed the look I wanted and I never had to fret about visuals the entire time we worked together.  Would that he was still drawing comics and that he was drawing them from my scripts.

By the way, the answer to the question of “What is Tony’s favorite Black Lightning costume?” is...this one. I felt and still feel it was time to retire the disco-era costume designed in the mid-1970s by Trevor von Eeden, Bob Rozakis, Joe Orlando and myself. While I do understand the nostalgic regard for that costume, it’s not 1977 anymore. My mantra is “Always forward!” That should be the mantra for Black Lightning as well.

Digression. DC Comics is in a state of flux. There is no guarantee Black Lightning: Brick City Blues or my other BL trades will remain  in print. If you’re interested in Black Lightning, Black Lightning Volume 2 or Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, I advise buying them now while they appear to be readily available.


There’s one another DC Comics publication I can recommend to Black Lightning fans today. Scooby-Doo Team-Up #46 [$2.99] features Black Lightning in “Justice, Like Lightning...” It’s written by the most excellent Sholly Fisch, who has a knack for hilarious stories that treat their guest stars with respect. It’s drawn by Dario Brizuela, who does an excellent job on all counts.

Check out the cover. Do I have to tell you what other Tony Isabella creation appears in this issue?


Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any other current DC comic books featuring Black Lightning for the simple reason DC doesn’t seem to understand my creation. Jefferson Pierce’s priorities are family, students and community. He would not abandon those priorities to go to work for Batman. Nor would he, as shown in a particularly weak story in DC’s Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1, abandon those priorities to sign on for Katana’s war against demons or whatnot. They don’t get Black Lightning. Which is a shame since there is a writer who does get the character. His name is Tony Isabella.

I have pitched several Black Lightning projects to DC, including an ongoing series continuing from Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. As near as I can tell, DC is simply not interested in working with me in the future. Which makes very little logical sense considering my creation is the title star of a hit TV series seen by millions more people than will read DC’s comic books. Including comics written by me. But, at least, if I’m writing Black Lightning, viewers of the series will get a super-hero with the same core values as the hero in the popular TV series.

Warning. Don’t try to figure out how DC Comics makes its decisions. It’ll just make your head hurt.

After a few weeks off, Black Lightning returns with a new episode tonight at 9pm EST on the CW. The episode is titled “The Book of Secrets: Chapter Four: Original Sin.” I don’t have any information about it, save that it is the first of the three remaining second season episodes. You can watch a preview here:

The series has been renewed for a third season. I’ll let you when that new season will launch as soon as I know.


On February 11, the Paley Center in New York presented hosted “An Electrifying Black Lightning Conversation on Good vs. Evil” with Cress Williams and Marvin “Krondon” Jones III. Friend of the blog Michael Rapoport attending the event. took photos, and sent me this report:

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of seeing Cress Williams and Marvin Jones discuss Black Lightning at the Paley Center for Media in New York City (you may have known it by its former name, the Museum of Television and Radio). It was billed as "An Electrifying Black Lightning Conversation on Good vs. Evil," and it did touch on that philosophical debate, as you'll see, but the discussion ranged over every aspect of the show.

The discussion was in the Paley Center's theatre, as part of their look at African-Americans in television as part of Black History Month. There were maybe 100-150 people there, all clearly big Black Lightning fans.

Before Cress and Marvin came out, they showed us this week's episode, a couple of hours before the rest of the country got to see it. Hey, it was Monday night - no one there wanted to miss the show, even if we weren't at home to watch! The episode played well into some of the things they were going to discuss, with Jefferson having doubts about whether he could handle being Garfield's principal again with everything else on his plate, and Tobias showing us a little bit of a softer side, through his relationship with Cutter.

Then Cress and Marvin appeared, and they launched right into the good vs. evil theme. (The interviewer was Karama Horne from A lot of it focused on Tobias - does he have any redeeming qualities? Marvin maintained he does (of course, he would think that, wouldn't he?), and said he tries to give a full portrayal, introducing nuances into the character rather than just have him be a one-note villain.

Along those lines, Marvin said his favorite episode was the one showing the relationship between Tobias and his father. (Cress said his favorite was the one where Jefferson is in a rage wanting to go kill Tobias, and Lynn has to talk him down.)

They also talked about the importance of the show from the standpoint of representation - African-American, of course, but also LGBTQ (they noted how Gambi doesn't think it's unusual in the slightest when Anissa mentions her girlfriend) to Marvin as a black man with albinism.

Other things brought up, some in response to audience questions:
Favorite fights on the show? Marvin, not surprisingly, voted for Tobias going toe-to-toe with Jefferson in Season 1. Cress said he liked one of the scenes where Anissa invades a drug den and takes down the thugs one by one, with the camera swooping through the whole thing in a single shot.

On the question of whether Black Lightning should cross over with the other DC shows on the CW: Cress votes yes - but only if the Flash, Arrow, etc. come to Freeland, as opposed to Jefferson going to Central City or wherever. Cress cracked everyone up with his idea of how people in Freeland might react if Oliver Queen were to show up: "Yo, man, that's a nice leather suit..."

Everyone is excited about the prospect of Season 3 - especially since it sounds like Season 2 is going to end on a cliffhanger. Cress hinted Jefferson may get a new uniform, though he wouldn't say whether that's because something happens to the current one.

A great time was had by all. Attached to this email are several photos I took with my iPhone. I am not a particularly good photographer - okay, I stink - but I think they came out okay.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to speak to Cress or Marvin and say hi on your behalf - they were led into the theatre while the rest of us were watching the episode, and security led them out as soon as the discussion was over. Oh, well. It's enough to see them help create such a terrific show every Monday night.

Oh, and Cress was asked toward the end what we can expect from the rest of this season. "War," he said. "Strap yourself in."

Thanks, Michael. I look forward to seeing you at the Big Apple Comic Con this coming weekend.

This edition of “Black Lightning Beat” is running longer than I had anticipated, mostly because I couldn’t wait to bring you Michael’s report on the Paley Center discussion. So, making one of my world-renowned seat of my pants decisions, we’re going to break here and present another “Black Lightning Beat” column tomorrow.

While you’re waiting, why not finalize plans to meet me at the Big Apple Comic Con? It’s clearing going to be big fun and it will be even more so, if you’re there, too.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella