Tuesday, April 30, 2019


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Mike Grell: Life Is Drawing Without An Eraser by Dewey Cassell with Jeff Messner; Red Sonja Worlds Away: Volume 1 by Amy Chu with artist Carlos Gomez; and Nemu Yoko’s The Delinquent Housewife!

Friday, April 26, 2019


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Pre-Code Classics: The Crime Clinic Volume One, a crime comic with a difference: Ditko’s Monsters: Gorgo vs. Konga, four stories, two introductions, edited by Craig Yoe's eight-year-old son; and Marooned Lagoon by Paul Gerrish with illustrations by Scott Shaw!

Thursday, April 25, 2019


If you’re one of my Facebook friends or simply someone who visits my Facebook page, you know I have a passion for posting birthdays, historical facts and remembrances. The majority of these posts are related to comics in some manner. If you’re not one of my Facebook friends, you can still see these posts. Everything I post on that page is available to the public. Except for those unsavory sorts I have blocked because I don’t have time for their crap.

My interest in comics professionals birthdays began when I wrote and edited The Mighty Marvel Bicentennial Calendar, wherein I commissioned Marvel artists to draw insane images of our heroes doing Revolutionary War stuff. One of the features of this calendar is that it included the birthdays of a great many Marvel writers, artists and staffers.

Shortly thereafter, I began sending birthday cards to those Marvels artists and such with whom I had worked. Several of them wrote me back saying it was the first time they had received birthday cards from a writer or, for that matter, anyone else working at Marvel. Of course, back then, you could buy a decent card for under a buck and mail it for thirteen cents.

I continued this practice for a time when I moved back to my home town of Cleveland. I had to stop doing it because money was tight. I wasn’t getting much work. Also, no longer being on staff at DC or Marvel, my access to addresses was curtailed.

Flash forward to 1993. Comics Buyer’s Guide editors Don and Maggie Thompson published Comic-Book Superstars, a hardcover book listing the names, contact information and resumes of comics professionals who’d filled out forms handed out at conventions. The Thompsons had a fairly inclusive notion of what constituted a professional, but what interested me most about the book was...you guessed it...that the listings included birth dates.

Doing my best Tom Sawyer impression, I suggested to Don and Maggie that they start running birthday information in every weekly issue of Comics Buyer’s Guide. If they were living closer to me, I would have also tricked them into painting my fence.

Using Comic-Book Superstars and the weekly notices, I built my own “database” of birth dates. As CBG added new dates, I added them to my database. That exploded as I “mastered” the Internet. Now I had access to many other sources as well. My database kept growing and growing and growing.

I don’t recall exactly when I began posting birthdays on Facebook or when I added remembrances and historical notes. I do know that a great many people at conventions and on online tell me how much they enjoy them. Most also express astonishment over the quantity of these I post and wonder how I manage to find the time to do it. This is where I reveal my secrets...

I start with my “database,” a Word Perfect document that currently runs 167 pages. This document has only the barest of bones of the information I post. Here is my April 24 entry...

April 24:

Boston News-Letter (1704)
Library of Congress (1800)
Annie Oakley joins Buffalo Bill’s Wild West (1885)
Allen Saunders (1899)
William Brooke Joyce/Lord Haw-Haw (1906)
George Wunder (1912)
William Castle (1914)
First Herblock cartoon (1929)
Richard Donner (1930)
Howie Schneider (1930)
Francis aka Francis Bertrand (1937)
Dick Matena (1943)
Pantera Bionda (1948)
Al Vey (1953)
John MacLeod (1957)
The Sky at Night (1957)
Randy Griffith (1960)
Djimon Hounsou (1964)
Randy Carpenter (1965)
Warren Craghead (1970)
Eric Kripke (1974)
Eric Balfour (1977)
24 Hour Comics Day (2004)

Most of the above posts were repeats from previous years. Using my Facebook “memories” and “activity log,” I cut-and-paste them with whatever updates, such as cheery birthday greetings sadly becoming remembrances, are necessary. Since I’m always adding new birthdays and such to my database, I usually have to write some new posts. The posting and writing of these usually takes an hour. We’ll get into why I do this a little further down the column.

On April 24, after I had done the above and spread out through the day, I added items to my April 25 entry. I have regular sources I check over day.

First and foremost is Maggie Thompson’s Turning Points, the weekly column she writes for Scoop. I have file folders of all her columns from August 2014 to the present. I check them to see if there are items she lists that I don’t have. When I find such items, they are added to my database.

I also check out Scoop’s weekly Celebrity Birthdays column. This has been a great help in adding birthdays for the stars of comics-oriented movies and TV shows. Not every celebrity gets added to my list. I haven’t added any stars from The Walking Dead because it’s not a TV show I watch. I may watch it someday, but not until I’m caught up on the comic books.

Wikipedia is another source for me. On April 24, after I looked at Scoop’s Turning Points and Celebrity Birthdays, I went to Wikipedia and studied its “April 25" entry. A lot of my historical notes are from Wikipedia.

You can pretty much guess what interests me by what history notes I post. I’m fascinated by true crime and disaster stuff. The Great London Beer Flood is an example of the latter. I also have a minor interest in real-life western characters. That came about because I got a kick out of how various Marvel western stories got it so wrong when it came to real-life figures.

My last stop of the day is the Grand Comics Database and its Comics Calendar. Most of my raw data on foreign comics creators comes from that calendar, though I get more information by following up on the calendar entries at Lambiek Comiclopedia.

If I come across additions for my database from other comics blogs and websites, I’ll check it out and incorporate it if it meets my standards for inclusion. But, at the risk of sounding vain, nobody in comics posts more birthdays, historical notes and remembrances than I do.

My database is not completely free of error. But, when I am informed of an error or discover it on my own, I correct it.

As to why I do this...

The history of the comics industry is all too often a tragic history of creators being screwed over by publishers, editors and even fellow creators. I’ve seen frankly terrible people try to erase creators from comics history. I’ve seen some of these people try to do it to me. But I’m not gonna let that happen to me or any other creator on my watch.

That hour-plus a day I spend on the birthdays, historical notes and remembrances is my contribution to celebrating comics creators of the past and the present. I invite my Facebook friends to share my posts wherever they like.

In most cases, we can’t do anything about the wrongs done to these creators. But we can sure as hell remember them and what they do or have done in comics. That’s worth the time I spend on this. It's s worth doing it every day I can do it.

If you want to join in this frankly holy work, all you have to do is e-mail me a few days before the first day of every third month. On June 1, I’ll create an updated document of my database and send it to any one who requests it. I’ll repeat this on September 1 and December 1. It might take me a few days to send it to every one who requests it, but I will send it to them.

This is the story of how I became like unto a god of birthdays and more. And now...I have to go change the kitty litter.

Balance is everything.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


I love comics. I love making comics. I love reading comics. I love talking about comics. Every now and then, someone asks me to talk about comics somewhere other than at a convention or online. Like the “Coffee and Comics” storytelling workshop I’ll be doing for the Ohio Center for the Book in conjunction with the Cleveland Public Library. It happens on Saturday, April 27, 10:00-11:30 am at the Rising Star Coffee Roastery, 3617 Walton Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.

Comics are a visual medium. A comics writer must know how to write a script for an artist and the artist has to know how to turn that script into art that carries the story through however many panels and pages said story requires.

Writers have to think visually and recognize what an artist can and cannot fit into a panel or a page. That often means killing one’s darlings to keep the story moving. Artists have to think about the story as well. It’s not enough to draw great pictures. Those images have to keep the story moving.  Whether you’re a writer or artist, telling the story is job one.

For this workshop, I’m going to provide my “students” with random script pages for comics stories in various genres. At the moment, I plan to write pages for a super-hero story, a horror story and a romance/slice-of-life story.

While I answer questions about comics storytelling, the artists in the class will be asked to rough out a page layout. I don’t expect anyone to finish penciling a page in an hour-and-a-half, but that rough layout should be doable. Of course, where this workshop gets more interesting is what happens next.

Members of the workshop will be encouraged to e-mail their finished pages to me. I’ll be going over every “submission” with the intent of hiring one of these artists to draw an eight-page story for me. I don’t know where the completed story will appear, but the artist I choose will be paid the admittedly low rate of $50 a page for the work. I’ll retain all rights to the work, but that initial $50 page rate will be considered an advance against any future money earned by the completed story. If you come to my workshop and do the work, you could end up as a published artist.

Free Comic Book Day is almost upon us. This year, I’ll be making an appearance at a new-for-me venue. On Saturday, May 4, you’ll find me signing and talking about comics at Rubber City Comics at 74 E. Mill Street in downtown Akron, Ohio. Voted Akron’s best comic-book shop for three years running, the store will be open from 10 am to 5 pm. If you’re in the area, come on over!

Outside of these appearances, I’m sticking close to home for the rest of April, May and, perhaps, even June. I have a comics script to write for an educational institution; three years’ worth of one of my favorite comic strips to read; an introduction to write for the collection of the aforementioned comic strips; pitches to write for a medium new to me; and a somewhat personal book to write. In between the above, I’ll be working on and holding my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales.

Here is the most current version of my appearance and garage sales schedule for the rest of the year...

April 27: Cleveland Public Library Coffee and Comics

May 4: Rubber City Comics (Free Comic Book Day; Akron)

May 10-11: garage sales (9am-1pm each day)

May 17-18: garage sales (9am-1pm each day)

May 31-June 1: garage sales (9am-1pm each day)

July 12-14: G-Fest (Chicago)

July 17-21: Comic-Con International (San Diego)

August 4: NEO Comic Con (North Olmsted)

August 16-17: New Mexico Comic Expo (Albuquerque)

September 21: Flaming River Con (Cleveland)

November 8-10: Grand Rapids Comic-Con (Grand Rapids)

Some notes on the above:

My Coffee and Comics workshop. I’ll have Isabella-written stuff for sale. As always, I don’t charge for my signature on items purchased from me. However, as will be rare from here on in, I’ll also sign Isabella items you bring to the workshop for free.

Free Comic Book Day. I’ll have Isabella-written stuff for sale at Rubber City Comics. In keeping with the spirit of FCBD, I’ll sign other Isabella items for free as well. Keep in mind that there are items I won’t sign, such as any of DC’s current “Black Lightning as the Batman’s support Negro” comic books.

Garage sales. As long as folks don’t take advantage of my generous nature, I’ll sign Isabella items you bring to the sales for free. But don’t be a dick about it. Buy some stuff.

Garage sales. There will be garage sales throughout the summer and maybe throughout September. However, I don’t schedule garage sales too far in advance because it’s likely I’ll be adding some conventions to this schedule.

G-Fest. That’s more my vacation convention than a working one. If you let me know in advance that you want to purchase something from me, I’ll bring it to the event. Depending on what I’m doing at the time, I’ll also sign other Isabella stuff for free.

Comic-Con International. I’m still not sure why I’m going to this convention, though I’m sure I’ll enjoying appearing on some panels, making new friends and reconnecting with old friends. I don’t plan on signing at the convention, but, if I do, it’ll be for a worthy charity or to bring some traffic to a friend’s booth. I suppose if Marvel asks me to sign at their booth or if there’s some specific Black Lightning event that doesn’t include writers and editors who don’t understand the character, I’ll also sign there. Within these limited parameters, I’ll be signing for free. But, if I’m signing for a worthy charity, don’t be a dick. Toss a few bucks into the collection jar.

I will be charging for my signature at NEO Comic Con, New Mexico Comic Expo and the Grand Rapids Comic-Con.

I’m not a guest at the Flaming River Con. I’m attending to show my support for the comics LGBTQ+ community. In that spirit, I’ll sign Isabella stuff for free there.

One last thing. If you’d like to have me as a guest at your event, you must e-mail me. That’s how I organize my life.

If you’d like to hire me, you must e-mail me. See above.

I don’t mind an initial face-to-face conversation or a phone call. But e-mail will still be how we seal the deal.

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

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Sunday, April 21, 2019


I welcome your comments on this bloggy thing of mine. However, given the age we live in with its online spam and trolls, no comments will appear until I approve them. I try to check the inbox every few waking hours. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I'm doing a storytelling workshop. Plus my reviews of Mallory O’Meara’s The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick; Giant Days Volume Nine by John Allison and Max Sarin; and Masao Ohtake’s Hinamatsuri Volume 1!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


Last week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Man and Superman 100-Page Super Spectacular by Marv Wolfman with artist Claudio Castellini; Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1-2; and Exorsisters by Ian Boothby and Gisele Lagace!

Monday, April 8, 2019


My next convention appearance will be The Great Philadelphia Comic Con on April 12-14 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, Pennsylvania. From the show website, here is the event’s mission statement:

The Great Philadelphia Comic Con! is dedicated to producing celebrations of comics and pop-culture by providing unique access to talented artists and a family-friendly experience for fans of all ages. Our show motto “Get UR Geek On!” represents the diverse and unique nature of our fans – be they fans of Comics, Movies, TV, Anime, Gaming, Cosplay or more.

The show hours are:

Friday, April 12: 1-8pm
Saturday, April 13: 10am–7pm
Sunday, April 14: 10am–5pm

There will be over sixty guests from comics and other media at the show. Looking over the comics guests, I’ll be joined by such great creators as Neal Adams, Larry Hama, Don McGregor, Walden Wong, Joe Caramagna, Christopher Priest, Bob Almond, Sal Velluto, Joel Adams, Buzz, Bob Camp, Stan Konopka, JK Woodward, and many more. Attendees can also expect a vibrant Artists Alley congregation.

The media guest list is impressive with multiple performers from a bunch of great TV shows: The Expanse, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek Deep Space Nine (my personal favorite Star Trek show), iZombie and others. The legendary Alice Cooper will be there, as will Nick Frost and John Wesley Shipp.

The Great Philadelphia Comic Con will also feature cosplay, gaming, panels, discussions, workshops, photo opps, and the incredible Kids Zone by Incredikidz. The Inkwell Awards, which promote and educate about the art of comic book inking and show recognition for inking  artists, will be awarded on Friday afternoon at 5 pm.

There are cosplay contests for adults and kids. The adult cosplay contest is Saturday from 5 to 7 pm. The kids cosplay contest is on  Sunday at noon in the Kids Zone.  Both are open to costuming pro and novices alike with no registration needed.

John Wesley Shipp, the Flash of two Flash TV series will be sharing his memories of both shows and answering questions on Friday from 2-3pm. Someone should ask him about his truly memorable performances on the legendary NYPD Blue where he played an officer on steroids. I enjoyed the original Flash series, but it was NYPD Blue that made me a Shipp fan for life.

Other interesting panels and events include a Cosplay Dating Game Show on Saturday, a Black Panther question and answer session that same day, and a Tony Isabella question and answer session in Panel Room 2 on Sunday from noon to 1:00 pm. While there might be a few questions I can’t answer due to non-disclosure agreements, I pride myself on answering even the hardest questions.

During the show, I’ll be in a booth at the head of the show. With Saintly Wife Barb there to help me out, I’ll be selling a variety of Isabella-related and other items as well as signing comics and other things for the fans. We’ll be debuting my spiffy designed-by-Thom-Zahler banner at this convention. It’s sweet!

I plan to bring all four of the Black Lightning trades to the show. I’ll also have July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One; two different Black Lightning posters; Daredevil and Luke Cage mini-posters; and a few copies of my script for Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1. Space permitting, I'll be selling Beano and Commando issues from England.

Here’s my signature policy...

Any items purchased from me: no charge.

All other items: $5 each.

Items signed in front of a grading company witness: $10 each.

Photos are free.
After a winter that just wouldn’t go away, Barb and I are looking forward to our trip to Pennsylvania. We’re going to visit Hershey  on our way to Philadelphia and then, doubtless bloated with candy,  we’ll make our way to the convention.

If you want more information on the Great Philadelphia Comic Con, head over to the event’s website. That should have the answers to your questions.

I’ll be offline until sometime after we return from Philadelphia. Check back here then for much more bloggy thing fun.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Monday, April 1, 2019


This isn’t an April Fool’s Day column. I’m not remotely an advocate of April Fool’s Day, what with every online amateur trying to come up with some bogus malarkey they believe is hilarious. As I’ve said in the past, April Fool's Day is for the weak-minded unwilling to make a year-round commitment to the lifestyle.

It’s especially problematic for me when it falls on the first day of April since the first day of any month is when I post the many things that brought me joy in the previous month. If you find humor in the items listed below, I’m fine with that. But each and every one of them is a honest representation of something that made me happy. I’ll forgo my usual spiel about why I need to post these things every day and just get to them.

March 1: The smile on Saintly Wife Barb’s face when I gave her an autographed to her photo of Joey Fatone as the Rabbit from The Masked Singer. We watched the show every week; the Rabbit was one of our favorite performers.

March 2: Landed a nice copy of Captain Marvel #6 (1968) on eBay for a decent price. It has a letter from some fan named Tony Isabella.

March 3: Breakfast at Twisted with Barb and Kelly. When our local Medina  Eat ‘n’ Park closed, the trendy eatery hired some of its employees and began serving breakfast every day. Great food and prices. We’ll be back.

March 4: The Life of Frederick Douglass by David F. Walker, Damon Smith and Marissa Louise. A magnificent biography in comics form. Should be in every personal, public and school library.

March 5: I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation by Natalie Nourigat. Not only is Nourigat’s personal journey interesting, but she packed this slim book with a plethora of useful information for those also seeking careers in the field.

March 6: I am the Night. Six episodes of unrelenting suspense with a surprisingly satisfying ending. Great acting and great writing. It’s inspired me to research the subject further.

March 7: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee did brilliant pieces on America’s second most evil family - the Sackler monsters - and the idiocy of Brexit. Comedy does a better job putting news in context than the news media.

March 8: The New Yorker hotel. Living in way-too-white Medina, it was life-affirming joy to hear and see so many folks from all over the world during my stay there.

Match 9: Isn’t It Romantic starring Rebel Wilson. I saw it at the AMC25 on 42nd Street and was thoroughly entertained. It’s funny and heartwarming. I’m gonna watch it again with Barb as soon as I can.

March 10: Big Apple Comic Con 2019. The venue was...let’s be kind and call it “vintage”...but the fans certainly got their money’s worth. So many great guests, dealers and panels. I had a blast and a half.

March 11: Big Apple Comic Con was very successful for me. I sold a lot of stuff and signed a lot of stuff.

March 12: Saintly Wife Barb joined me for the weekend. We had great meals and spend fun time with our niece Kara, our “other daughter” Giselle and Giselle’s boyfriend Kadeem.

March 13: This was the fourth trip in a row where I hadn’t gained any weight while I was away.

March 14: Bill Biegel and Biegel’s Plumbing. Bill has been our go-to plumber for a couple years now and always comes through for us. He heads the Raymond Biegel Memorial Tournament here in Medina and he’s a fan. We are everywhere!

March 15: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee aired a segment created by female animators sexually harassed by Chris Savino, creator of The Loud House. It was a great way to deliver vital information about sexual harassment in the industry. Well done.

March 16: From the Big Apple Comic Con: moderating Q&A session for Mike Colter of Luke Cage fame and much more. Great questions and great answers. A sincere pleasure to be there with him.

March 17: From the Big Apple Comic Con: seeing the original art for Black Lightning #1 (1977) for the first time in decades. Trevor von Eeden’s pencils and Frank Springer’s inks still look fantastic and were not done justice by DC’s lousy printing back then.

March 18: From the Big Apple Comic Con: the smile on Saintly Wife Barb’s face when a fan asked to sign 1000 Comic Books You Must Read because it was dedicated to her.

March 19: The season finale of Black Lightning. It exceeded all my high expectations, even in the scenes I watched being filmed. I’m eager to see what comes next.

March 20: Blue Heron Brewery Event Center in Medina, Ohio. My sort of nephew-in-law Mike is brewmaster. Barb, Kelly and I went there on St. Patrick’s Day. We enjoyed great food and had a great time.

March 21: DC’s 100-Page Walmart comics. Save for the rare misstep - that Superman torture porn tale - these are fun. I think I actually enjoy haunting my local store for them.

March 22: Had a nice dinner with dear friends who helped me get my troubled head back on track. My bipolar comics career is still one huge pain in my ass, but I’m coping with it.
March 23: Rereading Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa. It is every bit as powerful the second time around as it was the first.

March 24: My new mug.

March 25: Captain Marvel. The Marvel Cinematic  Universe does not disappoint.

March 26: The Simpsons: “Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy.” A very funny send-up of males hating on female heroes. Topical as well. Plus: it had a House Hunters joke.

March 27: Editor Shelly Bond’s Femme Magnifique: 50 Magnificent Women Who Changed the World
. A wonderful anthology and the perfect gift for the young women in our lives.

March 28: Exorsisters by Ian Boothby, Gisele Lagrace, Pete Pantazis and Taylor Esposito. Clever, dangerous, funny. The next issue can’t come soon enough for me.

March 29: Full Frontal’s scathing takedown of “magically malicious” Mick Mulvaney and exposure of our government’s despicable betrayal of immigrant soldiers.

March 30: Adam Schiff and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Smart leaders who don’t back down when attacked by the Dumpster President and his cowardly, immoral Republican Party.

March 31: My transgender friends who live their truths despite the obstacles put in their paths. I admire and support you. My world is better for you being in it.

My next convention appearance will be The Great Philadelphia Comic Con on April 12-14 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, Pennsylvania. There will be over sixty guests from comics and other media at the show, a vibrant artists alley, cosplay, gaming and more. As we get a little closer to the event, I’ll tell you more about it. For now, for more information, visit the convention’s website.

I will be back tomorrow with my too-long-delayed review of Captain Marvel. See you then.

© 2019 Tony Isabella


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive by Lee Allred (writer), Michael Allred (writer, inker), Laura Allred (colorist) and penciler Rich Tommaso; Hobo Mom by Charles Forsman and Max de Radigu├Ęs; and Maid-sama! 2-in-1 Edition Vol. 1 by Hiro Fujiwara: http://blog.talesofwonder.com/?p=1388