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

1 comment:

  1. Really wish I could be in on that clinic, especially now that I'm out of work and inbetween job searches I've thrown myself mightily into my artwork, particularly my MARK AND DEE comic strip. But I'm also taking on some new challenges, including a full-out M&D comic book to self-publish and an upcoming wall painting job at a new gaming shop here in Columbus. Kinda looking forward to three years in the future when I can fall back on Social Security with a little part-time work so I can focus on the things I really want to do with my remaining days. I've really got a good feeling that I'm finally on the right path. Glad to see you're staying active and in demand.