Sunday, June 30, 2019


Last weekend’s garage sale was not a rousing success. I think that was due to the scorching heat. I only did 45.7% of my two-day goal. I haven’t done the final math yet, but, despite this slow weekend, it appears I’ve hit or come very close to hitting my goal for the summer to date.

Because I’m attending G-Fest in Chicago and Comic-Con International in San Diego, I won’t be holding another garage sale until the last weekend in July. Counting that late July garage sale, I’ll be doing four and maybe five more garage sales before the end of my garage sale season in September.

Here’s my schedule of remaining 2019 conventions and garage sales. I don’t want to do more than two conventions a month, but, if you are a event promoter who would like me to appear at your show, or someone who would like me to speak at your library or school, send me an e-mail and we’ll see what we can work out.

July 12-14: G-Fest (Chicago)

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

July 26-27: garage sale

August 4: NEO Comic Con

August 9-10: garage sale

August 16-18: New Mexico Comic Expo

August 23-24: garage sale

September 6-7: garage sale

September 21: Flaming River Con (Cleveland)

November 2-3: Akron Comiccon

November 8-10: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

I could conceivably add up to two appearances in September, October and December. I’m also starting to book my 2020 appearances, albeit with the likelihood I’ll only be doing one appearance most months. If you’re interested, contact me.

I’ll be writing about my G-Fest and Comic-Con international later this week. Watch for it.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.   

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Come aboard, me hearties. This be the good ship Vast Accumulation of Stuff, setting a course for my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale. There be a lot of bargain-priced booty on my tables and you are most welcome to buy as much of it as you desire.

The Phantom just texted to tell me to knock off the pirate stuff. Apparently, the Ghost Who Walks also know what I write before I do. As the old jungle saying goes, “When the Phantom texts, you’d best be knocking off the foolishness.” This particular old jungle saying seems to lose something in the translation.

This garage sale will take place Friday and Saturday, June 28-29, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The sale hours are my standard 9am to 1pm. This will be my last garage sale until I get back from San Diego’s Comic-Con and recover from said event. Figure the next garage sale after this one will be the last weekend in July.

I’m writing this blog entry on Monday afternoon. Things are going well. I have five of my highly sought after $10 mystery boxes all packed and ready to go. I hope to have several more ready before I open the garage door on Friday morning.

I’ve added a few hundred new items to the sale while reducing the prices on a few dozen other items. I’ll be cutting out one quarter box and one dollar comics box to make room for more oversized trade paperbacks and hardcovers and another collectible phone or three.

My “fifty cents” table will have lots of new books and manga on it. When stuff doesn’t sell over a sale or two, I pull it for inclusion in the mystery boxes or reduce the price on it. The aim is to sell as much as possible. Downsizing.

One cautionary note. I don’t haggle. You may want to believe that everything is negotiable, but it isn’t. Haggling annoys me. Heck, I’m thinking of raising the price on one item because the would-be haggler wasted my time with multiple e-mails.

I’ll have the usual Isabella books and comics, but I won’t have a dedicated box of my older Isabella-written comics. I’m organizing those and won’t be selling them until I’m sure I have decent file copies of everything I’ve written. I’m hoping to have a box of my older work before the end of the garage sale season.

I’ll also have the usual posters, but, after this sale, I will be taking off sale the spiffy double-sided Superman poster I conceived for Cleveland’s 1988 International Superman Exposition. The poster has sold for very high prices. I’m going to give my customers one more chance to buy them at the existing $20 price. Then they will be pulled for auction.

I’m feeling pretty good about what will be available for sale this weekend. If all has gone as planned, my son Ed and I will pay a visit to my secret Fortress of Storage. The plan is to look for a nice box of older comics, a few more collectible phones and some odds and ends that can go into mystery boxes. I’ll also be going through some of the storage areas in my house to see what other cool stuff I can excavate for the sale.

One last note. I sign comics and other Isabella items free at these garage sale. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just bought the items from me or if you’re bringing them from your collection. Unless you’re a dick, I’ll sign them without charge.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you this weekend. We’re gonna have a good time.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.   

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 24, 2019


What Has Gone Before:

I’m reading and reviewing the Free Comic Book Day comic books sent to me by my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.

We begin with...

Stranger Things/Black Hammer [Dark Horse is another Free Comic Book Day issue that has me at a disadvantage. Though Barb and Eddie (my wife and son) watched at least the first season of Stranger Things and liked it a lot, I have not yet watched. As for Black Hammer, I bailed on the Hellboy Universe a few years back as it became more complicated and depressing. This comic would be my first exposure to either feature. The issue has a 12-page Stranger Things story by Jody Houser with artist Ibrahim Moustafa and a 12-page Black Hammer story by writers Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes with artist/letterer by David Rubin.

QUALITY: The Stranger Things story was so well-written that, even with my lack of knowledge of the series, I connected with its young characters and wanted to know more about them. Apparently, Houser is writing a prequel to the first season. I plan to read that and, as soon as possible, start watching the TV series. The Black Hammer story was just okay.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Stranger Things story was inviting to this new reader/viewer. The Black Hammer story didn’t change my disinterest in the Hellboy Universe. Mind you, I think there’s a lot of decent work being down in the Hellboy Universe and might give it another shot in the future via the omnibus editions.

SALESMANSHIP: First rate. I was directed to the existing Stranger Things volume and the prequel series. There was a checklist of the Black Hammer trades. There were house ads for The Umbrella Academy, the Hellboy omnibus editions and Polar, which looked interesting. I’ll see if it’s available through my local library.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.

Star Wars Adventures [IDW] features a 22-page story from a series called Tales from Vader’s Castle. It’s written by Cavan Scott and drawn by Derek Charm. Tales from Vader’s Castle is an anthology of alleged scary stories told by rebels who have invaded the castle of Darth Vader. These are suitable-for-all-ages stories with cartoon-style art. House of Mystery, it ain’t.

QUALITY: I wasn’t impressed. The format (rebels telling stories as they slink through the castle) is awkward. The story presented here was kind of meh.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Star Wars Universe is very complicated. I find myself frequently confused when reading Star Wars comics. The tale in this issue was fairly straightforward given the format. Readers more into Star Wars than me probably found it easier to follow than I did. Your mileage undoubtedly varies.

SALESMANSHIP: Good job. There’s a full-age house ad for Tales from Vader’s Castle and plenty of other ads for a variety of Star Wars comics. If a new reader likes this free comic book, those other ads constitute a virtual shopping list to other Star Wars comic books and graphic novels.

SCORE: Five out of ten points.


Robotech [Titan] features “Chapter 0" of a new series based on the re-imagined (for American television) anime series. I watched some of the American episodes and have read some of the earlier comic books based on the series. By no means am I proficient in the history of Robotech. This Free Comic Book Day offering has a 16-page story by  writer Simon Furman with art by Hendry Prasetya, color art by Marco Lesko and lettering by Jim Campbell; and a two-page story involving the singer Lynn Minmei by Furman, Campbell, and artist Sarah Stone.

QUALITY: The first story has a scattershot sequence of flashbacks that might have refreshed the memories of avid Robotech devotees but did nothing for me. Once I got past that sequence, I was much more interested in the well-written story. That lead story ended on an intriguing note. The second story was also quite intriguing as it opens with a tribute to a character who died and ends with that character appearing. I’m considering reading further.

ACCESSIBILITY: Not great. A “The Story So Far” summary doesn’t give new readers as much of a leg-up into the series as it should have. The flashback scenes in the story itself didn’t help much. I think I got more of a back story of Lynn Minmei in the two-page episode that followed the lead.

SALESMANSHIP: Solid. There’s an ad following the stories directing readers to Robotech trade paperbacks. The inside front cover plugs other Titan trades. The back cover ad is for a Robotech card game and a Robotech tabletop game.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.


Spawn #1 [Image] reprints Todd McFarlane’s first Spawn story from May, 1992. McFarlane is credited with story, pencils and inks with Tom Orzechowski on lettering and Steve Oliff on coloring. The cover is by Francesco Mattina.

QUALITY: Rereading this story for the first time in 27 years hasn’t improved my opinion of it. It’s not well-written, though I started liking the title more when McFarlane added more information on who Spawn had been and what was most important to him. This first story was lacking in the human drama. Even the art wasn’t as good as what McFarlane has been doing over at Marvel.

ACCESSIBILITY: Poor. Spawn is about to hit his 300th issue and this reprint doesn’t give the reader much of a leg-up. This free comic book could have used a lengthy “What Has Gone Before” summary for its inside front cover. There’s precious little connection between this story and whatever has been happening in the series in more recent times.

SALESMANSHIP: Marginal. There are several ads for Spawn collections in the issue and a back cover ad for Spawn #300. None of them are very enticing.

SCORE: Two out of ten points.

Look for more Free Comic Book Days in the weeks to come.

© 2019 Tony Isabella


I have started this blog entry a couple dozen times over the past several months. Things haven’t been right with me for those months and, at the risk of sharing too much, I wanted to explain what has been going on to my friends and readers online.

None of this is a plea for sympathy, though I know many of you will send me just that. Right from the start, you should know I have a wonderful life with a wonderful family and more wonderful friends from all around the world that I ever dreamed of having.

My comic-book and other writings have been incredibly well received over the years. The Black Lightning TV series has been a blessing unlike any in my career. I think of everyone who works on the show as part of my extended family. I may have to start buying Christmas cards by the gross.

It’s been an additional blessing talking about Black Lightning, the show and my other work at conventions and libraries and schools. I have done close to a hundred print and TV interviews over the past three years. They turned out pretty good.

I’m doing pretty okay in the financial department, though, like all of us, I wish I was doing  better. Without regular work from any of the major comics publishers, I have to work at least twice as hard to make half as much. I’m grateful I’m still able to work as much as I do. Many creators of my generation aren’t writing or drawing at all. Which is a damn shame.

Physically, I’m doing decently for a guy of my age and lifestyle. My blood pressure rarely goes into even the moderate warning zone and, according to my doctor, my cholesterol is spectacular. I’m not as spry as I used to be. I need more naps. I need to lose weight. But, all in all, I should be able to keep doing the things I love for many years to come. Emotionally, well, that’s an area that is of concern to me. But I believe I am getting a handle on it and the months of depression that have accompanied it.

In January, I spent several days visiting the cast and crew of the Black Lightning TV series in Atlanta. You can read about my visit in a series of blog entries posted earlier this year. I was treated with great love and respect by everyone I met there. It ranks very high among the best moments of my life. I hope to visit the Black Lightning set more than once during the production of the series’ third season. I have a standing invitation to visit. Those amazing folks seem to be as fond of me as I am of them.

So, you may be asking, what is your problem, Tony? The problem I’ve been having emotionally, the problem that has me fighting the worst writer’s block of my career, stem from the vast disconnect between the love/respect I receive from the TV show, from the fans, from many fellow comics creators, from conventions I attend, from talks I give, from TV and print journalists who interview me...and between the almost total lack of that love/respect from the rest of the comics industry.

DC Comics kicked me to the curb a while ago. I’ve written about it previously. I’ve written about how insulting it is that the company has reduced Black Lightning, the star of a hit TV series and their most iconic black super-hero, to Batman’s support Negro. I won’t go over all that stuff here.

Many comics people think I’m on the top of the world and I cannot deny I’ve been riding high in many ways. They think I made far more money from Black Lightning than I have. They think I receive crazy cool offers to write comics and TV shows and movies. I wish all of that were true.

Despite my past problems with DC Comics, I believed I was heading for the top of the world. Early on, there had been some discussion of my becoming an adviser of some sort on both the comics and the various TV shows. I would have liked to have been able to share my ideas and knowledge with DC Entertainment. I think they would have been the better for that.

I figured it was a given that I would writing Black Lightning comic books for years to come. I figured I would be writing other things as well. I pitched some stuff that was initially well received and ultimately rejected. Even Black Lightning was off the table because DC editorial decided that their most iconic black super-hero, the one who has a hit TV show, the one who has meant so much to fans over the decades since I created him, was best suited to be reduced to Batman’s support Negro in Batman and the Outsiders. The reboot of my creation as seen in Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands seems to have been written out of current continuity even before my mini-series concluded.

Lucy pulled away the football. How could I have believed it would not happen this time?

I was hurt. I have said many times that I would love to be writing Black Lightning stories until the day I die. That seems unlikely at this point, though I also thought that in the 1990s. I’m not going to speculate publicly on why things played out the way they did with DC this time around. Maybe they’ll ask me to write my creation again in another twenty years. Comics is crazy.

I figured I’d have no problem creating comics and getting work from other comics publishers. Cold Dead Hands proved I could still write great comics. They could put “From the creator of Black Lightning” on the covers of any comics I wrote for them. I could use my media and social media contacts to publicize my new comics. I was and I remain committed to showing DC Comics what a huge horrible mistake they made kicking me to the curb.

But that didn’t happen. Since I finished Cold Dead Hands, the only comics writing I’ve done is a one-page story for Marvel Comics and an eight-page story I had to pull from publication because the Ripley’s Believe It or Not people wanted changes that would have ruined the story.

Only a few other comics publishers ever contacted me. I responded. None of them followed up with me. Though that’s happened many times before, it was particularly disheartening this time.

Things that wouldn’t have bothered me in the past are now blows to my peace of mind. Despite Cold Dead Hands being set in Cleveland, despite the series being promoted in area newspapers and on local TV stations, despite the release of several trades collecting my previous Black Lightning work, not a single Cleveland comics shop ever contacted me to do a signing at their shop. People recognize me on the street, but the comics shops weren’t interested. This is why I buy my comics from a store in New Jersey.

I’ve been told there is a slander campaign against me. That’s not a new thing. It happened in the 1990s and that one was a whole lot better orchestrated than what seems to be happening now. If this is happening, and it likely is, I’m sad about it. Even as I understand that some comics creators who aren’t straight white old guys have it much worse than I will ever have it. The Dumpster in the White House has empowered the most vile elements of our society and the Internet gives them a relatively safe platform for their despicable behavior. It’s something we all live with.

For the record, I am neither insane nor undependable. I think I’m a delight to work with. I think I go above and beyond to create the best comics I can create. I think I can help publishers well beyond my writing skills. I’m a sweetheart of a human being. As you can see, my self-esteem remains intact.

The blows to my mind and soul have plunged me into depression on a regular basis. It’s a battle I have fought my entire life. It’s a battle I know how to fight. But it’s a struggle and that struggle has taken a toll on my productivity.

Baby steps. That’s the best way I can describe my battle plan for the immediate future. Right now, I’m concentrating on avoiding as much stress in my life as possible. I’m focusing on the “must-do” stuff right in front of me. Getting ready for my next garage sales. Trying to get back on track with my “Tony’s Tips” columns for Tales of Wonder. Completing pitches that I should’ve finished months ago. Planning for G-Fest and the San Diego Comic-Con. Figuring out ways to be more productive when I return Comic-Con.

One thing I’ve started doing is writing several blog entries at the same time. Even when I don’t have the time or the energy to write a complete blog entry, I can find a few minutes to review a comic book or movie. I can find a few minutes to write an item or two for entries that aren’t strictly review columns. Whenever these various items or review amount to a decent-length bloggy thing, I will post them. On some days, you won’t get an new blog entry. On other days, you might get two or more. When they are finished, I will put them online. I have missed my nigh-daily blogging and I sincerely hope you have missed it as well.

I will have much more to say in the coming weeks, especially after I get back from San Diego. In the meantime, if you want to contact me about my attending your convention, my writing for your company, or meeting with me at G-Fest or Comic-Con, please e-mail me sooner rather than later. I’ll do my best to accommodate you.

If you stayed with me through this way-too-long bloggy thing, you have my thanks. Now go find something more fun to do or read. You have earned that in spades.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.   

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 20, 2019


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I gave a talk on comics at a retirement community plus I wrote reviews of Superman: The Golden Age Newspaper Dailies: 1947-1949 by Alvin Schwartz, Wayne Boring and Win Mortimer, and Abby Denson’s Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen and, celebrating 80 years of Marvel Comics greatness, Crypt of Shadows #1.


What Has Gone Before:

I’m reading and reviewing the Free Comic Book Day comic books sent to me by my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.

We begin with...

Avengers/Savage Avengers #1 [Marvel] was one of the FCBD issues I was most looking forward to reading. During more than one era, the Avengers were my favorite super-hero team. I’ve fallen well behind in reading the main title and was glad for the opportunity to catch up with the team. I also thought Savage Avengers was an outrageous notion, albeit one in which I had a keen interest. This giveaway issue presents a 10-page Avengers tale by Jason Aaron and Stefano Casselli, and a 10-page Savage Avengers story by Gerry Duggan and Mike Dedoato, Jr.

QUALITY: The writing and art in both stories was pretty good. I’d have liked them better if they were more accessible.

ACCESSIBILITY: Frankly awful. There was no “what have gone before” information for either story and that information was not included in either of the two stories in this issue.

SALESMANSHIP: There are lots of advertisements for various Marvel comics and collections: Marvel Rising, The Savage Sword of Conan, trades that tie in to the films, Avengers, Captain America, Thanos, Conan the Barbarian, Savage Avengers, Shuri and War of the Realms. Most of them look interesting enough that I’ll be requesting them from my local library system

SCORE: 5.5 out of a possible ten.

Captain Canuck [Chapterhouse] is yet another revival of the D-list super-hero who has been around in one form or another since 1975. There have been times when it was decently written and times when it was really well-drawn, but it’s never been consistent.

QUALITY: In this Free Comic Book Day edition, Charterhouse attempts to tie past concepts and related characters together in 24 pages of flashback sequences and modern-day vignettes. It’s a mess. It was a struggle to read it the first time and even more so when I gave it a second reading in the hope that maybe I was just in a bad mood or some such when I first read it. No such luck.

ACCESSIBILITY: The brief recap on the inside front cover has white letters on a pale yellow background. It’s barely readable if you’re willing to strain your eyes. The recaps and new comics that follow might mean something if you’re a Captain Canuck fanatic, but I feel they are unaccessible for most readers.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. There are many ads for every Captain Canuck and related collection imaginable. If someone found something of value in the comics pages, they will have no trouble finding (presumably) more of the same.

SCORE: Three out of ten points.

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World by Iruka Shiomiya [Vertical Comics] rescues today’s column from consisting of entirely negative FCBD reviews. I didn’t know anything about this manga series until I read this issue, but did some quick research.

Some quick notes from Wikipedia...

Kino's Journey is a Japanese light novel series written by Keiichi Sigsawa with illustrations by Kouhaku Kuroboshi. Kino, accompanied by the talking motorcycle Hermes, travels through a mystical world of many different countries and forests, each unique in its customs and people. She spends three days and two nights in every town, without exception, on the principle that three days is enough time to learn almost everything important about a place, while leaving time to explore new lands.

QUALITY: The 32-page excerpt fascinated me from the earliest pages and kept me fascinated through the final pages. I plan to read the rest of the series.

ACCESSIBILITY: Once I got into the story, I was hooked. That said, I didn’t understand what this world is all about and why Kino is traveling through it. The Wikipedia information helped, but I’m still somewhat confused. Hopefully, my further reading will clear things up for me.

SALESMANSHIP: The inside front cover plugs the manga. The first two volumes are now available. The inside back cover promotes Diamond’s Comic Shop Locator website. The back cover plugs the first volume of Go with the Clouds North-by-Northwest. I have read that initial volume and will be reviewing it in the future.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.


I was at a disadvantage reading Minecraft/Incredibles 2 from Dark Horse Comics. I have never played video games and have no interest in playing video games. Indeed, my only connection to video games is spending the money I get from Black Lightning being part of the Injustice video game.

This FCBD issue has an eight-page Minecraft story, a 12-page tale of the Incredibles and a great many ads for related items. I’m cool with that. Promotion is an important and reasonable part of these free comics. FCBD offers publisher a fantastic means of connecting their books and comics with new customers.

QUALITY: The Minecraft story did nothing for me, but I won’t deduct points for that. That’s more on me than the story.

The Incredibles story was a hoot-and-a-half. A hilarious villain. Mister and Mrs. Incredible trying to have a date night. Their kids trying to make sure that date night goes smoothly. It was a great way of showing the core values of the series. Family, fun, super-hero action.

ACCESSIBILITY: I could have used some background information on the Minecraft story. There was none. There wasn’t much background for the Incredible story, but I think those characters are well known enough to make that less important.

SALESMANSHIP: First rate. There were ads for Minecraft trades and more: books for younger readers, retellings of classic novels with Disney characters, Frozen, books for middle readers, Space Boy, Plants vs. Zombie and Incredibles.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.

Look for more Free Comic Book Day reviews in the weeks to come.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 17, 2019


Hello, my friends.

I'm going to do my best to catch up on your e-mails and other messages before the end of the month, I'll also be posting some informational blog entries to answer some frequently asked questions. There will be some actual bloggy things posted in the coming weeks. However, in all likelihood, we won't see the return of my nigh-daily postings until I return from San Diego's Comic-Con International in July. Thanks for your patience.

Tony Isabella

Friday, June 14, 2019


What Has Gone Before:

I’m reading and reviewing the Free Comic Book Day comic books sent to me by my pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book. 
We begin with...

Disney’s Descendants: Dizzy’s New Fortune [Toykopop]. Made for TV, the Descendants movies feature the teenage children of four Disney villains. The villains live on the Isle of the Lost, but their kids are allowed to attend school on Auradon. There have been three of these movies and, despite my best intentions, I have not yet seen any of them. Would this free comic book make me want to binge-watch them as soon as possible?

QUALITY: The 23-page story is poorly written. If you don’t know the characters, you get no good clues as to who they are, what they’re all about or what’s happening in this story. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the manga-style art either.

ACCESSIBILITY: Total fail. As I said, the story doesn’t welcome me into this world. I read it twice to see if I was somehow missing details that would have changed that. I wasn’t. Those details were not there.

SALESMANSHIP: Better than the story. There’s an advertisement for the full Dizzy’s New Fortune graphic novel. That’s followed by an ad for Fathom Events, which includes some anime movies. We get four pages of ads (including the back cover) for other Disney and Pixar manga. There’s an ad directing readers to the Disney Manga portion of the Tokyopop website.
SCORE: Three out of ten points.


Deadly Class: Killer Set by Rick Remender and Wes Craig [Image] has a 17-page story set in the early days of protagonist Marcus Lopez’s time at Kings Dominion. If you’ve read the Deadly Class comics or watched the TV series on the Syfy channel, you know Kings Dominion is training the next generation of assassins.

QUALITY: The story is a dense done-in-one story focusing on Viktor, Marcus’s enemy and fellow student. It’s well-written with intricate art. On my first attempt to read Deadly Class, shortly after I saw the first TV episode, I couldn’t get into the series. However, this story was good enough that I’ll likely give it another shot in the near future.

ACCESSIBILITY: The inside front cover features “The Story So Far” and that brought me up to as much speed as I needed to follow this FCBD story. Remender’s writing kept me in the loop and artist Craig did a good job differentiating the characters.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There’s an ad for the TV series, followed by an ad for the dollar-priced Image Firsts first issue reprints and the first trade paperback values whose prices start at $9.99. A two-page spread advertises Reminder’s other trade paperbacks and a second spread showcases all the Deadly Class volumes. Other ads pitch Wes Craig and Toby Cypress’ The Grave Diggers Union, Remender and Greg Tocchini’s The Last Days of American Crime (soon to be a Netflix feature film), the just-released Deadly Class Volume Eight and various Image Classics titles.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.


Spider-Man/Venom #1 [Marvel] has two 10-page stories. Though this isn’t explicitly stated, they seem like brand-new stories done for this Free Comic Book Day issue. The Venom story is by Donny Cares with artists Ryan Stegman and JP Mayer. The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man/Miles Morales: Spider-Man story is by Saladin Ahmed and Tom Taylor with artists Cory Smith and Jay Leisten.

QUALITY: Though I’ve never been fond of Venom, I have been reading good things about Cates’ work on Eddie Brock. [I have requested his first Venom volume from my local library character.] This story is a lead-in to something called Absolute Carnage and reveals, to me, at least, the chilling bit of business that anyone who has worn a symbiote still carries a piece of it inside them. That’s one scary notion.

The Spider-Men story is a lighthearted competition between Peter and Miles as to where the best pizza can be found. Even the Shocker gets in on the debate. It’s a fun little vignette.

ACCESSIBILITY: The credits page, which, unfortunately, runs after the two stories, gives one-paragraph summations for Brock, Parker and Morales. I was a little lost reading the Venom tale, but found the Spider-Men story very accessible.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The inside front cover plugs the Cloak and Dagger TV series. A full-page ad for Fathom Events clumsily breaks into the Venom story. There’s a full-page ad for Absolute Carnage, which comes out in August.

The Spider-Men vignette is interrupted several times with ads for Immortal Hulk, House of X/Powers of X, Spider-Man Far from Home and related trade paperbacks, and Journey into Mystery #1, a War of the Realm tie-in. The last page of the story is separated from the rest of the story by three ad pages. Not cool.

There’s a cool double-page spread touting the continuation of “the scariest spider-year ever.” The inside back cover advertises Marvel Select trade paperbacks and the back cover pitches the first Venom trade paperback by Cates.

SCORE: A disappointing six out of ten, mostly because of the truly awful placement of the ads.

If you’re reading this bloggy thing of mine on Friday evening or early Saturday morning, and you live in driving distance of Medina, Ohio, you could visit my latest Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale at 840 Damon Drive in Medina. The hours are 9am to 1pm.  Lots of cool items are bargain prices.

Keep watching the bloggy for more Free Comic Book Day reviews and other columns. I’ll be back soon.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 13, 2019



I'm going to be working late into the night to prepare for Friday and Saturday's garage sale. I put several dozen issues of Jimmy Olsen out for sale at absurd low prices. I hit a box with some Disney comics and added those to the "suitable for all ages" box. I reduced the prices on several higher price items. I have a few more comics, trades and other things to add to the sale. Then I'll put together as many $10 mystery boxes as I can manage before I collapse. Great Caesar's Ghost, I wish I could shop at these sales.

This weekend's garage sale runs Friday and Saturday,June 14-15, 9 am to 1 pm each day at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. There's a classified ad in the Medina Gazette and a listing on Craig's List.

I will NOT have garage sales next weekend (June 21-22). I have some cool stuff to write. I also want to take a break so that I can make the following garage sales (June 28-29) as terrific as humanly possible.

I hope I see you this weekend.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Commando is a black-and-white British war comics digest that publishes four issues every two weeks. Two of those issues feature reprints, two feature new stories. It launched in July 1963 and, as of this writing, I’ve received up to issue #5226.

Received? That’s correct. I subscribed to Commando a couple years back. Each issue features a 63-page story of generally one to three panels per page. I’ve described them to friends as being somewhat like the non-series stories that used to run in the back of DC war comics titles like Our Army at War, albeit a bit more involved than the DC Comics tales. Those DC stories rarely exceeded eight pages.

Back issues of Commando have been steady sellers at the conventions I’ve brought them to and at  my garage sales. As much as I enjoy them, these issues mount up too quickly for me to keep them. My current pile of unread issues numbers 74. So I read them and then sell them to others for fifty cents to a dollar. I take a loss on them, but I like exposing my customers to pretty great comics they would not otherwise see.

Commando #5153 featured “The Red Devil” by writer Iain McLaughlin with art by the great Vicente Alcazar, who I worked with a bit in the 1970s. The cover is by Graeme Neil Reid.

Commando stopped being an all-boys club a long time ago. This tale is about Irina Dzenkho, a young Russian woman who lives alone on a farm. Her parents have passed and she lost both of her brothers to the war. The Germans are coming closer every day.

When Russian soldiers try to seize her farm animals for food, Irina holds them off with her expert marksmanship. However, when Germans approach, she and the soldiers forget their differences to battle their common enemy. She leaves with the soldiers to join others fleeing the invaders.

The Germans have taken everything from Irina. She refuses to give her rifle to the Russian army, saying she’s a better shot than any of her homeland soldiers. The soldiers who fought with her back her claim. An exasperated officer says to get the woman a uniform. So she’s in the army now.

Before long, her skill has made her very valuable to her officers. She becomes the deadliest sniper and, in doing so, becomes a little harder with every kill.

In its poignant conclusion, the story asks if Irina and the other Russians can ever go back to who they were before the war. It’s an  unanswered question that will haunt readers.

“The Red Devil” is one of the best stories I’ve read this year. At the end of the year, I hope to present a list of my choices for the best comics of the year. This first year would be a shorter list on account of I’m just starting to take note of these stories. Expect more of these short bloggy things.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 11, 2019


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be held Friday and Saturday, June 14-15, from 9 am to 1 pm each day at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. I've just started restocking for the sales. I think my customers are gonna like what they find. For example:

Silver and Bronze Age issues of Jimmy Olsen.

A puppet Spike.

Several dozen hardcovers and trades.

More dollar comics.

More mystery boxes.

Black Lightning comic books, collections, pins and posters.

The exclusive Marvel's Greatest Creators: Tony Isabella #1 variant, available only from me and limited to 1000 signed and numbered copies.

Saw something you liked on a previous visit to my garage. but you didn't have the money to buy it on that visit? I'll be reducing the prices on many collectible phones and other items. 

What else will I be adding? All I know is that I keep going through boxes and finding more great stuff. Come to the garage sale and make my stuff your stuff.

Tony Isabella

Friday, June 7, 2019


Free Comic Book Day is like Comic-Book Christmas. Held the first Saturday every May, it’s when participating comics shops across North America and around the world give away specially-produced comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. On that wondrous day, most shops run terrific sales and many bring in special guests (comics creators, cosplayers and more) to add to the celebration.

This year, over fifty Free Comic Book Day issues were prepared by  publishers. They ranged from Doctor Who, Deadly Class and Avengers to My Hero Academia, Bob’s Burgers and Lumberjanes. My friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey sent all those comics to me so I could read and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. Only once have I reached my goal of reading and writing about all the FCBD comics available in one year. Maybe this year is the year I finally repeat that achievement. Wish me luck.

When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.

Let’s begin...

Dear Justice League was my first encounter with DC Zoom, DC’s new “middle grade” imprint. The digest-sized comic contained chapters from the upcoming graphic novel by the New York Times bestselling author Michael Northrop with art by Gustavo Duarte. The background of these and presumable the graphic novel’s other chapters are the Justice League members getting and responding to texts from their young fans.

QUALITY: The Superman chapter is hilarious. Superman is asked if he has ever messed up and, in thinking about it, proceeds to “mess up” in humorous ways. The Hawkgirl chapter is okay, but not up to the quality of the Superman chapter.

ACCESSIBILITY: Yes. The characters are well known enough that any casual reader will be able to follow and enjoy this graphic novel.

SALESMANSHIP: High marks. Besides an ad for Dear Justice League, we get ads for Teen Titans Go collections, a new Super Sons graphic novel, the ongoing Scooby-Doo Team-Up comic book, the ongoing Teen Titans Go comic book, and the new Super Hero Girls animated series.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.


Next up was the digest-size Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Myracle with Isaac Goodhart on the art. This is from the DC Ink imprint aimed at readers a little older than DC Zoom. We get 20 pages of the Under the Moon graphic novel and a six-page preview of Teen Titans Raven by New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia and artist Gabriel Picolo.

QUALITY: Disappointedly low. The Salina Kyle in the Catwoman part of the comic doesn’t ring true; she’s this poor set-upon teenager living with a subservient mother and that mother’s brute boyfriend. Myracle learned how to write comics from two online tutorials and her lack of skill bears that out. It’s just a mess and something I can easily pass on. As for the Raven excerpt, it’s only marginally better, though maybe a longer and less confusing excerpt might have raised my opinion of it.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Catwoman excerpt is accessible, but, as noted, not good. The Raven excerpt is not accessible.

SALESMANSHIP: Decent use of the advertising pages. The inside front cover pitches the forthcoming Johnny Quest: The Complete Original Series on Blu-Ray. There are full-page ads for Under the Moon and Teen Titans Raven on the off-chance that a reader found themselves wanting more of those graphic novels. There’s two-page ad for DC Ink’s Mera: Tidebreaker graphic novel, which I found readable but unremarkable. There’s a DC Nation text feature on the creators of Under the Moon. There’s an inside back cover ad for the Super Hero Girls animated series. There’s a back cover had for a quarter of YA prose novels featuring Batman, Catwoman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

SCORE: 4.5 out of ten points.


No more digests for a bit. Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor [Titan Comics] is the first of the full-sized Free Comic Book Day issues I read. I am a huge-but-sadly-lapsed fan of Doctor Who. I’m several years behind in watching the TV series. That said, I’m planning to skip over those years for now to start watching the adventures of the first female Doctor.

QUERY: Do the people of Gallifrey experience gender as we know it, however imperfectly, here on Earth? We’ve seen indications they are sexual beings, but, gender and sexuality aren’t necessarily the same thing. I may have to research this.

Back to the review...

QUALITY: Good. This issue has a 16-page story by writer Jody Houser and artist Giorgia Sposito. Though it’s on the slight side, it does  a decent job introducing the cast of characters and introducing the basic concepts of the Doctor, her companions, the Tardis and their adventures, explorations and battles against evil.

ACCESSIBILITY: Excellent. The story is prefaced by a page showing all the characters and the Tardis. Combined with the story itself, a new reader will have a smooth entry into this series.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The inside front cover showcases the fine Doctor Who swag available via the BBC Shop. There’s an unrelated-to-Doctor-Who ad for Fathom Events which includes for reasons that escape me, a special showing of The Giant Spider Invasion. After the story, there’s a double-page “Reader’s Guide” showcasing the covers of a Tardis-load of Doctor Who trade paperbacks. There are a great many of them. The back cover pitches the first collection of the comics featuring the Thirteenth Doctor. I’m looking forward to reading those issues.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.

I’m posting this the morning of today’s garage sale, so that’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 6, 2019

CONAN e KAZAR #27 (1976)

My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be tomorrow and Saturday, June 7 and 8, at my home: 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. The sale hours are 9 am to 1 pm each day.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of these garage sales for me is going through long unopened boxes of stuff and finding cool items. Today I’m going to share one of those items with you.

Conan e Kazar was published by Italy’s Editoriale Corno. The title ran 44 issues from 19 Marzo 1975 to 10 Novembre 1976. According to the Grand Comics Database, the publishing format of this comic book was serie mensile poi quattordicinale, which roughly translates to monthly series then fourteen. As you can tell, it reprints Marvel Comics stories from the 1970s.

Why is this full-color Italian comic book in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff? I’m getting to that.

The cover comes from Conan the Barbarian #53 [August 1975]. It’s by Gil Kane and John Romita.

There are three stories in this issue. Conan il Barbaro is the lead feature. “Tre-Contro-Uno” (Three Against One) reprints “Brothers of the Blade” by Roy Thomas with pencil art by John Buscema and inks by Frank Springer. It’s an 18-page story.
Next up is the reason someone sent me this book many decades ago. From Astonishing Tales #22 [February 1974]. Lui, il Colosso Vivente (He, the Living Colossus) stars in the 19-page “...Noi, i Fenomeni” (We, the Phenomena). Or, as it appeared in the original American version, It! The Living Colossus in “...We, the Gargoyles!”

The writer of the story was Tony Isabella aka me. Dick Ayers drew and inked the new pages. To expand this story from my allotted 15 pages, I cobbled together four additional pages from "Gorgolla! The Living Gargoyle!!" [Strange Tales #74; April 1960]. I always tried to give my readers as much story as I could, even if it meant some extra work for me and the production department.

NOTE: I get a kick out of finding foreign language reprints of my stories. If you come across away, e-mail me and maybe we can work out some sort of deal, be it cash or trade.
With a title like Conan e Kazar, one would think the third feature in this comic book word be Kazar. That’s not the case.  

Kull the Conquistatore (Kull the Conqueror) stars in “La Morte Nel Vento” (“Death in the Wind”) by Steve Englehart with Mike Ploog on the pencils and Ernie Chan on the inks. This story originally ran as “Wings of the Night-Beast!” in Kull The Destroyer #15 [August 1974]. It’s a 12-page story.

The back cover of this issue is an advertisement for L’Uomo Ragno [Spiderman] #153. My first thought was that this reprints an issue of Marvel Team-Up, but I was able to pin the cover to any specific issue. If any of my bloggy readers can identify the cover/issue, I will say wonderful things about them in a future bloggy.

That’s all for now. I’ll be devoting most of today to getting ready for my garage sale. However...

I will be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Fantastic Four by Dan Slott; Hawkman by Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch; and, in the category of this should be back in print, the IDW adaptation of Richard Matheson’s Hell House by Ian Edginton and Simon Frasier!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Life can be hard. Especially when the comics industry you’ve been part of your entire career defies logic and your country is being run by one of the worst human beings imaginable. Especially if you have suffered from depression your entire life. If you suffer from depression, I urge you to talk to someone, talk to anyone, so that your depression does not take you away from those you love and who love you right back.

Find ways to cope with your depression. For me, a favorite coping tool and a great source of hope for the future is to seek out and think about those things in my life that make me happy. I do this every day. I post these happy things online every day. Then, at the end of the month, I collect them into a bloggy thing that this one..

These are things that made me happy in May.

May 1: A note from a fan who told me my Black Lightning comics gave them hope and joy when they needed it most. Now you know why I’ll always speak out against DC Comics abuse of my creation. Because he means so much to so many people.

May 2: Maggie and Valerie Thompson discovered incredible photos of me and my old comic-book store in Maggie’s attic. It’s like taking a ride in the Tardis.

May 3: Avengers: Endgame. Ten years in the making, the film is the nigh-perfect celebration of the Marvel Universe in both comics and movies. An astonishing achievement.

May 4: Genocide (1968). Insects attacking mankind and Kathy Horan as a mad scientist. This Japanese horror film overcomes over-the-top acting for a satisfying scary experience. I love discovering movies like this.

May 5: Free Comic Book Day at Akron’s Rubber City Comics. Terrific store and customers. Sold many books. Visited Oddmall, the Emporium of the Weird, across the street. A fun day.

May 6: Black Lightning cookies. Sweet Mary’s Bakery, located next door to Rubber City Comics, had special cookies for Free Comic Book Day. The Black Lightning ones were the best.

May 7: Apama the Undiscovered Animal #9 did its take on one of my favorite moments in Cleveland history: the ill-conceived Ten Cent Beer Night. Kudos to Ted Sikora, Milo Miller and Benito Gallego for the action and laughs.

May 8: Geekerella by Ashley Poston. Enjoyable young adult take on classic fairy tale. Thanks to the Beat for cluing me in on this and some other books I’ll be reading this summer.

May 9: Alter Ego #158 with coverage of two of my favorite comics creators: William Woolfolk and Pete Morisi. Plus tributes to Russ Heath, Marie Severin and Gary Friedrich.

May 10: Klepper, a new Comedy Central show starring Jordan Klepper, debuted with a episode on the Valhalla Club, veterans fighting PTSD by performing as wrestlers. Klepper at his best: compassionate, hilarious, thoughtful. He is a comedic treasure.

May 11: Brooklyn Nine-Nine: The annual Halloween Heist gets moved to Cinco de Mayo and is more convoluted and hilarious than ever. So many twists. So many turns. I laughed so hard I cried. I love this show!

May 12: The blessed mania of All-Star Squadron fan John Joshua who, as shown in Back Issue #112, has commissioned artists to do covers continuing the series with homages to covers done for Marvel comic books written by Roy Thomas. Now I want to do something like this for my ongoing Black Lightning series that DC Comics rejected. Any volunteers?

NOTE: I changed my mind about commissioning covers for an ongoing Black Lightning series within hours of posting the above. From my viewpoint, DC looks to be experiencing some serious upheaval. It’s a long shot, of course, but perhaps those shocks to its system will result in the company changing its attitude towards yours truly and my vision for Black Lightning. I’ll keep my ideas close to my vest and heart for the time being.
May 13: Teen Love Stories. Did you know Jim Warren published three romance comics magazines in 1967? I didn’t until I read about them in the Warren biography by Bill Schelly. I now own all three and sm looking forward to reading and writing about them.

May 14: Jennifer Blood. I just discovered this dark comedy about an average suburban housewife who’s also a ruthless vigilante. Created by Garth Ennis, it’s hilariously violent. Dynamite is publishing a 744-page omnibus edition in July. I’ve already ordered it.

May 15: The Lollipop Kids by Adam and Aidan Glass with artist Diego Yapur. The monsters came over with the first American immigrants. They were imprisoned. They escaped. The safety of the world is in the hands of a team of courageous kids. Exciting fantasy action with loads of heart and personality.

May 16: Product placement in Lucifer. Scarlett Estevez (Trixie) was shown reading Skyward. That excellent comics series was created and is written by Lucifer showrunner/writer Joe Henderson. Trixie has great taste!

May 17: The Big Bang Theory finale was a nigh-perfect conclusion of that beloved series, made more special by a cross-time crossover on the Young Sheldon season finale and an emotional behind-the-scenes mini-documentary. I now want to watch all dozen years of the series over again.

May 18: Veni! Vidi! Autism! by Alec Frazier is a collection of his essays and reviews on autism, history and popular culture. Alex’s writings offer great insight into another under-included segment of our comics readership.

May 19: Kondaeel. Available on Amazon Prime for $1.99, this is 50 minutes of WTF? It’s missing key scenes - my guess is a $12 budget only goes so far - and the monster is an animated drawing. If I can find decent scans, it’ll be part of my cheese monsters presentation at this year’s G-Fest.

May 20: Retro Fan. I’m catching up on this magazine and loving it. Kudos to editor Michael Eury and TwoMorrows. This is currently my second-favorite TwoMorrows magazine, just behind Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego.

May 21: Billionaire Robert F. Smith’s pledge to pay off the student loans of the Morehouse College Class of 2019. This story actually brought tears to my eyes.

May 22: Medina Post Office fun. The young boy maybe four years old proudly proclaimed he was half human and half Transformer. He then turned into a very small Ferrari and drove out the doors.

May 23: The delicious cheese of Megaconda (2010). The heroes have no cell service as they face the giant snake. In the background of at least two scenes during this chilling climax is a freeway full of moving cars.

May 24: Jordan Klepper. This is his third time making my list. The “Underground University” episode of his Comedy Central exposes the racism of Georgia’s regents and the courage of those standing with undocumented immigrants who pursue education to better their lives and contribute more to our country. Ignore the ongoing hate-speech from that fucking Trump and his ilk. Immigration is and always has been the great strength of our nation. One more thing. Klepper was arrested for protesting at an Atlanta regrets meeting. He’s funny, insightful and willing to walk the walk.

May 25: I'm having the best time reading three years worth of one of my favorite comic strips in preparation for writing an intro for the collection.

NOTE: All of you who guessed Funky Winkerbean were right.

May 26: Cristy Road. Cuban-American illustrator, graphic novelist and punk rock musician. I’ve never read her work or listened to her music, though I plan to do both. I added her to my comics birthdays list today and, not for the first time, was moved by the wondrous diversity of our art form. Comics inspire and I can’t wait to see where that inspiration takes us all next.

May 27: Saintly Wife Barb and Wonder Son Eddie boarded and bagged hundreds of comics for my garage sale. I’m pricing them now. Almost half will be going into dollar boxes and the rest will represent incredible bargains.

May 28: Red Sonja: Worlds Away by Any Chu. I got a kick out of Sonja’s embracing modern times in Las Vegas and elsewhere. Undocumented immigrant or not, I want Sonja to stay here. The flagons of ale are on me!
May 29: Go with the Clouds, North-by-Northwest by Aki Irie. This is a haunting manga series about a 17-year old private investigator. By the end of the first volume, a mystery involving his own family
comes to the fore.

May 30: Chelsea Handler’s Life Will Be the Death of Me and You Too. I read it because I wanted to know more about the showrunner of the upcoming Dazzler/Tigra cartoon show. She likes dogs and older men, so I sense a connection. I’m sure Saintly Wife Barb would pimp me out to advance my show biz career. Chelsea, call me.

NOTE: Seriously, it’s a terrific book. You should read it.

May 31: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019). It was everything I was expecting and hoping for. My son called it “the most expensive fan service movie ever” and he’s not wrong. Many nods to previous movies. Highly recommended.

I have nigh-weekly garage sales coming up this summer, which also bring me happiness and some much needed cash. I’ll also be a guest at several conventions between now and the end of the year. All of these and much more will be reported on in future installments of the bloggy thing, which I hope brings you as much happiness to you as writing it does to me.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2019 Tony Isabella