Wednesday, January 29, 2020


This new year has gotten off to a hectic start for me. I'll share some of the details with you at a later date, but, for now I just want to answer the three questions I get asked most often. 

QUESTION: Why aren't you writing Black Lightning or some other character that I created or wrote in the past...or that the person asking this question would like me to write?

ANSWER: Because I haven't been hired to write those characters. In the case of Black Lightning, I guess it's because, in its infinite wisdom, DC Comics thinks my creation and their most iconic black hero is best used in their DRIVING MISS BATMAN title. And, yes, I will be reviewing that title in the very near future.

This next question is usually asked as if it were an answer in itself.

QUESTION: You're raking it in from the Black Lightning TV show, right?

ANSWER: I have made some nice-by-comics-industry-standards money from the TV series, but it's not remotely life-changing money. I would make more money writing one comic book a month for Marvel or DC.

QUESTION: Why aren't you a guest at (fill in name of convention you'd like me to attend)?

ANSWER: Because the convention you mentioned either didn't invite me or couldn't/wouldn't meet my appearance requirements, which usually include hotel, travel and an appearance fee. Sans the life-changing money I don't receive, I can't afford to do every convention I'd like to do. I take no offense when an event can't meet my terms, but their situation doesn't change my situation.

If you want to see me writing Black Lightning or any other comics, if you would like to see me at a convention, then you need to express that desire to the people who make those decisions. That's always going to be a long shot, but it's the only shot you have.

Full-scale blogging should resume in a few days. See you then.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Saturday, January 18, 2020


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Some thoughts on Black Lightning and the other DC/CW shows plus reviews of Pre-Code Classics: Atomic War & Captain Courageous, Bettie Page Unbound and The Amazing Mary Jane!

Thursday, January 16, 2020


Today’s title is somewhat misleading since almost everyone reading today’s bloggy thing will not be able to vote for me. I'm running to be my precinct’s central committee member of the Medina County Democratic Party. The Democratic electorate of my precinct consists of a few hundred voters. Odds are you’re not one of them.

I have often said Medina was way too white and way too Republican for me. But I’ve now lived here for over 35 years and, despite my irritation and downright ire with a city run by an elite who stay in their offices, elected and otherwise, way past their expiration dates, I love my city. I plan to die here. Hopefully later rather than sooner.

I felt pride when the Medina city council recently passed an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance with bipartisan support. It was the right thing to do. I was disgusted but not surprised when all those who voted for the great ordinance found themselves with single-issue opponents in their reelection campaigns. The single issue was, of course, that those opponents wanted to discriminate against the LGBT citizens of Medina.

In my ward, the opposition candidate was a vile zealot who railed against the LGBT community on his social media. His faux-Christian beliefs included subjecting women to male domination and forbidding his daughter from having male friends. I couldn’t countenance this man representing me on the city council.

I wrote a letter to the local newspaper praising the city council candidates who supported the ordinance and condemning the bigotry of those who opposed it. My family and I took it one step further.

Using screen caps of the zealot’s rants, we mailed a letter to all the Democratic voters in our ward. It cost us three hundred dollars to do this. Naturally, we were accused of smearing the opposition candidate because how awful of us to share his own words with the voters. We also had people coming to our home to thank us for the letter and the revelations included therein.

Our incumbent councilman crushed his opponent in the election. Even better, every single-issue candidate was defeated in their quest to discriminate against some of our fellow citizens. Once again, as is my wont, I wrote a letter to the local paper praising the citizens of Medina voting for fairness and against bigotry. It was a victory lap of sorts.

Most recently, the Christian Coalition, the same group I fought two decades of ago when they tried to inflict their version of “Sharia Law” on our award-winning library system, has re-branded itself as the Ohio Christian Alliance. They want to place revoking Medina’s LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance on the ballot. Decent citizens must always be watchful of such bigots, especially those who cloak their bigotry in the guise of religion.

The above is one of the reasons I am running for the Medina County Democratic Party Central Committee. I need to be on the front line of that battle and others.

I believe with all my heart, intellect and soul that the solutions to the problems facing our cities, states, nation and world can be found in progressive liberal philosophies and policies. It has been proven over and over again that the Republican Party offers succor only for the already wealthy. They are gutting the middle class of our country. They are vilifying the poor. They oppose the diversity that has made our country great and can make it truly great again.

The Central Committee does not have many responsibilities. Our two main ones are electing a slate of fellow Democrats who will set the goals of our party...and appointing people to fill any positions left vacant by the elected official leaving their office before the end of their term. I am far and away the best choice for this position in my precinct.

I’m running against an incumbent Democrat who has been involved in our local and country politics for decades. It would be fair for me to describe her as one of the “elites” I mentioned above. She has become complacent in opposing Republicans, even going so far as to endorse the Republican mayor of our city in his election. Though she was in favor of the LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, she stayed well on the sidelines when the council members who voted for it were challenged for their seats. She is no longer effective in promoting progressive policies. I can do better.

I don’t want to work with Republicans. I want them to work with us. We have allowed them to set the agenda for far too long, especially given how little that agenda offers the vast majority of Americans. They have worked against the best interests of our citizens and of democracy itself. We need to change that.

Several of my online friends have asked if they can contribute to my campaign. According to my campaign manager - my son Ed - I can accept donations via my PayPal account. That account is the same as my e-mail. But, please, if you make a donation, specify that when you make it. I am required to keep close track of all donations and expenditures in this election.

Your donations will be used for election materials. That would be signs, mailings and possibly advertisements in the local newspaper or on the public channel of our area cable provider. Any donations not spent on my campaign will be donated to progressive candidates in my area. All spending will be recorded and made available when required by law.

I recognize that it’s somewhat incongruous for a 68-year-old man to consider himself part of the “new guard” of Democrats. But, look at it this two years, I’ll be old enough to run to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2020 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Donald J. Trump should be removed from office and charged with more crimes than I would have room to enumerate in anything shorter than a 500-page book that would break his brain if he tried reading its contents page. You know this is true.

Why would anyone support this criminal president? Maybe you’re as evil as he is, a grouping that would certainly include his closest “advisors,” Mitch McConnell, and, sad to say, most Republicans in the Senate, the House of Representatives, and Republican-held state and local governments.

Why would anyone support this criminal president? Maybe you’re an insane evangelical “Christian” eager for the end-times and anxious to get to Heaven. When you meet God, She will probably have stern words for you.

Why would anyone support this criminal president? Maybe you’re too delusional to accept the incontrovertible facts that have been put before you. Maybe you’ve bought into the lies with which Fox News and its ilk have assaulted the truth for decades.

Why would anyone support this criminal president? Maybe you’re just plain afraid of the most powerful bully our nation has ever seen. As the shortest and often smartest kid in school, I saw good kids flock to and follow the neighborhood bully, hoping they would not be his next target.

Why would anyone support this criminal president? Maybe you’re just ignorant of the Constitution, the rule of law, common decency and the diversity which once made America great and could make it great again.

The articles of impeachment will go the Senate soon. If McConnell and his vile henchmen have their way, Trump’s trial will end before the sound of the opening gavel has faded. Violating their oaths of office and the established rules of fair trial, they have already stated they will work with the President on his defense and vote to acquit him.

McConnell, the foreman of the jury, should himself be impeached for his pre-trial pronouncements or, at the very least, stripped of his right to vote on this matter. The same goes for any other Senator who has made similar statements. We need impartial jurors on both sides of the aisle. That means the presentation of evidence. That means the questioning of witnesses. That means showing the public everything and casting your vote in a manner that upholds both the Constitution and basic decency. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Republicans who could lay claim to basic decency.

Trump is unfit to hold office. It would be a true miracle if McConnell and his fellow Republican bootlickers - be careful of Donald’s painful bone spurs - did the right thing and voted to remove him from the office he disgraces on a daily basis. I don’t expect they will.

That said, impeaching this President was the right thing to do. It shouldn’t be a question of how that might affect someone’s chance of being reelected. It should be a question of making the choice our Constitution demands.

The United States of America is the middle of a disaster. Even if Trump is removed from office by impeachment or election defeat, it will take our country decades to recover from the harm he’s done to it. I don’t expect to live long enough to see that full recovery. Honestly, if we don’t get rid of Trump and crush the power of the Republican Party, I expect I’ll be murdered at the hands of one of the GOP’s white supremacist bedfellows or “Christian” zealots. If you think I’m exaggerating, look at the blood-drenched history of those groups.

Impeaching Trump and removing him from office is the right thing to do. Even if this fails to happen, it will still have been the right thing to do. Even if Trump tells another ten thousand lies, it will still have been the right thing to do.

Regardless of the outcome, decent Americans who believe in the rule of law, who welcome diversity of people and thought, who recognize the danger of would-be tyrants like Trump and the murderous world leaders he so clearly admires, will have a lot of work ahead of us. There will be no quick fix.

Either by inaction or obstinacy, we helped break the United States of America. For example, we have countenanced every President in my lifetime lying about our wars. The reasons for going to war or the progress of our wars or if we have any plan for bringing our wars to an end. To my way of thinking, such deceit should be consider an impeachable offense for all Presidents, even the ones I voted for.

We have allowed cruel discrimination against so many of our fellow Americans and those immigrants who have come to our country seeking to be part of our nation, seeking to make better lives for their families, seeing to contribute to our greatness.

I have no purity test for politicians. I fear I will always choose the candidates who are somewhat better than their opponents.  However, better, by its very definition, is still better than the palatable evil of Trump and the Republicans.

We broke this country. It’s on us to fix it.

“Citizen Tony” will be back tomorrow to write about his unexpected candidacy for a local office. I didn’t see it coming either.

© 2020 Tony Isabella


There’s a panel from Elliot Maggin’s classic “What Can One Man Do?” [Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87; December 1971-January 1972] that is often in my thoughts. Former billionaire Oliver Queen is picking up his mail at the modest apartment building where he now lives. His mail consists mostly of donation requests. Perhaps from causes he once donated to generously when he was rich.

OLIVER: “Drug rehabilitation programs, population reduction agencies, Biafran redevelopment. They all want contributions. Maybe I can send them each a dollar. I should do that much.”

Figuring inflation, that dollar would be worth six dollars and some change in 2019. Still not a great deal of money, but I could feel Oliver’s frustration at his limited resources. I can emphasize with it because it’s how I feel nearly every day of my life.

When I was making better-than-decent money writing for newspaper features and comic books, when I was receiving far more frequent royalty payments than at present, I was able to afford to donate to a many worthy causes: Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, LGTB organizations, veterans organizations, the NAACP, animal protection organizations, individual fundraisers created by Facebook friends and more. I felt good about being able to help others. I feel lousy now that I don’t have the means to do so.

I’m working as hard as ever. My work is as good or better than it ever was. But I’m not getting the jobs that pay as well as writing for DC, Marvel and newspaper strips. That makes me sad.

I made a pledge to myself that, should I again get those kinds of high-paying jobs, I will “tithe” 10% of each check to the causes I used to support so freely. I don’t expect this to sway any of the seemingly countless editors and publishers who don’t hire me. It’s a pledge I made for myself because I haven’t lost hope that those kinds of jobs will come around again. If I’m fortunate enough for that to happen, I will owe the universe a debt.

I can’t recall if the current DCU Green Arrow is rich or not. It’s been a while since I’ve read his title. Whatever DC has done with him, I hope he’s retained his charitable nature. That looks really good on a super-hero.
A couple months back, I wrote about Fourth Down and Out, the first in the Andrew Welsh-Hughes series about Andy Hayes, disgraced Ohio State University football player turned private investigator. I’ve just read the second novel in the series.

Like the first book, Slow Burn [2015] relies heavily on coincidence and convenience. Hired to investigate the possibility a convicted arsonist was actually innocent of a fatal blaze he was found guilty of setting, the case ends up involving fracking companies and drug gangs. The pieces fit together because the author says they all fit together.

Still...I enjoyed Slow Burn. Andy Hayes is a protagonist working clumsily towards redemption. I want to see if he makes it.

When I read Fourth Down and Out, I asked my son Ed, the biggest OSU football fan I know, if the people of Columbus, Ohio would really continue to vilify Hayes a decade after he threw a game. Ed assured me that would be the case. In the climax of this book, Hayes does something undeniably heroic. I asked Ed if the act would change how his detractors see Hayes. With a shrug, he responded maybe half of them would. Columbus is a tough town.

This bloggy thing is being written over a long period of time. In that period, I read Capitol Punishment [2017], the third Andy Hayes mystery by Andrew Welsh-Huggins. This time around, Hayes is hired to bodyguard a political reporter who’s made a great many enemies.While the political intrigue made me think Welsh-Huggins was trying too hard to remain bipartisan, I was pleased that this book doesn’t have different cases that are somehow connected. I was pleased that the “B” case resulted in the introduction of a new character who’ll be a valuable asset to Hayes in this and presumable future novels.

I’m no longer on the fence here. I’ll continue reading Andy Hayes mysteries as long as Welsh-Huggins writes them.


Did I mention this bloggy thing is being written over a long period of time? Because, since I wrote the above paragraph, I’ve read the fourth Andy Hayes mystery by Andrew Welsh-Huggins. The hyphenated author should thank me for all this coverage.

In The Hunt [2017], a serial killer is stalking prostitutes in Columbus. Hayes is hired to find a missing prostitute by the woman’s brother. This brings him into contact with a local congresswoman whose key issue is ending human trafficking and also the usual nasties that show up as part of a private investigator’s cases. Helping Andy on this particular case is former prostitute and current church worker Theresa,  introduced in a previous novel.

Hayes doesn’t have the easiest life. He’s constantly at odds with two ex-wives as he tries to remain an important part of his sons’ lives. The demands of his job causes some very rough bumps in his relationship with university teacher and single mother Anne. Yet, though he might be a knight in the tarnished armor of his past and sometimes unsavory career, Hayes is still a knight. Always trying to do the right thing even when that has negative consequences for his happiness and life.

Welsh-Higgins continues to rely somewhat heavily on coincidence in this book, but I’m not invested in the series for mysteries. As with most cop/detective TV shows, I generally figure out who done it well before the story reveals it. I’m here for the characters. When they succeed, it cheers me. When they don’t, often because they’ve chosen to do that right thing, I sympathize with them. Doing good is no guarantee of happiness. Understanding that, making characters come to life makes The Hunt the best book in the series. Kudos to the author.

Speaking of coincidence, I just got the fifth Andy Hayes mystery from my local library system. But you’ll have to wait a while for my comments on that one.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Monday, January 13, 2020


What has gone before:

This is the fifth and final column in a series reviewing all of the special comics given out by retailers for Halloween Comicfest. In the first two columns, I covered all the digest-size issues created for the event. Then I moved on to the traditional-size comics, such as those reviewed herein.

Halloween ComicFest...the comic book industry’s premier fall event – a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away specially published comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. HCF is the perfect event to experience comic shops as destinations for Halloween and horror-themed comic books, collectibles and other merchandise! In other words, Halloween ComicFest is the Spooky Free Comic Book Day!

These Halloween Comicfest comics were sent to me by my dear friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I write about these comic books, 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.

First up is an old friend I scarcely recognize...

Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1 [Marvel] is what the front cover says, but the indicia reads Ghost Rider: King of Hell #1. The 21-page story is by writer Christopher Sebela with “illuminator” Phil Noto and letterer Travis Lanham.

QUALITY: The writing, art and pacing are all pretty good.

ACCESSIBILITY: This is a long way from the Johnny Blaze I wrote in the 1970s and, though the credits page has “what has gone before”  copy, I’m at a total loss to understand how he got from there to here. Additionally, the storytelling, which is something distinct from the art itself, was confusing in places. I sometimes felt as if panels were missing.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. Counting the inside front and back covers and the back cover, there are nine house ads for various titles and trades. Several caught my eye.

SCORE: Seven points out of a possible ten points.

Junior High Horrors Halloween Special [Keenspot] features a 21-page all ages horror parody that uses “dyslexia friendly fonts.” It was created, written and drawn by Rob Potchak with finished art, color and lettering by Billy Parker.

QUALITY: The basic story is fun, but the large panels and sparse art padded what could have been an eight-page tale into 21 pages. That may well have been intentional, given the commitment to making the comic dyslexia friendly, but we already have so many modern-day comics that are too padded to provide a satisfying experience.

ACCESSIBILITY: Mostly good. A little weak, but not enough for me to subtract points.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. Lots of house ads for other books. Some of them intrigue me.

SCORE: Seven points out of a possible ten points.


Lady Mechanika [Benitez Productions] presents the first 23 pages of “a dark tale from the Lady’s haunted past” by creator Joe Benitez (story, pencils), M.M. Chen (story), Martin Montiel (pencils); Studio J-13 (digital inking); Peter Steigerwald and Beth Sotelo (colors), and Michael Heisler (letters). The cover by Benitez and Sabine Rich is stunning.

QUALITY: Every time I read one of these free Lady Mechanika comic books, I tell myself I need to read more. This time, as soon as I finished reading it, I went on Amazon to order the first volume in the series. That’s how good this excerpt is.

ACCESSIBILITY: Between the back cover summary and the story itself, readers will find it easy to get into this series.

SALESMANSHIP: Great. Several house ads provide information on all the Lady Mechanika books.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.


I don’t get what Marvel’s intention was with Miles Morales Spider-Man #0 as their Halloween ComicFest giveaway. It reprints Ultimate Fallout #4 from 2011, nine years ago. It has nothing to do with the current Miles Morales title. I’m baffled.

QUALITY: The writing is okay, but nothing spectacular. The art is better, but not enough to compensate for the just okay writing.

ACCESSIBILITY: Horrible. The original issue was part four of a six-issue series. I had little to no idea what was going on in any of the three chapters.

SALESMANSHIP: Okay. Nine pages of house ads, some of which actually feature Miles Morales. However, in most cases, we just get images and not much information on why we should want to read the comics and collections advertised here.

SCORE: Three points out of a possible ten points.


Sonic the Hedgehog [IDW] is a character/concept which I have never enjoyed. Comics based on video games have seldom held my interest. Sonic is no different. This does not mean I can’t fairly evaluate this free comics, just that it’s not my cup of tea.

QUALITY: Decent. The 20-page story by writer Ian Flynn with art by Tracy Yardley, Jim Amash and Bob Smith would entertain fans of the character. It has plenty of action, some character bits and a hint at a plot. I’m giving it full points in this category.

ACCESSIBILITY: Not so great. I could follow the story, but several elements were confusing to me. Apparently, the Sonic mythology is far more vast than I realized.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. There are house ads for various Sonic graphic collections. Building fan good will, there’s a letter column and a selection of pin-up pages.

SCORE: Seven points out of a possible ten points.


Star Wars: Boba Fett #1 [Marvel] features a 20-page story by writer Greg Pak and artist Marc Laming. It’s a reprint of Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Boba Fett #1 originally published a few months prior to Halloween. Neeraj Menon is the colorist and VC’s Travis Lanham is the letterer. The cover is by Terry and Rachel Dodson.

QUALITY: This is a solid story, especially if you’re a fan of Star Wars and, in particular, Boba Fett. I did enjoy it, but as the Star Wars Universe has grown, I don’t feel a connection to it. So much mythology. I haven’t even seen all the movies. Still, as with the Sonic story above, I’m giving it full points in this category.

ACCESSIBILITY: Between a short credits page blurb and a text piece in the back of the issue, I was able, for the most part, to follow the story easily.

SALESMANSHIP: Marvel does salesmanship better than anyone. Lots of  house ads for their Star Wars books.

SCORE: Eight points out of a possible ten points.


Sadly, Tales of Berseria [Kodansha Comics] is possibly the worst of 2019's Halloween ComicFest giveaway comics. It contains an excerpt from the title series and three pages from another series. Also, I am not a fan of comics based on video games.

QUALITY: Poor. The writing doesn’t entice. While there are decent images in the art, especially in the second strip, the storytelling is weak.

ACCESSIBILITY: Almost non-existent in the first story and totally non-existent in the second.

SALESMANSHIP: Okay. There are some house ads, but they don’t offer much in the way of enticement.

SCORE: Two points out of a possible ten points.


Iron Man: Road to Iron Man 2020 [Marvel] reprints the first issue of Tony Stark Iron Man by writer Dan Slott with Valerio Schiti on the art, Edgar Delgado on the colors and the VC’s Joe Caramagna on the letters.

QUALITY: I praised Tony Stark Iron Man #1 when I reviewed the new series near the end of 2018. My regard for it hasn’t changed. I’m several issues behind on the title, but I’ve enjoyed the issues I have read and look forward to catching up.

ACCESSIBILITY: Very good. Though the Marvel Universe baffles me, I think this issue has everything a reader needs to know to get into the story.

SALESMANSHIP: It’s Marvel and no one beats them at this. There are house ads for various Iron Man books and titles and also house ads for some other Marvel items.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.

That’s a welcome high note on which to end my Halloween ComicFest 2020 reviews. I may be out of the office and away from the blog for several days, but I will be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Sunday, January 12, 2020


I blame me. I had hoped to hit the internet running in 2020. After posting my “things that made me happy in December” bloggy thing on New Year’s Day, I started work on a two-or-three-day piece on what happened in 2019 and what I planned for 2020. Yes, it was terribly self-centered. So is today’s. You can’t say I didn’t warn you right at the start.

In January of last year, I attended the Black Lightning Season Two wrap party in Atlanta and hung around the studio where the show is filmed for a few days afterwards.

Without fail, everyone working on the series showered me with love and respect. People thanked me for their jobs and for creating an iconic character that means so much to so many people. I was asked to speak at the wrap party and so got the opportunity to tell them how much their work meant to me and their fans.

On the set itself, I was treated like an honored guest by everyone. China Anne McClain came out of a scene in her Lightning costume and, seeing me, ran over to hug me. Marvin (Krondon) Jones III and I had conversations, including having lunch with him and Bill Duke.  I talked comics with Jordan Calloway and some story ideas with Mara Brock Akil. I sat behind Salim Akil as he directed scenes from the second season finale. I had lunch with Christine Adams. I signed a bunch of comic books for the show’s construction crew. I was given a tour of standing sets and sets in progress.

As I wandered through and around the two large buildings comprising the studio, I felt like I was dreaming. All this had started back in 1976 with my determination to create something special. And now, in 2019, incredibly talented people were doing so much more with my creation. I never wanted to leave the studio.

Of course, I did have to leave. I mean, once the shooting wrapped, there would have been no crafts services to feed me.

When I returned to my home in Medina, I found myself struggling to breathe. Mentally, not physically. The disconnect between how much love and respect I got from my extended Black Lightning family in Atlanta and how little love and respect I got from the publishing company who owns Black Lightning and, for that matter, almost every other comics publishing company, was overwhelming. I still struggle to deal with it.

My life in comics is bipolar. 

On the good side of that, I get lots of love and respect from the convention promoters who book me for events. From the fans I meet at those events. From my fellow creators at those events. 
The fans and some creators often think I must be rolling in royalty money. I’m not. I’ve gotten some good checks in the past few years, but I have also watched Warner Brothers and its various branches leave a lot of money - some of it mine - on the table. If I’d been writing just one comic book a month for one of the Big Two, I would’ve made over twice as much as I made last year.

One thing my fellow creators have right is that, as noted above, I am treated wonderfully by the Black Lightning series and those who work on it. After several conversations, I came to realize mine is an unusual case. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

In addition, I get treated well by the news media. The real media. Not the online jerks who traffic in rumor and practice a cowardly “let’s you and him fight” style of faux-journalism. Not the elite comics sites who ignore mainstream creators. Not the sites who will post endless stories about comics-based movies and TV series sans mention of the creators who inspired such entertainments. For the most part, those comics “news” sites will fall on the bleak side of my bipolar life in comics.

Then there’s all the comics publishers who don’t/won’t hire me to write for them. Who apparently don’t realize they can put “From the creator of Black Lightning” on the covers of anything I might write for them. Heck, if they have enough room, they could add Tigra and Misty Knight to that blurb.

This ridiculous disconnect put me in a year-long nightmare. I didn't handle it well. I could've written four books last year, but, every time I started writing any of them, I was paralyzed.

Not with doubt because I know I can write as well and, in my not-so-humble estimation, better than I have in my nearly half-century in the comics industry. It was exhaustion.

Simple exhaustion with a comics industry that has almost never made logical sense to me or, if they’re being honest, anyone else who has or is working in the industry. Exhaustion.

I could go on and on about dumb stuff in the industry. I could go on and on about the frustration I feel when comics news sites only offer click-bait nonsense and ignore actual news stories. But I’m tired of writing about dumb stuff.

Going forward...

There are many things I want to do and write. I’m not writing about them today. Some are in various stages of completion. Others might exist only as a page or two of notes. When they’re ready to go, I will either post them online or shop them around. I am determined to be much more productive in 2020.

If you’re an editor, publisher or artist who wants to work with me, e-mail me. If you have a gig for me, I’ll let you know ASAP if I’m able to accommodate you. I’m not going to take on assignments that I don’t believe I can do well or do for the money you’re offering or complete in a timely fashion. I’ll be honest with you as I hope you will be honest with me.

If you’re a convention or other event promoter who would like me as a guest at your convention or event, e-mail me. I’ll send you what I need to make that happen. If we can come to terms, that’s great. If we can’t, no harm, no foul. I worked on a lot of conventions for my friend Roger Price and I know what they involve.

That’s all for now. Three columns worth of self-involved blathering reduced to just one. You’re welcome.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2020 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, January 8, 2020


This week in TONY'S TIPS from Tales of Wonder...My comics industry predictions for 2020 plus reviews of Mac Raboy Master of the Comics by Roger Hill, Operation Peril Volume One and Activist: A Story of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting by Lauren Elizabeth Hogg!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


Welcome to 2020, a year which may prove more challenging and more hopeful than its predecessor. Yet no matter how difficult or gloomy the road going forward might become, I know I’ll always be able to find people and things that bring me joy. Here’s my list of those things that made me happy in December 2019...

December 1: Batman (1989). I watched this again last night and, you know, I find it better and more entertaining than any of the Batman films that followed it.

December 2: Bizarro-Tony is happy because he’s too sick to write. Him hope doctor has no clue how to make him well. Him wish for long and incomplete recovery.

December 3: My recent health woes have a name: Diabetes Type 2. What makes me happy about that? I now have an enemy I can fight. I plan on going the distance.

December 4: MetroHealth, Dr. Anthony Finizia and the staffs at the Brecksville and Brunswick Clinics have been helpful, informative and kind in regards to my Type 2 Diabetes. A lot of what comes next is on me, but they are there to back me up.

December 5: My True Metrix Air self monitoring blood glucose meter. Incredibly easy to use. Which is necessary for an unfrozen caveman comic-book writer like me.

December 6: Marvel sent me a commemorative coin as a token of its gratitude for my participation in Marvel Comics #1001. What a swell bonus to the honor or joy of being part of the 80th Anniversary celebration.

December 7: The Ohio State Buckeyes are the Big Ten Champions for the third year running. Kudos to Wisconsin for one heck of a game.

December 8: Today’s Popeye Cartoon Club is written and drawn by my pal Alan Weiss - I wish we saw more comics from him - with colors by Lovern Kindzierski and letters by John Workman.

December 9: The first part of the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earth delighted me. I’m notoriously NOT a crossover guy, but big props to Marc Guggenheim and everyone involved for an amazing hour. I can’t wait for more.

December 10: China McClain brought it all and them some to the Black Lightning episode “Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 2.5.” Her performance was the best thing in the episode.

December 11: Great scenes for Black Lightning in Crisis on Infinite Earths Part Three and further evidence of why Cress Williams will always be my Black Lightning.

December 12: The annual holiday gathering of my Herd brothers Bob Ingersoll, Roger Price and Thom Zahler. I’m so blessed to have had these men in for the past three decades plus. I treasure them more than I can say.

December 13: I have a spiffy new phone. Now if only my children can show me how to use it properly. I’ve already figured out you can’t rub two phones together and make fire.

December 14: Vanna White’s first week of substitute hosting Wheel of Fortune was fun. She has a different, almost motherly style than the recovering Pat Sajak and she’s not as sure in her delivery, but she did a fine job. All while looking far more gorgeous than Sajak.

December 15: Jennifer Quail is my new Jeopardy crush. She is a wine consultant who has seen the Star Wars movies hundreds of time. More important, she’s great fun to watch and root for.

December 16: Life’s little victories. I’m in a really long line at the post office. They open up a new line just for folks with flat rate packages paying by credit card. I go right up and I’m out of there in five minutes. Winning!

December 17: Falling madly in love with Francine and Katchoo all over again while reading my Strangers in Paradise Omnibus hardcover boxed set. Terry Moore’s epic is as great as ever!

December 18: From Captain Penny to Superhost, a great new book by my friends Mike and Janice Olszewski. These are the children’s TV hosts I grew up with and no one could tell the stories better than the king and queen of Cleveland pop culture.

December 19: President Trump has been impeached. Regardless of the consequences or outcome, this was simply the right thing to do by the Constitution and for democracy.

December 20: Seeing foreign editions of my work. I love when folks post them on my Facebook page. If anyone has such editions, we can talk trade. I’d love to have them.

December 21: Crystal Light. Giving up Pepsi was hard, especially since water is, well, boring. Mixing this powdered drink with water once or twice a day satisfying my craving for a sweet drink. Yes, I know all about the aspartame and have no side effects.

December 22: Eddie Murphy’s triumphant return to Saturday Night Live. Even when the material was a little weak, seeing all of his old characters was a blast. Well done, sir, well done.

December 23: All those wonderful birthday greetings. I am humbled,  encouraged and empowered by how many terrific people seem to think a great deal of me. I’m determined to prove myself worthy of their love and support.

December 24: Fog in the very early am. A heavy fog created a view both enchanting and foreboding around my house. I could look at it and imagine scary and wondrous things.

December 25: Christmas morning with Saintly Wife Barb, Eddie and Kelly. We had a delicious breakfast, a fun time opening gifts and I got a 1950s Batmobile.

December 26: Bob Hearts Abishola continues to delight and surprise me. Most recently: the unexpected bonding of Bob’s mom Dottie with Tunde and Olu, Abishola’s uncle and aunt.
December 27: Tigra: The Complete Collection. Tigra hasn’t received the love and respect the character deserves, so I’m thrilled to see this collection of her adventures, including a mini-series I have never read.

December 28: HBO’s Watchmen. Better than the movie, as good as the original comics. Heartrending and hopeful with great performances. I don’t know if it needs a second season, but if it continues, I’m onboard.

December 29: Christopher Mills. In his self-published Sleuth Comics and Space Crusaders, Mills takes public domain characters of the 1940s and delivers satisfying adventure stories. A literal breath of fresh air. You can order them at

December 30: Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis likes the Black Lightning TV series so much that he asked to visit the set.As if the blessing of seeing Jefferson Pierce and his world brought to the screen in such an incredible fashion wasn’t blessing enough, one of the greatest Americans of all time likes the show starring my creation.

December 31: Donal Logue. Already a favorite of mine from Gotham, his two-episode turn as private detective Artie Banks in Stumptown was nothing short of sensational.

Coming up next is a two-or-three part look at the year past and the year ahead. Likely too much of it will be self-therapy, but writing about stuff is how I work through it. See you soon.

© 2020 Tony Isabella