Tuesday, June 30, 2020


If you’re looking at the above photo, you're likely wondering if my summer Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales are actually going to happen. Hence the question mark. Well, the short answer is...yes, they are.

In a year when sensible comics conventions are cancelling, I had a great many concerns about holding garage sales. At first, I thought I could limit customers at any given time and have one-way aisles. Since my tables are six feet long, one customer per table at a time seemed possible. I could mandate customers wear masks and provide hand sanitizer for when they entered. However, no matter how many times I configured the garage sales layout and measured the space, I couldn’t get around the fact that my garage was just too small to accommodate multiple customers.

Conventions have been a decent source of income for me, which was important considering I wasn’t getting much (if any) work writing comic books. Conventions were pretty much off the table for 2020. At this point, I’m waiting for the two remaining conventions on my schedule to cancel or to decide if I'll cancel my appearances at them.

Garage sales have also been a decent source of income for me. That income also seemed lost to me in 2020. Unless...

Starting Monday, July 13, my VAOS garage sales will be open to my customers on a ONE-ON-ONE, APPOINTMENT ONLY basis. There will be no set hours. Customers will contact me via e-mail or private message on Facebook and request a date and a time. I’ll check the schedule and do my best to accommodate them.

I’m going to be as flexible as humanly possible about accommodating appointment requests. I’ll schedule your morning, afternoon or evening appointments seven days a week. Within reason and dependent on the other things I have going on in my life.

Initially, these appointments will be one hour long. I plan to clean the garage and tables after every appointment.

If you don’t have an appointment and see my garage door is open for someone who made an appointment, you will be allowed to wait at the end of the driveway until the customer is finished. Then, I’ll wave you in and give you time to shop, though how much time is dependent on the next appointment.

The rules remain the same as if I were having multiple customers. You must wear a mask. You must pay cash. Unless you are an on duty police officer, no guns or other weapons are allowed in my garage.

As always, I will sign any Tony Isabella item you purchase from me for free. In a slight change, I will only sign Isabella items that you didn’t buy from me for free if you have already made a purchase of $25 or more.

To sum up...
My garage sales are held at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH 44256. E-mail me for appointments and I'll respond as quickly as possible. First come, first served. You can also contact me via Facebook private messages. No phone calls.
I’ll start scheduling appointments for Monday, July 13, and through the month of August. Weather permitting, I may extend the sales to the end of September.

One-on-one unless you’ve cleared bringing a friend with me prior to arriving for your appointment. Wear a mask. Use the hand sanitizer. Leave your guns in your car.

Free signatures on Tony Isabella items you purchase from me at the garage sales. Free signatures on Tony Isabella items you did not purchase from me after you have made a purchase of $25.

That’s the how and what of my garage sales. Despite the photo, I’m 100% confident I’ll be ready for my customers and have lots of cool stuff on sale. Masks and all, it’ll be good to see you and do some fun comics chat again.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for updates on the garage sales and some of the cool things I’ll have at them. I’ll be back soon with other bloggy stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 29, 2020


My local library is open once again, though with limited hours and revised practices. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, the library is open from 10am to 3 pm.  On Tuesday and Thursday, those hours are 3-8pm. The first hour of each day is encouraged (but not mandated) for vulnerable populations. For the immediate future, the library will be closed on Sunday.

The outdoor book drops are only open Friday morning through Monday morning, though patrons can still return books indoors during the library’s hours of operation. Returned items are quarantined for 72 hours before being put back into circulation.

Sadly, my ability to get items via the ClevNet system is somewhat diminished in this time of pandemic. As veteran readers know, that system encompasses nearly a hundred libraries in the Northeast Ohio area. If any of them have items I want, they send them to my local library. In the past, my local library would call me to let me know a requested items had arrived and was ready for pickup. That’s not the case these days. Often, when I try to reserve a book, the item is not available because the library/libraries who have it are not ready to resume the flow of materials from one library to another. It will likely be several months before this inter-library service is fully restored. 

Because too many of my fellow Medina citizens are fucking morons, i.e., no masks and no social distancing, I’ve changed how I use the library. I have been making use of the Anytime Lockers accessible outside the main entrance. All I have to do is call the library and they will put my reserved items into one of the lockers. Then, when I pick them up, I only have to punch in my code and the locker door opens. Very convenient.

When I return items, I use the outdoor book drops. I miss actually going into the library, but I want to stay alive. Which will allow me to continue bringing you these bloggy things of ours.


Veteran bloggy thing readers know that I love reading mysteries and police procedurals set in Cleveland or other Ohio locations. Before I recognized this as a passion, I never thought there would be at least two such series set in my state’s nearby Amish communities, not to mention a series about a debutante turned cemetery guide who sees ghosts and solves mysteries for them. From time to time, I’ll be writing about these and other Ohio-based novels.

The Andy Hayes series by Andrew Welsh-Hughes has become one of my favorites. Hayes is a disgraced Ohio State University football star turned private investigator. He lives in Columbus and is reviled by most everyone who knows who he is, including his own father. He threw a big game and Buckeyes fans will never forgive him for that. I originally thought such enmity was far-fetched, but my son Eddie, the most devoted OSU football fan I know, tells me that continuing hatred is not just possible but likely. Lest you think Hayes is a masochist for staying in a city that so hates him, he stays because his two sons live there with their respective mothers. He might not be the best dad - his job causes him to cancel many outings with his boys - but he tries. His ex-wives hate Hayes only slightly less passionately than the Buckeyes fans.
The Third Brother [Swallow Press; $26.95] is one of two Andy Hayes novels I have read while sheltering at home. This one starts with Andy helping a Somali-American woman and her young children against  anti-immigrant creeps. This puts him on the radar of other Somali immigrants who hire him to find a missing teen accused of plotting a terror attack. That the missing kid’s older brother was an actual terrorist who died in Syria makes Andy’s job that more difficult. There are the usual turns and twists, but I don’t want to give them away. I will say this book has some nice moments for Andy’s growing supporting cast and the usual woes involved in his uncertain life navigating fatherhood, ex-wives and romance.

In Fatal Judgment [Swallow Press; $26.95], a judge with whom Andy had a very secret affair hires him and disappears. We have a second  missing person as well, a swamp land whose fate depends on how the judge rules, difficult moments with Andy’s eldest son, a visit to Andy’s brief career as a Cleveland Brown quarterback and a budding friendship with a dedicated cop. Like the previous novels in this series, Welsh-Hughes delivers a satisfying ending.

Welsh-Hughes seems to release a new Andy Hayes book every year or so. I’m eagerly awaiting the next one.

Since we’re on the theme of Ohio-based mysteries, let me recommend Vivien Chien’s fun Murder Lo Main [St. Martin's Paperbacks; $7.99]. This is the third book in her “Noodle Shop Mystery” series. Set in Cleveland’s fictitious Asia Village dining/shopping outdoor mall, the series features Lana Lee, now manager of her family’s Chinese restaurant. The earlier books in the series were Death by Dimpling and The Dim Sum of All Fears.
Obviously, murder is a common theme in these books. As is the harm done to Asia Village’s businesses as the deaths keep customers from coming to the mall. Feisty, impatient and tenacious, Ms. Lee gets involved in solving these murders against the advice of just about everyone: her family, some of her friends and her police detective boyfriend. I love how other friends get pretty excited about what Linda does. Because...wouldn’t you?

The novels are fun. The murders aren’t outlandish. The perils Lee faces are fairly realistic. I like the interactions between Linda and her family, including a difficult sister studying to become a lawyer. I like that her boyfriend comes to recognize, book by book, that he can’t control her and that she’s pretty good at what she’s doing. There is character growth in these novels.

Later books in the series, which I’m to get from my library sooner rather than later, are Wonton Terror, Egg Drop Dead and, in August, Killer Kung Pao. It makes me wonder how Asian Village can stay in business. On the other hand, I won’t lie. If that outdoor mall was for real and was actually the setting for such delicious murders, I’d eat and shop their regularly. Wouldn’t you?

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

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Friday, June 19, 2020


TwoMorrows Publishing is my favorite comics publisher, even though the company rarely publishes actual comics. What they do publish, in greater numbers than any other publisher working their corner of the industry and with quality equaling or exceeding those others, are books and magazines of comics history, fun books and magazines about popular culture, books about some of the best comics artists of the past and present, a magazine about LEGO blocks and even the occasional collection of comics, such as their recent Jack Kirby’s Dingbat Love: Unpublished ‘70s Stories by the King of Comics! And is one exclamation point enough for that title? I think not.

Like many publishers, John and Pam Morrow are feeling the effects of our global situations. It started before the widespread spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The current administration’s tariffs made printing in other countries more difficult and expensive. This created delays for publishers, lower profits on their products and even cost-cutting on some of those products. Alter Ego, my favorite of the TwoMorrows magazines, lost twenty pages in this.

Sidebar. While this blog isn’t about politics per se, it strikes me that our government could have created various incentives for books and such to be printed in the United States. Creating jobs for our home-based companies. Making publishing more affordable. I happen to think knowing more about pretty much anything is a good thing.Such incentives would help Americans know more. Sigh. If only the rich didn’t so desperately need their tax breaks.
Getting back on track, TwoMorrows is hurting. The virtual closing of the direct sales market for two months added to all their other challenges. Now is the time to go to their website. Order some of their great books. Subscribe to some of their incredible magazines. Help them continue to educate and entertain us.

I don’t want to picture a world without Alter Ego. Edited by the legendary Roy Thomas, no magazine of comics history has ever taught me as much about the first four decades of the comics history as Roy’s publication.

I don’t want to picture a world without Retro Fan. It’s a terrific way to experience once again the cartoons, toys, TV shows and more that I grew up with. I even love reading about stuff that wasn’t on my youthful radar. I never thought much about the musical group The Cowsills, but Rod Labbe’s recent article on and interviews with the surviving members of the group was riveting reading.

The same is true for Back Issue, Draw and The Jack Kirby Collector. In the case of Draw, I’m not remotely an artist. But what I learn from reading about their work and how they do it makes me a better comic-book writer. And then there’s the TwoMorrows books...

Comics history. Companion books on favorite comics series. Volumes on classic comics artists and modern masters of the form. Books on Jack Kirby, horror and popular cultures.

TwoMorrows is currently running a clearance sale where you can buy great stuff at reduced prices. But, even at full price, their books and magazines are bargains. Buying them today will help make being able to buy new books possible. Tomorrow.

I’m going to squeeze my social security check to allow me to buy a couple books a month from TwoMorrows. What books don’t remain in my home library will be used for gifts.

I hope you’ll check out the TwoMorrows website. You’ll find books and magazines that will delight you!

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 15, 2020


John Lustig’s Last Kiss is a syndicated comics feature wherein John takes random panels from old mostly romance comics out of context and adds funny dialogue to them. He’s been writing these gags for around fifteen years. At last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, he asked me to start writing gags for him; it has been one of the best and most fun gigs of my career.

John still does most of the writing with one of my gags appearing once a week. John is a terrific editor who has never tried to make me into a mini-John. Unlike every other syndicated comic strip or feature I’ve written for, my byline appears on every gag I write. I’ll be a part of the Last Kiss family as long as John can tolerate my often odd takes on his format.

Recently, one of my gags turned out to be more meaningful than we  anticipated. Because our country, already stressful because of the Covid-19 pandemic, has become more so with the increased coverage and recognition of systemic racist police violence. The Last Kiss at the top of this page was posted on May 29.

Let me start by explaining how I work on Last Kiss. John sends me a batch of panels that have been expertly and wonderfully recreated by Diego Jourdan Pereira. In this case, the original image was by the legendary Dick Giordano from Sweethearts #77 [Charlton; June 1964]. It was scanned from the publisher’s black & white stat, made in preparation for the printed color cover.

When John sends me these panels, usually a couple dozen at a time,  I print them out and, one by one, use magnets to affix them to the side of the file cabinet to the left of my keyboard. As I do other work, I look at the panel du jour frequently. Sometimes a gag comes to mind immediately, sometimes it takes a few days.

When I wrote the “gag” for this panel, it was after the image had been on my file cabinet for a few days. Being deep into sheltering-at-home, the Covid-19 pandemic was uppermost in my thoughts. Quite honestly, it was a struggle to come up with gags that didn’t center on pandemic-related life. I tossed two or three gags of that type for every one I submitted to John.

It was when the orange-tinted Bunker Boy referred to himself as a wartime president, that I found what I needed. I looked at Makayla and thought of all the wartime wives and girlfriends who waited at home during too many wars, wondering if they would ever see their loved ones again. I wrote this:

WOMAN (thought): It’s been an hour *sob* since Jeremiah went to the grocery store...

WOMAN (thought): ...and he hasn’t texted to say he’s okay!

CAPTION: Just as wives have ever done in times of war...

CAPTION: ...Makayla waited and prayed...

CAPTION: ...for her husband to return.

I went for poignant instead of hilarious. I thought it worked and John agreed. Just before the panel ran, George Floyd was brutally murdered by a police officer.

Our panel became even more poignant. Our readers realized too many wives have waited for the returns of their black husbands, worried some chance encounter with police might end as horribly as it did for George Floyd and countless other people of color. Even though I had written the panel, I was not immune to its impact in a nation that appears to have finally had enough of police brutality and is raising its collective voices to demand change in how the police operate and how they are held accountable for their crimes against unarmed citizens.

My 2017 Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands series is now available on the DC Universe app. The social issues I wrote about there are even more pertinent today than they were then. Sadly, this does not come as a surprise to me.

I am not anti-cop. I love cop fiction like Ed McBain’s magnificent 87th Precinct novels or TV series like Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. However, I am opposed to bad cops. I think they make things more difficult for citizens and their fellow cops...and I believe that when good cops look the other way or support those bad cops, they become bad cops themselves.

When we talk about a few bad apples among police officers, we too often forget that cliche continues to reveal that those bad apples spoil the bunch. Rot spreads.

Every now and then, something John or I write for Last Kiss will anger a reader to the point where they claim they will never read the feature again. Sometimes we recognize that possibility. Other times the anger baffles us.

Comedy is dangerous. We try to be honest. We try to be real. That said, we recognize the risks of what we do. That does not change what we do and how we do it.

The risks come with the territory. But, they often also come with great creative satisfaction and the welcome support of our readers.  Some risks are worth taking.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella


A wise friend of mine, his claim to wisdom only mildly compromised by his being my friend for half a century, told me that one of the smartest answers anyone can give is:

I don’t know.

This is my attempt to be smarter.

I don’t know...why I designated recent bloggy things as mini-blogs. A blog is a blog is a blog and I shan’t be using that term again. Some of my blog entries will be long and some will be short, but they will all be as entertaining, informative or both as I can make them.

I didn’t know...whether I would stay in the comics industry or make my perhaps long overdue departure. It has been a tiring few years with DC Comics being DC Comics, with vile click-bait sites turning me into a target for trolls and legitimate sites following their lead, and with a seeming lack of interest in my comic-book writing from comics publishers who fail to realize they could splash “From the creator of Black Lightning” on covers of any comic books I would write for them. I didn’t know, but then I got a whole bunch of e-mails and online posts from fans, friends and readers who have told me how much my work these past 48 years has meant to them. The comics industry needs me. It doesn’t realize that it needs me, but, yeah, it does.

I don’t know...what my next major project will be. This month, I’m finalizing my taxes, writing a pitch for a comic-book project that would star a friend of mine, writing some pitches for episodes of a TV series and creating a character/concept for another friend of mine. That last could be a movie or TV series. Which, as I think of them, could all be considered major projects. Except the taxes, of course. There I’m just looking for a big refund check.

I think I know...what my next major project will be after I finish the above. I’m talking July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volumes 2-8. But I’ll likely need to do some crowd-funding to make it work.

I don’t know...what platform to use for that crowd-funding. I need to buy research materials, namely old comic books. Those materials will likely cost thousands of dollars. My aim would be to finish a volume every six months. What do you think would be the appropriate  platform for a project like this?  
I don’t know...why DC Comics decided a pandemic was the right time to upend distribution to comics retailers in such a chaotic manner. I’m sure they have stated reasons and will state more reasons if those aren’t convincing, but I’ve learned from painful experience not to think about why DC does the things it does because it makes my head hurt. I’ve also learned not to trust the publisher, but am always willing to be shown I can trust it.

I don’t know...how comics retailers, who are, in so many ways, the backbone of the comics industry are going to survive the pandemic and the chaos in the industry. I hope they do survive and thrive, but I’ve not been a comics retailer since 1989. I owned a terrific comic shop, the best in the Cleveland area, but that shop had this one glaring weakness: I was a lousy businessman.

I don’t know...if the comics industry will continue to provide work and opportunities for all those who have suffered from the present chaos and troubles. I think it’s unlikely I’ll have a role in this, though it won’t be for lack of trying. Interested parties can e-mail if they want to work with me.

I don’t know...when conventions will be possible again. Right now, there are two events remaining on my 2020 schedule. There would’ve been three, but the Grand Rapids Comic Con, which, make no mistake, is a fine event, told me they were giving me a year off because it was an election year and because of my anti-Republican posts on my social media. The two events on my schedule are the Lorain County Comic Show (July 25; a food bank fundraiser) and the Akron Comicon (November 7-8). I plan to honor those commitments, but, honestly, I’ll be surprised if either goes forward.

I don’t know...what a mostly out-of-work writer like me can do to help our beloved comics shops through this rough patch. I do have a plan how I can help in a small way and, once I’ve figured out all the details, I’ll announce it.

I don’t know...precisely when my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales will start. I do know they will be one-on-one by appointment only. My best guess is that they will start in late June or early July. I’ll have details on those sales in the near future.

As to the world outside the comics industry and me...

I don’t know...what I can do support Black Lives Matter beyond my online posts and my work with characters of color. I try to donate what I can, but, beyond my social security checks and my Last Kiss checks, there isn’t much going into my bank account.

I don’t know...what I can do to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic. I take the appropriate precautions I can keep myself and those around me safe, but we all know the anti-science crowd is against actual science. I know people who think the pandemic is some sort of evil government conspiracy.

I don’t know...what I can do insure that super-villains like Donald Trump and his goons are voted out of office, charged for their high crimes and thrown into prison for the rest of their lives. But I’ll continue to support Democratic candidates while urging my readers to vote every Republican out of office. I’ve seen what that party has become and, if you’re being honest with yourselves, you see it as well. I wonder which convention will not invite for that.

Here’s the thing about saying “I don’t know.” That does not need to be a permanent condition. I can and will try to figure things out, to learn the things I need to learn and to be able to proclaim with relative confidence that I actually know some things.

Stay safe and sane, my friends. I’ll be back soon.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Friday, June 12, 2020


The Sensuous Streaker was published by Magazine Management in 1974. As you probably know, that was Marvel’s parent company back then. I saw a mention of this magazine online somewhere and it struck me as something familiar. Had I worked on this “Newsbreak Special” or seen it lying around the office? I’ll warn you now I don’t have a definite answer to that question.

Written by Harold Flender, The Sensuous Streaker is a 66-page love letter to the 1970s fad. When I did a search on the name, I found a man who had written for Carl Reiner, Woody Allen, Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason, and whose other books seem way too highbrow for him to have been associated with this particular publication. From what little information I found about him, he passed in 1975. I found no mention of this magazine.

The magazine is fun and includes all sorts of amusing facts about streaking through the centuries. It’s got a light tone that serves the material well and copious grainy photographs to accompany the prose. Because I could not shake the feeling that I might have had something to do with it, I went to Amazon and ordered the only copy available from the vendor. With tax and shipping, it cost me a fat $20.16. That might have been a bargain.

Since I sometimes did non-Marvel jobs for Sol Brodsky, who did odd jobs for Magazine Management, it’s possible I did some editing and proofreading on this magazine. Reading it, I can see where I might have punched up a joke or two, or smoothed out an awkward sentence. I would not have done much. It’s an entertaining and well-written publication. But I have no concrete memory of this, only a nagging feeling I might have been involved in some small manner.

It’s just as likely that I saw the magazine on Sol’s desk and gave it a quick read. I know I did that with some of the infamous “men’s magazines” published by Magazine Management.

When I did a quick eBay search on The Sensuous Streaker, I found a single copy (SENSUOUS STREAKER #1 Marvel Magazine Low Print & RARE CGC NM- 9.2) at a "buy it now" price of $249. When I did an advanced search, I found another copy (Sensuous Streaker #1 hard to find Curtis/Marvel magazine from 1974 photos) that had sold for $74.99. My copy isn’t near mint, but it looks to be in at least as good a condition as the copy that sold.

I could include The Sensuous Streaker in my “written by me” files to confuse future scholars studying my works, but, as I said, I am far from certain I worked on this magazine. I’ll probably offer it for sale on eBay or at my garage sales.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for more mini-blogs as I work back to writing full-scale columns. Be safe and sane.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Thursday, June 11, 2020


The [Medina] Gazette recently published special sections honoring the 2020 graduations of Medina High School and other area high schools. Most of the entries for the top students of each high school listed their favorite books and movies. Of particular interest to me was which genre books or movies were named by these students.

In the books arena, the Harry Potter series was mentioned three times with the Divergent and Percy Jackson series getting two mentions. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the Hunger Games series were named by two other students.Only one kind of sort of graphic novel series was named. 

Geronimo Stilton is an Italian children's book series. Although the series credits its title character as  author, the true author is Elisabetta Dami. On older novels, the copyright is issued to a pseudonym "Geronimo Stilton"; this was changed on newer books.

The student was likely referring to the actual books. However, since PaperCutz has been translating and publishing the graphic novels featuring the character, I'm hoping those were what the students considered his favorite books.

Comic-book characters did much better when it came to the favorite movies question. Five of the top students mentioned Avengers and other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Other students named the Harry Potter movies, The Incredibles and Star WarsL The Force Awakens.

Look for more of these mini-blogs in the days and weeks to come. I've been lax on providing content here and this is one way I'll be addressing this.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020


The Unresolved Tony Isabella is a series of pieces covering a great many different subjects. Sometimes I’ll be writing about my plans for comic-book titles that I left earlier than I would have liked. Sometimes I’ll be sharing pitches and plots that never made it to publication. Sometimes I’ll be discussing comics-related plans that were, apparently, not well laid. Eventually, whenever I have enough pieces they will be colleted for a book or maybe a series of books called...The Unresolved Tony Isabella.

Today’s entry features a pitch I wrote for DC Comics during what I will forever think of as “my mercifully brief time on staff at DC Comics.” Although, in all honesty, I may have written this after I resigned from my absurd position as “story editor” at that outfit. My memory isn’t crystal-clear on the timing.

I do recall that Jack C. Harris, my editor on Black Lightning and a good friend and a good man, was involved in this. There are some hard-written notations on the pitch that aren’t my writing. Logic dictates that, had this title gone forward, Jack would have edited it. After he reads today’s bloggy thing, which he’ll be seeing at essentially the same time as you will, Jack may have some thoughts of his own to share. Maybe we’ll do a crossover between my blog and his excellent My Favorite Comic Books.

One thing I learned/suspected during my time at DC Comics was that publisher Jenette Kahn seemed to like Marvel comic books better than DC comic books. Not that she didn’t love the DC characters. They are, after all, wonderful characters when handled properly and with understanding of their core values. But, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Marvel books were better. That would even out as writers and artists moved from company to company like attendees of a swingers party.

In 1976, I could usually get Jenette’s attention by telling her a pitch was like a DC version of some Marvel title. Once again, my memory might be a bit off, but I might have suggested this series would be like a DC version of The Punisher. I do recall I thought of it as a futuristic galactic take of my own Black Lightning. Something I don’t recall sharing with her or Jack.

Whew! Well, that was certainly a long introduction to this recreation of my 1976 proposal to take a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes and make him a star!

Let’s get to it...

Presenting all-new wonder and excitement in THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES tradition. The Interstellar Adventures of...


The Time:
The 30th Century! One thousand years in our own fantastic future!

The Place:
Metropolis! Capital of the Earth! Central hub of the mighty United Planets!

Here is where the Science Police, the peace-keeping force of the United Planets, maintain their mighty headquarters fortress. With a storage of knowledge that makes them famous throughout the galaxy for their ability to keep order, the Science Police is most proud of their young auxiliary...THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES!

Banded together by multi-trillionaire R.J. Brande, the LEGION is comprised of super-powered youth from multiple planets. Each young hero has proven worthy of membership in the group by displaying a super-power unequaled by any other member. With these matchless powers, the LEGION aids the Science Police in their efforts against the forces of evil that still threaten the galaxy a thousand years from our own day.

The LEGION’s ranks are filled with the most powerful teens in the universe. Lightning Lad! Saturn Girl! Cosmic Boy! Shadow Lass! And many others. Joined in the common cause of justice, the LEGION has sworn to uphold the law without undue force. Most sacred to the group is their honor code against killing! But one time - and only one time - this code was broken.

Thom Kallor was born in an orbiting space-observatory. His parents were astronomers from the planet Xanthu. Due to the unusual place where he was born...a “starlight” research center...the boy’s body developed the ability to draw mass from the stars and impose that mass upon anything, making that object or person incredibly heavy.

In his later years, Thom piloted a one-man space ship through the tail of a comet that temporarily gave him the power of electrical vision and other abilities similar to those of SUPERBOY. With these powers, he joined the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES.

When his temporary powers failed, Thom, or STAR BOY as he was now known, proved his mass-increasing ability was also an asset to the LEGION. He was allowed to remain on the team.

Then came a black day for Thom and the LEGION. In self-defense, he killed a man. In a dramatic trail, STAR BOY became the first hero to be expelled from the LEGION.

[I pause here to make some observations. Looking at some of my odd word choices, some of which I’ve changed for this presentation, I wrote this pitch very quickly and likely with some input from Jack. My best guess is that I wrote it while I was still a story editor and during either a lunch break or a rare afternoon when I wasn’t working on titles assigned to me, meeting with a writer, or doing jobs tossed on my desk by the editorial coordinator.

The often-menial tasks were on other people’s titles. Normally, I wouldn’t have objected to helping out in this manner. I was a team player at Marvel where my fellow staffers and I often pitched in to get books ready for the printer. This was different. This was the editorial coordinator’s putting me in my place, once interrupting a script conference with one of my writers to proofread one of his letters pages. He was dismissive of the writer’s time, forcing him to wait while I did the proofreading. That was one of many factors that led me to quit my staff job within six months.

In reading this 44-year-old pitch, I noticed that I sometimes wrote STAR BOY and other times wrote STARBOY. I don’t recall if Jack and I weren’t certain of which version we wanted or disagreed on which version to use. Whatever the reason, I have chosen to go with STAR BOY for this presentation.]

After many months and once again proving his worth, STAR BOY was readmitted to the group. Also readmitted was his girlfriend DREAM GIRL. A native of the planet Naltor, she has the power to predict the future in her dreams.

And what is the future for STAR BOY and DREAM GIRL?

Deep within the shadows of 30th Century Metropolis, danger lurks. A secret underground empire seeking to overthrow the United Planets  and replace with its own evil rule. Contemptible men of Earth and their alien allies plot unspeakable deeds in the ultra-modern city. Diplomatic ploys and subversion are their weapons. The LEGION and the Science Police are almost powerless against them.

With evil cunning, the underground empire kidnaps DREAM GIRL. They want to force her to predict the political waves of the universe. With their political puppets in power at the right time and places, they could conquer the universe!

Now the life of STAR BOY changes! Turning to his LEGION friends, he seeks their aid in rescuing DREAM GIRL from the underground empire. But the LEGION is helpless. Interference in even this situation could cause an interplanetary incident that would rock the United Planets! They cannot help.
Angered and embittered, STAR BOY seeks to rescue DREAM GIRL on his own...and fails! His single super-power is not enough to battle the overwhelming forces his enemies command. Worse, to avenge STAR BOY opposing them, the underground empire turns their ultimate weapon on his home planet of Xanthu, wiping out every man, woman and child on that distant world.

STAR BOY stands alone. Because of his failure, all the people he called his own are dead. The girl he loves is still in the clutches of an incredible powerful alien force.

[Let’s pause once more. It just now occurred to me that, well over a year before STAR WARS debuted, I had the underground empire wipe out an entire planet. And this was and is uncharacteristic of me. I don’t like reducing large groups of people to statistics. In my stories, death is usually smaller and more personal. Yet here I was wiping out an entire world. I can only assume that DC Comics was a horrible influence on me.

Another influence shows up here, albeit magnified. I was a big fan of Don Pendleton’s MACK BOLAN THE EXECUTIONER series. Bolan became a mob-slaughtering vigilante after most of his family died because of his dad’s being in debt to the Mafia. Over at Marvel, Bolan also inspired the PUNISHER. I still remember seeing several Executioner paperbacks on John Romita’s desk when he was designing the facial features of Frank Castle.]

Thom again appeals to the LEGION to fight the underground empire. To the death if need be. The Legionnaires refuse, citing their code against killing.

Desperately alone, STAR BOY seeks power from the very stars which gave him his name. He locates the comet that gave him his Superboy-like powers. Half-mad from his long journey in his one-man craft, he again exposes himself to the strange energies of that celestial body. Energies that alter and change him. Energies which mutate him in a drastically different way than before. From the heart of this uncanny shooting star, a new being emerges.


Now empowered with a greater density-increasing power that he can turn on himself, STAR BOY has added indestructibility and a star-spawned strength that surpasses that of Superboy to his abilities. He no longer needs his flight-ring. He can fly through the stars. He’s also regained his mysterious electrical vision.

Now begins his one-man quest of vengeance against the underground empire. One super-powered teen against a network of cunning alien and human killers from the farthest reaches of space.

Expelled from the LEGION, alienated from the Science Police and the United Planet, STAR BOY stands alone to mete out galactic justice to villains who can topple worlds.

Will he succeed? Can one single hero outwit the underground empire and survive against such immensely powerful forces? If any one hero can win this seemingly endless war, that person is...


I hope you found this pitch from the past entertaining. As I have gone through my file cabinets, I have uncovered many such pitches and other documents which fit under the fifty-years-in-the-making umbrella that is THE UNRESOLVED TONY ISABELLA. Expect to see more of these in the coming weeks and months.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

Stay safe and sane, my friends.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


Comic-book writer and screenwriter Martin Pasko passed away earlier this month from natural causes and at the age of 65. Marty, known affectionately as “Pesky” Pasko, and I became friends before either of us had become comics professionals. He was a terrific writer and man who never quite realized how terrific he was. Though we rarely came into contact after I left New York City for good, we would see each other at the occasional convention. Once Facebook made it much easier to stay in touch with old and new friends, we exchanged the usual comments and messages.

The photo above is from the 2010 New York Comic Convention and is quite possibly the only photo of us together. From left to right, the photo shows Bob Rozakis, Marty, Jack C. Harris and me. We all entered the comics industry in the early 1970s.

Looking at this gathering, I realize how much I would love to have collections like The Best of Bob Rozakis, The Best of Martin Pasko and The Best of Jack C. Harris on my bookshelf. All three of them wrote many more comics stories than I did and, even in those times when writers were expected to knock out scripts rapidly, a lot of those stories were really entertaining.

It’s unlikely you’ll ever see such collections from DC Comics. With rare exception, and mostly when such collections are Batman-based,  DC and other publishers don’t have any interest in promoting comics writers who are no longer writing for them. They concentrate their efforts on collections of recent comic books and collections that have other media ties. I’m not necessarily knocking that process - I’m currently enjoying the heck out of the recent collection of the Geoff Johns-created and written Stargirl series, first published as Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E - but I wish there was room on the schedule for those other books as well.

All of those fine writers mentioned above have many fans. Although this is unlikely, wouldn’t it be great if DC Comics licensed rights to the best stories of Bob, Jack and Marty to a smaller publisher? Think of the fun of asking readers to name their favorite stories by those guys and others. Think of how difficult it would be for a publisher to whittle the long lists down to volumes of 300 or 400 pages each. If someone published these volumes, I would buy them. Take my money, please.

While we contemplate such wonders, let’s get down to the business of this week’s trio of reviews...

I’m on a Terry Moore kick. The writer/artist came to prominence in the 1990s with over a hundred issues of the brilliant Strangers in Paradise. I recently read the over 2000-page-long omnibus edition of that series. I’m currently reading his Rachel Rising from 2011-2016, which is a mere 30 issues and around 900 pages. In between an assortment of work for various publishers, Moore did the relatively compact Echo, also 30 issues, but coming in at a mere 600 pages or so. And that’s the series leading off this week’s reviews.

Echo: The Complete Edition [Abstract Studios; $39.99] is the story of a woman who undergoes a transformation that changes her life and may lead to the destruction of darn near everything. Here’s a quick summary from Amazon:

Julie is in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes an unwilling participant in a web of murder and deceit that becomes nuclear! She is forced to find the maker of the atomic plasma that has rained down on her. As the plasma grows, she gets closer and closer to answers with the help of the original owner of the atomic suit she now wears. A lunatic with powers from the plasma is determined to take Julie and her suit for his own and destroys everything that stands in his way. Julie''s mission becomes too hot for her to handle alone and along with Ivy and Dillon, she must stop the makers of the suit from harnessing the plasma for their own destructive use.

Echo is an exciting and frightening thriller. Julie’s confusion is very relatable in these “what the hell is happening to our country” times. The people who enter her life are as interesting as she is. The villains who would kill or use her are truly scary individuals. There are surprises, some grim, some wondrous around every corner of the path she takes. If this were a movie - and, please, make it so - I would’ve been knocked back in my seat on several occasions. Though the story delivers a satisfying conclusion, it left me with an intense desire to see what becomes of the surviving cast members in the future. If Moore should revisit these characters, I’m 100% on board with that.

Echo: The Complete Edition is my pick of the week. I recommend it for teens and older readers.

ISBN 978-1-892597-48-9


Manga continues to amaze and delight, most recently in the form of Gigant Vol. 1 [Seven Seas; $13.99], first of a three-book series by Hiroya Oku. The back cover blurb:

Rei dreams of becoming a big-ticket film director, but when he stumbles into a chance meeting with a busty adult film star, his high school life takes a turn for the strange. Not only does his favorite porn star like him, she gains the power to grow to an enormous, towering size! Is alien technology to blame? Time travel? The end of the world? All manner of bizarre trouble lies ahead, and a gigantic, gorgeous woman is just the tip of the iceberg!
When I first heard of Gigant, I thought it sounded kind of creepy. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by other salacious-seeming manga and decided to give it a try. Make no mistake, there is nudity in this volume. The heroine works in adult films and, while sex is but indicated, there’s also no mistaking that her viewers, including Rei, are using her films as God intended.

Rei is a decent kid. When actress Papiko is targeted by someone who puts “a porn star lives in this neighborhood” signs in the area where she lives, Rei takes the posters down. The two become friends and they cherish this unlikely friendship. I like these people.

The above would be enough for an interesting series, but it’s just the start of the story. Papiko has an abusive boyfriend, adding a serious human drama to the series. Even beyond her inexplicable ability to grow to giant size, we have an even stranger element as teenagers are asked to vote on various “end of the world” scenarios and the scenarios that garner the most votes actually take place. So far, the winners have been far short of actual world endings, but it’s a scary concept.

Two giant thumbs up for Gigant, which is suitable for older teens and adults. The second volume will be published in August.

ISBN 978-1-64505-294-4


My final review of the day is Crowded Volume 1: Soft Apocalypse [Image; $12.99] by Christopher Sebela (script and design) with Ro Stein and Red Brandt (line art), Triona Farrell (colors), Cardinal Rae (letters) and Juliette Capra (edits). All six are credited as  creators of the series. If accurate, that many cooks may explain my mild disappointments with this volume. Backtracking a smidgin, it was the back cover blurb copy that caught my attention:

Ten minutes in the future, the world runs on an economy of job shares and apps, while crowd funding has evolved into Reapr: a platform for assassination that’s trickled down from politicians, celebrities and CEOs to everyday life and all its petty resentments. A world where anyone with enough backers and the money they contribute can kill anyone else.

Like Charlie Ellison, who up until now has lead a quiet, normal life, until she wakes up to find herself the target of a Reapr campaign with a million dollars on her head. Hunted by all of Los Angeles, Charlie hires Vita, the lowest rated bodyguard on the Dfend app. As the campaign picks up speed and Vita takes out incompetent civilians and aspirational assassins on their tail, she and Charlie will have to figure out who wants Charlie dead and why before the campaign’s 30 days or their lives are over.
I love the premise, but felt the storytelling was a bit disjointed and even padded. Vita is my favorite character so far with Charlie just being a little too annoying and shady for me to bond with her. The background of this society would probably be interesting story material, but it’s buried in the action, betrayals and destruction. Still, the fresh and intriguing premise made Crowded worth buying and reading. I’m up for the second volume, which will be published later this month. I’ve already pre-ordered it.

ISBN 978-1-5343-1054-4

Thanks for stopping by. I’m working towards restoring “Tony’s Tips” to a weekly feature and the bloggy thing to its original nigh-daily status. In the meantime, stay safe and sane.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 1, 2020


You know what’s going on in our comics community, our countries and our world. Anxiety, confusion, corrupt politicians, depression, despair over the violence against people of color and the press, distance between those we care about in these pandemic times, that overwhelming weight of not knowing what we can do and if we’ll make it to the other side.

I’ve fallen into the habit of using these monthly “made me happy” bloggy things to talk about what’s going on in my life and how the happy stuff helps me get through it. But we are all going through this rough patch.  The only advice I can offer is that it’s truly more important than ever to recognize people and things who make us happy, and to celebrate them, even from a distance.

Here are the things that brought me joy in May.

May 1: The United States Postal Service. An unquestionable public good, delivering mail to the most rural areas on our country and, frequently, delivering to destinations too far (inconvenient) for FedEx, UPS and others. Thank your postal workers by supporting the USPS.

May 2: I have a new rice cooker and warmer. I’ve named it Gamera. Now I have to go to the store to buy rice. So, mixed blessing and all.

May 3: TV Dinners: 40 Classic TV Kid Stars Dish Up Favorite Recipes With a Side of Memories by my pal Laurie Jacobson. I’m enjoying the heck out of this combination of down-to-earth television and easy-to-follow recipes.

May 4: My Dress-Up Darling by Shinichi Fukuda. Shy young man with a talent for sewing meets a gorgeous girl who wants him to make her costume. This sweetly risque romcom had me smiling all through the first volume.

May 5: The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah now runs close to 45 minutes. The mix of comedy and good information about the coronavirus pandemic is easy to digest and doesn’t make me want to drink Lysol. I hope the show stays this length when it can get back to the studio.

May 6: Going through my file cabinets and discovering a great many wondrous things. I’ll be figuring out how to best share it with my readers in the coming months.

May 7: Echo: The Complete Edition by Terry Moore. An alloy gives  powers to a woman whose life is in turmoil and who now finds that the fate of the world is in her hands. I’m on a Terry Moore kick lately and he does not disappoint.

May 8: Answering Godzilla questions for a Walmart cashier. That’s what happens when I rock a Godzilla t-shirt. Don’t worry. We only talked until another customer came to the check-out aisle.

May 9: Working on my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales, which will start in June. There are some safety issues to address, but I am looking forward to seeing my regular customers and selling them many great items.

[NOTE: My “general public” garage sales have been cancelled because I couldn’t make my available space safe for multiple customers. In a few weeks, I’ll start taking appointments for single customers to shop at my garage. Keep watching this bloggy thing and my various social media stuff for more information.]


May 10: Gigant by Hiroya Oku is brilliantly baffling. A porn star who grows to giant size, a fan who wants to make movies, a man from the future and teens voting on an “end of the world” online poll in which the winning choices actually happen. I don’t know where this is going, but I’m sticking with it.

May 11: DC’s 100-page Titans Giant is including Bob Rozakis-penned Teen Titans stories from before the Wolfman-Perez reboot. I’m all for reprinting stories from the 1940s through 1980s in these books. Some explanatory text pages would be nice.

May 12: A e-mail from a reader telling me my story “War Toy” (from Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction #2) has stayed with him since he first read it in 1975. E-mails like this mean a lot to us currently out of favor comics creators.

May 13: Marty Pasko. His life, his writing and the many wonderful tributes to him from fellow comics creators, friends and his many fans. He will be remembered.

May 14: ABC’s The Happy Days of Garry Marshall special. A two-hour tribute to one of the entertainment world’s greatest geniuses. It was funny, informative and so heartwarming.

May 15: Gail Simone and Colleen Doran’s story in Wonder Woman #750. “From Small Things, Mama” was a precious small gem.

May 16: Meg Cabot’s When Lightning Strikes, the first book in her 1-800-Where-R-You series. Teen Jessica is struck by lightning and now knows exactly where missing people are. A exciting introduction to a terrific young hero.

May 17: That so many in comics are making good choices in this time of pandemic. There are chuckle heads who trump crazy conspiracies, defy common sense and make the crisis part of their absurd culture wars, but, overall, we’re smart about this. Thank you.

May 18: Banfield Pet Hospital at PetSmart in Medina. They take good care of my cat Simba and are so close to our house my little furry friend doesn’t get agitated on the drive. They also raise money for the care of less fortunate pets.

May 19: I bought a trade online. When it came, this was written on the receipt: “Thanks for Black Lightning! Still one of my DC favorites after all these years!!”

May 20: Stargirl. One episode in and it’s my second favorite super-hero TV series. Kudos to Geoff Johns for bringing his creation to the small screen in such wondrous fashion.

[NOTE: When I kidded Geoff that, based on my critically-acclaimed one-line performance in the Black Lightning season finale, I should play the Golden Age Atom in the series, he responded that I could play Al Pratt any time I wanted. Okay, that’s not an actual offer, but I’m thinking I should start hitting the gym just in case.]

May 21: G-Fan #127: Lyle Huckins’ “Chekhov’s Nuke” is a fine piece on using such weapons against Godzilla. I liked it so much I’ll be writing a bloggy thing on the same subject.

May 22: Stumptown has been renewed for a second season. I just hope it isn’t broadcast from Cobie Smulders’ living room.

[NOTE: Several readers pointed out that being “in” Cobie Smulders’ living room would not be a bad thing. Of course, as a married man of some 36 years, I would never make such a comment. On the other hand, I’m not Mike Pence, so...]

May 23: Finding new series pitches I wrote in 1970-1972 and sent to Marvel Comics before they hired me. Fifty years later, many of them are worth a second look.

May 24: I’ve promoted three of my Funko figures to be the guardians of my desk. So now, as I work, I can look at Mole Man, Rat Fink and Betty Boop (& Pudgy). Godzilla, of course, stands defiantly on my computer console.

May 25: Zuiker Press publishes issue-based graphic novels for young people. Goodbye: A Story of Suicide is the latest in the series and the most moving. It is heart-rending, informative and deserving of a place in comics awards and, much more importantly, every school library.

May 26: Spider-Man: Far From Home. Another exciting entry in this series. A believable young hero, great supporting characters, great action sequences and jaw-dropping surprises. I want to see the next Spider-Man movie RIGHT NOW.

May 27: Receiving an email from an actor and screenwriter about a story I wrote over 40 years ago. “I could not believe how masterful it was, how much it has stood the rest of time and how influential it’s been to me as a writer.”

[NOTE: The story is “Bounty for a Vampire.” Which first appeared in Dracula Lives #13. It was reprinted in Essential Tomb of Dracula #4 and The Tomb of Dracula Omnibus #3.]

May 28: Batwoman’s Dougray Scott. His Jacob Kane is now, along with his paramilitary private police force, the most terrifying element in Gotham City. No small feat for the actor or this continuing plot development.

[NOTE: Crossovers are usually big cosmic events, but wouldn't it be cool to have this story be the basis for the next DC/CW crossover? The Crows pretty much take over Gotham and impose their own version of martial law, possibly supported by outside forces. Kate Kane, having learned the values of allies, calls in the cavalry. Many of the Arrowverse characters have experience battling authority gone mad. Black Lightning, most of the Arrow vigilantes, etc. Even Supergirl would be interesting given the existence of kryptonite in Gotham City. The ball's in your court, showrunners.]

May 29: Dragon Soldiers. A fun movie with an excellent cast, decent CGI and an above-average script. Unfortunately, you’ll need an all-region DVD player to watch it.

May 30: My Comic Shop Country. For this documentary, filmmaker and former comic shop employee Anthony Desiato visited shops across the country and shared the pain of losing a beloved shop. Every comics professional should watch this.

May 31: The Holderness Family. I found my new sheltering-in-place family on YouTube. Dozens of magnificently hilarious song parodies and videos. Just the ticket for when you need a laugh. But I warn you, it’s hard to watch just one.

That’s all for today, my friends. Please be safe and sane as we all navigate these choppy waters.

© 2020 Tony Isabella