Thursday, October 1, 2020



Something that didn’t make happy in September, something that made me sad was when I was going over my 2019 financials. I was on the road a lot that year. Here’s the summary I wrote for our financial advisors:

I attended thirteen conventions or events in 2019. I traveled to Atlanta to attend the Black Lightning wrap party and visit the set. I ran a comics creation workshop for the Cleveland Public Library. I was a Free Comic Book Day guest in Akron, Ohio.   

The conventions: North Texas Comic Book Show (Dallas); Pensacon (Florida); Big Apple Comic Con (New York City); Great Philadelphia Comic Con; G-Fest (Chicago); Comic-Con International (San Diego); NEO Comicon (North Olmsted); New Mexico Comics Expo (Alburquerque); Flaming River Con (Cleveland); Fanboy Expo 2.0 (Knoxville); Akron Comicon; Grand Rapids Comic-Con (Michigan).

There is a huge amount of paperwork involved in reflecting all the conventions and events in my taxes. Hundreds of receipts. Mileage multiplication. It usually takes me two solid days to get all of it in order for the accountant.

This year - 2020 - is going to be a breeze by comparison. I went to Atlanta to appear in the third season finale of Black Lightning and then went to the set in Decatur for the last day of shooting. Then Saintly Wife Barb and I attended Pensacon 2020. That turned out to be the only convention I’ll attend this year.

This makes me sad. I should be able to break those trips down for the accountant in two hours tops. Yet I would much rather have gone to more conventions. Hung out with more old friends. Talked to more fans of Black Lightning and my work.

I’m already accepting invites for 2021 conventions and such. Barb and I want to drive down to Atlanta so I can take her to the Black Lightning set and do some vacation stuff on the way there and the way back. Who knows if any of that will happen?

There are no miracle cures for COVID-19 or a country devastated by Republican misrule. We can only hope for the future and, while we wait, try to find joy every day of our lives.

Here are the things that made me happy in September...

September 1: Comics Revue is always a great read. The August 2020 issue had full stories of Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician. Plus lots of other great strips include Tarzan by Archie Goodwin and Gil Kane.

September 2: MAD #15 is a “Super Spooferheroes Issue” with features new and old on that theme and some fun new pieces on our pandemic world. Surprises: the Kurtzman/Wood “Bat Boy and Rubin” from 1953 and a 2008 piece on working at home. How did they know?

September 3: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist. How can a new graphic novel by Adrian Tomine not make me happy? He has a genius for telling down-to-earth stories in a more relatable way that most graphic novelists who walk this path.

September 4: No one blinked an eye when a Wheel of Fortune player mentioned her wife and that her large family was cheering her on. That’s my America. The one in which love is love is just how it is.

September 5: Notzilla is, far and away, the best Kaiju movie ever made in Cincinnati. Its budget was low but the filmmakers spent it on affable actors, deliciously corny gags and a very cute monster. Well worth the Amazon Prime rental fee.

September 6: I am forever amazed at just how many shark movies are out there...and I say to myself what a wonderful world.

September 7: Comet TV’s Labor Day Godzilla Marathon. I don’t have time to watch the movies, but I have it on in another room and it’s nice background noise for today’s writing.

September 8: Tom Brevoort. His blog about The Superman Family #189 revealed the one-panel Black Lightning appearance I’d been hunting for years. I want my Black Lightning archives to be as complete as possible when I leave them to a college or library.

September 9: Early morn, driving to the grocery, I saw a beautiful family of deer (two adults, three little ones). Some folks consider them a nuisance, but seeing them always makes me smile. I think we need reminders that the world is larger than just us.

September 10: From World’s Finest The Collection, the Retro Wonder Woman box was one of the nicest I’ve gotten from them. It’s filled with wonderful things for me and the Wonder Women in my life.

September 11: Ayami Kazama’s I Don’t Know How to Give Birth is an adorable autobiographical manga detailing the author’s journey to motherhood. Recommended for all.

September 12: Rex Morgan’s Pandemic Comics. Terry Beatty has spent several weeks visiting his cast of characters in these quarantining times. Entertaining, funny, and true-to-life. One of the very best newspaper strips published today.

September 13: Bleeding Cool. No, this isn’t The Onion. But I want to take note the site has been good about using the official Black Lightning creator credits - Created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden - when they write about the character.

September 14: I’m winding down my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales. The last ones are this weekend. It’s been disappointing this summer, but I’m excited about my plans for next year’s sales. Hope to see many of you there.

September 15: The new seasons of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy have begun. They’ve made some pandemic era changes, but these wonderful shows, their hosts and their contestants are as much fun as ever.

September 16: Black Lightning Seasons Two and Three will get Blu-ray releases. They will be MOD (manufacture on demand) releases, so you won’t see them in stories. I’d prefer a general release, but, at least, this is a step in the right direction.

September 17: Andy Mangels. He gets me interested in things I was never interested in before. Like with his Saturday Morning Preview Specials articles in Retro Fan.

September 18: Comic-book collector and teacher Dan Moroaica was the big winner on the 9-16-20 Wheel of Fortune. He owns eight thousand comics. Way to represent, sir!

September 19: Brett Dakin’s American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason. This is a wonderful biography of a comics legend by his great nephew. I think Gleason and I would’ve gotten along well.

September 20: Stage Mother. This is a funny and heartwarming movie about a mother who reconnects with her drag performer son after his death. I literally laughed and got teary while watching it with my Saintly Wife Barb. Highly recommended.

September 21: Tyler Perry's inspirational acceptance speech after he was awarded this year's Emmy Governors Award. I was near moved to tears by the speech and what I could learn from Perry’s amazing achievements.

September 22: Unexpected delights. Barb and I loved the Filthy Rich pilot, which aired on Fox Monday night. It’s funny, occasionally heartwarming and filled with insane twists and turns. Think Dallas or Dynasty on a crack/steroid cocktail.  

September 23: The 30 Foot Bride Of Candy Rock. From 1959, this was Lou Costello’s last movie. It’s nice silly fun and, while living in the shitstorm that is 2020, sometimes silly is what a body needs.

September 24: Gamera: The Complete Collection. A thing of beauty. All 12 uncut Japanese versions of the movies. A 120-page hardcover of Gamera comics including a Matt Frank story never been published in English. An 80-page book with even more cool stuff. The nicest Kaiju film collection ever!

September 25: Dulce Sloan and The Daily Show did an amazing piece on police brutality and how much it costs taxpayers. It’s not just morally wrong to let police get away with brutality, it’s fiscally unsound.

September 26: Superman, the first of four Breast Cancer Awareness Funko Pop! figures, has joined my Social Justice League. The others are Batman, Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman. Fun stuff for a really good cause.

September 27: Enola Holmes. After a monumentally crappy day, this movie set me back on track. Delightful characters and performances. Solid story. I want more!

September 28: Marauders by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1. I bailed on almost all things X-Men, but a friend praised this. I enjoy the political aspects of the mostly self-contained series. I’ll be requesting the second volume from my library.

September 29: Atlas at War! Edited by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo with art restoration by Allan Harvey, this amazing hardcover collects 50 stories from the Marvel Comics war titles. Some of the best artists and writers of the 1950s.

September 30: Unpresidented by Kieron Dwyer. The star artist of so many Marvel and DC super-hero comics turns his considerable talents to “cartoons of chaos” that will delight and rattle you. Definitely not for the right-wing snowflakes.

October will be a busy month for me. I’m finishing a collection of my shark movie reviews. Once that book is off my desk, I hope to take a few days off at a secluded beach house, cabin or tree house. Then it’s clearing out two rooms so we can rip up the carpeting and install wood floors.

Those are only the biggest items on my schedule. I have a bunch of medical appointments to schedule. Don’t be concerned. They are all routine things that were delayed by the pandemic.

My health and time permitting, I hope to move forward on some new  projects, including the long-awaiting second volume of July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella. I guess I’m feeling ambitious.

I can’t commit to daily blogging, but I do have a number of pieces in various stages of completion. I hope to bring those to you on a steady basis.

My best wishes to my bloggy thing readers. Stay safe, stay well and be good to yourselves and others. I’ll be back soon.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

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