Thursday, December 10, 2020



My local Medina Public Library and the hundred or so Northeast Ohio other libraries with which it is affiliated has been very important to me during this time of pandemic and will likely become even more so as I deal with an income that has been sinking faster than the Orange Stain’s hold on the White House. Less than two months to go before he leaves. Please, by all the powers of good, let it be with him being dragged out of there kicking and screaming.

I’m not going to cry about being poor here. My Saintly Wife Barb is still working. I get a monthly social security check and a royalty check here and there. However, the loss of income from convention and other appearances, from signing comics at those events and from selling stuff at those events has been a hard hit to take. Even my legendary garage sales brought in less than 20% of what they used to bring in. Less income means less money to buy books. It’s that simple.

As much as I love to support comics and other creators, I consider my current purchases very carefully. There’s never been a time in my life when I could afford all the books and comics I wanted. But, these days, the library helps me read a lot of those things I can’t afford to buy. So, thanks to the libraries and all those who work in them. You make my life better.

Here are brief discussions of some of the library items I’ve read in recent months...

Sweetness and Lightning Volume 2 [Kodansha Comics; $12.99] is the second volume in Gido Amagakure’s cooking manga. This book is from 2016. Here’s the back cover come-on:

Kohei is a widower; his wife having passed away, he's working hard to raise his rambunctious daughter Tsumugi on his own. But it's gotten a bit easier thanks to a new friendship with his student Kotori. Together, the two of them are teaching themselves - and each other - how to cook. Though they've had some successes, their greatest challenges await. Can they convince Tsumugi to eat the green peppers she loathes so much? And can Kohei bring himself to try making a recipe that was his late wife's specialty?

This is a pleasant story. The drama is pretty much everyday stuff. Being a single parent. Being a young woman who seldom sees her busy and successful mother. It moves slowly, but I enjoy the exuberance about the food they cook and Tsumugi’s delight in it. I also like the innocence of Kotori becoming part of Kohei’s family with not a trace of what would be a most inappropriate romance. That Kodansha rates this series for ages 13 and older is probably because younger readers may be bored by all the detail that goes into the cooking of the meals. If you’re interested in cooking, especially Japanese cooking, this series will click a lot of your boxes.

ISBN 978-1632363701


I’d decided to bail on all comics X-Men a while back, but a friend recommended Marauders by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1 [Marvel; $17.99], so I gave it a try. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Ahoy, muties - the X-Men sail at dawn! Mutantkind has begun a glorious new era on Krakoa, but some nations' human authorities are preventing mutants from escaping to this new homeland. Which is where Captain Kate Pryde and her high-seas allies come in! Funded by Emma Frost and the Hellfire Trading Company, Kate and her crew of Storm, Pyro, Bishop and Iceman sail the seven seas to liberate their fellow mutants - as the Marauders! But the real cutthroats are back home in the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle, where Sebastian Shaw has recruited a new Black Bishop to aid in his machinations against the Club's two queens. As tensions rise, Kate's crew finds itself caught in the dead center of the Battle of Madripoor! Can the Marauders avoid being made to walk the plank?

I liked the political nature of this series. Indeed, that aspect of the latest X-Men reboot/revival/whatever almost kept me reading the X-Men titles. Those titles didn’t grab me, but Marauders has been a nice combination of action and political drama. That Kate Pryde, one of my favorite X-characters, is the team’s leader also pleases me. I’m also curious as to why the Krakoan gateways don’t work for her. Duggan’s writing has been good and the various artists mostly make the characters look like the characters are supposed to look. Add up all those pluses and you know why I’m requesting the second volume from my library.

ISBN 978-1-302919948


The Complete Steve Canyon Volume 9: 1963-1964 [IDW; $49.99] was one of the things that made me happy in November. Milton Caniff’s art and storytelling are first-rate in a newspaper comic-strip collection that mixes globetrotting intrigue and collegiate drama.

The range in these never-before-reprinted strips is staggering. Our titular hero travels the world on missions for Uncle Sam, meeting some courageous and decidedly dangerous men and women. He even goes to Vietnam, which I’m thinking makes him one of the first comics heroes to get involved with the war there. On the home front, Summer Olson (Canyon’s true love) finally has a showdown with her wicked employer Copper Calhoun. This book’s cover image must have been a welcome sight to the strip’s readers.

Also on the home front, in sequences starring Steve’s ward Potett,  we get a romantic farce with a college dean and the missing movie star who loves her, a competition to be the Queen of the Snow Ball and a spy on the loose at the New York World’s Fair. Caniff proves he is a master of all manner of drama.

Steve Canyon is an unabashedly jingoistic comic strip. It is both a product of its time and a reflection of Caniff’s close ties with the military. What keeps it from becoming strident is how there are no guarantees that Canyon will win every battle. His enemies become all the more threatening because the readers know they are capable of outmaneuvering our hero. Canyon takes the losses and resolutely moves on to the next mission.

Like Caniff’s earlier Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon is one of the finest adventure and human drama comic strips ever. It should be part of your comics appreciation and education.

ISBN 978-1-68405-378-0

That’s all for today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella     

1 comment:

  1. i know twitter and social media is easier great Sir but some of your fans miss bloggy posts too! and early happy birthday :)
    -Shaun Bowman