Sunday, January 3, 2021



If you are reading this bloggy thing, it means that, against all odds, I survived 2020. I didn’t get Covid. I didn’t get gunned down by radical right-wing extremists. I had the worst financial year of my comics career, but did manage to pay bills without having to go going to loan sharks named Big Augie and using some of my favorite body parts as collateral. On the minus side...

The callousness, criminality, incompetence and insanity of Donald Trump and his Republican Party put our country and our democracy at risk to an extent I never thought I’d see in my life. We have lost hundreds of thousands of American citizens. We have seen crushing hardship inflicted on people and small businesses. We’re witnessing an actual attempt to overthrow the will of the people who voted to
replace Trump with Joe Biden. It’s scary.

Our country and our world did not magically get better when we hit midnight on new Year's Eve. We have a lot of work ahead of us and way too many Americans see no value in that work.

On a personal note, I have no idea if I will be able to attend any conventions in 2021 or hold my summer garage sale. I have no idea if I’ll be able to make decent money as I enter my 49th year in the
comics industry. All I can do is hope for the best and keep working on books and comics and other projects. I know I’ll have good days and bad days.

I also know that every day, one way or another, I’ll find something that will bring me joy. Here are the things that made me happy in December...

December 1: Black by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3 and Jamal Igle. What if only Black people had superpowers? I finally got around to reading the first trade paperback in this intriguing series. I am 100% on board for future books.

December 2: Life Under Kaiju #1 by Johnny Craft and Edgardo Granel-Ruiz. A promising start to this series about a world destroyed by giant monsters. Some rough edges, but I hope to see future issues.

December 3: Maison Ikkoku by Rumiko Takahashi. I’m rereading this tale of a struggling college student and the widowed manager of his apartment in the Viz Signature editions. It’s as heartwarming and hilarious as I remember. Highly recommended.

December 4: Pearle Vision in the Medina Shopping Center. They were incredibly helpful in ordering my new glasses. Because they looked for every way to save me money, I was also able to order prescription sunglasses, something I’ve long wanted.

December 5: I tested negative for the Trump Virus, also known as the coronavirus. I tested positive for being a really swell fellow. I tested inconclusive for whether I’ll ever write Black Lightning again. I suppose two out of three ain’t bad.

December 6: Commanders in Crisis by Steve Orlando and artist Davide Tinto. Universe-destroying epics are not my thing, but I absolutely love the concept of super-presidents from destroyed parallel worlds teaming up to save their new universe.

December 7: The Steak 'n Shake in nearby Brunswick has reopened for take-out. We got lunch there yesterday. Maybe it was absence making our hearts grow fonder, but Barb and I really enjoyed our burgers and fries. Best of luck to the new management.

December 8: Trevor Noah and Method Man talking about Marvel Comics on the December 7 edition of The Daily Show. They even kind of sort of collaborated on a new super-hero (or super-villain) character.

December 9: The Holiday Heroes subscription box from World’s Finest The Collection is the best box ever. I’m already wearing the cool Green Arrow hoodie and every other item in the box is wonderful as well.

December 10: Marvel Comics sent me a copy of Marvel Masterworks: Ghost Rider Volume 2. It has a new introduction by me and reprints all my Ghost Rider tales plus some by Bill Mantlo and Marv Wolfman. I got a kick out of it and I think you will do.

December 11: Devil’s Highway by Benjamin Percy and Brent Schoonover is a chilling revenge thriller. My only quibble is that the fifth and final issue could have used more pages. But I still recommend the series and look forward to the follow-up.

December 12: RetroFan #10. David F. Walker’s article on Shaft makes me want to read/watch all things Shaft in 2021. Plus great articles on Kathy Garver, cartoon preview specials, “Big Daddy” Roth and so much more. One of my favorite magazines.

December 13: Being informed of a 2019 interview with Marvin Jones III - Tobias Whale on Black Lightning - in which he says all kinds of nice things about me.

December 14: When a Black family in Arkansas received an anonymous racist letter about their Black Santa inflatable, their neighbors showed their support for the family with Black Santa inflatables on their own lawns.

December 15: In Killer Kung Pao, Vivien Chien’s newest Noddle Shop mystery, amateur detective Lana and her detective boyfriend relax by binge-watching Supernatural. This put a smile on my face, even though I’m unlikely to ever find the time to follow suit.

December 16: DC Comics Cover Art is a nice gathering of 350 mostly great covers from the publisher’s long history. Not every cover is one I’d have chosen, but the hardcover book still delivered big fun and historical value.

December 17: Received a “makes my day” e-mail from a fan wanting to know what they could do to convince comics publishers to hire me. If I knew that, I’d be doing it. But I appreciate the affirmation and will give it further thought once we’re through the holidays.

December 18: My CBPA (Comic Book Professional Association) set of mini-screwdrivers from who knows what decade. I use it every week, most recently replacing batteries in our vast collection of musical snowmen.

December 19: The Prom. What a great night at the home-theatre with this schmaltzy Broadway musical starring Meryl Streep and James Corden. It gave me laughs and feels and tears with wondrous multi-character redemption tales. Realistic? No. But wouldn’t it terrific if our world was more like this?

December 20: Saturday Night Live’s Alex Moffat takes over the role of Joe Biden. I liked his slightly lower key impression better than Jim Carrey’s. Carrey brought too much Carrey to his performances.

December 21: Saintly Wife Barb and our kids gave me a new chair for my office. My old one was literally flaking apart. The first thing I wrote while sitting in it was a bloggy thing.

December 22: Directed by Emma Jean Sutherland, SyFy’s Letters to Satan Claus was a delightfully twisted Christmas movie. Sort of the anti-Hallmark Christmas movie, but with delicious humor and a warm gooey ending. I loved it!

December 23: Barb and I saw my mother for the first time in months, albeit through a window and talking on cell phones. We went to her senior apartment building and brought her some Christmas presents. Mom looked good and, given these pandemic times, as happy as anyone could expect.

December 24: Comic Book Creator #24. Great interviews with Timothy Truman, Scott Shaw and Janice Chiang plus a great short article by Rich Arndt on Covid-19 chaos in school libraries.

December 25: Wonder Woman 1984. It wasn’t as tight as the first, but it still ranks as one of my favorite recent DC comics movies.I would love to see more DC movies like it.

December 26: A wonderful Christmas with just Saintly Wife Barb, Ed and Kelly. Great meals. Terrific presents all around. Watching the new Wonder Woman movie. A safe and sane celebration.

December 27: Beware Terror Tales Volume 2 [PS Artbooks]. The tales in issues #5-8 of this 1950s Fawcett series aren’t classic, but they are fun. Also included: a faithful adaptation of the movie The Man From Planet X with nice art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

December 28: Paying the Land by Joe Sacco, comics anthropologist, historian, political commentator. His works are not easy reads, but he tells his tales with frightening detail and blinding truths. I came away from this one a whole lot smarter...and angry over North America’s history of injustice.   

December 29: Two publishers are doing black-and-white mags (Creeps, Eyrie, Vampiress Carmilla) aping the look of the old Warren titles. Some are angered by the homages. I get a nostalgic buzz from them. They ain’t classics, just fun. Sometimes that’s enough.

December 30: My ancient vibrating back massage pad, which attaches to my desk chair, is still working. I need to replace it, but, for now, when I’m experiencing some nasty back pain, I’m thrilled it’s hanging in there.

December 31: It’s the last day of the damnable clusterfuck that was 2020. I know there are still grave challenges ahead, but I’ve never in my life been so ready to be done with a year.

If I were going to make New Year resolutions, one of them would be to bring you more bloggy things than I did in 2020. I’ll definitely do my best.

Here’s wishing you a happy and safe and successful new year. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella


  1. Thing that made me happy in December - Tony Isabella friended me on Facebook :)

  2. I loved revisiting your Ghost Rider tales in Masterwork form, which I had not read since my youth. Many thanks for those fond Bronze-Age memories.

    BTW, are you familiar with the avant-garde music group The Residents? I always wondered if the Orb influenced their famous eyeball costumes...!