NEO COMICON 2021. I am excited to be returning to one of my favorite events. I'm bringing a great selection of Isabella-written books to the show. I'm bringing some unique items you would not ordinarily see at my convention tables. I'm putting together two terrific auction packages which I am donating to the convention. And I'll be seeing some of the most amazing creators, cosplayers and fans for the first time in close to two years.
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Third time’s the charm? I hope so.
After being forced by often annoyingly stupid circumstances to cancel two weekends in a row, my second Vast Accumulation of Stuff comics and pop culture garage sales are this weekend: Friday, July 30, and Saturday, July 31. The hours of these sales are 9am to noon and then 2-5 pm each day. I’m adding those afternoon hours in an attempt to make up those missed sales.
If you’re still buying stuff at noon or 5 pm, don’t worry. I won’t chase you out of my garage at noon or 5 pm on the dot. The location of the garage sales is Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. There will be signs in the front yard and a big Tony Isabella banner sign next to the garage itself.
The question I am most frequently asked about these sales is “What will you be selling?” The most honest answer I can give is “I don’t know.” I add hundreds of items to these garage sales every weekend. My goals are to make some money, make my customers happy and reduce my Vast Accumulation of Stuff to the point where, at some distant time in the future, it can be called a collection again. I want to know what I have as much as you do.
I know what the garage sale will have in general. Isabella-related posters. Isabella-written comic books and books. Hardcover books.Softcover books. The ever-popular $10 mystery boxes. Manga volumes. Comics and pop culture related clothing and backpacks. Comics and pop culture related collectibles. Magazines. Comic priced at just one buck each. All at bargain prices. Indeed, I’ll even be reducing prices on some items from my first garage sales of the summer.
One of the perks of coming to my garage sales, besides hearing my wondrous stories of my nigh-half-century working in comics, is that I don’t charge for my signature. Whether you buy an Isabella item from me or bring it to my garage from your own collection, I will sign any and all Isabella items for free.
I won’t have any quarter comics this time around. Ditto other items priced at a quarter. Most of those will be going into those mystery boxes. At my last sales, fans were disappointed I only had a couple of those boxes. I’ll have at least seven mystery boxes this time out. Quarter comics will return when I can acquire more of them
NOTE: I am buying comic books, though not in great bulk. I’ll pay $15 for a short box of good condition comics and $30 for a long box of good condition comics. Generally speaking, a short box will hold a little over 150 issues and a long box around 300 issues. The only restrictions: I don’t want too many copies of the same issues. I don’t want adults only comic books. I won’t be able to buy dozens of boxes at one time.
If you can’t attend my sales at their stated hours of operation, I can arrange a private showing for you at some other time that will be more convenient for you. I would be able to schedule these for most Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. To arrange such a showing, you need to email me. I’ll do my best to accommodate you.
I publicize the sales on Craig’s List, Facebook, Next Door, Twitter and Yard Sale. Obviously, I welcome you telling your friends about them as well. The more I sell at these sales, the more cool stuff I can put out at the next ones. Not to mention that the funds make it easier for me to produce new comics and content for my readers. It’s the circle of life.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2021 Tony Isabella
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Some of my earliest comics writing was in black-and-white magazines like Marvel’s Dracula Lives!, Monsters Unleashed and Vampire Tales, and even that weird-but-cool little tabloid newspaper The Monster Times. What I remember most from the last one was that I only got paid when I went to their offices to ask for whatever payment they owed me. That got easier when I moved to New York City to work for Marvel Comics.
For the purposes of this bloggy, I am defining “comic magazine” as a magazine-format publication that contains mostly comics stories. So MAD would be a “yes” and The Monster Times, which only ran two or three pages of comics, would be a “no.”
Manuscript Press’ Comics Revue is my favorite comics magazine currently being published. Edited by Rick Norwood, each double-size issue presents over 125 pages of some of the greatest comic strips that have ever been seen in the United States. Issue #421-422 is the latest issue I’ve read and will suffice for this revue.
Tarzan by John Celardo and Dick van Buren is the cover feature of this issue. “The Inca Treasure,” a 12-page daily newspaper story from 1957, is a well-drawn adventure told in the once-classic style of captions with no speech balloons. Author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Lord of the Jungle also appears in a more modern 1980 tale by Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin. In this case, the jungle is New York City with its magnificent bridges and skyscrapers.
My favorite story in the issue is 48-page Mandrake the Magician thrillers by Lee Falk and Phil Davis. From 1939, it’s a epic tale of royal intrigue and a hero’s fight for the woman he loves. I am frequently amazed at how often Falk (and the Phantom, his second classic creation) from sealing the matrimonial deal with the great loves of their lives. These romances went on for decades, multiple stories seemingly leading up to matrimony, only to have something delay them once again. What is truly remarkable is that, no matter often Falk did this, the result was always a terrific story.
As with any anthology, there are some features I like better than others. R&D Hackney’s medieval/contemporary satire Sir Bagby is a favorite of mine. Call me a heretic, but I have never warmed up to George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. But I enjoy almost everything else in the magazine: Casey Ruggles, Flash Gordon, Alley Oop, the Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Buz Sawyer, Garth and Steve Canyon.
Side note. This issue starts another of Milton Caniff’s flights of fancy in which a sleeping Steve Canyon imagines himself in another period of American history. This time, it’s the Revolutionary War or thereabouts. When I was a ghost-writer for a couple more recent newspaper strips, I pitched “Steve is sleeping” sequences for lead characters in those strips. Alas, my boss wasn’t interested. But, if I ever go back to ghosting newspaper strips like those, I will pitch such stories again.
Second side note. The main reason I’m not doing writing for syndicated strips, beyond John Lustig’s great Last Kiss feature, is because I couldn’t get credit for my work. I don’t expect to have my name on those tiny strips as they are currently presented, but I want to be able to let my fans and friends know what I’m doing. Something any potential clients should understand from the get-go.
Comics Revue is published every other month. A single issue costs $20. A subscription is $59 for one year.
The Creeps (soon to end and replaced with a title called Shudder) and Vampiress Carmilla are two more recent comics magazine launches that I’ve been enjoying. From the Warrant Publishing Company, the black-and-white magazines are ongoing homages to similar magazines published by Warren Publishing in the 1960s through the 1980s more or less. Indeed, when The Creeps first came out I was a jerk to its editor, accusing the company of doing cheap knock-offs of the great magazines edited by Archie Goodwin and others. I didn’t get it back then. I do get it now.
If you’re expecting the kind of quality Archie Goodwin brought to Creepy and Eerie with legendary artists like Reed Crandell, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson and others, you won’t find that in Vampiress Carmilla and The Creeps/Shudder. What you’ll find are charming love letters to Creepy and Eerie and Vampirella with covers similar to the covers of those magazines. With mostly “shock ending” stories by veterans Don Glut and the late (and sorely missed) Nicola Cuti plus less well-known writers. With art by Benito Gallego, a favorite of mine from Apama the Undiscovered Animal, and several serviceable artists who occasionally reach greater heights. All wrapped around features that are likewise reminiscent of the old Warren magazines. I get warm nostalgic feels from these titles.
These magazines aren’t “the best in illustrated horror” as claimed by the blurb over The Creeps logo. They aren’t likely to win comics awards. But they are entertaining and fun and well worth the cover price of $5.95 per issue, less if you subscribe. As I’ve been doing for a couple years now. If you have fond memories of those Warren magazines, I think you’ll enjoy these as well. And I’m really, really sorry I was such a horse’s ass when I first laid eyes on them.
Less entertaining is Eyrie [$7.95 per issue] from writer and artist Mike Hoffman. Priced at two dollars more than the Warrant titles, it does have better paper. While I generally like Hoffman’s art, I haven’t been able to warm up to this magazine.
The stories aren’t as well-written as the ones in The Creeps. For the most part, the individual pages have very large panels. Which serve only to highlight the sparse plots. I realize that Eyrie is meant to be Hoffman’s personal creative expression, but I think it needs better writing and more variety in the art.
I gave Eyrie three issues, but don’t plan to buy any issues beyond those first three. Your mileage may vary and, for many of you, I’m sure it will, but the magazine isn’t working for me.
Since I first edited a bunch of Marvel’s black-and-white magazines back in the 1970s (and once turned down an offer from Jim Warren to leave Marvel and edit the actual Eerie for his company), I’ve grown increasingly fond of the format. If the opportunity ever arose, I would love to edit such a magazine again. I was pretty okay at it back then, but I’d be much better at it today.
I have come across some older black-and-white comics magazines and collections of British comics inspired by or reprinted from that country’s old weekly comics newspapers. So you’ll be seeing more of my comments and reviews of comics magazines in the hopefully near future.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2021 Tony Isabella
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale won’t be until the end of the month. I have projects I must complete this week, which include making that end-of-the-month garage sale as epic as I can possibly make it.
At the moment, it’s looking like I won’t have any boxes of quarter comics for sale. Indeed, unlike my first sales, I also won’t have three tables of other items priced at a quarter.
Quarter comics and other quarter items are the foundation of my $10 mystery boxes. Then I add other more expensive items to make sure the boxes buyers get a lot more than ten bucks worth of stuff. In all the time I’ve been selling these boxes, and I’ve sold close to 200 of them, I’ve only received one complaint.
I only had two mystery boxes at my first 2021 garage sales. I got more than one complaint about that. I have four mystery boxes out in the garage as I write this bloggy thing. I hope to add quite a few more. So I’m using what I have left of the quarter comics and other items for that purpose.
I want to offer quarter comics at my next garage sales. Given the nature of my excavations through the VAOS, there’s no guarantee I will come across boxes of comics I’m willing to put into a quarter boxes or a mystery box. My solution to this dilemma?
I AM BUYING COMIC BOOKS BY THE BOX.
I am buying comic books, though not in great bulk. I’ll pay $15 for a short box of good condition comics and $30 for a long box of good condition comics. Generally speaking, a short box holds a little over 150 issues and a long box 300 issues. I am allocating $300 for such purchases, but that’s not a hard and fast limit.
The restrictions: I don’t want too many copies of the same issues. I don’t want adults only comic books.
If you have such comics and want to sell them, send me an e-mail. I’ll arrange a time when you can bring them to me. You’ll get paid once I’ve examined the boxes and I plan to do that on the spot. If you want to be paid in cash instead of a check, I’ll need two days' notice to accommodate you.
Because of the afore-mentioned projects, I won’t be able to come to you unless you live within fifteen minutes of Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. I’m dealing here with both a shortage of quarter comics and a shortage of time.
Be sure to put QUARTER COMICS in the header of any e-mails you send me. I’ll be able to spot them more quickly among the hundreds of e-mails I receive every day.
I’m considering extending my usual 9 am to noon garage sale hours to include additional hours from 2-5 pm on each of the two days of the event. I’ll have more information on that soon. It’ll be posted here and on my other social media.
If you have questions, e-mail them to me. I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as possible.
That’s all for now. I have two or three other bloggy things almost finished, so I’ll be back here sooner rather than later. Thanks for your patience and support. You’re appreciated.
© 2021 Tony Isabella
Monday, July 19, 2021
My next VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF garage sales have been pushed back yet again, this time to Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30. Hours to be announced. However...I am strongly considering having both morning and afternoon hours on those days.
I have a lot of stuff going on right now and I have to make time for it. Pushing back the garage sales (and making them better than ever) is one way I'm doing that. Reducing my online presence this week is another.
My plans for the week include blogging, writing Last Kiss gags and completing a consulting project. I'll still be checking the comments awaiting approval as often as possible.
I'm going to be much more cautious in approving some comments. If you haven't signed your comment and it strikes me as someone trying to cause controversy for controversy's sake, your comment will not be approved. I've had enough of the whole "Let's you and he fight" crap that has become the driving force of some lowlife "news and rumor" websites. Peddle that shit elsewhere.
Have a great week and I hope to be back up to speed next week.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
All comments from readers must be approved by me before they appear in the blog. This is to prevent spam and trolling. It sometimes takes me a few hours to approve a comment. Please be patient and refrain from posting your comment multiple times. That just confuses me. I do appreciate your comments and honestly wish more readers would respond to my bloggy things. I ask for your patience when it comes to my approving them. Thanks.
Friday, July 16, 2021
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Friday, July 9, 2021
Sleeping Beauties Volume 1 [IDW; $19.99] is based on the novel by Stephen King and Owen King. It’s being adapted to the graphic novel form by Rio Youers with artist Alison Sampson, colorist Triona Tree Farrell and letterers Christa Miesner and Valerie Lopez. Because I was intrigued by the premise, I’d been thinking of requesting the novel from my local library system but decided to read the comics adaptation first. Is this the modern-day equivalent of reading the Classic Illustrated version of something for the book report that’s due tomorrow?
The premise: A bizarre sleeping sickness, called Aurora, has fallen over the world. Its victims can't wake up. And all of them are women. As nations fall into chaos, those women still awake take desperate measures to stay that way, and men everywhere begin to give in to their darkest impulses.
This is scary stuff. Aurora victims appear to spin cocoons around their sleeping bodies. In fearful debate, men wonder if the women are actually alive or about to spawn something horrible. When such women are removed from their cocoons, they turn violent. Some men try to protect their loved ones while others are determined to burn the sleepers. And there’s this mysterious woman who walks out of a forest and who can fall asleep without spinning a cocoon and wake up from the slumber normally. If anything can be considered normal in a book by King and his youngest son.
I liked this graphic novel adaptation quite a bit. The question on my mind is...do I wait for the second volume of the graphic novel adaptation or do I switch over to the actual novel? I’m not going to put it to a vote or anything, but feel free to express opinions in the bloggy thing comments.
Friend of the Devil by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips [Image Comics; $24.99] is the second book in their Reckless series. Somehow, I’ve managed to overlook the first book, something I will correct very soon. Overlooking the first book in the ongoing series of hardcover graphic novels didn’t diminish my enjoyment of this one in the slightest. It stands alone quite nicely.
Ethan Reckless is described as one part repo man, one part private eye and one part wrecking ball. His life isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough when he’s drawn into a woman’s search for her missing sibling, a would-be Hollywood actress who disappeared in the 1970s. Several of the more seedy sides of show business drive Reckless’s search, made the more personal because he has become romantically involved with his client.
Brubaker is known for his significant contributions to the Marvel Comics and Cinematic Universes, but, as I well know, creators like him never receive the acclaim and monetary rewards from those key contributions. Brubaker has spoken out about this and cited it as a reason he now chooses to concentrate on projects like Reckless. Of course, he’s also well known for his crime comics and, in that genre, I think he’s the current best we have.
Teamed with the amazing art and storytelling of Phillips, Brubaker delivers an engaging tale. My reader’s satisfaction lingers after I finished the book with scenes and, in particular, the conclusion visiting my thoughts from time to time. Kudos should also go Jacob Phillips, the colorist of this graphic novel.
I recommend Friend of the Devil to older readers who love the genre or who love great comics, regardless of their genre. Now excuse me while I request the earlier Reckless book from my local library.
It took me a while to warm up to DC Comics’ “Black Label” imprint, mostly because my first exposure to it was the crap-tastic Batman: Damned. That one combined two things I disliked: yet another grim
and soul-crushing Batman story and a writer I believe should not be allowed within a solar system of super-hero comics. Later releases of the imprint won me over.
Hellblazer: Rise and Fall by writer Tom Taylor with artist Darrick Robertson and color artist Diego Rodriguez was one of the efforts that won me over. I’ve genuinely liked most of Taylor’s writing. Robertson is one of the very best artists and storytellers - not often the same thing - in comics. While I’m not as conversant with colorists, but I think Rodriguez did a bang-up job on this three-issue series. Here’s a quick synopsis:
A wealthy man plummets from the sky and is gruesomely skewered on a church spire. Bizarrely, angel wings are attached to his back. More deaths follow until, hallelujah, it’s raining businessmen. Detective Aisha Bukhari is stumped by this strange phenomenon, until she’s visited by her childhood friend, occult investigator John Constantine, who discovers a link between the falling elite and a shocking moment in his and Aisha’s misspent youth. How are these killings tied to the first death on John’s hands? How does this involve heaven and hell? Even if this is kind of John’s fault, will Constantine be happy to let a few more rich bastards fall from the sky, like a vindictive Robin Hood?
First off, the version of John Constantine in this story strikes me as being well within the core values of the character. I haven’t a clue if its faithful to whatever Constantine continuity holds sway in the DC Comics Universe these days, but it was a Constantine that I recognized as being the guy who appeared in so many stories I’ve enjoyed in the past. The story did seem to be a different take on John’s “origin” as a dark magician with a number of really awful screw ups in his past, but the essence of an arrogant protagonist whose hubris causes him and others grief is there. Indeed, one of those past mishaps is what drives this story.
The story unfolds nicely. The supporting cast, especially a rather dapper Lucifer, is terrific. The tale’s “big bad” is sufficiently scary enough to give the devil concern. The conclusion to the story is satisfying. It’s a above-average Hellblazer effort, which says a lot given how many great Hellblazer stories have been published. DC got it right this time.
The three issues have been collected in Hellblazer: Rise and Fall [DC; $24.99], a hardcover book released in April of this year. I think it’s suitable for adults and older teens. I recommend it to those readers.
That’s all for today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2021 Tony Isabella
Thursday, July 8, 2021
June was an exercise in endurance for me. Our Tardis-like house is so big that we have two distinct air conditioning system. With the temperature rising into the high eighties and occasionally playing with the low nineties, our upstairs system gave up the ghost. That was very bad for my health and sanity.
My home office is upstairs. The temperature in my office generally hovered around 85 degrees or more. Trying to work in my office for more than a half-hour gave me splitting headaches and worse. This impacted everything I was working on...from my online publications to my comics and other writing to my garage sale preparation. I was about as miserable as I’ve been in a long time.
We had to wait several weeks for our heating and cooling company to have an opening in its schedule, but we finally got a new upstairs air conditioning system installed. Unfortunately, this new system cost thousands of dollars. Fortunately, we were able to cover that expense. I mean, it hurt, but we survived.
Even with the extreme discomfort, there were many good things in my life in June. How can a month in which we celebrated Saintly Wife Barb’s and my wedding anniversary, Father’s Day and our son Eddie’s birthday not have considerable joy in it?
Here are the things that made me happy in June...
June 1: I was interviewed by Seth Everett for his terrific Hall of Justice podcast. He thinks it went great and who am I to question such an astute journalist. You can listen to it here.
June 2: Jeopardy. Mayim Bialik is doing a fine job as guest host of Jeopardy! She’s been professional and personable. She wouldn’t be my first choice for permanent host, but I could see her winning the gig.
June 3: Jeopardy. Every so often a contestant comes along who makes the popular game even better. Enter quirky Brooklyn New York lawyer Julia Markham Cameron, whose reactions to answers right and wrong were delightful to behold.
June 4: DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration has a Grace Choi story featuring Black Lightning. Jefferson Pierce is not precisely on model, but it’s close enough for me to send kudos to writer Alyssa Wong for an entertaining tale.
June 5: Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. It has Patton Oswalt, Melissa Fumero, Aimee Garcia and Fin Fang Foom. It’s goofy, silly and surprisingly heartfelt. And I now want to write a Super-Adaptoid comic starring the straight Marvel Universe version.
June 6: DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration. I enjoyed this 100-page comics anthology. I’m even more thrilled that there were so many Asian characters getting a chance to shine. I’ll have more to say about this in a near-future blog.
June 7: Cult of the Cobra (1955) is an absurdly low budget horror movie from Universal International, but its cast included so many familiar actors I had a blast just figuring out where I’d seen them before.
June 8: I’m enjoying the heck out of Jerry Siegel’s The Syndicate of Crime, comics serial from the pages of the British comic Lion. Whoever owns the rights to The Spider, I would love to write a new serial starring that magnificent villain.
June 9: Samantha Stevens had been added to my Funko collection. I never intended for this to happen, but I must admit I have become a Funko collector. I find them delightful. But, just in case, I’m going to look for a Funko Anonymous meeting near me.
June 10: The Other History of the DC Universe #1 by John Ridley and Giuseppe Camuncoli, which stars Black Lightning, has been nominated for “Best Single Issue” in the 2021 Eisner Awards. This is what can happen when my creation is written by someone who both respects and understands the character.
June 11: Marvel’s Loki. Not the easiest concepts to grasp, but you can’t beat the chemistry between Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson. I’m already wishing for more than six episodes.
June 12: The Lost Films Fanzine and Movie Milestone by John LeMay. One of my favorite movie commentator/historians is now publishing two great magazines. Definitely recommended.
June 13: I’m getting excited about the amazing and unexpected stuff I’ll be offering in this summer’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales. Opening dates are June 25-26, but I may do an advance sale before then. Watch my social media.
[Sigh. My opening dates turned out to be July 2-3, but that first weekend was big fun and a financial success.]
June 14: Across the Tracks: Remembering the Tulsa Race Massacre and Black Wall Street by Alverne Ball and Stacey Robinson is an amazing entry-level introduction to vital history...and a reminder that we must preserve even the worst of our history.
June 15: At my summer garage sales, I’ll have (among other things) tables of comic books, DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs, manga and more at just a quarter per item.
July 16: Saintly Wife Barb and I celebrated 37 years of marriage at the Amuse European Bistro on Medina’s Public Square. The food was delicious and so plentiful that we got four more meals out of it.
July 17: Andy Runton’s Owly The Way Home. Charmed by its Free Comic Book Day excerpt, I borrowed this kids graphic novel from my local library. Owly wants to help and this world would be so much better if we followed his example. Great fun for all ages.
July 18: Pride Month. With Republicans continuing their assaults on the LGBTQ+ community, and especially on trans kids, it’s wonderful to watch that community and its allies unite to stand against the vile bigots who oppose common decency and respect.
June 19: Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. That’s a nice start, but we still have to deal with the systemic racism in this country and the racist Republicans who promote it.
June 20: In the Heights. A wonderful musical about a community and the dreams that grow there. I watched it on Netflix, but I want to see it on the big screen, too.
June 21: I had a nice stay-at-home Father’s Day with Saintly Wife Barb, our kids Eddie and Kelly and our cat Simba. I had a terrific salmon and broccoli dinner from the local Longhorn and, of course, a fun time with my family.
June 22: Curse of the Undead. Shown on Svengoolie, this 1959 horror western seems to be a standard Universal-International movie. What elevates it above most such films is its truly intriguing vampire. I’d love to adapt it to comics.
June 23: Comics Revue #421-422. The 48-page Mandrake story from 1939. I can’t tell you how often creator/writer Lee Falk delayed the wedding of Mandrake and Narda (and the Phantom and Diana), but the master storyteller made it work every time.
June 24: Boys Run the Riot by Keito Gaku is a heartwarming manga of three high school outsiders bonding over their own fashion brand. Human drama and humor. I love it a lot.
June 25: Saintly Wife Barb unearthed some incredibly rare comics jackets and shirts in one of our closets. Possibly worth hundreds of dollars. I’m going the eBay route on these and will let you know when the auctions launch.
June 26: Celebrating my son Ed’s birthday at Los Cantaritos Mexican Grille and Fiesta Jalapenos. Our home town of Medina doesn’t lack for fine Mexican dining.
June 27: The Mitchells vs. the Machines. A delightful film wherein a dysfunctional but loveable family is mankind’s only hope when the robots take over. One of the best movies I’ve seen this year.
June 28: My first Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale (Friday & Saturday, July 2-3, 9am-noon) is coming together nicely. There’ll be lots of great items at incredible bargain prices with more added every day through the summer.
June 29: Vivian Ward joins my Funko Pop collection. When I ordered it, I assumed “Pretty Woman” referred to Saintly Wife Barb. But it was the movie. Which is also cool.
June 30: After enduring over a month of an office temperatures that hovered near 90 degrees, our new upstairs air conditioning system has been installed. This is a boon to my health, productivity and sanity.
With my office habitable once more, I’m moving ahead on all sorts of cool stuff. Keep watching this bloggy thing and my social media for regular updates.
© 2021 Tony Isabella
Thursday, July 1, 2021
Welcome to Tony’s Tips! As I mentioned in the previous installment of this column-within-the-bloggy thing, I’ve narrowed the focus of the material reviewed here to those items I believe worthy of being nominated for industry awards. Sometimes, the items will have moved beyond their awards expiration dates. That’s unfortunate, but what matters to me is writing about some of the best material produced in the comics industry and beyond.
A couple years back at the Tales of Wonder website, I wrote about Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett’s Skyward:
Skyward Volume 1: My Low-G Life by writer Joe Henderson, artist Lee Garbett and colorist Antonio Fabela [$9.99] takes place in a world where gravity has weakened to the point where people and objects fly up into the sky to be lost forever. It’s a world where storms float above the ground in huge masses and pose a deadly threat to anyone who enters one. It’s a frightening world, but Henderson and company go beyond the horror to show us the matter-of-fact life of their new world.
Courier Willa Fowler is trying to find her way in this new world. She lost her mother on G-Day. Her father hasn’t left his home since that day. Dad has secrets. One of the most powerful men on Earth, a former associate of Willa’s father, wants those secrets. Willa is caught in an intrigue she had no idea existed.
Skyward has humanity and horror in equal doses. Henderson’s writing and character play is first-rate, as I might have expected from the show runner of the great Lucifer TV series. Garbett’s art is sheer wonderment. Fabela’s colors accentuate the humanity and the wonder well. I’m really loving this series.
Skyward is recommended to comics readers, especially those who like stories starring interesting female protagonists. This is a great time to be a comics fan.
That’s what I wrote in 2018. I’ve since read and thoroughly enjoyed Skyward [Image; $39.99], a beautiful hardcover volume that collects all fifteen issues of the series plus a brand-new epilogue and all kinds of bonus material.
Skyward fulfills the promise of that first trade paperback I read three years ago. It expands the low gravity world in truly wondrous and scary ways. It develops Willa and her interesting supporting cast. It brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. Published in March of this year, it’ll be eligible for various 2022 awards. The comic-book series was nominated for an Eisner Award. Next time out, it should not only be nominated but should be a serious contender for winning the Eisner. I expect it will do well in other awards as well. Consider my previous recommendation for the series and double it for this collection.
Two books for younger readers fill out this installment of “Tony’s Tips!” The first is Owly: The Way Home by Andy Runyon [Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic; $22.99]. Aimed at readers 7-10, this tale of a young owl who only wants to help others and make friends has all the feels you could ask for.
Owly, the worm Wormy and hummingbirds Tiny and Angel might appear like unlikely pals, but they just fit together. Owly is a godsend to his three smaller friends and they clearly value him as much as he values them. Maybe we all can get along.
The Way Home was published in early 2020, so this was its year of eligibility. It didn’t get an Eisner nomination, but maybe some of the other industry awards will be more perceptive. While we wait to see if that happens, I recommend this graphic novel to all readers young and old. It belongs in every public and school library and it would make a great gift for the budding comics fans in your lives.
After a century of being a deliberately buried part of the shameful violent history of racism in the United States, we’re talking about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Massacre. It’s difficult for many adults to wrap their heads around that event. How do you even begin to teach children about it?
Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre [Harry N. Abrams; $15.99] is one answer to that question. Written by Alverne Ball with art by Stacey Robinson, this hardcover graphic novel is aimed at readers 12 years of age and up. Its 64 pages include a prose preface, a timeline of event leading to the Massacre, an essay and end notes.
The main attraction is, of course, the comics part of this volume. The history of Greenwood is written in an easy-to-follow manner. The art captures both the glory of Black Wall Street and the grim attacks that leveled it. If I have a complaint, it’s that the creators of this work seem to have toned down the horror of the events. Much like a movie trying to avoid an “R’ rating. I understand their choice, but part of me wishes they had not held back. Today’s students, as well as woefully ignorant adults, need to be aware of how bad these things were. The better to impress readers that we must never soft-pedal such atrocities. .
My complaint does not diminish the importance and quality of Across the Tracks. Published this year, it deserves to be considered for comics industry and other awards. It should be a standard textbook for the teaching of systemic racism in America. It definitely has a place in every public and school library. Kudos to Ball and Robinson, and all those who strive to teach even the most difficult truths. They are heroes.
That’s it for this installment of the new “Tony’s Tips!” I will be back soon with more award nomination deserving comic books, graphic novels and books.
© 2021 Tony Isabella