Wednesday, May 25, 2022

HONEST TO GODZILLA, THERE WILL BE GARAGE SALES!

 

 

Let’s try this again. As I have tested negative for Covid and have experienced absolutely no symptoms of the virus, I feel reasonably safe in launching this summer’s garage sales.

My first VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF GARAGE SALE of 2022 will take place Friday and Saturday, May 27-28, at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio from 9 am to noon. I’ve been working on the garage sales one or two hours every day and am pleased with the results.

What will you find at this Friday’s garage sale? An assortment of comic books, trade paperbacks and other items written by me. Boxes of older comics priced to sell. Boxes of hardcovers and trades of al kinds. A never used toaster oven. Really.

                                                                              


                                               

I’ll also be selling the exclusive-to-me reprint of the very first appearance of Misty Knight. When my creation appeared on the Luke Cage TV series, Marvel reprinted that issue as part of the Marvel’s Greatest Creators series. The company also offered me the chance to have a special edition that only I would be selling. It’s limited to 1500 copies and features a cover exclusive to this edition. I’ve been selling these signed and numbered comics for $10 each and was planning to raise that price. However, after seeing how happy fans were to buy this exclusive comic book at Pensacon and Fantasticon, Saintly Wife Barb has asked me to keep that ridiculously low price a while longer.

As with all of my garage sales, whether you buy it from me or not, I’ll sign your Isabella-written stuff for free. However, since I’m anticipating lots of customers, I ask that you do not bring dozens and dozens of comics for me to sign. I will be having garage sales throughout the summer, so you can bring more stuff on your next visit to my garage.

                                                                                 



There is a full rack of t-shirts, shirts, sweatshirts and jackets, all priced to sell. Next to them are two card tables filled with an assortment of Superman memorabilia from the 1980s. I’ll also have a selection of manga, mostly priced at a buck a book.

I have several boxes of comics for sale at one dollar each. I have a box of magazines. I have a table or more filled with hardcovers and collections and coffee table books. My famous “mystery boxes” will be on available at ten bucks each.

I have several boxes sets of Another Rainbow’s Little Lulu Library, some so rare that I don’t see them being offered on sale on eBay or elsewhere. I have Funko Pop and other figures, including a bunch of political action figures. I have Black Lightning and other posters. Those are priced at $2 each for the full-sized posters and a buck each for the smaller ones.

What you won’t see at this garage sale are boxes of quarter comic books. I know customers love them, but my personal supply of such comics is exhausted. I have been trying to buy more, but I haven’t had any takers for the price I’m offering. However.

I’m buying short boxes and long boxes of comic books. I’m paying $15 for a short box and $30 for a long box.

The only conditions I put on these purchases are these:

The comic books have to be in decent shape. They do not need to be bagged and boarded.

I don’t want dozens of copies of the same issue. I can take up to ten copies of a single issue. 

                                                                            



You have to bring the boxes to me. That way, there’s a chance you will end up spending whatever I pay you and more shopping my garage sales. Insert evil laugh here.

The boxes can not contain sexually explicit comic books like, for example, Naked People Having Naked Sex Adventures. Yes, I totally made that title up. No, surprisingly, it’s not on my bucket list of over three hundred things I want to write before I kick the bucket.  If I write sexually explicit comics or prose, they will be ever so much more classy and filled with keen insight on why people enjoy rubbing against each other while, you know, naked.

If you want to sell boxes of comics to me, e-mail me so that we can arrange a date and a time for you do that. I will have to limit how many comic books I buy. A friend of mine once bought 13,000 comic books and they were delivered to his house on a pallet. I have had nightmares about that ever since he shared the story with me. Not to mention it would be hard to hide a pallet of comic books from my Saintly Wife Barb.

Am I afraid she’ll read this blog and find out I’m buying comics? Hey, she’s been listening to me through 37 years of marriage and the ten years we dated before that. Do you think she reads these bloggy things? “Saintly” only goes so far.

Moving on...

There will be signs on my front lawn advertising the garage sale. There will be a huge Tony Isabella banner hanging from our back porch next to our driveway. There’ll also be a small standing banner in front of the garage.

There is no parking in our driveway. There’s parking on Damon Drive across from our house and also on the Bradley Court “U”, which is where our garage is.

I won’t be wearing any political hats or shirts. I ask anyone who comes to the garage sale to leave their political garb at home. I ask my one asshole neighbor to stop shouting at me from across the street when he walks his dog.

Unless you are an on-duty police officer or other law enforcement worker, weapons of any kind are barred from my garage sale. That’s just common courtesy and sense.

You do not have to wear a medical mask to attend my garage sale. I have no problem with you wearing such a mask if that is your call. If you’re wearing any non-medical mask, you better be dressed as a super-hero or super-villain. Will be the year that Black Lightning or Tigra come to one of my garage sales?

Please feel free to spread the word about this garage sale on your social media and elsewhere. There are book and comics projects that I want to write and these sales will help finance them.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2022 Tony Isabella

Monday, May 23, 2022

COMICS AND STUFF

 

 

Thanks to churlish click bait assholes, I have become known as the guy who hates Batman. I readily admit to hating the toxic Batman of too many comic books over the past decade and I loathe that other terrific DC Comics characters are largely ignored in the company’s desperate need to squeeze every last penny out of the Bat. Sadly, nuance is lost on the afore-mentioned asshats.

Batman was once my favorite comic-book character and I remain fond of many of his incarnations. I even read many of the recent Batman trades in my unending hope to find a Batman I can enjoy and who I find reasonably represents the original core values of Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s creation. Sometimes I get lucky.

Not knowing it was the third in a series of collections, I enjoyed Batman: White Knight Presents Harley Quinn by Katana Collins, Sean Murphy, Matteo Scalera and Dave Stewart [DC Comics; $24.99]. It’s an alternate universe version of Batman and Harley that has Bruce Wayne behind bars, Harley (now a mother of two kids and two hyenas) working with the Gotham City Police Department and a villain who calls himself the Producer trying to usher a new age of villains to rival Batman’s old rogues gallery.

Published under the “Black Label” imprint and aimed at readers 17 and older, this volume has a Bruce Wayne I like and even admire. I have never been a fan of the “Bruce Wayne is the mask” incarnations of Batman. Wayne deserves better than that.

Harley? She’s a revelation. She struggles with her very complicated history and psychology, but she, too, is a good person trying to do her best to make things right. Her relationship with her kids, the GCPD and other familiar members of the Batman cast were convincing and welcoming.

The story and writing were top-notch. The art and storytelling was solid and vibrant. I liked this one enough that I’ve requested the earlier White Knight volumes from my local library system. I think you might like Batman: White Knight Presents Harley Quinn.

ISBN: 978-1-77951-014-3

                                                                           



I’m less enthusiastic about Basilisk Volume One by Cullen Bunn with Jonas Scharf and Alex Guimaraes [Boom! Studios; $14.99]. Though it is a decently scary and well-written start to an ongoing series and though it boasts appropriately unsettling art and color, it falls somewhat short of winning me over with this collection of the first four issues of the series.

Hannah is the sole survivor of the first appearance of the Chimera, a “family” of beings with supernatural powers are based on the five senses. The Chimera slaughter people wherever they go and have also picked up a cult of worshipper along the way. Hannah first kidnaps and then teams with Regan, a member of the Chimera who has fled the group and wishes to bring an end to them.

My main dissatisfaction with this first volume is that it promises to build to a confrontation between Hannan and Regan and the four remaining Chimera and never gets there. The battle is pretty much just the cult members getting blown away while the Chimera remain largely unscathed. To be continued. This feels like padding to me. One or two more issues could have easily finished off this series, which would have made for a tighter story.

I generally like Bunn’s writing, so I will request the next volume from my local library system when said volume is published. I hope he’s got something more to show me.

ISBN: 978-1-68415-748-8

                                                                        



Marauders By Gerry Duggan Vol. 4 [Marvel; $17.99] collects issues #22-27 of the series, which concludes the first incarnation of this title. I really wanted to love Marauders. I got a kick out of the political intrigue that was at the heart of the series. Ultimately, however my love was denied by how many of the stories relied on my having knowledge of other X-Men titles I had not read and had very little interest in reading. I always liked this title. I liked the main characters, especially Kitty Pryde. I liked Duggan’s writing on the title. The various artists who worked on these issues always gave us good art and storytelling. Yet, as the Marauders set sail sans Duggan, I continue to wish the title has been much more self-contained.

There is a second Marauders series, which is either already here or coming soon, to be written by Steve Orlando. I’ve enjoyed several Orlando comics in the past, so, as soon as the first collection of this new Marauders comes out, I’ll request it from my local library system. I hope it stands on its own without my having to read all those other X-Men titles.

Let me note that, from what I have read of the new X-Men titles, I think the whole Krakoa concept is brilliant. It was an interesting way to get the X-Men franchise back on track. Unfortunately, it’s just too complicated and vast for me to follow at this time. Maybe at some point in the future.

ISBN 978-1-302-92719-6


                                                                                    



When I first heard of Savage Avengers, I thought it was just about the dumbest concept for an Avengers spin-off imaginable. Indeed, it was such a stupid idea I knew I had to read it. That mania served me well. I love Savage Avengers.

Written by Gerry Duggan, Savage Avengers Vol. 5: The Defilement Of All Things By The Cannibal-Sorcerer Kulan Gath [Marvel; $17.99] is a wonderful finish to the first series of the title. The craziness of Conan and Doctor Strange more or less leading a team of some of the more violent Marvel heroes and villains against the Cimmerian’s ancient enemy is somehow delightful. The final resolution of that eons-old enmity is brilliantly unexpected.

A quick shout-out to artist Patch Zircher. I’ve been a fan of his for many years, but he hit new heights with his work on this title. It’s a shame I’m not really writing comics for Marvel or DC these days because I’ve love to work with Zircher.

There will be a new Savage Avengers series coming from writer David Pepose in the near future. However, with Marvel Comics having ended its license to publish Conan comic books, I’m not sure how long the character will be appearing in Savage Avengers. Still, even without Duggan, I’ll continue to follow this insane concept once the trade collections become available from my local library.

ISBN 978-1-302-92630-4

That’s all for today’s bloggy thing. I hope to back soon with more news, views and reviews. Stay strong.

© 2022 Tony Isabella

Thursday, May 19, 2022

CANCELLATIONS AND OTHER UPDATES


There will be no VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF COMIC AND POP CULTURE GARAGE SALE on Friday, May 20. I also had to cancel my appearance at my dear friend Teddy Hanes’ BUFFALO COMIC BOOK FANCON on Sunday, May 22. I announced these cancellations online yesterday, but, due to my uncertain Facebook connections, I had to get them out without a lot of nuance.

A member of my family has Covid. This was someone I spent a lot of time with recently, so, even though I tested negative, I felt the prudent course of action was to exercise caution and cancel both my garage sale and my appearance at the Buffalo event.

There were a couple of other problems as well. My clearly not 100% right knee and leg were inflamed by all the bumpy riding around I did in a rented jeep on our family vacation in the Virgin Islands. I’m going to take it easy for the next few days in the hopes this condition will improve. It seems to be working.

The other problem was that “Tina Fe,” my beloved Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, was not going be back from the repair shop before next week. It was struck by an Uber on the evening of the Cleveland Guardians home opener. The latest estimate is I’ll get it back sometime next week. If it had not been for the Covid and leg stuff, I could have rented something for the Buffalo event. But, honestly, since I was making the trip solo, I wasn’t really comfortable making said trip in an unfamiliar vehicle.

I really regret having to cancel the Buffalo convention. Teddy is an old friend I haven’t seen in way too long and who always puts on a great event. I will make this up to him and to the Buffalo fans who were hoping to meet me. As soon as he gives me the dates of his upcoming shows, we’ll find a way to make it work.

If I continue to test negative, I will hold my first garage sale of the year on Friday, May 27, and Saturday, May 28, from nine a.m. to noon. I’m showing absolutely no symptoms of the virus, so I think
these sales will happen as planned.

Though I’ll have two more garage sales in June, I won’t be going to any conventions that month. I’m going to stay at home to work on my next book, launch some fund-raising plans and catch up on a host of odds and ends I’ve neglected too long.

My next convention appearance will be at G-Fest, the huge Godzilla convention, July 15-17, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. I won’t be part of the programming this year, but my son Ed and I are looking forward to enjoying all the wonderful things found at that convention.

Some other notes:

If you’re an editor or publisher who would like to hire me to write for me, you can email me to discuss such work. I’m not looking for back-end deals. I’m looking for interesting challenging assignments
where I can have fun and where my clients don’t micro-manage me. Offhand, I can’t think of any format or genre I wouldn’t be willing to take a crack at.

If you’re a promoter of comics conventions and other such events, including comic shop appearances and lectures, e-mail me and we can discuss them. I know times are tough for promoters, libraries and schools, but I will try to work with you. If yours is a three-day event, I’ll give you one day free. If I’m driving to the event and charging you mileage, I’ll ignore the rising price of fuel and hold to my current fifty cents a mile.

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

© 2022 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

CANCELLATIONS

There will be no Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale this weekend. Nor will I be attending my good friend Teddy Hanes' comics show in Buffalo on Sunday.

A family member has COVID. In addition, my right knee and leg are in bad shape...and my SUV will not be back from the repair shop until next week. I'm really sorry about this, but I think this is the only wise course of action at this time.

Please spread the word on this. My Facebook is having problems and I haven't been able to post this news there. Thanks for your help and understanding.

 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

LO, THERE SHALL BE GARAGE SALES

 

 

My first VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF GARAGE SALE of 2022 will take place on Friday, May 20, at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio from 9 am to noon. I wanted to give all my local customers first shot at all the new stuff I’ve added to the sale prior to my packing up most of the boxes for a one-day (Sunday) Buffalo comics show. I’ll tell you more about the Buffalo event tomorrow.

What will you find at this Friday’s garage sale? An assortment of comics, trade paperbacks and other items written by me. Several boxes of comics for sale at one dollar each. Boxes of older comics priced to sell. Boxes of trade paperbacks at approximately 30% off their original prices. My famous “mystery boxes” priced at just ten bucks each. And much more.

                                                                                      


I’ll also be selling the exclusive-to-me reprint of the very first appearance of Misty Knight. When my creation appeared on the Luke Cage TV series, Marvel reprinted that issue as part of the Marvel’s Greatest Creators series. The company also offered me the chance to have a special edition that only I would be selling. It’s limited to 1500 copies and features a cover exclusive to this edition. I’ve been selling these signed and numbered comics for $10 each and was planning to raise that price. However, after seeing how happy fans were to buy this exclusive comic book at Pensacon and Fantasticon, Saintly Wife Barb has asked me to keep that ridiculously low price a while longer. I’ll have somewhere between twenty and fifty issues available for this garage sale and my Buffalo event.

As with all of my garage sales, whether you buy it from me or not, I’ll sign your Isabella-written stuff for free. However, since this first sale is only one day, I ask you not bring dozens and dozens of comics for me to sign. I will be having garage sales throughout the summer, so you can bring more stuff on your next visit.

What you won’t see at this garage sale are boxes of quarter comic books. I know customers love them, but my personal supply of such comics is exhausted. I have been trying to buy more, but I haven’t any takers for the price I’m offering. However...

I’m buying short boxes and long boxes of comic books. I’m paying $15 for a short box and $30 for a long box.

The only conditions I put on these purchases are these:

The comic books have to be in decent shape. They do not need to be bagged and boarded.

I don’t want dozens of copies of the same issue. I can take up to ten copies of a single issue.

You have to bring the boxes to me. That way, there’s a chance you will end up spending whatever I pay you and more shopping my garage sales. Insert evil laugh here.

The boxes can not contain sexually explicit comic books like, for example, Naked People Having Naked Sex Adventures. Yes, I totally made that title up. No, surprisingly, it’s not on my bucket list of over three hundred things I want to write before I kick the bucket.  If I write sexually explicit comics or prose, they will be ever so much more classy and filled with keen insight on why people enjoy rubbing against each other while, you know, naked.

If you want to sell boxes of comics to me, e-mail me so that we can arrange a date and a time for you do that. I will have to limit how many comic books I buy. A friend of mine once bought 13,000 comic books and they were delivered to his house on a pallet. I have had nightmares about that ever since he shared the story with me. Not to mention it would be hard to hide a pallet of comic books from my Saintly Wife Barb.

Am I afraid she’ll read this blog and find out I’m buying comics? Hey, she’s been listening to me through 37 years of marriage and the ten years we dated before that. Do you think she reads these bloggy things? “Saintly” only goes so far.

Moving on...

There will be signs on my front lawn advertising the garage sale. There’ll be a huge Tony Isabella banner hanging from our back porch next to our driveway. There’ll also be a small standing banner in front of the garage.

There is no parking in our driveway. There’s parking on Damon Drive across from our house and also on the Bradley Court “U”, which is where our garage is.

I won’t be wearing any political hats or shirts. I ask anyone who comes to the garage sale to leave their MAGA gear and other bigoted or racist or treasonous garb at home.

Unless you are an on-duty police officer or other law enforcement worker, weapons of any kind are barred from my garage sale. That’s just common courtesy and sense.

You do not have to wear a medical mask to attend my garage sale. I have no problem with you wearing such a mask if that is your call. If you’re wearing any non-medical mask, you better be dressed as a super-hero or super-villain. Will this be the year Black Lightning or Tigra come to one of my garage sales?

If you can’t make Friday’s garage sale, there will also be garage sales on Friday and Saturday, May 27 and 28, from 9 am to noon and throughout the summer and into September. I can’t do any special appointments this time out, but, after I get back from Buffalo, I will do my best to accommodate you at other times.

Please feel free to spread the word about this garage sale on your social media and elsewhere. There are book and comics projects that I want to write and these sales will help finance them.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2022 Tony Isabella

Friday, May 6, 2022

UPDATES

I'll be going offline to prepare for our very early Saturday morning departure for our family vacation on St. John in the Virgin Island. I will not be able to receive your e-mails or online messages. I may be able to receive text messages via my phone, but I'm not betting the farm on that.
 
I return late Wednesday night (or very early Thursday morning), but have things to do on Thursday that will likely keep me offline until sometime on Friday.
 
I will be holding a sort of preview VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF garage sale on Friday, May 20, from 9 am to noon.
 
I will be a special guest at the Buffalo Comic and Toy Fan Con on Sunday, May 22. I'll be bringing a nice chunk of my garage sales stock with me.
 
There will be more details on the garage sale and the convention whenever I get back online after my vacation.
 
Happy birthday to all of you having birthdays between now and my return to the Internet.
 
 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN APRIL

 

 

These monthly collections of joy usually start with a litany of the things that make me unhappy. I don’t have the energy for that this time around.

I considered talking about what I’ll be doing and working on this month. I’m very much looking forward to spending several relaxing days with Saintly Wife Barb and our kids. We’ll be on St. John in the Virgin Islands. I’m also looking forward to the Buffalo Comic and Toy Fan Con on Sunday, May 22.

However, when it comes to holding forth on May’s appointments and projects and such, I’m less enthusiastic. I generally like working, but I’d rather be working than writing about working. I’d need to stick the landings.

Cutting to the chase, here are the things that brought me joy and happiness last month...

April 1: The Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Yildiray Çinar is my new favorite super-hero title. Heroes and villains pushed together like a comic-book Rubik’s Cube. I did this sort of thing as a kid and it truly sparks my sense of wonder.  

April 2: I’m late to the ball, but I absolutely love Doom Patrol on HBOMax. I wish I could spend a week on Danny the Street. Maybe do a signing at its comics shop. Because you know Danny is wonderful enough to have include a comics shop.

                                                                              



April 3: This Funko Pop! preview of our first day of summer mantle display. Amity, as you know, means “friendship.”

April 4: The force of love and nature that is Jon Batiste won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. If I ever write a film, I’d want him to score it.

April 5: Saintly Wife Barb’s outpatient surgery went very well. She is resting comfortably and will be doing so at home for the rest of the month under my loving care. I’m completely rocking the “Hello Nurse” outfit.

April 6: Hawkeye. Kate Bishop with Lucky the Pizza Dog. Yelena. My Funko Pop set of my favorite characters from the Hawkeye TV series is now complete. Funko should hire me to do commercials expressing the joy their figures bring me.

April 7: Geiger by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Three issues in, I’m loving this series with a radioactive hero and a post-nuclear war Las Vegas. Great writing and art from two of my favorites creators and the production values are just as stellar.

                                                                              



April 8: Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. What a thrill to see the first Black woman, a justice clearly much more qualified to be on the Court than any of the Trump appointees.

April 9: Moon Knight. I had some doubts after the confusing first episode, but the second episode pulled it all together and has me wanting to re-read the classic Doug Moench stories and all those other MK comics I haven’t read.  

                                                                                



April 10: Encanto. The best animated film of 2021 didn’t disappoint  on any level. A great story with amazing animation, a whole lot of heart, fun music and wonderful voice performances. I am in complete awe of Stephanie Beatriz.

April 11: I took possession of the Casa Isabella garage on Sunday. With help from my son Ed and with Saintly Wife Barb supervising, I’ve started preparing for this summer’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales.

April 12: I accidentally deleted my main bookmarks and, after a few hours of cursing the cruelty of the universe, I decided this was my online Maria Kondo moment. I’ll rebuild slowly in a way that will reduce my time on Facebook and online in general.

April 13: Fun coincidences. The Armstrong service technician who set up my new cable box met Trevor von Eeden at some sort of event in Atlanta. He was thrilled to meet me as well, so I “tipped” him a copy of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands.

April 14: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is back in the studio and with live audiences. I’d given up on the pandemic version, but the host and show are coming back to life. It needs to do more with its talented correspondents, but it’s back on my watch list.

                                                                               



April 15: Randy Reynaldo’s Rob Hanes Adventures. I’ve been catching up with one of my favorite comic-book series and it’s as amazing as ever. Classic adventure and espionage tales with great characters and humor. Highly recommended.

April 16: From the 4/18/22 edition of The New Yorker, the four-page “Collective Shame” by Victoria Lomasko and Joe Sacco is a look at Russians who oppose Putin but are virtually helpless to stop him. An impressive and thoughtful comics report.

April 17: The Octobriana With Love anniversary edition was lots of fun, but what I truly love is the creation of this wondrous public domain fraud. I’m beginning to think I might have my own Octobriana story to tell.

April 18: Guardians. This 2017 Russian knock-off of The Avengers is not a great movie. But it’s fun in its own wacky way and intriguing enough that I will write about it soon.

April 19: Newly arrived at Casa Isabella is my Vincent Price figure from Funko Pop! Come Halloween, he’ll share our mantle with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! Two sexy icons to make the greatest holiday a little more comforting.

April 20: I received my second booster shot yesterday at the Medina County Health Department. The staff was friendly and efficient. I was done in 30 minutes, including the 15-minute post-shot wait time to make sure I wasn’t mutating.

April 21: Batman: The Caped Crusader Volume 1. While it’s not among my favorite Batman runs, I’m loving the art team of Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo. Outside of Aparo himself, DeCarlo might be the best inker to have worked with that great artist.

                                                                                   



April 22: Bob Hearts Abishola: I absolutely love Auntie Olu’s and Uncle Tunde’s heartfelt and hilarious striving to be good allies to their gay niece Morenike. These are real family values.

April 23: The American Wild Horse Campaign, fighting for the future of our nation’s iconic wild horses and burros and the public lands where they roam. Maybe by being kind to animals, we can learn to be kind to human beings.

April 24: Laguardia by Nnedi Okorafor, Tana Ford and James Devlin is an amazing graphic novel about aliens, equality, immigration and inclusion. It should be in every library: home, public and school. I’m in awe of it.  

April 25: Saintly Wife Barb and I watched the last four episodes of Only Murders in the Building. We love this incredible show and are eagerly awaiting the second season, scheduled to drop in late June.


                                                                                   



April 26: Current Jeopardy champion Mattea Roach is nothing short of astonishing. In a world of big lies and intolerance, Jeopardy continues to celebrate inclusion, intelligence and truth.

April 27: John LeMay’s The Lost Films Fanzine has become one of my favorite magazines. The quarterly digest magazine presents articles on movies that never came to pass. It’s fascinating stuff, which I recommend to all movie buffs.

April 28: Hogan’s Alley #23. The new issue of the “The Magazine of the Cartoon Arts” again delivers nearly 150 pages of cool comics articles and knowledge. Kudos to editor Tom Heintjes and an amazing group of columnists, cartoonists and contributing writers.

April 29: Making progress.   

April 30: Neal Adams. His almost unparalleled body of work and the inspiration it provided to so many of us. His being a champion of other creators. His readily shared wisdom. I’m going to miss him, but I’m so glad I knew him.

I’ll have more to say about Neal Adams in the near future, knowing all the time that I can’t possibly compete with all the wonderful tributes he’s already received from all around the comics industry and comics fandom. In the meantime, I’ll try to come up with some other bloggy things between now and my vacation. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Friday, April 29, 2022

SOME MORE OF THIS AND SOME MORE OF THAT

 

 

There’s a lot for me to look forward in May. Saintly Wife Barb has recovered from her recent surgery and is good to go back to work as of Monday, May 2. While it’s been nice to have her home with me, she needs to finish up the process of retiring from her full-time job. That should be by the end of May, though she’ll likely work part-time for her current employer after that.

Tuesday, May 3, is the last day of voting in the primary elections here in Ohio. The Republicans have put forth particularly horrible candidates this time around, almost all of them seeing just how far they can crawl up Trump’s butt. The GOPholes are going for big lies and racism and attacks on the LGBTQ+ community while also tearing each other apart. Like a pack of hungry sharks.

Speaking of sharks, my “favorite” Republican candidate for office is Mike Gibbons, a businessman who ended a lot of jobs in Ohio and sent more of them overseas. I can’t decide if he looks more like a mayor who won’t close the beaches or the evil industrialist whose been dumping waste into the lakes, rivers and swamps and creating giant mutant alligators and snakes and woodpeckers. If I ever make any movies like that, I’ll likely tell the casting director to look for a “Mike Gibbons” type.

The best thing about the primary elections being over is that I’ll no longer have to watch TV with my finger on the mute button. Never thought I’d miss ads for boner pills and insurance.

Come the first weekend of May, my family and I will be leaving for the Virgin Islands for a short vacation. We will be staying on St. John and welcome your suggestions for attractions, restaurants and
sights to see.

Note to self: go shopping. You’re running out of time to find that special swim wear that won’t scare women and small children.

One last amusing item before I delve into the files for unpublished items to fill out today’s bloggy thing...

For the longest time, I had problems with the delivery of the three newspapers I get. The Akron Beacon-Journal. The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. The (Medina) Gazette. The same carrier delivers all three of them. If we didn’t get one of the papers, the chances are that we wouldn’t get away of them. Of late, that situation has changed for the better. It’s been months since we’ve had any problem with newspaper delivery whatsoever. Despite this change for the better, I now get a daily e-mail from the Plain Dealer:

Delivery of [today’s] edition of your newspaper will be delayed due to a delivery delay in your area today. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Except...that hasn’t been a delay in the afore-mentioned months. I never got these e-mails when they were problems. I starting getting them about a month or two ago. This makes me chuckle.


                                                                                 



Near as I can tell, I wrote the following book reviews sometime in early 2021 and never posted them:

Seph Lawless’s Abandoned: Hauntingly Beautiful Deserted Theme Parks [Skyhouse Publishing; $30] is one of several photo journals by the “artivist” who, for well over a decade, has been documenting those places we have left behind. I’m a huge fan of his work. His books and quietly evocative photos fill me with melancholy. These images inspire me, fragments of history and of stories to be told.

In Abandoned, Lawless journeys into the amusement parks that once loomed so large in our lives. As a kid traveling with my family, I visited the Geauga Lake Amusement Park in Aurora, Ohio. Indeed, it was where Sts. Phillip and James students were bused to celebrate the end of school years. I went to the Chippewa Lake Amusement in that Ohio city, the Enchanted Forest Playland in Toledo, Ohio, and the Prehistoric Forest in Onstead, Michigan. Even though the ruins, I can recognize some of those sites.

A chapter on Disney World’s Discovery Island and River Country was a revelation of the past hidden from plain sight even in that most vibrant of entertainment parks. I was also awed by the chapters on the Li’l Abner-inspired Dogpatch, USA (Marble Falls, Arkansas) and the Land of Oz (Beech Mountain, North Carolina).

When I think about similar theme parks that made be left behind in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, I hope Lawless or other sturdy explorers will memorialize them while they are still with us and as they make their way into history.

Abandoned would make a terrific gift for fans of amusement parks, artists, photographers and writers. You can spend hours looking at these images and likely return to them regularly.

ISBN 978-1-5107-2335-1

                                                                       


 

Killer Kung Pao [St. Martin's Paperbacks; $7.99] is Vivien Chien’s most recent Noddle Shop mystery. Heroine Lana Lee is the manager of her family’s restaurant, a leader in Cleveland’s Asia Village and an amateur detective. Detective Adam Trudeau is her boyfriend, who has pretty much given up on trying to stop Lana from investigating the alarmingly frequent murders in that community. Both characters are well-crafted and relatable. In this book, Lana and Adam relax by binge-watching Supernatural. That put a smile on my face, even though I’m unlikely to ever find the time to follow suit.

This time out, the case is the death by electrocution in a beauty shop by a most unpopular Asia Village woman. It’s pretty clear it was murder, but who done it? There are no shortage of suspects, a list that includes some of the noodle shop’s most loyal customers.There are lots of twists in this book, making it one of the best of the series to date. Six books and counting.

Fatal Fried Rice, the seventh in the series, is due out in March. I’m looking forward to reading it.

ISBN 978-1-250-22830-7

                                                                               




I often write my review columns in piecemeal fashion. Which is why, though it has been a couple months for me, it was just a few lines ago that I told you I was looking forward to reading Vivien Chien’s Fatal Fried Rice [St. Martin's Paperbacks; $7.99]. Having read it, here are my thoughts on the novel.

In the previous Noodle Shop mysteries, each new case has had some connection to Cleveland’s Asia Village. The ever-curious Lana Lee, who manages her family’s Chinese restaurant, gets involved because of her proximity to the event or because her amateur investigative skills have been requested by someone from the Village. That’s not her doorway into this book’s murder mystery.

Lana takes a cooking class at Cuyahoga Community College in nearby Parma. Because she’s embarrassed she doesn’t know how to cook the food served at the family restaurant, she keeps this a secret from her family and friends. The first class goes well. Up to a point. That point being when Lana forgets something, returns to the class and finds instructor Margo Chan stabbed to death.

Things get worse when a Detective Bishop decides Lana and a janitor with a criminal record are the killers. Naturally, he can’t prove it, but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing them to the exclusion of other suspects. He even figures that because Lana’s boyfriend is a Cleveland detective that she has knowledge of how to cover up her involvement in the murder.

Asia Village and some of its familiar characters figure in Lana’s search for the actual killer, but the novel still has a different  vibe from the earlier book. Chien’s been growing as a writer with each new entry in the series and this slight change of pace speaks to that. I liked this novel a lot.

Alas, while every prior book in the series, had a sample chapter of the next novel, this one does not. I hope this doesn’t mean Chien is done with Lana, who has become a favorite of mine.

SIDEBAR: Calling all television show runners. Given the outpouring of support for Asian-Americans in these times of Republican-driven violence against them, now would be an excellent time to give Lana Lee and her adventures a close look. You can thank me by giving me a role in the sure-to-be-a-hit Noodle Shop series.]

ISBN 978-1-250-78259-5

That concludes today’s bloggy thing. I’ll be back with more stuff as soon as possible.  

© 2022 Tony Isabella

Sunday, April 24, 2022

THIS AND THAT


We’re trying something kind of new today. In an effort to bring you bloggy things on a more frequent basis, I will be putting together random comments with no connection to each other beyond my writing them. Some of these will be new. Some will be things I found in my files that I never turned into full-scale bloggy things.

We’ll start with Adora and the Distance by Marc Bernardin, artist Ariela Kristantina, colorist Bryan Valenze, letterer Bernado Bruce and editor Will Dennis [Dark Horse; $14.99]. It’s a great graphic novel about a courageous young princess on a mission, but I won’t be reviewing it for fear of revealing anything about its beautiful and moving ending. Just take my word about this and either buy it or request it from your local library.

In his afterword, Bernardin has this to say about his editor: “Will Dennis did the thing great editors do: help coax the best version of the story out of a stubborn writer.”

That should be standard policy for editors, but, in comics, that’s not always the case. I had that kind of respectful relationship on Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. Jim Chadwick and Harvey Richards never tried to get me to tell their story. They worked tirelessly to help me tell my story in the best manner possible. I would work with either of them again in a heartbeat.

Kudos to Will Dennis for getting it right.

ISBN 987-1-50672-450-8


******************************

I’m generally happy with Marvel re: its treatment of me, but I must admit I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get special thanks at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home and maybe a check for same.
The method by which MJ was rescued from certain death near the end of the movie was taken pretty directly from my 1980 “What If Gwen Stacy Had Lived?” from What If! #24 [December 1980]. Only a couple of articles on the movie have recognized that, though, obviously, I recognized it as soon as I saw it.

No one should take this as my being more than mildly disappointed at Marvel. The company generally treats me with respect and pays me on time. I’ve been invited to premieres and even received “thank you” checks when I least expected them. Things could certainly be better. That’s true of almost anything. But, especially compared to the other big comics publisher, Marvel is doing right by me. I am proud to be part of the Marvel legacy.

So, just asking here, when will Kevin Feige green-light the long-awaited It! The Living Colossal movie?


******************************

That's my secret, Captain: I'm always angry.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) had amazing actors speaking terrific dialogue. However, the line that resonated most strongly with me is the above quote from Bruce Banner aka Mark Ruffalo. I know how the character feels. Because, over the past few years, I’ve felt that way. I’m almost always angry. It’s not good for me. It’s not good for the people around me. It’s not good for my writing. Well, okay, it can be good for my writing. But that’s not the point.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, a deadly situation made more so by the utter lack of competence and concern from the Trump administration, I would regularly feel rage wash over me as if that emotion were a tsunami of polluted water. It started with the sheer horror of Trump’s presidential victory in 2016 and the realization that close to half of my fellow Americans were racists or, at the very least, okay with racism. They were also okay with other forms of bigotry.

They were okay with a President who clearly admired and even wanted to emulate some of the most murderous dictators of our time. They were okay with him showing deference to those dictators. They were okay with a President who used his office to enrich himself and his family and friends. They were okay with a President who called for violence against his enemies. They were okay with a President who was likely a rapist. They were the acolytes of a con man with fake  hair, fake tan, fake everything. They sacrificed reason and decency to worship at his feet.

But I can’t blame all my rage on Trump and his vile followers. I’ve got to give props to the comics industry and how poorly it treats creators. I’ve got to give props to the online trolls, especially
the bigots and crooks and misogynists of ComicsGate. I’ve also got to give props to way too many other factors that held forth in the nightmare worlds of 2016 and beyond.

[I wrote this blog fragment in February 2021. From what I recall, I planned to write about my attempts to control my anger. I didn’t finish it because I suddenly got big and green, crashed through my office window and went looking for puny Republicans to smash. So, I was overcome by anger but still a hero.]

******************************

[This was posted to a message board in July, 2011, but I never used it in a bloggy thing. I still think it’s amusing so I’m reprinting it here.]

I was shopping at Walmart this morning.  There I was, buying some little cans of olives for salads, minding my own business...when I was struck from behind!

I fell forward hitting my head on the shelves, but not too hard.  My shopping cart was in front of me and, grabbing it, it broke my fall...though it, too, hit the shelves.

I turned around to see my "assailant" was a really old guy in a motorized shopping cart that he'd lost control of it.  He was with a group of other seniors, but he was freaking out.  I thought he might have a heart attack.

A Walmart manager who had seen this comes running up...to me.

Ignoring the old guy who's clearly in distress.

The manager keeps asking me if I'm okay and telling me I need to come to the office to fill out a report.  I tell him (twice) that I'm fine and that he needs to make sure the old guy is okay.

He continues to ignore the old guy and insist I come with him.  A little old lady - shorter than me by a foot, with white cloud-like hair and more than a few wrinkles - is trying to calm the old guy down.

I finally tell the manager..."I'm not signing anything or talking any more to you until I've spoken to my attorney."  The manager turns white and I move on, figuring that NOW he has to pay some attention to the customer who actually is in distress.

I finished with my shopping and checked out...with the manager hovering around me, though not close enough for me to grab him and stick him face first into a register.  

I put my groceries into my car and return the cart to the parking lot cart holder.  When I turn around, there's the little old lady.

"Can I help you, m'am?"

"You're not really going to sue the store, are you?"

"Of course not.  I just wanted them to pay attention to your friend."

She smiles widely.

"I knew it.  I told my friends you were just fucking with that guy!"

Yeah, the little old lady dropped the F-bomb in the parking lot.  I nearly fell over at the sheer nuttiness of the situation.

I asked about the old guy and she said he was fine.  That they had calmed him down.

So...it was wacky, but it was all good.

Except for the manager, of course, but I don't have any sympathy for a guy whose priorities were completely messed up.

I'm Tony Isabella and I am a magnet for the wacky!

******************************
I’ll be back soon with more stuff.


© 2022 Tony Isabella

Saturday, April 23, 2022

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2021 Part Four

 

 

Welcome to part four of my 2021 Free Comic Book Day reviews. My pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey send me these FCBD comics so I can read and write about them in the bloggy thing. On three occasions, I have reached my goal of reading and writing about all the FCBD comics from a given year.. I'll have disappointing news for you in a bit.

When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.

Enter the House of Slaughter [Boom! Studios] featured 18 pages of what appears to be a spin-off of Something is Killing the Children. It’s written by the prolific James Tynion IV with art by Werther Dell’edera, color art by Miquel Muerto and lettering by Andworld Design.

QUALITY: When I sampled Something is Killing the Children a while back, it didn’t do much for me. Given that I like this story much better, I’m going to give Killing another chance. Enter the House is intriguing with some interesting storytelling techniques. I want to see where it goes from this opening chapter.

ACCESSIBILITY: It’s not as accessible as I would like and a little more back story and clarity would have been helpful, but there is enough here to get me into the story.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are several pages of ads for other Boom titles and, on the inside back cover, a list of comics shops in several states. It makes sense to promote the shops, since they are still the backbone of the comics industry.

SCORE: Nine points out of a possible ten points.

                                                                                     



Kyle’s Little Sister by BonHyung Jeong [JY/Yen Press] presents a 30-page excerpt from a series about a little sister who doesn’t get along with her older brother. She’s jealous of his popularity and is something of a flake.

QUALITY: This comic has a decent premise, but the presentation is lacking. Neither the writing nor the art appealed to me.

ACCESSIBILITY: Barely okay. The inadequate storytelling and writing often made it difficult for me to distinguish characters from one another.

SALESMANSHIP: Poor. There’s a back cover ad featuring six series and that’s it.

SCORE: Two points out of a possible ten points.


                                                                           



InvestiGators: Ants in Our P.A.N.T.S. by John Patrick Green [01: First Second] presents the first three chapters of a graphic novel aimed at kids 7-10. I reviewed an earlier FCBD InvestiGators issue in March of last year. Like that comic book, this story is filled with puns and corny jokes, but also includes a lot of back story to previous books. The title characters work for S.U.I.T. (Special Undercover Investigations Teams), wear vests that are Very Exciting Spy Technology, are prone to mistakes and have comical foes like former teammate turned villain Waffledile, who is part crocodile and part waffle. Because why not?

QUALITY: Decent. The opening chapters include a dream sequence, a meeting of the various agents that serves as a what has gone before summary, an interesting look at a teammate and the start of their current mission. The writing and art convey the silly fun that is this series.

ACCESSIBILITY: Between the inside front cover test and the writing, no one should have any difficulty getting into this series.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. While there aren’t a lot of ads for this title and other First Second books, the ones that appear will be useful for readers who enjoy the issue and want more of the same.

SCORE: Eight points out of a possible ten points.


                                                                             



Stray Dogs [Image Comics] presents the first 34 pages of the truly amazing series by Tony Fleecs with artist Trish Forstner, colorist Brad Simpson and layout artist Tone Rodriguez. The question posed in this issue is whether or not the mysterious unseen man who seems to be rescuing dogs is actually the serial killer of their owners. As soon as I finish writing this review, I’ll be ordering the trade paperback collection of the first five issues.

QUALITY: First-rate. This is one of the best Free Comic Book Day issues I’ve ever read. Every part of the material works together flawlessly.

ACCESSIBILITY: This is the start of the series and brings readers into the story easily.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. Four pages of house ads for Stray Dogs and two other Image titles.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.

******************************
I’m admitting defeat, my bloggy friends. With Free Comic Book Day 2022 just weeks away, and with my full schedule of various things I must do before I leave for a family vacation on FCBD 2022, I will not be able to finish my reviews of the comic books given away on FCBD 2021. I’m throwing in the towel.

However, like your favorite super-heroes, you can’t keep me down. When I return from the afore-mentioned vacation, I will dive into the Free Comic Book Day 2022 comics and do my darnest to read and review them before the Halloween Horror-Fest giveaways lurch into your friendly neighborhood comic shops.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting new bloggy things as fast as I can write them. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you soon.

© 2022 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

ARMSTRONG UTILITIES: FRIEND OR FOE?

 

 

SPOILER ALERT. You are about to read a 70-year-old man’s rant about changes to his cable service and, to a lesser extent, the economy and the greed that drives it. Rest assured, he’ll write something more entertaining next time out.

Our highest monthly utility bill here at Casa Isabella comes from Armstrong Utilities. It covers our cable, Internet and land lines. We use the cable extensively. Same with the Internet, though I get my e-mail through a different provider. I do have e-mail through Armstrong, but their e-mail set-up sucks. Land lines? We unplugged them a few years back when the political calls and the sales calls and the scams became unbearable. We still keep that phone number. We just don’t use it.

We’ve been paying Armstrong just over $240 a month. However, as a result of being bounced around five different Armstrong employees in the span of a hour, my lodging several complains and my pointing out their lack of a senior citizen discount, it’s been reduced to just over $210 per month for the next twelve months. Which gives me plenty of time to consider other options.

My complaints last week concerned Armstrong arbitrarily deciding to stop supporting the cable box they had provided many years prior. That meant we could no longer access “On Demand” or record things on our DVR in a convenient manner. They replaced the cable box with a tiny square device that doesn’t work well. They also replaced our remote with a tiny remote that fits in the palm of my hand and, you guessed it, doesn’t work well.

Within a few days of the new cable box being installed, it wasn’t working properly. They had to send a second technician. I have no complaints about either technician - they were both terrific - but the cable box still ain’t right. I haven’t called Armstrong to send a third technician because a) I found a work-around and b) I don’t have time for this crap.

Like almost every company that makes changes to “improve” service, Armstrong actually made these changes to improve its profits. I’ll say the new and smaller cable box and the new remote are probably better for the environment if only because they use less materials in their manufacture. I’d be fine with that if the damn things just worked better. Oh, yeah, in the course of researching this bloggy thing, I discovered that some of these new cable boxes (and I would assume remotes) have been previously used and may not be recharged before they are installed anew.

Greed drives so much of our economy. Joe Biden or even Russia are not responsible for higher gas and other prices. In the case of the gas prices, the oil companies are raising the prices because that makes them more money. These companies are sitting on oil leases  they aren’t developing because development costs more than raising their prices. This is why myself and other godless liberals would prefer our nation wean itself off fossil fuels in favor of cleaner, less expensive energy sources. If you believe God is our landlord, then you must admit we are lousy tenants.

If you’re on Facebook, you know that “improvements” to the service are rarely that. I used to think the geniuses there would decide a change was cool without considering the ramifications for those who use the service. When Facebook changed its “Memories” feature, it was bad and remains so today. These days, being older and wiser, I believe such changes are probably of financial benefit to Facebook.
Even if I can’t figure out how.

My new Armstrong cable box and remote don’t work as well as the old ones. Since I’m getting my rant on, I’ll try to list as many of the failures as I can.

                                                                                    


                                                                           

The above is my Sony TV remote. We use it to turn on the TV, raise or lower the volume and access our streaming services. All of these functions can be performed theoretically by our new Armstrong tiny remote, but the Sony remote does them easier and more efficiently. We’re using this remote for our streaming channels because I chose not to go through Armstrong to access them.  Even if we can’t get to our cable TV offerings, we can at least watch stuff on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and so on.

This is our old and larger Armstrong remote:

                                                                                  



And this is our new and tiny Armstrong remote:
                                                                                  


The “Guide” and “Info” buttons on the old remote work better than on the new one. The new remote’s “Guide” function isn’t terrible, but I liked the old one better. I’m using it to set up recordings and one passes.

What the new remote doesn’t have is the convenient “Day” feature of the old remote. With that feature, I could easily set up recordings days in advance, which is especially handy when I’m at conventions and the like. On the new remote, once I get into the Guide, if it’s Tuesday and I want to record something on Thursday, I have to move the guide hour by hour until I reach Thursday.

Being fair, the “Volume” and “Channel” buttons work as well on the new remote as they did on the old. Ditto the “Mute” button, which is a necessity as long as there are Republicans running for office and running free. Those folks are awful.

There are no “Last” or “On Demand” or “List” or “Live” buttons on the new remote. To use those features, you have to maneuver around the interior settings.

I really miss the “List” function on the old remote. It made it simple to see what I recorded and to access the recorded programs. However, the new remote does make it marginally easier to create  “passes” for certain shows. On the flip side, the new remote makes it confusing to figure out which episodes you’ve recorded.


The rant is almost over. The old remote had exterior buttons that made it easy to rewind, play, fast forward, stop, pause and record. To use the first five of those features with the new remote, I have to be in the interior settings. To use them efficiently, I’d have to have smaller fingers and faster reflexes. Those features simply do not work well with the new remote.

As for the “record” function, used when we were watching a program live and couldn’t finish it, if there is any interior “button” for that, I haven’t found it yet.

You know what would have been extremely helpful with this new box and remote? An instruction manual. Which, of course, Armstrong did not provide. Sigh.

Earlier I mentioned I found a work-around to the new cable box and remote not working properly. Often, when I’d hit the power button on the new remote, I’d get a “no input” notice that instructed me to go to “input” settings. Which would not give me the option of choosing the setting that would connect me to the Armstrong cable platform. Which would annoy me greatly. This happened after the new stuff was installed. It also happened after the second technician came to house to fix that problem.

This doesn’t happen every time I turn on the TV. When it does, what I do is unplug the cable wire from the cable box and then plug it back in. Then the TV cycles through a few symbols, the cute little swirling things that turn into the word “android,” a blue circle of death and, finally, the main screen. It’s frustrating, but not as frustrating as having to talk to Armstrong on the phone and plan my day around the arrival of yet another technician.

Let me stress once more that I had no problems with the two service technicians who came to Casa Isabella. They were good guys who were efficient and friendly. I wish I could ask for them by name when I again (inevitably) have to invite Armstrong Utilities to visit my house. Thus ends the rant.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2022 Tony Isabella