Friday, January 27, 2023
Thursday, January 12, 2023
Earlier this week, I was a guest on New Day Cleveland, a terrific morning show airing on Fox 8 from 10 am to noon weekdays and hosted by Cleveland broadcast legend David Moss and the charming Natalie Herbick. It was a honor to be interviewed by Moss, who I’ve watched for decades on Cleveland media. If you’d like to see the interview, which ran five and a half minutes, you can find it here.
At the tail end of the interview, the show posted my blog address. Since that might attract some new readers to the blog, I figure I should introduce myself to those new visitors. Here’s the short bio I send to conventions and other venues that invite me to appear at and speak to their attendees:
creator and writer of Black Lightning; creator of Misty Knight and Tigra; writer Captain America, Champions, Daredevil, Dracula, Ghost Rider, Grim Ghost, Hawkman, Iron Fist, the Living Mummy, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Star Trek and many others.
TONY ISABELLA, like Superman, was born in Cleveland, Ohio. The 50-year comics industry veteran was an editor and writer at Marvel and other publishers. At DC, he created Black Lightning, the company’s first prominent African-American super-hero. With Bob Ingersoll, he wrote the prose novels Captain America: Liberty’s Torch and Star Trek: The Case of the Colonist’s Corpse. He’s the author of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read, one of the most successful books of comics history and nostalgia ever, and the odd-but-strangely-cool July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume 1. He was the lead reviewer and a contributing editor of Comics Buyer’s Guide for two decades. He was a comics retailer and distributor for twelve years. He has done ghost-writing for several syndicated newspaper comics strips. He received the Inkpot Award at the 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego, a Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia in 2017 and became the second Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Elkhart Hall of Heroes Museum in Elkhart, Indiana in 2018. Cleveland Magazine named him one of that city’s most interesting people of 2018.
Tony’s most recent mainstream comics work was the six-issue Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, marking his return to his creation. He writes on a variety of subjects for “Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing”. He also speaks at colleges and libraries on comics history, comics writing and diversity in comics. Of late, he has been writing gags for John Lustig’s Last Kiss, which runs on the Go Comics website.
Most notable...Black Lightning was a weekly, live-action series on the CW for four seasons. The show drew much of its inspiration from Isabella’s work on the character. He made a cameo appearance on the show’s third season finale.
While developing new projects for comics, TV, movies and more, he is also writing a ground-breaking graphic novel that will challenge superhero tropes as well as prose books that include a “memoir-of-sorts” and compilations of his writings on comic books and his beloved B-movie monsters.
Tony has heard of something called “retirement,” but it is an alien concept to him. His all-grown-up children Ed and Kelly having left the nest, he lives in Medina, Ohio with his saintly wife Barbara and their cat Simba. Except for Simba, they all have much better and saner jobs than Tony. The cat doesn’t need a job. She has Tony.
I have two Facebook pages. My personal page is Tony Isabella and, for fans of Black Lightning who are interested in depictions of my creation true to the hero’s core values, we present Tony Isabella’s Authentic Black Lightning Group.
My Twitter account is @thetonyisabella.
Circling back to this blog, you can expect a variety of topics. I write about comic books, magazines, often-cheesy monster movies and prose non-fiction and novels. I write about comics history and my own experiences in the comics industry. I write about politics and social issues from my progressive liberal viewpoint.
I post a lot of cool content on Facebook and Twitter, including birthdays, historical notes, remembrances and more. I’m thinking of doing some “Better Know Tony” blog entries to explain my borderline obsession with what I post online.
During the summer, roughly May through September, I do garage sales at my home in Medina. As will happen when one is a life-long fan of comics and such, I have a Vast Accumulation of Stuff that needs to be downsized. I hold the garage sales twice a month on Fridays and Saturdays. Follow my social media for scheduling information on the garage sales.
Here’s my still evolving appearance schedule for 2023:
February 24-26: Pensacon (Pensacola, Florida)
May 20: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (Philadelphia)
July 30: NEO Comicon (North Olmsted, Ohio)
October 13-15: Monster Bash (Pittsburgh)
November 4-5: Akron Comicon (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio)
If you’re a convention promoter, someone who books guests for radio or TV or someone who books speakers for libraries and schools, and would like to have me appear at your venue, you can e-mail me for information on my appearance requirements. I truly do love talking about comics and will do my best to accommodate you.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Wayward Son by Steve Goble [Oceanview; $27.95] is the second novel in the author’s Ed Runyon series. Runyon is a former NYC detective who moved to rural Ohio after a case involving a missing teenager ended horribly. In the first book, working as a sheriff’s deputy in a Trump-loving county, Runyon was involved in another missing teen case that ended horribly. His uncovering of the killer didn’t sit well with many of the locals.
This new mystery find Ed reinventing himself as a private eye who specializes in missing children cases. He’s dealing with his often severe PTSD over the cases mentioned above plus his uncertain love life plus the scarce need for his services in his rural community.He’s getting by on background checks and divorce work.
Here’s the dust jacket come-on:
A PI goes hunting for a missing boy—and ends up being prey
Ed Runyon, a former sheriff's deputy haunted by past missing child cases that went horribly wrong, is struggling to launch a PI agency and still live in the Ohio farm country he loves. His love life is in shambles, too, as his partner turns to someone else. His best friend got roughed up by a rogue cop, so Ed is in a fighting mood.
Ed finds a new focus when he is hired to find a runaway chess aficionado who is keeping secrets from his homophobic, religious parents. Finding kids is the reason he became a PI, so Ed is determined to succeed and put the demons and other problems behind him. But Jimmy Zachman made a bad move and ran into far more trouble than he was already in, and the hunt for him leads Ed to a deadly and desperate confrontation. Everything comes down to determination and one very risky move. Ed must find Jimmy at all costs.
Ed Runyon is a troubled hero, though his dwelling on his failures keeps him from seeing himself as a good man who’s very good at his job. Most of his former sheriff’s colleagues dislike him, but he’s got some good friends who help and support him.
The missing boy’s father is a piece of work, but, though his views rankle Ed, the only important thing for the detective is that there is a missing kid in probable jeopardy. The procedural parts of his investigation are solid and presented in a clear and entertaining fashion. What’s even more entertaining and exciting is watching Ed switch gears to handle the obstacles and twists that make his job more difficult and much more dangerous.
I enjoyed City Problems, the first Runyon novel. This second one is considerably better. As soon as I finished reading, I went online to see if a third was in the works. In the author’s own words from his Facebook page:
I just turned in my last-chance proofreading notes for my upcoming detective novel GO FIND DADDY, the third novel in my Ed Runyon series. I think this is my best book yet, which is good, because you always want to keep getting better.
In this book, a woman hires Ed to find her husband, who has gone on the run and off the grid after being accused of killing a cop. Everyone wants to find this guy — cops, bounty hunters, reward seekers. Why does Amy Blackmon hire Ed? Because her little girl is dying, and her husband doesn’t know.
Of course, Ed finds a whole lot of trouble as he tries to track down Donny Blackmon, because that is just how Ed’s luck runs.
I can’t wait for this one to hit the shelves. Look for it in July!
Goble is an interesting fellow. According to the Oceanview website, he’s a lifelong Ohio resident and a former journalist. He works for a digital investigations firm. At present, he lives in rural Ohio with his family and their two dogs.
He also has a blog, of which he writes:
Other things you might see me write about here include: beer, Godzilla, politics, James Bond, comic books, movies, music, zen, science, pop culture and just plain weird stuff. Most of the time, I’ll try to relate these topics to the writer’s craft — but every once in while I’m just going to go off on a rant of some kind.
Getting back to my review...
Wayward Son is a page-turner with a satisfying ending that could’ve unfolded in several different ways. I can usually see these coming.I couldn’t this time.
For all the reasons given above, I recommend Wayward Son to those of you who love this kind of mystery. There are several excellent mystery series set in my native Ohio. Goble and this book does them all honor.
I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Friday, January 6, 2023
While it’s been hilarious watching the cowardly Kevin McCarthy get dick-punched several times a day and oddly soothing to day-dream about Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries getting votes from enough semi-adult Republicans to become the Speaker of the House, there are some negative real-world consequences to the House being without leadership. The paralyzed GOP hasn’t been able to commence its ridiculous investigations, but some actual government business that benefits actual citizens is also on hold. One representative-elect has spoken of not being able to help one of his constituents with a tax problem because the IRS can’t discuss the matter until he’s been sworn in.
Eventually, there will be a Speaker of the House. I’m guessing it won’t be McCarthy, but that’s mostly because I want to see him get evicted, preferably by force, from the Speaker’s offices in which he has currently and illegally has taken residence. As for when there will be a Speaker, my bet is that the 101st vote will be the charm.
How chaotic is this process? I received three votes in the last go-round. Some representatives relate to my proposed constitutional amendment allowing me to legally punch anyone in the face I believe deserves such violence. If you can’t trust a comic-book writer with that important duty, who can you trust?
© 2023 Tony Isabella
Tuesday, January 3, 2023
Happy New Year! 2022 is firmly in the rear view mirror, save for my usual monthly list of wondrous things that brought me joy. 2023 is starting to form in front of us and, while we hope for the best, we recognize the dangers of a foolish optimism. This was the new year message I posted on my Facebook page:
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope to bring hope, fear, justice and lightning to the world in 2023.
One of my dear friends responded:
How strange to hope to bring fear... especially in these times.
One. It's a reference to Black Lightning's mantra. Two, there are people in this world who deserve to be fearful.
There are evil people in our country and in the world. You know who they are...or you should know. We do ourselves no credit to refuse to recognize evil exists. Evil needs to be called out. Evil needs to be challenged at every step. Evil needs to be defeated at every stage. I want evil people to be fearful. I want them to spend every waking moment afraid the justice they deserve, the punishment they
deserve is just outside their door.
We also must celebrate the good in our country and the world. It’s the good that fortifies us for the battles ahead and reminds us we can find happiness and victory in our lives. Here are the things that made me happy in December...
December 1: Moon Knight has been good to me. Marvel’s reprints of the two issues I wrote have amounted to several nice checks. Which is how I justified purchasing the Funko Pop figure with cover now looming over the other figures on my desk.
December 2: I came across a thick folder containing fanzines I had contributed to before I went to work at Marvel in 1972. Expect to see some of my ancient contributions in future installments of the bloggy thing. You have warned.
December 3: Troll. This just released Norwegian giant monster movie delivered more than expected. Great creature and solid story. Many familiar yet well-played monster movie characters. Some surprising moments. Highly recommended.
December 4: Science marches on. As of December 12, Hot Pockets, in association with the Columbus Fashion Alliance, will start selling limited-edition cargo shorts with insulated pockets to keep your Hot Pockets hot. What a world we live in.
December 5: Weird Al Yankovic is one of my favorite performers and someone I keep insisting be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As an early birthday gift to myself, he now stands above my computer screen.
December 6: Georgia’s Raphael Warnock was reelected to the Senate. It’s terrifying that his opponent, arguably the worst candidate in the history of modern politics, got almost as many votes as he did, but we celebrate the victory of a very good man.
December 7: Kudos to the Late Show for “Red, White & Greenland: A Tour of Thule Air Base: Stephen Cold-Bear is Lost in Space Force.” A fun and informative tribute to our country’s most northern line of defense. You can watch it on YouTube.
December 8: The Stargirl series finale was everything I hoped for. An incredibly satisfying conclusion with lots of action, emotion, heroism and surprises. Huge love for the cast, crew, writers and directors and, of course, Geoff Johns.
December 9: Britney Griner is back in the U.S.A. with her wife and family, following her unjust arrest and subsequent imprisonment by Russia. Anyone who complains about her return is dead to me. Kindly choke on your own noxious bile.
December 10: It’s a Godzilla-mas miracle! I now own the Mezco Toyz 5 Points XL Godzilla vs Hedorah 1971 Three Figure Boxed Set. It has Godzilla, Flying Hedorah, Final Form Hedorah, replica buildings and more. Save the Earth!
December 11: Saintly Wife Barb and our friend Jess were fine after a deer ran head on into Barb’s car. There’s some damage to the car that we’ll cover out of our pockets, but it could have been a lot worse for Barb and Jess. Thank you, Universe.
[The biggest damage to the car was the loss of the Toyota symbol on the front grill. Happily, Barb’s aunt Nora works at a dealership. For Christmas, she gifted Barb with a new front grill symbol that was identical to the original. The excited look on Barb’s face was unforgettable.]
December 12: I started writing a prose story, the first in a series starring a new creation and set in Dinah County, Ohio. My goal is to spend 30 minutes each day on this spooky mystery. Not sure where it will appear, but appear it will.
[I haven’t reached my goal, but work on the story is progressing. I hope to finish the first draft this month.]
December 13: The Stretcher Bearers by Reid and Ryan Beaman. In this graphic novel of World War I, an underage soldier is assigned to be a stretcher bearer. It’s a powerful tale of brotherhood, horror, hopelessness and surprising hope.
December 14: Netflix’s The Curse of Bridge Hollow. Watched on a whim, this Damon Wayans vehicle was a fun Halloween romp suitable for all ages and with several fine comedic performances. A sequel was hinted at and I’d be down with that.
December 15: Talented area artist Emily Szalkowski was featured on Thursday’s New Day Cleveland. I always get a kick out of her work on Facebook and at conventions. Inspired by Tim Burton but clearly her own vision, her art never fails to make me smile.
December 16: It seems like there’s a new Chinese monster movie on YouTube every week. Some of them are even dubbed in English. While they’re not great movies by any stretch of the imagination, I find them a fun way to spend an hour-and-a-half.
December 17: Cleaning out a desk drawer, I found an envelope filled with gift cards for Target, Subway, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Taco Bell and Regal Cinema. It looks like I won’t starve to death in the immediate future...and I’ll get to see a movie.
December 18: The Justice Society has become my favorite DC Comics group, due in no small part to Stargirl and the Black Adam movie. It’s time for the boring, dysfunctional Justice League to go away and leave the super-teaming to the adults.
December 19: Cicely Strong. This multi-talented performer has long been one of my all-time Saturday Night Live cast. I’m going to miss her there, but look forward to seeing her star rise in whatever she does in the future.
December 20: Chewy. Two neighbors had problems, neither the fault of the company, with items. The company gave them full refunds for their purchases and asked them to donate the items to local animal help places. Wagging my tail in appreciation.
December 21: I took my old friend Terry Fairbanks and three of his grandkids (Chase, Gabby & Zack - to The Asylum’s 2025 Armageddon at the Hickory Ridge Cinema. We had the theater to ourselves, we had a blast and the movie...ran an hour-and-a-half.
December 22: Happy birthday to me! My friends tell me 71 is only a number, but it’s a damn big number. I’m glad I’m still fighting the good fight, cherish all those who fight with me and remember all those no longer with us. Always forward.
December 23: My dear pal Laurie Jacobson was wonderful on Morning Joe talking about her book Top of the Mountain: The Beatles at Shea Stadium 1965. Gee, do I miss seeing her and husband Jon Provost on the convention trail.
December 24: Movie Night with Saintly Wife Barb. We watched Ticket to Paradise on Amazon. The George Clooney/Julia Roberts comedy was fun with beautiful backgrounds and great respect for the Balinese people who make up most of the cast.
December 25: Christmas Eve dinner with Barb, Eddie, Kelly, Barb’s Aunt Pat and Terry and Nora Fairbanks. Great people and food with a nice gift exchange. Plus, afterwards, I stayed up to watch Glass Onion, a veritable feast of a movie!
December 26: Anthony Reynolds, who played a crooked cop during the first season of Black Lightning, was chilling on FBI: Most Wanted, playing a right-wing judge turned serial killer. I hope I get the chance to work with someday.
December 27: Ronny Chieng: Speakeasy. I found this Netflix special while streaming-surfing. Chieng was funny, personable and offered some informative thoughts on the nature of comedy. I enjoyed this and think you will, too.
December 28: ABC’s Homeward Bound: A Grammy Salute to the Songs of Paul Simon. An absolutely wondrous tribute to one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Moving acknowledgments of Simon’s impact and performances of his works.
December 29: I had a joyful lunch at Max & Erma’s with old friends Jim, Joe, Marty, Mike, Ted, Terry, my goddaughter Vanessa and her mom (former Cosmic Comics manager) Angela. Great company, good food and very reasonable prices.
December 30: Malachi Bell, the talented guy who cuts my hair, was cover-featured on Medina Weekly. With his business partner, Malachi recently opened Studio MD Hairstyling to service Medina’s growing diversity. Recommended to all my local friends.
December 31: Wayward Son by Steve Goble. The second Ed Runton novel finds the Ohio police detective turned P.I. searching for a missing teen. It’s a contemporary mystery with solid character development and surprising twists and turns.
I hope your December holidays were wondrous and that your new year will be even more so. Onward.
© 2023 Tony Isabella