Monday, May 29, 2023




Sunday was the finale of Pensacon 2023 and, honestly, the day went by like a blur. Traditionally the slowest day of most conventions, this was still a very busy day with the sold-out crowd maybe coming in a little bit later than normal but still filling the Pensacola Bay Center with their enthusiasm. I lost track of how many comics I signed, how many fans I met and how many questions about both my long career and the comics business in general I answered.

Just after noon, Thomas Strange and my other friends from the Long Box hosted a special “Tony Isabella: 50 Years in Comics” panel at the Wright Place, one of several convention venues outside the Bay Center itself. About two dozen people showed up for my star turn.

Since I couldn’t really take notes during this panel, I can’t give you a blow-by-blow. But we talked about Black Lightning and other things I’ve written. We talked about the ups-and-downs of working in comics. We talked about several of the goofy things which have  happened to me in the past five decades. We talked about persistent lies some creators keep trying to spread. We talked about how our beloved comic books have always been woke, going back to the first Superman stories and the comic strips that preceded comic books. We talked about the many friends I’ve made all over the world. These fifty years haven’t always been what I wanted them to be, actually, they’ve seldom been what I wanted them to be, but I feel like I’ve  done a lot of good work and had a good time doing it.

Returning to my Artists Alley booth, I signed more comics, met more fans and answered more questions. At some point, my longtime friend Julio Diaz, who does all manner of great things for the convention, came over to fulfill one of my celebrity wishes.


Every year, I give Julio a list of celebrities I’d like to have a little quality time with. I keep the list short, but it’s a lucky convention when I get to meet even a couple of them. This year, the celebrity I most wanted to meet was actor Eric Roberts.

Roberts is one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood. He has appeared in over 700 movies and been nominated three times by the Golden Globes and once for an Academy Award. His credits range from genuine cinema classics to those cheesy horror-and-monster movies I love so much. The man loves to work and I’ve never seen him give less than a terrific performance no matter what material he had to work with. To my delight, he was also extremely engaging and very friendly. It was a delight to chat with him.


We talked about my comics career and love of cheesy monster movies. He told me he accepted his part in Sharktopus because, up to that time, he’d never worked with CGI and wanted to experience what it was like. I mentioned that I was once offered a staff writing gig with a studio, but turned it down because I was working on Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands and because I didn’t think I could write fast enough for the studio’s needs.

Eric told me everything is done fast in Hollywood, even it ends up sitting on some desk for months. He suggested I write screenplays in my spare time until I get fast enough for movie and TV writing jobs. It was sincere and welcome advice.

After the convention ended, as Eddie and I were waiting for a ride back to our hotel, I got to say hello to the lovely and talented Laraine Newman. She was born on the very same day and in the very same hospital as my dear friend Mark Evanier. Her eyes rolled just a little, but she smiled. I’m guessing mentions of that by random comics people have gotten prehistorically old for her.

Since we had a very early flight back to Cleveland and had to pack for that flight, we ordered Whataburger via whatever food app Eddie had on his phone. It wasn’t cheap, but it was good food and arrived swiftly. Dinner accomplished.

The Pensacola Galactic Airport is always a breeze to navigate. Our flights home also went well. Another fun Pensacon weekend was put in the archives.


My convention and appearance plans for the rest of 2023 are kind of sparse. I’m staying home through June and July to work on my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales and a book I want to finish no latter than mid-July. I will be attending a few events. I will tell you more about them as I get closer to them, but, for now, here’s a rough idea of where I will be...

July 30: NEO Comicon 8 (North Olmsted, Ohio)

September 23-24:  Comics Art and Sci-Fi Expo (Singapore)

October 13-15: Monster Bash (Pittsburgh)

October 28: Coffee and Comics (Cleveland)

November 4-5: Akron Comicon (Stow, Ohio)

As always, if you would like to book me for a convention or other appearance, e-mail me. Then I’ll send you a list of my requirements to make it possible for me to be at your event.

My next bloggy thing project is catching up on all the “Things That Make Me Happy” which I haven’t posted yet.

Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll be back soon.

© 2023 Tony Isabella

Friday, May 26, 2023



Saturday is traditionally the busiest day at most conventions and that’s been true of Pensacon in the past. I don’t know if I can say that for the 2023 event because tickets for every day of the show sold out. I think it was fair to say fans show up somewhat earlier on Saturday and stay later.

As with Friday, Artists Alley was so crowded that, from my table, I only got glimpses of the floor below. I made my one trip of the weekend before the show opened. I bought Pensacon swag from their souvenir booth and said hello to my friend Alexi Vanderberg, the architect and wrangler of The Bard’s Tower, a terrific gathering of authors that has been a mainstay of Pensacon over the years. Alas, the changing economy has made the Tower impractical and we won’t be seeing it at future conventions. It’s a loss.

I got back to up to my table as the fans who has purchased “V.I.P.” tickets started entering the convention. I hadn’t brought much to sell, but my exclusive Misty Knight limited edition reprint was the big seller. I also sold some Marvel Monsters posters designed and drawn by Akron’s Dan Gorman. The poster has every monster character  I wrote in the 1970s.

As usual, I signed dozens of comic books and other Isabella stuff for Pensacon attendees. I posed for photos with them. I answered their questions. I told humorous stories from my career. My goal is to always leave them with a happy memory from the convention and a good impression of me.

Lunch on Saturday was meat or vegetable lasagna, impossible beef and broccoli and Harissa and maple roasted carrots that were to die for. I had a little of each entree and enjoyed them immensely, but the carrots were my clear favorite.


Several years ago, on my first trip to Pensacon, I met and bonded with Jonathan, one of the show’s great volunteers. In recent years, the duties of fatherhood have kept Jonathan from volunteering, but he always manages to stop into the show and greet the many friends he made there. He usually comes with his son Kyle and Kyle always had a new drawing for me. Here is this year’s addition to my Kyle collection...

There was only one glitch on Saturday. It was the convention panel that never happened. I was scheduled to be on a writers panel with Barry Gregory, Scott Braden and someone else I can’t recall because I’m shit at remembering to take notes. 

The glitch? The panel was never posted on the schedule found on the Pensacon app. Which we knew going to the panel venue and which we knew would mean no fans would be showing up for the panel. Troopers that we are, we went to the venue anyway. We waited for ten minutes or so and then headed back to the convention proper.

The perk? We spend the rest of the convention complaining another panel member had hogged the panel and wouldn’t allow any of us to get a word in. Sometimes it was Barry. Sometimes it was Scott. And sometimes it was me, even though all of you know I’m so shy about speaking I barely say a word anyway.

Despite the hectic pace of Artists Alley, I met and had excellent conversations with Minchao Mai, the sales director of the Tiger Printing (Hong Kong) Co. She was looking to expand Tiger’s client base to include more U.S. creators and publishers. Her enthusiasm for her work was obvious and we talked about all sorts of industry and non-industry matters. We are keeping in touch with each other via e-mail.

Pensacon is where I get to see some of my favorite people. Usually during my occasional strolls along Artists Alley. The list is too long to talk about them at length, but they included John Dell, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Derek Donovan, Guy Gilchrist, Michael Golden, Jenni Gregory, Mark Maddox, Robert Pope and Kelly Yates.

After the show ended for the day, my son Eddie went to dinner with our former Medina neighbor J.D. Ferut. I went to dinner with Ohio home boy Thom Zahler, who does a ton of design work for Pensacon.

Thom and I started out at O’Riley’s Irish Pub where he sampled some of their Game of Thrones styled speciality drinks. I thought about sitting in the scary throne they had set up at the front of their establishment, but decided against after seeing three people either cut themselves or snag their clothing on it. Besides, as a man of the people, thrones are just not my thing.

Last year, O’Riley’s had a Marvel Comics theme. I got Saintly Wife Barb and I a table by asking the manager if they would like to have an actual Marvel Comics writer as a customer. Which they did.

Our server had a great Captain Marvel costume and was a comics fan. She even knew who I was. With the tip, I left her one of my cards and thanked her for her excellent service. This year, she visited my Artists Alley table to show me she had kept the card. Which is one of the cool things that happens at Pensacon.


O’Riley’s was pretty crowded and, rather than wait a long time for a table, Thom and I headed back to Pensacola Beach and Flounder's Chowder House, probably my favorite of the many fine restaurants there. There were lots of other folks who made the choice to dine there, but the place is enormous huge and the kitchen and the wait staff are really fast. I had the Philadelphia Roll. It was big and tasty. A very filling meal.

I was wiped out when I got back to my hotel room. Honestly, I don’t know what I did that night before falling asleep. That’s how tired I was. But I woke up excited, knowing I still had one more day of my favorite convention to go.

I’ll be back very soon with the finale of my Pensacon 2023 report. Thanks for visiting with me today.   

© 2023 Tony Isabella

Sunday, May 21, 2023




It’s been more than a little crazy since I last posted on Pensacon 2023. There’s a entire litany of reasons for this, including home, health and personal stuff...and a trip to Singapore for one of the best convention experiences of my life...and landing and losing a gig to write a comic for an unexpected and unexpectedly difficult client. As my world settles down, I hope to finish my Pensacon 2023 report as quickly as possible. Here we go...

Pensacon 2023 officially kicked off on Friday, February 24 at 1 pm. This was the 10th anniversary of the event and the fans and guests were eager to be part of it. For the first time in the history of Pensacon, all three days were sellouts. It was so crowded that, for much of the convention, I couldn’t see the vendors floor from the third floor artists alley. But I’m getting just a wee bit ahead of myself.

The Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach offers a pretty good complimentary breakfast. It was on our way down to it when my son Eddie and I met Erik Estrada, best known for playing “Ponch” on the long-running TV show ChiPs. He’s also appeared in a great many other movies and TV shows. As you would expect of monster-loving Tony, I told Erik how much I enjoyed his work in 2013's Chupacabra vs. the Alamo. I think he was amazed anyone remembered the movie.

If you ever get the chance to meet Estrada at a convention, do so.He’s a friendly guy and a great conversationalist. We ran into him several times over the weekend and enjoyed our chats about nearby restaurants and show business. If I were ever to get into creating movies and TV series, he is definitely someone I would love to work with. He’s a very cool human being.

Mike Ensley is the face of Pensacon. I’m constantly stunned by the amazing guests he brings in for the show. This year’s event had a lot of actors from Doctor Who, more than I’ve seen at any other convention. Plus there were around a hundred other great guests from every corner of the pop culture world.

Pensacon has one of the greatest teams of staff and volunteers in the country. Their transportation crew, helmed by the lovable Maria Landy, efficiently got guests to the convention and to their off-site panels and presentations.

The Pensacon green room serves up some of the best food I’ve ever had at one of my appearance. I enjoyed a vegan Beef Wellington that non-vegan me felt was as good as any Beef Wellington I’ve ever had.Every day brought more delicious meals and tasty snacks, and, if a guest couldn’t get to the room, Pensacon volunteers would happily bring meals to them.

Everyone at Pensacon - the guests, the staff, the volunteers and, especially the fans - are as friendly as can be. It’s one of the main reasons I tell folks Pensacon is my favorite convention. I’ve been a regular for eight years in a row. As long they keep inviting me, I’ll be there.

My artist alley table was 15 North and, as always, I was surrounded by dear colleagues and friends. I’ll be writing about them as this report continues.

Friday’s biggest event for me was my exclusive private signing with Certified Guaranty Company. The way that worked was that collectors who wanted their Isabella-written comics signed, authenticated, graded and slabbed sent their items to CGC’s Sarasota headquarters. 

The original plan was for me to go to their headquarters earlier in the month. However, it made more sense for me to do the signing at Pensacon since I was going there anyway. Less expense for CGC and
less travel for me.

Working with Logistics Coordinator Judson “Jud” Cressey III, it was mutually decided that Friday evening would be the best time for the signing and that it could be done at my table in artists alley. For the signing itself, I would be working with CGC representative Luis Rivera. I ended up signing over a hundred books.

Luis made the entire process smooth as silk. I can’t even imagine how I would have coordinated the signing. I think it was around an hour and a half to sign the books, which gave me plenty of time to
make sure my signatures were legible. As happens too frequently in my dotage, I was handed comic books I didn’t remember writing until I checked the credits. Sheesh!

This was a win-win all around. Fans who haven’t been able to see me at conventions were able to get their items signed. I made a tidy sum for pleasurable effort. CGC showed why it’s the leading outfit for this kind of thing. I hope we can do it again.

A special thanks goes out to Judson and Luis. They really did all the heavy lifting here.


One of the things I love best about Pensacon is chatting with old friends from my half-century comics career. Pat Broderick got into the industry around the same time I did. Indeed, I gave him one of his first jobs, illustrating a prose story for one of the various black-and-white comics magazines I was editing for Marvel Comics. It wasn’t long before he was drawing great-looking comic books for both Marvel and DC, including the Micronauts, Captain Atom, Swamp Thing, Firestorm, Batman Year Three and many others. He also drew the first Creature Commandoes story (written by J.D. DeMatteis) in DC’s Weird War Tales #93.


The Creature Commandoes will be an animated feature under the new James Gunn regime. As co-creator, Broderick is getting some richly-deserved recognition and the occasional check for his participation in the fan-favorite series. Hopefully, there will be a whole lot of cool Creature Commandoes merchandise to go along with the animated feature and more checks to my pal.

Coming soon will be a Kickstarter campaign for Bronze Star by Mike Baron and Pat Broderick. It’s described as “a dark, violent and fun weird western about love, revenge and supernatural terror from the minds of two legendary comic creators.” I’ve seen some of the mind-boggingly amazing art for this graphic novel and plan to be one of the first backers once the Kickstarter is launched.

Pensacon Day One ended at 8 pm. Eddie and I were both pretty tired and didn’t want to hit one of the many fine restaurants that were near our hotel. Big mistake.

Since it doesn’t have a restaurant, the Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach has opened a pizza delivery outfit right in the hotel. We ordered a pizza from them. Big mistake. It was expensive and not very good. Rest assured, sub-standard pizza didn’t remotely diminish our love for Pensacon. Next year, we’ll push through any fatigue and go to one of those many fine restaurants within a brisk walking distance of the hotel.

Coming soon: my report on Pensacon Day Two.
© 2023 Tony Isabella

Friday, May 19, 2023


This is a test of sorts. Blogspot is removing years old posts claiming their contain malware or viruses. So I'm re-posting a blog they removed for this reason to see what happens.

Tuesday, December 3, 2016


My 2017 convention is coming together, though I am reconsidering my original plan to do two conventions a month from February through November. I’m not closing the door on doing conventions beyond the ones listed today, but they will have to be the right conventions.

My first convention of 2017 will be Pensacon, the Pensacola Comic Con, February 17-19, at the stellar Pensacola Bay Center. I had a blast at this event in 2016 and am excited to be returning for my second appearance.

The Pensacon 2017 guest list is as cool as it gets. If I list all of the guests, my gushing over them would fill this entire bloggy thing. From the media guest list, I’m very much looking forward to meeting and perhaps interviewing John Wesley Shipp of two different versions of The Flash and Tara Reid of Sharknado fame.

The comics guests include old friends like Neal Adams, Mike Grell, Steve Scott, Scott Shaw, Jose Delbo, Dave Dorman and many others. I hope to have a surprise for one of those fine gentleman when we see each other at the show.

I’ll have more information on Pensacon when we get a bit closer to it. In the meantime, you should visit the show website.

My second convention of 2017 is the Great Lakes Comic-Con, February 24-25, at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan. It will be my first time at this family-friendly event. As with Pensacon, I’ll have more to tell you as we get closer to the event. You can visit the GLCC website here.

Here’s the rest of my 2017 schedule so far...

March 11-12: Fantasticon (Toledo, Ohio)

March 17-19: Wizard World Cleveland [TENTATIVE!]

April 1-2: Gem City Comic Con (Dayton, Ohio)

April 29-30: Fantasticon (Lansing, Michigan)

May 19-20: East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (Philadelphia)

July 14-16: G-Fest (Chicago)

July 27-30: PulpFest 2017 in Pittsburgh [TENTATIVE!]

August 20: NEO ComicCon 3.0 (North Olmsted, Ohio)

October 20-22: Grand Rapids Comic-Con (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

October 28-29: Akron Comicon/Monsterfestmania (Akron, Ohio)

There are some non-convention appearances under discussion for 2017 - libraries and schools - and perhaps a couple store appearances. If you’d like me to appear at your convention, library, school or bachelorette party, email me.

In addition to these appearances, I’m hoping to hold a whole bunch of my famous Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales this summer, right here in my home town of Medina, Ohio. I might even have some guest comics creators at some of these sales. I might even present a convention-style panel or two. Because I’m just crazy enough to do stuff like that.

That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for a new installment of my hard-riding “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” series.  
© 2016 Tony Isabella