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