Friday, January 19, 2024

THE STRANGE WORLDS OF MY COMIC BOOK DREAMS


I sometimes have what I call “comic book dreams.” These are dreams that feature comics industry people I know or have known. Some are down to earth. Some are fantastic. The further I’m removed from the comics industry, the less I have these dreams. This one is from a couple months back.

The setting is Florida. I’m at a convention, but it doesn’t seem to be a convention I have ever attended. I’m sitting on a park bench outside the convention center with Stan Lee. Just chatting with my former boss and mentor. My forever inspiration. Fans from the con notice us, but, remarkably, they don’t interrupt our conversation.

Stan asks about my memories and relationship with Jack Kirby. His respect for Kirby is evident. We also talk about Larry Lieber, his brother and one of my dearest comics industry friends. He’s happy to hear I take Larry to dinner whenever I’m in New York City. His love for his brother is also evident.

The conversation gets a bit dark when he asks me about a former DC Comics executive. This is a guy who screwed me over worse than any other comics person. This guy was far from the only one. I don’t have the energy to make a list and rate them. Stan doesn’t want to bad-mouth the guy, but says he even made Stan more than a little uncomfortable.

Our conversation ends when Stan notices an elderly Jewish couple in some distress. He points them out and goes to help them. I chuckle because, though Stan describes them as “elderly,” they are younger than he is. They seem to be lost.

As I head back to the con, I hear Stan talking to them in Hebrew. I’m guessing it’s Hebrew because I don’t understand a word of their conversation.

My dreams often feature people who are no longer with us but who were and remain important to me. My father Louis turns up often. So does  Stan, my comics father.

Expect to read more of my comic book dreams as I have them and when I remember them well enough to write about them. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.     

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

AUTOGRAPHS AND SKETCHES BY MAIL

 

 

I have always tried to give back to my fans, but I have to realize things are changing for me. I seem to have aged out of the comics industry. Outside of writing for John Lustig’s LAST KISS, I have no paying gigs in the field. Unfairly, my bills do not recognize this sad fact of my life. The bills keep coming.

When I started in the industry, none of the creators were charging for their signatures. That didn’t change for me until sometime in past several years.

The trigger came for me at a Wizard World convention. Some comics creators had started charging a minimal fee for their signatures. A few bucks at most. Most of them would sign any one item for free.
I wasn’t charging. I overheard a fan clutching his autographed photo of some “C” TV actor - and I am being kind - telling his friend, as the fan snorted derisively, that he would NEVER pay for a comic creator’s signature. He was quite delighted paying $40 for a background zombie’s autograph/photo, but not for the signatures of comics creators. I began charging for my signature on the spot.

I was charging $5 per signed item with the first item signed free. I was not charging for photos of or with me. After a year, I raised the charge to $10 per item with the first one still free. I stopped offering one free signature when, three days after a convention, I saw a comic book I had signed for free at the convention on eBay with a much inflated price.

I have toyed with raising my signature price to $15, but have held off doing that. Often the money I make from signing is what keeps me breaking even on the events I attend.

Some fans would also ask me for sketches. I combined funny writing with very bad drawings of “Godzilla.” I can’t draw arms or, really, much of anything. I have given these sketches out for free. Which is a practice I’ve now ended. I’m changing the name of the monster I draw. As soon as I get a logo designed and figure out what paper and stock to use for my sketches, I will be selling them online and at conventions. I’m thinking $50 for originals and $20 for prints. That’s likely too high, but, hey, no one is putting a maser cannon to your head.

Sometimes I get requests for signatures and sketches by mail. Most of the time the people requesting these recognize I’ll be charging for these. Sometimes they assume if they send me a self-addressed stamped envelope with a piece of paper in it that I’ll comply with their requests. Please look above to remind us how I’ve seemingly aged out of the comics industry and how my bills keep arriving at my house on a regular basis. I can only dream of a time when I also receive monthly royalty checks for my past work. These days, when I receive these “give me something for free” letters, I throw them in the trash.

I do recognize not everyone can come to a convention to get their Isabella stuff signed by me. So I will sign items and do sketches by mail. Keep in mind that I’m not yet offering sketches and prints by mail or elsewhere. But here’s how the other part works...

Send the items you want signed to:

Tony Isabella
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

Include $10 per item and return packaging with the postage already affixed. That way, I can sign your items and place them in the next day’s outgoing mail.

If you have a certain spot for my signature, tell me where it is in your cover letter. If you have a certain pen or pens you want me to use for my signature, send them with the items. Let me know if you want the pens back or not.

If you’re a high-end collector, keep an eye out for CGC’s special signings with me. I get together with them, sign the comics as you request and they verify my signature and grade the items prior to slabbing them. This is more expensive than sending items directly to me, but I know many collectors prefer this way.

I’m working on other things to help my financial situation. I hope to have my Ebay store up and running before the end of the month. It will offer cool things from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff. Watch for the launch date.

If I can figure out how to do it, I might even launch an Only Fans page. Get your minds out of the gutter. It won’t have sexy photos and videos of me. I’m thinking new and unseen columns, remembrances of my comics career, videos on comics, my life and the world around us. If that doesn’t bring in enough cash, well, I have been told I have a cute ass and good legs.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.     

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN DECEMBER

 

 

Scary and stressful is how I can best describe 2023. As seems to be the case in recent years, the comic-book industry showed virtually no interest in hiring me...and that has a debilitating effect on my actually writing comics. However, I am quite happy with the gags I wrote for John Lustig’s fun and slightly naughty Last Kiss feature and will continue contributing to it in the new year.

Physically, I’m in good health, save for a bad right knee that has me in almost chronic pain. It’s arthritis and not yet to the point where replacement is necessary. Most of the time, I’m rocking the sleek Prince tribute I call “Purple Cane.” In pain or not, I remain hilarious.

Mentally? How can anyone be mentally and morally comfortable in a world where Donald Trump, the most criminal, racist and traitorous president in U.S. history is the Republican Party frontrunner for this year’s election? Despite his over ninety indictments on very serious charges. The kind of charges that should put him in prison for the rest of his disgusting life. Meanwhile, the Republicans are continuing their cruel and unconstitutional assaults on the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans people.

Yet I remain hopeful for the new year. I’m working on various new projects with the hope of getting them to the marketplace. I have taken steps to improve my mental and physical well-being. I hope to be invited to many conventions in this country and abroad because I love meeting all kinds of readers.

As always, even in my darkest moments, I find happiness in a great many things. I love sharing them with you. Here are the things that brought me joy in December...

December 1: GalaxyCon Columbus. From the moment I arrived, I was in pop culture heaven. The convention and volunteers made me feel most welcome, as did the fans and my fellow professionals. It was one of the most amazing conventions of my career.

December 2: GalaxyCon Columbus. Reuniting with old pals like Mike DeCarlo and Steve Englehart. Meeting new ones like Dan Chichester, Tana Ford and Tim Seeley. Chatting with fans of my writing. That’s what makes a great convention.

                                                                          



December 3: GalaxyCon Columbus. The special “Do You Remember Mid-Ohio-Con?” tribute panel was nothing short of amazing with so many former guests celebrating Roger Price and the stellar convention he created. Much joy was shared by all.

December 4: GalaxyCon Columbus. I’m a sucker for convention-themed specialty drinks and the Hyatt Regency’s Big Bar on 2 had a doozy. The “Space Cadet” was Malibu rum, strawberry puree, pineapple juice and a blue Curacao glitter swirl. Delicious.

December 5: GalaxyCon Columbus. I was honored to be on the amazing “Horror in Comics” panel and be recognized for my 1970s work as an editor and writer on Monsters Unleashed and such. I would love to edit a magazine like that today. Publishers?

December 6: GalaxyCon Columbus: I enjoyed being on the Ghost Rider panel with Cory Smith and Scott Hepburn. I’m intrigued by all the Rider has gone through since I wrote Johnny Blaze. Catching up will be interesting.

                                                                                



December 7: Dial N For Naked! My wacky pal Will Meugniot presents “The Untold and Totally Untrue History of the Nudie Age of Comics!” Published in 2018 and available on Amazon, this book is hilarious and actually suitable for most ages.

December 8: The iZombie Omnibus by Chris Roberson, Michael Allred and Laura Allred. I wanted to reread this legendary thriller before I embark on watching the TV series, which I only watched for most of its first season.

December 9: Strange and Unsung All-Stars of the DC Multiverse by Stephanie Williams looks like big fun. I haven’t started reading it yet, but I bet a bunch of writers are using it to created pitches for new comic books and movies.

December 10: Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism by Rachel Maddow is a fascinating frightening history of when vile Americans sided with Hitler. It does give me hope we will crush the fascists of today as we did in the 1940s.

December 11: Godzilla Minus One. I’m loving the box-office success and critical acclaim this spectacular movie is receiving. Made on a relatively modest budget, the movie goes beyond Godzilla fandom and into deserved favorable mainstream attention.

                                                                            



December 12: Funko Pop! Even as I prepare to thin my own collection for next year’s garage sales, I continue to be amazed, amused and pleased by Funko’s ingenuity and variety, Their new “tasty treats” figures are proof of both.

December 13: Delivery drivers. United States Postal Service. UPS. FedEx. Amazon. They bring us cool stuff. Their jobs are not easy, even more so at this time of the year. So, when you get the chance, thank them for their hard work.

December 14: My home town of Medina installed two electric vehicle charging ports in the parking deck next to City Hall. It’s a smart thing to do and, so far, no one is screaming “woke” at this common sense addition.

December 15: Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. My supply of my most recent work was dwindling, but I was able to purchase over a dozen mint copies at an affordable price. I’ll have them at my convention appearances as long as they last.

                                                                            



December 16: Taylor Swift. Time magazine chose well in naming her 2023's Person of the Year. Not only is she a talented performer, she inspires fans to be considerate, kind and inclusive. She’s her generation’s Dolly Parton.

December 17: Transitions: A Mother's Journey by writer and artist √Člodie Durand is the sometimes heartbreaking but ultimately happy real-life story of a woman working to accept her transgender son. Essential reading because the need is so great.

December 18: The Parker Girls Omnibus by Terry Moore. This spin-off from Strangers in Paradise finds the efficient and gorgeous ladies investigating the murder of one of their own. Why don’t they make  women-led action/suspense movies this good?

December 19: Hallows’ Eve by Erica Schultz and Michael Dowling was a easy-to-follow solid story with a satisfying conclusion. I really like title super-heroine Janine Goodbe and hope to see more of her.
She’d be great in a Disney+ Halloween special.

                                                                                    



December 20: Lobo #1 [Dell; 1965]. I just re-read this outstanding comic by D. J. Arneson with art by Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico. Racist distributors killed Lobo after two issues, but it deserves to be reprinted and continued.  

December 21: My 2023 Christmas sweater is a tribute to Die Hard, a great Christmas movie and, as I now realize, also a great Hanukkah movie. It’s a heartwarming movie that brings people of all faiths together. Ho ho ho Hans.

December 22: Santa Suossos. For my birthday, Barb and our kids took me to this great Italian restaurant in Medina. The pasta and pizza were delicious. We’re going to order pizza from there for our New Year’s Eve celebration.

[Santa Suossos crushed my dream by not being open on Sunday. But I will have a fix of their pizza soon.]

December 23: If birthdays were measured in dear friends, I would be 5,000 years old. Thanks to all of you who sent warm greetings on my birthday. They were appreciated more than I can express.

December 24: Downfall by Inio Asano. A sometimes soul-crushing tale of a manga artist who doesn’t much like manga, who only cares about selling books and who doesn’t care about anyone’s pain but his own. I know comics creators like him.

December 25: With few bumps in the holiday road, Christmas Eve and Christmas 2023 were happy times for me. None of the bumps were all that unexpected and both were minor annoyances. Next year, I plan to dress as a sexy elf.

                                                                            


                               

December 26: It’s a Wonderful Knife. Billed as a horror comedy, the movie is a legitimate thriller that respects It’s a Wonderful Life. Low on gore, high on emotional stakes with a terrific performance by Justin Long. Highly recommended.

December 27: Bill Foster finally gets into action as Giant-Man in the second episode of What If...? Season Two. I’m sure that pleased Lawrence Fishburne, who was disappointed he never got to go big in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Thanks, Marvel Studios!

December 28: Rite Aid in Medina. I got my flu shot this morning and it was a quick and painless experience. I arrived a little early, but was given a shot within five minutes. No fuss, no muss, no side effects. Science rules!

December 29: Maniac of New York Vol. 1: The Death Train by Elliott Kalan and Andrea Mutti doesn’t break any new ground in the slasher genre, but it’s artistry, characterization and intensity make it a must-read for fans of that genre.

                                                                               



December 30: Love from Godzilla by Olivia Luchina with artwork by Jordan Bradley and Milo Moore. This small book is the most charming young readers book I can imagine. Every single page will make even older readers go “Awww!” Highly recommended.

December 31: The Hunters by Jimmy Palmiotti and Chad Hardin wraps up 2023 in style. It’s a hard-hitting western with cool characters and a can’t-turn-the-page-fast-enough story. It’s another triumph for the crowd-funded Paperfilms.

Thanks for stopping by today. I wish you the happiest of new years and great success in achieving your personal goals. I will be back soon with more stuff.

© 2024 Tony Isabella