Tuesday, April 23, 2024

BATMAN THE SILVER AGE OMNIBUS: PART FIVE


I’ve been writing about the stories reprinted in Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus Volume One. It’s a massive tome that collects Batman #101-116 and Detective Comics #233-257, spanning mid-1956 through mid-1958. In an effort to cover more of these vintage comic books  faster, I’ll be going lighter on the story summaries. We start with one of the most iconic Batman tales of them all.

Detective Comics #241 [March 1957] features “The Rainbow Batman” by the legendary Edmond Hamilton with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye. Moldoff drew the cover as well.

Criminals steal valuable camera equipment, but Dick Grayson can’t change to Robin. He must save a little girl about to be hit by a car. In doing so, he injures his arm.

Batman knows the stolen cameras must play a part in some upcoming crime, but the crooks aren’t in his photo files. However, Robin can identify them if he sees them. The duo go on patrol hoping to spot the criminals before they can commit their big crime.

On each patrol, Batman wears a different color costume. Red, blue, green, gold, a white one with a target on its chest and the multi-hued title costume. Can you guess why Batman is wearing all these costumes? I bet you can.

                                                                                    


                                                                 

The Moldoff cover for Batman #107 [April 1957] features “The Grown-Up Boy Wonder.” But the first story in the issue is “The Boy Who Adopted Batman” by an unknown writer with art by Moldoff and inker Charles Paris. It’s a heart-warming story about a lonely boy whose father died. His mom works a lot and is tired when she gets home, so the kid starts talking to a Batman statue in the park. Batman and Robin hear him and build a Bat-bicycle for him. One good turn deserves and the brave youngster helps the heroes track down a gang of token counterfeiters. The kid’s cleverness leads to a deserved happy ending for him and his mom. I really wish I knew the identity of this story’s writer. It’s a good one.

The second story is “Robin Falls in Love” by Batman co-creator Bill Finger with Moldoff and Paris on the art. Robin falls hard for 14-year-old ice skater Vera Lovely. Her agent prefers she publicity-dates an actor and tries to break them up. Meanwhile, a criminal is posing as a news photographer to steal a pair of skates auctioned off for charity. Just another day in Gotham.

“The Grown-Up Boy Wonder” is by Finger, Moldoff and Kaye. Batman and Robin are examining a lead-lined box Superman brought back from space. When the box is opened, it releases a mysterious gas which ages the Boy Wonder into manhood. Against Batman’s wishes, Robin appropriates Bruce Wayne’s masquerade costume and takes on the new identity of Owlman. But the former kid isn’t used to fighting as a bigger stronger adult and that causes problems as the heroes take on the Daredevils, a team of acrobatic jewel thieves.

                                                                                



Detective Comics #242 [April 1957] cover-features “The Underworld Bat-Cave” by an unknown writer. I seem to recall Leigh Brackett did some writing for DC Comics. Could she be the mysterious wordsmith? The cover was drawn by Moldoff with the interior story bu Moldoff and Paris.

A treasure hunt stunt is part of a plan to discover the location of the Bat-Cave and Batman’s secret identity. The criminals expose a flaw in the Cave’s security protocols, but Batman, Robin and Alfred foil them with an elaborate plan of their own.  

                                                                              



Batman gets large in Detective Comics #243 [May 1957]. “Batman the Giant is by Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Paris. The cover is drawn by Moldoff. A scientist creates two remarkable inventions:

“My maximizer enlarges any object by drawing cosmic electricity to expand its atoms! My minimizer diminishes by the reverse process.”

After seeing a diamond expanded to the size of a basketball, crook Jay Vanney tries to steal the inventions. Batman is struck by the enlarging way and grows to thirty feet. Vanney only gets away with the minimizer. Batman is banned from Gotham, but he has the machine  Vanney wants. Their showdown takes an unexpected turn.

                                                                               



The first two of the three stories in Batman #108 [June 1957] are by an unknown writer or writers. The cover is by Moldoff and Paris.

“The Big Batman Quiz” plays off live quiz and other TV shows. Bats and Robin are on the set of “The Big Quiz” to confirm answers about their crime-fighting careers. The contestant, a Batman expert, is two answers away from winning $125,000. In 2024, the amount would be $1,364,528.47. Following the quiz show, the next live program would be “Interview with Crime” featuring the convict Garth.

The Batman expert is asked to reveal Batman’s secret identity and, seen only by Batman, he answers correctly. But then the contestant is poisoned in the question booth and the paper with the identity goes missing. An escaped Garth appears to be the killer, but there are some nice twists in this eight-page tale.

The six-page “Prisoners of the Bat-Cave” is also drawn by Moldoff and Paris. This short-but-frantic tale finds our heroes trying to prove a man is innocent mere hours before the man is set to die in the electric chair. Making their job all the more difficult is that a mechanical failure and a fire bomb have them trapped in the Bat-Cave with no means of communicating information to the authorities. I think this unknown writer is the same as the unknown writers in some of the other scripts we’ve discussed. There is a cleverness to his or her work.

“The Career of Batman Jones” is by Finger, Moldoff and Paris. When the title character’s parents take their newborn child home from the hospital, they are rescued from a failed brakes situation by Batman. In gratitude, they name the kid “Batman.” As the lad grows up, he becomes obsessed with being a detective like Batman. Despite his age, he’s good. But how can our heroes keep the youngster safe from the dangers that come with his obsession?

                                                                                       



Detective Comics #244 [June 1957] featured “The 100 Batarangs of Batman” by Finger, Moldoff and Paris with Moldoff going solo on the cover. Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman (1988) was on point when he remarked Batman had the best toys. That was one of the many things my younger self found so fascinating about the Batman comic books of my youth. Though many of the batarangs in this story were wildly aerodynamically unsound, I still got a kick out of them.

This 12-pager is a favorite of mine. Crooks steal films of Batman using various batarangs so they can create their own and use them against our hero. We get to see how Batman learned about batarangs from Austrian Lee Collins. We get flashbacks of Batman and Robin using the Magnetic Batarang, the Seeing-Eye Batarang and more. We are teased with a mystery batarang and see Batman use it as he goes up against the villains’ Bomb-Batarangs. I was so thrilled I never  noticed the cover wrongly included a Bomb-Batarang among those in the Bat-Cave.

That’s it for this part of my Silver Age Batman musings. I’ll have more for you in the near future.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Monday, April 15, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN MARCH

 

 

One of the truly frustrating things about my life in recent months is that I haven’t posted anywhere near as many bloggy things as I’d like. There are a lot of reasons for this, but it still frustrates me. I’m hoping to get back on track soon.

March 1: The dedicated and determined doctors, psychiatrists and therapists working to provide quality gender-affirming care despite the monstrous cruelty, hatred and misinformation directed at their patients by Republicans and “Christians.”

March 2: The Food That Built America on the History Channel fills two needs for me: fun food and fascinating trivia about food. This new season kicked off with episodes on Italian-American cuisine and ice cream. Feed my brain!

March 3: Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s reelection ads are all about the great things he’s accomplished. His vile opponents’ ads are all baseless attacks, disinformation, empty promises and sucking up to the worst elements in the GOP. Easy choice for me.

                                                                             



March 4: I’ve the strangest feeling I’ve been turned into a Funko! Courtesy of my fan and friend Mike Maloy, there is now a miniature Tony Isabella adorning my office. The series will continue with the Rainbow Tony, the Zebra Tony and more!

March 5: Barb, Kelly and our neighbor Shari were making cookies. Shari made one just for me. I’m thinking I should add communion to our First Church of Godzilla services. After I post this, there’ll be a little Godzilla in me.

March 6: Painkiller Jane: Beautiful Killers by Jimmy Palmiotti and Juan Santacruz. Two issues. Solid story and writing. Beautiful art. Beautiful violence. Satisfying ending. I wish more comic books were this good.

                                                                               




March 7: The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 13 2008-2010 by Tom Batiuk includes some of the material I wrote for him. Our writing styles were somewhat different, so I’m curious to see if the fans can figure who did what.

March 8: Ghosts: “Halloween 3: The Guest Who Wouldn't Leave” was an exceptional episode. Funny script. Hilarious acting. An intriguing possible addition to the cast. A surprising final scene that did not see coming. I love this show.

March 9: Saturday Night Live. Scarlett Johansson’s brilliant parody  of crazed Sen. Katie Britt’s GOP State of the Union response made me laugh out loud. Plus: Josh “Thanos” Brolin was a terrific host. One of the best episodes this season.

                                                                            




March 10: Godzilla Minus One won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It’s a historic moment for the franchise made sweeter by the team carrying Godzilla figures to the stage. But I still think the Big G deserved a best actor nomination as well.

March 11: The 96th Academy Awards. For the first time in decades, I watched them from start to finish. Host Jimmy Kimmel did a great job, there were many memorable moments and they actually ended on time. Well done all around.

March 12: Batman: Harley and Ivy by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Shane Glines and more is a fun collection of stories culled from various comics. The stories are self-contained and can be enjoyed without knowing what the heck is going on in the DCU.

March 13: Monstrous: A Transracial Adoption Story by Sarah Myer is a brilliant tale of the creator growing up as a South Korean child adopted by American parents and using her art to fight back against racism and homophobia. Highly recommended.

March 14: Marvel-Verse: Monica Rambeau Photon collects key stories featuring the character. Marketed as suitable for readers 10-14 and approximately 6" by 9" format, it’s a great way to catch up on some classic comics. I’m going to pay more attention to these books in the future.

March 15: Godzilla The Official Coloring Book (Titan Books) would make a wonderful gift for any budding artist with a passion for The Big G. Artists include Arthur Adams and Matt Frank. For this, you will need Crayola’s biggest box.

March 16: Published in 2021, Box of Bones: Book One by Ayize Jama-Everett and John Jennings tells stories of an African artifact and the Hell it visits on oppressor and oppressed alike. Honestly scare stuff and well worth reading.

March 17: So Help Me Todd: “Dial Margaret for Murder” was a zany murder mystery that delighted me from start to finish. Especially Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins as the Lee sisters. I want to see more of them, maybe even in their own series.

                                                                            


                                                                      

March 18: Godzilla Zipper Mouth plush. I have a new office buddy. He seems nice.

March 19: Wheel of Fortune. It’s Marvel Super Heroes week and the prizes include a Disney/Marvel cruise and Marvel swag. Appearing on the show so far: Spider-Man, Captain America and the Black Panther.I’m loving this!

March 20: A Man & His Cat by Umi Sakura remains one of my favorite manga series. Volume 8 caught me by surprise as it introduced the adult children of Fuyuki Kanda. His daughter loves insects and his son hates cats. Highly recommended.

March 21: X-Men ‘97. I watched the first two episodes with my son Ed and we were both impressed. Terrific writing. Solid story flow. Surprises. Even LeBron James was excited to see it. If you’ve got the GOAT vote, you’re good. Highly recommended.

March 22: Don’t Call It Mystery Vol. 1-2 by Yumi Tamura features a fairly unemotional college student whose observation and deduction skills are uncanny. Action takes a back seat to sometimes tedious dialogue, but the protagonist is fascinating.

March 23: Anyone Comics in Brooklyn is my new comics store. Their packaging and service is first-rate and, occasionally, artist and employee Chad Hellman adds his own touch to outgoing packages. May the blessings of Lord and Savior be on him.

March 24: The Legends of the Monsterverse boxed set. It’s gorgeous. This omnibus contains  every comic Legendary Comics has published on the Monsterverse and an exclusive new story only found in this hardcover treasure! All praise the great scaly one!

                                                                              



March 25: Superman: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1. From the 1950s and 1960s, this collects stories from Action Comics #241-265 and Superman #122-137. I enjoy all kinds of comics, but these blasts from my past hold a special place in my heart.

March 26: IDW’s Godzilla Library Collection Vol. 1. A lovely book containing Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths, Godzilla Legends and Godzilla: The Half-Century War. The individual issues will show up in my garage sales in the fullness of time.

March 27: Delta Airways did a fine job on our trip to Anaheim via Detroit. Special kudos to the young lady who wheeled me across the mammoth Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport to our connecting flight. I wouldn’t have made it without her.

March 28: Castañeda's Mexican Food. Our first meal on this trip was at this amazing 24-hour restaurant at 432 S Indian Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Freshly-cooked and delicious food. One of the best meals of our WonderCon journey.   

March 29: Greatest Hits by Harlan Ellison. Edited by J. Michael Straczynski and with a foreword by Neil Gaiman, this book collects 19 stories by one of my favorite authors (and friends). Ellison was and remains an inspiration to writers everywhere.

March 30: Joshua Tree National Park. On our way to WonderCon, the Isabella family visited this eerily beautiful park filled with the trees of its name and breathtaking rock formations. It would make the perfect setting for a monster movie.

March 31: Jennifer Blood: Battle Diary by Fred Van Lente and Robert Carey. A solid start to a new thriller wherein the daughter of the original JB goes after white supremacist. The first issue is very new-reader friendly.

And now...Tony’s Best of the Bloggy Thing Month. Three categories. Three winners.

BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH: A Man & His Cat Vol. 8 by Umi Sakura

BEST MOVIE OR TV OF THE MONTH: Godzilla Minus One

BEST PERSON OF THE MONTH: Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back as soon as possible with more cool stuff for you. Hugs.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Thursday, April 11, 2024

BATMAN THE SILVER AGE CLASSICS: PART FOUR

 


If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might recall I have been frequently pilloried as some one who hates Batman or who is jealous of the character’s success or any number of other crimes against the Darknight Detective. All of the above by low lives who fancy themselves comics journalists incapable of informed nuance in reporting the “news.”

Batman was my favorite comic-book character as a kid and remained so until I met Spider-Man and, later, created Black Lightning. What I hate is that DC Comics has turned the Caped Crusader into the Psycho Putz. While there have been definite moments of lightness since a Batman writer stumbled his way into a psychology book, the current Batman is more often framed by cruelty and unresolved trauma than heroism. He is manipulative and untrustworthy. Contrast this with “my” Batman who, after seeing justice done to the murdered of his parents, chose to continue being Batman to protect others from that kind of loss.  

I’m not so much jealous of Batman’s success as I am saddened that other terrific DC characters are ignored as DC pumps out almost as many Batman titles as Richie Rich had back in his glory years. It will take someone better at comics history and math to determine if Bats has surpassed Richie’s numbers.

The one thing the “journalists” sometime get right is that I hate Black Lightning being subservient to Batman. My Jefferson Pierce’s priorities are his family, his students and his community. He does not leave them all behind to be Batman’s sidekick.

Meanwhile...

I’ve been slowly working my way through Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus. This first volume collects Batman #101-116 and Detective Comics #233-257, spanning mid-1956 through mid-1958. Let’s get back into it.

SPOILERS AHEAD!
SPOILERS AHEAD!
SPOILERS AHEAD!
SPOILERS AHEAD!
SPOILERS AHEAD!
SPOILERS AHEAD!

Batman #105 (February 1957) has a cover drawn by Sheldon Moldoff and three stories by three different writers, all drawn by the team of Moldoff (pencils) and Charles Paris (inker). In Bill Finger’s “The Challenge of Batwoman,” a bored Kathy Kane wears her retired Batwoman outfit to a costume party. She stumbles into a caper by a gang of art thieves and their masked leader, a caper being foiled by Batman and Robin. Batman sprains his ankle, the crime boss gets amnesia, Batwoman thinks he’s Batman and decides she and Robin must train “Batman” so he can continue to function as a crime-fighter until his memory returns. The real Batman and Robin play along with this because they don’t want Batwoman to know about his injury for fear she would learn he’s Bruce Wayne. The criminal’s memory does return and he sets a trap for Batwoman and Robin. The real Bats disguising his injury and saves them. The 10-page story includes an end scene where Kathy berates Bruce for spraining his ankle while out “dancing.”

Ed Herron’s “The Second Boy Wonder” is one of those “teach someone a lesson” tales so prevalent in both Batman and Superman comics of the era. A “new” Boy Wonder takes Robin’s place, “fooling” Batman.When the duo returns to the Batcave, the kid reveals he is not the real Robin but someone who took an injured Robin’s place when the real Robin showed up at his door. He threatens to expose Batman’s secret identity if he’s not allowed to work with him. Of course, the new kid is the old kid. Robin is trying to prove he’s as much a master of disguise as Batman. Of course, from the moment the new Robin reveals his identity, both Batman and butler Alfred knew who it was. “Robin” walked through the Batcave in the dark to turn on the lights. Holy rookie mistake!

Arnold Drake’s “The Mysterious Bat-Missile” is the issue’s finale. In the Batcave, our heroes watch as the title vehicle comes through the floor of their secret lair. Operated by their thoughts, their new ride can pass through anything. Whoever sent it to them knows their identities. They put aside their concern to use the vehicle to track down a criminal on the run. The criminal lays low because of the Bat-Missile, but makes a break for it when he learns Batman is again using the much-slower Batmobile. Surprise. The heroes have disguised the Missile as their traditional vehicle. Next surprise? The Bat-Missile was sent to them for this one case by the Batman of the Future. He wanted to thank them for inspiring his career. They don’t get to keep it because this trip to their time was strictly a one-shot.

                                                                                   



Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris pencilled and inked the cover of Detective Comics #240 [February 1947], The author of “The Outlaw Batman” is unknown. The story itself is penciled by Dick Sprang with inks by Paris.

In a complicated scheme, Batman is framed for a series of crimes by a detailed-oriented adversary. There are a great many twists in the 12-page story. Fortunately, the authorities never really believed Batman was guilty and rigged the trial to allow the Caped Crusader to draw out the real villain. The tale plays fair with the readers by showing us the key clue that allows Batman to figure out who had been framing him. I wish I knew who wrote this one, which I’d never read before, because it’s a good one.

                                                                             



Batman #106 [March 1957] has a cover by Sheldon Moldoff. That’s not unusual for the era, but what is unusual is that no writer has been identified for any of the three tales in the issue. I wonder if any or all of them were written by the same mysterious unknown author who penned “The Outlaw Batman” in Detective Comics #240.

Drawn by Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye, “Batman’s Secret Helper” has a clever concept. An escaped convict has vowed vengeance on the man who helped Batman and Robin capture him, but not even our heroes know the identity of their helper. Bats launches a TV show to honor those who have helped them, figuring it will draw the convict out into the open. Which is does. The twist? It was the convict’s own brother who saved the Dynamic Duo because he wanted to prevent the convict from murdering them. The convict sees the error of his ways and is now determined to finish his sentence and rejoin society as a law-abiding citizen.  

“Storm Over Gotham City” is another cool story. Gotham City is in the path of a hurricane. A mobster and his men are planning to loot the city dressed as disaster-fighters. Trying to stop them, Batman and Robin are distracted by hurricane-related emergencies. Our guys catch the crooks by using the hurricane against them. In this time of extreme climate disasters, this tale could be modernized into an exciting cautionary thriller. It was pencilled by Sprang with inks by Paris.

“The Puppet Batman” is the cover and final story in the issue. An outside force is controlling Batman into doing dangerous stunts and reveal his true identity. The connection between the two is shaky, as is the “mind-ray” the criminal is using. Each attempt involves a different criminal - an ex-lion tamer, an ex-artist and others - projecting their skills onto Batman. The ex-artist attempts to get Batman to paint a portrait of his real face, but Robin destroys the canvas in the nick of time. An art expert identifies the artist’s style, which allows Batman to catch the criminals and recover their ill-gotten loot. The mind-ray is destroyed. This story is the weak link of the issue, but had the kind of “oh, gosh” cover scene that
comics publishers presumed their readers loved. The tale was drawn by Moldoff and Paris.

Watch for more Silver Age Batman in future blogs.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Sunday, March 24, 2024

TONY IN WONDERCON LAND (MARCH 29-31)


 

I’m a guest at this year’s WonderCon and I couldn’t be more excited about that. It’s been over a decade since I’ve attending a comics convention on the West Coast. Here’s the skinny...

WonderCon will be at the Anaheim Convention Center, Friday, March 29 through Sunday, March 31. The Center is adjacent to the Hilton Anaheim Hotel at 800 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802. The show hours are:

Friday: 11:30 AM–7:00 PM

Saturday: 10:00 AM–7:00 PM

Sunday: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

For the most part, you’ll able to find me at Table E-02 in Artists Alley. My plan is to be at the table two hours on and one hour off, except for my spotlight panel or when I’m attending other panels. Saintly Wife Barb and our kids Eddie and Kelly will also be there, giving you the opportunity to meet some of the most patient people you’ll ever meet.

The Comics Arts Conference Session #2–Focus on Tony Isabella panel is scheduled for Friday 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. I will not be signing before/during/after the panel. I’ll be happy to sign your Isabella items at my table for a minimal fee.

That minimal fee is $10 per signature. I don’t charge for photos of or with me. I also don’t charge extra for signatures witnessed by representatives of CGC or other grading companies. Besides signing at my table, I’ll also have copies for sale of July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One ($20) and the exclusive-to-me reprint of Misty Knight’s first appearance. The latter is one of the best bargains at WonderCon, just ten bucks for a signed and numbered limited edition issue. A mere 1500 of these were printed and the cover does not appear on any other version of this reprint.

NOTE: All sales are cash only.

While I catch my breath, I’ll share this next bit from the event website:

WonderCon features 900+ exhibitors in a 412,000–square-foot Exhibit Hall filled with comics, original art, toys, and merchandise from many popular artists, publishers, and retailers. You can expect exclusive movie and television programming, panels featuring the top comics professionals, autographs, games, portfolio reviews, the Masquerade, and so much more.   

The guest list includes dear old friends of mine as well as comics creators I want to meet. I’m not naming names because I don’t want to give them a chance to make a run for it.

I especially want to meet YOU at WonderCon. If you’d like to talk about working with me, I'm available for paying gigs: comic books, comic strips, acting and more. If you just want to say "hi," that's also very cool. If you want to book me for an event, we can discuss what that would take. If you want to give me review copies of your comics, I'll read them asap.

With thanks to the nice and extremely patient WonderCon staff, I’m looking forward to the event and will do my best to make your own visit there a happy and even memorable one.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN FEBRUARY

 

 

I have vowed to be less doom and gloomy in this introduction to my monthly list of things that bought me joy. Though the shelf life of “comics legend Tony Isabella” may have ended, I’m determined to ace every test in the life course I call Comics Legend Economics 101. Indeed, there will be many bloggy things about how you can enrich me through my eBay auctions, my Vast Accumulation of stuff garage sales and more. The money will serve several purposes. It will help me created and release new comics and other things for my beloved readers. It will make it possible for me to resume donations to a number of worthy causes.

For today, I’ll give you the update on getting autographs from me at appearances and through the mail. After going back and forth on the issue, I decided not to raise my signing fee. You can still get your Isabella comics and other items signed for $10 per item.

If you not able to come to a convention where I am appearing, you can mail your items to me at:

Tony Isabella, 840 Damon Drive, Medina OH 44256

You must include postage-paid return packaging with your items so that I can sign them and return them quickly. You must tell me how you want them signed. If you want me to use pens other than my own Sharpies, you must include the pens. You must include $10 per item. If you don’t include the signing fee, I will assume you are giving me the items as a token of your admiration. Thank you.

My signature is my signature. If you want me to add something like “To (your name)” or the date, I will do that. However, I won’t do anything more complicated than that.

At an appearance, you are welcome to take a photo of me signing an item or with me. No charge. However, I will not take selfies of me signing books you have mailed to me.

If you mail me a certificate of authenticity with your items, I’ll sign that certificate for another $10.

The Internet being what it is, I know some “fans” and “pros” will be critical and sometimes downright insulting on reading my policy. That’s on them.

As you will learn as I post my additional lessons in Comics Legend Economics 101, I am not desperate. My Saintly Wife Barb and I live a comfortable life. Assuming that life doesn’t get upended by the vile forces who are an ongoing threat to decency and democracy, we will be just fine.

But...there’s so much we both want to do and the money I earn from  signing things and the other ventures I’ll be announcing will make it easier to do them. It’s that simple.

And now...

Here are the things that brought me joy in February:

February 1: SurrealEstate isn’t likely to get a third season from the SyFy Channel, but I enjoyed the series right through the second season finale. That finale delivered a satisfying conclusion on all fronts. If that’s all we get, it was a good exit.

[ADDENDUM: It has been renewed for a third season.]

February 2: GCPD: The Blue Wall by John Ridley and Stefano Raffaele is an intense police thriller. Commissioner Renee Montoya is trying to rebuild the GCPD and restore public trust in it. Are such goals even attainable in Gotham? Highly recommended.

February 3: MonsterFest Mania in Cuyahoga Falls. It was a blast, it was a monster blast. The zombies were having fun and so was I. It was great connecting with old friends and making new friends as I rocked my “Trans Lives Matter” t-shirt.

                                                                                    



February 4: MonsterFest Mania: Leonora Scelfo and Nancy Anne Ridder (the mean bathroom girls from Scream) were my next-door neighbors. I have an idea for a Scream comic or movie with their characters. I love them madly.

February 5: MonsterFest Mania: Ted Sikora. His mom would bring him to my Cosmic Comics when he was a kid. He’s grown up to become an amazing comics creator and filmmaker. He wants to film me talking about my career. Does Oscar glory await us?

February 6: MonsterFest Mania: Almost a dozen fans came to my table to tell me how much my Cosmic Comics shop meant to them back in the day. Though the place caused me considerable grief, it’s heartening to know how many folks it touched.

February 7: MonsterFest Mania: I met Gary Jones, director of such favorites as Ax Giant and Mosquito. A nice guy who lives in Ohio and plans to film two movies here this summer. Mr. Jones, I’m ready for my close-up.

February 8: MonsterFest Mania: Jay Fife. My long-time friend Jay is also one of my favorite artists. At this convention, we made plans to work together on not one, not two, but three different projects. The first one is already underway!

                                                                            



February 9: Commando’s 60th Anniversary celebration (2021) has been great fun for me. First, they reprinted the first Commando story. Then, in Commando #5448, they published an all-new sequel to that landmark issue. That’s a bit of alright.

February 10: The Winchester Mystery House by Joshua Werner, Dustin Irvin and Damien Torres. This collects the first three issues of an intriguing series about the most haunted house in the world and the fascinating woman who built it. Recommended.

February 11: My friend and great artist Emily Szalkowski has one of her amazing paintings on display at the B. Smith Gallery within the Medina Library. I voted for it in the People’s Choice competition. You do the same through March.

February 12: Jon Stewart’s return to The Daily Show. I appreciate his biting comedy, but his “both sides” commentary does his viewers a grave disservice when he fails to note that one of those sides is a continuing danger to our country and the world. 

                                                                                  


                                                                         
February 13: The Irrational season finale was so pitch perfect it could have served as a series finale, marred only by an unnecessary cliffhanger. As a huge fan of actor Jesse L. Martin, I hope we do get a second season.

February 14: Funko’s Wonder Woman with String Light Lasso. Making my Christmas display early. Entertainment Earth had it on sale, so I bought it. My plan is to create a Funko-themed display for this year’s hopefully happy holidays.

February 15: BRZRKR Volume Three by Keanu Reeves, Matt Kindt, Ron Garney and Bill Crabtree brings the series to a satisfying finish while leaving room for a sequel. Garney’s incredible art is worthy of an Eisner and other awards.

February 16: Edited by Trina Robbins and Peter Maresca, Dauntless Dames: High-Heeled Heroes of the Comic Strips is a big, beautiful collection (13.2 x 1 x 17 inches) of plucky heroines from the 1930s and 1950s. Take your time with this breathtaking volume.

February 17: The Beekeeper. Jason Statham goes after the tech-rats who drove his friend to suicide. He punches and slaughters his way to the top of the operation. It’s a feel-good action thriller that only asks viewers to sit back and enjoy the carnage. 

                                                                           




February 18: Rom: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Vol. 1 by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. I always thought this was my friend Bill’s finest work and now, thanks to a fan who sent me a copy, I will be able to reread these great comics.

February 19: Marvel’s February 1964 Omnibus featuring Daredevil #1 and every other Marvel title published that historic month. Another gift from an avid fan of my work. I hope Marvel has more of these monthly milestone volumes in the works.

February 20: Meg 2: The Trench. I liked the first one, but I liked the sequel more. Jason Statham being badass. Truly evil villains. Dire menace on and under the sea and also on land. I hope there’s a third movie in the series.

February 21: Iron Fist: Danny Rand - The Early Years Omnibus. This 952-page tome includes almost all of my Iron Fist plotting/writing save for an issue of Power Man and Iron Fist. It’s expensive, but I needed it for my archives.

February 22: My “Gender-Affirming Care is Life-Saving” shirt is the newest of two additions to my wardrobe. You can expect me to wear it at conventions and elsewhere. You, too, can be a voice against the anti-trans attacks of the Republicans.

February 23: Stand By Your Trans. My second new t-shirt comes from the Ethical Tee Company. If you have trans friends or other LGBTQ+ friends, vote for candidates who support their rights to exist as their authentic selves. 

                                                                               




February 24: Gorgo Volume Four. PS Artbooks has been reprinting the classic Charlton Comics series in nice hardcover editions. While  the Ditko-drawn issues are the best, all are fun. Writer Joe Gill was a mad genius.

February 25: The Cherry Omnibus by Larry Welz. This limited edition hardcover is big and thick and beautiful. Damn. That sounds dirty.
Cherry is one of my all-time favorites. I look forward to getting into it. Damn. That also sounds dirty.

February 26: Wild Cards. From the CW, a demoted detective and a con artist work together to get him promoted and keep her out of jail. The actors and writing are good. Not the stuff of awards, but still entertaining.

February 27: Tracker. From CBS, the series stars Justin Hartley as a survivalist who finds lost people and usually solves some crimes along the way. Hartley is a likeable brooding lead and the stories are compelling.

                                                                        




February 28: Superman Vs. Meshi Vol. 2 by Satoshi Miyagawa and Kai Kitago. I can’t believe how much I am enjoying an absurd manga that is basically chapter after chapter of Supes eating at Japanese fast food restaurants. I am so hungry right now.

February 29: Wendie Malick appearing on Not Dead Yet as the late etiquette author Eda Crawthorne. She choked to death rather than  disrupt a social event. If I ever meet Malick, I’ll be all fanboy telling her how much I adore her.

And now...a new monthly feature: Tony Isabella’s Best of the Bloggy Thing Month. Three categories. Three winners.

BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH: Superman Vs. Meshi

BEST MOVIE OR TV OF THE MONTH: The Irrational

BEST PERSON OF THE MONTH: Wendie Malick

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back as soon as possible with more cool stuff for you. Hugs.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

Saturday, February 10, 2024

THINGS THAT MADE ME HAPPY IN JANUARY

 

 

My new year did not get off to the greatest start. I seemed to have been aged out of the comic-book industry, at least that part of it where companies that pay decently want to hire the likes of me or even seriously consider anything I pitch to them. The few nibbles I’ve gotten from any comics publishers involving my producing and paying for an entire comic book or graphic novel without financial assistance from the publishers. Then, after receiving the finished work, they’ll publish it and graciously give me 50% of the profits. By the way, they also want 50% of any ancillary rights to whatever I’ve created and, in some cases, control of those rights. You can imagine my six-letter, two-word response.

This doesn’t mean I have given up on the notion of writing comics that will entertain you as much as my previous comics have. Maybe even more than my previous comic books have. I intend to explore a number of options to achieve that goal. I also intend to find some new revenue streams, including running eBay auctions and opening an eBay store. Those will launch later this month.

I making some personal changes as well. The one I’ll tell you about now is...my iconic mustache is no more. I shaved it off and it will not be returning.

I’ve spent just over half a century playing comic-book writer Tony Isabella and, in more recent years, comics legend Tony Isabella. I did not give myself the latter sobriquet. It was bestowed on me by various individuals and organizations. I accept it, even though my bar for legendary status is much higher. If it sells my convention and other appearances, I’ll use it.

The real Tony Isabella was trained in playing that role from Stan Lee originally and then by my associations with Harlan Ellison and other actual legends. The real Tony Isabella is actually anxious, awkward and painfully shy. If I were the clubbing type, I’d wear a button reading “Painfully Shy. Please Help.”

I will play comics legend Tony Isabella when the occasion calls for it. I know that’s who the fans and promoters want to see. But I’m exploring other roles in my private and professional lives. Which you’ll see when I’m ready to show them to you.

One thing that remains constant no matter what role I’m playing is my love of comic books and other entertainment. Other things that remain constant are my commitment to support the LGBTQ+ community, especially the trans community and my unwavering opposition to the bigoted, dishonest and treasonous Republican Party that is working overtime to destroy our democracy and turn our nation fascist. I don’t know where these vile people got their sense of what’s right and wrong. It’s not from the Bible, flawed as that work is, or from the Constitution of the United States. It’s just shit they made up.

Me? I learned everything I know about right and wrong from Batman (before he went psycho), Black Lightning, Captain America, Spider-Man and Superman. I have more faith in the lessons I learned from those characters than I would in a stack of bibles.

I’m also cool with Jesus. You know, the guy whose amazing Sermon on the Mount is too “woke” for some “Christian” churches and who those churches consider weak. I wish I had a ruler long enough and tough enough to smack their wrists until their hands fall off.

New year. New and yet also same old Tony Isabella. Still finding something to bring me joy every single day of the year.

Here are the things that made me happy in January...  

January 1: Adventures Into Terror is the first volume in the Atlas Comics Library by Fantagraphics. Edited by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, it reprints and restores issues #1-8 of that 1950s horror anthology from future Marvel. Great fun and must-reading.

                                                                                   



January 2: What Would Velma Do? Life Lessons from the Brains (and Heart) of Mystery, Inc. by Shaenon H. Garrity. Obsessed with Velma? Then this fun insightful book is for you. Scooby-Doo is the gift that keeps on giving.

January 3: The Wrong Earth: We Could Be Heroes #1 by Tom Peyer and Jamal Igle. The two-issue series takes place between the previous series and the next. It’s good fun with very unlikely heroes trying to substitute for the real deals.

January 4: Billionaire Island by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh and Chris Chuckry. I revisited the place where the ultra-rich can do whatever they want. It was even more hilarious the second time around. It’s chicken soup for your have-not soul.   

January 5: The Variants by Gail Simone and Phil Noto is a wonderful Jessica Jones story embracing Marvel at its best. Terrific lead and supporting players, top-notch writing and art, a easy continuity. One of the best super-hero tales of the year.

January 6: Papaya Salad by Elisa Macellari. The first graphic novel from the Thai-Italian illustrator tells of her great-uncle Sompong in Europe during WWII. A riveting journey that explores fascinating cultures and histories. Highly recommended.

January 7: Ghosts UK. The Brit spooks were initially too mean for my tastes, but, in episodes “Bump in the Night” and “Perfect Day,” they won me over by working together to help Allison and Mike. Well done, good spirits.

                                                                          



January 8: Maniac of New York 2: The Bronx Is Burning by Elliott Kalan and Andrea Mutti finds Detective Zelda Pettibone and mayoral aide Gina Greene trying to end the murderous menace of Harry. It’s a good sequel to the original slasher thriller.

January 9: A generous friend sent me the new Black Lightning action figure from McFarlane Toys. I hadn’t been able to find it in local stores. It proudly watches over me as I create new and hopefully exciting comics and more.

January 10: On The Way by Paco Hernández and José Ángel Ares is a quiet tale of a newly single cartoonist taking a pilgrimage. Along the way she meets interesting people, several surprises and a new knowledge of who she is.

January 11: JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice by David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns with Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino and Guy Major. Just a fun super-hero team-up from several years back that I somehow missed on its first publication. Most entertaining.

January 12: HGTV. House Hunters and House Hunters International are my happy place. Not only do I enjoy these shows, but they are free of the disgusting political ads run by Ohio Republicans. I’m open to suggestions for other fun HGTV shows.

                                                                              



January 13: Commando #5444. This issue from 2021 reprints the first issue of the long-running British comics digest. I’m a subscriber, several years behind in my reading, but I get a kick out of these war stories from across the centuries.

January 14: Saintly Wife Barb makes the best brownies. If you come to my house, eat as many of them as you can and then hide the rest where I will not find them.

January 15: 1/6 by Alan Jenkins, Gan Golan and Will Rosado. What if the attack on the US Capitol succeeded? I’ve read the first issues of this brilliant, scary and scarily accurate series. It’s from One Six Comics and is must-reading for everyone.

January 16: The 75th Annual Emmy Awards. I was under the weather. This was nice comfort television. Some funny bits. Some wonderful reunions. Anthony Anderson was a fine host. His mom was hilarious. GLAAD honored. Two very enjoyable hours.

January 17: Black Panther: Reign at Dusk by Eve L. Ewing with Chris Allen and Mack Chatter. T’Challa is banished from the throne. He’s living in crime-ridden Birnin T’Chaka. My grasp on the back story is shaky, but, overall, I found this engaging.

January 18: Rescue cats Bear and Cheri will be joining our family on January 27. Cats Off the Square held a birthday celebration to honor Betty White and we made plans to bring them home as soon as we get the house ready for them.

January 19: Rescue cats Bear and Cheri made the front page of The Gazette in an article noting they were the two longest residents of Cats Off the Square. I hope their stay with us will be much longer.
I’ve missed having furry friends around me.

January 20: Saintly Wife Barb, dynamic daughter Kelly and old man Tony spent the morning shopping for Bear and Cheri. The next step is figuring out where everything goes.

                                                                           



January 21: Jimmy’s Bastards by Garth Ennis and Russ Braun. Via my local library system, I read the first volume in this insane take on James Bond and such. It’s brilliant and hilarious and I cannot wait for the second volume.

January 22: American Nightmare. This Netflex true crime documentary in three parts is chilling and riveting. A kidnapped woman. Awful cops victimizing the victims. Courageous people and one absolutely awesome policewoman. Must-watch TV.

January 23: Superman vs. Meshi by Satoshi Miyagawa and Kai Kitago. How odd does manga get? The plot of every self-contained chapter of this is “Superman goes to Japan to eat at chain restaurants.” Also, Aquaman can talk to sushi. Strange but fun.

January 24: All Eight Eyes by Steve Foxe and Piotr Kowalski. From Dark Horse, this is a pretty good giant spiders hiding in the city graphic novel that would translate well to the big or small screen.
I’d watch it.
 
January 25: Jon Stewart returning to The Daily Show. I wish it was for more than Mondays and beyond the election cycle, but I’ll take it. Bonus: he’s producing the show, which should make for a better and stronger take on what’s going on in the world.

                                                                     
January 26: Hello Fresh Steamed Hoisin BBQ Pork Buns with Cucumber Slaw and Ponzu-Soy Dipping Sauce. Oh my Godzilla! These pork buns were delicious! I could eat them every week.

January 27: Bear and Cheri are now in their forever home with us. They are being slow to adapt to Casa Isabella with Bear hiding most of the time. Cheri is a bit more social. But they are being loved and cared for. That’s the most important thing.

January 28: What's the Deal with Dead Man's Curve?: And Other Really Good Questions About Cleveland by Jim Sweeney. Since most of my original comics series will be set in the Land, this has become an invaluable source of information and inspiration.

                                                                        




January 29: Night Court. The episode “Wrath of Comic-Con” gave us John Larroquette cosplaying as a Klingon and the delectable Wendie Malick as Catwoman. Stand aside, Taylor and Travis. This couple is even hotter than you two cuties.

January 30: When I Was Your Age: Life Lessons, Funny Stories and Questionable Parenting Advice From a Professional Clown is by Kenan Thompson. A very entertaining insightful autobiography by a comedy legend. He’s the real deal and I love him for that.

January 31: After completing my first month of therapy - never you mind for what - I believe I’m finally getting a grip on surviving and hopefully thriving in 2024. I’m opening up new chapters in my life. They could be page turners.

That’s it for now. If you have business to discuss with me, be it  convention appearances or writing gigs, the best way to contact me is through my e-mail. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2024 Tony Isabella

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