Tuesday, July 25, 2017


My August 11-12 Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale has been cancelled. 
I'll be going to New York that week for a special event, which I'll tell you about at some point in the future. If I think I can put together a quality garage sale for the weekend of August 4-5, I'll do so and let you know about in all the usual places. 

My life is changing in ways I never dreamed possible. Mostly in great ways. 

But I'm still Jenny from the block...err...Tony from the fanzines...and I will always treasure the love and support I've gotten from my fellow fans and which I continue to receive.

Keep watching the bloggy thing and my Facebook page.

Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Hey, kids...

Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing will return on Tuesday, August 1. I had to juggle my schedule to handle some important commitments and some relatively minor medical stuff.



Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Free Comic Book Day happens but once a year. Every year, good old Bloggy Tony gets all the FCBD issues from his friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. Then he tries to read and review  all of them. He judges those individual issues on three criteria:

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want to buy more of the same?

On a scale of zero to ten, each of those criteria is worth up to three points. Tony awards the elusive tenth point when he deems a FCBD offering particularly worthy.

Defend Comics is this year’s Free Comic Book Day offering from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, educators and readers. The issue presents seven short comics stories, most with some connection to freedom of expression.

QUALITY: There’s not a bad story in the issue. “Rock Stars” is an excerpt from Jeffrey Brown’s Lucy & Andy Neanderthal: The Stone Cold Age involving music as an early form of communication. “Secret Message” by Ryan North with artists Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb covers toy electronic typewriters with an encryption function. In “Babymouse” by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, readers can write their own speech balloons. “Wide Opinions” by Mike Lawrence discusses how we must defend even speech with which we disagree. In “Free Speech for Arachne,” George O’Connor casts a mythological tale as a right of expression conflict. In Falynn Koch’s “The Pryomancer,” magic is the stand-in for freedom of expression.

My favorite story of the issue is “Delia’s Lucky Book” by Matthew Loux. The book is the first book its young heroine truly loved and it was a book banned by her school until she and others protested that decision.

ACCESSIBILITY: Mostly excellent. “Rock Stars” was a bit confusing, but everything else was new reader-friendly.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. The message of the CBLDF comes through in this comic and a couple of house ads leads readers to comics by the contributors.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.

The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess [Viz Media] has excerpts from two Zelda manga series: the title series and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Both are written and drawn by Akira Himekawa using styles so different from one another that I thought they were done by two different artists. These comics are based on the popular and seemingly endless video game.

QUALITY: The “Twilight Princess” excerpt is very well done. Not so the “Ocarina of Time” excerpt, which suffers from poor storytelling and an art style that doesn’t really work with the material.

ACCESSIBILITY: Mostly poor. Though the “Twilight Princess” excerpt is easy to follow, the “Ocarina of Time” excerpt is nigh-impossible to fathom.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. There are house ads for the manga series and a back cover with both of them and a third book.

SCORE: Five out of ten points.


Drawn & Quarterly Presents Guy Delisle Hostage presents a 14-page excerpt from the Delisle graphic novel and 13 pages from Brigitte Findakly’s Poppies of Iraq as drawn by Lewis Trondheim. There are also many ads for other D&Q publications.

QUALITY: Excellent. Delisle’s account of Christophe Andre’s time as a hostage is brilliantly tedious, conveying that tedium and Andre’s ever-present fear and discomfort. The Findakly/Trondheim excerpt is a fine first-person account.

ACCESSIBILITY: Pretty good. My only quibbles are that background on Andre would have been helpful - the excerpt doesn’t convey how he came to be a hostage - and that the lettering in the second story gets a little wonky and hard to read.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. Readers are directed to the graphic novels from whence the excerpts were taken. Other ads promote a wide range of other Drawn & Quarterly titles.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.


This year’s edition of Bongo Comics Free-For-All reprints several stories from Bart Simpson Comics. The best of the bunch is “Leader of the Backpack Pack” by Max Davison with artists Rex Lindsey and Dan Davis. When a skateboard accident - i.e. “male showboating” - forces Bart to use a wheelie backpack, he teams with and inspires other students who use them.

QUALITY: All the stories are amusing with Mike W. Barr’s “The Todd & Rodssey” being both amusing and very clever. I’m a big fan of the Simpsons and Futurama comics from Bongo.

ACCESSIBILITY: After 28 seasons, The Simpsons are such a popular culture landmark most readers will be familiar with the characters even sans any particular introductory material.

SALESMANSHIP: So-so. There are house ads for two trade paperbacks collecting stories from the comics, but absolutely no indication of the ongoing comics series. That costs this FCBD issue some points.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.


Underdog [American Mythology] has one of the coolest covers of any of the FCBD issues. Kudos to Bill Galvan. Inside: a new Underdog story by James Kuhoric and Adrian Ropp, a one-page strip by Kuhoric and Galvan, a reprint of a 1977 Underdog story by Steve Skeates, a coloring page or two and previews of other titles coming from the publisher.

QUALITY: The comics stories are fun. Not brilliant or anything, but fun. I enjoyed them and it was especially cool to read an Underdog story by my friend Steve Skeates.

ACCESSIBILITY: Pretty good. Underdog is a classic character, which means you don’t need a lot of background to enjoy his adventures.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. In addition to Underdog ads, we get some nice reviews for The Friendly Ghost Casper and Rocky & Bullwinkle. Other ads include the Pink Panther and the Three Stooges. That is a solid, suitable-for-all-ages roster.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.
The Free Comic Book Day edition of Betty and Veronica #1 [Archie Comics] reprints the 23-page story from the Betty and Veronica #1  that wasn’t free. Written and drawn by Adam Hughes, it stars a pair of mean girls who have clearly abducted the real Betty and Ronnie and stolen their identities. I hated it when I first read it and it hasn’t improved with age. The issue also includes that photogenic Riverdale (TV show) character guide that ran in the FCBD Riverdale one-shot.

QUALITY: Well...the art is nice. To quote Don Thompson once again, if you like this sort of thing, you’ll like this.

ACCESSIBILITY: Shaky. Hot Dog (Jughead’s dog) narrates the story. If a new reader gets past that, they will find the story more than a little disjointed and unsatisfying. Especially when they get to the two pages that consist of a single image with dozens of speech balloons. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll like this.

SALESMANSHIP: Several decent ads for Archie comic books and trade paperbacks. Noting that some of them are “Classic Archie” is good.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.


Spongebob Freestyle Funnies [United Plankton Pictures] features 28 pages of comics, including “The Great Funnybook Getaway,” a 21-page epic by Jay Lander (story and layout) and Jacob Chabot (pencils and inks) wherein the Krusty Krab crew and friends go in search of free stuff on No-Charge Funnybook Day. The other seven pages are short stories of one to four pages.

QUALITY: “The Great Funnybook Getaway” is hilarious with some very pointed barbs at aspects of the comic-book industry. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I think Patrick’s response when asked if something hurt - “Yes, but the pain tells me I’m alive” - may become my own response to so many of life’s questions.

ACCESSIBILITY: There’s no background information on Spongebob and his friends. I’ve never seen an episode of the cartoon. Yet, maybe though the osmosis of popular culture, I somehow knew just enough to follow and enjoy the lead story. However, that didn’t help with the back-up strips.

SALESMANSHIP: The inside back cover has an ad for two collections of Spongebob comics, but gives no indication of the ongoing title. That costs this issue points.

SCORE: Seven out of ten points.

That’s a wrap for our weekend of Free Comic Book Day reviews. I’ll be back tomorrow with something different.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Free Comic Book Day happens but once a year. Every year, good old Bloggy Tony gets all the FCBD issues from his friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. Then he tries to read and review  all of them. He judges those individual issues on three criteria:

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want to buy more of the same?

On a scale of zero to ten, each of those criteria is worth up to three points. Tony awards the elusive tenth point when he deems a FCBD offering particularly worthy.

Secret Empire [Marvel] presents a 10-page excerpt from the latest and possibly worst “Let’s break toys we didn’t create” event fail as well as 10 pages from Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 by Chip Zdarsky and Paulo Siqueira.

QUALITY: Maybe it’s because I still have a soul, but I’m just not down with this tedious “Captain America is the leader of Hydra and a totalitarian dictator who betrays his friends and lets loose all kinds of Hell on the America he once loved” epic. Taken out of the context of the terrible story, the writing and art aren’t terrible. But they are in service of an awful story. As for that Spider-Man excerpt, Zdarsky is trying way too hard to be funny and, because of that, he’s not. But I did like the upgrades to the Vulture and the introduction of the new Trapster. Did I miss something happening to the old Trapster?

ACCESSIBILITY: The Secret Empire excerpt goes for faux-poignant in the writing and fails to provide new readers with the background information they would need to know what the heck is going on with this story. The Spider-Man excerpt is much better in that regard.

SALESMANSHIP: Ten pages of house ads feature a lot of Marvel stuff, including the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series. Sadly, the ads don’t offer much in the way of information. They might remind an existing reader what’s available, but they don’t entice the new reader. Which is the point of Free Comic Book Day.

SCORE: Three out of ten points.

Kid Savage [Image] presents a 30-page chunk of the graphic novel by Joe Kelly and artist Ilya. Set on an uncivilized alien world, the segment shows the title hero fighting nasty creatures to survive. He, in turn, meets a family that has crashed landed on his world. There’s also a brief excerpt from Gregg Schigiel’s Pix, which I’ve praised recently.

QUALITY AND ACCESSIBILITY: Decent. The story is fast-paced, but in speeding from scene to scene, it doesn’t slow down to provide any background. Nor does Ilya’s art always convey what’s happening in a clear manner. Ultimately, I had to do an online search to find an article that gave me a handle on who these characters were and what was happening, The Pix excerpt is much better in this regard, but is all talk and no action.

SALESMANSHIP: The last panel of the Kid Savage excerpt lets us know there’s a graphic novel. There’s a nice ad for the Pix books preceding the Pix except. There’s an ad for other Kelly-written GNs and also a general “Image Classics” page. Neither of those two ads offers any real information on the titles being advertised.

SCORE: Three out of ten points.


All-New Guardians of the Galaxy has a 10-page Guardians story and a 10-page Defenders story. The Guardians tale is written by Gerry Duggan with art by Aaron Kuder. The Defenders intro is written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by David Marquez.

There’s a similarity between these two stories. In the Guardians, the Nova Corps has returned to intergalactic law enforcement, only to be challenged by the Shi’ar Empire’s Fraternity of Raptors. In the Defenders, Luke Cage, Daredevil and Iron Fist are taking pre-emptive action against anyone trying to fill the crime vacuum left by the Kingpin moving into the mainstream.

QUALITY: The Guardians story is functional, but doesn’t really have the feel of either the movies or the previous Guardians comic books from Marvel. The Defenders story is much better, but its attempt to mesh the various Netflix series with the Marvel comics universe is not a smooth transition, asking us to believe its seeming “big bad” is actually as dangerous as the story would have him be. However, I liked it well enough that I’ll be following the ongoing Defenders series and giving Bendis more time to make his case.

ACCESSIBILITY: All of these characters are pretty well known to an audience larger than that of the comic books. I don’t think a new reader would have any real problems getting into the stories. But a little introductory copy would have gone a long way.

SALESMANSHIP: Nine pages of Marvel house ads, including a double-page spread of Guardians trades and separate full-page ads for the first issues of All-New Guardians of the Galaxy and the Defenders, do the job pretty well. However, the other ads seem to be targeting existing Marvel readers instead of new ones. I’m out of the ad copy business myself, but Marvel could sure use someone like me to bring an outsider perspective to these ads.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.


Colorful Monsters [Drawn & Quarterly] is a 68-page comic book with solid chunks of four graphic albums: Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War, If Found...Please Return to Elise Gravel, Anna & Froga, and Moomin and the Brigands. That’s pretty impressive for a free comic  book, but doesn’t change the fact that three of the four features do nothing for me. I do like a wide variety of comic, but nobody I know of enjoys every comic book there is. It’s what I have started calling “The Krazy Kat Konundrum” wherein I can recognize something has merit but which doesn’t appeal to me at all.

QUALITY: Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War is the only one of these features I liked...and I liked it a bunch. Which should come as no surprise to those of you who have seen my glowing reviews of this manga series. I struggled to get through the other strips, my eyes glazing over as I did so. Once again I must quote Don Thompson and say “If you like this sort of thing, you’ll like this.”

ACCESSIBILITY: Decent. Introductory comments to Kitaro and If Found should give a new reader a leg up into those strips. But there was nothing similar for Moomin or Anna & Froga.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. This giveaway comic book has ads telling  readers about the other volumes in these four series.

SCORE: Five and a half out of ten.


Animal Jam [Dynamite] is based on some online playground. Over 70 million fans think it’s perfect for kids of all ages. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

[National Geographic] Animal Jam takes place in fictional Jamaa.  [The area contains] various biomes and cartoon player-created animals. Players can create an animal with an anonymous 3-part name, such as "Crashing Magicshark", dress it up with virtual clothing, and control it in the gameplay environment. The original six virtual animals that could be created were the panda, rabbit, tiger, wolf, koala, and monkey. Many more animals have been added following the six, letting players have the possibility of seeing one of their favorite animals in the game. Players can also customize their dens with furniture, chat with other players, adopt pets, play mini-games, buy additional furniture, clothing, and dens with gems and diamonds as a method of payment, attend parties, and go on various RPG-style adventures. There is a membership feature available costing real money. Members get access to exclusive dens, pets, animals, and adventures, among other things.
This FCBD issue has a 20-page Animal Jam story written and drawn by the prolific Fernando Ruiz. It also has a dozen pages of house ads for other Dynamite titles.

QUALITY: New animal Clover comes to Jamaa where she’s given a tour of the place and introduced to many animals, including the “Alphas” who protect the animals from the Phantoms who would harm them all. We get an amusing travelogue, a concise history of how the place works and some action/drama when Clover accidentally opens a portal to the realm of the Phantoms. It’s a solid story with lively art. Definitely one of the best FCBD issues.

ACCESSIBILITY: If a doddering old senior like me can follow Ruiz’s story with ease, anyone can.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. Besides Animal Jam, we get ads for several Grumpy Cat titles, Boo the World’s Cutest Dog, Betty Boop, Bob’s Burgers and Doodle Jump Comics.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back with more reviews of Free Comic Book Day comics tomorrow. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Friday, July 21, 2017


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

Free Comic Book Day happens but once a year. Every year, good old Bloggy Tony gets all the FCBD issues from his friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. Then he tries to read and review  all of them. He judges those individual issues on three criteria:

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want to buy more of the same?

On a scale of zero to ten, each of those criteria is worth up to three points. Tony awards the elusive tenth point when he deems a FCBD offering particularly worthy. 
Attack on Titan [Kodansha Comics] contains an original, all-new,  20-page story by Jody Houser with artist Emi Lenox and colorist Lee Loughridge. It’s from the Attack on Titan Anthology, which features a roster of Western comics creators offering reinterpretations of Hajime Isayama’s hit anime and manga series.

QUALITY: “Truth” is an excellent story of a young woman after her brother has been killed by the giants and what she discovers about her sibling and the world outside their city’s protective walls via  the drawings he illegally made. In the city, such art is banned and considered treason.

ACCESSIBILITY: Though this story stands on its own, unless a reader already knows the Attack on Titan anime or manga, they wouldn’t be able to get any background on the series. The inside front cover, which does a good job of promoting the anthology, doesn’t offer any “what has gone before” information on the series itself. There is a three-page excerpt from Attack on Titan: The Anime Guide, but it, too, neglects to include background information.

SALESMANSHIP: Besides the inside front cover, this FCBD issue also has several pages of house ads for several other Kodansha books and series. Some of these ads offer enough information that the reader could be tempted to give them a closer look.

SCORE: 8 out of 10 points.

Buffy: The High School Years [Dark Horse Comics] teams a 12-page, complete-unto-itself Buffy the Vampire Slayer story with a 12-page, also-complete-unto-itself Plants vs. Zombies tale. The former is, of course, based on the epic TV series, and the latter is based on a hit video game.

QUALITY: The Buffy story, much of which takes place in a comic-book shop, is fun. The Plants vs. Zombies, much of which takes place in a decidedly odd town in the Old West, is amusing.

ACCESSIBILITY: Writer Kel McDonald includes just enough background in his Buffy script to give a new reader an entry into that world. Paul Tobin’s Plants vs. Zombie story lacks background information. A better designed inside front cover would have made room for that kind of “what has gone before” information.

SALESMANSHIP: I suspect most readers will already be familiar with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and some fewer readers will know about the Plants vs. Zombie video game. The former doesn’t need a hard sell. The latter is entertaining enough that a reader might be tempted to look for more PvZ comic books.

Dark Horse includes lots of house ad for their other titles in this issue. If a reader liked the Buffy story, they will learn there are three original graphic novels featuring the Slayer in high school. The back cover does the same for Plants vs. Zombie. In between, we get four ads for other Dark Horse graphic novels and collections. Some of the items shown look interesting.

SCORE: 7.5 out of 10


Riverdale One-Shot [Archie Comics] is based on the hit TV series on the CW. I don’t care for that TV series and care even less for the writing of Chief Creative Officer Roberta Aguirre-Sacasa, so take that into account when you read my comments.

This issue has two stories, each of them ending with a last-panel “To Be Continued” caption. The Archie story goes into more detail on the events that took place in the first episode of the TV series and leaves little doubt that Archie and Ms. Grundy did, indeed, do the deed and likely more than once. The Veronica story shows what her life in New York was like before her dad was arrested for fraud and embezzlement. Apparently, these tales will be continued in the ongoing Riverdale comic book, which will feature untold tales set in the world of the TV series.

QUALITY: It’s not that Aguirre-Sacasa is a terrible writer or that the art is bad. But his stories here are typical teen angst opera that doesn’t fit the Archie characters. At least, these characters have some redeeming value. In his Afterlife with Archie, virtually every character with the exceptions of Archie and Betty are really terrible people.

ACCESSIBILITY: Pretty good. A new reader should be able to follow these two stories easily. There’s also a character guide from the show with additional background information.

SALESMANSHIP: Also pretty good. If a reader likes what they see in the issue, the several house ads will direct them to where they can find more comics like this one.

SCORE: Well, as my friend and mentor Don Thompson used to say, “If you like this sort of thing, you’ll like this.” I don’t like this sort of thing, but I’m still giving this Free Comic Book Day issue 7.5 out of 10 points.


Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika [Benitez Productions] is a steampunk saga set in turn of the century England and other lands. Its title heroine is the lone survivor of mad science experiments that left her with mechanical limbs. Lacking any memories of her life before and during her captivity, the courageous young woman has become a private investigator.

This issue features “The Demon of Satan’s Alley,” the prelude tale to Mechanika’s adventures, as well as excerpts from The Tablet of Destinies and The Lost Boys of West Abbey. Mechanika is created, written and drawn by Benitez with colors and logo design by Peter Steigerwald.

QUALITY: I’m not a steampunk afficionado, but these stories represent some first-class comics storytelling. I like the lead character and the mysteries surrounding her. I like the setting and the gorgeous art and colors. I think I need to read more.

ACCESSIBILITY: Excellent. The back cover gives a concise history of  Lady Mechanika and the prelude story and the excerpts are easy to get into.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are a lot of Lady Mechanika comics and graphic novels available right now. A series of house ads could serve as a Lady Mechanika checklist. The issue also has a two-page ad for Wraithborn Redux, an intriguing urban fantasy by Benitez.

SCORE: The full 10 out of 10 points.


Tex: Patagonia [Epicenter Comics] features a 28-page excerpt from the graphic novel of the same name. Tex Willer has been appearing in comics stories for nearly 70 years. He’s an agent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a Ranger and a leader of a Navajo tribe. He’s a steadfast hero who hates bigotry of any kind and, in this excerpt, is fighting alongside a small army of gauchos and vaqueros to hunt down and punish hostile raiders. Also fighting alongside this army is Tex’s son Kit.

QUALITY: Excellent. Written by Mauro Boselli with art by Pasquale Frisenda, the excerpt has the look of a spaghetti western but with true “white hat” heroes in Tex and Kit. One of the better moments in the excerpt has Kit seeking assurances that innocent tribesman will not be punished for the crimes of the renegades.

ACCESSIBILITY: A two-back text feature after the excerpt gives you everything you need to know about Tex and the character’s history. I think it would have worked better appearing before the excerpt, but Boselli is pretty good at conveying information via dialogue.

SALESMANSHIP: The comic book does a great job leading the readers to the full graphic novel, but not so well with two other graphic novels: Zagor and Magic Wind. I have no clue what either of those is about.

SCORE: 8.5 out of 10 points.

DC Super Hero Girls [DC] features a chapter from Summer Olympus, a new graphic novel by Shea Fontana with art by Yancey Labat. Wonder Woman is invited to spend her summer break with her father Zeus on Mount Olympus. She is allowed to bring her friends, but almost all of them have plans. So it’s her and Bumblebee. Not to worry. This chapter features all of the other Super Hero Girls before Wonder Woman and Bumblebee leave, as well as a nice selection of villains on their way to the hoosegow.

QUALITY: Excellent as always. I love this series in both comics and prose. It’s got action, laughs and a modicum of teenage problems. It’s suitable for all ages and, as I see it, that includes the 65-year-old guy who writes this blog.

ACCESSIBILITY: These are teen versions of classic DC characters and most people will know them. Fontana smoothly integrates background information into the dialogue. There are also several bio pages on the stars of the comic.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. There are lots of ads for Super Hero Girls books, comics, games and toys. There are also ads for other Cartoon Network series.

SCORE: 10 out of 10 points.

That’s a wrap for today. However, since I fell behind in reviewing all the Free Comic Book Day issues, I’m going to devote Saturday’s and Sunday’s bloggies to them as well. Free Comic Book Friday on Saturday and Sunday? I’m a wild man!

See you tomorrow.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


My July 28-29 Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale has been cancelled. 

Between my trips to Burbank to meet with the Black Lightning writers and then Chicago for G-Fest, I've fallen behind on my writing schedule. 

With dentist and doctor appointments scheduled for next week and August, I have to catch up on that schedule and get ahead on it. 

Something has to give. That "something" is the extensive preparation I need to do before my garage sales. The next one is scheduled for August 11-12. If I get far enough ahead on stuff, I'll extend the hours of those garage sales and maybe even add Sunday hours.

I'll do my best to make my August garage sales truly special. Thanks for your understanding.

I'll be back on Friday with a new bloggy thing. See you then.

Tony Isabella



RESOLVED: The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  This is why I’ve written over a hundred columns about him. Something about his short stature, but large courage, honor and fighting skills speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I decide to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them. We’ve reached the title’s extended twilight.  We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the now-bimonthly reprint series. This is the 117th installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.  

The Rawhide Kid #130 [November 1975] has a cover penciled and maybe even inked by Larry Lieber with alterations by John Romita. It’s a reprint of the cover of The Rawhide Kid #58 [June 1967]. As you can see, Romita did considerable work on the figure of the Kid, on the orange-clad bad hombre on the balcony and on several other figures. I’ve included the cover to issue #58 here so that you can compare the two covers.

“When a Gunfighter Faces...the Enforcers” [17 pages] was written by  Gary Friedrich, penciled by Lieber and inked by Vince Colletta. I  wrote about this issue in June of 2013 and you can read my comments on the story here.

As with the previous few issues, the story was reprinted in order. It was the standard length tale for Marvel comic books of that era and that meant no pages had to be cut to make it fit. In the place of what would’ve been a letters page in Marvel comics featuring new  material, we got “A Marvel Masterworks Pin-Up” of the Rawhide Kid being punched by an Apache warrior. It was taken from the cover of issue #74 [February 1970] and had previously been used as a pin-up in issue #126 [May 1975].

There are a dozen “classified” ads from mail-order comics dealers with none of them particularly noteworthy. There are three pages of Marvel house ads, a Bullpen Bulletins page and a comic-book style ad for Hostess Fruit Pies that stars the Hulk.

The first Marvel house ad is the full-page “Poster Pandemonium” ad we’ve seen before. Including 25 cents for postage and handling, you could get any of the six posters - Spider-Man, Conan, Dracula, the Hulk, Captain America or Deadly Hands of Kung Fu - for a buck and a quarter and any three for two bucks and a quarter. Residents of New York and New Jersey also had to add 8% for sales tax.

The second Marvel house ad was a full-page announcing and offering MGM’s Marvelous Wizard of Oz. Written and edited by Roy Thomas with art by John Buscema, Tony DeZuniga and the Tribe, the 10 by 14-inch treasury edition was a joint venture by Marvel and DC.

Legend has it that DC publisher Carmine Infantino out-foxed Marvel by claiming DC was working on an adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel on which the movie was based when, in fact, DC hadn’t begun such a project. DC agreed to shelve its project and share costs and profits on the Marvel version. I don’t know if I believe “legend” in this case, but I don’t entirely disbelieve it either.

“Stan Lee’s Soapbox” led off this issue’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page. Our fearless leader announced Marv Wolfman would be the new editor-in-chief of the color comics with Len Wein writing several titles and serving as consulting editor. Archie Goodwin would take over as editor of the black-and-white magazines. Additionally, Stan plugged the Marvel-designed Slurpee cups (60 in all) that would be available at 7-Eleven stores in the summer...and a visit from Terry Gilliam of Monty Python’s Flying Circus...and a surprise that was being cooked up by Angela Bowie and husband David...and the coming of Marvel’s Celebrity, a publication not unlike the smash hit that was People Magazine. As I recall, the Bowie surprise had something to do with Angela wanted to star in a Black Widow movie.

Sidebar. I would move back to Cleveland for several months before returning to New York to take a staff job with DC Comics. My idea was that leaving New York would ease my problems with Marv and Len who seemed to think of me as a rival instead of an asset. Anyway, during that summer, Barb and I would go to 7-11 often and collect those Marvel cups. I don’t think we got all 60, but we got a lot of them. One of these days, they might turn up in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff. End of sidebar.

The lead news item reported that Marvel’s softball team got beaten by teams from Sports Illustrated and Time, but defeated John Wiley and Sons by a score of 18-7.

The next item plugged the Marvel Special Edition treasury editions which would reprint stories of Marvel super-heroes titles...and the Queen-Size Millie the Model special, which I’m pretty sure was not a treasury edition.

Several quick notes comprised the third, final and long item. They were:

Marvel staffers crowding around production chief John Verpoorten’s office to get a look at Jack Kirby’s new Captain America pages.

Letterer Irv Watanabe returning to the comics business.

Don McGregor appeared on WHBI-FM’s “The Big Sim Power Hour” to talk about comics in general and “Night Figure,” his own upcoming weekly radio drama series.

Jim Mooney and wife Anne announced the arrival of their “bouncing baby girl” Nolle.

Steve Gerber was said to be in hiding after he finished editing the special “Paranoia” issue of Crazy Magazine.

Len Wein would be writing Iron Man and Thor in addition to Spider-Man and Hulk.

Herb Trimpe was moving from Hulk to Iron Man.

The new editors of the seven-title British weeklies line were Duffy Vohland and Michele Brand.

Bonnie Smith was taking over the managing of the Marvel’s fan mail from Michelle Wolfman who was pursuing a career as Marvel’s newest colorist.

An item about some fellow named Tony Isabella combined three items into one with a small degree of accuracy. I didn’t break my leg in the softball game with Wiley and Sons. I broke my ankle. I didn’t return to a staff position. At the request of Stan Lee, Sol Brodsky and John Verpoorten, I took an office at Marvel so I would be near at hand for emergency copy writing and other projects. However, I did get engaged to future wife Barb Kepke, even if that very first engagement didn’t take. About a decade later, we did get married. Best day of my life.

This Bullpen page ended with shout-outs to Irene Vartanoff, Scott Edelman and Roger Slifer who were said to have threatened to attack if they weren’t mentioned. Though I never saw this with my limited connection to the Bullpen staff, I have since been told that said staff became quite territorial in demanding freelance assignments go to their own favorites and fellows. I’m not sure I believe this, but, as I didn’t have much contact with the staff outside of Stan, Sol and John, I wouldn’t have noticed this.

Next to the Bullpen page was “The Incredible Hulk and the Twins of Evil,” a Hostess Fruit Pies ad by artist John Romita and an unknown (for now) writer, though said writer was likely one of the Marvel editors or staffers. In the one-page ad, the Hulk gets a beat down at the hands of the Abomination and the Wendigo. Two hikers revive the Hulk with delicious Hostess Fruit Pies. The Hulk then punches out trees on his way to settle the score with his foes. Beware of fruit pie rage, my friends.

The afore-mentioned Rawhide Kid pin-up appeared on the second last interior page of the issue. That was followed by the half-page FOOM ad we’ve seen and a half-page ad for Marvel sweat and tee shirts. The Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man and Hulk tee shirts came in man sizes for $4.45 each (included postage and handling) and boy sizes for $3 each. Sorry, girls, no tee shirts for you. The Captain America and Spider-Man sweat shirts were $5 each.

“Rawhide Kid Wednesday” will be back next Wednesday. For tomorrow, I’ll have something else for you.

© 2017 Tony Isabella