Monday, July 6, 2015

TONY'S TIPS #115

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Not Brand Echh, Lady Killer and Peanuts!

THE BAD NEWS COMES AT THE END

I receive quite a few e-mails and even some phone calls of the “How are you doing?” variety. Given that I am putting in very long days writing my forthcoming “memoir of sorts,” I figured I would answer that question here. That strikes me as more efficient than trying to answer each query individually.

There’s good news to report or, at the very least, tease you about. Thom Zahler has shown me the roughs for my forthcoming book’s cover and they are wonderfulness incarnate. When you see it, you’ll know why I’m hoping people DO judge my book by its cover.

My mother has now moved to an assisted living facility and loving it. I haven’t seen her this happy in decades. She’s even going for walks, something she could never do in the war zone that our former neighborhood has become.

The old Isabella house remains occupied. It’ll be a while before my brother-in-law and siblings, who are doing all the heavy lifting on that project, will have the house empty for the next stage of its existence.

I was there for a few hours on Saturday and will probably only go back once more. It’s sad to look at the neighborhood we moved into six decades ago and realize how far it’s fallen, but the old house itself accomplished its mission and gave us a lot of good memories. That’s acceptable to me.

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I must be circumspect on this next item. For the first time in two decades, there is positive movement for me on another comics front. It’s too early to know how this will play out, but I’m guardedly hopeful there will be a good outcome.

In the past, my readers have approached editors and publishers at major conventions and expressed, sometimes angrily, their desire to see me treated fairly, as well as their interest in my returning to comic-book writing. I thank those readers for their strong support of my work.  That said...

Don’t get angry on my behalf. Regardless of whether or not that of which I cannot speak has a good outcome, I have a very good life. It’s a life that doesn’t rely on the comics industry to any great extent. My life may be challenging at times, but it’s a life that suits me quite well. Sure, by all means, let editors and publishers know you are in my corner and that you enjoy my writing. But do this in the spirit of courtesy and respect I occasionally manage to achieve in this blog of mine. Give people a chance and they might just surprise you by doing that which would please you.

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Speaking of life’s challenges, I did suffer a few setbacks after I returned home from the fabulous Indy Pop Con. In a day or two, I’ll have more to say about that most excellent event soon.

Here’s what happened last week...

I went a few rounds with what I’m convinced should be thought of as an actual medical condition: Comic-Con Depression Syndrome. It’s a disease that affects me about this time every year as I’m forced to accept I will not be at Comic-Con this year and will miss seeing my many old friends and sharing in the unbelievable fun of the event. I contend CCDS is a real thing.

The only treatment for this sinister syndrome is to lower my head and bear down on whatever work lies before me.  I also keep telling myself “Maybe next year” and trying very hard to believe it’s not just a saying.

I mean, attending Comic-Con 2016 could totally happen. As an Inkpot Award recipient, I have a lifetime pass to the convention. Someone could announce a movie or TV series involving something I created and bring me to the convention to promote said movie or TV series. A hitherto unknown-to-me rich relative could fly me to the event in his or her private jet and cover all my expenses. Don’t those sound completely within the realm of possibility?

I didn’t think so.

Sigh.

In addition to suffering from CCDS, this past week saw me dealing with return engagements of two old “friends”: back pain and gout. Fortunately, these have been part of my life long enough that I’ve gotten pretty good at overcoming them. I lose a few hours here and there, but that’s all. I count myself lucky.

The most serious ailment of the week was a nigh-crippling anxiety attack. I stressed out over the chaos of my life. Because my Vast Accumulation of Stuff is still not organized, I can’t find things I need on a nearly daily basis. The frustration of that sometimes makes me a little crazy.  Since even a little crazy means I can’t work on my book and other projects, I had to make a tough decision to relieve some stress in my life. This is where the bad news of my title makes itself known. 

There will be no Isabella Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales this year.

When I looked at my schedule for the rest of the year, when I also considered how much work would be involved in putting on even a few garage sales in August and September, I knew I couldn’t handle even attempting those sales.

This grieves me for two reasons. I will miss the additional income these sales would have provided me at a time when I’m turning down work to write my book. I will miss spending a few hours every other week with the wonderful fans who have come to my garage sales on a regular basis. They are good people.

Over the next several months, after my book is completed, I will be looking at my future garage sales with an eye toward making better and more interesting than ever. I will organize my VAOS so that I can find anything I need for my work while uncovering cool things for my future garage sales. My goal is to accomplish these tasks by March of 2017.

There will be some necessary changes in my garage sales. Realizing that some items have been on sale for years, I plan to put together a whole bunch of mystery boxes. Many of those boxes will start with a base of 200 comics. Additional items will be added to them. They will be sold at the same $5 price of previous mystery boxes. Expect these new mystery boxes to sell fast.

There will be fewer boxes of quarter comics, simply because I have been running out of comics I’m willing to sell for a quarter. But I’m confident my customers will find as many cool things to buy as ever as I add other items to my sales.

In the interim - I’m not counting on Ohio weather allowing garage sales until April at the earliest - I will be resuming the online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales. These new online sales will have more items than previous online sales. I’m shooting for, at least, a hundred new items every week. If I can keep hitting my deadlines, you’ll see the first of these sales in mid-July.

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Though my blogging will be erratic throughout this month, my next several bloggy things will feature my Indy Pop Con reports. I had a terrific time there and I’m looking forward to telling you about my weekend there.

Keep watching the bloggy thing. I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Sunday, July 5, 2015

REPUBLICANS ISLAND

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.


Here is an amusing political game you can play if you, like me, are already weary unto death of the national clown car that is filled with Republican presidential candidates. This game requires you to imagine the members of that cray-cray circus taking what they think is a short break from their antics. They board a tiny ship for what has been advertised as a three-hour tour.

Much to the consternation of that wacky bunch - and much to my own delight - the weather starts getting rough. Alas, their tiny ship is tossed, ultimately going aground on an uncharted island. Looks like the candidates will miss the 2016 election and, if we’re real lucky, the 2020 and 2024 elections as well.

Wait a minute, you exclaim. That sounds suspiciously like the basic plot of Gilligan’s Island, the popular television show that starred Bob Denver. Why, now that you mention it...

The object of this game is to match seven Republican candidates to the characters they might play on a modern remake of Gilligan’s Island. Here are the Gilligan’s Island characters:

First Mate Gilligan
The Skipper
Thurston Howell III (the millionaire)
Eunice Lovelle Wentworth Howell (his wife)
Ginger (the movie star)
The Professor
Mary Ann

Allowing for inflation and several decades of politicians who took money from the poor to give to the rich, Howell would most likely be a billionaire today. Maybe Gilligan and the Skipper are Gulf War veterans suffering from PTSD. Perhaps Ginger is one of those insane anti-vaxxer. Maybe the Professor is self-certified. Maybe Mary Ann won the cruise because she could not have otherwise afforded it on the minimum wage paid by her three jobs. You can speculate on the contemporary quirks of the castaways all you want, but none of that is essential to the game. I just mention this stuff because it came to me and I don’t want it stuck in my head. So, now, it’s stuck in your heads. You’re welcome.

Amazingly, there are over 30 people running to be the Republican Party’s candidate for President of the United States. Really. But, for the purpose of this game, I’m only going to list the ones you have heard of:

Jeb Bush
Ben Carson
Chris Christie
Ted Cruz
Carly Fiorina
Lindsey Graham
Mike Huckabee
Bobby Jindal
John Kasich
George Pataki
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Marco Rubio
Rick Santorum
Donald Trump
Scott Walker

Though I haven’t figured out all my seven choices for the candidate and cast match-ups, I’m leaning towards Bobby Jindal as Gilligan, Rand Paul as the Professor and Lindsey Graham as Mrs. Howell. Keep in mind that there are three female roles in the show and only one woman candidate. You’ll have to do some crossplay to fill out your list. Which brings me to the word of the day.

From Wikipedia...

Crossplay, a portmanteau of crossdressing and cosplay, is cosplay in which the person dresses up as a character of a different gender. Crossplay's origins lie in the anime convention circuit, though, like cosplay, it has not remained exclusive to the genre.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what my beloved bloggy thing readers come up with re: this silly little game.

Please, please, please post your match-ups to our comments section. Or, if you find that frustrating, you can email them to me or post them to my Facebook page and I’ll add them to the comments section for you.

Get your friends and family members to play the game with you. Make this an Internet meme or a Twitter hashtag. The important thing is to have fun with it...because once these campaigns get up to speed, fun might become a very scarce commodity.  

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Saturday, July 4, 2015

INDEPENDENCE DAY 2015

Happy birthday to the United States of America, my country and the country in which I have pride and concern in equal measure. In the past couple of weeks, the Supreme Court of our land rule correctly on the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality. The one ensures decent health care for millions of Americans and the other finally recognizes the obvious right that had no long been denied to many of my fellow citizens. I was delighted by these decisions, even as the right-wingers attacked them. America being America, the Court also upheld executions and pollution.

The Republican Clown Car of the 2016 presidential campaign seems to add a new buffoon every few days. The hatred and nonsense expressed by these candidates dismays me, even as some of their antics amuse me. I’ll be posting a little mental game about them later today. I hope you’ll enjoy playing in and that you’ll share the results with me and your fellow bloggy thing readers.

I looked over what I posted on this date last year and suggest my Independence Day 2014 bloggy is worth checking out, especially if you didn’t read it then. Or, if you’ve already had your fill of our contentious politics, you can reread the reviews of cheese movies I posted on Independence Day 2013.

My plans for today include taking my wife Barb to visit my mother at the very nice assisted living facility into which she has moved and then taking Mom to our family house on Peony Avenue to continue the process of closing the book on the six decades of memories that my parents and siblings made in that place. I’ll be writing about that somewhere.

I wish the happiest of holidays to my fellow Americans. I share the hopes of my foreign friends that America will strive to be a force for good in this often dangerous world of ours. The American Dream is a worthy one. Making that dream the reality is our neverending quest. Forward, ever forward.   

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Friday, July 3, 2015

ARCHIE AT 75

Look who's taking about America's oldest teenager. The above snippet comes from the June/July 2015 issue of AARP The Magazine. I envy Archie getting "an edgy new look" and invite artists with way too much time on their hands to design edgy or otherwise new looks for yours truly.
 
If any sufficiently crazy artists take me up on this offer, I'll run their designs in future installments of the bloggy thing, complete with links to their own websites or other endeavors. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 69

The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 69th installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #84 [February 1971] has a eye-popping new cover by Herb Trimpe. It’s a classic image of the Kid pushing his horse to the max while firing back at his pursuers. The excessive cover copy is redundant. The image alone sold me on this comic, even though I knew the stories within were reprints.

All three stories in this issue - When Six-Guns Roar, The Man Who Caught the Rawhide Kid and the long-of-title The Girl, the Gunman and the Apaches - were reprinted from The Rawhide Kid #27 [April, 1962]. You can read what I have previously written about these Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Dock Ayers collaborations by going back to May 23, 2012 in the bloggy thing archives.

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“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” takes up half a page. The hit of the month - as I see it - was Sub-Mariner #34 with its first teaming of Namor, the Hulk and the Silver Surfer. That alliance would lead to the formation of the Defenders the following year. The other Marvel issues on sale were Fantastic Four #107, Amazing Spider-Man #93, Avengers #84, Thor #184, Captain America and the Falcon #134, Hulk #136, Daredevil #72, Iron Man #34, Astonishing Tales #4, Conan the Barbarian #3, Chamber of Darkness #4, Sgt. Fury #84, The X-Men #68, Western Gunfighters #4, The Outlaw Kid #4, Our Love Story #9 and Millie the Model #188.

The rest of the page was a “SUPER POSTER OFFER” from Marvelmania. For two dollars (including postage), fans could order four posters  that were said to be three feet high. There was Spider-Man by John Romita, Doctor Doom by Jack Kirby, Captain America by Jim Steranko and the Incredible Hulk by Herb Trimpe. I don’t recall buying these posters, so I can’t tell you anything about them from any personal experience. A quick check on eBay saw them being offered for sale for hundreds of dollars. I wish I did have them.

On the inside front cover, MONSTER S-I-Z-E MONSTERS that were seven feet tall in authentic colors with glow-in-the-dark eyes could have  been yours for $1.25 including postage and handling. You could get the Frankenstein Monster or Boney the Skeleton. Still on hand were comics dealers Howard Rogofsky, Passaic Book Center, Robert Bell, Grand Book Inc. and Clint’s Books. A buck would still buy a sample copy of The Comiccollector fanzine.

This issue had a house ad advertising The Mighty Marvel Western #12 [January 1971] and The Ringo Kid #7 [January 1971]. The former was a 25-cent comic book with a new cover by Herb Trimpe and reprints of the Rawhide Kid by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers; Kid Colt by Lee, Jack Keller and Christopher Rule; and Two-Gun Kid by Larry Lieber, Ayers and Vince Colletta.

Ringo Kid #7 was a standard 15-cent comic book. It also had a new Herb Trimpe cover. Inside, there were three short Ringo Kid stories drawn by John Severin and a non-series story drawn by Bob Forgione with inks by Jack Abel.

The Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page announced that John Buscema was the new artist on Fantastic Four, that John Romita was returning to Amazing Spider-Man and that Sal Buscema was the new penciller for The Avengers.

Another item plugged Iceman’s guest-shot in Amazing Spider-Man and said Marvel was considering giving Bobby Drake a strip of his own.

Marvel vacation news was next. Roy Thomas went to Great Britain for three weeks. John Verpoorten was going to West Germany. Gene Colan was on his way to Europe. Meanwhile, Barry Smith has completed his arrangements to make New York his home.

There was a huge plug for Thor #104 by Stan Lee and John Buscema, which didn’t have the impact Stan clearly hoped it would have. Even when I looked at the cover for the issue, I could barely remember anything about its contents.

There was an item about Marvel writing an entire issue of Spider-Man without exclamation points and no one seemed to have noticed. Such matters would be left to individual writers.

Finally, in “Stan Lee’s Soapbox,” the Man explained why the Silver Surfer title had been cancelled. It didn’t sell.

The issue’s editorial content concluded with a “Marvel Masterwork Pin-Up” of the Rawhide Kid fighting an Apache warrior. Pencilled by Larry Lieber with inks by John Tartaglione, it was lifted from the cover of issue #74.

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July is crunch month for my memoir of sorts. Bloggy thing posting will be erratic, but there will be new content here as often as I can manage while still hitting my daily goals for the writing of my book. Thanks for sticking with me.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Monday, June 29, 2015

TONY'S TIPS #114

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Star Trek/Planet of the Apes, Knight Rider and Saved by the Bell!