Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GREAT LAKES COMIC-CON PRELUDE

Pensacon Comic-Con was almost certainly a wonderful weekend, but, since I’m writing this three days before the start of that event, I’m making an educated guess. You can look forward to my full con report in the next week or so. If all went according to plan, I returned home from Pensacon late yesterday afternoon and started getting ready for my next convention appearance.

Bloggy old Tony will be a special guest at the Great Lakes Comic-Con, Friday/Saturday, February 24-25, at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan. The convention runs from 5-9 pm on Friday and 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday.

Here’s the quick take on the event from its website:

The Great Lakes Comic-Con, or GLCC, is a comic, toy, and collectible event that runs annually in the Metro-Detroit Area (Michigan). The goals of GLCC are to provide a venue for collectors and dealers to get together, buy/sell some of their favorite collectibles, and support children’s literacy, as well as other child-related charities.

For The Great Lakes Comic-Con, we will be supporting Reading is Fundamental. Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is the largest children’s literacy nonprofit organization in the United States. The goal is a literate America in which all children have access to books and discover the joys and value of reading.


There over 5000 people at last year’s GLCC and those who attend the convention this year will find a pretty spiffy guest list including such luminaries as Nicholas Hammond, the star of the Spider-Man TV show of the 1970s, and WWF Hall of Fame wrestler Jack “the Snake” Roberts. Hmmm...I wonder if we could convince them to react that  classic “masked Peter Parker” wrestling scene from Amazing Fantasy #15. I’ll just stand back here when you ask them.

Three other media guests. Paul Soles was the voice of Spider-Man in the 1967-1970 cartoons and Hermey The Elf in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Tom Cook was an animator and director at Hanna-Barbera and Filmation and has worked on any many other films and projects as well. Movie and TV actress Lydia Graber will also be there. Her fascinating resume includes being an Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

The comics guests: Jim Shooter (Saturday only), Alex Saviuk, Arvell Jones, Keith Pollard, Greg Land, Angel Medina, Thom Zahler, William Messner-Loebs, Ryan Stegman, Randy Zimmerman, Paul Storrie, Jason Moore, Tony Gray, Dirk Manning and Seth Damoose. And yours truly, “America’s most-beloved comic-book writer and columnist,” on hand to regale you with tales of my career, hints about my latest projects and assorted comics and real-life wisdom. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

In addition to dozens of great comics dealers and other exhibitors, the convention will also feature: panel presentations, cosplay, fan organizations, face painting, balloon sculpture, free board gaming, free arcade gaming, a Magic tournament and, on Friday only, the amazing Squirrel's Creations.

I’ll be appearing on two panels during the event:

“Tony’s Tips Live” (Friday, 7 pm) is a live-action version of the bloggy things and columns I’ve been writing for decades. I’ll have some of those afore-mentioned tales with which to regale you; talk about comic books, the real world and more; and answer those questions I can answer without violating any of the seeming dozens of contracts I have signed in recent years.

"Misty Knight, Iron Fist, and Netflix" (Saturday, 3 pm) will team my collaborator and long-time friend Arvell Jones for a panel that will cover the above and more. We might even argue about which of us Simone Missick likes best. Hint: it’s me.

When I’m not on panels or roaming the convention looking for great stuff to buy, you can find me at Table 901. I’ll be selling Black Lightning Volume One and other Isabella-written items, along with a selection of other comics and books and what-have-you.

Want me to deface your Isabella-written item with my signature? I can do that for you. There will be no charge for my autograph and no limit on how many items I’ll sign. However, on the off chance I have a line of fans waiting for me to sign their comics and you’ve brought me more than ten items to sign, I’ll sign the first ten and then ask you to step to the end of the line so I can sign for your fellow fans and get them on their way.

If you’re too shy to ask me questions at my panels, I’ll be happy to answer them for you at my table. There are some questions I can’t answer at the present time, but I’ll do my level best to accommodate your quest for knowledge.

I’m really looking forward to attending the Great Lakes Comic-Con, seeing so many old comics pals and making new ones. I hope you get a chance to attend the convention and see me. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

TONY'S TIPS #197

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Mickey’s Craziest Adventures by Lewis Trondheim and Nicolas Keramidas; the thoroughly wonderful Die Kitty Die! by Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz; and We Can Never Go Home Volume 1 by writers Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon with art by Josh Hood and Brian Level!

Monday, February 20, 2017

BACK FROM PENSACON

Hey, kids...

Sainted Wife Barb and I are back from Pensacon 2017. We had a wonderful time at one of the best conventions in the country and with some of the nicest people (fans, fellow guests, and especially everybody who worked to make this show so great). 

I'll be writing about the convention soon, but, in the meantime, thanks to everyone who took care of us and made us feel so loved.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

SIGNING OFF UNTIL TUESDAY

Hey, kids!

I'm heading to Pensacola, Florida and the wondrous Pensacon.

I'll be offline until I return on Tuesday.

Please note that, since comments have to be approved by me before they appear, that your comments won't be posted until I'm back.

Have a great weekend!

Tony Isabella


RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 102

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 102nd installment in that series.
 
The Rawhide Kid #116 [October 1973] has a cover by Jack Kirby with Frank Giacoia inking. The cover is reprinted from Rawhide Kid #47 [August 1965]. This is the start of the all-old Rawhide Kid. There will be no more new stories in this title, though one remaining new tale by Larry Lieber will appear in the one-shot Western Team-Up.

This issue reprints “The River Boat Raiders!” (17 pages), written and drawn by Lieber with lettering by Art Simek. This is the third time this story has appeared in a Marvel western comic. It also ran in The Mighty Marvel Western #4 [April 1969]. That it was reprinted for the second time in four years is a pretty good indication this reprint mag wasn’t getting much attention. I wrote about this tale in February 2013 and you can read that bloggy thing here.
                                                                            

Thirteen pages into the story, we get a half-page house ad for the first issue of Crazy Magazine. The black-and-white reproduction of the full-color cover by Kelly Freas shows the Nebbish (the Alfred E. Newman of the magazine) about to blow up the logos of Cracked, MAD, National Lampoon and Sick. The ad copy claimed Crazy was “the humor mag that 4 out of 5 mad doctors recommend!”
                                                                                
   
The Rawhide Kid reprint was followed by a two-page “special Two-Gun Kid feature!” Written by Stan Lee, penciled by Jack Kirby, inked by Dick Ayers and lettered by Jon D'Agostino, ““Two Lives Has He!” contracts “eloquent, cultured, scholarly, gentle” lawyer Matt Hawk with his “two-fisted, cold, ruthless” masked identity. This feature originally appeared in Two Gun Kid #61 [January 1963]. Even making allowances for that being just the second issue of the new Two-Gun Kid’s run, the descriptions for both Hawk and his masked identity aren’t very accurate.

The half-page Marvel Bullpen Bulletins plugged the usual variety of Marvel magazines and comic books: Crazy, the new Son of Satan strip in Marvel Spotlight, the new issues of Vampire Tales and Monsters Unleashed, the Recorder appearing in Warlock, Kraven the Hunter in Daredevil, Dr. Spectrum in Iron Man, a clash between Spider-Man and the Sub-Mariner in Marvel Team-Up and Savage Tales #2.

But there is one more items of particular interest to me. Here it is in full:

ITEM! Oh, yes - we almost forgot! We want to apologize for accidentally misleading a few of you in a recent Bullpen Bulletins, when he mistakenly reported the cover price of our new HAUNT OF HORROR digest-size magazine at 60 cents instead of the correct 75 cents. We mixed it up for a moment with MONSTER MADNESS - which itself has just added fifteen coppers to its price and a bunch of pages to its format, to become (under Roy and our hard-working new recruit TONY ISABELLA) a bigger bargain than ever! If you don’t believe us, pick up our fabulous fourth issue - which zeroes in on none other than the immortal KING KONG - and see what we mean!

That’s the first time I was mentioned in the Bullpen Bulletins. I didn’t know about it until I saw the finished page. It would still be another month or so before I got my official Marvel nickname.

As usual, the rest of the page was the usual half-page house ad for FOOM, the Friends of Ol’ Marvel fan club.

The last editorial page in the issue was a “Marvel Comics Survey.” Conducted by Mark Clements Research Inc. It asked a whole bunch of questions. You didn’t have to sign your name to the survey. Even if I weren’t working at Marvel, I would have never filled this out and sent it in. I mean, why would I cut a page out of one of my comic books? Here’s the survey:
                                                                             

Normally, I’ll be covering two reprint issues of The Rawhide Kid in each of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns. However, because of all the other stuff I have to do before I leave for Pensacon tomorrow, you’re only getting one this time around. That will also hold true for next week’s RKW. Two weeks from now, I’ll write about Western Team-Up #1, which featured the last Rawhide Kid story by my friend  Larry Lieber story. Three weeks from now, if all goes as planned, I’ll start covering two reprint issues each Wednesday.

The bloggy thing will resume on Tuesday, February 21. Join me then for a preview of my appearance at the Great Lakes Comic-Con, Friday and Saturday, February 24-25, in Warren, Michigan.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TONY'S TIPS #196

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I look at DC Rebirth titles Batman, Detective Comics, Nightwing...and Captain Kid by Mark Waid, Tom Peyer and Wilfredo Torres...and the new Champions by Waid and Humberto Ramos!

MARVEL 1990s: SLEEPWALKER #1

I’m working my way through Marvel Firsts: The 1990s Omnibus [$125] - all 1288 pages of it - a story at a time. I was not a big fan of Marvel during the 1990s, but I figured it was time to take another look at the characters and comics launched in what has been called “comics' most divisive decade.”

This time out, we’re looking at Sleepwalker #1 [June 1991]. I know I read this issue when it came out and probably a few more issues beyond that. However, beyond the perhaps apocryphal report that Tom DeFalco, Marvel’s editor-in-chief back then, described the series as “Sandman done right,” I have no memory of this debut issue or of any others I might have read.

Sleepwalker was created by Bob Budiansky, who wrote all but two of the character’s 33-issue run. The title character was an alien from something called the Mindscape. The dimension, which borders on the minds of all living creatures, is inhabited by many weird creatures and some of those mean to do harm to human beings. The Sleepwalkers are the guardians of the Mindscape. They defend humans from those who would attack them in their dreams. At least, that’s what I got from reading the character’s Wikipedia entry.

Bret Blevins penciled and inked the cover of this first issue and also “ To Sleep Perchance to Scream!” (22 pages). Budiansky colored the issue and it was lettered by Tom Orzechowski. So, right off the bat, we’re talking A-list talents.

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


College student Rick Sheridan has a Sleepwalker in his mind. This gives him nightmares. Which he doesn’t need considering that he has a pretty full plate. He’s majoring in film studies. He pays for his apartment by being the building’s janitor. He intimidates a couple of low-life drug pushers into moving on from the building’s front steps. He also works part-time teaching English to immigrants. He  has a cute, understanding girlfriend by the name of Alyssa Conover. Right off the bat, I like this young man a lot.

In one nightmare, Rick grabs a star medallion off the alien being  who has been tormenting him. When he wakes, he’s stunned by a news report about an alien being preventing a robbery. The police sketch  artist drawing of the creature is an exact match for the alien in Rick’s dreams.

When Rick dreams, the Sleepwalker appears. When he dozes off during a fun house ride, Alyssa actually sees the creature. Frightened by these events, Rick tries to stay awake.

The two drug pushers from earlier in the story try to rob a store. The exhausted Rick is there with Alyssa. One of the creeps pistol-whips Rick, the other grabs Alyssa to use as a shield. Rick passes out. Sleepwalker rises from his unconscious form and goes after the two criminals.

Gunfire knocks the Sleepwalker down, but doesn’t stop him. He goes after the criminals, who have left Alyssa behind. The alien bends a lamppost around their car. He animates a mailbox to capture one of the crooks. The other fights back.

A crowd emerges and, not knowing the situation, attack the alien. He causes the street to rise around them, but does not harm them. He wraps another lamppost around the second crook.

Alyssa asks the alien who he is. He tells her he’s a sleepwalker. The creature disappears when Rick wakes up.

Rick and Alyssa compare notes. Rick now knows that when he is not conscious, the being he thinks is a monster comes out.

Alyssa asks him if he’s alright. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be alright.

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


I really enjoyed this issue. It has very likeable characters in Rick and Alyssa. It has a nice sense of building mystery. It ends on a satisfying note that makes me want to read the next issue. Based on the debut issue, if Marvel were to reprint Sleepwalker in either an “epic collection” or “omnibus,” I’d buy them.

If you’ve been keeping score on this series of reviews, we are now at 4-3 with stories I liked getting a lead over stories I didn’t like. The next installment of my “Marvel Firsts: The 1990s” series will discuss X-Force #1. Keep an eye out for it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of my rough-riding, two-fisted “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” series. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella