Friday, June 24, 2016


840 Damon Drive
Medina, Ohio 44256
Friday, June 24 (9 am to noon)
Saturday, June 25 (9 am to noon)

Thursday, June 23, 2016


840 Damon Drive
Medina, Ohio 44256
Friday, June 24 (9 am to noon)
Saturday, June 25 (9 am to noon)
My one and only garage sale of 2016 is taking shape today. The tables have been arranged.

A dozen or so short boxes of quarter comics (5 for $1) have been placed on the table.

There are four $5 mystery boxes, all of which will likely sell in the first hour of the sale.

I have the double-sided Superman posters I helped design for Cleveland's International Superman Exposition in 1988. Less than two dozen of these remain.

I'll have a couple dozen copies of the Black Lightning trade for sale.
These is a box of Isabella-written comic books.

There will be magazines at a quarter each.

There will be mass market paperbacks at a quarter each .

There will be hardcovers and trade paperbacks at a buck each.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to put my huge outdoor Superman sign together to draw the attention of garage sale customers.

A smaller "Comic Books Garage Sign" is missing, but I'm hoping it turns up today.

The bad news is that I will not be able to accommodate customers who want to come to the sale on Sunday. It's my son's birthday. 

The maybe not bad news is that I will try to accommodate customers who want to come to the sale on Friday or Saturday afternoon or evening. No promises here, but I will try. You must email me to set up your visit.

The good news is that there will be no charge for my autographs on Isabella-written items you buy from me or Isabella-written items you already own. 

That's the update. Hope to see you tomorrow.



I will be commencing my Indy Pop Con 2016 report as soon as possible, but I have to deal with some business, family, garage sale and household matters before I can get back to writing. Thanks for your patience. I hope to have something for you this evening.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...The Complete Peanuts 1999-2000 by Charles M. Schulz with an introduction by President Barack Obama, Divinity II by Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine (Valiant) and Hyperion by Chuck Wendig and Nik Virella (Marvel)!


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 136-part series on comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics.

Archie’s Madhouse launched with an issue dated September, 1959. The cover logo usually split “Madhouse” into two words, perhaps to make uninformed readers think the comic book had some connection to the wildly-successful MAD magazine. I don’t think the readers were ever fooled into believing that, but I do think the publisher might have hoped they would be. Because after he success of the original MAD comic and then magazine in the 1950s, several comics publishers launched similarly-named titles, including Cracked, Crazy, Zany and others. Label my conjecture in this case as informed speculation.

Originally, the title starred Archie characters in bizarre stories. However, a few years into the series, the comic switched to mostly one-off stories with science fiction, monster and super-heroes with an emphasis on then-current fads. If a character proved popular, such as George Gladir and Dan DeCarlo’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Joe Edwards’ Captain Sprocket  and others, they would continue to appear.

Archie’s Madhouse #28 [September 1963] is cover-to-cover fun with no paid advertisement and only two house ads. The cover features a cube-headed teenager with an open umbrella holding out his hand to check for rain while he’s underwater. The character is similar to Squarehead, who appeared in one-page gag strips in Archie’s Cosmo the Merry Martian. The Grand Comics Database opines the cover was drawn by Bob White. It denoted the indexer’s uncertainty with the usual question mark.

The GCD is uncertain about most credits in this issue. I thought I could identify some writers and artists, but lacked confidence in my identifications. When the original version of this bloggy thing appeared a few years back, I posted several pages in the hope some of my readers could offer more definitive identifications. Comics historian and master detective Martin O’Hearn responded to my call for assistance:

The Sabrina story: Dan DeCarlo and Rudy Lapick.

The cover, contents page, and section intro pages: Samm Schwartz. He did most MADHOUSE covers around this time, although DeCarlo did the Sabrina cover of #27. I think the GCD’s reflexively crediting Bob White places him a few issues past his last work on the title, but I'm open to argument. The art on single pages can be harder to ID than on full stories.

All the rest of the art, and on his art, the lettering is by Joe Edwards.

The writer from cover to cover, apart from those two ads, is George Gladir.

The inside front cover is a contents page that denotes this as the “special weightless issue.” The illustration shows teenagers Les and Ches, along with Hilda the witch and the Pink Martian. Les is wearing shades, Ches is the teenager from the cover and Hilda is, of course, Sabrina’s aunt from when she was drawn as the standard hag, a couple decades before the Sabrina TV series turned her into the delightful Caroline Rhea.

The first page of the comic has Les and Ches introducing “the teen-age section” with girlfriends Bess and Tess.

Sabrina appears in “Tennis Menace” (7 pages) by George Gladir with art by Dan DeCarlo (pencils) and Rudy Lapick (inks).  The GCD had this synopsis: Sabrina is determined to seduce handsome Bruce Van Klood away from her rival Rosalind without the use of magic potions until Rosalind begins beating Sabrina at her own game.
The early Sabrina is my favorite version of the character. She is not evil, just selfish and thoughtless in the manner of many young people then and now. She was originally drawn with a devilish mien about her, a dangerously sexy look. Alas, her appearance was soften over the years, but I’m posting a page of this story so you can see what I’m talking about.

King Neptune stars in the one-page “Something Fishy.” The sea king thinks he needs glasses and goes to an optometrist. The doctor’s eye chart doesn’t have letters on it. It has different kinds of fishes.
The Pink Martian is the host of the issue’s Space Section.

In “Brainy Footwork” (2 pages), Professor Von Dummkopf has problems with a candy machine and his new rocket. He solves both problems by kicking the devices.


“The Lanolites” (5 pages) is a funny tale of visiting aliens with mathematical formulas to predict everything. The one equation they can’t solve is love. I’m still trying to work out why the female of their kind is a gorgeous blonde while the males are half her size and bald with pointy ears.

The Pink Martian has a toothache in the one-page “The Teeth Feat.”

“Space News” (2 pages) has headlines and brief copy for the stories in a futuristic newspaper. Uranian robots are on strike and the Parisian hat designer Pierre Hotairre has just unveiled his latest space-helmet designs.

“Power Struggle” (6 pages) stars Captain Sprocket in a super-battle with the villain Dynamo Man.
Hilda introduces the “Monster Section” in a full-page gag. Hilda is making her witch’s brew using test tubes and a Bunsen burner.

The “Monster Section” consists of Hilda gag strips. In “The Broom Boom” (2 pages), a broom shortage is caused by the new witch craze of broom surfing. In “Property Predicament” (1 page), Hilda settles a mad scientist dispute over which of them created a monster. In “Trick Stick” (1 page), she makes a goof while conducting her band. On the inside back cover, “Boo! Boo! (1 page) has Hilda scaring a man out of his shadow.

The last page of the issue is a full-page house ad for Archie Giant Series Magazine #22: Archie’s Jokes. The back cover is a full-page house ad for Archie Giant Series Magazine #23: Betty and Veronica Summer Fun.

Archie’s Madhouse wasn’t a title I bought regularly, but I’d grab an issue whenever there was one at the barber shop. I used to get comics in exchange for sweeping the hair from the floor and into a series of holes in the floor. There were probably trash containers down below, but I always liked to think it was just a massive pile of hair that could come alive at any moment.  I was a weird kid and I grew up to be a weird adult.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the first part of my report on the 2016 Indy Pop Con.

© 2016 Tony Isabella                                                                                                       

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 136-part series on comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics. Today’s addition to the series is running out of sequence on account of I accidentally skipped over it. For the retentive among you - and I am one of you - it should’ve run between Alvin #5 and Aquaman #11.

Amazing Spider-Man #5 [October, 1963] is one of the mere 15 Marvel Comics titles that came out in this pivotal month.  Nine of those issues were super-hero comics, one was a western, one a war comic and the rest “girl’ comics: Modeling with Millie, Patsy Walker, Patsy and Hedy and the 1963 Patsy and Hedy Annual.

This is the month Amazing Spider-Man goes monthly and he goes mano-a-mano with Doctor Doom.  It’s the month when The Avengers and The X-Men have their debut issues. The Fantastic Four meet Rama-Tut and have their first annual. Thor faces Merlin for the first and last time. The Human Torch, Iron Man, and Ant-Man battle, respectively, the Plantman, the Crimson Dynamo and the Porcupine. In a clever bit of continuity that would become problematic a couple decades later, Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos #3 featured a guest appearance by a young Reed Richards, who, as Mister Fantastic, would become the leader of the Fantastic Four.

It was an exciting time to be a Marvel fan, but the only one of the  issues I bought off the stands was the Fantastic Four Annual.  In retrospect, it took me a few months to shift my allegiance from DC to Marvel.  I didn’t buy my first issue of Amazing Spider-Man until #9 [February 1964].  However, once I was well and truly hooked, it didn’t take long for me to buy (via mail order) or trade for these and other back issues.

The cover of Amazing Spider-Man #5 was penciled and inked by Steve Ditko. His style and storytelling skills grabbed me from the start and, for several years, Ditko was my favorite Marvel artist, even over Jack Kirby. Though the issue’s cover logo reads “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the indicia lists the title as “Amazing Spider-Man.” The title is said to be published by Non-Pareil Publishing Corp., one of a number of companies listed in the Marvel indicia of that time. Since I don’t want to get into the “why” and “what the heck” of this “whatever it was,” your homework assignment for the night is to learn all about it on the Internet. Extra credit if you find a website that has both this information and adorable kittens doing adorable things.

The inside front cover is a full-page ad for Mike Marvel’s “secret new Dynaflex method,” which he claimed “can build you a magnificent new he-man muscled body in just ten minutes a day.” I would’ve paid it no mind back in 1963, but, looking at it in 2016, I wondered if “Mike Marvel” was for real and not just a knock-off of the Charles Atlas ads of the era. I wondered if “Mike Marvel” was just the name used in Marvel comic-book advertisements. Maybe there was a “Chuck Charlton” at another comic-book company.

Doing a search, I found Mike Peterson’s World of Physical Culture,  which had this to say:

Mike Marvel’s Dynaflex course was popular from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, and was the first course to teach Isometric Power Flex Contractions—which are featured in John Peterson’s own Isometric Power Revolution.

Often compared to the Charles Atlas course in terms of its advertising style, the Mike Marvel’s Dynaflex course did contain some of the Dynamic Self-Resistance exercises or Power calisthenics that Charles Atlas taught.

Nonetheless, the Dynaflex course provided a great workout with a distinct twist on Isometrics that was later repackaged and promoted by Mike Dayton in his “Chi Mind Control” course.

Mike Marvel was probably not the bodybuilder’s given name, but he was apparently for real and his method wasn’t without benefits. The whole kit cost $1.98 and it included a free copy of the “Secrets of Attracting Girls.”

“Marked for Destruction by Dr. Doom!” (21 pages) was, according to the credits, written by Stan Lee, drawn by Ditko with lettering by Sam Rosen. Because I was not in the room when this tale was created by Lee and Ditko, I will make no assumption as to how the tale was created. Did Stan write an actual plot? Did he and Ditko work out the plot verbally? I don’t know and, quite frankly, neither do you unless you’re Stan or Steve.  Maybe not even then.  For this comic book and the other Marvel comics of the era, I’m going to go with the published credits.

Since this story has been reprinted a dozen or more times, I’m not going to present my usual blow-by-blow recounting. The Grand Comics Database has this synopsis:

Dr. Doom tries to trick Spider-Man into helping him defeat the Fantastic Four. When Spider-Man turns him down, he decides to capture Spider-Man. Flash Thompson dresses up as Spider-Man for a prank and Dr. Doom mistakes him for the real Spider-Man and captures him instead, and Flash has to be saved by the real Spider-Man.

Lee and Ditko always included action, character moments, drama, and humor in their collaborations. Doctor Doom isn’t as imposing as he would become in later years - that he was the ruler of Latveria had yet to be revealed - but he challenges Spider-Man with lethal device after lethal device over the course of the story. The wall-crawler is lucky to escape from their first encounter and, though he fares better in the second, it’s the appearance of the Fantastic Four that causes Doom to retreat from the battle.

Peter Parker is very human in this tale. When he learns high-school bully Flash Thompson was captured by Doom while wearing a Spider-Man costume, he’s sort of happy about it for a beat. Of course, he then realizes he has to rescue Flash. In other human moments, Peter pokes the bear that is Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson and reads quite a bit into a few kind words from Betty Brant, Jonah’s secretary.

Spidey’s supporting cast is kind of sort of realistic in a comic-book way. Jameson claims he’s attacking Spidey because the attacks sell newspapers. Aunt May is a lovable worry wart who treats her nephew Peter like a child. Parker’s fellow high-school students are eager to follow their leader no matter how much of an idiot their leader might be.  Speaking of Flash Thompson...

He’s a bully whose cowardice is exposed when he’s captured by Doom. But, in typical fashion, the tale he tells after he’s been rescued paints himself in a much more heroic light. It’s as I’ve said many times...we’re all the heroes of our own stories.

The Fantastic Four are enough of a presence in the story to make it clear they live in the same world as Spider-Man. However, they are used so sparingly they steal none of Spidey’s thunder.

Then and now, “Marked for Destruction by Dr. Doom!” is a terrific story. Stan’s writing is amazing and so is Ditko’s art. It’s very sad their creative partnership would come to such a bad end a few years later.

Looking through the issue for the first time in decades, it’s clear Marvel books were not as attractive to advertisers as DC’s titles. Even the ads look cheap.

Centre Coin Company would give you a free Lincoln Penny album with any purchase from $1 to $4.50. You could record your own voice at home for $6.98. Lifeland Coin Company would give you a free coin catalog while the Bargain Company would seel you “Instant Live Sea Animals” (brine shrimp) for a dollar.

“Mother Hubbard” was offering 10 king-size latex toys for a buck. These inflatable ranged from a foot to almost three free in height and featured “America’s most beloved characters from Walt Disney’s Wonderful World.” Best Values Company offered a reward of $11,750 for a coin and, for a dollar, they would send you their catalog of coin prices.

Western World Products would sell you “Grog,” a dinosaur who could grow his own plant-tail, for a buck and a quarter. Grit told boys they could make $1 to $5 weekly in their spare time by selling the newspaper. Apparently, girls were excluded.

Next in this issue was a full-page house ad for Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandoes #3. The blurbs are classic: First, the Fantastic Four! And now, in the same inimitable style, by the same writer and artist...another group of fabulous characters!

And: Battle Action!! Fighting Men!! As only the Marvel Comics Group can present them!

The next page of paid advertising offers stamps and novelties. The page has 35 tiny ads of the type that used to be the pain in Tony’s editorial ass when I was working on Marvel’s black-and-white mags of the 1970s. By then, the largely useless ad agency would sell an one-sixteenth-of-a-page ad and expect editorial to fill the rest of the page with house ads and public service messages.  These people were the same ones who tried to convince Roy Thomas that we should have paid advertising on the full page of every Marvel comic book.

Following the Spider-Man adventure, we get a full-page house ad for  Fantastic Four Annual #1, Strange Tales Annual #2 (teaming Spider-Man with the Human Torch) and X-Men #1. All that is shown of that last title is its logo.

Stan Lee knew the value of making readers feel like they were part of the company. Marvel’s letters page, along with those published in the DC comic books edited by Julius Schwartz, were the building blocks of comics fandom.

The “Spider’s Web” letters column ran two pages and featured eight letters from readers and a “Special Announcement Section” to close out the column. I’ll get to that section in a bit.

Richard Cohen of Brooklyn, New York concludes that “Dr. Octopus is the most original villain I’ve seen in my four years of comics reading.” He then goes on to criticize Marvel for having too many atomic scientist villains, too many words in the captions, villains using formal language and heroes “giving the inexperienced reader the impression that they are inhuman roughnecks.” Just imagine what he would have written if he didn’t like the comics!

Dan Fleming of Ottawa, Kansas, also liked Amazing Spider-Man #3. He would prefer two stories per issue.

Paul Moslander of San Mateo, California loves the comic, hates how Ditko draws feet.

Richard Jankowski of Dunkirk, New York thinks Doctor Octopus is a terrific villain. Sid Wright of Worchester, Massachusetts has high praise for Amazing Spider-Man #1, Fantastic Four #12 and Strange Tales #106.

The next letter is from Steve Perrin of Santa Barbara, California. Perrin was a founding father of comics fandom, a prolific fanzine contributor, the writer of the role-playing game Runequest and is active in gaming and comic books.  In his letter, he expresses his preference for gimmick villains like the Vulture.

Cory Reed of Johnstown, Pennsylvania wants a regular page listing on-sale dates for coming issues. Avid super-hero fan Dave Coleman of Rochester, New York, opines that Spider-Man is the best of all costumed heroes.

In the “Special Announcement Section”:

Spider-Man is guest-starring in both the Fantastic Four and Strange Tales annuals. The first issues of X-Men and Avengers are plugged. There are also plugs for Fantastic Four #19, Tales of Suspense #46 (Iron Man), Tales to Astonish #48 (Ant-Man/Wasp) and Journey into Mystery #96 (Thor).

The last of the four items:

A final word from Stan and Steve:

We want to thank you for making Spider-Man the smash success of the year! We promise to do our best to continue to merit your loyalty and to keep Spider-Man the greatest, most original, most exciting super-hero of all!

An editor’s note at the bottom of the column says Amazing Spider-Man #6 will go on sale approximately August 8.

There are three more interior pages of paid advertising following the letters column. If you give Palmer-Jones Publishing one evening and $1.98 (refundable if you’re not satisfied), you can be taught to hypnotize people.

Commercial Trades Institute has an “Amazing New Home Training Plan in Auto Repairing” and will send you free brochures. Of, for just $1.25, you could buy 100 Toy Soldiers, made of durable plastic on their own bases and that measure up to four-and-a-half inches tall.

The back cover is the familiar Wallace-Brown pitch to make money by selling their Christmas cards. These folks were all over the comics map in 1963. I don’t know if anyone ever made any real money from selling the cards, but they’re now considered vintage collectibles. It doesn’t appear the company is still in business.

Before closing today’s bloggy thing, I want to give a shout-out to Tim Hartin and Brent Frankenhoff for supplying with the non-Marvel pages of Spider-Man #5. I’m pleased to award them the honorary rank of B.B.B. (Boisterous Bloggy Buddies). If you see either of them at a convention, give them a snappy salute.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella


840 Damon Drive
Medina, Ohio 44256
Friday, June 24 (9 am to noon)
Saturday, June 25 (9 am to noon)

It’s been a busy year for me and it’s going to remain busy right to the moment when 2016 becomes 2017. My original intentions for this year’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff Garage Sales were to pull out all the stops and fill the Casa Isabella garage with wondrous goodies at terrific prices. That isn’t happening.

In late April, my son Eddie and I went to the Fortress of Storage for what we assumed would be many trips to those strongholds of my accumulation. We brought back over twenty boxes of comic books and  other items from previous garage sales.

The plan was to put together dozens of five-buck mystery boxes of well over a hundred items each, then bring out all manner of stuff that I had never previously offered at my garage sales. However, as my “writing to do” list grew with new assignments, as I committed to over a dozen appearances at conventions and libraries and such, nothing was getting done re: the garage sales. For the second year in a row, I had to pull the plug.

Still, with a garage filled with boxes, albeit not as many boxes as I had hoped, and with area fans and friends expressing their great disappointment at yet another year of no VAOS garage sales, I made the decision to do one garage sale. This weekend.

My one and only Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, from nine in the morning to noon each day. If you email me or private message me on Facebook requesting later hours on either of those days or hours on Sunday, June 26, I will do my level best to accommodate you.

Here’s what you will find at this garage sales:

Black Lightning Volume One. This complete collection of my first series of Black Lightning and a pair of stories written by Denny O’Neil is priced at $20. No extra charge to get my signature.

Other Isabella-written items at various prices.

The double-sized Superman poster created for the 1988 International Superman Exposition in Cleveland. I helped design this poster which has art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Dick Giordano. My supply of this rare poster is limited. Maybe 20-30 left in all. The cost of a poster is also $20.

There will be boxes of comic books and magazines priced at a mere quarter each. There will be mass market paperbacks also priced at a quarter apiece. There will be hardcovers and trade paperbacks at a buck apiece. There will be 3-6 $5 mystery boxes.

I will be on hand throughout the garage sale to answer questions, entertain/inform/regale you with my adventures in and knowledge of the comics industry and sign Isabella-written stuff free of charge. Even Isabella-written stuff you already own.

This garage sale is only going to be advertised in the bloggy thing  and on Facebook and Twitter and Craig’s List. I’m not taking out my usual newspaper ads. This is a low-key sale being done on account of I didn’t want to disappoint my customers completely and because the boxes are already in the garage. I hope to do much better for you in 2017, but more on that at a later date.

I’m looking forward to seeing my dear customers and friends this weekend. Come on by, buy some stuff, have some conversation. We’ll have some fun.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella