Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I have to move some stuff around to keep myself sane through the weekend.

TONY ISABELLA'S BLOGGY THING is on hiatus until Monday, August 1, which is when I'll start posting the first of my three-part "Sharkpocalypse" series. I'll be reviewing all six of the movies premiere on the Syfy Channel this week: Atomic Shark, Dam Sharks. Ice Sharks, Planet of the Sharks, Ozark Sharks and, of course, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. Those columns will be followed by multi-part convention reports on G-Fest, PulpFest and Monsterfest Mania. However, depending on my mood, I might write some other bloggy things to go between these multi-part efforts. My pile of comics and books to review is starting to look like the world's most dangerous Jenga game.

Between now and the end of next week, I also hope to answer all the e-mails and other messages that have been sitting in my various "in" boxes far too long. I also hope to finish a couple other projects by mid-August. I thank you for your patience.

There may be some other announcements coming in August. Life is both challenging and exciting for me these days.

See you soon.

Tony Isabella


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 83rd installment in that series. 
The Rawhide Kid #97 [March 1971] has a cover drawn by Larry Lieber with Bill Everett inks. Inside the issue, Lieber’s back writing and penciling “The Young Gun” (14 pages) with inks by George Roussos. With the exception of just one more fill-in story by Gary Friedrich and Dick Ayers, the Lieber/Lieber/Roussos team will be the regular team for all the remaining new Rawhide Kid stories to run in this title.


The Rawhide Kid is getting a shave in a small town. This moment of relaxation is shattered when inconsiderate outlaws loudly rob the bank across the street.

Grabbing his hat and a towel to wipe off the shaving cream from his face, the Kid manages to unhorse one of the bank robbers and take him prisoner. He is amazed to see his captive is a young boy. The other outlaws stymie a pursuing posse by dynamiting and blocking a mountain pass.  

Back in town, Danny Murdock, the littlest bank robber, refuses to talk to the sheriff. The Kid asks to talk to him alone:

Since I’m a gunhawk who’s wanted in almost every neck of the woods but this, he might open up to me!

No such luck. The defiant Danny is certain the gang, led by brother Clay, won’t let him rot in jail. He says they will bust him out. Just you wait and see. To which Rawhide responds:

If you do escape, you’ll be a fugitive from justice, a wanted man, the target of every tin star and bounty hunter in the territory! And that’s no picnic, boy! I know!

Clay comes up with a plan to get Danny out of jail. The gang takes a nice older couple hostage and send an emissary to town. If Danny isn’t released, the old folks have had it. At the first sign of a posse, they’ll be killed. The sheriff has two hours to comply with Murdock’s demand.

Minutes later, riding alone, “Danny” is on his way to the hostage situation. But it’s really Rawhide wearing the youngster’s clothes. He gets the drop on the outlaws and dispatches two of them before he is shot from behind. Figuring a posse must be right behind the Kid, Clay and his gang take off without killing the old couple or realizing the bullet just grazed Rawhide’s head. The outlaws head for their hide-out so Clay can think of another plan to free Danny.

Danny won’t tell Rawhide and the sheriff where the hide-out is, so the Kid comes up with another plan. An unseen “friend” hands Danny a gun through his cell window and tells the boy his horse will be waiting for him in the alley.

Armed and not asking any questions, Danny forces the sheriff to let him out of the cell. He locks up the sheriff and takes off. Which is when we learn Rawhide’s plan. He’ll give Danny a head start and then set out after him. The sheriff is skeptical:

This better go right or I’ve had it as sheriff! Towns don’t take kindly to lawmen who deliberately let their prisoners escape!

Rawhide’s plan has a psychological side to it:

The only way to straighten Danny out is to let him experience a fugitive’s life! The life of a man hunted like an animal and constantly on the run!

The lesson begins. When Danny takes a lunch break, cooking a meal over a fire, Rawhide shoots the meal out of the boy’s hands. Danny jumps on his horse and flees. He’s not anxious to tangle with the Kid. Miles of relentless pursuit follow with Danny thinking he has lost his pursuer only to have a shot from afar narrowly miss him.

Finally, the exhausted Danny believes he’s lost Rawhide and heads for the gang’s hide-out. Clay figures out that this was the Kid’s plan and sets up an ambush. Which Rawhide was totally expecting on account of you don’t get your own comic book if you’re not thinking several panels ahead of the bad guys. Outlaws tumble from the rocks as Rawhide shoots them down.

Clay drops his guns rather than face the Kid. That’s when Danny’s lesson kicks into high gear.

CLAY: N-no! Don’t shoot! I give up! I’m droppin’ muh gun! There! See?!

KID: Why should that matter to me? You must’ve gunned down scores of unarmed men! But I’ll give you a chance anyway! Pick up your iron! Go on...pick it up!

CLAY: N-no! I won’t fight yuh! Yore too fast! You’ll kill me! I don’t wanna die! (Sob) I wanna

KID: Say it louder! I want Danny to hear you! I want him to see what a gunslick is really like...when he’s stripped of all his bravado and bluster!

KID (to Danny): Do you want to end up that way...trembling before a gun that’s faster than yours?

DANNY: No! I thought that outlawin’ was great...but yuh sure showed me different! It’s being hunted and on the run and always scared. I’m quittin’ right now! I’m gonna turn myself in to the law and take my medicine!

Okay, technically, Danny is not turning himself in. He and Clay are being brought in by the Kid. But Rawhide lets that slide. He tells Danny the judge will take the boy’s youth into account and go easy on him:

And afterwards, you’ll be a free man for the rest of your life!


Though “The Young Gun” gets a little wordy in places, it’s still a solid tale. Sort of a Wild West afternoon special. It was reprinted in Rawhide Kid #149 [January 1979] with a new cover by Gene Colan and Bob McLeod. Here’s the cover of the reprint:

The lead story is followed by “The Swap!” (5 pages), a non-series tale by Stan Lee with art by Paul Reinman. This is a reprint from Two Gun Kid #59 [April 1961].


Old Charlie Duff, prospector and Gabby Hayes cosplayer, runs into town shouting that he struck gold. Con man Cal Yates tells Charlie that his gold strike is chicken feed compared to Cal's own find:

My land’s got oil on it! Enuff to float the whole danged state of Texas!
Charlie is depressed:

I always been unlucky! Even when I make a strike, someone makes a better one, so no own cares about mine!

Charlie asks Yates to swap land with him. Yates says he’d be plump loco to do it. Charlie points out that Yates is already rich, but that Charlie is an old man with his first strike. He’d like it to be the biggest strike anyone ever made.

The “kindly” Yates agrees to the swap as a favor to old Charlie on account of he likes him. The townspeople think Cal is a bigger man than they ever gave him credit for. But...

Yates gloats to his “friend” Hank that this was the biggest swindle of his career. His land is worthless and now he owns a gold mine. Except...

It’s fool’s gold. You see where this is going, right?

Charlie strikes oil on that worthless land. It’s the biggest gusher ever seen in the state. He’s a millionaire.

Some time later, Hank takes Yates to Cal's former property, which has several oil wells reaching to the sky.

There it is, Yates, your old piece of land! Got any more smart swindles you’d like to make?


There is no letters column, Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page or house ads in this issue. But it does have a second non-series story from The Ringo Kid Western #17 (April 1957].

Drawn by Doug Wildey, “The Payoff!” (4 pages) is so thin of plot it can be summed up in one line, which I have cribbed from the Grand Comics Database entry on the story...


A sheriff hides in a money chest to surprise stagecoach robbers.


That’s all for this week’s edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder: Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump by G.B. Trudeau; Ms. Marvel; and Planet Comics Volume Eight, reprinting Planet Comics #30-35 [May 1944 to March 1945]!


Following this weekend’s Monsterfest Mania, my next appearance will be at the Euclid Public Library, 631 East 222nd Street in Euclid, Ohio on Wednesday, August 3, at 6:30 pm. I’ll be speaking to that library’s comic book club, talking about my life-long love of and 44-year career in comics, as well as answering questions on comics and related subjects.

Long-time readers of my writings, both here and in Comics Buyer’s Guide, know I’m a big fan of libraries and librarians. Such public institutions and the good people who work in them are often on the front lines when the backwards forces of repression try to restrict your access to and right to read what you deem fit for yourself and your children. Librarians are true heroes and libraries are their halls of justice!


I continue to make good use of my local Medina library and the vast ClevNet organization of which it is a part. For those of you who’ve not yet heard me gush about this system, here’s out it works:

ClevNet is a organization of around a hundred area libraries. If I want a book or a movie, I can go to my online account, check if the item is available and, if it is available, request it. The item is then sent to my local library, which calls me to let me know it’s waiting for me and that I have a five days to come and get it. This easy system allows me to read and watch hundreds of books and DVDs every year. Many of the items I review here and elsewhere came from my local library.

Borrowing books and movies from the library saves me money, but it also costs me money...beyond supporting the library with my taxes. A few dozen times a year, after I’ve read a book or watched a DVD, I’ve decided to purchase a copy of same for my home library.

Among the most recent library items I’ve read have been a police procedural mystery, a non-fiction book about a nearly forgotten branch of mass market paperback publishing of the 1960s and the second volume of a very strange manga series.

Cue the reviews...

Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo [Minotaur Books; $26.99] is the latest novel in her Kate Burkholder series. Burkholder, who was once a member of an Amish community in Ohio, is now Chief of Police of the Painters Mill township. Over the course of several books, she has been able to reestablish ties with members of her family and find love with State Agent John Tomasetti, a fellow cop. She’s happy in her life, but she’s always a cop. When her background makes her the perfect person for an undercover mission in New York, she accepts the assignment despite Tomasetti’s objection.

The death of a young Amish teenager and the mysterious nature of the very reclusive Amish community in which she lived concerns the sheriff’s department of a rural upstate New York area. Burkholder agrees to pose as an Amish widow who has relocated to the community after the death of her husband. Both her and her imaginary spouse were unhappy with the lax ways of their community in Ohio. She has come to this area looking for a new start and to return to the more stringent observance of her faith. She draws on her own background to make her cover story believable.

It doesn’t take long for Kate to become part of the community, to ask some inappropriate questions and to quickly learn the dangerous consequences of such questions. What follows is a mix of kindnesses and brutalities with surprises around every chapter. As the secrets of the community come to light, the novel leaps forward at a pace nothing short of breathtaking. It’s a book that will give you cause to think, even as it excites you and carries you to its satisfying conclusion.

If anyone else in my family had my interest in mystery and police novels set in Cleveland or other parts of Ohio, the Kate Burkholder series would be in my personal library. If you share my interest in thrillers like this, you should definitely check out the series via your local library. It’s terrific.

ISBN 978-1-250-06157-7

I’d read an earlier edition of Sin-a-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties [Feral House; $25.95] but this is an expanded edition. Edited by B. Astrid Daley and Adam Parfrey, this just-published new edition adds the former’s articles on "Occult Sleaze," "Swinging Sleaze," and the books of the 1970s, and additional cover designs to accompany those new profiles.

Having worked as a professional writer for 44 years, I’m fascinated by this branch of paperback publishing of which I was dimly aware at best. I knew many of these books were pseudonymously written by authors - Robert Silverberg and Donald E. Westlake, to name but two - who would distinguish themselves in other more recognized genres. I knew many of them boasted incredible covers by Gene Bilbrew, Bill Ward, Robert Bonfils and other unsung artists. But I didn’t know the publishers or the stories behind how these books were created and distributed. This 328-page exploration satisfied my curiosity while entertaining me. If you have a similar curiosity about these books, I think you’ll enjoy Sin-a-Rama as much as I did.

Sidebar. When I picked up the book at my library, I was surprised to see it wrapped in a plain white sheet of paper. I was amused as well because the cover, while certainly featuring women with ample bosoms that seemed likely to pop out of their dresses at a moment’s notice, didn’t seem appreciably more salacious than the covers of some movies I’ve borrowed from the library. This “cover up” struck me as humorously excessive, especially given that the book was on a shelf in the library’s “pick up” room, well away from the casual browser.

Sidebar the second. Part of my interest in the subject manner stems from my wanting to someday write a novel of this nature using the formula described by the esteemed Silverberg in his lively article on his work in the field. Said novel will almost certainly feature super-heroes and super-villains.

ISBN 978-1-62731-028-4                                                                          

I’m also reading, though I’m not 100% certain why, Richi Ueshiba’s Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 2 [Vertical Comics; $15.95]. This manga series is sort of hard to explain, so I’m going with the back  cover come-on from the first book:

Mikoto Urabe is a new transfer student in Akira Tsubaki’s high school class. One day, Akira happens to find Mikoto passed out asleep on her desk after classes have ended. He wakes her and tells her it’s time to go home, and discovers that she has drooled on her desk. He spontaneously reaches out to touch and taste it… and then things start getting really strange

Urabe’s drool has the power to convey emotions and even memories to Tsubaki. So, in every story, she sticks her finger in her month and then sticks her finger in her new boyfriend’s mouth. She does this with a girlfriend as well. I’m thinking this must be some kind of sexual fetish. But I’ve never researched this because I’m already creeped out by it. I don’t want to know if it’s a real thing.

Getting past the drool thing, the mysterious Urabe and the devoted Tsubaki are interesting characters. The stories are well told and likewise interesting. The art is first-rate and some pages are just plain beautiful. Which I guess is why I’m reading it.

Mysterious Girlfriend X has also been adapted into an anime series. A third volume of the manga series is due in September. If you’re a fan of such relationship series, you might want to give this one a look.

Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 1:

ISBN 978-1-942993-45-2

Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 2:
ISBN 978-1-942993-46-9

Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 3:

ISBN 978-1-942993-70-4

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new installment of our high-riding “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 25, 2016


From the same fine folks who bring you the amazing Akron Comicon, Monsterfest Mania has its premiere outing on Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30, at the University of Akron’s Quaker Station. As with Akron Comicon, this will be a family-friendly show with that friendliness extending to the ticket prices: $10 on Friday, $15 on Saturday, $20 for both days. Children under the age of 13 are free. Parking is also free. The show hours are 5-10 pm on Friday and 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday. I’ll be there both days.

The headline guest is the great Basil Gogos, the acclaimed artist who created the most beloved Famous Monsters of Filmland covers of the past. Joining him will be Lisa Loring, who played Wednesday on The Addams Family television series, and Felix Silla, the actor and stuntman who played Cousin Itt on the show. The show’s other guests include artists, authors, historians, horror movie hosts, masters of props, special effects creators and more. Convention events include a costume/make-up contest, horror/sci-fi movie screenings, panel presentations and more.

I’m scheduled to appear on one panel on Saturday at noon:

Ghoulardi Tribute Panel

Presented by Michael Monahan and Mike Olzsewski

Ernie Anderson’s crazy beatnik alter ego, Ghoulardi, was more than a horror host. He was more than a local television celebrity. Ghoulardi was a social movement.

Hot on the heels of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the British Beatle Invasion, Ghoulardi exploded on the scene like a cultural boom-boom. Over 50 years later, Cleveland is still picking up the pieces.

Join a panel of expert Ghoul-ga-teers as they discuss Ghoulardi’s unprecedented appeal and his lasting influence in the most highly-anticipated event since The Parma International Piano Music Playing Contest.

I’m one of those experts, though, truth be told, I was just one of tens of thousands of Cleveland kids to whom Ghoulardi was like unto a god. I’ll be talking about the impact he had on me and how it has shaped my comics work and more.

The rest of the convention?

When I’m not checking out other panels, meeting the other guests, or visiting with old friends like Ted Sikora and Chris Yambar, I’ll be at table G8. No relation to the pulp magazine hero who, with his Battle Aces, flew the skies to fight America’s enemies wherever he found them.

While at my table, I’ll be answering questions, selling stuff and signing autographs. I’m still figuring exactly what I’m bringing to the convention, but it’ll certainly include Black Lightning Volume 1 (which collects my first Black Lightning series from the 1977), an assortment of other Isabella-written items, the double-sided Superman poster I helped design for 1988's International Superman Expo in Cleveland and some other stuff.

Though comics remain my first fan and professional love, my second is the B monster movies of the past and the present. I am excited about Monsterfest Mania and hope to see you there.


Due to family and work responsibilities, I have had to cancel some of my 2016 appearances. Here’s the current schedule:

Wednesday, August 3: Euclid Library (Ohio)

Sunday, August 14: Neo Comic Con (Strongsville)

Saturday, October 1: Cleveland Comic Con 2016

Sunday, October 2: Cleveland Comic Con 2016

Friday, October 21: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, October 22: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Sunday, October 23: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, November 5: Akron Comic Con

Sunday, November 6: Akron Comic Con

Unless those aforementioned work responsibilities take me to other events, I won’t be adding any other appearances to this schedule. I am open to discussing 2017 appearances.

If you’re a convention promoter who is interested in bringing me to your event, email me. If you’re a fan who would love to see me at a convention near you, contact the promoter of that convention and ask him or her to get in touch with me.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 21, 2016


These are the sort of notions that cascade around my brain when I don’t get enough sleep. They appear today because I am desperate to post something before I leave for my annual weekend of inhaling ancient magazine dust and fragments at PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio. Who needs narcotics when you have The Spider, Weird Tales, Zeppelin Stories and Hollywood Homicide Tales?

* There is a fortune to be made selling shirts, coffee mugs, water bottles, coasters, bumper stickers, wall hangings, headbands, booty shorts and lawn signs saying THIS IS A NO POLITICS ZONE. I give you this brilliant idea free of charge, but be a mensch and send me two  t-shirts (XXL) and the biggest lawn sign you make.

* Cosplay suggestion. Three women in sparkling evening gowns with Ghidrah heads sing songs from Japanese movies in the style of the Supremes and other Motown groups.

* To qualify for holding public office, elected officials should be required to spend a year working in a job that pays much less than $15 a hour. Also acceptable would be spending a year as a soldier in a combat zone.

* There’s something wrong about a world in which we have no ongoing CSI series. Especially since I have been working on a pitch for a new one. I’ve already picked out the Who song for the theme music: Fiddle About. Now I just need to decide on the city where the new series will take place. Possible choices include Cleveland, Ohio; Intercourse, Pennsylvania; Toad Suck, Arkansas; and Valley of Enchantment, California.

* I’m not having much luck playing Pokemon Go! But I have managed to catch Waldo, Carmen Sandiego and Jimmy Hoffa. Although, in all honesty, Hoffa wasn’t hard to catch.

* No offense to clowns intended, but, every time a politician or a pundit is caught in a lie, they should be forced to don an article of clown attire. If they get down to the big red shoes, then they should be removed from office and/or television.

* How much longer must we wait for a Star Trek/Star Wars crossover movie? Oh, be quiet. You know you would go see it.

*To assuage the tender feelings of those sensitive souls who hate the new Ghostbusters movie, Paul Feig will be rebooting Bridesmaids with male actors in the title roles.

* Open carry advocates should own as many guns as they want as long as they carry all of them on their persons at all times. Yes, I’m talking 24/7. While they sleep. While they brush their teeth. While they poop. While they shower. While they eat. While they watch Fox News. While they mow their lawns. All their guns. All of the time. Eventually, this will solve the problem.

*Disney Avengers. Captain America leads a new team of heroes in a movie you’d go see even faster than you’d go see the Star Trek and Star Wars crossover. Cap’s Silly Sextet: GizmoDuck from Duck Tales, Hercules, Merida from Brave, Wreck-It Ralph, Tinker Bell and Elsa from Frozen.  

*Launch a Kickstarter campaign to make enough money to finance my future Kickstarter campaigns. I’ll never have to produce anything except Kickstarter campaigns.

*Bill Clinton’s “First Lady” speech should be a word-for-word copy of Michael Douglas’ climatic speech from The American President: “You want a character debate, Don? You better stick with me, 'cause Hilary Rodham Clinton is way out of your league.”

* Weaponized Cheetos. I mean, besides Donald Trump.

The bloggy thing is taking a few days off while I attend PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio. I’ll be back on Monday with the word on my next convention appearance - Monsterfest Mania in Akron, Ohio - and my revised schedule for the rest of 2016. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


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 82nd installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #96 [February 1971] has a cover drawn by Gil Kane with Bill Everett inks. Inside the issue, Everett is also the inker of “The Kid from Missouri” by guest writer Gary Friedrich and guest artist Dick Ayers. The 14-page story would be reprinted in Rawhide Kid #148 [November 1978] with a new cover by Gene Colan and inker Joe Rubinstein.

I love this story. I love this story so much that I’m going light on the spoilers to encourage you to track down either this original appearance or the reprint. I think it’s the best Rawhide Kid story  not written by Stan Lee or Larry Lieber


The Rawhide Kid and horse Nightwind are riding along when they come across a prison break in progress. Even though he is a wanted man himself, the Kid knows he has to try to stop it.

Rawhide shoots one of the two outlaws attacking the prison coach, but the other kills both of the guards. The Kid knocks the gunman from his horse with a flying tackle, but the bigger man kicks him (implied) in the groin. The man is preparing to shoot Rawhide dead when a shot rings out and ends his life.

Rawhide’s life was just saved by an elderly prisoner once known as the Missouri Kid. Despite this timely rescue, our Kid plans to turn Old Kid over to the authorities. Just not before Old Kid tells him his story of a young man wronged by a ruthless railroad company and who sought vengeance on same without hurting innocent folks. More I will not say, but it’s a great yarn. I was rooting for Old Kid at this point.

What follows are various humorous actions and exchanges. A lawman who looks suspiciously like the Marvel version of Wyatt Earp - also drawn by Ayers back in the day - gets the drop on them. The lawman is only interested in the Rawhide Kid and, not knowing who Old Kid is, lets him go.

More stuff happens until we get to a very satisfying ending. Like I said, you need to track down this story in the original version or the reprinted version.


Here’s the cover of the reprint:

Marvel went to the 1950s for the four-page reprints backing up the main story. “Gunhawk” by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely is from The Ringo Kid Western #15 (December 1956). “Hide-Out” has art by Human Torch creator Carl Burgos and originally appeared in The Outlaw Kid #19 (September 1957). The writer of the Burgos story has not yet been identified.


“Gunhawk” is a gem. It’s set in the lawless frontier town of Nugget Notch. A terrified stranger rides into town shouting that Gunhawk, a lightning-fast gunslinger for the Texas Rangers, is after him for a shooting in another town.

Bull Jones, the outlaw who runs the town, doesn’t want the law in his town. The stranger tells Bull he will need all his men to beat Gunhawk, the fastest gun east of the Rockies, the man who out-drew Frank James and the Wabash Kid. Bull isn’t impressed. He says he’s the fastest gun in these parts with the exception of another outlaw named Sagebrush Harry. That’s when the stranger tells him Sagebrush was buried last week:

The Gunhawk outdrew him afore his hand could touch his colt!

Bull and his men don’t need to hear any more. They decide to move on to other parts, leaving the stranger standing in the street, begging for help. When they run into a grim man riding into town, they rat out the stranger:

We ain’t looking fer trouble, amigo! We’re just leavin’ town. The man yuh want is hidin’ in the hotel! Yuh can have him with out compliments!

The grim man walks into the hotel. The stranger recognizes him and calls him “Gunhawk.” And then, they talk:

GUNHAWK: Well, it worked again!

STRANGER: Yeah, if we keep chasin’ these owlhoots outa the towns we’re supposed to clean up, our gun-hands are gonna git rusty! We won’t be able to draw if we have to!

GUNHAWK: It’s funny that they’re never smart enuff to doubt your story about me! Oh, well, I guess if they were smarter, they wouldn’t be owlhoots!

STRANGER: That’s right, Tom...and remember, in the next town, it’s my turn to be Gunhawk!

If I were ever asked to edit a volume of the best of the pre-hero Stan Lee stories, this one would definitely be in it.

“Hide-Out” has a tough act to follow and, while it doesn’t rise to the challenge, it’s not a bad little tale. First-time robber Drew gets caught in the act by first-time bank guard Pat. They both fire and they both miss. The fleeing Drew vows vengeance. Pat promises to get him first.

Drew goes into the woods searching for a hide-out. He gets turned away from other outlaw hide-outs who fear the pursuing Pat. Drew’s further adventures in the woods terrify him. When he finally finds a secluded cabin, am equally weary Pat is there. The guard came to the cabin to escape Drew. The finish is fun:

The two enemies, each afraid of the other, swung fists, missed and collapsed...

PAT: Drew, I guess we just ain’t fighters! What d’yuh say we help each other stay alive and get back to civilization?

DREW: It’s the only way we can save our own skins, Pat! And I’ll be happy to go back and face the music!

DREW: Any place...even better than this hide-out! Alone...I don’t think...I could last it out!


There’s no letters column in this issue, but we do get the return of the “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins. The lead item is about an article on Marvel in the August 1, 1971 issue of the Sunday supplement magazine Parade. That’s followed by an announcement of two new titles: Tomb of Dracula by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan, and Warlock by Roy Thomas, Gil Kane and Dan Adkins.

In other Bullpen news...John Romita, Marie Severin, Herb Trimpe and other Marvel folks took part in an art program for underprivileged kids at the Guggenheim Museum...Stan Lee shaved off his beard...Al Kurzrok, production worker and sometimes writer, went to Haiti for a weekend vacation...Barry Smith, now living in New York City, went back to England for a vacation.

“Stan’s Soapbox” discusses Marvel’s price increase to a quarter for a thicker book, then immediately down to a standard comic at twenty cents. No explanation beyond it being a decision made by the Marvel business people.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” lists a dozen new issues. Besides the aforementioned Tomb of Dracula and Warlock, there’s Fantastic Four #119 (the Human Torch and the Thing team up with the Black Panther in what I recall was a pretty good story), Spider-Man #105, Thor #196, Avengers #96 (with “the startling wide-up to the Kree-Skrull war”), Hulk #148, Captain America and the Falcon #146, Sub-Mariner #46, Daredevil #84, Astonishing Tales #10 (Ka-Zar) and Sgt. Fury #95 (reprinting one of that title’s earliest issues by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby).  

That’s all for this week’s edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 136-part series on the comics 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 Pals ‘N’ Gals was launched in 1952 and ran to September, 1991 for a total of 224 issues. The first 83 issues were at least 52 pages and were designated as “Archie Giant Series” on the cover. This should not be confused with the Archie Giant Series Magazine title that featured a variety of titles, such as Betty and Veronica Summer Fun and Archie’s Christmas Stocking.
Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gales #26 [Fall, 1963] was a 68-page issue with a cover featuring the Thinker statue that appeared in the earliest episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis television show.  Makes me want to write an Archie/Dobie crossover.

The Grand Comics Database, which is the source for all of today’s writer and artist identifications, opines that Bob White might be the penciler of this issue’s cover. Their guess is probably better than mine when it comes to such things.

The inside front cover of the issue advertises a “Treasure Chest of Fun.” The fun comes from the variety of novelty items offered by Honor House Product Corporation. These items included a silent dog whistle ($1), See-Behind glasses (75 cents), a bank vault with an alarm ($1.49), and an atomic smoke bomb (20 cents).
Archie is possessive of Veronica and seemingly feared by the other boys in “Brute Farce” (6 pages). The fear is feigned on account of Veronica has made its clear she won’t date (secretly) any guy that doesn’t go along with this routine. If I had to guess the identity of the writer, I would go with Frank Doyle because the story builds so nicely to its punch panel. The GCD has Harry Lucey as penciler.

Next is a full-page subscription ad for Archie’s Pals ‘N’ Gals. In 1963, you could get five giant-sized issues for a dollar.

Jughead stars in “A Matter of Competition!” (6 pages). When all of the girls are smitten with the handsome new history teacher, Archie and the boys can’t get a date to save their lives. Jughead makes an off-handed remark that the only way to change that is to get this new teacher transferred. Archie’s father has a cousin on the school board and, in a shocking abuse of power, that cousin does get the teacher transferred. His replacement is even more handsome.

Jughead also stars in two half-page gags: “Female Fearful” and “No Hits..No Runs...Nothin!” The GCD opines that Bill Vigoda might have penciled these and the next story.

Next is Archie in “Mister Clean” (6 pages). The story starts with  Veronica looking Laura Petrie hot as she vacuums. Before the story  is finished, the bumbling Archie manages to prevent Veronica’s dad from being taken by a phony diamond merchant.

Archie loses whatever points he gained with Mr. Lodge in the three-page “Caddy-Baddy!” Mr. Lodge is playing against someone he wants to sign a million-dollar contract. Mr Lodge knows he has to lose if he wants to make that deal. He figures having Archie as his caddy makes that a sure thing. Yeah, that will work.

“Archie Club News” (2 pages) has three cash-winning club members. Cathy Webb (Roanoke, Virginia) won $5 for writing about her family vacation. Barbie Williams (Santa Barbara, California) won $3 with her descriptions of what goes on around her house. Linda Cole (Los Angeles, California) wins $2 for her jokes.

Li’l Jinx stars in “A Helping Hand,” a single-page gag strip by Joe Edwards, who wrote and drew all but one Li’l Jinx story or strip during the character’s long run.

Another house ad. For a quarter each, fans could order any of eight Archie Giant Series comics: Archie Annual #15, Archie Giant Series Magazine #22 (Archie’s Jokes), The Adventures of Little Archie #29, Archie Giant Series Magazine #24 (The World of Jughead), Archie Giant Series Magazine #20 (Archie’s Christmas Stocking), Archie Giant Series Magazine #21 (Betty and Veronica Spectacular), Archie Giant Series Magazine #23 (Betty and Veronica Summer Fun) and the issue I’m writing about today.

Archie stars in and wears “The Helmet” (5 pages). The helmet is a safari helmet that offers protection from the sun, can serve as a weapon and attracts lovely young ladies. Veronica takes issue with that last one. Lucey is the penciler.

Another one-page Jughead gag. The GCD tentatively identifies Vigoda as the artist of “Food for Thought.” The gags in this issue are disappointing, a contrast to its mostly excellent longer stories.

Jughead stars in “Blood Brothers” (3 pages). Researches are taking blood from the male students for a study. When they get to Jughead, the sample consists of hamburger gravy. The GCD tentatively lists Samm Schwartz for penciler.

Two half-page paid ads are next. Archie speaks for U.S. Royal Bike Tires on the top half of the page. Below, the Ed Sale Studio says it can teach you play guitar in seven days or it will refund your $2.98 payment.

Archie stars in “The Other Cheek” (6 pages) wherein Reggie tries to con both Archie and Principal Weatherbee. Guess who ends up with a week’s detention? Once again, the GCD tentatively lists Vigoda for the penciler of this story.

Two more half-page ads. The top half offers Kissing Dolls for half a buck. The only choice offered was a complete set of one girl and one boy. Yeah, I know. It was 1963.

The bottom half of the page offers “100 Little Dolls” for $1. They are made of “genuine Styrene plastic and hard synthetic rubber.” I think I might have dated a woman like that. Once.

Betty and Veronica star in “Splinter Group” (6 pages). Archie gets a splinter in his finger. Veronica takes him to the nurse’s office. The nurse is gorgeous and kisses Archie’s boo-boo. I’m guessing she then lost her job because, when Archie gets another splinter, the new nurse is somewhat less than gorgeous. The penciler for this one is Dan DeCarlo.

It’s followed by a Betty and Veronica pin-Up page drawn by DeCarlo, another Li’l Jinx gag page by Edwards and a paid ad for the “Magic Art Reproducer” discussed in a previous July 1963 entry.

Archie gets caught whispering in Miss Grundy’s class in “Sound Off” (6 pages). She and the principal try to punish him by not allowing him to speak. This backfires on Weatherbee. The GCD opines Vigoda for the penciler of this story.

A full-page ad drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger showcases Gilbert Auto-Rama”s “Fly-Over Chicane.” The boys racing their motorized vehicles have big smiles on their faces. Like when you and your pals found that copy of Playboy.

Archie stars in the three-page “Be Prepared!” He and Mr. Lodge do some bonding over Veronica’s being ill. It’s nice while it lasts.

House ad. If you ordered a 10-issue sub to Archie, Jughead, Laugh, Pep, Betty and Veronica, Life with Archie, Archie’s Joke Book or Archie’s Madhouse, you would have gotten the free gift of a lucky penny horseshoe. The ad claims it’s Archie’s favorite lucky pocket piece. That covered the first person who subscribed, but what about the others? How many lucky pocket pieces did Archie have? 

On the inside back cover, the National Youth Sales Club would have awarded you great prizes or big cash profits for selling Christmas and All-Occasion Greeting Cards. I wonder if they had a card that you could send to a kid who got taken in by this scam.

The back cover advertises Daisy B*B rifles and an indoor range to shoot at. What could possibly go wrong?

Gosh, hasn’t this trip back to the summer of 1963 been great fun? Wouldn’t you like to do it again soon? I know I would. Keep reading the bloggy thing for more fun from the past, from the present and from the future.  

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 18, 2016


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder....The Batman Adventures Volume 4 by Paul Dini, Brice Timm, Kelley Puckett, Mike Parobeck and others; Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks by Faith Erin Hicks with artist Yishan Li; and Shigeru Mizuki’s The Birth of Kitaro:

PULPFEST 2016 (July 21-24)

I’m writing this before I leave for G-Fest (July 15-17). Assuming there wasn’t some sort of Kaiju Rapture which carried me skyward to Godzilla Heaven, I have three days before I drive down to Columbus for Pulpfest 2016.

PulpFest 2016 is Thursday, July 21 through Sunday, July 24, at the Hyatt Regency Columbus in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a fun gathering for fans of pulp magazines and much more. There is a large dealers room filled with magazines, paperbacks, new pulp fiction, comic books, etc. There will be panels, films, auctions and other presentations.While I have an interest in most of the above, my main reason for attending PulpFest every year is to see dear friends like Anthony “Tex” Tollin, Will Murray, Ron Fortier, Rob Davis and others. It’s a relaxing show for me.

This year’s Guest of Honor is author and editor Ted White. I first got to “know” Ted when he was editing Amazing Stories and Fantastic during the 1970s. He also wrote a Captain America novel, The Great Gold Steal, back in the day. We’ve exchanged messages a few times over the decades, but I don’t think I ever got to meet him face-to-face. I’m looking forward to that.

There are also some panels I’m looking forward to over the weekend, especially if I can stay awake for the evening ones:

Thursday, July 21:

9:10-9:55 PM: Street & Smith’s Second Stringers — The Whisperer and The Skipper (Will Murray)

Friday, July 22:

8:45–9:30 PM: AMAZING STORIES: The First Science-Fiction Pulp (Joseph Coluccio, president of the Pittsburgh Area Fantasy and Science Fiction Club)

9:40–10:20 PM: A Century of the Specialty Pulp: LOVE STORY MAGAZINE and the Romance Pulp Phenomenon (Laurie Powers)

10:30–11:15 PM: A Century of the Specialty Pulp: WESTERN STORY MAGAZINE and the Evolution of the Pulp Western (Will Murray)

Saturday, July 23:

3:00–3:50 PM: Ten Years in The Shadow’s Sanctum: Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books (with Will Murray)

7:30–8:15 PM: Our Guest of Honor (Ted White, editor emeritus of AMAZING STORIES)

As I said above, PulpFest is my chance to just kick back and relax. I usually bring a small stack of books and magazines I haven’t been able to read at home. I get together with Columbus area friends I do not see often enough. This year, after going through a couple of rough patches, I plan to take time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and important life issues like that. I also plan to borrow Sainted Wife Barb’s laptop computer with me in an experiment to see if I can start doing a few hours of work each day when I’m at conventions. Obviously, for me, this whole relaxing business is not an exact science.

Many of my friends will be San Diego this week/weekend attending the always amazing Comic-Con International. Some of them have asked if I’ll be there. One or two have told me they know I’m coming as part of some secret announcement. If that’s the case, it’s so darn secret nobody’s told me about it.

I’ll be in Columbus this weekend. Not San Diego.

Maybe next year.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff. 
© 2016 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 14, 2016


I’ll be talking about three cheesy monster/sci-fi movies today and, yes, there will be SPOILERS AHEAD. I’ll give the title of each film before my review of same, which will allow you to decide if you’re okay with reading spoilers for that movie.


From IMDb: When ancient flying reptiles attack Los Angeles, it's up to two working-class friends, the unlikeliest of heroes, to save the day.

Written by Don Bitters III, directed by Bitters and  Geoff Reisner, this is 95 minutes of solid “B” fun. Neither gentleman has much of a full-length film resume, which amazed me because this movie had it together from the get-go.

Pterodactyls - as in a whole lot of them - have apparently been in self-imposed exile in space, which stretches my willing suspension of disbelief more than I would like. The creatures return to our world in meteors and we get our first look at them very early on in the movie. The CGI is strong within them.

Landscapers Lars and Jonas are likeable, middle-class heroes just trying to get by. When they learn from brainy and feisty bartender Valerie that meteors are worth big bucks, they drive off in search of them. They find one, not realizing it holds a baby pterodactyl.The adult creatures do know this and they follow our guys back to the city and Valerie’s apartment. Before long, the city itself is under attack. Lars, Jonas, Valerie and Valerie’s “sultry” roommate head to the warehouse of a crazy ex-Marine name of Sampson who, of course, as all kinds of firepower at his equipment as well as some contacts within the military.

The movie maintains a sense of danger from the start to a thrilling finish that only borrows a little bit from the big finishes of Syfy Channel flicks Sand Serpents, Sand Sharks and Sharknado. The acting was pretty good with Jack E. Curenton’s Sampson being the scene-stealing star of the picture.

The additional scenes after the conclusion of the battle with the pterodactyls were also fun. One showed what happened to our heroes after the creatures were defeated. The other seemed designed to set up a sequel. I like the first better than the second because this movie seems complete unto itself to me. I see no pressing need for another movie. 

I watched Terrordactyl on Amazon Video. As near as I can ascertain, the only DVD release of the movie was in Australia and not playable  on Region 1 DVD devices. As I have an all regions player, that is not normally a problem for me. The high price of getting the movie from Australia was another matter. While there are reportedly plans for a DVD release in the United States, no date has been announced at this time. If and when that DVD becomes available, I’ll probably add it to my home movie library.

On a scale of zero to five, I award Terrordactyl three-and-a-half Rodans. Definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of cheesy monster movies. Like me.

You don’t even see so much as a spider web until a full 49 minutes into Arachnicide, an Italian made-for-television movie that brings shame to the land of my ancestors. The running time of the movie is 91 minutes. You see some small spiders at the 52:30 mark, a glowing growing spider at the 53:30 mark, giant spider silhouettes on the wall at 58 minutes and the first full-blown giant spider attack at the hour mark.

Here’s the basic plot of this 2014 movie:

After years of experimenting, a researcher succeeds in creating an incubator that accelerates plant and animal growth. The technology is controlled by a powerful criminal organization and is being used to accelerate the growth of plants needed for manufacturing of illegal drugs and narcotics. To destroy the laboratories they operate, the United Nations organizes an elite team of operatives known as the L9 Commandos.

The L9 Commandos are a task force composed of six of the best soldiers from different Special Forces Units. After successfully taking down the drug operation, the L9 Commandos are called on for an important mission in Albania. There, they discover that the incubator has created a group of colossal spiders.

Even as an “elite commando” movie, Arachnicide drags. The dubbing is awful, but I suspect the original acting wasn’t any better. The only line of dialogue that even made me smile slightly was said by the end of the unit in reference to his ex-girlfriend scientist:

Don’t mind her. She’s just a scientist.
Later, the same guy reminds his team that they are not in a science fiction movie. I think it’s more of an endurance test.

Things get a slight bit more fun when the giant spiders come out to play, even though the film shows the same giant spiders being shot over and over again. In one scene, I lost count of how many times I’d seen a shot after six times.

The spider-infested warehouse was a trap set by the drug cartels. You can see this and nearly every other “twist” in the film coming a mile away because the filmmakers keep badly foreshadowing them. The first deaths come after the hour mark. Most every member of the unit is dead by the time the warehouse is blowed up, an act which releases the spiders into the outside world. Don’t ask me how the spiders were able to spin spider webs all over that outside world in mere minutes after their escape.

The one interesting part of the film comes when the unit commander and his ex are surrounded by giant spiders, who conveniently die of old age. The same process that accelerated the spider-growth also accelerated their aging. A few grenades finish off the rest of the spiders. The final girls - the commander and the scientist - smile longingly at each other.

The final scene? The government bringing some of the spiders into a research facility. Because what ill could possibly come of that?

This movie is available on DVD, but I don’t recommend it. I’m not sure I’d even recommend watching it on TV. If it ever shows up on TV in this country.

On a scale of zero to five Big-Ass Spiders, I give Arachnicide one butt-cheek.
BUGS (2014)

Wikipedia says “Bugs is a 2014 Chinese 3D science fiction disaster thriller film” and little else. I didn’t even know about this movie until I saw it on the list of a eBay seller from Thailand from whom I’ve bought several DVDs. Which I can watch on account of the all-region DVD player I mentioned earlier. Since the audio choices are Chinese or Thai, I had to go with the English subtitles.

A scientist is experimenting with making bugs grow or multiple or some such. A questionable plot teaser I found online claims Bugs is set in the future at a time when food is becoming scarce, alleging the scientist is working to grow bugs as a source of protein. But nothing else in the movie indicates either a future setting or the scarcity of food.

The scientist seems to be the only person on the ship where he is conducting his experiments. The bugs get loose and tunnel into his skin, reducing him to a desiccated corpse in seconds. Millions of the tiny maggot-like creatures flow over the side of the ship and read for a beachfront resort where the publisher of a Playboy-type magazine is holding a competition to find his next centerfolds or some such.

Bugs is a mostly entertaining film. It’s got some great characters, including a photographer, his assistant, his agent, the publisher, a sexy architect who used to date the photographer, her scientist father and a gang of thieves who rob hotel rooms while the guests are doing their party thing. One of the thieves shows courage when you least expect it. Overall, the acting is pretty good.

There are some terrific scares and thrills in this movie when those bugs swarm the beach and the hotel. The playboy and the architect miss that action because they are on the former’s yacht, spotting and getting ready to board the bug ship.

Scientist dad figures out the bugs feed, stop feeding when they’re full and head back to their queen to be consumed by her. So they head for the abandoned ship as well.

The ship scenes are exciting, especially when the queen makes her frightening presence known. The only moments of the film that don’t work for me are a cartoon-ish bit near the end of the movie and one of those tired “gotcha” scenes at the very end. That cliche is long overdue for retirement.

Some other intriguing things about this movie. It’s circumspect in its use of gore and nudity. When a character is bitten in half by the bug queen and looks down to see that most of him isn’t there, the audience doesn’t get to see it. Most American films would have totally gone for that image.

As for nudity, there isn’t any. Not even an exposed breast. That’s kind of odd given the centerfold models. Apparently, standards for movies, even cheesy monster movies, are different in China. Which I’m absolutely good with.

Bugs is deserving of a decent English-language release. Maybe even an airing on The Syfy Channel. If you do get a chance to see this movie, even with sub-titles, I recommend you do so.

On a scale of zero to five giant insects, I give Bugs a solid three  “Them!” ants.

I’m off to G-Fest in Chicago for the weekend, but I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


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 81st installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #95 [January 1971] promised “Blazing Western Action As You Like it!” on its Larry Lieber (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks) cover. Marvel was continuing the art-in-box cover design it had adopted a while back while also loading those covers with lots of often extraneous cover copy. As for the art itself, as I have noted before, Frank was a great inker for any penciller and my pal Lieber was no exception.

“Renegades of the Wild North” (14 pages) is one of those rarest of things: a Larry Lieber Rawhide Kid story that just doesn’t work for me from start to finish. There’s some real nice Lieber art in the story, ably inked by George Roussos, but the story made me wince on more than one occasion.

The Rawhide Kid has ridden north in search of safety. When he sees smoke, he figures there might be folks in trouble. What he finds is a scene of horror: a fearful young girl clutching a doll with her burnt-down home in the background.

Claude Dijon and his border bandits had come to her family’s farm. They killed her father, ransacked their house for valuable before setting it afire and took her mother with them:

You will come with me! Dijon admires beautiful things!

Dijon is problematic from the get-go. His flowery speech grates on my mind’s ear. Visually, he looks as conceited and western foppish as he sounds. Knowing her daughter Sally is hiding from these men, Ann meekly goes with the bandits. The Kid promises Sally he’ll get her mom back after burying her dad and taking the girl to a nearby town. To her credit, Sally is a pretty tough little girl and seems to accept what’s happened. Or maybe she was just in shock.

The town sheriff says it would be useless to go after the bandits. They would’ve gone back over the border into Canada...where a U.S. lawman has no authority. Rawhide has a different notion:

I reckon you can’t act unless it’s all nice and legal. But me...I’m not totin’ a badge or an oath! All I carry are twin colts that shoot just as good on either side of the border. 
The confident “polecats” haven’t covered their tracks. Rawhide is having no trouble following them.

At the gang’s hideout, the fiery Angelique is not at all pleased to see Dijon riding into camp with another woman. She does not share her man. Claude says perhaps he will no longer be her man. So the angry woman pulls a knife on Ann. I thought Canadians were supposed to be nice.

Dijon roughly grabs Angelique and disarms her. He’s had enough of her temper. He orders her to calm down or leave.

I’m going! But beware, Dijon, I am half Indian...and that part of me does not forget or forgive.

Apparently, a shared love of over-the-top dialogue isn’t enough to keep a relationship strong. There’s also a decided lack of trust. Claude orders one of his men to follow Angelique. He wants to know where she goes.

The Rawhide Kid has reached the camp. He takes out a sentry, then gets the drop on the bandits. Unfortunately, he misses the bandit hiding behind a rock. The guy fires at the Kid and grazes his temple.

Dijon orders his men to tie up our hero. He’ll deal with him later.  Because that always works out well for villains.

Ann tends to the Kid’s wound and admires his courage. He tells her he was driven by anger. He also tells her Sally is safe and not to give up hope. You never know when you’ll get a break.

Enter...the break. Angelique goes to the Mounties and says she’ll lead them to Dijon’s hideout. Claude’s man sees this and rides back to the camp to warn the bandit leader. The bad guys plan an ambush and quickly pin down the Canadian lawmen.

As the battle rages, Ann distracts Rawhide’s guard long enough for the Kid to cut his ropes on a sharp rock. Rawhide karate-chops the guard on the back of his beck and gets his twin colts of justice.

The Kid guns down six outlaws in two panels because he’s the best there is at what he does when he’s on page 13 of a 14-page story. When Dijon won’t draw on him for fear of the Kid’s lightning-fast draw, the two men engage in fisticuffs. The fight takes them to the rocky edge of a cliff. Dijon goes over the edge.

Angelique runs to the dying Claude’s side as he asks why the woman betrayed him:

I was insane with jealousy! I did not know what I was doing! Oh, my love, forgive me!
Dijon has enough breath left for some equally bad dialogue:

It is too late! Too late for love...too late for forgiveness...too late for everything...

The Mounties thank Rawhide for saving them. The Kid says it was his pleasure. Ann makes her move:

And when we get home, it will be my pleasure to serve you the best home-cooked meal in the country. 
I guess 10 pages is more than enough time to mourn her dead hubby. That cheerful closing line also made me wince.


This story was reprinted in The Rawhide Kid #147, which was cover-dated September, 1978. Paul Gulacy drew a new cover for the issue.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page is back this time around. The first of four letters is from Michael Braun of Danbury, Connecticut. He says Rawhide is the best-written western comic on the stands and loves the artwork. But he’d like to see Giacoia ink an issue or two. The Marvel response is that Frank’s services are needed elsewhere on the company’s ever-increasing schedule.

Jane Wentz of Fountainville, Pennsylvania, having read an article in the New York Times on the relevance of comics, wants to know why the Rawhide Kid is just a cowboy. She requests Marvel make Rawhide Kid relevant to today’s problems.

Robert Schreiber of Brooklyn, New York, spotted some mistakes with the coloring of Nightwind, the Kid’s horse. Schreiber also echoes an earlier reader’s request for more firearm variety and recommends the popular Westerner .44.

Patricia Rowe of Ontario, Canada, repeats the frequent request for the Kid to settle down. Marvel’s response:

There’s one problem. Every time he tries to stick around somewhere, there’s a gunhawk out for a fast rep...a bounty hunter out for a fast buck...or just a plain ol’ ornery coyote who’s out for his hide, Maybe some day the Kid’ll be able to settle down, but for now he’s having enough trouble just stayin’ in front of all the bullets whizzin’ past his head.

This issue’s classified ads include a bunch of comic-book dealers: Howard Rogofsky, Brian Laurence, Comic Sales, Mike Towry, Doug Van Gordon, Grand Book Inc., Passaic Book Center, Clint’s Books, Robert Bell and David Alexander.

Once again, Marvel went to the 1950s for the four-page reprints filling out this issue. “The Man Who Wears the Badge” by Stan Lee and Dick Ayers is from Two Gun Kid #35 (February 1957). “The Last Notch” is drawn by Al Williamson. It comes from The Outlaw Kid #18 (July 1957). The Grand Comics Database also credits Stan Lee as the writer of the Williamson story, but that credit does not appear on the story itself. Stan usually signed the stories he wrote. List me as undecided on this one.


“The Man Who Wears the Badge” is a pretty weak effort. Sheriff Tom Norbett is warned the Case brothers, who he sent up the river, have been released from jail and hanging out in the town saloon. Corbett tells the brothers they’ve nothing to fear as long they stay out of trouble.

The Case boys definitely do have trouble on their minds. They taunt the sheriff and promise revenge. They say there is no law against talking, but Bob Ingersoll could probably steer them right on that count...unless threatening an officer of the law wasn’t a crime in the Old West.

The brothers call Corbett a coward who’s hiding behind his badge. In a truly stupid move, Corbett takes off his badge and calls them out. What is this? Grade school?

Seeing Corbett only has one gun, the brothers draw on him. They figure he can’t get both of them. They’re wrong. It takes Corbett two panels, but he out-shoots them with just his one gun. The Case boys are going back to jail.

The surprise twist? Corbett was shot in the arm the previous month when he took down three gunhawks. He can only use one arm. That’s why he only has one gun.

“The Last Notch” is a better story. Gunman Rick Thorne has a habit of carving a notch on his gun before he kills a man. When he gets into a beefy with prospector Jamesie, Thorne decides the old man is not fit for the last notch on his gun. He’s going to go kill Young Jamesie.

Young Jamesie has never drawn on a man in his life. He’s not going to shoot it out with Thorne. He turns his back on the gunslinger. But, when Thorne tries to force a fight by threatening the just-arrived Old Jamesie, the younger man yanks the gunman off his horse with a barbed wire lariat.

The fisticuffs that follow don’t go Thorne’s way. He pulls his gun to shoot down Young Jamesie, but the two-fisted prospector’s son is fast enough to knock Thorne down. The gun goes off, killing Thorne. Fate decreed that the last notch the gunman carved was for himself.

The message that it takes more than a gun to make a man is common in western comics. Stan did use it often, so it is possible that he wrote this story. However, I remain undecided.


That’s all for this week’s edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back on the morrow with cheesy movie reviews before hitting the road for Chicago and G-Fest. See you tomorrow.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 136-part series on the comics 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 Pal Jughead #100 [September 1963] was the special 100th-issue celebration of the title. There were multiple variant covers, including a take-off of George Perez’s classic Superman holding the dead Supergirl cover. That was quite astonishing, since Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 would not actually be published for another 25 years.

I’m lying.

Archie's Pal Jughead #100 has no mention of the milestone anywhere on the cover or inside the book. The cover is by the terrific Samm Schwartz. It’s a silent gag that’s perfect for Jughead.

The inside front cover is the we’ve-seen-this-before advertisement from Dean Studios offering various come-ons, including a miniature monkey. The issue’s other paid ads are for battle games, Popsicles, bike tires, sea-shrimp, toy soldiers, Daisy B-B guns, bike brakes and the ever-present “earn money and prizes by selling our cheap-ass greeting cards.” We shall speak of these no more.

“Take Two” (6 pages) finds Jughead at the beach with water skies, performing unintentionally for Veronica’s new movie camera.  While the writer of this story has not yet been identified, the Schwartz art is obvious and outstanding. Of all the great Archie artists, I don’t think any top Schwartz for hilarious action and body language thereof. For your amusement and edification, here’s the last page of this story:

“Summer Madness” (2 pages) has six, two-panel gags with Jughead and friends. It’s drawn by Schwartz.

“Who Laughs Last” (6 pages) is a Frank Doyle-written delight with Schwartz art. Archie and Reggie, mightily annoyed by their friend’s “moldy old jokes,” decided to turn the tables on Jughead. It does not go well for them.

Sidebar. Doyle is my all-time favorite Archie writer. His dialogue is always clever and in character, but his pacing is like that of a wonderfully told joke. He build to his script’s always satisfying payoffs. I don’t just enjoy his work. I study it.

Next is a full-page house ad for Archie Giant Series Magazine #24: The World of Jughead. It’s a world of laughs!

“Watch the Birdie” (5 pages) is one of those rare stories in which Jughead does not come out on top. Jughead thinks he and Archie are in the woods to do some bird-watching. Archie is more interested in watching Betty and Veronica, who have come there to get away from men. But when the guys turn to leave, Betty says: Actually, we’ve been away from men for over an hour.

Veronica adds: How much solitude can a girl take?

Disgusted, Jughead leaves the trio to continue his bird-watching. Which turns out to be a bit more difficult than he had anticipated. The Schwartz-drawn story ends with a funny two-page sequence that I now share with you:

“Archie Club News” (2 pages) is 75% submissions from club members and 25% house ad to join the Archie Club. Members win cash prizes if their submissions are published.

Gary Pollack of South Euclid, Ohio won five bucks for five jokes. The best is this one:

A sweet old lady asked a clerk at the post office to weigh her package for her because she was afraid she hadn’t put enough stamps on it.

The clerk weighed the package and said, “You’ve put too much postage on it.”

“Oh, dear,” replied the little old lady, “I do hope it won’t go too far!”
Andrew W. Menkes of Brooklyn. New York won three bucks for writing about insects while Ken Merin of Great Neck, New York won two bucks for jokes featuring Archie characters:

Jughead: Archie, let’s eat lunch.

Archie: OK, let’s eat up the street.

Moose: But, Arch, I don’t like cement.

“Open and Shut Case” (5 pages) by Doyle and Schwartz is the final story in the issue. Reggie tries to talk Jughead into walking with his eyes opened instead of half-closed. Jughead tries it, but his eyes have trouble adjusting to the sunlight. The experience ends up being too painful for both Jughead and Reggie. It’s a great Doyle script and great physical Schwartz artwork. Here’s a page from this story:

That wraps another July 1963 bloggy. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy tracking down and reading these vintage comics. I’ll be back with another installment in the near future.

Tomorrow? It’s blazing western action as you like it when “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” returns with “Renegades of the Wild North!”

Thursday? Monster and sci-fi movie reviews.

This weekend? My son Eddie and I will be attending G-Fest, the big Godzilla convention, in Chicago.

See you tomorrow.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 11, 2016


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Maximilian Uriarte’s The White Donkey: Terminal Lance, the first graphic novel about the Iraq War written by an actual veteran of that war; Lois Lane: Double Down, the second book in the young adult Lois Lane series by noted YA author Gwenda Bond; and Think Tank Volume 1 by Matt : Hawkins and artist Rahsan Ekedal!

G-FEST XXIII (Chicago; July 15-17)

I have attended some really great conventions in recent years and will be attending several more before the end of the year. But I don’t think I’ve been more excited about going to one of those wonderful events than I am about going to G-FEST XXIII this weekend, July 15-17, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare. My driver and security for this trip will my son Eddie.

What is G-Fest? From the website:

G-FEST is the largest regular gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster fans in the world. Held each summer, it typically attracts more than 1000 attendees, but has seen a gradual increase in attendance over the past few years. G-FEST 2014 was the most successful convention to date, bringing in about 3000 Japanese science fiction and fantasy film fans!

G-FEST is a family-oriented convention which caters to a wide variety of interests within the kaiju genre. G-FEST features presentations and Q & A sessions by actors and crew from the Japanese Godzilla films, fan presentations on topics of interest, contests and gaming, new and classic kaiju movies, the western world’s largest kaiju-oriented dealers room, and lots of fun and camaraderie.

Our special guest list this year includes the return of some amazing past G-FEST guests, as well as some bright new faces: Actors Akira Takarada and Bin Furuya who both attended G-FEST XIX in 2012; special effects director Yoshikazu Ishii, who last attended in 2006; sculptor/model maker Hiroshi Sagae, returning from 2014; film historian August Ragone; actor Carl Craig, who last attended in 2007; and regular fan-favorite, actor Robert Scott Field, making his 18th appearance! Newcomers are actress Hiroko Sakurai, star of Ultra Q and many other Ultraman series; actress Linda Miller, one of the stars of King Kong Escapes; actor Sojiro Uchino, who had roles in Ultra-Q, Ultraman, and Gamera vs. Viras; and Tony Isabella, 44-year veteran of the comics industry.

The G-FEST double double feature film festival returns this year to the Pickwick Theatre. The Kaiju Eiga Film Fest will consist of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Gamera vs. Viras on Thursday afternoon, with Yongary, Monster from the Deep, and The Green Slime playing on Thursday evening. The Friday and Saturday main features will be King Kong Escapes, and Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend.

I’ll be giving a talk and slideshow presentation on “Kaiju in the Comics” with Mad Scientist publisher and real-life scientist Martin Arlt. It’s scheduled for Saturday, July 16, 2-3 PM, in Ballroom 1. Here’s the description:

Kaiju in the Comics. We love our giant monsters on the big screen. We love them on the small screen. And we definitely love them in our comic books. Join veteran comic-book writer and historian Tony Isabella for a safari into the kaiju of the comics.

This will be more of a vacation convention than my usual convention gigs. I won’t be behind a table in an artist alley or an vendor’s area. I won’t be doing any official signings. Instead, Eddie and I will be enjoying various panels and screenings, and likely spending way too much money buying Godzilla stuff. However, if you want to get together with me, send me an e-mail before Thursday. I’ll send you my cell phone number.

Note: Eddie and I will only be around for the first couple hours of the convention on Sunday. We got tickets to a Chicago Cubs baseball game for that afternoon and will be starting the drive home after that. But I’ll do my best to accommodate any meeting requests for Friday or Saturday.

Attending G-Fest has been a dream of mine ever since I first heard about it. I’m looking forward to meeting J.D. Lees, the publisher of the terrific G-Fan magazine and the organizer of this event. I’m looking forward to seeing August Ragone, one of those good online friends I’ve not yet met face-to-face.

Godzilla was my favorite movie monster from the very first time I watched Godzilla, King of the Monsters on Cleveland television in the 1960s. I pitched Marvel Comics on a Godzilla series even before I went to work there in 1972. I’ll devote a future bloggy thing to that story and how I came so close to writing Godzilla for Marvel.

I have seen and own every Godzilla movie ever made in one form or another, and sometimes in multiple versions. I founded Facebook’s First Church of Godzilla. I have a dream Godzilla comics project I want to do. All praise the Great Scaly One who protects us with his fiery atomic love. It can be a tough love, but, you know, the folly of man and all sort of demands that.

I hope to see some of my bloggy readers at G-Fest. For more on the convention, visit the event website.


I have a bunch of other convention and other appearances following G-Fest. I’ll be writing about these in detail as we get closer to them, but, for now, here’s the bare bones list:

Thursday, July 21: PulpFest (Columbus)

Friday, July 22: PulpFest (Columbus)
Saturday, July 23: PulpFest (Columbus)
Sunday, July 24: PulpFest (Columbus)

Friday, July 29: Monsterfestmania (Akron)

Saturday, July 30: Monsterfestmania (Akron)

Wednesday, August 3: Euclid Library

Sunday, August 14: Neo Comic Con (Strongsville)

Friday, September 9: Great Lakes Comic-Con (Detroit)

Saturday, September 10: Great Lakes Comic-Con (Detroit)

Saturday, September 17: MECCA Con (Detroit)

Saturday, October 1: Cleveland Comic Con 2016

Sunday, October 2: Cleveland Comic Con 2016

Sunday, October 9: Teddy Hanes show (Erie)

Friday, October 21: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, October 22: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Sunday, October 23: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Sunday, October 30: RetroRama (Windsor)

Saturday, November 5: Akron Comic Con

Sunday, November 6: Akron Comic Con

If you’re a convention promoter and would like to book me to be a guest at your event, e-mail me. I’ll try to accommodate you.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of my “July 1963" series. See you then.              

© 2016 Tony Isabella