Sunday, May 24, 2015

OH, THE THINGS I'LL DO!

Remember my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales? I sure do and I wish I could tell you they will be resuming soon. But that would be a lie. The earliest I can start them this summer will be July 24 or July 31...and that’s if everything else I have to do in June and July gets done. It’s going to be a busy couple of months for your friendly online Writer-Man.

My most important project over these next two months is writing the “memoir” I’ve mentioned in recent bloggy things. Figuring out what will fit in this book has been a frustrating endeavor. There’s no chance I can include everything I’d like to include. I don’t think I’ll even be able to include all the comics and other things I have written in my 43 years as a working professional.

In addition to writing this book, I am determined to fulfill all of my other professional commitments. I’ll still be writing the weekly “Tony’s Tips” column for Tales of Wonder. I’ll still be doing some work for the one comic-strip client I kept on account of I really enjoy working with him and his characters. When Papercutz sends me  the next album of The Garfield Show, I’ll do the script restoration on that. Because I am a mighty man of comics.

I also plan on posting a new bloggy thing almost every day of the week. The only exception to this will be when I’m traveling to and being a guest at IndyPopCon (June 26-28). Someday I may have both the energy and the technical capability to post bloggy things from the road, but I’m not there yet.

I keep thinking I’m missing something in this litany of things I’m doing over the next two months...and I just remembered what it is. But it’s a TOP SECRET project that’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. My success isn’t guaranteed, but, if things go as I hope, I may have some very interesting news for you before the end of the year. More I dare not say.

The good news I have for those of you who want to buy items from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff is that I’ll be resuming my online sales in June. Keep reading my Facebook page and the bloggy for details on those sales.

I still have my legendary bucket list of some 200 things I want to write before I kick the bucket. I hope to commence chipping away at that list in August or thereabouts. I’ll also be available for new assignments at that time. Retirement is a myth.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Saturday, May 23, 2015

OH, THE PLACES I'LL GO!

My goal for 2015 was to make two appearances a month, commencing in February. Most of these would have been convention appearances and others would have been at comic shops, libraries and schools. As with many plans, it went awry.

I had some health concerns with which I am currently dealing. You needn’t fret about them. I’m not. But, given those concerns and an unexpectedly heavy work load, I figured it prudent to scale back my original appearance strategy.

Though adding another appearance or two before the end of the year isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility, here’s the list of my confirmed appearance at this time:

June 26-28: IndyPopCon (Indianapolis)

August 13-16: PulpFest (Columbus)

October 16-18: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

October 24: Cleveland Comic Con

November 7-8: Akron Comic Con

If you’ve been reading the bloggy thing this year, you’ll remember that the passage of anti-LGBT legislation in Indiana, legislation posing as being enacted in the name of “religious liberty,” caused me to initially cancel my IndyPopCon appearance. I changed my mind because the convention expressed its support for inclusion for all in the most powerful of terms...because the still-terrible law was softened somewhat...and because I felt I could use my appearance at the convention to increase awareness of the issues facing those in Indiana and elsewhere who believe in equal rights for all.

With the blessing and encouragement of the IndyPopCon management, I offered to share my table with any local LGBT group interested in coming to the event to promote the ongoing battles in Indiana and elsewhere against discriminatory laws. I wanted to use my celebrity standing - small though it might be - to help in that fight. Much to my disappointment, no group has contacted me to take advantage of my offer.  With IndyPopCon a month away, I don’t expect that to change. Sigh.

Since it’s unlikely any advocacy group is going to come forward at this late date, I’m currently figuring out what I’ll be doing with the table space. What you’ll probably see are items for sale that will include Isabella-written items, the two-sided Superman poster I developed for Cleveland’s International Superman Expo of 1988 and  whatever boxes of fun stuff I can put together between now and when I hit the road for Indianapolis.

I can change these latest plans if an advocacy group comes forward. I’m not expecting that to happen. Since I’d still like to promote an end to discriminatory laws, I’ll now extend an offer to include information on the ongoing fight on my table. E-mail me a sample of the flier or other material you’d like to place on my table. If I find it acceptable, I’ll tell you where you can send the material for inclusion in my IndyPopCon packing.

During the con, I’ll be doing at least two panels or presentations. What these will be and when they will be scheduled during the show hasn’t been determined yet. As soon as I know, I’ll share the news with you here and on my Facebook page.

IndyPopCon has some terrific guests this year. I’m looking forward to meeting Gila director Jim Wynorski...and more of the fine folks from The Asylum. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends like Joe Corroney and Scott Shaw! I’m looking forward to seeing friends and readers I haven’t seen in years or who I’ve never met face-to-face. Please don’t be shy about stopping by my table.

I’m always happy to sign Isabella-written stuff for both fans and retailers. I never charge for my signature. However, on the chance I have a long-ish line and you have a whole bunch of comics for me to sign, I may have to sign just some of your items and ask you to go back to the end of the line for the rest. If you have less than a dozen items, I can sign them all without making that request of you. That sound fair to you?

Here’s what I won’t sign...

I will not sign comic books I didn’t write or edit, even if Black Lightning or other Isabella creations appear in them.

I will not sign Black Lightning merchandise unless DC Comics paid me royalties on the merchandise. Sadly, that includes all but a few action figures and trading cards.

I will not sign “DC history” books because those books are filled with knowing misinformation about myself and others.

I will not sign articles of clothing for reasons I won’t get into at the present time. Besides, my signature always looks terrible on these. Even more so than usual.

I will not sign body parts. Being asked to sign a fetching young lady’s breast in Dallas over three decades ago was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience...and it wasn’t unpleasant. However, as I have been happily married for 31 years and am now 63 years old, I think my signing body parts would just be creepy.

Moving right along...

I’m happy to answer questions at my table and on my panels. I’ll do my best to answer them all, though, on occasion, the answer might be “You’ll have to buy my new book.” Heh, heh, heh.

I love cosplayers, especially those appearing as characters I have created or have written. I’m delighted to pose for photos with you. All I ask is that you send me a scan of the photo with permission to use it in this bloggy thing or my Facebook page.

As we get closer to IndyPopCon and, indeed, the other conventions on my schedule, I’ll have more to say about them. Keep reading the bloggy thing for those updates.

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Looking ahead to 2016...

Unless my income takes a dramatic upswing before the end of 2015, I’ll probably only be able to attend conventions willing to pay all my hotel and travel expenses...and provide a table where I can sell and sign things. I understand it’s a tough market for conventions and that some events won’t be able to meet these requirements for me. Trust me, I’ll take no offense if that’s the case with a show or other event.

Obviously, I would love to go to Comic-Con in 2016 and every year after that. I’ve even offered to be Mark Evanier’s PA at the show. Maybe DC Comics will fly me out so they can announce that they have decided to honor their agreements with me. In the unlikely event of that happening, I’ll be the guy on stage with the grin four times than my head.

I would sure like to attend G-Fest XXIII in 2016. It’s the largest regular gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster devotees in the world. I’m not sure how I can make that trip work for me, but I’ll do some thinking on it.

Other dream trips would be to England or Japan. As dreams go, they would be much better than the one in which my son Eddie and I were working for a coroner’s office. Our job was to put together “body boxes” that looked like comic-book boxes, fill them with personal belongings and remains, and then ship them to someplace or another.  I told Eddie about this dream and he came up with his own somewhat morbid spin on it. When I die, we could have someone make a coffin that looked like a comic-book box and seal me in a Mylar bag. The only thing I could add would be to line the coffin with acid-free backing boards.

But I digress...

The dream trip that I believe is within my reach is the one I hope to take when I finish writing my new book. I envision going to some secluded cabin and spending a week reading and relaxing. If there were a decent-sized TV and a DVD or Blu-ray player, I would bring along a stack of movies as well. Odds I could handle three or four days of such relaxation - a week at most - before I’d be chomping at the bit to get back to writing.

That’s all for today. If you’re a convention or event promoter who would like be to be a guest at your convention or event, e-mail me with the details.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Friday, May 22, 2015

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY FRIDAY

Every year, my friend Bob Hoskins and the sensational staff of his Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey, send me a box filled with every Free Comic Book Day free comic book. Every year, I plan to review all of those free comic books. Every year so far, I have come up ridiculously short of that goal. Let’s see if this year is any different.

The 2015 plan is to read a bunch of FCBD books and write about them every Friday. I’ll lead each of these weekly bloggy things with my choice for the best FCBD of the week’s bunch.

When I look at a FCBD comic book, I look for more than the quality of the material contained in the issue. I consider whether or not it’s accessible to a first-time reader of that material and whether or not that first-time reader is likely to seek out the comic books and books showcased in the free issue. In the best case scenario, that first-time reader does seek out the comic books and buys them from the generous comic-book shop where he or see scored the free comic book. That said...

Rabbids [Papercutz] is my choice for the best Free Comic Book Day comic book of the first batch, even if my dear friend and Papercutz editor-in-chief Jim Salicrup stubbornly insists on writing “comic books” as one word. I’m thinking of staging an intervention.

This comic book contains several pages each of Rabbids, Ariol, The Smurfs and The Garfield Show. Rabbids was the only one of these I hadn’t read before. Written by Thitaume and drawn by Romain Pujol, the rabbids are weird-looking rabbits who star in single-page gag strips that are every bit as weird as their stars. The strips are infectiously funny and sometimes sneak up on the reader.  Several times, they made me literally laugh out loud. I would say I planned to seek out every Rabbids book there is, but, to be honest, I plan on begging Jim to send them to me.

The handsome and witty Salicrup does a good job introducing all of the issue’s features in his inside front cover editorial. Even if you rush past those paragraphs of perfection - I’m laying it on way too thick, aren’t I? - all of the strips are new-reader friendly.

Ariol is a young blue donkey who, among other youthful pastimes,  collects comic books and related items. In this issue’s story, he’s trying to get the final sticker he needs to complete his “Thunder Horse Super Collection” album. Most of the action takes place at a comics shop and, as a guy who owned such a shop back in the day, I could relate to the owner and his disgruntled adult customer. The story by Emmanuel Guibert and artist Mark Boutavant is funny with a satisfying ending.

Who doesn’t know The Smurfs? In a story by creator/writer/artist Peyo, we meet the nice twin brother of evil wizard Gargamel. It’s another fun story and I especially enjoyed the “Smurf Notes” trivia that ran below each page of the story.

Finally, we have an amusing science fiction adventure adapted from an episode of the wonderful Garfield Show and originally published in a French comic album. This calls for some full disclosure on my part. Though Salicrup did the dialogue restoration for this story, I’ve been handling that enjoyable task for the albums published by Papercutz. I love the show and these albums, but I figure I should tell you I work on them.

Rabbids is everything a FCBD issue should be. The stories are fun and well-done. They’re very accessible to a new reader. They stand a good chance of enticing that new reader into seeking out more of the same. Well done, Papercutz. Well done.

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I also read...

Divergence #1 [DC Comics]. DC gets points for presenting satisfying chunks of three stories: Batman, Superman and Justice League. If I hadn’t read so very many better stories starring those characters, I might be more interested in them.

“The Rookie” by Scott Synder and Greg Capullo introduces the silly notion of the former Commissioner Gordon becoming some kind of Iron Batman. It made me giggle, but I’m on record of not being fond of Synder’s run on Batman.

“Exposed” by Gene Luen Yang and John Romita, Jr. has good writing and terrific art, but it chips away a few more of the elements I’ve always thought were essential to Superman. Sometimes it seems as if DC Comics likes everything about Superman except everything about Superman.

The Justice League fragment is “prologue two” to something called “Darkseid War.” I find Darkseid as tedious as the Joker. I am not entertained by brutality for the sake of brutality. As much as I’ve enjoyed Geoff Johns' writing in the past, this does nothing for me. I’ll take a pass.

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Overstreet’s Comic Book Marketplace #5 [Gemstone] features mostly short and always well-written articles on comic books and various related matters. However, the magazine lacks a statement of purpose which could have explained its raison d'etre to comics newcomers. This was a decent FCBD offering, but an friendly introduction would have made it more inviting. That would be an easy fix for the 2016 edition of CBM.

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The Phantom [Hermes Press] has a couple introductory pages by the late great Don Newton and a couple more by the equally great and, thankfully, still with us Sal Velluto that introduce the Phantom to new readers. Those pages are followed by two complete stories: one drawn by Bill Lignante from the Gold Key run and one drawn by Jim Aparo from the Charlton run. It’s a nice FCBD offering, but falls short when it comes to promote Hermes Press’ new Phantom series by Peter David and Sal Velluto. As David is well known in a number of fandoms (comic books, fantasy, Star Trek), I think Hermes missed a bet by not giving him some play here.

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I am not the audience for Pokemon [Perfect Square], which featured fragments from three different Pokemon manga series. I couldn’t get  a handle on what these series were about. There was no editorial presence to guide me through what I was reading. I was hopelessly lost from start to finish.

On the other hand, Pokemon fans probably already knew enough about the series to be entertained and possibly enticed to seek out the manga volumes of those series. As I said, I’m not the audience for this stuff, but that doesn’t mean this comic book wasn’t effective with the demographic being targeted by Perfect Square.

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I also don’t think I’m the audience for Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon Legacy [Image], though I do buy and usually enjoy the title. Like the ongoing title, this FCBD issue is mostly big and frantic fight scenes with a page here and there of nice character interactions. Larsen has gotten quite good at the latter and it’s a strength that he should play to more frequently.

The other drawback for me is the vastness of the Dragon back story. Literally hundreds of characters set amidst reality-altering tales. It makes me dizzy sometimes.

Savage Dragon Legacy #1 gives the new reader all the information he or she needs to decide if they want to follow the title. Which is not a bad thing for a FCBD comic book to do.

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I have somewhat mixed feelings about the Scooby-Doo! Team-Up/Teen Titans Go! [DC Comics] flip book. Writer Sholly Fisch does a great job with a Scooby-Do/Super Friends team-up, but the 10-page segment ends on a cliffhanger that directs the reader to Scooby-Do! Team-Up Volume 1. Nothing takes the fun out of a free comic like having to plunk down $12.99 to get the rest of the story.

The Teen Titans story is complete unto itself and nicely captures the craziness of the current cartoon series. Also included in this comic book and game pages for each half of the comic.

DC gets high marks for the material, but loses points for the bait-and-switch.

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One more FCBD offering for this go-round.

Secret Wars #0 [Marvel] has a story by Jonathan Hickman and artist Paul Renaud that sets up the next big Marvel Universe(s) event. I’m not a fan of Hickman’s writing. His Avengers “world is ending” run became tiresome more than a year ago. I don’t expect I’ll be more enamored of his Secret Wars. The second story in the issue is a strange Avengers/Attack on Titan mash-up that didn’t do much for me. As with some other FCBD comics, I’m simply not the audience for this one.

I think the issue will have a “wow” factor for some new readers who only know the Marvel heroes through the movies, but I also believe those new readers will be utterly baffled by the intricacy of this epic event. I’d rate it a FCBD fail.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Thursday, May 21, 2015

TELEVISION THURSDAY

Of late, my days are full. I work on my “memoir” and I write other stuff. I deal with minor aches and pains. When the aches and pains drive me from my keyboard, I read or watch TV. I eat and I sleep, as little of the former as I can manage without lapsing into food withdrawal and as much of the latter as my often-guilty conscience will allow. I mean, why am I sleeping when I have all those pages to write?

When my memoir is completed, I plan to find some quiet and secluded place close enough to civilization that I can get to town in case of a supernatural serial killer outbreak but far enough away that  not even Rachel from Cardholder Services will be able to find me. I see myself sitting in a chair on a shady porch reading a modest stack of books I’ve been meaning to read.

I probably watch too much TV, but I am honestly entertained by the shows I watch. However, sometimes madness overtakes me and I watch some show which, in my right mind, I would have realized would not suit me. Thus was the case with TLC’s Retro Wives and Submissive Wives' Guide to Marriage, which aired this past Sunday. When I saw the listings for these shows, I posted this:

Odd programming options. This evening, on The Learning Channel, there are two back-to-back specials: Submissive Wives' Guide to Marriage and Retro Wives.

The description for the first: "Submissive wives who serve and submit to their men; Autumn and Eddie are from multi-generational submissive families; submissive wife Tara helps her friend Kristen become submissive."

The description for the second: "A group of women trades modern conveniences to become the ``perfect'' 1950s housewives."

My love for 1950s fashions notwithstanding, this is truly a WTF moment. I think what we're learning here is that The Learning Channel needs a new name.


Facebook friend Jonathan Andrew Sheen was quick to inform me that the network doesn’t use “The Learning Channel” as its name anymore. It just goes by TLC. Jim MacQuarrie, another Facebook pal, then won the Internet by posting:

TLC stands for "Too Late, Civilization.”

Altruistic fool that I am, I decided to watch these two programs so that you wouldn’t have to. It was a decision I came to regret, but not until after I’d wasted an hour and twenty minutes of my life I will never get back.

Retro Wives seems to have started out as Wives with Beehives. The name change was one of the few not-entirely-terrible things about this special which could become a series. This show was basically The Real Housewives of Pretending to Live in the 1950s. One of the women was a total bitch, another was shy and innocent. A third was something of a control freak, but at least tried to be nice to the new girl and others. The fourth was arrogant and entitled, making a joke about her maid:

“I have a dishwasher. Her name is Maria.”

I was hoping for some 50s elegance from this show. What I got was mostly 50s tacky: boisterous outfits, hairdos and makeup designed to drew attention to these women.

There were some amusing moments, such as when a somewhat flamboyant exercise instructor was merciless in poking fun at the two “retro wives” who came to one of his sessions. Still, for all the talk of these women and their happy husbands embracing a 1950s lifestyle, their existence came off as an extended cosplay routine with their shoulder-less dresses revealing garish, large and very modern tattoos.Ultimately, their shtick wasn’t believable...which is not uncommon for TLC’s so-called reality shows.

I could only stomach twenty minutes of Submissive Wives' Guide to Marriage. Despite a character’s claim that it takes a strong woman to be a submissive wife, this program was faux-Christian propaganda with the aim of diminishing women. In its own American way, it was as anti-woman as the Islamic regimes that treat women as even less than second-hand citizens.

Submissive wife zealot Tara barely blinked her eyes when she was on screen. She looked brainwashed. Her friend Kristen was a lazy slob, who, laying in bed until 10:30 am, resented being expected to clean up after her husband and kids...after he got the kids up and ready for school and then drove them to school before going to his job. Her resentment seems even less sympathetic when it becomes obvious she doesn’t clean up anything. Vowing to become a submissive wife, which is her idea and not her husband’s, Kristen falls down on the job immediately. She pushes around a few mountains of laundry and then, exhausted, takes a nap.

Then we get Autumn and Eddie, both of who come from families where the wife was submissive. Autumn’s mother and father make with their “Christian” bullshit when they visit. Eddie is your basic imperious jerk. Both seem bent on brainwashing their five-year-old daughter into following their repressive lifestyle. I think I might dislike Autumn and Eddie most of all.

Twenty minutes of this crap was all I could take. I fear there is much truth in Jim MacQuarrie’s online quip:

TLC stands for "Too Late, Civilization.”

Not to worry, though, I’m sure the network is preparing a new show for 2016: Submissive Housewife Survivalists. Gun-toting housewives build ramparts and other defenses for husbands too busy preparing for Obama’s sending the Armed Forces to impose Sharia Law on their backwoods community to actually do any of the building themselves.

Don’t worry. These women can take it because they are strong enough to be submissive. They’ll build those ramparts, keep the ammo dry, cook up a fine squirrel stew and then make like bunnies with their husbands to increase their numbers.

At least actual zombies don’t have babies.

Look for more TV reviews as I make my way through the hours of fine programming waiting for me on my DVR. If I write about these shows, I can convince myself I wasn’t just goofing off when I was watching them. Denial can be your friend.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DANCING WITH THE SQUIRRELS

When I finish writing my "memoir" later this summer and go into hiding at some secluded cabin with my stack of books I really want to read, this one will be at the top of the pile.

Dancing with the Squirrels: Tales from Comics Fandom and Beyond is a collection of stories by my dear old friend Dwight Decker [CreateSpace; $14.95]. We met through the fanzines when we were mere teenagers and have been friends for closing in on half a century. Dwight has written all sorts of interesting stuff over the years, but I have a special love for his tales of comics and science-fiction fans. I always hoped he would publish a collection like this and now he has.

Here's the Amazon pitch for the book:

Long before any theories about oversized detonations… there were funny stories about comic book fans! A long time ago, a certain aspiring author realized that he didn’t know much about what real-life detectives, spies, cowboys, or starship captains actually do, so it would be hard to write stories about them. But what he did know was what kind of trouble his fellow comic-book fans got into. So, taking the old advice to new writers, “Write what you know,” a little too much to heart, he instead wrote real fan fiction — stories about fans. This book collects some of his best, new and old, all as fresh and funny as when they were first written. In the title story, destiny strikes like lightning at a comics convention — but its aim is a little off. In the other stories, teenage comics fans hunt for rare and valuable old comic books in unlikely places while trying to live down the damage done to their reputations by the Batman TV show. The fictional locales range from a small town in Illinois to Los Angeles and even England, but the strangest story of all is set in Cincinnati — and happens to be perfectly true! Whether you’re a comics fan or a science-fiction fan, know some fans, or just have some idea of what comic books and science fiction are, Dancing with the Squirrels will introduce you to a world you may have never known existed. The fanboys — and even a fangirl or two — are on the move!

Even unread, I recommend this book to you...based on how much I enjoyed the writing of a somewhat younger Dwight Decker. I have to wait a few months to read it, but you don't. 

Tony Isabella




RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 67

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 67th installment in that series.
 
The Rawhide Kid #82 [December 1970] has a new cover by Herb Trimpe, but, inside this issue, we get a reprint of “A Man Called Drako” (17 pages) by writer Denny O’Neil with art by Dick Ayers and Vince Colletta. The story originally appeared in Rawhide Kid #59 [August 1967]. Even back in 1970, I thought it was way too soon for Marvel to reprint a story barely three years old. Makes me wonder if the issue was running late and the editorial/production staff grabbed the first set of photostats they could lay their hands on. Anyone know for sure?

I want to spend a bit more time on that Trimpe cover, which I like a lot. It’s an exciting image with lots going on. There’s plenty of room for the Kid’s two word balloons and the arrow-caption warning him about Drako. The bright yellow background makes the cover pop. It’s a swell cover on all fronts.

“A Man Called Drako” isn’t identified as a reprint, a practice that Marvel would eventually abandon. You can read my comments on this story by going to my bloggy thing for June 19, 2013.

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The issue’s second story is also an unidentified-as-such reprint. “The Badlands” (4 pages) was first published in Kid Colt Outlaw #80 [September 1958]. Drawn by Ayers, this is a clever little tale of an aging sheriff who rides alone into the badlands on the trail of a killer named Brad Gower. The story is narrated by a ballad-singing cowboy. I admire the unidentified writer who actually made that difficult device work.

No one from the town of Chemung will accompany Sheriff Frank Carter on this manhunt. Dozens of outlaws are hiding out in those badlands and the townsmen don’t have the stones to risk their lives bringing Gower to justice.

The outlaws laugh at Carter when he tries to enter their badlands after Gower. They taunt Carter and fire their rifles into the air. They think they spooked the sheriff’s horse, but it was all part of the lawman’s plan. He has tricked them into revealing exactly where they are.

Carter pulls the main log from a damned-up river. Nature does its part, flooding the outlaw hideout. Their guns and ammo soaked and useless, the outlaws surrender to the sheriff.

Carter herds up the outlaws and marches them into Chemung, much to the amazement of the townsfolk. The angry Gower demands the ballad-singer include him in the song.

SINGER: And to think the end of Brad Gower was brought by Frank’s man-made shower!

GOWER: Aw, shut up!

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This issue’s “The Mighty Marvel Checklist” takes up less than one half of a page. There are no standout issues on the checklist this go-round. Sharing the newsstands with Rawhide: Fantastic Four #105, Amazing Spider-Man #91, Avengers #82, Thor #182, Captain America #132, Incredible Hulk #134, Daredevil #70, Sub-Mariner #32, Iron Man #32, Astonishing Tales #3, Conan the Barbarian #2, Chamber of Darkness #8, Sgt. Fury #82, Special Marvel Edition #1, Marvel Tales #29, Marvel Super-Heroes #28, X-Men #67, Daredevil King-Size #2, Western Gunfighters #3, Outlaw Kid #3, Our Love Story #8, Harvey #2 and Millie the Model #187.

The rest of the page is a Marvelmania advertisement for 6-inch tall “molded and unbreakable 3-D statues of your favorite super-heroes, each with its own base [and] no assembly required.” There are two sets of three heroes each. Set A has Spider-Man, Hulk and Iron Man. Set B has Captain America, Thor and Daredevil. Including postage, each set costs $2. Order both sets and the cost is $3. This statue pitch suggests you “paint ‘em or just set ‘em around to form your own super-hero museum!”

Marvelmania had a deservedly shady reputation. By this time in its existence, I wasn’t buying anything from the fan club. So, having never seen these models back then, I ask if any of my bloggy thing readers did order and receive them. I’d be interested in learning what you thought of these mini-statues.

Various back-issue dealers bought space on this issue’s classified ads pages: Howard Rogofsky, Passaic Book Center, Robert Bell, Grand Book Inc. and Clint’s Books. A sample copy of The Comiccollector could be yours for a dollar. If you still had another dollar left after buying all those Marvel comics, you could get “100 stick-on stamps of the scariest Movie Monsters!”

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There was no “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page this issue, but we did get a “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page...and it’s just now occurred to be that “Riding’ the Range with Rawhide” would’ve been a better name for the column. Am I slow or what?

Reader Jackie Brannan of Memphis, Tennessee is having a hard time tracking down issues of Ringo Kid and has never read a Ghost Rider story. He or she would also like to see Rawhide team with Ghostie, Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid. Brannan also caught a goof, spotting that a character drew his gun with his left hand, but it was the man’s right holster that was empty.

Marvel’s response:

Would you believe it was a fancy cross-draw, Jackie? How ‘bout if we tell you it was a good? That’s what it really was, most likely. About our splendiferous spook of the plains, the galivanting Ghost Rider, you’ll find him, along with some pretty rough hombres in Western Gunfighters.
 
Mike Francis of Manhattan beach, California, who was published in Rawhide Kid #74, suggested in that earlier letter that the Rawhide Kid should meet some modern-day villains like Doctor Doom. At that time, Marvel said that decision would be made by readers. Francis asks how that worked out and Marvel answers with an evasive “still waiting for comments on your suggestion.”

Geoff Gibbs of Ontario, Canada thought Rawhide Kid #79 was great. He’s been collecting Rawhide Kid for two years and has 131 12-cent comics and 3 25-cent comics. He’s looking forward to buying Western Gunfighters. In its response, Marvel says Western Gunfighters #1 has received more letters than any other currently-published Marvel western comic.

Michael Nesmith of Hopewell, Virginia wants to know how the Rawhide Kid and Kid Colt became outlaws. He also wants a gunfight between Rawhide and the Ringo Kid.

That’s it for this issue. Look for another “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” next week.

I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

THE AGE OF SELFISHNESS

The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality and the Financial Crisis by Darryl Cunningham [Abrams; $17.95] landed on my reading pile via my local library system. Given the dire threat posed to the United States and the world by asses who think the psychotic, tyrannical Rand was some sort of economic and social visionary, I was looking for a book that might explain how anyone who wasn’t a bitter high-school boy could find not just merit in her blatherings but enough merit to make them the basis of public policy.

Here’s what Amazon had to say about the book:

Tracing the emergence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism in the 1940s to her present-day influence, Darryl Cunningham’s latest work of graphic-nonfiction investigation leads readers to the heart of the global financial crisis of 2008. Cunningham uses Rand’s biography to illuminate the policies that led to the economic crash in the U.S. and in Europe, and how her philosophy continues to affect today’s politics and policies, starting with her most noted disciple, economist Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Federal Reserve). Cunningham also shows how right-wing conservatives, libertarians, and the Tea Party movement have co-opted Rand’s teachings (and inherent contradictions) to promote personal gain and profit at the expense of the middle class. Tackling the complexities of economics by distilling them down to a series of concepts accessible to all age groups, Cunningham ultimately delivers a devastating analysis of our current economic world.

Here’s what I have to say:

Cunningham’s book is balanced, though the Rand groupies will never see it that way as he relates some of the awful manipulations she put her husband, lover and closest followers through. He tries to explain the financial criminality and crisis to his readers, doing a pretty good job of it. Some of the comparisons between the U.S. and European situations threw me a but, but a careful reading got me straightened away.

Cunningham doesn’t dismiss conservatism completely and, indeed, he shows where some of its positions could be useful. Unfortunately, in today’s United States where actual conservatives have had their name hijacked by avaricious billionaires, slobbering morons, vile racists and conspiracy-hugging lunatics, any positive applications of conservatism are unlikely to occur.

In the best of books, thinking about Rand and her acolytes can give you migraine headaches and sour stomachs, but, if one must explore her self-absorbed egotism and world view, The Age of Selfishness is the best guide I’ve found to date. I don’t know if “enjoyed” is the right word here, but I did find the book informative, interesting and well-done. I plan to seek out Cunningham’s other books in the very near future.

ISBN 978-1-4197-1598-3

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The bloggy thing has resumed sooner than I expected for the simple reason that writing it makes for a nice break from working on the “memoir” I’m currently writing. My ego is as healthy and maybe more healthy than the next guy’s, but considering and writing about my life is challenging and exhausting. The bloggy thing takes the edge off that.

Among the surprises you’ll find in my "memoir" will be a rare photo of myself and a famous entertainer. This photo has never appeared in print anywhere. The photographer gave me a copy of it many years ago, but that photo was destroyed in a basement flood. She’s making a new copy of it for me and allowing me to publish it in the book. I’m excited about this.

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Readers of my Facebook page know that the Cleveland neighborhood in which I grew up has become very dangerous. There has been around a shooting a month for a few years now and the occasional fatality. A little over a week ago, there was a multiple shooting one block from my mother’s house. Four people were shot, one died, and two of the others were, at last report, in critical condition.

The good news is that Mom will be moving into a senior assistance facility very soon. The logistics will be a huge deal, but there’s enough family members to make it happen as smoothly as possible. If any problems should arise, they will be sorted out in the fullness of time.

Thinking about how my old neighborhood - the one from which I wrote all those letters to comic books and all those fanzine articles - has changed will certainly add a sobering note to my book. That change for the worse shows what happens when a city like Cleveland ignores its residential neighborhoods to build up the playgrounds of the wealthy and the powerful. I’ll have more to say on this when I launch my presidential campaign later this year. There may even be buttons and bumper stickers.

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My health has been a wee bit shaky in recent months, which is not unexpected in a man of my advanced years who spends a huge portion of his waking hours at a keyboard. I’m making and going to medical appointments with the hope of insuring I’ll be around for a great many more years and books and conventions to come.

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Looking ahead to the rest of this year, I’m currently finalizing my schedule of convention and other public appearances while planning the resumption of my garage sales in August. If the fates are kind, my online sales will return next month. Look for more news on all these things early next week.

In the meantime, come back here tomorrow for another hard-riding, rip-roaring installment of Rawhide Kid Wednesday. I reckon that’s the right thing to do...unless you’re just some kind of no account owlhoot.

© 2015 Tony Isabella