Monday, August 18, 2014

HOLD ON TIGHT TO WHAT GIVES YOU JOY

Robin Williams left this world a little over a week ago. The pain of his passing is still raw, the sadness palatable. I didn’t know Williams, but he was a dear friend of dear friends of mine. Neither they nor Williams have been out of my thoughts.

The death by suicide of Williams brought with it the now-familiar chorus of people who also suffer from depression or who know people who suffer from depression or who, most tragically, know people who took their own lives as a result of depression. The number of folks in the first of those groups is heartening to me because it means the onus of depression is lifting. It’s a real thing. It has very real consequences. It needs to be recognized early and it needs to be addressed early.

The first time I tried to kill myself and failed, I experienced a profound sense of shame. To this day, I can’t tell you if my shame came from attempting to kill myself or the failure thereof. If that sounds seriously fucked up, welcome to my world and the world of so many others who battle depression on a daily basis.

I tried to kill myself on two other occasions. Thankfully, I never got good at killing myself. Both times found me sitting in a closed garage with the engine of my car running. The first time, I gave up because it was taking too long to die. The second time, I realized my children needed me. It was after that second visit to my garage that I sought medical help.

Today, I have a wonderful life. Depression rears its ugly head on a weekly and, sometimes, a daily basis. I’ve learned a lot about my depression and am confident it will never again have a daily claim on me. But I always keep an eye on it.

Here’s what I’ve learned about my depression...

It’s my depression, unique unto myself. Just as your depression, if you suffer from depression, is unique unto you. We aren’t cookie-cutter human beings. While illness may affect us in similar ways, it won’t be an exact match.

When you realize you suffer from depression - and you know before you’re willing to admit it to yourself - you must immediately seek  medical treatment. This isn’t a time for pride. It’s time for the holding action that could save your life.

Because your depression is your depression, you need to be always front-and-center when it comes to making decisions about treatment for the illness. The drug that works for nine out of ten sufferers may not work for me. The therapist you’re seeing may not be right for you. Extended treatment might become an addiction and fail to keep your depression at bay.

I got lucky with my treatment. I got a therapist whose goal was to help me figure things out for myself. When she prescribed an anti-depressant that didn’t work for me, she didn’t insist I remain on that or any other medication.  When she believed I figured out what I needed to figure out, she sent me on my way with a handshake and my promise I would call her the instant I thought I might again be at risk.

About the medication...this is one of those areas where you must be in control of your own treatment. The anti-depressants didn’t help me. They gave me headaches and nausea. They left me lethargic and unable to write...and not being able to write was making me more depressed than ever.

Medication didn’t work for me. It works for a great many others who suffer from depression. Never assume you are like any other person suffering from depression. Make your own informed choices on your medication, but don’t make those choices lightly.

A dear friend of mine told me I was brave for staying in this world of ours. I have never felt brave about beating back my depression. I have felt fortunate.

There is no “cure” for depression. The closed thing to a "cure" I  found was to hold on tight to what gives me joy. Hold on tight and never let go. My wife. My children. My friends. My writing, even in something as ultimately inconsequential as this blog. The terrific comics and manga and graphic novels and other things I read. The cheesy movies I love. The silly things my cat does. The many other blessings of my life.

I will never tell anyone they have no reason to be depressed. You might think fame and fortune would be enough reason for someone to stay in their life, but their depression is not your depression or my depression. The best you can do is be there for them when they will allow you to be there and, if they do, listen to their stories without making judgments on the “validity” of their depression. You are not them.

This is a wonderful world, but it is also a terrible world. In all honesty, I think everyone on the planet has reason to be mightily depressed. So much hate and violence. So much greed and desperate poverty. But...also...so much love and potential for good. So much acceptance and generosity. So many reasons to hope.

Moving on...

Whenever I write about my struggle with depression - and it’s not something I enjoy writing about - I get familiar responses. I get the “you’re so brave for writing about this” response. I get one or two “keep trying to kill yourself” notes from the usual anonymous trolls. I get one or two notes from people who are helped by what I’ve written.

Those last one or two notes are why I write about my depression now and then. I don’t enjoy revisiting the darker corners of my past. I don’t feel brave, just lucky. I certainly don’t get plunged into depression by the trolls because they have long since proven themselves to be among the most pathetic of creatures. But I do feel a certain sense of “maybe it was worth it” when my story was helpful to another who is in pain.  It’s why I tell my story. It’s why I appreciate when others tell their stories.

I don’t have a religion.  I haven’t had one in years. It’s because religions are based on human writings passed off as wisdom from God or gods. It’s because religious institutions almost never live up to their high-minded ideals. These days, especially in my country, most major religions have allied themselves with the rich and the powerful. There is almost as much truth and wisdom in my facetious First Church of Godzilla.

But I do have a belief. When I read the recent comics adaptation of George Lucas’ original treatment for The Star Wars, I really liked the sound of the frequently-repeated line “May the Force of Others be with you.”

That line is pretty decent shorthand for my belief that we are all in this together. If there is an unseen force guiding our lives, I think it is everyone that has come before us, everyone who exists with us and every one who will follow us. There is good and evil in us, but we are all in this together.

My belief is that we are all in this together. My hope is that we are more good than evil. My prayer is that we do our best to love one another in spite of our differences and that we always do what we can to ease the lot of others.

Help when you can. Seek help when you need it.  And, always, always love one another.

I’ll be back soon with stuff that can’t possibly be as weighty as today’s bloggy thing.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

TONY'S TIPS #69

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...More of the Phantom at Charlton, Batman '66 and MAD magazine. Please leave comments at Tales of Wonder.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

ANOTHER TONY ISABELLA ORIGINAL

The comics art world went wild when I posted a sea monster sketch in yesterday's bloggy thing. In order to meet the almost completely imaginary demand for more of my art, I grabbed a pencil and a scrap of paper to create another mini-masterpiece. I spent hours laboring over this piece. Okay, not hours, but a good minute-and-a-half including the copy. This pencil sketch will soon be put up for auction on eBay and, by "soon," I mean, "never."

One of my online friends made the clever - and, by "clever," I mean "silly" - suggestion I commission actual artists to reinterpret the drawing I posted yesterday. Which would cost me money. Which is why I'm not going to do it. 

However, in the tradition of Tom Sawyer, if any of my artist pals or even any of my artist total strangers want to reinterpret yesterday or today's drawings, they should have at it. If they send me scans of the drawings, I'll post them in the bloggy thing along with their contact information. That way, fans who aren't as cheap as I am, can commission drawings from them. Everybody wins.

I'll be back soon with more stuff.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A TONY ISABELLA ORIGINAL

A presumably young comics fan sent me a stamped postcard in an envelope. The fan said he loves art and asked me to do a little drawing on the postcard for him.

My bemused response was..."Why not?"

Fingers crossed, bloggy things of all sizes will be coming your way with increasing frequency in the days to come. There's just so much to write about.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 60

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 60th installment of that series.

Larry Lieber penciled and inked the dramatic cover of The Rawhide Kid #75 [April 1970]. He also wrote and penciled the equally dramatic “The Man Who Killed the Kid!” (20 pages), another never-reprinted adventure from this era. John Tartaglione inked the story and Jean Izzo lettered it.

This tale of a gang that takes over a town starts with Pete, scout for the outlaws, riding into town. He figures the gang can take the town easily. Feeling cocky. Pete makes a crude come-on to a pretty blonde woman walking with her unarmed fiancé. The woman is never named. Her fiance’s name is Frank.

Frank tells Pete to push on. The outlaw draws on Frank, winging him in the shoulder. Fortunately for Frank and the woman, the Rawhide Kid is with the town blacksmith. The Kid’s horse needs a new shoe.

Rawhide intervenes in the street altercation. First, he shoots the gun out of Pete’s hand and then he beats him with his fists for a little over a page. Pete vows to settle this score.

Joe Slade is the leader of the outlaws. Since there’s no law in the town and “no local talent to stop us,” he figures the only person they have to worry about is the Rawhide Kid. The gang ambushes the Kid when he rides out of town and leaves him for dead. Slade takes his guns for use in his town-conquering plans.

Slade plays his bogus “I outgunned the Rawhide Kid” routine for all it’s worth. His gang evicts the owners of the best house in town. He collects all the guns in town. He steals horses at will as his gang wrecks stores and businesses.

Slade’s fortunes are about to take a turn for the worse:

But Joe Slade would laugh less, if he could witness the startling scene unfolding miles away, where a fallen gun hawk is being gently nuzzled back to consciousness by a faithful friend!

Revived by his horse’s magic nuzzle but still needed treatment for his wound, Rawhide rides to the office of Doc Sam Boone. The doc is surprised to see the Kid alive and smart enough to know that needs to be kept secret.

Slade’s men are no dummies either. They recognize Rawhide’s horse  and figure the Kid must have gone to the doctor’s office. With the help of his daughter - the pretty blonde woman from the opening of the story - the doctor hides the Kid in a secret storeroom.  They finish concealing the room just in time.

Slade figures Doc Boone knows where the Kid is hiding. He gives the doc one hour to turn Rawhide over to him or his outlaws will start leveling every building in town.

Rawhide and his allies come up with a plan. Fiancé Frank chucks a stick of dynamite at the house Slade and his men seized some pages back. The door gets blown apart. The outlaws chase after the very swift Frank. This allows the Kid to reclaim his guns. I think you know what happens next...

I’ve giving you charmers another chance to get my colts! Only this time you’ll have to do it the hard way. You’ll have to take me from the front!

The Kid fires three times and disarms four outlaws, leaving Slade to face the young gun hawk alone. Rawhide fires a fourth time and shoots the gun out of Slade’s hand.

Slade begs for his life. The Kid spares him:

But if I did finish you off, I’d be no better than you! And that I couldn’t live with!

The town is grateful. They ask how they can thank him and he says they just did...

And now, if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna sack out for a spell...like maybe a month! Then I’ll be pushing on...to the next horizon...hoping to lose the past...and to find a future!

There aren’t layers to “The Man Who Killed the Kid!” It’s “just” an exciting and fast-paced story enlivened by the courage of the doc, his daughter and her fiancé. 

The previous month’s “The Mighty Marvel Checklist” takes up half a page. This is during the time when Marvel’s stories were almost all done-in-one tales. But there are some impressive characters among the listings: The Mad Thinker, Electro, the Black Panther, the Sons of the Serpent, Ulik, the Ringmaster, the Circus of Crime and more.

The rest of the page pitches the new Marvelmania International fan club. Two bucks (including postage and handling) would get a reader the club membership kit containing a poster, a 16-page color catalog and a decal sheet.

In addition to the usual smattering of classified ads from 1970s comics dealers, this issue had an ad for “Nobody Loves the Hulk!” This “great new rock song” is on a 45rpm stereo record which also includes a second song, “Better Things.” It’s said to be available only through this ad. The cost is one dollar to Queen City Records in New Rochelle, New York. There’s no mention of who performs this song, but the ad assures us “It’s Hulkerific!”

Some online research tracked the song to a garage band called the Traits and you can listen to it here.

This issue’s full-size Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page is filled with “Awesome Announcements Calculated to Rouse You into a Seething Sea of Lethargy!” I don’t know what that means.

Among the breaking news items:

Stan Lee and DC Comics publisher Carmine Infantino have lunch. Marie Severin drew a Joe Namath cover for Esquire Magazine. John Buscema is drawing Avengers again. Jack (King) Kirby has written and drawn a story for Chamber of Darkness. Roy Thomas saw “his life-long idol Elvis Presley” during a West Coast vacation; Roy and then-wife Jean visited Gary Friedrich and Las Vegas.

The news items conclude with:

And now, a final message to Genial Gene Colan. We know we’ve been keeping you so busy you haven’t had time to come of the Bullpen in weeks. But, honest to Aunt Petunia, pal, you don’t haveta keep introducing yourself every time you phone. We still remember you, Charlie!

In “Stan’s Soapbox,” Lee discusses the moralizing that appears in Marvel’s comics. His position is that a story without a message, however subliminal, is like a man without a soul. None of Marvel’s creators live in a vacuum and none of them are untouched by what’s happening in the world around them. I’ll second that position and the “Excelsior!” with which Stan concluded his monthly sermon from 625 Madison Avenue.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” notes a number of debut appearances: The Monster from the Lost Lagoon, the Schemer, Crypto-Man, Suprema, the Night-Crawler and the Minotaur. Test your Marvel trivia skills by figuring out which books these characters appeared in and when (if ever) they made a second appearance.

The Bullpen Bulletins page is followed by a full-page house ad for Kid Colt Outlaw #144 and Ringo Kid #2. The covers of these comics are by the great Joe Maneely. The Kid Colt issue reprints the cover and interior stories from #77 (March 1958) of Colt’s long-running title while the Ringo Kid comic reprints the cover and stories of The Ringo Kid Western #9 (December 1955).

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters column in less than a page in length because the Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation also appears on the page.

Reader Danny Tucker of Cincinnati, Ohio wants to see Rawhide team up with Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid. He also wants to see 20-page stories in Kid Colt Outlaw.

Steve Bates of Springfield, Pennsylvania wants to see shorter tales in Rawhide Kid so that each issue has two or more stories. Marvel responds that there are shorter stories in Kid Colt Outlaw and The Ringo Kid.

Carl Johansen of Comox, British Columbia, Canada wants to see the return of the Scorpion. The Rawhide Kid villain. Not the Spider-Man villain. Though that would have been awesome.

Bob Franzen of France doesn’t like word balloons on covers. But I like to think of them as Freedom  Balloons and don’t hold with no socialist European guy telling me what we can and can’t have on our comic-book covers. What’s that? Most comic-book covers today don’t have word balloons? Darn it. I blame Obama.

The Rawhide Kid is averaging sales of 204,896 copies per issue in 1970. Good times.

I’ll be back with both Rawhide Kid Wednesdays and more cool stuff than anyone one blogger can handle. I can do this because I’m more than a little crazy. See you soon.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, August 11, 2014

TONY'S TIPS #68

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder: The Star Wars, Batman Akrham Unhinged and Moon Knight.

VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF SALE 8/11/14

THIS SALE HAS NOW ENDED

Welcome to my latest online VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF sale. These sales will generally post on Mondays. Here’s how the online sales work...

First come, first serve. In other words, the quicker you e-mail me, the better your chances of getting the item or items.  Only e-mail orders will be accepted and you should not send payment until you get a confirmation e-mail from me.  All listed items are in good or better condition unless otherwise noted. 

Let me stress that “e-mail only” rule.  Most of the few mistakes I have made in assembling/shipping orders have happened with orders I accepted via phone or Facebook message.  So I’m not gonna break my own rule anymore.

You should always include your mailing address with your orders. That speeds up the packaging and the shipping.

Items will be shipped via United States Postal Service.  There is a $5 shipping/handling charge for all orders of any size unless I specify otherwise in the item description. If your final order is over $100, shipping is free.

Payments are by check, money order or PayPal.  My PayPal address is the same as my email address.  Purchases will generally be shipped within a week of checks clearing,  money orders received or PayPal payments received.

Because this is a one-man operation done between family, household  and work responsibilities, these items are only available to buyers within the United States and to APO buyers.

When you receive your order, please check it and let me know of any omissions as soon as possible.  I’ll be double-checking the orders on my end, but, if there’s a problem, I want to make it right in a timely fashion.

Items will only be offered online once or twice before going into my garage sales. When you see an asterisk (*) in front of an item, it’s your last chance to purchase the item online.

As always, your orders are greatly appreciated.

This sale runs from today through Saturday, August 16, 2014.

Here are this week’s items...

1000 COMIC BOOKS YOU MUST READ by Tony Isabella. A fun ride through the history of the American comic book that showcases the variety of the field. Hardcover. Signed on request. Free shipping. $25

*AMERICAN WIDOW by Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi [Villard; 2008]. Eddie Torres started work at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center on September 10, 2001. The next day, Alissa became one of the terrorist widows of 9/11. American Widow chronicles Alissa's first year without Eddie—including the birth of their child, two months after his death. Hardcover graphic novel. $8

*ATTU: BOOK 1 & 2: THE FORBIDDEN CAVE and DURENELLA by Sam Glanzman [4Winds Publishing; 1989-1990]. Adventures on a primordial earth. Black-and-white. Softcover. 52 pages each. Sold only as a set. $5

*BATMAN: CHILD OF DREAMS by Kia Asamiya with Max Allan Collins [DC; 2003]. If you could be anyone, who would you be? Hardcover graphic novel. 352 pages. Unopened. $15

BRAVE AND BOLD #51: Aquaman and Hawkman. $120

BRAVE AND BOLD #59: Batman and Green Lantern. $30

BRAVE AND BOLD #64: Batman versus Eclipso. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #67: Batman and the Flash. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #68: Batman and Metamorpho. $50

BRAVE AND BOLD #69: Batman and Green Lantern. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #70: Batman and Hawkman. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #71: Batman and Green Arrow. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #74: Batman and Metal Men. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #75: Batman and the Spectre. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #76: Batman and Plastic Man. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #77: Batman and the Atom. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #78: Batman and Wonder Woman and Batgirl. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #79: Batman and Deadman. $60

BRAVE AND BOLD #80: Batman and the Creeper. $50

BRAVE AND BOLD #82: Batman and Aquaman. $50

BRAVE AND BOLD #83: Batman and Teen Titans. $50

BRAVE AND BOLD #84: Batman and Sgt. Rock. $50

BRAVE AND BOLD #85: Batman and Green Arrow. $60

BRAVE AND BOLD #86: Batman and Deadman. $50

BRAVE AND BOLD #87: Batman and Wonder Woman. $25

BRAVE AND BOLD #88: Batman and Wildcat. $25

BRAVE AND BOLD #89: Batman and the Phantom Stranger. $25

BRAVE AND BOLD #90: Batman and Adam Strange. $25

BRAVE AND BOLD #91: Batman and Black Canary. $25

BRAVE AND BOLD #92: Batman and the Bat-Squad. $25

BRAVE AND BOLD #93: Batman and House of Mystery. $40

BRAVE AND BOLD #94: Batman and Teen Titans. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #95: Batman and ?. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #96: Batman and Sgt. Rock. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #97: Batman and Wildcat. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #98: Batman and the Phantom Stranger. $10

BRAVE AND BOLD #99: Batman and the Flash. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #100: Batman and 4 Famous Co-Stars. $35

BRAVE AND BOLD #101: Batman and Metamorpho. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #102: Batman and Teen Titans. $30

BRAVE AND BOLD #103: Batman and Metal Men. $10

BRAVE AND BOLD #104: Batman and Deadman. $10

BRAVE AND BOLD #105: Batman and Wonder Woman. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #106: Batman and Green Arrow plus ? $10
                                           
BRAVE AND BOLD #107: Batman and Black Canary. $10

BRAVE AND BOLD #108: Batman and Sgt. Rock. $15

BRAVE AND BOLD #109: Batman and the Demon. $10
                                           
BRAVE AND BOLD #110: Batman and Wildcat. $10

BRAVE AND BOLD #111: Batman and the Joker. $10

BRAVE AND BOLD #112: Batman and Mister Miracle. $20

BRAVE AND BOLD #113: Batman and Metal Men. $25

BRAVE AND BOLD #114: Batman and Metal Men. $25

BRAVE AND BOLD #115: Batman and the Atom. $25

B&V FRIENDS COMICS DIGEST #239 [Archie Comics, 2014]. $1

*DEMEKING THE SEA MONSTER (DVD; 2009]. An anonymous letter predicts the apocalyptic arrival of a cosmic monster. Japanese with English subtitles. $4

DEN 1: NEVERWHERE by Richard Corben (Fantagor; 1991). Softcover GN. Sealed. $30

DIARY OF A GIRL NEXT DOOR, BETTY by Tania del Rip and Bill Galvan [2014]. Hardcover prose with illustrations. $5

*DINOSAUR EXPERIMENT, THE (DVD; 2013]. A cattle ranch is discovered to be a breeding ground for vicious prehistoric velociraptors. When the bloodthirsty dinosaurs escape, the townspeople must fight to survive the deadly raptors. $4

*EDEN FORMULA, THE [DVD; 2006]. Unofficially known as Carnosaur 5. In the industrial district of downtown Los Angeles, Dr. Harrison Parker (Jeff Fahey) has developed the Eden Formula. This new, revolutionary, cutting-edge technology can synthetically reproduce virtually any organism. And it does! $4

FANTASTIC ART OF LUIS ROYO [NBM; 2004]. Best-selling fantasy artist Luis Royo compiles and presents 240 pages of his best work in this handsome thick hardcover book. Includes a fold-out poster. $22

JUGHEAD WITH ARCHIE COMICS DIGEST [2014]. $1

*KRAZY & IGNATZ: THE KAT WHO WALKED IN BEAUTY: THE PANORAMIC DAILIES OF 1920 by George Herriman [Fantagraphics; 2007]. Hardcover volume measuring  11.5 x 15.5 x 1 inches. $15

LIBERTY MEADOWS: EDEN BOOK ONE by Frank Cho [Image; 2004]. Second printing. Landscape edition (11.8 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches). Softcover. $10

*MASTERS OF ANIMATION by John Grant (Watson-Guptill; 2001]. Profiles of nearly 40 animators from the U.S., Europe and Japan. Full-color images. Classic and contemporary animated characters. Synopses of films. Softcover. 208 pages. $5

*POSEIDON REX [DVD; 2013]. A small, secluded island off the coast of Belize suddenly finds itself terrorized by a deadly predator from the planet's distant past when deep sea divers accidentally awaken an ancient evil. $4

*RAPTOR [DVD; 2001]. Unofficial sequel to Carnosaur 3 with all its monster scenes coming from the first three movies. Starring Corben Bernstein and Eric Roberts. $4

RAWHIDE KID #107 [January 1973]. $6

SPECTRUM 13: THE BEST IN CONTEMPORARY FANTASTIC ART by Cathy and Arnie Fenner [Underwood; 2006]. Softcover. Sealed. $10

*SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-Man VOL. 1: GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber [Marvel; 2014]. Collecting issues #1-6 of “a new sleeper hit saga starring some of Spidey’s deadliest baddies!” Softcover. $5

*UNO FANTA: THE ART OF ASHLEY WOOD [IDW; 2002]. Filled with never- before-seen art, this full color, hardcover book features work from Wood's Pop-Bot and examples of his striking illustrations of women. Introduction by Bill Sienkiewicz. 96 pages. $10

WOLFF & BYRD, COUNSELORS OF THE MACABRE: FRIGHT COURT by Batton Lash [Exhibit A Press; 1995]. Collection of stories from the long-running weekly comic strip. Landscape format. $5

Thanks for your patronage.

Tony Isabella