Today’s bloggy thing is pretty much about me, me, me. It’s not so
much a matter of ego as it is sorting out recent/upcoming events in
my life so that I can remember and organize all the stuff I have to
do over the next few months.
Let’s start with Tricon, the Tri-State Comic Con, which I will be
attending with my son Eddie on Saturday, April 6 at the doubtless
spectacular Big Sandy Superstore Arena, One Civic Center Plaza in
Huntington, West Virginia. The show runs from 10 am t0 6 pm, but
VIPs can get in at 9 am and Early Birds at 9:30 am. Tickets cost
an extremely reasonable seven bucks and kids under 10 get in free.
Here’s what I’ll be doing at the show:
I’ll be selling copies of my best-selling 1000 Comic Books You Must
Read and signing them on request. I’ll also be signing any other
Isabella-written or Isabella-edited items which readers would like
me to deface with my signature. No charge for autographs and also
no limit on how many items you’d like me to sign. However, if you
have a bunch of stuff for me to sign and there’s a line behind you,
I may ask you to wait a bit so I can accommodate those with just a
few items. I don’t want them stuck in front of my table when there
are more than likely other guests they’d like to see as well. In
fact, given the great names on the guest list, I’m certain there’s
other guests they’d like to see.
As much as possible, I’ll be checking out the exhibitor tables for
issues of Rawhide Kid I need. I’m collecting all the Johnny Clay
issues, even the ones that are all reprint. It’s the thrill of the
I also hope to have some quality time with my old friends who will
also be at the show and to make new friends as well. It’s one of
the main reasons I attend conventions.
Depending on my signing line, I’m happy to look at samples of your
artwork. Keep in mind that I am not an artist and will be looking
at your work from a storytelling perspective. If you would like me
to keep you in mind for any future projects I may launch, you will
need to give me some sort of sample portfolio to take back to the
home office with me.
I’m also attending conventions in May, June and July. We’ll talk
about those in a near-future bloggy thing.
Tony’s Tips, the Comics Buyer’s Guide column I wrote for a couple
of decades, has found a new online home. It will appear weekly at
the Tales of Wonder blog. The focus on the column will be comics,
comics and more comics...with the occasional side trip into my life
as a fan and my career as an industry professional. The first new
column was posted on Monday, April 1, and new columns will appear
every Monday. Check it out.
You should also check out the general Tales of Wonder site. I’ve
been buying items from the company for several years now and have
recommended their prices and services to friends even before they
hired me to revive Tony’s Tips. Gee, I should ask them if there’s
an employee discount.
I’m thrilled to be writing Tony’s Tips again and, judging from the
e-mails I’ve been receiving and the comments on the blog, many of
you are thrilled as well. I’ll keep writing the column as long as
you keep reading it.
Some local to my home town of Medina readers have asked if I plan
to blog about the current situation with the Medina City Schools.
In a nutshell, the District has an arrogant, incompetent and quite
arguably dishonest superintendent in Randy Stepp. Complicating the
situation is a Board of Education mostly filled with - you guessed
it - arrogant, incompetent and arguably dishonest board members.
Stepp has received incredible perks from his position and many of
them have come without board oversight. This has been playing out
at a time when our school district is in financial trouble, has cut
vital programs and services for the students and is attempting to
pass a school levy next month.
Three previous levies have failed to pass. I voted against two of
them because I didn’t trust Stepp or the school board to use that
money wisely and for the benefit of the students. The only way I
would vote for the May levy would be if the three culpable members
of the board resign before April 15.
I would make Stepp’s being fired or quitting a condition except I
don’t know how much that would cost the district. He has already
gotten a quarter of a million dollars for his personal educational
growth and the district may be on the hook for any tax liabilities
that may incur due to Steep’s generosity to himself. Apparently,
the board members couldn’t be bothered to keep an eye on what this
crumb bum was doing. If a new board is elected, they should strip
Stepp of any spending power. The man shouldn’t even be allowed to
buy a pencil without strict oversight.
My local readers have asked me to write about Stepp because I have
had a number of run-ins with him since he was the principal of the
high school my children attended and since he was promoted to his
current position. I am searching my electronic and physical files
for documentation of these run-ins. That’s one of the main reasons
I haven’t written the piece yet, though I continue to work on it in
and around my other paying gigs and projects.
The other main reason is that the piece will anger some of the very
people who requested it. Because you can’t separate the failings
and malfeasance of Steep and the school board from the Republican
majority that rules Medina. The attitudes and conduct of Stepp and
the board members reflect the attitudes, conduct and positions of
the national Republican Party, a brew made even more unpalatable by
the presence of our local Tea Party nut jobs.
If my non-Medina readers want to get up to speed on this situation,
I direct them to the Medina City Schools Outrage Page on Facebook.
You could literally spend days reading all the news and comments on
the page. It’s like staring at a grisly accident.
Some closing notes. The (Medina) Gazette for April 3 reports that
“Five years ago this week, Medina School Superintendent Randy Stepp
turned a four-day national conference for school board members into
a weeklong stay with his family at Orlando’s Universal Studios with
taxpayers footing most of the bill.”
The Medina teachers, recognizing the financial problems of Medina
schools, have approved a contract that gives them no pay increase,
has them paying more for health care and requires then to teach an
extra class each day. They will only be getting the pay increases
they earn from their additional education and longevity.
Steep, that prince of perks for himself, has cut the work hours of
school cafeteria workers by 15 minutes a day to avoid paying their
health care under current law. Because who cares if the folks who
prepare and serve food to kids are healthy.
More on Stepp soon. In the meantime, come back tomorrow and we’ll
talk about my upcoming garage sales. I guarantee that bloggy thing
will have more laughs than this one. See you then.
© 2013 Tony Isabella
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character. So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday. When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy more issues of the title. Because that’s
what the Kid would have done.
The Rawhide Kid #53 [August 1966] has one of my favorite covers of
the title. Penciled by Larry Lieber, the figure of a just-wounded
Kid being shot as he escapes from bounty hunters is dramatic as all
get out. You can see the pain on Johnny Clay’s face. The cover’s
inker has not yet been definitively identified, but I see something
of George Tuska’s style in Rawhide’s face. As always, I invite the
art detectives among you to weigh in on this.
“Guns of the Wild North!” (17 pages) is written and drawn by Lieber
with inks by Carl Hubbell. It opens with our exhausted young hero
trying to escape from his pursues. When he and his horse Nightwind
cross a river border into Canada, one of the bounty hunters fires
and hits the Kid, knocking Johnny into the river.
The hunters ride away. They believe they have killed their quarry
and sent him to the bottom of the river where they won’t be able to
recover his body. They are more bereft about the reward money they
have lost than the life they think has ended. But, even wounded,
the Rawhide Kid has outsmarted them. He’s been hanging on to his
horse’s stirrup while underwater and safely reaches the other side
of the river.
Cut to Joe Clanton, who will soon to be known as the Acrobat. He’s
a lumberjack and he’s not okay. When his rope breaks while he’s
high up in a tree, Clanton uses his incredible acrobatic ability to
reach the ground without injury. He then quits his job for his new
career as a masked outlaw.
Feeling much better, the Rawhide Kid rides to the camping site and
asks for a hand. Though the men are suspicious of this stranger -
“That jasper comin’ down the hill wears his hardware likes he knows
how to use it.” - the foreman hires him to make up for the loss of
For his debut heist, the Acrobat plans to rob the camp’s payroll.
The ever-wary Rawhide Kid hears something and confronts the crook.
What follows is a three-page battle that includes some logrolling
action. The Acrobat escapes. Johnny gets dunked.
The lumberjacks blame Rawhide for the theft, even though he doesn’t
have the payroll. His guns wet and useless, the Kid is tied up and
delivered to Sergeant Jonah of the Mounties. Riding to the nearest
town, Johnny escapes. He realizes he can only clear his name if he
brings in the Acrobat.
The Acrobat commits a string of robberies. A disguised Rawhide Kid
poses as a traveler with a valuable jewel and checks into a hotel.
He figures - rightly - the Acrobat won’t be able to resist such an
easy score. The plan works, but the Acrobat makes his way out the
window just as Sergeant Jonah shows up. Exposed, the Acrobat draws
on Johnny. Do I have to tell you how that works out?
The Acrobat confesses. The sergeant tells the Kid he’s a free man
and asks if Johnny will be returning to the lumber camp.
I’ve learned that no matter where he goes, no man with a past like
mine is ever truly free! So, as long as I’m destined for a troubled
trail anyway, I’m returning to my own land.
Maybe, somehow...someway...back there I’ll find a new day...and a
“Guns of the Wild North” doesn’t have the great characterization of
supporting players we’ve seen in most Lieber scripts for Rawhide.
But it’s an action-packed adventure with one of the few costumed
villains Lieber created and used in his years on the series.
It also has the Rawhide Kid’s trademarked lack of logic. Why not
stay in Canada? It’s a big country with good beer and, if he lives
long enough, free health care. But what do I know?
The Rawhide Kid story is followed by the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins.
In this month’s news...Peter Asher of the Peter and Gordon singing
duo visited the Marvel offices...inker ”Frankie Ray” is revealed to
be Frank Giacoia...John Romita is doing a great job on the Amazing
Spider-Man...and six Marvel annuals are announced for the summer.
They are Millie the Model, Sgt. Fury, Thor, Marvel Super-Heroes,
Fantastic Four and Spider-Man.
Continuing the news...Marvel gives a shout-out to newspapers and
radio personalities who have been spreading the word about Marvel.
Roy Thomas quotes William Butler Years’ “To a Poet Who Would Have
Me Praise Certain Bad Poets, Imitators of His and Mind” to explain
why Marvel’s taking a hard line on its imitators. And, in a testy
exchange, Marvel responds to a reader who complains the company’s
high standard of artwork is going down the drain.
The Mighty Marvel Checklist plugs the origin of the Black Panther
in Fantastic Four, the revelation of the Green Goblin’s identity in
Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man and Sub-Mariner having at it in Tales
of Suspense and Tales to Astonish and, in the annual-size Fantasy
Masterpieces, Captain America reprints from Marvel’s Golden Age of
Comics. Like the 26 MMMS (Mighty Marvel Marching Society) members
whose names are listed on this page, the young Tony Isabella found
it easy to say...Make Mine Marvel!
This issue’s non-series story is “The Schoolma'arm Was a Gent!!!”
(five pages) by Stan Lee and Sol Brodsky. Reprinted from Kid Colt
Outlaw #111 [July 1963], the story opens with the aptly-named town
of Roughshod getting a new schoolteacher. Self-appointed Sheriff
Shaggy Shelton gives the well-dressed scholar a crude and muddy
welcome. At the school, the pretty Miss McGuire explains that no
one in the town has the courage to face Shaggy.
The next day, no students show up at the school because the Sheriff
doesn’t like men teachers. A few minutes later, outside of town,
the teacher changes into an outfit not unlike that of the Ringo Kid
and straps on his guns. He pays a visit to Shaggy and mops up the
phony lawman and his gang in just under two pages. You see, this
teacher forgot to mention one little thing:
I’m not only a school teacher! The governor sent me here because he
heard you needed a sheriff, too! A real one, that is!
The school was back in session that very day. All the pupils are
in their seats and one extra pupil - Shaggy - is also seated. He
tells the sheriff/teacher: Teacher, whatever you’re teachin’, I’m
fixin’ to learn it! Then mebbe some day I can get to be a real
The sheriff/teacher offers encouragement and says he thinks things
will be mighty pleasant around Roughshod from now on. The lovely
Miss McGuire thinks the same as she makes goo-goo eyes at the new
Next up is a full-page Marvel Merchandise advertisement. You can
buy a two-sided Thing or Hulk sweatshirt for only $3.15 plus a mere
quarter for postage and handling. The six-foot Spider-Man poster
is still a buck plus a quarter. The super-hero stationery kit is
also a dollar or two for $1.60 plus a quarter. Finally, a Spider-
Man t-shirt is only $1.60 plus a quarter. I had them all and just
found the small notepad that came with the stationery kit. I was,
indeed, the coolest Marvel kid on my block.
Last up is the “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page. There
is much praise for Rawhide Kid #51. One reader requests reprints
of the western heroes be added to Marvel Collectors Item Classics
while another wants origin stories for their horses. While I don’t
recall Marvel running any horse origin stories, I do remember such
tales appearing at DC and other comics companies.
That’s all for now, my amigos. Happy trails to you until our next
exciting edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow
with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella
Monday, April 1, 2013
in my December 1951 birth month. However, unlike most comic books
from that month, I actually own a copy of this one. Unfortunately,
the Grand Comics Database doesn’t have any artist or writer credits
for this issue. But I will be able to share my impressions of the
issue with you.
Tom & Jerry Comics continued its numbering from Our Gang With Tom
& Jerry which continued its numbering from Our Gang Comics. Dell
published 153 issues of Tom & Jerry Comics (#60-212) from July 1949
to May-June 1962.
This issue is packed from cover to cover with comics starring M-G-M
cartoon characters. As you can see, the cover shows Tom imperiling
the lives of Jerry and Tuffy. I wonder how many of my younger-
than-Tony bloggy thing readers have ever seen such a wash tub and
clothes wringer. I have a childhood memory of one from my family’s
first home on Cleveland’s Detroit Avenue - we shared a two-family
house with my maternal grandmother - but I don’t think we had such
a contraption at the Peony Avenue address where I wrote my fanzine
articles and letters to editors in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The inside front cover of this issue has a one-page pantomime gag
strip starring Droopy. Disturbed by a flea roaming his backside,
the sourpuss pooch flicks the insect from his person, grabs it and
locks it in a wall safe. Maybe you had to be there.
Tom and Jerry lead off the issue per se with a brutally funny ten-
page story. Grumpy Tom wants to nap. Having read that a purring
cat is a contented cat, Jerry decides he and Tuffy should make Tom
purr. Tuffy figures out early on that this is not a good idea, but
Jerry is determined to make this work. Tom isn’t quite killed with
kindness, but he takes his lumps. Ultimately, the only thing that
makes Tom purr is when he inflicts humiliating physical pain on his
mouse tenants. It’s almost like (fill in the name of your favorite
degenerate comic book writer) was writing funny animal comic books.
Big Spike and Little Tyke, who are father and son, are up next in
a six-page story. Seeing that there are prizes for the winner of
a “trained pet show,” Spike decides to enter Tyke in the contest.
However, to make his son look good for the judges, Spike subjects
the lad to a super-scrubbing in a wash tub. When Tyke gets dirty
before the contest, he endures a second super-scrubbing. The kid
doesn’t want to disappoint his dad - it’s like a canine edition of
Dance Moms - but, in trying to stay clean, Tyke ends up covered in
glue and chicken feathers. Which is when he gets the bright idea
to impersonate a chicken for the contest. The judges are amazed by
a chicken who can do tricks as well as a dog and give first place
to the disguised pup. Unfortunately - spoiler warning - the prize
is a sack of chicken feed. Much gentler than Tom and Jerry’s tale,
this one also made me laugh.
Bertie Bird stars in “Surprise Farewell,” a two-page text tale. I
don’t recall ever seeing this character in cartoons, which leads me
to wonder if he was created for this title. With the exception of
some Tom and Jerry specials, he seems to have only appeared in text
stories. I didn’t read text stories as a kid and that’s still the
case now that I’m a senior citizen.
Wuff the Prairie Dog is another character I don’t recall seeing in
any cartoons. In this six-page story, Wuff and his pal Sammy are
trying to catch the two most difficult creatures on the prairie for
their friend Professor Lem Lizard. The prof runs a roadside museum
of prairie life portraits. One creature is the “Giantus Walleyed
Butterfly Rex” and the other is the coyote. The boys go after the
butterfly and run afoul of Charlie Coyote, who has been wanting to
have them for dinner for some time now. Through a combination of
ingenuity and luck, the young prairie dogs manage to deliver both
specimens to the Professor. This isn’t as good as either the Tom
and Jerry or Big Spike and Little Tyke stories, but it got a smile
or two out of me.
Reading this issue is making me feel cartoon-challenged because I
have also never heard of Flip and Dip. These brother-and-sister ape
kids star in a two-page story. With their parents, they live on a
rickety houseboat and the brief tale ends with Mom chasing Dad with
a rolling pin. This feature isn’t good or interesting in any way.
Barney Bear and Benny Burro star in a five-and-a-half page story.
I know these characters appeared in MGM cartoons - Barney quite a
bit more often than Benny - but have only vague memories of seeing
their cartoons. In this story, the boys are being preyed upon by
a mooching neighbor whose keeping tabs on them via a microphone in
their window. They feed him false information and trick him into
helping them build a mobile home of sorts so they can move far far
away from him. I got a kick out of this one.
A subscription coupon for Tom & Jerry Comics fills the other half
of the last page of the above story. A one-year sub to the monthly
title costs a buck. A two-year sub is $1.85 and a three-year sub
is $2.70. With your subscription, you would also get a membership
certificate in the Dell Comics Club and a full-color “Dell Comics
Family Group Picture” featuring over a dozen characters from Dell
Comics. The back cover of the issue shows the picture and promotes
the comics club.
Droopy makes a second appearance on the inside back cover of this
issue. The one-page pantomime gag strip has the dog trying to get
a look at a passing parade. His shortness of stature works against
him until he figures out he can get a good view by standing in an
open manhole. He even manages a smile in the last panel.
Keep reading this bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from the month of my birth. I’ll be back tomorrow with yet another
installment of our “Rawhide Kid Wednesdays” feature. See you then.
© 2013 Tony Isabella