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Tony's Online Tips
Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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This is the first of two new "Tony's Tips!" columns which will run here at World Famous Comics in place of the usual reprints from COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE. When some family and health matters blew my schedule to pieces several weeks back, my benevolent editors at CBG allowed me to cover my behind by accepting two columns which were composed entirely of reprints from my "Tony's Online Tips" columns.

Since those reviews are archived at Norman Barth's PERPETUAL COMICS website, it didn't make sense to reprint them here. So, lucky you gets new columns today and next Saturday.

Here we go...


Justice League 50 WHY IS THIS MAN SMILING?

This is the cover of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #50 (December, 1966) and it's here for no other reason that it cracks me up every time I see it. Look at the expression on the gigantic-by-way-of-artistic-license villain. What the heck is going through his mind as he fires his big ray guns at the large-because-his-TV-show-is-a-huge-hit Batman (and those other guys)? Is the Lord of Time having the *best* time of his life? Or has someone behind the cover blurb blasted him in the privates? Or is something else going on behind those wild eyes of his? Who knows? But I can't look at this cover without laughing out loud.

The title of Gardner Fox's story is "The Lord of Time Attacks the 20th Century!" It was penciled by Mike Sekowsky, inked by Sid Greene, and edited by Julius Schwartz. In addition to the heroes shown, the cover blurb also lists Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Maybe the blurb was strategically placed so we readers wouldn't see what Arthur and the Amazon were doing to the Lord of Time. Or maybe I'm just over thinking this.

I wish I could tell you more about this comic book. I'm sure I own the original or a reprint of the story. However, locating it within the lower reaches of Casa Isabella would challenge Indiana Jones. I need an assistant who works cheap. Real cheap.

If I do find it, I'll probably write about it somewhere, but, in the meantime, gaze upon this cover and ponder the mystery of the Lord of Time's expression. It's the comics equivalent of the Mona Lisa. They don't make them like this anymore.



The Harvey Awards for 2002 were awarded at last weekend's Pittsburgh Comicon. Though only comics industry professionals are allowed to vote in these awards, our TONY POLLS gave you the chance to cast your ballot in each of 20 categories. How did my votes and yours stack up to the actual results? Let's see.


Brian Azzarello for 100 Bullets

I voted for Alan Moore and so did you.


Ed Risso for 100 Bullets

I voted for Butch Guice and so did you.


Dan Clowes

I voted for Frank Cho and so did you.


Evan Dorkin for Dork

I abstained in this category because I hadn't ready any of the nominees. You voted for Dorkin.


Will Eisner's The Spirit Archives

I voted for Peanuts: Art of Charles Schulz. You voted for

the Spirit Archives.


La Perdida

I voted for Alias. You voted for Ruse.


100 Bullets

I voted for Hellboy and so did you.


Eightball #22

I voted for Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth and so did you.

Do you get the feeling that yours truly and the TONY POLLS voters came at the awards from a very different place than the folks who actually vote on the Harveys?


The Golem's Mighty Swing

I abstained from this category. You voted for The Name of the Game by Will Eisner. If you've been keeping score, you'll have seen that I haven't gotten one "right" yet.


Lone Wolf and Cub

You voted for this; so did I. By the "broken clock" theory of probability, I should get at least one more "right" before we're finished here.



I voted for it and so did you.


Charles Burns for Black Hole

I voted for John Dell and so did you. I'm dragging you all down with me.


Chris Ware for Acme Novelty Library

I voted for Dave Lamphear; you voted for Dave Sim. Thank God I didn't put any money down on these.


Chris Ware for Acme Novelty Library

You and I both voted for Laura Depuy. Despite picking up nominations in virtually every category, CrossGen didn't walk away with a single Harvey.



You voted for Liberty Meadows; you went with For Better Or For Worse.


Jack Cole and Plastic Man

You and I both voted for Comic Book Artist.


Lone Wolf and Cub

You and I both voted for Lone Wolf and Cub. It's my third "right" answer and your fifth.


Will Eisner's The Spirit Archives

You voted for the winner; I voted for Harvey Kurtzman's The Grasshopper and the Ant.


Jason for Hey, Wait

You voted for Steve McNiven (CrossGen's Meridian). I can't remember who I voted for: this Jason or Jason Hall of Pistolwhip.

The odds are I voted for the "wrong" one.


Adam Hughes for Wonder Woman

You voted for Adam Hughes; I voted for Phil Noto, the cover artist for Birds of Prey.

If this were baseball, the TONY POLLS voters would be hitting .350 and making millions of dollars. I would be hitting .150 and stealing stuff out of your lockers to make ends meet. Life ain't no how fair sometimes.

Congratulations to all the Harvey Awards winners and nominees. It'll be nice to have this handy checklist when I'm looking around for things to read this summer.



Let's see if I can get caught up with one of my favorite mags this column. In its April 12 edition, EW did a "Close-Up" feature on Michael Chabon, author of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY. Among the news bits: Chabon has "made a deal with DC Comics to bring the Escapist--the comic-book character created by the fictional Joe Kavalier--to comic-book life. According to Chabon, DC said he could be as involved or uninvolved in the project as he wishes. I hope it's the former.

In the same issue, Ken Tucker reviews Kyle Baker's KING DAVID (Vertigo/DC; $19.95). Tucker gave the Old Testament graphic novel an "A-." He wrote

"Sometimes slapstick silly, but always true to biblical narrative, this graphic novel is as elaborately drawn as any major- studio animated film."

EW for April 12 has an article on Showtime's QUEER DUCK. The animated Web series made its debut on, but was rescued and now appears in weekly three-minute installments on the Showtime website

QUEER DUCK was created by Mike Reiss, creator of the fondly-remembered by me CRITIC and a former writer for THE SIMPSONS. That alone is enough to get me to sample his new series...once I get out from under a deadline or two dozen.

Spider-Man and Mary Jane, as portrayed by Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, made the cover of EW's April 26 edition, the mag's annual "Summer Movie Preview." As you can imagine, SPIDER-MAN gets major coverage in the issue, but EW also gives nice play to other comics-related movies such as MEN IN BLACK II, SCOOBY-DOO, ROAD TO PERDITION, and THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS.

DANGEROUS LIVES has an inadvertently controversial title, but it has nothing to do with the current scandals facing the Catholic Church in America. Here's what EW says

A chain-smoking priest, a peg-legged nun, and a group of comic-obsessed teens. Sound like the setup for a joke? Actually, they're characters in first-time feature director Peter Care's 1970s rite-of-passage drama set in a lazy Southern hamlet. Emile Hirsch and Kieran Culkin play two Catholic schoolkids who channel boredom and pubescent longing into a violent, sacrilegious comic book called THE ATOMIC TRINITY, which gets them into hot water with teachers Vincent D'Onofrio and Jodie Foster.

The movie is an adaptation of Chris Fuhrman's 1994 novel and will feature 12 minutes of animation by Todd McFarlane. DANGEROUS LIVES is scheduled to open on June 14.

The April 26 also a review of SPRIGGAN, an animated Japanese feature which was "overseen" by AKIRA's Katsuhiro Otomo and which is now available on VHS and DVD. Reviewer Marc Bernardin gives the science-fiction thriller a "B+."

One more. The May 3 EW devotes the lead page of its "Digital" section to Spider-Man websites. The section also includes a short interview with SPIDER-MAN director Sam Raimi, a review of a Spider-Man video game, and a quote from Tobey Maguire on kissing Kirsten Dunst while hanging upside down

"I couldn't breathe, and rain was pouring up my nose, then she was kissing me and I couldn't breathe out of my mouth! So, I had to hold my breath while I was kissing her. I would sneak little breaths out of the corner of my was still nice."



Here's a recommendation I received from LUKE McBRATNEY on a Harvey winner which has also been nominated for an Eisner Award. He writes

Believe me...I am a great admirer and would never hope to condescend or patronize you in any way, but I, regrettably, feel I may have to. Please, please do yourself a favor and read EIGHTBALL #22 at least twice before you vote in the Eisners. It is hands-down my favorite single-issue story ever and is usually the comic book I give to non-believers to try to convert them. After calling me a geek and leaving it on top of their dressers for a couple of weeks they usually relent and read it. Then they call me a geek and give it back. It is not what it seems at face value. It is absolutely wonderful.

My greatest apologies if any of the previous missive sounded at all arrogant; I feel very strongly about Dan Clowes work. (Have you read GHOST WORLD or DAVID BORING?) I, like you, appreciate a good super-hero yarn as much as the next guy but strongly believe that for people to respect the integrity of an awesome spandex tale, they must first be exposed to something literary like GHOST WORLD or FROM HELL, both of which people are now more likely to pick up because of the movies. Cool!

If you've made it this far in this rambling e-mail, then I commend you on your patience as well as your always-excellent column. Cheers!

P.S. I am an almost-alcoholic, bald, pretentious Scotsman with a tendency to make overly-sick jokes. I think I may have a glittering career as a comic-book writer before me...

It's that *almost* part that may give you trouble, my friend.

However, have no fear; the right editor can bring you all the way around to falling-down drunk in no time.

Thanks for the recommendation. The Fantagraphics folks have always been great about sending me their comics and I'm sure I've a copy of EIGHTBALL #22 at hand. I'll read it and review it soon, either in CBG or online.

That's all for today. There will be new TONY POLLS questions tomorrow and a new TONY'S ONLINE TIPS on Monday. Have a terrific and safe weekend.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/30/2002 | 05/04/2002 | 05/07/2002 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

Please send material you would like me to review to:

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Medina, OH 44256

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