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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
The After-Poll Report (07/11/02)

The TONY POLLS have returned after a brief hiatus. Previous to the current questions, I asked you to vote on matters concerning a wide variety of topics: the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, comics which ship late, possible creators for a Sad Sack revival, favorite comics-character movie, favorite top-grossing movie, dinosaurs, and the reproductive rights of women in the military.

Here's how you voted...

******

QUESTION: In the past year, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has expended resources on behalf of two cartoonists who were sued for copyright infringement by corporations. Which of the following statements most closely reflects your thoughts?

The CBLDF should defend the rights of comics creators in all First Amendment matters, regardless of their nature...142 votes (72.82%)

The CBLDF shouldn't be involved in copyright and trademark disputes...53 (27.18%)

This may have been the hardest question I've asked myself. Parody and satire are constitutionally-protected forms of speech and, as such, should be defended vigorously. On the other hand, I fear taking on such cases will leave the CBLDF cash-poor when the next political or religious right wingnut decides to stomp on the comics art form at the retail level.

In addition, the two cases referred to in the question didn't involve comic books per se. True, Kieron Dwyer's Starbucks parody did originally appear in his self-published comic book, but it was the parody's appearance on manufactured items, t-shirts and such, which riled Starbucks most strongly. The second case, involving a parody of Kraft's Velveeta product, doesn't seem to have even that much of a connection to comic books.

Given the realities of economics and resources, I reluctantly voted against the CBLDF taking on such cases.


******

QUESTION: Are you a member of the CBLDF?

No.....162 votes (87.10%)

Yes.....24 (12.90%)

Less than 13% of these voters support the CBLDF by plunking down the $25 yearly membership fee. Is that an incredibly pathetic situation or what? However, it does help explain why I'm concerned about the Fund running out of money when the bad people come after our comic books and creators.

If you'd like to shift these scary odds a bit more in favor of the forces of good, you can join the CBLDF at its website:

http://www.cbldf.org

The Fund does vital work and it can't continue to do without your help.


******

QUESTION: How are your buying habits shaped by late-shipping comics? Choose the response most closely reflecting your thoughts on the matter.

If it's a comic I want, I'll buy it whenever it comes out... 115 votes (57.79%)

They don't affect my buying habits at all...58 (29.15%)

I'm tired of this trend, so I have started boycotting late shipping comics...19 (9.55%)

I only budget so much a week for comics, and when several books show up at once, I can't buy them all...7 (3.52%)

I voted with the majority on this one. If it's a comic I want, I would buy it whenever it came out. However, if I preorder a comic and its late-shipping makes it returnable, and if it's an issue of a title I was dropping anyway, then I would likely cut my "losses" and return it. I found it enlightening that late-shipping isn't a concern for 87% of these voters.

Obviously, no sane comics company should be comfortable with alienating/losing even 13% of its business on anything it publishes and, I'm sure, if this question had been asked solely of retailers, who are the ones who usually take the hit for late-shipping items, the percentages would be much different.

Of course, when a comics publisher has to be taken to court to force it to honor its self-determined terms of sale, and then acts as if it were somehow the wounded party in the lawsuit, sanity or lack thereof, is just as obviously not an issue.


******

QUESTION: Remember SAD SACK? No, that wasn't the question we asked. This was: which of these creators/creative teams would you most like to see revive that classic character?

Sergio Aragones.....39 votes (23.64%)

Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle.....31 (18.79%)

Ty Templeton.....23 (13.94%)

Garth Ennis.....12 (7.27%)

Frank Cho.....10 (6.06%)

Howard Chaykin.....7 (4.24%)

Gary Friedrich and Dick Ayers.....6 (3.64%)

Mike Allred.....5 (3.03%)

Donna Barr.....5 (3.03%)

Joe Kubert.....5 (3.03%)

Roy Thomas.....4 (2.42%)

Sam Glanzman.....3 (1.82%)

Larry Hama.....2 (1.21%)

Ted Nomura.....2 (1.21%)

Chuck Dixon.....1 (.61%)

Peter Kuper.....1 (.61%)

Josh Blaylock and Steve Kurth.....0

Russ Heath.....0

Bill Tucci.....0

Other.....9 (5.45%)

This question was inspired by the settlement of a lawsuit involving some Sad Sack artwork. It got me thinking of the bygone days when Harvey Comics was one of the big comics outfits. Casper and Richie Rich were the company's top stars, but Sad Sack wasn't far behind them. Given the growing respect Americans seem to have for our armed forces, as opposed to the growing disgust which all Americans should have for certain unelected leaders, new SAD SACK comics might prove very popular.

In considering my vote, I wanted to go with creators who could be funny and respectful at the same time. While several of these choices could manage that, the names that resonated strongest with me were...MARK EVANIER and DAN SPIEGLE.


******

QUESTION: Which of these top grossing comics character films of all time is your favorite?

Spider-Man.....74 votes (36.82%)

Superman.....35 (17.41%)

Batman.....30 (14.93%)

Superman II.....22 (10.95%)

Men in Black.....17 (8.46%)

X-Men.....11 (5.47%)

Batman Returns.....5 (2.49%)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.....5 (2.49%)

Batman and Robin.....1 (.50%)

Batman Forever.....1 (.50%)

My vote went to SPIDER-MAN. I greatly enjoyed SUPERMAN and BATMAN, but each of those films had serious flaws. The time-travel bit in the former makes me groan and, in the latter, Batman struck me as downright bloodthirsty.

MEN IN BLACK, X-MEN, and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES were all fun. SUPERMAN II had its moments, but I didn't care for Superman abandoning his responsibilities to hit the sheets with Lois or for his return match with the bully.

The BATMAN sequels? Don't get me started.


******

QUESTION: Which of these top grossing films, counted in terms of today's dollar, is your favorite?

Star Wars.....114 votes (58.46%)

Jaws.....22 (11.28%)

Gone With the Wind.....14 (7.18%)

The Jungle Book.....9 (4.62%)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.....8 (4.10%)

The Ten Commandments.....8 (4.10%)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.....7 (3.59%)

The Sound of Music.....5 (2.56%)

Titanic.....4 (3.09%)

Dr. Zhivago.....4 (3.09%)

I voted for JAWS here. In retrospect, I probably should've voted for STAR WARS. I blame my disappointment with ATTACK OF THE CLONES for my disrespecting the original.

******

QUESTION: It's dinosaur time. Which of these is your favorite dinosaur?

Triceratops.....47 votes (26.70%)

Tyrannosaurs Rex.....39 (22.16%)

Pterodactyl/Pterandon.....22 (12.50%)

Brontosaurus (now called Apatosaurus).....17 (9.66%)

Stegosaurus.....17 (9.66%)

Velociraptor.....13 (7.39%)

Ankylosaurus.....8 (4.55%)

Allosaurus.....5 (2.84%)

Iguanodon.....3 (1.70%)

Dimetrodon.....2 (1.14%)

Spinosaurus.....1 (.57%)

Dilophosaurus (spitters from Jurassic Park)......0

Diplodocus ......0

Other.....2 (1.14%)

If we were talking mind-numbing terror, I would opine that there is nothing quite like a hungry T-Rex. However, my favorite dinosaur is TRICERATOPS. Foolish as it is to ascribe human traits to lower species, the old three-horns always struck me as having a combination of dignity, serenity, and sheer toughness. They didn't go looking for trouble, but they could handle trouble when it came looking for them.

******

QUESTION: Which of these is your favorite dinosaur movie?

Jurassic Park.....94 votes (52.51%)

One Million Years B.C......15 (8.38%)

Gertie the Dinosaur.....11 (6.15%)

Lost World (1925).....9 (5.03%)

Valley of Gwangi.....9 (5.03%)

The Land Before Time.....7 (3.91%)

Caveman.....5 (2.79%)

Dinosaur (Disney).....5 (2.79%)

When Dinosaurs Rules the Earth.....4 (2.23%)

Carnosaur.....3 (1.68%)

Baby...Secret of the Lost Legend.....2 (1.12%)

Jurassic Park III.....2 (1.12%)

Lost World (1960).....2 (1.12%)

Dinosaurus.....1 (.56%)

We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story.....1 (.56%)

Beast of Hollow Mountain.....0

Jurassic Park II: The Lost World.....0

The Last Dinosaur.....0

One Million B.C......0

Other.....9 (5.03%)

I had to vote for a sentimental favorite here, one of the first dinosaur movies I ever saw. The young star of DINOSAURS had the same plastic dinosaurs that my brother Ernie and I used to play with. The film portrayed human courage, human failings, humor, and just enough tragedy to keep my eyes glued to the screen.

THE VALLEY OF GWANGI is another of my favorites and I'm quite fond of THE LOST WORLD (1925). I won't deny JURASSIC PARK is great fun or that I enjoyed its sequels more than most critics. But, in this case, my heart belongs to DINOSAURS.


******

QUESTION: Which of these is your favorite dino comic?

Xenozoic Tales/Cadillacs and Dinosaurs...32 votes (18.60%)

Ka-Zar.....26 (15.12%)

Turok Son of Stone.....16 (9.30%)

Flintstones.....14 (8.14%)

Star-Spangled War Stories featuring "The War That Time Forgot" .....13 (7.56%)

Turok Dinosaur Hunter.....12 (6.98%)

Alley Oop.....10 (5.81%)

Devil Dinosaur.....10 (5.81%)

Tyrant.....9 (5.23%)

Dinosaurs for Hire.....6 (3.49%)

Tor.....5 (2.91%)

Gon.....4 (2.33%)

Age of Reptiles.....2 (1.16%)

Archie 1 (appears in Archie digests).....2 (1.16%)

Cavewoman.....2 (1.16%)

Flesh (from 2000 AD).....2 (1.16%)

Jurassic Park.....2 (1.16%)

Kona Monarch of Monster Isle.....1 (.58%)

Little Green Dinosaur.....0

Other.....4 (2.33%)

I voted for FLESH, the long-running serial which appeared in the earliest issue of Britain's 2000 AD weekly. The prehistoric black comedy spun off the outrageous notion of meat-hungry humanity traveling back in time to harvest dinosaur steaks. There was much gore and unpleasantness, but it was all in the name of fun. Insane fun. Rude fun. But fun nonetheless.

******

QUESTION: Should women serving in the United States military have the same reproductive choices and rights as civilians?

Yes.....121 votes (65.41%)

No.....43 (23.24%)

Undecided.....21 (11.35%)

Here's the deal. I'm against abortion in most cases. But, whether I like it or not, it is a lawful procedure in the USA and, as such, it would be manifestly unfair to deny it to women serving in our armed forces. I voted YES.

******

POLL PONDERINGS

We pose poll questions and we receive responses, like this one from MIKE KUYPERS:

In the "Favorite Dinosaur Movie" category, I have to go with the original KING KONG (1933).

That sentiment was echoed by CARL HENDERSON:

On the "favorite dinosaur" question, I picked "other." My favorite is ARCHAEOPTERYX, a classic example of a transitional fossil. Besides just being a neat animal, Archaeopteryx gets many points in my book by having annoyed Creationists for decades. If your readers would like to learn more about Archaeopteryxand read answers to some of the misinformation that's been spread about this creature, they should check out the Archaeopteryx FAQ section at talkorigins.org:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/archaeopteryx.html

As for favorite dinosaur movie, I'm partial to the original KING KONG, which featured revolutionary advances in stop-motion animation and a really cool fight between Kong and a Tyrannosaurus. I know KING KONG's technically a giant ape movie, but it still gets my vote.

In retrospect, I should have added KING KONG to the offered choices. It's not a dino film per se, but it's close enough that, given its legendary status and timeless quality, that it deserved to be included. I still would have voted for DINOSAURS, but KING KONG would have been an extremely close second.

We also heard from ALI T. KOKMEN:

My favorite Dinosaur movie--and I'll bet the favorite of a lot of other folks--is Disney's FANTASIA. The dinosaur segment, set to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" conveyed a sense of awe and grandeur that surely inspired many young moviegoers toward future careers in paleontology and, for that matter, classical music.

Finally, we have this note from DAVID McLALLEN:

On the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND. Although I have always, in principle, agreed to the importance of the CBLDF, I cannot agree with their defense of copyright issues. Particularly, as those same comics creators would be screaming at the top of their lungs if it was *their* copyrights being breached.

I had to vote that late-shipping comic books do not affect my buying habits at all, simply because I stopped buying new comics last year. I was finally chased away from my last few by the way-over-stretched-out Kang War in AVENGERS. (Is that thing over yet?) That made me realize one of the things I miss most in comics is the days when a book-length epic was something special and a two-issue tale utterly breathtaking. Now, by the time you reach the end of a story arc, you can no longer remember the beginning.

Re: SAD SACK. I picked Evanier & Spiegel, but am also curious why there wasn't an Isabella/whoever team listed.

Of the comic-related films you listed, my favorite is easily SUPERMAN II. Haven't seen most of the others, including Spider-Man. Was there a MIB comic prior to the film?

GONE WITH THE WIND is still one of the greatest movies of all time and deserves the number 1 ranking.

I don't care in the least about dinosaurs as a genre of just about anything, but picked CAVEMAN as my dinomovie, just because it was so astonishingly bad that it was hilarious in ways I *hope* they didn't intend!

For that last question, you should have included a "Not only yes, but HELL, YES" choice.

To answer David's questions:

I didn't include myself as an option in the SAD SACK question because I have an incredibly fragile ego and also because too many voters feel they *have* to vote for me. I think we receive purer results when I'm not included. That said, though my preference is to work on my own creations, I would love to find a publisher with a property unlike any others I've worked on...and who is willing to turn me loose on such a property. I really love to stretch myself as a writer and a gig like that would allow me to do so.

There was a MEN IN BLACK comic book before the movie. Malibu Comics (under its Aircel imprint) published two three-issue series in 1990 and 1991. After the first movie, Marvel published a pair of one-shots.

That's all for now. I hope to write and post several columns this weekend, so keep checking my message board for the latest on what's available. Be safe and have fun.

Tony Isabella

<< 07/10/2002 | 07/11/2002 | 07/12/2002 >>

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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THE "TONY" SCALE

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.

Tony
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.

TonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTony
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.

TonyTonyTonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
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.



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