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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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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Thursday, March 4, 2004

There aren't nearly enough cute baby pictures on the Internet, so here are STELLA and ANNA GOWNLEY, daughters of cartoonist Jimmy and his wife Karen. On the "aw" scale, I think they rate the full "awwwwwwwwww".

Stella and Anna Gownley

Amelia Rules! Jimmy's AMELIA RULES comic is one of the very best suitable-for-all-ages being published today. His title heroine is a young girl living with her aunt and recently-divorced mother, facing the uncertainties of life, hanging out with her friends, and generally being a very real and very interesting kid. Gownley's stories are sometimes funny and sometimes sad, but are always told with craft and honesty. I love them a lot.

You should be reading AMELIA RULES. You can find collections of the early issues and the current issues at better comics shops everywhere. Or you can order them from Gownley at:

www.ameliarules.com

Come on, take another look at those little angels. How could you look at yourself in the mirror if you didn't buy their daddy's comic books?

Now watch how cleverly I segue from the warm-and-fuzzy opening to today's mostly warm-and-funny review.

******

BABY BOOMER COMICS

Speaking of babies...

Baby Boomer Comics: The Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Comic Books of the 1960s

BABY BOOMER COMICS: THE WILD, WACKY, WONDERFUL COMIC BOOKS OF THE 1960S by Craig Shutt (Krause Publications; $27.99) has finally been published. Devotees of Shutt's "Ask Mr. Silver Age" column in COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE - and you can include me in their ranks - have been waiting for this book for years.

My first reaction on receiving and flipping through the book was to note how colorful and welcoming it looked. The design folks did a terrific job recapturing the go-go excitement of the Silver Age comics industry.

Reading BABY BOOMER COMICS is like riding a roller-coaster to the past. There are trivia contests to test your knowledge of all things Silver Age. Shutt writes of groovy gorillas and ludicrous clinkers with equal zest. His cast of comics characters includes such peerless performers as Jerry Lewis, Herbie, the Space Canine Patrol Agents - "Big Dog! Big Dog! Bow wow wow!" - and an amazing assortment of antagonistic Amazons.

I have but one complaint with this fun book: Shutt's refusal to reveal endings of these 40-year-old stories of which he writes. Even though I know the endings of most of them, it's frustrating to have Shutt take me this far into wacky Silver Age goodness and then withhold the punch line. Many of these stories will likely never be reprinted and, of course, there is no guarantee a reader will be able to find the original issues in which they appeared.

Shutt and his editors/designers should have created an amusing SPOILER WARNING icon and slapped it on the pages in the appropriate places. Or figured out a way to print said spoilers so they could only be read with special BABY BOOMER COMICS SPOILER-SPECS, ala the 3-D glasses of olde. If the customers were willing to spend $27.99 for this book, they would have spent $28.99.

Frustration turned out to be a key factor in how I rated BABY BOOMER COMICS, an otherwise excellent book. On our usual scale of zero to five, it earns four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

www.krause.com

******

IN THE NEWS

In TONY'S ONLINE TIPS for March 2, I reported on the birth of sextuplets to a couple from nearby-to-me Cuyahoga Falls. Here's a bit more on the new arrivals and their parents...

These are the first sextuplets born in Ohio. The parents are Jennifer and Keith Hanselman. Mom is an advertising writer; Dad is a chemist. They also have a 2-year-old son.

The newborns are: Isabella Jean, Sophia Ivy, Kyle Allen, Logan James, Alex Edwin and Lucy Arlene. As mentioned previously, Keith is a comics fan who sells comics and toys on eBay. Kyle and Logan were named for Green Lantern and Wolverine. Isabella was probably not named for me since, to the best of my knowledge, I have never met the Hanselmans.

The kids were born after only 28 weeks of gestation - 12 weeks early - and doing remarkable well. They are off their respirators, but will likely remain in the hospital another eight to ten weeks. As with any premature births, there are concerns, but things look very good at latest reports.

Sainted Wife Barb tells me the deliveries were masterpieces of planning and execution. All six infants were delivered in the same minute, then handed to their own individual waiting team of doctors and nurses. What a remarkable effort!

I suspect Keith isn't doing a whole lot of selling on eBay at the moment. When he resumes, I hope he mentioned the sextuplets in his ads. If and when you see any such ads, bid high.

I know I will.

******

MY BACK PAGES

From time to time, I go through my files and come across bits and pieces of things I've written in response to questions asked of me. Of course, in typical bumbling Tony fashion, I sometimes fail to save the original e-mail in which I was asked these questions. Which leaves me answers like these:
Let's see if I can remember how this went. I was editing two maybe three British weeklies and FOOM magazine.

Monster Unleashed Then Marv Wolfman handed off some of the black-and-white mags he had been editing to me: MONSTERS UNLEASHED, TALES OF THE ZOMBIE, DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU. Then Marvel launched PLANET OF THE APES and I got it. Then we turned Gerry Conway's HAUNT OF HORROR from a prose digest to a comics magazine and I got that one, too. I was overseeing MONSTERS FROM THE MOVIES (which was edited by somebody from the West Coast) and assisting Roy Thomas on UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION. I wasn't doing all the above at once, but I was doing a lot of them at once.

I was freaking insane, wasn't I?

Jim Warren offered me a job editing EERIE in the middle of all this. I didn't want to stop writing GHOST RIDER for Marvel, so I turned him down. It would have likely ended in tears, but I always wondered what I'd have done with all the free time if I'd taken Warren's generous offer.

I burned out on staff, handed the black-and-whites off to Don McGregor and the British weeklies to Duffy Vohland, freelanced for Marvel and did the odd special project (like the 1976 calendar), moved back to Cleveland for a bit, came back to work for DC, and then moved back to Ohio for good.

One quick story.

I hired Chris Claremont as my assistant editor on the black-and-whites. There was some concern because he was still working as an actor occasionally. Someone (either Roy or Sol) thought that he would quit if he ever got a good acting gig.

I thought Chris would be perfect for the position, so I lied to my bosses and said:

"Don't worry. I've seen him act."
Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back soon with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 03/03/2004 | 03/04/2004 | 03/05/2004 >>

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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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