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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 Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite cartoonists: STAN GOLDBERG. He's been entertaining comics readers for 45 years and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Cribbing from Goldberg's website:

He started his career as a staff artist for Timely/Marvel in 1949. He was only 16 at the time, but before long he was in charge of the publisher's color department. He went freelance in 1958 and colored all Marvel's comics until 1970. He was responsible for the costume colors for all of the classic Marvel heroes and villains of the 1960s.

Wait. There's more.

Goldberg drew horror comics for Timely, gag cartoons for men's magazines, and eventually found his niche drawing pretty girl and teen humor titles. He drew PATSY WALKER and MILLIE THE MODEL for Marvel; BINKY, DEBBIE, and SCOOTER for DC; and Archie and his pals for Archie. He drew the Archie sections of the classic oddball ARCHIE MEETS THE PUNISHER crossover and continues to draw stories for the current Archie comic books.

Life with Millie 14

Wait. That's just the comic book stuff.

Goldberg has drawn greeting cards and magazine illustrations, as well as children's books. He's an authentic artistic treasure and I'm delighted to take this opportunity to wish him the happiest of birthdays and many more happy years to come.

If you would also like to offer your birthday wishes, you can do so in the guest book at Goldberg's website:

www.stangoldberg.com

While there, be sure to check out Goldberg's Archie and Millie the Model portfolios...and the selection of original cover artwork he has for sale. He's got some great pieces there.

Archie 496

Once again, happy birthday, Stan Goldberg.

Thanks for all the terrific comics.

******

COVER STORY

I had never thought of Stan Goldberg as a horror artist until I read his biography on his website. Turning to the GRAND COMICS DATABASE [www.comics.org], I did a search on him and found several covers he had drawn for STRANGE TALES. For this section, I choose the earliest, which I thought was a breathtaking piece of work and surprisingly (but effectively) bright for a the cover of a horror comic book. Here are the issue's stats:

Strange Tales #26 STRANGE TALES #26 [March, 1954]

Editor: Stan Lee

Stories:

"The Last Stop" (drawn by Gene Colan)

"Guinea Pig" (drawn by Jack Katz)

"The Busybody" (text story)

"A Grave Mistake" (drawn by Tony DiPreta)

"To the Stars" (pencils by Carmine Infantino with inks by Sy Barry)

"It Could Be You" (drawn by Vic Carrabotta)

How's that for an impressive artistic line-up?

THE OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE figures a near-mint copy of this issue will sell for $370. THE STANDARD CATALOG OF COMIC BOOKS pegs it $215. I couldn't find a copy of this issue on eBay, but complete sales on STRANGE TALES issues in the general vicinity of this one included:

STRANGE TALES #19 (very good) for $49.99

STRANGE TALES #31 (fine) for $92.57

STRANGE TALES #34 (very good) for $35

One of these days I'll strike it rich and become the terror of all other eBay bidders.

******

ARCHIE

Writing about Stan Goldberg got me wanting to read some recent "suitable for kids of all ages" comics, starting with ARCHIE #547 ($2.19). Goldberg and inker Bob Smith drew the cover and all four stories in the issue. As I've said elsewhere, Goldberg and Smith are *the* Archie artists of the decade.

George Gladir's "View From Above" kicks off the issue with a look at video surveillance in high school, a weighty subject for an Archie comic. The script isn't one of Gladir's better ones - just one basic joke replayed several times - but I give him points for the subtle point he makes at its conclusion.

Greg Crosby is represented by two scripts: "Go Fly a Kite" and "Keep It Clean." In the first, a contest allows the Riverdale kids to express their personalities through the imaginative kites they build. In the second, the state of Archie's room becomes an issue between him and his dad. I liked the first story, but thought the second needed a more original twist.

Craig Boldman's "A Gaggle of Grief" takes top honors in this issue. Boldman has a knack for building very funny stories around commonplace things - in this case, stone lawn geese - and the final panel of this one had me laughing out loud, due in no small part to how well Goldberg staged it.

Boldman's story is good enough to raise the entire issue up a notch. On our disembodied columnist scale of zero to five, ARCHIE #547 earns four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS

Donald and Monica get stuck in an elevator and discover their mutual attraction for one another in DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS #315 (Gemstone; $2.95).

Okay, you got me. That doesn't really happen in this issue. I just had to get that stupid joke out of my system while the show was still on the air.

Gorm Transgaard's "Snopper By The Book" leads off this issue. Donald decides to become the greatest detective of all time, open an office, and specialize in finding lost people. It's a hilarious "mastery" story in the Carl Barks tradition, brilliantly drawn by Vicar. This story alone is worth the cover price.

"Bagarthach the Arch-Fiend" is a demon Mickey Mouse frees from an ancient bottle in a story by Donald D. Markstein. I got a kick out of this one, but can't tell you why without ruining it for you. The art by Rodriguez is also good, but it's a shame these artists aren't paid enough to afford first names.

Grandma Duck stars in "Grandma Goes to Town," the last and the least story in the issue. It takes six pages to tell us Gus Goose is lazy and Grandma has her own fashion sense. This one failed to bring even a smile to my face.

A nice surprise was the inside back cover letters column. It was as intelligent as those found in the Julius Schwartz fan pages of the 1960s. It's a tradition worth preserving.

DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS #315 picks up four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS

MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS #264 ($2.99) is the one where Rachel goes on a blind date with Goofy and I promise that's the last time I'll use this joke.

Mickey Mouse rallies the townspeople to oppose "The Dictator From the Future" in a neat little story by writer Stefan Petrucha and artist Noel Van Horn. The title villain seals the town within a force field and blocks all electric and battery-supplied power, leaving the good citizens without technology. He figures they'll be ready to surrender when he returns in two days. What he doesn't figure on is Mickey, his pals, and the example they set for their neighbors. It's a first-rate story offering a positive message for young readers without being preachy about it.

Sadly, no other story in this issue is worth the time to turn the pages to read it...and that includes a two-pager starring the Li'l Bad Wolf. In the Donald Duck tale, we get Don and a grossly out-of-character Gladstone Gander competing for the affections of Daisy Duck. In the second Mickey story, it takes the Mouse forever to expose a faux-doctor scamming Goofy and, at the end of the tale, it's clear Goofy is still gonna get taken. That's just so wrong on so many levels.

MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS #264 gets an embarrassing two Tonys, and it owes those to Petrucha and Van Horn.

Tony Tony

******

SIMPSONS COMICS

In SIMPSONS COMICS #93 (Bongo; $2.99), Lisa wins an amusement part, Bart burns down the Android's Dungeon, and Homer becomes the chief of Springfield's Fire Department. Somehow this makes perfect sense in the book-length "Hotfoot in the Park," written by Ian Boothby with art by Phil Ortiz and Mike DeCarlo. It's sort of like figuring out a Al Jaffee Fold-In without folding the back cover and ruining your copy of MAD.

I'm of two minds when it comes to this story. Once I realized how events were falling into place, I had to admire Boothby's plot and pacing. On the other side of my brain, I was disappointed that the individual gags rarely made me laugh or even smile. The jokes weren't anywhere near as good as the story.

SIMPSONS COMICS #93 gets three Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

Comedy is hard.

******

TONY POLLS

The newest TONY POLLS questions were posted on Sunday, as per our regular schedule. This week, I'm asking you what you think of DC's Julius Schwartz tribute comics, if you would support similar special issues honoring other renowned editors of the Silver Age, and which of five editors you'd most like to see celebrated in such a manner. To cast your votes, go to:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

Tomorrow's edition of TONY'S ONLINE TIPS will have the results of last week's polling and my comments on same. Until then, thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more news, views, and reviews.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/29/2004 | 05/05/2004 | 05/06/2004 >>

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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