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

Current TOT >> TOT Archives | About Tony | Books by Tony | Message Board

for Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Isabella Rossellini

Cousins I have no connection to actress Isabella Rossellini, although I will readily concede that she is a darn attractive woman. I did a check on her at the Internet Movie Database [] and the only one of her movies I can recall seeing is COUSINS with Ted Danson. I have no idea *why* I saw COUSINS - it might've been because Sainted Wife Barb and I had enjoyed THREE MEN AND A BABY - but that's not important right now. I'm merely establishing there are no links between the darn attractive Ms. Rossellini and myself. Are we all clear on that? Good.

However, if you run a Google search on "Tony Isabella" and go several pages into the results, Rossellini's name shows up as often and eventually more often than mine. This is the Internet's way of telling us that we are the world, we are the children, we are all part of the circle. I could do a lot worse than being seated next to Rossellini. Her being so darn attractive and all.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, from time to time, I'll do a Google search on myself because I get this nutty urge to go on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Here is a glowing review of my work. There is an absolutely churlish attack. Here is something incredibly good I once wrote. There is something moderately stupid I once said. Here is someone calling me the equivalent of a liar or a fraud, though I note with bitter bemusement that, somehow, the miscreant never got around to running a retraction when I was proven right.

Such searches are probably not good for me or even sane folks. I get a boost from the compliments, sure, but I also come face-to-face with those wishes for more Tony Isabella comic books that have come to naught. I feel guilty about that.

Being Italian and all - vendettas are in my blood - I do still feel a twinge of anger at some of the more scurrilous remarks from the naysayers. I comfort myself with the facts that it's the risk I take putting myself out here every day and that the majority of the naysayers have seemingly sunk into oblivion.

Unless it's for research purposes, I think I've finally done my last "Tony Isabella" search. While I certainly don't mind when my readers direct me to some discussion or website which they think will be of interest to me, concerning myself with what folks post about me is a mug's game. No one knows the reality of my character better than me; this latest/last search has left me quite content in that regard.

However, should the urge to do another personal search come on me again, can anyone give me a list of Google Anonymous meetings in my area? Just in case.



No matter which side of the comic-book fence he's sitting on, creator or publisher, Jim Valentino always brings his enthusiasm and his talent to the game. In his NORMALMAN TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL [Image; $2.99], the creator was obviously inspired (perhaps even driven) by his recent experiences as a publisher.

From cover to cover - there are no ads - Valentino delivers an entertaining comic book, commencing with the all-new and sometimes hilarious "Captain Everything Superstar," a parable, as it were, on the quirks of comics fame and fortune. Once Valentino sets up the premise, the jokes come fast and furious. I confess that I didn't get all of them - the inner nooks and crannies of the comics biz do not interest me as much as they once did, which allows me to forget most comics "news" as soon as I finish reading it - but they still got laughs out of me. Even this one...

Normalman Panel

By the way, my favorite character in this special is Man-Man (pronounced MON-man). I think Valentino should do an ongoing Man-Man series and split the drawing chores with my buddy Eddy Newell. I think this would be big fun.

I also think there's something in this book's ink. Is it time for lunch yet? I'm *really* hungry.


Moving right along...

"Let's Conform With Norm" offers an overview of the Normalman mythos to date. It makes me want to dig those books out of storage and read them again.

Finally, from 1991, we get "Normalman Goes Hollywood," which first appeared in Marvel's EPIC LITE, a one-shot of which I have no memory. I might have been sleeping that year. Valentino and Norm had Hollywood pegged pretty good, but the tale lacks the delightful goofiness of "Superstar."

The NORMALMAN TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL gets a perfectly respectable three Tonys. I hope it's the first of many Valentino comics to come.

Tony Tony Tony



I post new TONY POLLS questions every Monday. The balloting remains open for a week and then the questions are replaced with a new batch of questions.

The lead question for the first week of August asked voters to choose which of 20 listed choices - 20 being the most choices our design allows us to offer - was the greatest sci-fi legend of TV. I took the choices from TV GUIDE's list of its 25 choices. Here's how you voted:

Star TrekSTAR TREK CREWS...34.84%
Rod Serling/The Twilight Zone...21.29%
Doctor Who...18.06%
Robot/Lost in Space...5.16%
Captain John Sheridan/Babylon 5...3.87%
MST3K crew/Mystery Science Theater 3000...3.87%
Sam Beckett/Quantum Leap...3.23%
George Jetson/The Jetsons....1.94%
Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds/Firefly...1.29%
David Vincent/The Invaders...1.29%
Fox Mulder/The X-Files...1.29%
Coneheads/Saturday Night Live...0.65%
John Crichton/Farscape...0.65%
Max Guevara/Dark Angel...0.65%
Steve Austin & Jaime Sommers/Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman...0.65%
The Twilight Zone Uncle Martin/My Favorite Martian...0.65%
Allie Keys/Taken....0%
Duncan MacLeod/Highlander...0%
Jack O'Neill/Stargate SG-1...0%

I figured the combined Star Trek crews were a shoo-in for first place, but I voted for ROD SERLING. Though he wasn't first to put science fiction on the air, I think he set the standard for putting intelligent science fiction on TV and likewise influenced many shows that followed THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Reader ROLF HARING suggested the remaining questions with the first being...When did you start reading comic books?


I started reading comics in the 1950s. Indeed, I learned to read from them at the age of 4, which my kindergarten teachers found nothing short of astonishing.

Which decade had/has the comic books you enjoy most?


This was the toughest question for me because I enjoy and have enjoyed comics for all those decades. But it was in the 1960s that I discovered Stan Lee and Marvel Comics. Nothing I can think of in my comics reading quite matches the experience of riding my bike to the drug store for the new comics, buying a small handful of said comics, coming home, and curling up in my favorite chair, a rocking chair, with the latest adventures of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and the other Marvel heroes.

How old were you when you most enjoyed comic books?

Your teen years.....43.24%
Your 20s.....31.76%
Under 12 years old.....11.49%
Your 30s.....9.46%
Your 40s.....2.70%
Your 50s.....1.35%
Your 60s or older.....0%

Most definitely my teen years. Even beyond the comic books themselves, I was enjoying writing letters to the comics editors, making my own comics with boyhood buddies Terry Fairbanks and Mike Hudak, exchanging dozens of letters with lifelong pals like Dwight Decker, Mark Evanier, and Carl Gafford, and contributing to almost every comics fanzine that would have me.

When I told Ralf Haring that I would be using his questions in the TONY POLLS, he made these predictions:
My predictions - going by what I think is the average person who visits your site - is that most people will have started in the 60s and 70s, enjoyed them most in the 70s and 80s, and been 20-30 years old.
Ralf, I think you have a future in the complete un-lucrative field of comics polling.

There's no middle ground in this week's TONY'S POLLS. You only get two choices for each question.

We lead off with...

What's more important to you: the rights of real-life comics creators or the status quo of fictional universes?

Then you get to vote "thumbs up" on "thumbs down" on...

Avengers Disassembled

Catwoman (the movie)

Comic-Con International in San Diego

Comics Buyer's Guide's new format

Identity Crisis

You can cast your ballots at:



TONY'S ONLINE TIPS is going on what I call "short rations" for the next seven days. Justin, wondrous web-wizard of World Famous Comics, plans to attend Wizard World Chicago this coming weekend. Note that I said "plans" there. He doesn't know for sure as of the day I'm writing this column. He may not know for sure until just before he leaves for the Windy City.

To make certain Justin has enough TOTs in hand to cover us if he does go to Wizard World, I'll once again be writing a butt-load of columns in under two days. My Sainted wife and my children will know me only as a shadow that passes their bedroom doors en route to the bathroom or the refrigerator. Those who walk past my office window might hear my demented cackling. I'm risking my health and sanity for all of you out there in cyberspace.

Who loves you, baby?

The next several columns will likely consist of just a review or two. Heartfelt but nothing fancy.

I figure a little TOT is better than no TOT at all.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 08/09/2004 | 08/10/2004 | 08/11/2004 >>

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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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:

Tony's Online Tips
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

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