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

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Thursday, September 9, 2004

Howard Cruise Saying Vows

Let's start today's festivities with the warmest, if somewhat belated, congratulations to HOWARD CRUSE and EDDIE SEDARBAUM on the joyous occasion of their July 25 marriage. Cruse is the creator of such fine comics works as STUCK RUBBER BABY and WENDEL. Sedarbaum is his partner of 25 years.

Here's what Howard posted to the comics professionals mailing list of which we are both members:

I was out of the loop for a couple of weeks due to my move to a new house here in North Adams, which temporarily interrupted my Internet service. Now that I'm back I thought I'd let you know recent days have not been uneventful for me. Yesterday my partner of 25 years, Eddie Sedarbaum, and I got married. Massachusetts being Massachusetts, this was possible...George W. Bush and his stalled "Marriage Protection" amendment to the Constitutkion be damned! It seems like those of you who (a) are personal friends of Eddie's and/or mine; or (b) are the sort who like to contemplate interesting turns of social history as they apply to people you know might enjoy knowing that this has occurred.

It will come as no surprise to veteran readers of this column that I was thrilled for Howard and Eddie. I asked Howard if he'd mind me writing about the wedding in TOT. I think it's important to put as many real faces to the issue of equal marriage rights as possible. That's the best way to fight the fear being promoted by the right. His response:

I agree and I appreciate your interest in joining the fray. Too bad the attitudes that dominate our list aren't as prevalent in the general population; still, the tide of history for sure ain't with the bigots. Getting real about exactly who we folks are who are supposedly "undermining the institution of marriage" can only reveal the foolishness underlying that fear.

Howard also sent me a pair of photos taken on the happy day by Joe Wheaton. The one which opened today's TOT is a shot of Howard and Eddie saying their vows. The other shows the happy newlyweds getting snapshots taken alongside Eddie's elderly parents (ages 91 and 95) who flew up from Florida for the occasion.

Howard Cruise with Family

Everyone here knows where I stand on the equal marriage rights issue. To deny gays rights freely available to other law-abiding citizens is bigotry, pure and simple. You can dress it up however you like. As "family values" or "God's law." It still smells like bigotry and walks like bigotry.

In Ohio, there are thousands of people trying to roll back any and all "gay" rights in their so-called defense of marriage. They are proposing a draconian amendment to the Ohio constitution which, if it passes, will scar the soul of the state for many generations while crippling our ability to attract businesses and retain valued workers. It's a lose-lose amendment.

The lies and venom being spread by the bigots is appalling to me, even in the midst of the foul campaign being waged by the Bush administration and its goons. Much to my amazement, I actually had an in-law tell me gays only want to get married so they can adopt kids and turn them gay...and seemed stunned when I told her studies show that kids raised by gay parents are no more likely to discover they are gay than those raised by straight parents.

Someday, our grandchildren will be amazed that what should be a simple matter of fairness was such a divisive issue in our world. Until then, we must fight for equal marriage rights and take what comfort we can from the victories we are winning and the happiness of couples like Howard and Eddie.

Once again, my hearty congratulations to the newlyweds. God bless them and all those who stand by them.

******

TONY POLLS

Every Monday, I post new questions on the TONY POLLS page for you to have some fun with...and to help me discern what my readers and other comics fans feel/think about various issues. It's become something of a tradition for me to poll you on the same categories in which COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE polls its readers...and then compare the two sets of results.

The choices I offered to TONY POLLS voters were taken from the results of the 2003 CBG FAN AWARDS. I didn't vote in any of these categories. I can't tell you why. I've voted in them in previous years. It just didn't feel right *this* year. I am a complex and often confusing creature.

In the category of FAVORITE PUBLISHER, here's how the readers of CBG voted:

DC.....46.38%
Marvel.....23.19%
CrossGen.....12.56%
Image.....2.66%
Dark Horse.....1.93%
Gemstone.....1.45%
Aardvark-Vanaheim.....1.23%
Oni.....1.20%
SSS Comics.....0.97%
Bongo.....0.72%
Fantagraphics.....0.72%
IDW.....0.72%
AiT/PlanetLar.....0.48%
Claypool.....0.48%
Sirius.....0.48%
Others.....4.83%

Here's how YOU voted:

DC.....54.95%
Marvel.....16.22%
Bongo...5.41%
CrossGen.....4.50%
Dark Horse.....3.60%
Gemstone.....3.60%
IDW.....2.70%
Image.....2.70%
Oni.....2.70%
Aardvark-Vanaheim.....0.90%
Fantagraphics.....0.90%
AiT/PlanetLar.....0%
Claypool.....0%
Sirius.....0.%
SSS Comics.....0%
Others.....1.80%

******

In the category of FAVORITE CHARACTER, here's how the readers of CBG voted:

Batman.....14.29%
Spider-Man.....9.36%
Superman.....5.91%
Daredevil.....3.94%
Captain America.....2.96%
Cerebus.....2.25%
Flash.....2.23%
Green Arrow.....2.21%
Thing.....2.20%
Uncle Scrooge.....1.97%
Arwyn.....1.75%
Hellboy.....1.75%
Sephie.....1.70%
Hulk.....1.51%
Obregon Kaine.....1.48%
Jessica Jones.....1.45%
Captain Marvel (DC).....1.25%
Usagi Yojimbo.....1.23%
Tom Strong.....1.21%
Others.....39.41%

Here's how YOU voted:

Batman.....15.32%
Spider-Man.....13.51%
Superman.....9.01%
Flash.....8.11%
Usagi Yojimbo.....6.31%
Jessica Jones.....5.41%
Thing.....5.41%
Daredevil.....4.50%
Captain America.....3.60%
Captain Marvel (DC).....3.60%
Hellboy.....3.60%
Obregon Kaine.....3.60%
Tom Strong.....2.70%
Uncle Scrooge.....2.70%
Arwyn.....1.80%
Cerebus.....0.90%
Green Arrow.....0.90%
Hulk.....0.90%
Sephie.....0.90%
Others.....5.41%

******


Our TONY POLLS design only allows for a maximum of 20 choices for any questions, so I had to leave a couple of artists off this next question.

In the category of FAVORITE PENCILLER, here's how the readers of CBG voted:

George Perez.....15.75%
Jim Lee.....8.75%
Greg Land.....7%
Colleen Doran.....3.75%
John Romita Jr......3.73%
Mark Bagley.....2.50%
Rags Morales.....2.25%
Paul Pelletier.....2.21%
Don Rosa.....1.75%
John Cassaday.....1.73%
Andrea Di Vito.....1.50%
Bryan Hitch.....1.49%
Alan Davis.....1.27%
Ed Benes.....1.25%
Alex Maleev.....1.23%
Michael Lark.....1.21%
Eduardo Risso.....1.08%
J.H. Williams III.....1.06%
John Byrne.....1.04%
Mike Wieringo.....1.02%
Tim Sale.....1.01%
Others.....37.51%

Here's how YOU voted:

George Perez.....36.45%
Alan Davis.....11.21%
John Romita Jr......7.48%
Don Rosa.....6.54%
John Byrne.....4.64%
John Cassaday.....4.67%
Greg Land.....4.67%
Rags Morales.....4.67%
J.H. Williams III.....3.74%
Bryan Hitch.....2.80%
Michael Lark.....2.80%
Jim Lee.....2.80%
Andrea Di Vito.....1.87%
Colleen Doran.....1.87%
Ed Benes.....0.93%
Eduardo Risso.....0.93%
Mark Bagley.....0%
Alex Maleev.....0%
Paul Pelletier.....0%
Others.....1.87%

******

In the category of FAVORITE INKER, here's how the readers of CBG voted:

Scott Williams.....7.23%
Scott Hanna.....3.92%
Michael Bair.....3.64%
Terry Austin.....3.61%
Colleen Doran.....3.31%
Karl Kesel.....3.04%
Art Thibert.....3.02%
Steve Leialoha.....3.01%
George Perez.....2.74%
Jay Leistan.....2.70%
Jimmy Palmiotti.....2.13%
Drew Geraci.....2.11%
Mark Farmer.....2.09%
Mick Gray.....2.07%
Dave Meikis.....1.81%
John Dell.....1.80%
Paul Neary.....1.78%
Gerhard.....1.51%
Adam Dekraker.....1.49%
Ande Parks.....1.47%
Alex Lei.....1.46%
Matt Ryan.....1.44%
Tom Palmer.....1.41%
Others.....40.96%

And here's how YOU voted:

Terry Austin.....25.51%
Karl Kesel.....13.27%
Mark Farmer.....10.20%
George Perez.....9.18%
Jimmy Palmiotti.....8.16%
Gerhard.....5.10%
Mick Gray.....4.08%
Michael Bair.....3.06%
Drew Geraci.....3.06%
Steve Leialoha.....3.06%
Paul Neary.....3.06%
Colleen Doran.....2.04%
Scott Hanna.....2.04%
Jay Leistan.....2.04%
John Dell.....1.02%
Scott Williams.....1.02%
Art Thibert.....1.02%
Dave Meikis.....0%
Others.....3.06%

******

In the category of FAVORITE COMIC BOOK, here's how the readers of CBG voted:

JSA.....7.82%
Negation.....6.11%
Fables.....5.13%
Fantastic Four.....4.67%
Ultimate Spider-Man.....4.65%
Batman.....4.16%
A Distant Soil.....2.93%
Daredevil.....2.20%
Powers.....2.20%
Amazing Spider-Man.....1.96%
Y: The Last Man.....1.96%
Incredible Hulk.....1.75%
Gotham Central.....1.73%
Sojourn.....1.71%
Promethea.....1.68%
Cerebus.....1.51%
Uncle Scrooge.....1.49%
Supreme Power.....1.47%
Ultimates.....1.45%
Teen Titans.....1.42%
Others.....42.05%

And here's how YOU voted:

JSA.....22.22%
Fables.....10.19%
Gotham Central.....8.33%
Fantastic Four.....6.48%
Amazing Spider-Man.....5.56%
Powers.....5.56%
Ultimate Spider-Man.....4.63%
Uncle Scrooge.....4.63%
Promethea.....3.70%
Supreme Power.....3.70%
Daredevil.....2.78%
Sojourn.....2.78%
Y: The Last Man.....2.78%
Batman.....1.85%
Negation.....1.85%
Ultimates.....1.85%
Cerebus.....0.93%
A Distant Soil.....0%
Incredible Hulk.....0%
Others.....10.19%

Though a good number of voters do select "other" when casting their ballots, only a small handful ever send me an actual write-in vote. This time around, I got three.

From TIM HARTIN:

As for the favorite comic book question, I had to select "other." My vote is for SHE-HULK, which is, in my not so humble opinion, currently Marvel's best series.

D-oh! I owe Tim and other voters an apology for not making it clear that, like the CBG Fan Awards themselves, the choices were limited to comics published in 2003.

I also heard from ALLEN W. WRIGHT:

It's a tough choice. Personally, the best comics I read in the last year were compilations. IT'S A GOOD LIFE IF YOU DON'T WEAKEN and CLYDE FANS PART 1 were compilations of PALOOKAVILLE by Canadian cartoonist Seth. It's first rate work. The personal and emotional writing is backed up by even more evocative art. I find his work completely engrossing. Another Canadian compilation was Chester Brown's LOUIS RIEL, which chronicles the life of perhaps the most controversial figure in my country's history. Sometimes you have to root for the home team...and ALPHA FLIGHT - especially these newbies - sure as heck doesn't count.

Otherwise, for ongoing series, I'd have to say it's QUEEN AND COUNTRY by Greg Rucka and various artists. I was attracted to this book for the same reason Rucka wanted to write it: THE SANDBAGGERS. Q&C is a tribute/love-letter to a near-forgotten British espionage series. While there's a nice nostalgic vibe with characters like Crocker (similar to Neil Burnside of the TV series) and procedural lines like "PA to D.Ops wishing to arrange lunch with the PUS of the FO." there is more to it than that. Rucka has taken the themes and style of SANDBAGGERS and updated them to modern day. It's nice to see the emotional effects and bureaucratic problems of espionage work explored both in the 1970s series and now in the 21st century comic books.


"JR THE MONSTER BOY" also wrote:

I visit your column quite a bit and take part in the polls when I find something that I follow. At the moment, my favorite comic-book series is TOM STRONG'S TERRIFIC TALES.

The current TONY POLLS will remain active until sometime after midnight on Monday morning. This time around, I'm asking you the following questions:

When should Free Comic Book Day 2005 be held?

When should FCBD be held in future years?

Who is your favorite comics editor?

Who is your favorite comics writer?

Your electronic ballot awaits you at:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

That's it for this edition of TONY'S ONLINE TIPS. Thanks for spending part of your day with me.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

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

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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