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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 Sunday, September 19, 2004

Crime Exposed 8

Crime is once again on my mind today as I give you the cover of CRIME EXPOSED #8 [January, 1952]. The Joe Maneely cover does a great job conveying the heinousness of "The Man With Dirty Hands!" I mean, they don't put up those "Employees Must Wash Hands" posters in restaurants on a whim. They mean it!

Pay no heed to me. I'm making it up as I go. What little I know of this issue of CRIME EXPOSED comes to me courtesy of ATLAS TALES [www.atlastales.com], a terrific website I recommend to any TOT readers with an interest in old comics and, more specifically, an interest in the Marvel comics published before FANTASTIC FOUR #1 reshaped the comics industry.

What I know is this:

Marvel published a single issue of CRIME EXPOSED [June, 1948], possibly testing the waters for crime comics. They launched this ongoing CRIME EXPOSED series in December, 1950. It ran 14 issues, concluding with the issue dated June, 1952.

THE OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE figures that a near-mint condition copy of this issue would sell for $105, which is, to me, a bargain price for a comic of this vintage, not that I have a spare C-note to spend on it. THE STANDARD CATALOG OF COMIC BOOKS opines a near-mint copy of the issue would cost $70, which I also don't have. Sigh.

Going to eBay, I located three recently completed auctions of different issues of CRIME EXPOSED. A copy of CRIME EXPOSED #2 with a starting bid of $24.99 garnered no bids, likely due to the seller inflating the condition of the book. This is the second time I've seen such obvious mis-grading from this seller and, not surprising, the second one of his auctions I've seen which didn't get a single bid. He might want to rethink his grading.

A really nice-looking copy of CRIME EXPOSED #6 with "one major age flaw" went for a mere $7.50 on four bids. That was a real deal for the successful buyer.

Finally, a beat-to-heck copy of CRIME EXPOSED #12 sold for a mere 99 cents to its only bidder. The seller was completely on the money with his "very poor" grading. His honesty didn't make him rich on this sale, but one would hope sellers would take note of it and be more eager to do business with him.

I'm not sure I've ever read an Atlas crime comic book, but I am intrigued by their loquacious covers. If I ever do get my hands on one, you can bet I'll write about it somewhere.

Let's see what else I have for you today.

******

ARCHIE'S HERE

Archie's Double Digest 155

I love this Stan Goldberg/Bob Smith cover for ARCHIE'S DOUBLE DIGEST #155 [$3.59]. My son Eddie has three of these singing fish things, gifts from his grandmother on Sainted Wife Barb's side. My mother-in-law has the "collector" gene; she has dozens of terrific novelty phones. I'll have to remember to show her this cover the next time she visits Casa Isabella.

Ten of the stories in this thick digest are outstanding. Two of them are brand-new and written by John Albano. If you recognize Albano's name, it's likely from his scripts for DC's JONAH HEX and various DC mystery comics. But he was a talented humor writer as well...and still is. As an added treat, one of these two tales is pencilled by Bob Bolling and inked by Al Milgrom.

The reprints include some socially relevant gems. "Cooking Up a Storm" challenges stereotypical gender roles. "The Interpreter" teaches the value of foreign language studies. Other notable tales turn an amused eye on the end of summer, flea markets, basketball, teen priorities, yoga, and leaf blowers.

On our disembodied columnist scale of zero to five, ARCHIE'S DOUBLE DIGEST #155 earns four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

Betty and Veronica Digest 150

BETTY AND VERONICA DIGEST #150 [$2.39] also presents several notable tales. "Her Biggest Fans," an new story by writer Kathleen Webb, penciller Tim Kennedy, and inker Jon D'Agostino, delivers a funny closing panel. So does "Night School," which stars popular supporting character Cheryl Blossom.

Cheryl once again takes center stage for the 21-page "Hot Fun in the Summertime." Her solo comic didn't last as long as either Archie or I would have liked, but any Cheryl appearance is a treat. Especially when the stories also feature her father, whose opinion of Archie might surprise you.

Other surprise were the two Josie stories: "Sailor Beware" and "Car Wash Woes." These tales don't involve Josie's musical career; they're just good fun in a slapstick vein.

The best of this issue is "Shop Around the World," 11 pages of Veronica and her mom in search of a special earring and also being targeted by a pair of thieves. I saw the punch panel coming a mile away, but it was still funny when I got there.

BETTY AND VERONICA DIGEST #150 was another exceptional issue from Archie Comics. I give it four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

CAPA-ALPHA ANNIVERSARY

K-A

CAPA-ALPHA was the first comics apa. It was founded by comics fandom legend Jerry Bails forty years ago and has continued/thrived ever since. Its members have included Don and Maggie Thompson, Fred Patten, Roy Thomas, Richard and Wendy Pini, Mark Evanier, Carl Gafford, Dwight Decker, yours truly, and so many other notable fans and future pros that it would take me several TOTs to do its roster even a modicum of justice.

In this age of online fandom, some of you may not know what an "apa" is. Here's the short version.

APA stands for Amateur Press Association. There are hundreds and maybe even thousands of them, each focusing on what interests their members. Many are centered on entertainment mediums of one sort of another - comics, movies, pulp magazines, science fiction, etc. - but some deal with lifestyles, politics, sports, and other less fantastic matters.

Apa members are usually required to publish a certain number of pages to maintain their memberships. "K-a" requires no less than four pages every three months. Members send their "apazines" to the "central mailer," who then distributes them to the other members of the apa. For example...

The August mailing of CAPA-ALPHA - the cover shown above is by Roger Caldwell - contained 428 pages of material from 29 of its 40 members. The contributions included comics reviews, art galleries, convention reports, comics history, personal news, and comments to other members on their apazines.

I've been a member of K-a several times in the past and have currently re-joined the apa roster after spending a few years on its waiting list. The current roster consists of 42 members, with two of them being honorary members who are not required to contribute to the mailings. There are 19 fans on the waiting list.

The K-a members send 50 copies of their zines to the central mailer. The "waitlisters" are allowed and encouraged to contribute zines to mailings and purchase these mailings while supplies last. Members pay a portion of the apa's expenses (postage and the like). Waitlisters pay for the monthly "Central Mailer's Comments" and for whatever mailings they purchase.

All of the above is a long-winded way of getting around to the actual purpose of this item.

MERLIN HAAS, current central mailer of CAPA-Alpha, would like to invite past members of the apa to send greetings to the current membership for the 40th anniversary mailing. The deadline for the greetings is October 1, but Merlin would appreciate receiving them as soon as possible. Contact him at:

mvhaas@elpaso.net

Rejoining K-a is one of the crazier things I've done in recent memory - given that I'm already writing a daily online column and a few other things - but there's something about the apa that just plain speaks to me. And not like those voices that try to make me do the bad things.

What? Don't pretend you don't hear them, too!

CAPA-ALPHA is a comics fandom legend and deservedly so. It's always represented the best and brightest of our shared passion for the comics art form.

Happy anniversary, K-a, and salutations to all of its members, past, present, and future. You rock...and not in the "getting on in years, need to start getting up from the chair a little slower" kind of way. I love you all madly.

******

COLLECTORS PRESS

"Your favorite publisher of vintage and popular culture art books" is what COLLECTORS PRESS claims to be on its website. While I can't confirm the veracity of that claim, I can say the publisher offers some way spiffy items in its latest catalog.

World of Tommorrow

I suspect the volume of greatest interest to most TOT readers is WORLDS OF TOMORROW: THE AMAZING UNIVERSE OF SCIENCE FICTION ART by Forrest J. Ackerman with Brad Linaweaver [$39.95]. The hardcover book features "more than 300 classic international science fiction paperback, pulp, and book covers" and includes Ackerman commentary on the selected pieces.

Atomic Kitchen

However, the book that caught my eye was Brian S. Alexander's ATOMIC KITCHEN: GADGETS & INVENTIONS FOR YESTERDAY'S COOK [$19.95]. To quote the catalog:

ATOMIC KITCHEN presents a gallery of gadgets, cooking devices, and small appliances that appeared, and in some cases, disappeared during the creative cooking of the 1950s. Accompanied by vibrant, original packaging and vintage advertisements, you'll marvel at the ingenuity of the minds that brought you the Bluewhirl egg beater, Mix-O-Later, Cookie Gun, and much more.

Other new fall/winter releases include:

RETRO BAKING: 100 CLASSIC CONTEST WINNERS UPDATED FOR TODAY by Maureen Fischer [$16.95];

RETRO KIDS COOKING: TIMELESS RECIPES FOR COOKS OF ALL AGES by Richard Perry [$16.95];

BURLESQUE: LEGENDARY STARS OF THE STAGE by Jane Briggerman [#39.95];

VINTAGE PRINTS: A BOOK OF CHILDHOOD ART [$19.95];

and four sets of RETRO NOTECARDS [$5.95]. Each set contains six blank notecards with envelopes.

You can sign up to receive your very own free COLLECTORS PRESS catalog via the publisher's website:

www.collectorspress.com

Since the loyal legions of TOT readers seem to enjoy this sort of thing, you can look for me to take more of these trips through publisher catalogs in future columns.

******

TONY POLLS

Just a quick reminder. Today is your last day to vote on our current TONY POLLS questions. We're playing TV DEATHWATCH, asking you to pick the television show most likely to be the first to go bye-bye on each of the seven nights of the week. You can cast your votes at the usual place:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

Look for new TONY POLLS questions on Monday.

******

TONY'S MAILBOX

Ceres: Celestrial Legend

I'm digging into the old e-mail files again. Several months back, I reviewed the opening volume of CERES: CELESTIAL LEGEND. If you want to read that column, go to:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/back20040316.shtml

The review brought this response from GARY LEACH, formerly the art director of Gemstone Comics. He wrote:

The reason the CERES review particularly caught my interest is I've been the English adaptor on it - taking a literal translation of the Japanese and working it up to read "American," a slippery mandate if ever there was one. In the course of this, I look at the original Japanese - a bit of which I'm starting to pick up - at a literal translation, and finally at what I do with that. There are, of course, the editorial tweaks before it all goes to the printer, but basically what you read is what I've made out of what someone else has made out of what creator Yu Watase originally set down. As it's all anchored by her art, and the clear aim to try to keep everything as close to the sense of the original Japanese as possible, we hope that you and all readers are getting as near to what Watase created as possible.

I was going to go on at length about what it's like being the English adaptor on manga - I do four series a present, including Ceres, Cheeky Angel, Yu-Yu Hakusho (in Shonen Jump) and the imminent Megaman - but I realized I could go on and on and on about it and probably not say much of interest. Still, thought I'd share what I had.

Thanks for the behind-the-scenes info, Gary. I have reviewed both CHEEKY ANGEL and Yu-Yu Hakusho favorably in previous columns and I'll keep an eye out for MEGAMAN.

That brings us to the close of this edition of TONY'S ONLINE TIPS. Thanks for spending part of your date with me. I'll be back Wednesday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 09/18/2004 | 09/19/2004 | 09/22/2004 >>

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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