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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, October 20, 2004

Today's theme is...VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF MY DESK. I'll be going through the notes and review items sitting within easy reach and doing my best to get through all of them.

As the month progresses, my theme will change to VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE TWO PILES OF STUFF AT THE FOOT OF MY DESK, followed by VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BOX OF STUFF SITTING ACROSS FROM ME OVER THERE, followed by VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BOX THAT, FOR SOME REASON, IS SITTING IN MY LIVING ROOM DOWNSTAIRS. Then again, I may just decide to chuck it all and start fresh.

Start the engines. I'm going in.

******

COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE

Comics Buyer's Guide 1599

COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1599 [Krause; $5.99] arrived last week via my subscription, so it should be arrived at comics shops and on newsstands shortly. Pixar's THE INCREDIBLES is the cover feature and the design of said cover is the best since CBG switched over to its monthly magazine format.

I'm only a hundred or so pages into the 244-page issue, but I did wanted to mention some swell articles therein. Some guy named Isabella does a fine job reviewing all eight of the Julius Schwartz tribute comics published by DC this summer. Editorial director John Jackson Miller contributes a terrific essay on "The Phone Book Effect" of the PREVIEWS ordering catalogue that should be read by anyone and everyone who is considering publishing comic books; the deck really is stacked against such newcomers. In addition, Andrew "Captain Comics" Smith presents a nice selection of reader opinions on Hal Jordan regaining the mantle of Green Lantern. I recommend all of the above without hesitation.

However, my favorite piece of those I've read this issue - so far - is "Comics Ideas Gone Wrong!" CBG staffers have collected 26 of the worst ideas ever inflicted on comicdom. You have marketing mishaps, format fubars, storyline stupidity, and more. I laughed and I winced at the items included in this special "hall of shame," and soon realized the CBG crew had merely scratched the surface of the suffering such bone-headed decisions have visited upon comics fans and professionals alike. I demand a sequel!

In the meantime, after you've had a chance to read the piece for yourself, feel free to send me your choices for other "comics ideas gone wrong." Try to keep your e-mails on the subject under 300 words and I'll run the best ones in future installments of TOT. Heck, if you enlighten/entertain me enough, I might even send you something from ALL THOSE OTHER TOWERING PILES OF STUFF ON MY OFFICE FLOOR. Time to stand up and diss-co, my children!

I'll probably have further comments on the new issue of CBG as I make my way through it. Watch for them.

******

MID-OHIO-CON 2004

Mid-Ohio-Con

MID-OHIO-CON will be holding its 25th annual show on Saturday and Sunday, November 27-28, at the Hilton Columbus at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio. Although I had always intended to be at the show, I wasn't going to attend as a guest. I just figured I'd be there to assist promoter Roger Price with the show, as I've done for the past 20-plus years.

Visitors to the MID-OHIO-CON website [www.midohiocon.com] may have noticed I have now been added to the guest list. Nothing has changed really - I'm not currently scheduled to appear on panels or the like - but I received several e-mails from readers expressing their disappointment that I would not be at the show. So, on the unlikely chance that *I* was your reason for coming to MID-OHIO-CON this year, make your travel plans secure in the knowledge that I'll be there and that I'll be delighted to see and chat with the loyal legions of TOT readers.

However, if you're looking for better reasons to attend this stellar event, you need only look at the show's guest list, which is available at the show website. JOHN BYRNE will be making what he claims is his last con appearance ever. The always terrific LOU FERRIGNO will be making a return visit, as will LARRY "What a great guy!" THOMAS, who played the Soup Nazi on SEINFELD. Thomas was at last year's show and few guests have so quickly won a place in the hearts of the fans and show volunteers as he did.

I'm especially pleased that NOEL NEILL will be a special guest of the convention. TV's classic "Lois Lane" is one of the single most charming celebrities I have ever met in two decades of working on events. She will be selling and signing copies of her new book at the convention.

As usual, MID-OHIO-CON will feature over a hundred guests from the comics and entertainment fields, far too many for me to mention here...though I'd be grievously remiss if I didn't mention SERGIO ARAGONES, TOM BATIUK, STAN GOLDBERG, DON ROSA, JEFF SMITH, and MATT WAGNER. In addition to the guests, you can count on a huge room of first-rate comics dealers and other vendors, and a great program of interview and panel events.

That's my first MID-OHIO-CON plug of the season. I may manage one or two others in the weeks to come.

Let the record show that I smiled as I wrote that.

******

MY KIDS

Eddie and Kelly

Don't Eddie and Kelly clean up well?

This photo was taken at the recent wedding of Ryan and Lauren Fairbanks. Ryan is actually Sainted Wife Barb's cousin, but, since she is closer in age to Ryan's mother Nora and the two of them are like sisters, she's always been more of an aunt to Ryan. I guess that makes Ryan second cousin to my kids.

Terry Fairbanks - Nora's husband, Ryan's father - is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We have been pals since we first met at FRANK'S HOBBY SHOP on Cleveland's west side when we were around 13 years old. I was a groomsman at his and Nora's wedding and Barb was one of the bridesmaids. That's how we met.

None of this has anything to do with comics - outside of Terry and I meeting through our mutual interest in comics - but I really love this photo and wanted to share it with you.

It's my column and I'll gush if I want to.

******

SAVED!

Saved!

My pick for the most spiritually uplifting movie of the year is SAVED! The satire, written by Brian Dannelly and Michael Urban, and directed by Dannelly, neatly punctures the elements of bigotry, excess, and self-pride which infects the religious right, but never denies the love that is at the core of the Christian message when it's not being corrupted.

Set at a Christian high school, whose principal tries to be a hip messenger of Jesus, it gets its dramatic push from the plight of the fervent Mary (played by Jena Malone) who, discovering that her boyfriend thinks he might be gay, decides that God wants her to save him by sleeping with him. They do the deed, his parents find a gay skin mag in his room and ship him off to a sort of Christian re-education camp, and Mary, well, Mary is pregnant, a secret that she strives to hide from her single mom and her friends.

The characters and the actors who play them are nothing short of amazing. Mandy Moore is great as the snotty and near psychotic Hilary Faye. Maccaulay Culkin shows his acting chops as Hilary's wheelchair-bound brother. Eva Amurri is the rebellious Cassandra, the only Jewish girl in the school; Cassandra's choice was to go to this school or be home-schooled.

SAVED! has heart and humor in equal measure. One scene will have you wishing you could hug a character; the next will have you laughing out loud. What I found most impressive is that Dannelly and Urban's script never gives up on any of their characters, never paints them as irredeemable, and leaves the viewer with the sense that love is, indeed, the answer.

Having asked myself what Jesus would do if he were reviewing this movie, I've no choice but to give SAVED! the full five out of five Tonys. This one goes on my wish list.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

That's it for today's TOT. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 10/19/2004 | 10/20/2004 | 10/21/2004 >>

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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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