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for Monday, November 22, 2004

Mid-Ohio-Con 25

MID-OHIO-CON, as has been noted in many past editions of this column, is my favorite convention of them all. My pal Roger Price is the con-daddy for the event and, over the years, something like 25 of them, he's grown the show into one of the most friendly and hospitable in the comics community.

Roger has a knack for bringing in terrific guests who love to hang out with the fans and their fellow guests. The show has that family feel and it's a natural extension of Roger's own exemplary character and personality. The fans who attend the con, the afore-mentioned guests, the exhibitors, and the volunteers support the atmosphere Roger has created.

I've been attending MID-OHIO-CON since the show's second year and, a year or two after that, I started getting involved with it on a more active basis. I used to pick up guests at the Cleveland airport and drive them to the con's original location in Mansfield. I threw parties for the guests on the night before the show. When Roger moved the convention to venues which allowed for panels and other presentations, yours truly used to create and supervise that programming. Few things in my career have been as satisfying as my work with MID-OHIO-CON and Roger Price.

I haven't had as big a role in the convention these past two years, due to a variety of personal circumstances. I've still been around to lend a hand wherever Roger needed one, but it hasn't been at the frantic pace of previous years. This year's event - for me, at least - will continue in that mode...though I hope to resume a more active role in future years.

What *will* I be doing at this year's MID-OHIO-CON? Read on, my loyal legions of TOT readers.



Tony Isabella

In years past, I have been set up in MID-OHIO-CON's wonderful Artist Alley or in the foyer outside that large room. I didn't ask for a table this year because, in those same years, I have usually been too busy or restless to spend much time at my designated spot. While it's possible I may end up with a table if the show has any last-minute cancellations, you should figure on catching me on the fly if you want me to sign something.

My current plan is to spend as much time wandering the event as possible. I want to visit with the guests, especially artists. (See below.) I want to roam the exhibitor and publisher tables in search of comics goodies. I want to chat with my readers and other fans and guests. In short, I want to have the enjoyable experience that "civilians" have at this convention.

There are a few places/times when you can be sure of locating me. I'm scheduled to sign at the ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots) table on Sunday morning from 11 a.m. to noon. I'll have donated a few signed items to that worthy organization prior to my scheduled time and, of course, I'll be delighted to sign anything else I've written for you.

For more information on ACTOR, go here:

I'm also scheduled to appear on the WHAT A NOVEL IDEA panel at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Here's the scoop on that:

3:00 p.m. - What a Novel Idea

What goes into turning your favorite TV shows and comic books into best-selling novels? Find out from some of the finest authors in the genre: Jeff Mariotte (Buffy and Angel), John Byrne (Wonder Woman), Roger Stern (Smallville), Bob Ingersoll and Tony Isabella (Star Trek and Captain America).

You can likely catch me for a signature after this panel, but keep in mind that I'll probably want to get back to the convention so I can chat a little longer with those guests who will be leaving right after the show closes.

One thing I should make clear:

I'm almost always willing to stop and chat or sign. If I'm on my way to an appointment or a scheduled event, it might be a short chat, but, don't hesitate to come up and say "hi" if you see me at the event. If I can't stop right then and there, I can arrange to meet with you later during the weekend.



Eddy Newell Black Lightning Art

If you're an artist who has wanted to work with me, you should talk to me at MID-OHIO-CON. I will be returning to comics writing in the New Year and, assuming I don't get bitten by a radioactive comic-book artist and gain the proportion abilities of a comic-book artist, I'll be needing someone to draw those scripts.

Don't get too excited here. I can't guarantee payment or even publication. I can guarantee I will do everything I can to get our collaborations published and to make us some money in the process. Here's a note I sent to an artist who contacted me shortly after I made brief mention of this in a recent column:

Here's what I had planned for Mid-Ohio-Con. Basically, I want to start writing comics scripts again, even though I'm not at all sure I'll find a market for them. I also keep hearing from artists who say they would like to work with me, which is a testament to the rampant drug abuse in our industry.

My plan is this:

Artists will be asked to tell me how many pages they are willing to draw without guarantee of payment. They get to specify a genre and even toss out a word to jump-start me.

For example: if someone said "poverty," I'd write a story about that. If they said "kitty," I write a story involving a cat. If they want to draw super-heroes, they can specify that. Or war or western or whatever. No limitations, save that I'm not looking to do explicit sex in the stories. I want to get back to the kind of writing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of excitement I used to enjoy when editors would call me up with a gig that they needed RIGHT AWAY. When I have enough material for a comic book or a album, I'll show this stuff to publishers.

I'm working on some sort of simple boiler-plate contract to protect the artist's interests and my own. It'll specify who has editorial control, which will be me. It'll specify who gets paid what percentage of what money I make from these comics.

At this time...I'm guessing a 65-35 split with the 65 going to artists. The artists will be responsible for inking and lettering. I'm gonna have to think about what happens if a publisher wants color. Can you tell I'm still thinking this through?

Artists will be given 90 days from the receipt of the script to finish their end of things. This will be flexible.

Example: if someone's willing to draw a 22-page super-hero comic with the hope of launching an ongoing title with me, I can work around that. The initial 65-35 split would stay the same, but any ancillary monies would be split 50-50.

This is about as back-end a deal as I can imagine. I don't have the cash to pay artists up front. But I will be tireless in my efforts to get the work published in some form or another.

It's insanity, no doubt, but I think the comics biz could use a bit more of that these days. If you're up for this, I'll send you the forms - which I haven't created yet - just prior to the convention.

Great to hear from you. Even though you're not doing comics, I'm glad to hear you're gainfully employed.

The artist who received the above has affirmed his interest in working with me. I blame society.

Writing that boiler-plate contract is on my list of things to do before Mid-Ohio-Con. If you're an artist who will be attending the show and who wants to work with me, please get in touch with me at the show. If I haven't nailed down the contract or if I've run out of contracts, I'll take your contact information and send one to you when I get back home from the show.

If you're an artist who will not be attending the show and who wants to work with me, e-mail me your contact information as soon as possible. If I like your work - and I do have a wide range of what I like in comics art - I'll send you a contract.

My fiscal year closes at the end of January...or it would if I had two fiscals to rub together. I'll start writing the scripts in February. Alert the media.



Joe Edkin

If you can only tear yourself away from Artists Alley or the Exhibitors Hall for one programming event, that event should be Joe Edkin's hilarious COMIC BOOK SQUARES. It's scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. To quote the website:

Over the years, few programs have drawn as much praise as Joe Edkin's Comic Book Squares. It's kinda like "Hollywood Squares" without the really tall set - or Whoopi. What you get are tons of fun, comic book trivia questions, many of your favorite Mid-Ohio-Con guests, goofy prizes and, of course, Roger Stern in the center square. Joe Edkin hosts.

I don't know if I'll be one of the "squares" this year, but I do know I'll be in attendance one way or another. Host Joe Edkin is quick with a quip and one of the wittiest guests the show's ever had. The audience always has a great time, as do the celebrities and the contestants.

I can't say it often enough. Don't miss this year's edition of Comic Book Squares. You'll love it!



Noel Neill

In previous years, I have devoted entire columns to Mid-Ohio-Con's guests. I don't have that much space this time around, but I have to mention some folks who I am especially looking forward to meeting for the first time or seeing again.

NOEL NEILL. It's been over fifteen years since I last had the great privilege of spending some time with the woman who *was* Lois Lane for my generation. I hope she brings copies of her biography - TRUTH, JUSTICE, & THE AMERICAN WAY: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NOEL NEILL, THE ORIGINAL LOIS LANE by Larry Thomas Ward - to the show. That's definitely on my buy-and-get-signed list.

SERGIO ARAGONES. Come on. It's Sergio. The man who lights up any convention he attends. It's been too long.

STAN GOLDBERG. The best of the current Archie artists and a man who was there when comics history was being made in the offices of Marvel Comics in the 1960s. I've never met him, but I'm looking forward to spending some time with him at the con. I have so many questions to ask him.

JEFF SMITH. I've known Jeff since the birth of BONE, but I've never asked him to sign anything for me. That changes this year when he signs my cherished copy of BONE: ONE VOLUME EDITION. I should be done reading it by the convention.

INSIGHT STUDIOS. Mid-Ohio-Con is so fortunate to have these seven talented guys coming to the show. The stuff that comes from that studio is of such uniformly high creativity and quality that the place should be considered a national treasure.

Then there's the folks I've worked with and who I don't get to see often enough: Jeff Mariotte, Eddy Newell, Roger Stern, Maggie Thompson, and others.

And the folks I know well who I've never worked with but would nearly love to work with some day.

And the folks I've never met before, but whose work I've long admired from afar.

And the creators whose work I'll be discovering for the first time at this, my favorite convention.

Is it Saturday yet?



This probably goes without saying, but...

If you're a creator or publisher attending Mid-Ohio-Con, feel free to hand me comic books or other items for possible review in this column. One of my December goals is to read everything I get at the convention before the end of the month.



Tony Isabella

This is for any stalkers reading this. I will be arriving at the Hilton sometime around noon on Friday, the day before the show. I'll be staying there through the show and heading back to Medina before noon on Monday. I'll be doing some writing during the con, but I plan to attend various after-hours convention activities and hang out with other like-minded souls.

The Hilton has a huge and inviting lobby with lots of seating. If TOT readers or contributors to my message board want to hang out after show hours, that would be a good place to do it. Just let me know when you'll be there and I'll try to be there, too.

I'm going to try to write far enough on TOT so that there will be no missed columns between now and December. However, given that Thanksgiving comes the day before I leave for Columbus, and that I have some things to do to get ready for Mid-Ohio-Con, there may be the odd TOT-less day in our future.

Don't take it personally. I still love you madly.

For information on MID-OHIO-CON that doesn't involve ego-as-big-as-a-planet Isabella, check out the show website:



Drink Til You Want Me!

This also probably goes without saying, but...

If any publishers attending the con want a piece of this, they shouldn't be shy about approaching me. My rates are reasonable, unless, of course, you don't believe in actually paying creators, and I always bring my "A" game to the party.

This next one gets asked frequently, so...

I am under no exclusive agreements with anyone save my Sainted Wife Barb and our kids. I do have long and cherished relationships with Comics Buyer's Guide and World Famous Comics, but they don't preclude my writing for other comics magazines or comics websites. Show me the money and we can talk.



That's all the MID-OHIO-CON comments I have for you today, but I do have some TOT business to cover. For this week's TONY POLLS, I culled the top-selling DC and Marvel titles for October and I'm asking you to choose the title from each company which you would recommend over the rest. Naturally, because sales aren't always or even usually a reflection of quality, you also have the option of sending me a write-in vote.

You can cast your votes on these questions here:

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

Tony Isabella

<< 11/21/2004 | 11/22/2004 | 11/23/2004 >>

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:

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