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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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for Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Art Clokey and Gumby

I'm older than Gumby. This is something I didn't know until I read the wire service coverage of a Gumby art exhibit at the Lynn House Gallery in Antioch, California.

The exhibit - "Gumby and Friends: The First 50 Years" - is the first of many events to mark the 50th anniversary of Art Clokey's creation and kick off a comeback for the character. At 83, Clokey clearly sparkles with delight at the thought that Gumby, his horse Pokey, and their pals will soon be introduced to a new generation of children.

Gumby was such a fixture of 1950s television it never occurred to me that I was actually a few years older than the little green guy. I can't say he was a favorite of mine - my youthful favorites tended to be of a more adventurous or slapstick nature - but he was familiar and friendly. I watched and enjoyed dozens Clokey's Gumby cartoons while I was growing up.

It was five decades ago that Clokey made "Gumbasia," a short art film which featured clay animation set to jazz music. The film inspired the TV series which first aired in 1956. Over the next 40 years, Clokey made 223 episodes of the show and also created "Davey and Goliath," a second clay animation series.

Other Gumby events and projects are coming. The Museum of the Moving Image in New York will open a six-month exhibit about Clokey and Gumby this summer. A Gumby video game and a DVD of Gumby shows from the 1980s are scheduled for summer release. The Clokey family - son Joe, who produces education videos, runs the Gumby business - hopes a documentary about his father's life will make it to TV this year as well. You can check out the Premavision/Clokey Productions website at:

The Associated Press reports that animators are developing new episodes of Gumby and a new movie. "The goal has always been about what's good for kids and what's fun for kids," the younger Clokey said. "If you've got a heart, then Gumby's a part of you. That's what it's all about."

The little green guy won't be an easy sell in today's market, but I'm rooting for him.

Happy anniversary, Gumby!



Cheeky Angel Vol. 6

I've heaped so much praise on Hiroyuki Nishimon's CHEEKY ANGEL in previous columns I could probably just direct you to my earlier reviews and be done with it. But, as the arrival of a new volume still gets me excited, you'll have to bear with me.

Here's the basic drill:

Megumi at age nine wanted to be the manliest man on Earth, but a malicious genie instead turned him into the "womanliest woman" on the planet. Now a teenager, Meg wants to reclaim her manhood but is simultaneously dealing with feelings she never expected to have. She's gathered a small army of loyal friends and would-be suitors around her. They get into all kinds of trouble, including run-ins with the genie and with the Yakuza.

CHEEKY ANGEL VOL. 6 [Viz; $9.95] gives me a little cause for concern with its introduction of a "rival" for Megumi. While this is a familiar bit for manga involving students, it sometimes mires a series in an endless back-and-forth of scheming and consequences. I'm encouraged by the freshness of this particular rivalry - rival Keiko wants what Meg doesn't want - but nervous about the future. Oh me of little faith.

This new volume also has some interesting developments on the gender confusion and romance fronts. Human interest and humor are the most compelling ingredients of the series and, as in the past, they earn CHEEKY ANGEL five out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony



Batman makes a guest appearance in Dan Piraro's BIZARRO panel from May 11...


...while a pair of comic-strip legends get a mention in Hilary Price's RHYMES WITH ORANGE from the same date.

Rhymes with Orange

Price has a spiffy website for her strip and you can visit it by going to:



Earlier this month, my pal JON KNUTSON suggested several TONY POLLS questions and, after some tinkering by yours truly, they were posted for your balloting entertainment.


Here are the results of the voting...

Which recent comic-book event has angered/annoyed you the most?

Gwen Stacy

Death of Blue Beetle.....11.98%
Jean Loring killing Sue Dibny.....9.38%
Scarlet Witch behind Avengers Disassembled.....8.65%
Death of Sue Dibny.....7.81%
Wolverine joining the Avengers....5.21%
Death of Spoiler.....3.65%
Maxwell Lord becomes super-villain mastermind.....3.65%
Death of Hawkeye.....3.12%
Dr. Light as a rapist.....3.12%
Rebooting of Legion of Super-Heroes again.....3.12%
Spider-Man joining the Avengers.....3.12%
Space Ghost getting grim and gritty origin.....2.60%
Question gaining super-powers of sorts.....2.08%
Mary Jane not telling Peter about Gwen's kids.....1.56%
Return of Colossus in X-Men.....1.04%
Death of Tim (Robin) Drake's father.....0.52%
Death of Captain Boomerang.....0%
Death of Scott (Ant-Man) Lang.....0%

J. Michael Straczynski is one of my favorite writers. I think BABYLON 5 is the best science fiction show ever. In addition, in some way, I feel a personal debt to JMS because of kindnesses done for a friend of mine. But I still voted for Gwen doing the nasty with the Green Goblin as the comic-book event which angered/annoyed me the most. You can spin it all over the place, but it remains a monumentally dumb idea made "possible" only by ignoring established characterizations and established history. Someone should've said "no" to Straczynski when he came up with the idea. Someone should use the reported "reality"-altering HOUSE OF M event to make Spidey and everyone else in the Marvel Universe forget this nonsense. If only they could do the same for us readers.


Which DC Comics title would you like most to see revived as an ongoing title?

80 Page Giant #1

80-PAGE GIANT (monthly themed reprint).....17.70%
Adventure Comics (anthology w/multiple series).....14.83%
All-Star Squadron.....12.44%
Mystery in Space (Adam Strange w/back-up story).....8.13%
Our Army at War (Sgt. Rock).....6.22%
Jonah Hex.....5.74%
Brave and the Bold (Batman team-up title)....4.31%
Strange Adventures (Deadman).....2.39%
DC Comics Presents (Superman team-up title).....1.91%
Strange Adventures (rotating SF series).....1.91%
Hawk and Dove.....0.48%
Infinity, Inc......0.48%
Arion, Lord of Atlantis.....0%
Hercules Unbound.....0%

There were a lot of good choices on Jon's list. I voted for OUR ARMY AT WAR because, at a time when we have American soldiers on the front lines overseas, no matter how corrupt and incompetent the political leaders who sent them there, I think it's important to give attention to the dangers faced by our fighting forces now and in times past. At their best, the Sgt. Rock stories dealt with the horror and tragedy of war while still honoring the courage and sacrifice of our troops.

Which Marvel comic would you like most to see revived as an ongoing title?

Doctor Strange #169

DR. STRANGE.....13.33%
Fantasy Masterpieces (Golden Age reprints).....11.28%
Tomb of Dracula.....8.72%
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.....8.21%
Marvel Tales (chronological MU reprints).....6.15%
Not Brand Echh.....6.15%
Mighty Marvel Western (western reprints).....5.13%
Tales to Astonish (Yellowjacket/Wasp, Capt. Marvel)...5.13%
Kid Colt Outlaw.....4.62%
Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze).....4.10%
Tales of Suspense (The Thing, Nick Fury).....4.10%
Astonishing Tales (Deathlok).....3.08%
Amazing Adventures (War of the Worlds).....2.05%
Patsy Walker.....2.05%
Millie the Model.....1.54%
Strange Tales (Human Torch, Luke Cage).....1.54%
Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch).....0.51%

My vote for MIGHTY MARVEL WESTERN was an impulse vote. What I'd most like to see from Marvel in this genre would be a complete collection of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Rawhide Kid stories from the late 1950s/early 1960s. Those were great comics!

Many readers were confused by some of the odd pairings my pal Jon had for double-feature books like TALES OF SUSPENSE. Here's an essay question for the loyal legions of TOT readers:

If Marvel were to launch a line of new double-feature titles, let's say three of them, what characters would you use in them and why? Keep your musings down to 300 words or less and e-mail them to me by the end of the month.

The entry that most blows me away - either by dint of logic or inspired madness - will win an autographed copy of ESSENTIAL LUKE CAGE VOLUME 1. The downside of this prize is that the book will be autographed by me.

Which non-DC or Marvel comic book title would you like most to see revived as an ongoing title?

Thunder Agents #1

Dr. Solar, Man of the Atom.....6.67%
Little Lulu....6.15%
Richie Rich.....5.64%
Crime Does Not Pay.....5.13%
Occult Files of Dr. Spektor.....4.62%
Mighty Crusaders.....4.10%
Space Family Robinson.....3.59%
Doomsday +1.....2.05%
Boys' Ranch.....0.51%
Casper the Friendly Ghost.....0.51%
Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer.....0.51%
Sad Sack.....0.51%
Dracula (Dell).....0%
Mighty Samson.....0%

This was a tough choice. I narrowed it down to four humorous, suitable-for-all-ages, and well-known titles because comicdom could use more titles like that. Of the four, which included Casper the Friendly Ghost, Little Lulu, and Sad Sack, I voted for RICHIE RICH. Of the four finalists, it's also the title I'd most like to write. The Rich family are my favorite billionaires.

The above questions brought in quite a bit of e-mail. If you come back tomorrow, I'll share some of them with you.

In the meantime, you can vote on our new TONY POLLS questions by going to:

This time around, we're asking you to "grade" DC's newest logo and to rate your expectations for a quartet of comics films coming our way: Batman Begins, Fantastic Four, Superman Returns, and V For Vendetta. These polls go up sometime today and remain active until sometime after midnight next Monday.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 05/16/2005 | 05/17/2005 | 05/18/2005 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined.

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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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