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

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for Friday, February 20, 2009

The Glyph Comics Awards honor the best in black comics and creators. The awards are now in their fourth year. I served as a judge two years ago and the experience was terrific from start to finish.

This year's GCA nominees were announced earlier this week and, as it happens, two of them hold special interest for me.

In the category of Best Male Character:

Black Lightning, Final Crisis: Submit; Grant Morrison, writer, Matthew Clark, Norm Rapmund, Rob Hunter & Don Ho, artists; created by Tony Isabella & Trevor Von Eeden

In the category of Best Comic Strip

"Jefferson Jacks" from Crankshaft; Tom Batiuk and Tony Isabella, writers, Chuck Ayers, artist

Final Crisis: Submit

Though I obviously wish DC Comics wasn't so determined to keep me from ever writing Black Lightning again, I'm delighted to see my creation nominated in this category. Despite my feelings about DC "events" in general - ranging from ambivalence to disgust - I was quite pleased with this Final Crisis appearance of Black Lightning. Morrison did an excellent job with Jeff Pierce. Yes, I thought the somewhat heavy-handed "I'm teaching you lessons about life" speech pattern was a bit off, but it was still well within what I consider an acceptable range. If my writing of Black Lightning is a "10," then Morrison gets a solid "8" here. Good on him.


Tom Batiuk has mentioned it publically on several occasions, so I don't think it's a huge secret that, in the past, I have done some writing for his Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft newspaper strips. Most of that writing has come as an extension of my doing what I've been doing for years as a fan of those strips, suggesting ideas to Tom. A few years back, when his schedule got tight, he asked me to assist him on some storylines. It's been one of the best experiences of my career.


Knowing Ed Crankshaft had been a minor-league ballplayer for the Toledo Mudhens and having read several books on the integration of baseball, I suggested Tom write a flashback sequence about Ed's friendship with one of those first black ballplayers. Tom thought about it and called me the next day to suggest I write the story. We ended up writing it together.

I'm proud of this one. I think it's as good as anything I've written in a career of doing my best to include positive characters of color in comic books. Given the opportunity, I'd love to expand on it someday. But, for now, I'm delighted that the judges thought enough of it to nominate it in this category.

You can view the entire list of Glyph Comics Awards categories and nominees by going to:

The 2009 Glyph Comics Awards ceremony will be held on Friday, May 15, in the Skyline Room of the Free Library of Philadelphia, Park Central branch, as part of East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, which takes place at the Crown Plaza Philadelphia Center City on Saturday, May 16.

I've accepted ECBACC's invitation to be a guest at this year's festivities. At the moment, outside of Mid-Ohio-Con, it's the only convention I'm scheduled to attend this year.

For information on ECBACC go to:

Hope to see you there.



I'll be taking a two-week break from TOT to finish work on one major project and several smaller ones. Even with the reprints, it still takes me over an hour to prepare and promote each column and that's an hour I don't have at the moment.

My Tony's Tips Xtra reviews will continue to appear on Mondays and Thursdays at the Comics Buyer's Guide website. You can read those reviews by going to:

As always, thanks for spending part of your day with me. Have a happy and safe weekend and a happy and safe next couple of weeks. I'll be back on Monday, March 9, with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 02/19/2009 | 02/20/2009 | 03/16/2009 >>

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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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