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

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for Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's a Fanzine 50

My first real audience as a writer was comics fandom. Like many of the fans who broke into the comics industry in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I read and wrote for fanzines. Indeed, some of the fans I did zines with became pros I worked and are friends to this day. Fandom was and has been good to me.

Gene Kehoe's It's A Fanzine! #50 ($5) is an old school zine that makes use of modern publishing technology without being overwhelmed by it. Its 72 pages of enjoyable, informative articles with the kind of art that was beyond the capability of most zine publishers in the day. Reading it was like revisiting a childhood memory and finding it was even better than I remembered.

The theme of the issue is "Forgotten Fifties" and that's an area of comics history research of which I am an avid student. There are great articles on a Steve Ditko-drawn story from 1959 which the artist may also have written; a battle between the original Captain Marvel and Thor from 1950; "Panic in the Sky," perhaps the best episode from the Superman TV series of the 1950s; comparisons between classic genre comics of the decade; Speed Carter, Spaceman; the Charlton Comics giants of 1958, and more.

There are regular columns and contributions from terrific writers like John Wells, John G. Pierce, and others. There are tributes to the comic-book fans and fanzines of the past. There are reprints of a wild "Red Tornado" story by Sheldon Meyer and an even wilder "Cold War" tale by Stan Lee and Carmine Infantino. From cover to cover, this is one wonderful fanzine.

Kehoe's It's A Fanzine! #50 earns the full five out of five Tonys. For information on ordering this and future issues, contact Kehoe at:

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony



A few weeks back, we wrapped up our "They're Not Dead Yet!" Comics Idol competition wherein you voted for the 1970s writer you would most like to see return to write his signature features on a regular basis. We also asked you to vote on which Isabella-written features you'd like to see me return to and which never-written-by-Isabella characters or series you'd like to see me take a crack at. Here's how David R. Potts voted:
I voted for Len Wein on Swamp Thing, but it was a really tough call.

For the first of the "Tony" questions, I voted for Captain America, because I really liked how you treated the character in Liberty's Torch. I was tempted to vote for Hawkman, but I suspect your vision for the character wouldn't fit well with DC's current vision - or DC's current vision for any of their characters - and wouldn't want to put you through that kind of stress.

For the features you've never written, I chose "Other" (and this may be cheating a bit, because you've written this character as a supporting character - but as far as I know, you've never written the character's own feature). Thinking of Liberty's Torch reminded me how much I liked your depiction of the Falcon in that book. I'd really like to see you write a Falcon comic.
Thanks for your votes, Dave.

As you and most of my readers understand, I have very little choice as to whether or not I write any features at DC or Marvel. I'm blacklisted at the former and pretty much off the radar at the latter. Moreover, with both publishers pursuing writers who have enjoyed success outside traditional comics, I don't expect either situation to change. Still...

Those of you who have enjoyed my work in the past can let the editors and publishers know that you'd like to see me back in the mainstream trenches and that you'd be positively eager to buy comic books written by me. In the meantime, I'll continue to develop my own projects in the hope of someday finding a publishing home for them. I have a very long bucket list.


Over at the Tony Polls, this week marks the start of a three-week 1980s version of our "They're Not Dead Yet!" Comics Idol competition wherein you will vote for the 1980s writer you would most like to see return to write his signature features on a regular basis. You get three chances to vote for twenty different writers. The ten writers who get the most votes will then return for the second week of the competition, which will narrow the list down to five finalists.

You can cast your votes by going to:

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

Tony Isabella

<< 07/06/2009 | 07/07/2009 | 07/08/2009 >>

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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840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

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1000 Comic Books You Must Read.1000 Comic Books You Must Read

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