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for Thursday, July 30, 2009


I'm coping with my not-in-San-Diego depression by writing of past Comic-Cons I did attend. As with life, there were good times and bad times involved.

Remember the crazy comics speculator rush of the 1990s? Well, master of bad timing that I am, I wrote very little during that period. But I did write Satan's Six #1 for Topps Comics, developing the series from characters and a concept created by Jack Kirby. It sold really well. Indeed, my royalty check for that first issue is the largest check I ever received in my life that didn't involve a lawsuit. It was so large I called up my editor Jim Salicrup before I cashed it; I was afraid it was a bookkeeping error.

That was also a year when my best friend Bob Ingersoll didn't think he could afford to do Comic-Con. I couldn't begin to count the number of times Bob has been there for me over the years, so I told him that he most certainly was going to Comic-Con as my guest. He was hesitant to accept the offer, but I told him he had no choice in the matter. I would be renting a car and driving to Los Angeles after the show and I needed someone to drive that car. Because, when it comes to LA driving, I am the biggest wuss in the galaxy. Look it up on Wikipedia.

Bob is the only person I know who loves driving in Los Angeles. There's a clinical name for this condition, namely, he's batshit insane. He accepted my offer.

We had more fun than I can remember in both San Diego and Los Angeles. Paul Levitz arranged for a VIP tour for us at the Warner Bros lot, though we were unable to break away from the tour to look for that special water tower. We spent a terrific afternoon hanging with Harlan and Susan Ellison at Ellison Wonderland. We had lunch at Universal Studios where we got to see test footage for a never-aired Jurassic Park animated series. We hung out with Mark "Mister Fun" Evanier. I don't know if it was my best West Coast trip ever, but it's certainly in the top three.

My trips to the West Coast have not always been overwhelmingly positive. Don't get me wrong - there have always been fun moments even during the worst of them - but some of them have been really depressing. Like, for example, the trip after I'd been fired from my second Black Lightning series.

I hadn't planned to go Comic-Con that year. I was pretty much out of work and didn't think I could afford it. However, I did go to Wizard World Chicago earlier that summer and something happened that made a trip to the West Coast a necessity.

Or so I thought.

In Chicago, I was offered a job as editor of a line of comic books that would be published by an entertainment industry giant. To even consider taking this job, which would have meant moving to Los Angeles without my family until Barb and I could be certain the job would work out and would pay well enough to justify uprooting our family, was daunting. Even with my decreased writing income, we were happy and doing well in Medina.

Barb and I made the decision together. I would go to the San Diego convention and work out the arrangements with the person who had offered me the job. Then I would spend a week in Los Angeles, getting to know the company, working out my contract with them, and making plans to relocate shortly thereafter. I hated the idea of even temporarily being separated from Barb and our kids, but there weren't any other good offers coming my way.

At Comic-Con, I kept trying to meet with the guy who said he wanted to hire me. He kept dodging me. I finally caught up with him on the last day of the convention...which is when he informed me that there was no job for me, that there was no writing for me, and that he wouldn't even be in Los Angeles the following week. He was going on vacation. A friend who saw me mere moments after the "meeting" thought I looked as if I had been hit in the face with a hammer. I shut down and have no memory of the subsequent drive to Los Angeles.

With my plans for the week after the convention now flushed down the toilet, I was stuck in Los Angeles - normally a very happy place for me - for a week with no job prospects and nothing to do. Except spend too much money trying to make myself feel better about this devastating turn of events.

Worst West Coast trip ever.

I attended two more San Diego Comic-Cons after that one, but I need a breather before telling you about them.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with the conclusion of my SDCC recollections.

Tony Isabella

<< 07/29/2009 | 07/30/2009 | 07/31/2009 >>

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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.

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