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

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for Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ballard Street

While yesterday's TOT wasn't a "me" column, today's TOT is an update of what's been going in the world of Tony...

What the heck?! Disney bought Marvel?

My first reaction to this news surprised me more than the news itself. While I recognized it for the major news it is, I couldn't and didn't react to it with dread or excitement. Fortunately, the rest of comicdom picked up the slack. It seemed like every other e-mail or Twitter post I received Monday had something to do with this unexpected development.

Even my mother asked me about it when we spoke on the phone the next morning, wondering if it was good or bad news for the only part of the comics industry she cares about: me. I told her that it wasn't either.

I don't work for Disney or Marvel. The only possible effect on me that I could think of would be if Disney decided Marvel would no longer pay royalties on my old stories when they reprint them. That would cost me several hundred dollars a year, but I can't see any reason why Disney would terminate a policy that has generated considerable good will for Marvel.

Pressed for further speculation when she asked about various characters I created for Marvel, I couldn't really add anything to that. Outside of a few villains and supporting players, I didn't create any wholly original characters for Marvel. I mostly built on existing characters like Greer "Tigra" Nelson and I usually did that with the input of Roy Thomas and others. I've never received royalty payment for any toys or other merchandise featuring these characters in the past and I don't expect the new Disney ownership will change that.

Pressed further, and going way out on a limb, I said it might be possible that someone from Disney would look at current Marvel comics and decide they've gotten a little dark for the new owner's purposes. Diving off the limb, I said that might open doors for a writer like myself who believes that super-heroes are and should be warriors of the light. But that's wild speculation and Lord knows there's been enough of that already.

Marvel has been pretty successful in recent years. If anyone from Disney gets involved with the publishing end of the company, I suspect cutting costs would be more of an interest than changing editorial direction. In any case, all the fans and pundits aside, we won't know how this development plays out until it actually does start playing out. My hope is that it plays out to the benefit of comics creators and readers.

I do confess to one small portion of dread. Disney is known, and with good reason, to be a litigious outfit. Day care centers have been sued for decorating their walls with Disney characters. Mickey can be a right bastard sometimes.

Many comic-book artists make a living or a significant portion thereof drawing commissions of Marvel characters and reproductions of Marvel covers for comics art collectors and fans. Most of these artists are not currently working for Marvel, though their previous contributions to the company are significant. I'd hate to see any of them lose out because of a Disney-mandated change in what seems to be Marvel's current "look the other way" policy.

Since the Disney/Marvel news broke, I've received nearly two dozen requests for my thoughts on the situation from reporters who mistakenly believe I know something. As you've seen from the past several hundred words, I don't. But, hey, my brothers and sisters in the press, feel free to quote from today's column if you're that desperate for "expert" reaction.

One last thought. I burned out on the commentary/speculation by noon on Monday. As of mid-morning Tuesday, I'm still getting an occasional giggle from the Disney/Marvel jokes. My interest in the situation will doubtless reignite when something actually happens, but, until then, not so much.

Is it any wonder Grumpy is my favorite dwarf?



My friend Bob Beerbohm has been sending this around. He's a good guy and a knowledgeable comics historian, so please consider buying some comic books from him.
Hello Comics Fandom,

During this summer's 40th anniversary San Diego Comicon, I had the good fortune of being offered complete bilateral hip joint replacement operations on September 24, 2009, in Los Angeles if I can come up with $18,000 by then. This is a special deal which will not last forever; I must strike while the iron is hot.

Some of you may know me as I have been in comics fandom since 1966, RBCC #45 being my first fanzine, with my first comics advertisement running in #47 (October 1966). I began placing full page ads in The Buyer's Guide For Comics Fandom #3 in 1970 or so, back when it was published by Alan Light.

I attended my first convention at 14, riding a Greyhound bus from Fremont, Nebraska to Houston, Texas back in June 1967, turning 15 at this very early show. I've since set up tables and booths at well over a thousand conventions.

I am about half way to this goal of raising $18K and am not asking for charity, rather, I believe, fair exchange is no robbery. HMO Aetna canceled my health plan citing "undisclosed preexisting condition" after the surgeon asked me upon looking at my X-rays, "Ever in a vehicle accident?" and I said, "Yes," describing a van accident in which I was a passenger and which was written up in Mike Richardson's Between the Panels anecdotal encyclopedia from Dark Horse.

I'm asking each of you reading this to check out my eBay store located at...

If you find something you like, please make me a reasonable offer...which won't be turned down. There is a quarter of a million dollars worth of neat vintage comics material from 1849-1980 there, including original comic art, vintage concert posters, a few OZ first editions, and much more.

Even if you don't buy anything, it'll be fun to scroll through what I am offering as you will see some things you have never seen before. Of that I am sure. I have had fun exploring the rare and obscure for decades.

I would like to get myself healed, get back in the game, begin setting up at comics conventions nationwide as well as at my yearly treks to Angouleme and Lucca, which I used to enjoy immensely and which I wish to enjoy again.

Plus...I had been working on a rewrite of aspects of American comic book and comics strip history, a heavy duty expansion of the Victorian, Platinum era sections I have been compiling for the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide since October, 1996 every year including a third article, a definitive "Origin of the Modern Comic Book" which also has run every year.

My book will offer an in-depth origin of the Direct Sales Market, which I began compiling in the mid-1990s. I had a couple initial chapters published in Comic Book Artist #6 and #7 before I got sidetracked exploring the head waters of the Comic Book Nile, when i came across my first copy of The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck September 1842, Wilson & Co, New York City, America's first sequential art comic book.

Since then I have pretty much proved there are 1000s of comic strips in 100s of publications back in the 19th century, much less the 100s published in the decades leading to Famous Funnies #1 in 1934...which is not the first of anything, but it sure did jump start an industry, that's for sure.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far, and if the spirit moves you, check out my eBay store. Filling it is pretty much what I have been relegated to until I can get repaired.

If 200 of you reading this could buy $50 worth of neat vintage comics from me, I will reach my goal and become productive once again.

Robert Beerbohm Comic Art
PO Box 507
Fremont NE 68026
I urge the loyal legions of TOT readers to check out all the neat items Bob has for sale.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 09/01/2009 | 09/02/2009 | 09/03/2009 >>

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:

Tony's Online Tips
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

Order my book,
1000 Comic Books You Must Read.1000 Comic Books You Must Read

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