Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"
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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Tuesday, June 15, 2010
It's EVERETT TRUE TUESDAY here at TOT Central!
My Everett True cartoons have been greeted with such positive response that I'm going to continue reprinting them every Tuesday throughout the summer. My readers get to enjoy these blasts from the past while I gain a few additional hours each week to enjoy my final summer before Sainted Wife Barb and I become "empty nesters" in the fall. It's a win-win.
Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter was a frequent subject of my late 1980s Everett True cartoons. In retrospect, I feel just a little bad about that. He was too easy a target.
Shooter accomplished a great deal of good during his years in the top spot. Many creators benefitted from policies he initiated. Many great comic books were published on his watch. But there was an arrogance and an ego to the man that did equal damage to Marvel and to his career.
My anger over Shooter rewriting the last issue of my two-year Ghost Rider run, a story that had been approved every step of the way by three previous editors-in-chief, has been documented on several occasions. Just on that basis, maybe I shouldn't have used him in Everett True as often as I did. On the other hand, he was that easy target and I was facing weekly deadlines.
When he was a teenager writing for DC Comics, Shooter did some terrific work. When he came to Marvel, his "epics" seemed to all be cut from the same basic plot: some arrogant being with supreme power gets undone by lesser creatures who don't appreciate that he was making the world/universe a better place. It's as if Shooter saw betrayal around every corner. It was sad.
His behind-the-scenes attempts to grab power at Marvel ended his career there. He did some good work at Valiant, both writing and editing, before that went ugly for him as well. These days, he is writing Magnus and Solar again and, while the previews of these relaunches didn't thrill me, I hope this new gig works out for him. There should be room in comics for guys like him.
The above cartoon was drawn by Gary Dumm and appeared in the September 26, 1986 issue of Comics Buyer's Guide.
The above cartoon appeared in the January 31, 1986 edition of CBG. It was penciled by Ed Wesolowski, a young artist who worked in the downtown Cleveland comic-book store I owned and operated, and inked by Gary Dumm.
Though no Secret Wars III ever materialized, it wasn't long before Shooter gave me a new easy target...
The "New Universe" was Shooter's attempt to establish himself as some sort of new Stan Lee. The concept was kind of interesting - the real world one second after the arrival of the fantastic on our planet - but the execution of that concept and some less than thrilling launch titles had the New Universe on the ropes from its earliest issues.
The first New Universe release was Star Brand #1, dated October, 1986. I don't think there was much available information about the NU when I wrote this cartoon in February of 1986, which might explain why I went for the "new/nude" joke.
Penciled by Wesolowski and inked by Dumm, this cartoon ran in the April 18, 1986 edition of CBG.
This one was personal. Myself and the other comics retailers in my neck of the woods weren't sure how to order the New Universe titles. Most had lots of unsold copies of Secret Wars II in their bargain bins.
I ordered more of Star Brand #1 than I did of the other titles, but that was because my customers really liked John Romita, Jr.'s art. I ordered conservatively on the rest of the NU titles, but not conservatively enough. I sold more copies of Archie and Richie Rich than I did of the NU titles. Even Star Brand never really took off in my store, though it did pick up in sales when John Byrne wrote and drew it.
Penciled by Wesolowski and inked by Dumm, this cartoon ran in the June 6, 1986 edition of CBG.
Star Brand turned out to be Marvel's third - let's be kind and call it homage - version of DC's Green Lantern. It followed Doctor Spectrum and Nova. Spectrum was a member of the Squadron Supreme, which was Marvel's version of the Justice League, so I wasn't too upset about him. It took Nova a couple revivals, but he eventually turned into an interesting character. But the only thing unusual about Ken Connell, the first of several characters to wear the Star Brand, was that he was an asshat of the first order. Even before Byrne worked his vengeful magic on the character, Connell was about the most unlikeable hero around. That he bore so many similarities to creator Jim Shooter is a psychological puzzle for someone other than yours truly to suss out.
Ed Wesolowski penciled and inked this cartoon, which appeared in the August 29, 1986 edition of CBG.
Several TOT readers have posted the dreaded phrase "Complete Everett True" since I started reprinting these cartoons. It would be a major undertaking to put together such a volume.
I'm not even sure how many Everett True cartoons I wrote. In addition to Everett's appearances in CBG, I also wrote cartoons for Movie Collector's World, Amazing Heroes, and The Comics Journal. It would be a daunting task to track down all those cartoons, organize them, and then write something about how each of them came to be. If I were to get into self-publishing my work, I don't think such a book would be a good start for me.
I will happily consider any and all offers from publishers who would be interested in such a collection. Maybe we can work out a deal that works for both of us.
In the meantime...
Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
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Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined.
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THE "TONY" SCALE
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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