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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Monday, December 11, 2006

All American Comics 16

The last couple weeks have been tough to handle. Jerry Bails. Dave Cockrum. And now the sad news MARTY NODELL has passed away. He was the creator of the original Green Lantern in the early '40s. He drew many stories for DC Comics and some for other publishers. At Marvel, he drew Golden Age adventures of Captain America, the Human Torch, and Sub-Mariner. After that, he went into advertising and, by all accounts, had a very successful career which including leading the time which created the Pillsbury Doughboy. He retired, started going to comics conventions, and became a familiar and most welcome guest at those events.

I've had a chance to read some of the tributes to Marty that have already appeared online...and every one of them mentions what a terrifically nice guy he was. I can't add much to that. It was always good to see Marty and, before she passed away in 2004, his wife Carrie at conventions. It was good to see their son Spence at those shows. The Nodells were a beautiful, loving family and they added their special warmth to every event they attended.

I'm gonna miss seeing Marty at the shows, just I miss seeing Carrie and so many other dear members of the comics community. We never had enough time with them.

On an even more personal note, while you're keeping Marty in your thoughts and prayers, I would ask you to do the same for FRED GUZZO, my uncle, who passed away over the weekend at the damnably too young age of 60. He was married to my aunt, Kathy Rocco; they met at Sts. Philip and James Elementary School and they always the cutest couple in the room, any room.

Fred was a federal judge. He was a fair and compassionate man and it showed in his work. He took a shot at an elected judgeship, but it wasn't right for him. He was too nice a guy for politics. But he was appointed-for-life to a judgeship and discharged his duties commendably. He was appointed one of two immigration judges in Ohio and just completed his training for that position. It's a real loss that he never got to fulfill that appointment. He would have added a comforting humanity to what is an oft-unmerciful area of the law.

Everybody loved Fred. He was like this big teddy bear you got to play with at family gatherings. He was vacationing in Florida with Kathy and other family members over the weekend. Hours before the heart attack that took him, he had delighted in the fireworks display at Walt Disney World. While there's something unforgivably wrong about losing a man like Fred, there's something very fitting that death came for him at such a happy place.

Fred brought the happy with him wherever he went.

I don't much feel like writing any more right now, so, instead I'm going to share with you an e-mail with you I received from my good friend JOHN PETTY. I'm not running it because he says so many nice things about my work. I'm running it because I think we need to be reminded to make that effort to let folks - in comics and in our lives - know how much they mean to us.

John wrote:

It was with great sadness that I heard about the death of Dave Cockrum yesterday. As I'm sure you're very well aware, Dave was one of the Great Good Guys in this industry. I had the pleasure of meeting him several times throughout the years and always found him to be friendly, charming, generous and kind. He will be missed.

Dave's death, however, is not the purpose of this e-mail. His passing made me realize that, all too often, we save our words of appreciation for memorials, when it's far too late to do the subject any good. Would that we could be a bit more forward thinking and say those things in time for them to have some real meaning.

In that spirit, I want to let you know how much I've enjoyed your work over the years. Comics were more than just entertainment to me growing up; they were a gateway to even greater things, like literature and poetry and art and drama. Writers like you gave me a love of, and a deep appreciation for, the written word which continues unabated to this day. From you, I got a love of reading, and a love of literature without even knowing it. I learned (mostly through osmosis at the time) the essence of good storytelling and the meaning of heroism. I loved THE CHAMPIONS and IT and GHOST RIDER and BLACK LIGHTNING and CAPTAIN AMERICA, and reread them to this day. I've had THE CHAMPIONS and IT bound into hardcover, and am working on the others. They remain well-crafted, readable stories that are a joy to delve into again and again. Far from the "disposable entertainment" that comics were created to be, this work stands the test of time and has been my companion for many years.

I don't mean any of this to sound too maudlin or over the top, but you and the other creators of your generation gave me a great gift, and I feel it's appropriate to say "thank you." I've enjoyed meeting you and wish you have many, many more years of success and creativity.

Thank you, John, from the bottom of my heart...and thanks to all the TOT readers for spending a part of their day with me. We all could use some happy, so, for my next column and for as many columns as it takes after that, I'm going to share my memories of this year's Mid-Ohio-Con. See you next Monday.

Tony Isabella

<< 12/08/2006 | 12/11/2006 | 12/18/2006 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined.

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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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