Friday, December 22, 2006

The Return of Tony Isabella

I’ve been reading those Marvel Essential volumes lately that deal with the various horror series of the seventies. You know, GHOST RIDER, SON OF SATAN, MAN-THING, TALES OF THE ZOMBIE, etc. Back in the day, some of these were among my favorite comics. MAN-THING by Steve Gerber was a particular favorite. Gerber’s bizarre imagination was growing in leaps and bounds right before the reader’s eyes, culminating in the classic GIANT SIZE MAN-THING # 4 story "The Kid’s Night Out." After all these years, I still remember that as one of the most disturbing stories I have ever read in a comic. I had a chance to tell Gerber this not long after its original publication as he was the guest of honor at the very first Cincinnati Comic Book Convention. He thanked me for the compliment. That story is NOT in the current Essential volume however and the Gerber stories that are now seem just dated and preachy. His Simon Garth ZOMBIE stories do, too, although I now have an appreciation for Pablo Marcos art I never really had when I was younger. Likewise the Gary Friedrich tales where the author consistently mixes up variations of modern witchcraft with satanism. Some of my best friends are devout witches and I can assure you they don’t even believe in Satan (and I’m gonna delete any comments that say he believes in them. Heard it before!)
Whar DOES hold up in each of these volumes are stories by our blogger friend Tony Isabella. At the time both writing and editing for Marvel, his GHOST RIDER stories are entertaining and more than just a constant variation on the theme of the cowboy cyclist versus the Devil. His "Simon Garth Lives" story is the most entertaining ZOMBIE story and a fitting finale to that series and even his one appearance with a MAN-THING story seems fresher and less dated than Gerber’s!
Newly 55, Tony announced today that he plans on a full-time return to writing in the new year. I couldn’t be more excited. He has a love of comics and heroes and perhaps most of all an appreciation of standards that most writers in comics today don’t have and it shows. Having written mostly non-fiction columns, a few novels and most recently dialogued some foreign duck stories (which I’m sure is NOT as easy as it may sound!), no doubt Tony has a backlog of creative ideas I can’t wait to see in action. Happy birthday, my friend and welcome back! We’ll be watching for your return and anything you write will always have a place here at the Library.

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