TONY’S TIPS #258

I’ve started charging for my signature on comics and other things I’ve written. My first signature is free and additional signatures cost a mere $2 per item. If you buy items from my convention table, I’ll sign those items for free.

In addition to covering hotel, meals and travel expenses, I’ve also started charging an appearance fee to most conventions and events. It’s not an inconsequential fee, but it is inexpensive compared to what many other guests receive.

Why am I doing this? Because the fans have shown a willingness to pay far more for signatures from movie, television and wrestling celebrities and barely celebrities, and because the conventions and other events now routinely pay appearance fees to such celebrities and barely celebrities. But that’s only a partial answer.

My main reason for charging these appearance and signature fees is because I want the money. There are a great many projects I want to create before I kick the bucket. It would be swell if I had a cadre of editors and publishers lining up to bring these works to the marketplace, but that’s not the case. In lieu of that, I’m hoping to finance the projects by making more money from the conventions I attend and the books I sign.

If a fan doesn’t want to pay for that second signature, I have no problem with their decision. I mean, I might be a tad disappointed in them if they have just shelled out $40 for a signed photo of some guy who plays a background zombie on TV and won’t pay for my signature. But I won’t hold it against them.

If a convention or event doesn’t want to pay my appearance fee, I’m not going to get upset with them either. From the decades I worked on my friend Roger Price’s Mid-Ohio-Con, I know putting on events is a demanding, expensive proposition. If the budget doesn’t have room for me, I understand that. But, odds are, this means I won’t be attending their convention. I’ll stay home and either relax or work. It’s all good for me.

Sooner rather than later, I think most comics creators will come to the same place I am today. Many already have. As for the fans, I’m hoping they will understand the realities of our changing world and continue to support us. Thank you.

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This week’s pick of the week is Batman ’66 Meets Steed & Mrs. Peel by Ian Edginton with artist Matthew Dow Smith [DC Comics; $16.99]. Dismayed by the utter soul-crushing bleakness of the Batman movies and most of the Batman comics books, I found myself increasingly drawn to lighter Batman adventures such as those found in various animated series, comic books based on those series, the mid-1960s Batman TV series and, of course, the recent series of comic books based on it. I have a new appreciation for the charming camp of the TV series and absolutely love the Batman ‘66 comics.

After 30 issues of Batman ‘66 and a special issue presenting a lost script written by Harlan Ellison and adapted to comics by Len Wein, DC switched over to mini-series teaming the Caped Crusaders with other legends of that era: Green Hornet, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Wonder Woman and, from across the Atlantic, the avenging Steed and Mrs. Peel. They had me from the get-go.

A Catwoman jewel heist leads to a bigger case involving Batman’s aristocratic antagonist Lord Ffogg and the mechanical Cybernauts who vexed Steed and Peel on more than one occasion. Edginton nails all of the characters in a story filled with action, surprises and a healthy dose of British charm and wit. Smith is less ceratin with his visualizations of the characters, but not so much that is hurts the series. The six-issue series is great fun and I recommend it to all looking for a more friendly Batman.

ISBN 978-1-4012-7384-2

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Founders Fandom

Historian and author Bill Schelly has again turned his attention to fans in Bill Schelly Talks with the Founders of Comic Fandom Volume One [Pulp Hero Press; $17.95]. It was in the 1960s that comic-book fans began to form the community that has grown larger with every passing year. In this book, Schelly interviewed six of the founders of that fandom. His subjects:

Richard and Pat Lupoff, the science fiction fans whose fanzine Xero ran nostalgic articles on the comics of the 1940s by themselves, Don Thompson, Richard Kyle, Roy Thomas and others.

Jerry Bails, the “Father of Comic Book Fandom” and the creator of Alter Ego, CAPA-alpha (the first amateur press association devoted to comic books), the first comics newszine and the first comics adzine.

Ronn Foss, legendary fan artist who followed Bails as the editor as many of the Bails-created fanzines.

Richard “Grass” Green, creator of countless comics for fanzines and underground comics and the most prominent black member of comics fandom in its formative years.

John Benson, the scholarly interviewer of comics greats like Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman and Gil Kane, as well as a noted author and editor. Squa Tront, the beloved EC Comics fanzine, was his fanzine.

Schelly may well be our greatest comics fandom historian. If you’re interested in that subject, you’ll want this book and the volumes to follow.

ISBN 978-1683901198

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Star Wars Thrawn

Though the Star Wars Universe has grown too vast for me to really comprehend, Marvel’s Star Wars comic books continue to be old man friendly and entertaining. Their opening pages contain enough info to give me a leg-up into the stories with those stories themselves being relatively self-contained.

Star Wars: Thrawn #1-2 [$4.99 and $3.99, respectively) introduced me to a character first seen in Star Wars novels by Timothy Zahn. Thrawn is from “an unnamed planet in wild space, beyond the outer rim in the unknown regions.” A cunning strategist and warrior, he places himself in the service of the Galactic Empire and begins his rise to power within those ranks.

I can’t say I like Thrawn – after all, he’s a willing member of an evil empire – but I find him fascinating. I don’t know what his end game might be, but I enjoyed these first two issues and am looking forward to future issues.

Kudos to writer Jody Houser, who always delivers fine scripts, and artist Luke Ross, an equally fine artist and storyteller. If I see their names on a comic book, I read it. ‘Nuff said!

If you’d like to comment on this week’s column, you can e-mail me at tonyisa@ohio.net. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll be back next week with more news, views and reviews.

© 2018 Tony Isabella