It’s been a busy, exciting few weeks for your friendly neighborhood Tipster-Man. I was a guest at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia and Northern Michigan’s Cherry Capital Comic Con. Nominated for a prestigious arts prize, I had to prepare a portfolio of my work.

I’ve been getting ready to launch my 2018 garage sales, my ongoing attempt to reduce my Vast Accumulation of Stuff to something I can honestly call a collection and confine to one or two rooms in my Tardis of a house. As of this writing, the stuff fills three full rooms, parts of four other rooms and three off-site storage units. My “arrgh” is definitely a cry for help.

But, as always, there are always new wonderful comics and comics-related things to delight me. Here are a trio of choice books I’ve read recently.


Let’s start with my pick of the week. The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Sara Duvall [Harry N. Abrams; $24.99] is the story of the making of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is epic history in graphic novel form and one of the most compelling comics I’ve read all year.

The Brooklyn Bridge remains an architectural marvel over a century after its completion. It was originally designed by John Augustus Roebling, but completed by his son Washington and his daughter-in-law Emily. Its story is rich with history, a tale of perseverance against the most daunting physical and political odds.

The Bridge is also a family story. John died early in the decade-and-a-half construction project. His son Washington saw the bridge to completion, even after his own bridge-related illness kept him from supervising the construction on site. Emily was his eyes and ears on the project and the conduit from which Washington led his builders. As determined as her husband and perhaps wiser, Emily is a magnificent heroine in an era where women were unlikely to wield such power. When this graphic novel is made into a movie – and it should be – the best actresses of our time will vie for the chance to play Emily.

Tomasi turns his lifelong love of “all things bridges” into what is arguably his best comics writing ever. Duvall’s art shows a great attention to historical detail and an impressive skill portraying human emotions. While I don’t have a great deal of faith in comics industry awards, I will be amazed and disappointed if The Bridge is not nominated for multiple awards.

I recommend The Bridge to anyone who loves great comics. I think it would make a great gift for comics and non-comics readers alike. That it belongs in every public and school library in the country goes without saying. Except I’m going to say it because I want to drive home how wondrous this book is.

ISBN 978-1-4197-2852-5


Batman Nightwalker

Batman: Nightwalker by New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu [Random House Books for Young Readers; $18.99] is part of the “DC Icons” series. Aimed at readers 12 and up, this novel puts a just-graduated-from-high-school Bruce Wayne against a terrorist outfit targeting Gotham City’s most elite citizens. Having just come into his inheritance, Wayne is on their list.

Unlike the mercurial young man of TV’s Gotham, Lu’s Bruce Wayne is a remarkable consistent character. He is driven and occasionally reckless, but he has a fierce dedication to justice. He is clever, compassionate and courageous. Unfortunately, those traits put him at odds with the Gotham City police when he attempts to chase one of the Nightwalkers. His circumstances keep him from suffering any serious consequences, but his community service has him mopping the floors at Arkham Asylum.

Forming a connection with a young woman inmate charged with murder who has refused to speak to the police, Bruce is recruited by the police to report on anything he might learn from their encounters. Bruce is fascinated by the brilliant and enigmatic Madeleine. But does she have feelings for him or is she merely using him to move forward the Nightwalkers agenda?

Lu’s writing is first-rate. She does a great job with Bruce and his supporting cast. Some, such as Alfred, Harvey Dent and Lucius Fox, will be recognizable to Batman fans. Others, such as classmates Dianne and Richard, Detective Draccon, and the haunting Madeleine, are fine additions to the Batman mythos.

Batman: Nightwalker is a page-turning thriller. I recommend it to fans who cherish a more realistic, sane hero than usually seen in the comic books and movies.

Also available in the “DC Icons” series: Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo and Catwoman: Soulstealer by Saran J. Mass. Coming in January 2019 will be Superman: Deathfighter by Matt de la Pena.

Batman: Nightwalker

ISBN 978-0-399-54978-6

Catwoman: Soulstealer

ISBN 978-0-399-54969-4

Wonder Woman: Warbringer

ISBN 978-0-399-54973-1



Princess Jellyfish 8

Ahiho Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish Volume 8 [Kodansha Comics; $9.99] is the penultimate volume in this utterly delightful Josei manga series about the otaku women – NEETS who refer to themselves as the “Amars” (nuns) – who live in an apartment building in Tokyo. Yeah, I know I just threw around some words than some of you will not know. Consider this a teaching moment.

Josei manga is a manga subset aimed at women in their late teens on into adulthood. Though I’m pretty obviously not a member of this demographic, I enjoy manga of this type because it emphasizes the characters and human interactions more than most battle, horror and science fiction manga.

Otaku is a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, most usually referring to their interest in anime or manga. I am otaku for so many different things that it would take an entire column to list all of them.

The acronym NEET originated in the United Kingdom and has spread to Japan and other lands. It refers to a young people who are “Not in Education, Employment or Training.” Get a job, you slackers!

Real estate developers have cast avaricious eyes on Amamizukan, the home of the Amars. To save their home, the woman decide to conquer the fashion industry with jellyfish-inspired clothing designed by the series romantic lead Tsukimi. Their knight in dazzling dresses and heels is Kuranosuke, the son of a politician who crossdresses to avoid following in his father’s footsteps.

Princess Jellyfish combines romantic comedy, political satire, pop culture and corporate intrigue. It’s one of my favorite manga ever. I recommend it to both female and male readers.

ISBN 978-1-63236-563-7

That’s all for now. I’ll be back next week with more reviews.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


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.


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


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


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 You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll be back next week with more news, views and reviews.

© 2018 Tony Isabella