McHale's Navy

Tim Conway was one of us and, by us, I mean one of so many creative people who were born in Ohio. He was born on December 15, 1933, in  Willoughby, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. He grew up in nearby Chagrin Falls. He went to Bowling Green State University. After serving in the military, he returned to Cleveland where he worked in local TV with his dear friend Ernie Anderson. Locally, Anderson is revered for his hosting of monster movies as Ghoulardi. Nationally, he was the voice of ABC.

Most people probably remember Conway for playing Ensign Parker on McHale’s Navy or as the guy who constantly cracked up Harvey Korman on The Carol Burnett Show. He was one of the funniest people in the known universe. A writer and producer, he starred as Dorf in sports comedy films. He voiced Barnacle Boy in SpongeBob SquarePants. In his career he won six Primetime Emmy Awards, four were awarded for The Carol Burnett Show, including one for writing.

Conway was a brilliant performer and, judging from everything I’ve seen, a wonderful human being. He appeared in comic books, such as adaptations of McHale’s Navy and the short-lived Rango. Some of the movies he appeared in were also adapted for comics. It’s the comics connection that has me thinking about something today.

Adaptations and continuations of movies and TV series have never been completely absent from the comic books. These days, there are several dozen such comic books, albeit mostly featuring movies and TV series that fall into the general categories of fantasy, horror and science fiction. DC Comics has even done comics based on shows based on their characters. Ouroboros in action.

Where are the cop shows, the legal dramas, the medical dramas and the life-action situation comedies? Would The Big Bang Theory have succeeded as a comic-book series? Law and Order Special Victims Unit? The Good Fight? Grey’s Anatomy? Have the logistics for doing
such adaptations gotten too complicated?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. Heck, I don’t even know if I’d want to read or write such comics. Okay, I could sort of see myself writing Adventures of Trevor Noah or Adventures of Rachel Maddow in modernized versions of what DC Comics used to do with Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis. But, as you’ve surely realized by now, I’m not entirely right in the head.

So I’ll leave it at this. Tim Conway brought a lot of entertainment to a lot of people, myself included. I thank him for that.

Moving on to this week’s reviews…


I was just blown away when an online friend sent me the signature edition of Zagor: The Lost World by Mauro Boselli with artwork by Michele Rubini [Epicenter Comics; $29.99]. Weighing in at over 250 mostly black-and-white pages, this hardcover book is a bargain at its thirty-buck price tag.

Zagor is an adventurer and a protector whose stories take place in  the first half of the 18th century. His nom de guerre comes from a tribal name meaning “The Spirit with the Hatchet.” His strength is superhuman, as are his agility, endurance and speed. He could give Doc Savage and Tarzan the fight of their lives.

Patrick Welling is his real name and, although he’s considered to be a western hero, his daring deeds usually involve science fiction and horror. Popular in Italy, Zagor is even more popular in Serbia,  Croatia and Turkey.

The Lost World is an exciting adventure involving a hidden plateau  filled with cavemen and dinosaurs. Yes, you’ve heard that before. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote it back in the day. Inspired by that Doyle thriller, Boselli makes this more a quest to find a missing friend and a tale of survival. It’s filled with action, danger and humor. Rubini is a master at drawing all those things.

Though The Lost World isn’t the earliest Zagor adventure, or even the first to be published in the U.S., it’s a good starting point for the series. I recommend it highly.

ISBN 978-1-942592-25-9


My pick of the week is Imperfect: A Story of Body Image by Dounya Awada with art by Miralti Firmansyah, colors by Fahriza Kamaputra and lettering by Tyler Smith. Just published by Zuiker Press, this hardcover graphic novel retails for $12.99.

Formed by the husband-and-wife team of Michelle and Anthony Zuiker,  the press publishes graphic novels that bring the personal stories and voices of its young authors to the forefront so that they might share their life experiences with their peers. Awada’s tale is the fourth in the series and the best one to date.

Body image issues plagued the young woman, leading her to unhealthy eating habits on both ends of the disorder. When she relates what she went through and how she nearly died, it hits home harder than the previous books in the series. Indeed, some of the things Dounya goes through are terrifying. Awada has a distinctive and powerful voice. Comics could use more of her voice. I hope Awada has more to offer our art form and other stories to tell.

Firmansyah’s art and storytelling are as powerful as the writing. Kamaputra’s colors are lovely, never distracting from the story and adding a greater reality to it. Smith’s lettering is easy to read, which is what lettering should be. This is a great-looking graphic novel and worthy of consideration for next year’s awards.

ISBN 978-1-947378-07-0

Uncle Scrooge

IDW’s Disney comic books are inconsistent. Sometimes, they are kind of blah. Sometimes, they are merely readable. But, sometimes, and these are the Disney comics I live for, they are crazy, exciting and wildly imaginative.

Fausto Vitaliano’s Uncle Scrooge: My First Millions, which I read as four individual issues, was a hoot and a half from the story of how the title character made his first million to the tale of how he made his fourth. Grandma Duck’s enormous and doubtless delicious pie prevented us from learning how Scrooge made his fifth million. I would have skipped dessert for that adventure.

Those four issues have been collected in a just-released softcover edition [IDW Publishing; $17.99]. Scrooge makes his first million as a prospector. After that, it gets insane. Trading in eggplant and peppers futures. Building a coast-to-coast railroad. Hosting a super bowl. Making movies. Building cities. It may not be history as we know it, but it’s hilarious.

Vitaliano’s saga bounces across incredible and ridiculous twists in Scrooge’s path. It takes four terrific artists: Marco Mazzarello, Paolo Mottura, Stefano Intini and Giampaolo Soldati. Each of these artists brings vibrant movement and personality to their artwork. Kudos must also go to Disney Italia for the coloring, Tom B. Long for the lettering and Erin Brady for the translation and dialogue.

My First Millions is recommended for all ages.

ISBN 978-1684054572

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

© 2019 Tony Isabella