This is the last week I’ll be playing up the “great holiday gift” aspect of my reviews. If you haven’t done all your shopping by next week’s column, then you’re probably going to be stuck with whatever the red light specials are at Kmart.

I bought myself an early birthday/Christmas gift last month. Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition [Fantagraphics; $74.99] is a glorious, two volumes in a slipcase collection of the entire Fantagraphics run of Stan Sakai’s wonderful stories of a rabbit ronin in feudal Japan. These two volumes have well over a thousand pages of comics plus lots of cool extras. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #138”



My pick of the week is Trashed by Derf Backderf [Abrams; $18.85]. Backderf is the bestselling author of My Friend Dahmer. His  latest graphic novel is “an ode to the crap job of all crap jobs” and is based on Derf’s personal experiences as a garbage collector. It’s an entertaining, informative combo of real-life situations filtered through fiction and downright scary facts about the amount of trash humans have been creating for decades and continue to create every day of our lives.

Virtually every character in Trashed is off in some way. Some are quirky, such as the garbage collector who collects old pianos that are discarded by their former owners. Others are just trying to get through soul-crushing jobs. A few are jerks whose purpose in life seems to be to take bad situations and make them worse. What they have in common is that, at least as Derf presents them, they will fascinate you. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #137”



Christmas is a big deal at Casa Isabella. The family works hard at coming up with those great gifts for each other. Beyond my wife and kids, I also enjoy spreading the gospel of comics while spreading holiday good cheer to friends, neighbors and more distant members of our family. Maybe I’m something of a zealot, but I am convinced you can find a comics gift for virtually every person on your gift list. For example…

Have a friend or relative who fought in or lived through World War II? If they were young enough during those war years, odds are good they read at least some comic books. Comic books were easy to carry around and relatively cheap. They were perfect for an audience that had to curb its spending in other areas. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #136”



My professional relationship with Marvel’s Iron Fist has been slim. I wrote three issues of Marvel Premiere back in the 1970s, issues notable only for my atrocious attempt to write Batroc the Leaper’s French accent and the momentous, however brief, creation a d first appearance of Misty Knight. I also wrote a fill-in issue of Power Man and Iron Fist titled “O Deadly Debutante,” of which I remain fond to this day. I haven’t kept with Iron Fist aka Danny Rand in recent years, save for being amused and entertained by his youthful variation in the current Ultimate Spider-Man cartoons on Disney XD. That Danny is a pleasant chap. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #135”