That makes more sense.
Using the below I got it to display the image ‘alt’ tag
<div class="post-image"> <?php if ( ! is_singular() ) : ?> <a href="<?php the_permalink();?>" title="<?php $thumb_id = get_post_thumbnail_id(get_the_ID()); $alt = get_post_meta($thumb_id, '_wp_attachment_image_alt', true); if(count($alt)) echo $alt; ?>"><?php the_post_thumbnail(); ?></a> <?php endif; ?></div>'
cut, paste, nailed from here lest anyone think I actually know what I’m doing.
Unfortunately I think I may be tossing myself down a rather large rabbit hole. Now that I got what I want, I see that
disabling featured image in the blog plug-in disables it below the header as well
clicking the image pulls up/links to the blog entry and not the lightbox
once it is clicked, it pulls up the blog entry, and on that page (single?) both featured images disappear
I kind of see where the link to the blog entry is coming from, so I think I can get around that fairly easy, but from what I can see, the featured image code almost all comes in from the blog plug-in.
I think the simpler solution may be to keep comic-easel and figure out how to get the post meta to show in the custom entries. This may also be a better route for other people as well.