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TothPix: The Shadow

Toth. Shadow. Marker and grease pencil. 1998.

1974. Marker & pencil.

Toth's closing thoughts on The Shadow and creator Walter Gibson, drawn 12-18 months before he died at his drawing table. Look closely and I swear you can see he drew the cloak before filling it in/over with black, stripping it down to just hat and nose which reads: The Shadow.

He simplified further as he grew as an artist. We should all take the lesson.

 

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Snowboy on Whiteboard

I taught a comics & cartooning class here in Plymouth last month - had a great group of talented and engaged kids. We covered expressions, character design, story and storytelling, as well as many other drawing and comics basics. Always lotsa fun for me, and while the young artists work away I got to draw my li'l snowboy on the dry-erase board, each maybe a foot or so tall.



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TothPix - CARtoons: Love Life

Toth takes advantage of his simple gag of with a decent punchline to play with angles, action, composition, sound effects, lettering and tone in what amounts to one heckuva page!

He utilized the two-tone Craftint paper to great effect for lighting and contrast. Just take a gander at the wonderful black-spotted curves, angles and shapes Toth uses in each panel and throughout for superb page composition. Panel 5 is probably my favorite as the driver threads the needle between the two semis going opposite directions. Though the car is nearly centered in the frame, the rest of the composition is dynamic and asymmetrical, with the trucks and center line of the road in perfect perspective. I love the slight curve of the horizon line, those bold, dotted center lines shooting right us, the stark shadows on the semis, those headlights poking from the shadows. Gorgeous!

In each frame, the car is fairly small, but drawn from a different angle in each, all the details spot-on. It's evident Toth had a blast drawing this page!

Some artists love the Craftint look so much, they've developed methods to replicate the effect digitally.

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TothPix - CARtoons: Copping Out

Another super page by Toth from his mid-'60s CARtoons, collected in the now-rare One For the Road - Toth employed a less cartoony style for this one-pager, tho the sarge's face in the last panel for the punchline is comical. Great page composition here with a variety of angles to balance the page. Clever bits throughout like the badge shape for the title, the superb use of perspective (that unmarked vehicle in panel 1 - WOW!), low-angle shot for panel 3 and nice use of craft-tint board for tones and texture. Though more realistic, the drawing is still as simple as can be with so many details still there. That figure in panel 4 kills me - it could come off as awkward, but is natural as the young cop approaches the vehicle. My only complaint is the placement of the word balloon in panel 3 - no need to have placed it over the bumper of the car in panel 1. Could've/should've been placed at the bottom of the panel - plenty of room. More CARtoons next week...!

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TothPix - CARtoons: All Show, No Go

Another fun Toth page from his hot rod CARtoons from the mid-'60s -


I don't get the final gag, exactly, 'cept the decal guy is a poser/neophyte, but the characters and cartooning here are great! Toth effortlessly swings a cartoony and expressive style here, one that'd easily have fit in the pages of MAD magazine in its early heydays.

Superb movement, gesture and body language in this panel (above). The sweep of Mr. Decal's legs as he works under the hood - those folds! That short, stocky kid leaning in, toy dragster in tow. Lovely! Wonderful faces and expressions in the middle panel of the page: the dude all nonchalant with his single-tooth smile; that kid with the over-sized Harry Carrey glasses - fun! This is the kind of cartooning we'd see more and more from Toth the rest of his career - in his character designs for cartoons, his one-shot humorous strips and daily doodles. Embarrassed, the guy makes his exit in a pose that is positively Kurtzmanesque! (More here.) Even in this simple frame of three figures with no backgrounds, notice how Toth finds way to place shadows on his figures for depth, direction and design. So many sweet details: the big grin, the spastic motion lines, dangling cigarette, questions marks over Dad's head, the twisty chinstrap, and that kid and his goofy glasses! So good. More CARtoons next week...!

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Comics Man!

It's been two months since the last Intro to Comics class at MCAD, and I miss it. During that last session, some students gave me a sheet of drawings they'd done. Chan Chau kicked it off with the many moods of Mad Paul...

Most of these are more accurate than I'd like to admit.

Caroline saw me as a manga superhero:

Chan again, depicting me as a barrel-chested knight, as deluded as Don Quixote!

Brando's take:

HA! I may technically be a Baby Boomer, but I'm not quite that old. But once in a blue moon this Simon & Garfunkel fan is Feelin' Groovy.

Chan says I get this manga-like twinkle in my eye when I talk comics. I've heard this many times before, and it's even been caught on video (gotta share that someday).

Best I can figure Sugoi is a clothing outfit. What, do they sell Hawaiian shirts?!

And you can take the boy out of Chicago, but not Chicago out of the boy. Young Wisconsin cartoonist Jei sez I pronounce 'comics' thus:

Anyways, always and ever a Mid-Westerner.

Thanks, y'all! More Mad Paul comics coming soon...?

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Dead to Me

Another cartoon by an MCAD student from our class:


Heh. Actually: I liked Zombies Calling, really liked Friends With Boys, and LOVED The War at Ellsmere, by Faith Erin Hicks. ALL recommended! Apparently, Zombies Calling was to her what Dave Sim's Cerebus was to me. Cartoon by the talented Jei Gross.

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TothPix - CARtoons: Zig-Zag

So much of this blog over the last 2+ years has focused on Toth's late-'50s/early '60s Dell work, which, given the content (TV and movie adaptations) dictated a somewhat realistic approach. Only a few years later (1963-1967), Toth pulled out the stops on his cartoony side with a series of fun and footloose hot rod comics for a few titles, collected in the now-rare One For the Road. Just a quick flip through those pages and it's easy to see that Toth would've held his own along side the best of the best of the MAD crew: Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Mort Drucker, Will Elder and Harvey Kurtzman, among others. Toth displays such verve, versatility and vivaciousness in these comics, writing a good chunk of his CARtoons output, drawing in a variety of styles and approaches. And though having been paid the bare minimum, it's obvious he was having a blast, playing on paper in ways not seen again til perhaps the first chapter of his Bravo for Adventure. Here's a taste -


Fun display/title lettering, a kooky narrator hanging for the side of the page, and some wild, graphic skateboarding action! The dialogue is playful, nonsensical gibberish, a bit of boppin' beatnik poetry which leads us to a zig-zag path, scattered stars, silhouettes and sound effects. As the Beach Boys said, these comics are "Fun! Fun! Fun!"

A closer look:

Superb design here with that winding series of "S" curves and twisty figure. Toth nails the twisty figure of skateboarding Billy with an ease and natural flow that could've been in many artists' hands an awkward mess. I just love that stylized, flappy hand, the stretched folds in Billy's shirt, the twist, bend and balance of the legs and feet. All of which breaks the panel border at bottom left, leading us to the two bottom panels...

Just a joy! These comics sparkle with electricity and energy - dazzling!

More next week...!

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MCAD: Mad Paul

We'd gotten through to the mid-term of our Intro to Comics class at MCAD and my students knew where they stood. They had their grades-to-date and knew where I thought could improve, what they could work on certain areas and weaknesses for the latter half. Spring Break was a week or two later, and I figured they return for the last push refreshed, but they were exhausted! Within a week or two everyone was on track, with renewed energy for their Final Comic.

One young lady, Chan once again decided to challenge herself by doing a 20-page comic (only 4-6 pages were required). My reaction?


Somewhat skeptical, a little scared for her, a little scared of her (she'd no doubt pull it off, with panache). But she was taking a risk she'd crash and burn.

This exchange apparently kicked off a weekly cartoon she called Mad Paul Mondays, tracking the last few weeks of the semester...







Well, Chan kicked that comic's ass. Behold: Moviegoer!


I still can't believe she was unfamiliar with the work of Jaime Hernandez. Great job, Chan! Everyone did a nice job on their finals, actually.

And now, as of yesterday, it appears Mad Paul may be a series:


What, was she peeking in the window at our house last night?! Mad Paul may be a joke to Chan and her fellow students, but unfortunately for my wife and daughters he all-too-often makes an appearance here at home!

Anyway, they must miss me. I miss them, and it's only been a few weeks since the last class! Not Mad Paul - Sad Paul.  = (

There are more cartoons of me, but I gotta get this scanner up and working or replace it ASAP - then I'll post the rest.

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TothPix: Johnny Hazard covers

In the mid-'80s, Toth did a handful of covers for collections/reprints of Frank Robbins' Johnny Hazard. The first is particularly clever, in regards to concept, composition and color.


I blew out the color and most tone for the cover to #2. The colors did absolutely nothing for me, detracting from a decent action cover.


The colors for the third are better, though faulty. Cool composition and angle by Toth here.


Another action cover for the 4th. Bright, primary colors in the main, with a nice use of white and umber shadows.


All in all, Toth did justice in tribute to one of his comic strip heroes. The first volume of a new series collecting Johnny Hazard dailies is now available.

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