Toth Zorro CoverThe original cover of Toth's Zorro Volume 1, published by Eclipse (1988). Most of the stories ain't much, but the work and storytelling is top notch. And the Introduction by Howard Chaykin is worth the price of admission itself.
Black & white original art of the full cover.
TothPix: If I Were KingI cleaned and remastered this sweet Toth story as best I could. Most copies are pretty yellowed. This ran in Sorcery #9 (Red Circle, October, 1974). There's not much to the story, although something could have been done with the concept - here it's pretty rote. As usual with these Toth stories, the genius is in the drawing and in the telling.
TothPix: SafecrackerI grabbed and cleaned up some choice panels from an obscure four-page back-up story from Roy Rogers #111 (1957), about a kid who locks himself accidentally in a vault. A Texas ranger has tracked down a dude long on a run, who exposes his true identity by breaking the kid out using his lock-picking skills. Of course, the ranger let's him off. What guy! Even with this short knock-off story, Toth, as usual displays his superb storytelling chops - varying the shots between close-ups, mid- and long shots, changing the POV, staging, cropping and composition, no-nonsense drawing and expert characterization. Here's a great close-up, a partial profile from slightly below, the panel split in two. Actually, the word balloon breaks up the half-and-half composition, while avoiding a tangent. In this next, the ranger meets with the lock-picker dude. Notice the tilt of the heads, the naturalistic placement and rendering of hands. Toth spots his blacks great here, in an unassuming manner, and places a lantern in the foreground for depth. As the two guys head into town, he shows us what we need to follow the story - the town, the main players, the crowd) but also love the way the lock-picker leans from his horse, the tilt of the guy's head looking up, his gesture to the crowd. That post in the foreground helps again with depth, as well as the shadow on the horse. Our three dudes move in, seen here in the distance framed by silhouettes. And the overhead shot let's us know where everyone is, who's doing what. Nice stuff. Inside, the lock-picker has a decision to make - save the kid and expose his true identity, to shut up. He gets to work, Toth enhancing the drama with a low-angle POV (right). Then, in the most compelling shots of the piece, he gets us right in there with the lock-picker as he does his stuff. We're in so tight, one can almost hears the tiny clicks, feel the subtle turns of the dial. The cropping makes us focus on the hand and the dial. Dang, this is so good! Then the little tyke is saved, and the lock-picker earns his freedom. All in a day's work for a ranger - and the brilliant Alex Toth!
TothPix: PosterI put this together in February, probably for class, and have seen it pop up elsewhere online. Some have suggested it should be a poster - perhaps I can make it available through tothfans.com? I wouldn't do it without the permission of the Toth family, and if we can use Zorro - I've been reading lately he may be public domain...?
TothPix: Character Types and Body Language
Toth was awfully good at varying his character types, making them distinct, yet universal. And the body language he employed tells us more about each character and is integral to his visual storytelling. I captured and isolated a batch of images from his Romance comic, Undecided Heart (Intimate Love 21, 1953). At the time he drew this, he was 24.
For the splash panel, Toth uses unorthodox positioning and clever overlap (above) to focus attention on the heroine, and to convey her distress.
Unwelcome potential suitors (below) - a great opportunity to design and draw interesting bit players. Just look at those face shapes and features!
Sans glasses, and with a new hair do, Eve cleans up nicely. Toth trained early for these female profiles by tracing and copying his Mother's drawings.
In a switcheroo later, this big doofus ends up being the slimeball of the piece:
What's not to like about this bellhop kid? I love everything about this drawing:
Ain't that that truth?! More bits & pieces:
And Eve ends up in lowly Chris's arms after all...
TothPix: SandmanToth's tribute to Bert Christman's Golden Age Sandman:
TothPix: Foxes!Yes, lets! Here's some of Toth's take on The Fox, the hero first drawn by Irwin Hasen. These first few are panels from the comics Toth drew for Red Circle in 1983.
And a few small sketches of Toth's revamped Fox...