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TothPix

A blog series with analysis and appreciation of my favorite comic book artist, Alex Toth.
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Toth Zorro Cover

The 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.

toth_zorro_cover_cropCropped original art.

Complete_Alex_Toth_Zorro_color_lowres Color version of the cover as published. The entire background was intended and printed as a extreme deep purple, but shows in the scan as black, alas.

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Black & white original art of the full cover.

 

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TothPix: If I Were King

I 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. king1_clean king2_clean king3_clean king4_clean king5_clean king6_clean

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TothPix: Self Portrait

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I cleaned up this great self portrait Toth did on the back of one his many handwritten notes to a fan/fellow artist. He sez:

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TothPix: Safecracker

I 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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!

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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!

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TothPix: Captain Marvel Profile

toth_cap-marvel_profile-tone From an artist known for his stark chiaroscuro imagery, a study in subtlety.

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TothPix: Poster

I 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...? tothquotezorro_blog

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TothPix: Aladdin

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One of my favorite Toth illustrations, from a never used filmstrip for Mattel, featuring Aladdin.

Wow.

Scanned from the signed and numbered Alex Toth book from Kitchen Sink and Manuel Auad (1995).

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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.

UnHeart01

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!

UnHeart02 UnHeart03

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.

UnHeart04

Snarky stud:UnHeart05

On the beach:UnHeart06

Glasses again:UnHeart07

UnHeart12

More bit players - face shapes and features!UnHeart08 UnHeart09

In a switcheroo later, this big doofus ends up being the slimeball of the piece:

UnHeart10

UnHeart11

UnHeart16

What's not to like about this bellhop kid?  I love everything about this drawing:

UnHeart13

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Ain't that that truth?! More bits & pieces:

UnHeart15

UnHeart17

UnHeart18

And Eve ends up in lowly Chris's arms after all...

UnHeart19

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TothPix: Sandman

Toth's tribute to Bert Christman's Golden Age Sandman:

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I cropped and rotated the above image, from Toth's original drawing, which I find busy, due to the background pattern. This piece was scanned from the rare book, Toth: Black & White (1999).

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TothPix: Foxes!

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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.

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Sketches:

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And a few small sketches of Toth's revamped Fox...

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Let us conclude, wot?