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Tag: Clint and Mac

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TothPix: Clint and Mac part 10

Nearing the end of Alex Toth's Clint & Mac. For context, and/or to check out the story in its entirety, visit Michael Sporn's splog.

A single panel comprises the top tier of page 27, a nice shot, almost entirely in silhouette, the boat and all players hiding beneath the dock. I desaturated this because the coloring isn't good and the effect of the searchlights in the background come across more. Other than minor rimlighting all is in shadow, save what is backlit by the lights. Between the swaths of light, Toth rendered those areas with crosshatch.

After a slap to the face, Toby's had enough and strikes back against the bully, Smith. Action! Toth uses motion lines at the point of contact and to indicate Smith is reeling, but otherwise the motion is conveyed by the sweep of a scarf, the flow of jackets, and a cigarette dangling in the air. Though he uses comics techniques and tricks and that vibrant sound effect, the drawing is naturalistic, but not nearly static. Toth's use of shadow and spotting black solidify the figures and action, adding depth and weight.


There's a lot crammed into the next panel, but it all works. Toby's imposing figure looming over the fallen Smith, Clint & Mac and the Skip in the background.
The boat is on the move again, now with Toby in charge. What a wonderful 3/4 overhead view, the composition defined by wake as the boat slices through the dark waters. There's an illustrative touch here again, with the wake bleeding into an open border of the panel. All details of the ship, now from another angle are spot on, the water rendered with impressionistic virtuosity.



Atop the next page, Toby is in control as they head out to sea.


A nice shot of Toby, underlit, finishes off the page. What an expression! What a character!

I'll wrap up Clint and Mac next week. Be here next Tuesday for the fireworks!

In the meantime catch up on other Clint & Mac installments or the 80+ Toth posts I've done the last two years for TothPix.

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TothPix: Clint and Mac part 9

More great stuff from the next pages of Alex Toth's Clint & Mac. For context, and/or to read the story in its entirety, visit Michael Sporn's splog. Top tier of page 25. The first panel is a 3/4 overhead shot. Of course, the perspective is spot on, the two figures placed properly, also in perspective. The shadows add depth, mass, drama, and lead the viewer's eye. Smith's face is obscured by his hat and shadow. Just behind Smith is the small corridor where the boys had crawled to cut the line. In the following frame, the Skipper discovers the boys, who've been hiding in the locker. Most of this frame is in shadow - more drama! Smith takes a look, and we see him from inside the locker, behind and framed by the boys in silhouette. Extreme cropping in the next panel, by borders and word balloons. Though the close-up and hovering Smith convey danger, they frame and direct our attnetion to Clint & Mac. Toth continues to move us around, in and out of the ship, varying angles for interest, establishing who's where, when. In panel 5, Toby and Smith are obscured by the silhouette of the skipper's foot and the ladder. All three bad guys take a secondary position to Clint and Mac and their plight. That's further developed in the final panel, with Smith shown from behind, separating and dividing the boys as their led to the bunks in the cabin. Though in a different environment, this shot is a 180 from panel 3. Cocky and resourceful throughout the story, the boys continue to plan. I love the angles and body language in these two frames. Mysterious and dark, the villains move about the ship, this time Toth cutting to a close-up of Toby making his way down the ladder. With the characters and ship well-established, this type of shot is atypical for most artists but not unusual for Toth. In this case, it adds to the feeling of danger and claustrophobia. More of that in the facing panel, but from a different angle as the Skip closes the hatch. God, I love this shot! Great angles, composition, spotting of blacks, shadows on objects and figure. That the skipper is cropped and obscured by his tilt of head directs attention to his action and the voice coming from the galley. Next page, frame 1. I wish I could concoct and construct a picture with such apparent ease and sophisticated design as Toth does here. The varied shapes, black areas, bold curve of the tunnel, perspective and car details - wonderful! That said, he's created a couple tangents with the top and bottom of the tunnel shadow which intersect with the top and rear of the car. Had he to do it over, I'm sure he'd move the car a tad further into the tunnel to offset those lines. Back in the boat, the boys are manhandled and silenced in this tight, cropped shot. A superb shot from below - what a stellar composition! The perspective, angles, expressions and action are so good, so natural, yet all in service to heightening the tension. Cropping is so important in Toth's work. There aren't many panels better than this to show how and why. We peer into the cabin from the entrance; an interior shot. The entrance on either side crops Toby and Clint, enhancing the action. Just look at Mac's head turned upward and away from us, drawn in so simple but effective fashion. The angle of Toby's figure in the foreground frames the rest of the panel, balancing the diagonal of Clint's shirt. Smith takes center stage here, but even his gaze and arm lead our eye to his thumb grabbing Clint's shirt. Clint's face is really the center of interest here, and go figure - way on the right side of the frame! The next and final panel of the page is a nice close-up of the skipper, looking a bit frantic as the authorities close in. We're nearing the end now. Maybe a couple more posts to finish off this story. So, more next Tuesday In the meantime, catch up on other Clint & Mac installments or the 80+ Toth posts I've done the last two years for TothPix.

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TothPix: Clint and Mac part 8

Lotsa great panels on these next two pages of Alex Toth's Clint & Mac. For context, and/or to read the story in its entirety, visit Michael Sporn's splog. Page 23 starts with a wide shot, re-establishing the characters and surroundings as Smith rejoins the fray. Same deal here with Toth placing a post in the foreground for depth and to divide the frame into thirds, the figures and vessels in mid-ground, a criss-cross web of the dock behind. The chiaroscuro rendering of the splash and water bring energy to the panel. Positive and negative space are key here. Clint and Mac get wind of what's up above, the upturned head of Clint giving us a sense of placement and sound, even in a close-up shot with a black background. Without showing us again who's where, Toth suggest it cleverly. Back above, top deck with the three men. The POV is just below eye level of Toby and Smith, so we look up at them, then past to the skipper. Perspective, gesture, expression, composition, rendering of folds and hair, spotting of blacks - all are so well done here! I removed the color and cleaned up panel 4 as the coloring was distracting to the power and energy of this frame. With an illustrative touch, Toth leaves open portions of the sides and bottom of the frame, the negative space bleeding beyond its border. Roughly rendered (or printed) all details of the boat, dock, rigging etc. are rock solid, even while Toth draws our attention tot he serpentine rope Smith tosses, leaving the skiff behind. This panel is seriously great. The final panel of the page shows Mac frantic, Clint brandishing his pocket knife for the next action... They make their way out of the locker to the cabin, the drama heightened by Toth's choice of a low angle, the perspective shadowing and cropping used for great effect. Clint begins to cut the gas line in the next frame, the boy's head framing the point at which blade meets tubing. I love the scratchy rendering of Clint's hair and bold stripes on Mac's mac. Next are a couple unassuming panels: a close-up of gas running from the spliced tube; then a long shot from under the dock. Though striking no doubt in black and white, Toth designed his panel for color, the boat and its passengers knocked with a simple outline. Panel 5 is another shot from below eye level, Smith threatening but casual, an effect conveyed and enhanced by how he dominated the frame, the folds in his jacket (suggesting his left hand in pocket) and the slight cock of his head. Toth is nailing it with every panel here: perspective, cropping, loosely-rendered details of the gun and ship, facial expressions and wisps of smoke. Gad, this man makes it look easy! It ain't. As if the previous frames weren't impressive enough, for the final panel of page 24, Toth places Smith in the extreme foreground, with a POV from above, looking down from overhead to the Skipper in the cabin. Man, what a shot! Some challenge his claims, but this is done so naturally I can believe Toth achieved shots like this without reference. Staggering. More next week. In the meantime catch up on other Clint & Mac installments or the 80+ Toth posts I've done the last two years for TothPix.

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TothPix: Clint and Mac part 5

Time for more Clint & Mac as drawn by Alex Toth! As always, you can refer to and read the story in its entirety at Michael Sporn's splog.

From the top tier of page 16, a very sweet illustration by Toth, and a wonderful comic book panel. There's not much to the rendering in this frame, but it creates an impression, with simple lines, dots and dashes - all the details we need are there. The trees bleed into a mass of green, the building a series of steps slitting the middle to frame the limo. Again, he knows his cars. I love the sharp slashes of shadow on the road in the foreground - Toth kept in mind the high sun in the sky so the shadows fall on the surface in proper perspective.

In the middle tier, Toth does plenty. The POV just below eye level, we see on the left indications of the dock and harbor; on the right a man entering the warehouse. Clint & Mac hide behind a stack of boxes in the center, but the main points of interest are offset and not nearly center frame.  This make for a dynamic and interesting composition. Lotsa little details, that help establish the environment, all without distracting: post; rope; rigging; ship; flag; handtruck and tag; hanging lights in the warehouse, etc.

In facing panels on the bottom tier the boys peer through a gate to a pier and boat, which is central to the next several pages.

Kicking off page 17 is a set of two top tier panels. Of a piece, they're drenched in black, the figure dissolving into the shadows, the only light source being the flashlight. Very moody and cinematic, these frames have an illustrator's touch with some hatching for tone and texture and clever, effective coloring - only two colors utilized. But these are not illustrations, but pure comics, great compositions - all about telling the story.

Toth uses plenty of page-space for the next shot under the dock as the two make their way to the skiff. A moody dramatic shot, the boys are shown in silhouette amidst a maze of posts, joists, rails and decking. The perspective is solid, yet Toth found ways to create other various angles. The boat is the obvious center of interest, once again off-center, highlighted by the green.

Inside the warehouse, our heroes become one with the shadows. Cool shot. Then back outside, the boys will be trapped inside. Nice angles, perspective, balance and blackspotting.


Next week: Goons, the Scotland Yard, the Bookworm, the skiff, Toby and...the package.

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TothPix: Clint and Mac part 4

Clint & Mac drawn by Alex Toth continues this week with some fine, fine frames, and what has now become one of my favorite Toth pages ever. Just you wait. As always, you can refer to and read the story in its entirety at Michael Sporn's splog.

Topping off page 11 is a honey of a horizontal panel. Toth arranges it this way so we can read the long name of the shop, being careful not to place anything directly in the center of the frame. This is good example of a rule of thirds composition, which artists and photographers typically apply vertically. Toby with that all-important satchel fill the right third, while Clint & Mac are cropped far left, entering frame. Despite the simple set-up, Toth achieves great depth with foreground and background planes, adding details near Toby's head, with the light post and reflections in the upper window. It doesn't seem much, but there's a lot going on here.

The lower tier of the same page shows a nice close-up of Toby's bag, another figure in deep background. In the next frame, though the principles are placed center-frame (atypically, for Toth), it works nicely and I really like the body language.
All right, here we go: page 12. It's astonishing. A self-contained page, Toth knocks this one outta the park. Just take it in, and don't worry about getting distracted with a couple poorly chosen bright colors - I blow away the color further below and really get into the nitty-gritty.


The smart design, storytelling, blackspotting, perspective and composition are even more evident in black & white/grey. The boys track Toby to the car and hitch a ride before getting bumped off in the last panel. Get a good look at how he's balanced lights and darks here - a sight to behold.


In each panel, though usually not placed middle-frame, Toth makes clear the center of interest (indicated in yellow below). Through a clever use perspective and changing POV, Toth carries lines from frame to frame, leading the eye through the page, action -by action, balancing angles throughout to achieve astounding page composition. None of these lines are perfectly vertical or horizontal, even the side of the building in frame 1. Dynamic!


In frame 1, all eyes are on Toby as he enters the car. His foot/leg jutting into the bright sidewalk catches our eye. The boys knocked out in silhouette in the foreground put them front-and-center, but not to distract us from who they're following, and to add drama/mystery. And boy, this guy knew how to draw cars!


I can't get over these two frames in the middle tier. Toth places us in the driver's seat in the car directly behind Clint & Mac hanging onto the spare, riding the bumper. The heroes, being the center of attention are not placed in the middle of the panel, but offset to the right and cropped. The main horizontal lines either lead us to or frame the boys. Beyond foreground, mid- and background, Toth further separates planes with the exhaust from Toby's car. Extending and reinforcing those lines into the next frame, the artist combines an exterior and interior shot to cleverly crop and frame the boys still hanging on to the rear of the vehicle. Amazing.

Look at any shot on this page, and you'll find no tangents - just brilliant composition and design, subtle and careful placement of elements for great storytelling and picture-making. The final shot couldn't be simpler, again with a silhouette to show the action without details of the boys reactions, expressions or potential pain. A few motion lines, a cloud of exhaust and some bouncy lettering - this is comics!

The color undermines the illustrative shot atop the next page, separating overmuch left and right, drawing to much attention to some cars center frame, and not enough of a knock out of the two boys on the right. But this is a superb drawing, the vehicles rendered in chiaroscuro fashion, and again with no lines exactly straight, even the center line of the street, which could've cut the panel in two.

The middle tier of page 13 is a sweet one with multiple planes, detail, texture and wonderful composition. He's really on his game.

And what about this shot closing the page? Unassuming, but a real winner of a panel. The POV is from behind, so the tilt of his head, hand gestures and trailing smoke tell us what we need to know about the General.
Knocking out the color and tweaking tone a bit help punctuate the power of Toth's silhouette here, the first panel on page 15. Nice profile and pipe. Note the upturned glasses, dangling pipe and collar are not in complete silhouette.

We close with a nice vertical shot of the Bookworm who'd earlier hired Clint & Mac.


Next week: The dock, a boat and the warehouse. Great stuff coming up...!

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TothPix: Clint and Mac part 2

Continuing some favorite stuff from Alex Toth's Clint & Mac, story pages 5-8. As always, you can refer to and read in its entirety at Michael Sporn's splog.

Page 5, panel 2 - Nice cropping, depth, blocking and composition. Even if we can't see every bit of every character, we see all their expressions, even as he focuses our attention on that package. A tilt of a head, slant of a brim, and angles of the collar, book and cigarette lead the reader's eye through the back & forth through the panel.

This last panel of the same page was colored strangely, what with a bright orange on the bus and and inexplicable bright red on the side of the building - so I blew out the color to better see this 3/4 overhead. Great composition, perspective, angles, detail, shadows and reflections. The four principle characters are not centered, but offset within the drawing. Sharp stuff!

Cool action panel; the bottom tier of page 6. Besides a few action and impact lines, the action is naturalistic - Toth lets folds, shadows and flailing ties carry and convey most of the action. Mac's pose is a little static, but it's fun to see his fist in the face of that doofus. I love how Clint's own fist juts into and obscures part of his face.

Page 7, panel 1: Low POV as the brutes make their escape, silhouetted legs in the foreground.

Another character is introduced a couple panels later, distinct from all the others we've already seen. Toth mixes it up! Nice background detail and slanting shadows.

Simple panel, the last of the page. He keeps the lower half of the frame open, so the car really pops, and boy could he drew 'em! It's fairly centered in the panel for a change, yet with the exhaust, curve of the street, sidewalk and wall, it's interesting. Not much going on with  drawing here, it seems, but he conveys plenty with what he does draw - the dots and slashes for foliage, a few bricks, a simple holding line for the smoke trail and those patented dots on the street for texture.

Atop page 8, Toth leads off with these two sweet frames across the top tier. Strong verticals frame and separate the space, but it's the curves and angles he uses that link the two, lead the eye through and again highlight the important objects: the coin and the package. A hand, a hat, a head and the car obscure and crop faces and figures. The head tilt on Mr. Toby is very well drawn - completely natural. In the second panel, if we'd see more of him we wouldn't focus as much on the transfer of that package.


Here's a closer look...


And of the other...


Thank you, Mr. Toby! See you next week, folks.

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TothPix: Clint & Mac - Close the Hatch

Years ago, sometime within the last decade, while rooting my way through the archives of scans of Alex Toth pages at the tothfans.com site, I was struck by one panel in particular: a shot of two arms coming up through and opening to close a hatch behind them.

It reinforced for me the idea that Toth would often make unorthodox choices in his storytelling, an approach to material unlike anyone I'd seen. Most artists would show the two boys from below, or from above - in any case we'd see an anxious face or scurrying bodies. Instead, Toth frames the hands and closing hatch through a window from inside the boat adding drama and focusing our attention not on the boys but the main action. From such a low angle, we see just enough to establish planes and depth, where the hands emerge from the opening.

This may seem unremarkable or unassuming, but to me it's daring - superb storytelling and picture-making.

Upon first viewing, I neglected to grab and download the page/story, so for a few years couldn't place where I'd seen it! I scoured his stories to find (for me) this elusive panel (story page 21, panel 6), to finally come upon it in his wonderful Clint and Mac - an adaptation of a Disney TV serial from the Mickey Mouse Club show.

I've tried my best to explain why, but it's one of my all-time favorite Toth panels. No one else would do it this way, especially in 1960. You can view/read the entire story in a couple posts at Michael Sporn's blog. In the next few weeks here I'll be analyzing some stand-out pages and panels. (I should note I took some liberties with the frame above, tweaking and cleaning for clarity.)

'Til next week -- !