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Tag: comic books

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TothPix: Space Ghost Comics

I was pleased to discover a few years ago that Toth had drawn a Space Ghost comic book story (TV Stars #3 (1978), all five pages of which I present below. I cleaned up and tweaked the images as best I could - remastered, if you will. Enjoy!

SG_pilgreen01 SG_pilgreen02 SG_pilgreen03 SG_pilgreen04 SG_pilgreen05

Mark Evanier's title is a play on Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, which doesn't have anything to do with the story, really. Funny that while the character is named "Pilgreem" throughout the story, lettered by Toth, near as I can tell, whoever lettered the title (might've also been Toth) misspelled it as "Pilgreen." Whoops!

I love the design and set-up of the splash panel. Jan never looked curvier than in the 1st panel on page 3. There's a gorgeous sweep and flow to the last three panels of page 3, and the first three of page 4. And it'd be great to see the black and white art of the final panel of that same page to better check out the sexy lady alien feeding Buzzard grapes.

All in all, a tasty trifle, and great to see Toth handle these characters in print.

Extra! Space Ghost links, model sheets and video.

Next: The Many Moods of Toth, a gallery of faces and expressions.

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TothPix: Z

Zorro by Alex Toth. 'Nuff said.

zorro_4

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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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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 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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Wizard Monkey

Well, this one sure was fun! My client, Matt McCabe asked me to do up for his site my spin on a cross between Dr. Strange and the monkey from Family Guy and this is what I came up with. The image above shows the stages of work, from rough pencil, to ink, and color - all digital. For context, here's how Matt used the image at his SemiTechnical site. Look over rest of his stuff, too and perhaps avail yourself of his services - he's a good guy!

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TothPix: FBI Story, part 2

Continuing an examination of Toth's comics adaptation of  The FBI Story (1959)...

Both panels (below) are straight-on shots, pretty much from eye level, carrying on the "documentary style" employed for most of the story so far. Again - great folds on the clothing as Chip's on his way out. Then we move on to a domestic Christmas scene. I love how Toth knocks the tree out to black - the decorations colorfully popping...

(Not facing panels.)

...which he carries through the scene. Great compositions here, as he lowers the POV on the first shot, framing the mistletoe kiss and reaction of the characters in the background with the foreground tree and Christmas gifts. Very natural action and body language in the second, Chip nearly cropped out of frame as we center on the exchange between his wife and partner.

(Not facing panels.)

More spotting of blacks to enliven and ground the talking heads. At times (as with the head in the foreground, right) Toth knocks out a figure/object completely in black, others (as with Chip to his left) he allows a tiny bit of light into the shadow for definition and depth.

The good vibe and news turns dark - wife, Lucy realizes the danger of their situation. Black becomes more dominant - with the background, more harsh shadows, pipe, suspender strap and tree. The cropping of the pipe into the partner's face is vérité, seemingly not staged, also focusing our attention on Lucy's reaction. In the second frame, a somber Lucy is shown in dour profile, offset in the panel, enveloped in the dark tree. Even her red dress and the sparkling decorations can not cheer her mood at the thought of wearing black at her husband's funeral.

(Not facing panels.)

A super page (21, below) in a story where overall page composition is not paramount. More action, dynamism, contrast and variation of shots on this page, and it all works together beautifully.

Close-up of frame 2: Dynamic, expressive, chiaroscuro. There's hardly a holding line here - it's nearly all light & shadow, à la Noel Sickles.

Close-up of frame 3: More of the same - all light and shadow. A 3/4 overhead shot, the image has but three colors. Toth not only has the perspective right, but all the details on the car, even while he didn't worry about pristine rendering. Fine with me. More than fine.

The next page is another winner: Varied shots; silhouettes; decent, minimalistic coloring. Frame 4 is great - love the sweep of action, the folds of the suit bleeding into the dark street. I wish Toth had done more with Baby Face in panel 3 - it could've been more dramatic, perhaps more lighting or a lower angle? As is, it's too static.

With the final two panels, Toth pulls way back, enveloping all in black - the characters float in the darkness, no horizon line, setting the stage for the sparse and striking death scene on the following page....

Toth's rough rendering grounds the truth of this death scene, more poignant, honest and touching than most in any genre. Sam's body slumps in panel 2, Toth cuts to a close-up of Chip in the third, the darkness nearly overtaking everything in the last frame as Sam slips away. The lone word balloon in that final panel stands out against the black, spaced far from Chip have the moment last a beat longer. The tails of the balloons trickle down to each speaker like tears on a face or rain on a window pane.

Next Toth Tuesday, I'll wrap up the The FBI Story with the final third. Good stuff ahead....

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Anatomy of a Comic

We recently completed our 20th comic for Tzivos Hashem's Kid's Zone, a magazine for Jewish kids, so we can finally show off the previous one since it's now seen print. Aquatic Adventures starts off with a SPLASH! as Joey and his pals are pulled into the river while fishing off a dock...

...where they come face-to-face with a huge talking fish! It was fun to have room to blow out this panel to a sizable semi-splash at the bottom of the first page. Now underwater, little bubbles/circles begin to appear, which I used throughout the three pages as a design element, in the panels and gutters, leading the reader's eye. We carried this through to the word balloons of the fish, which we also gave a different font, more open and round than the comics font we usually use (one based on my own hand-lettering). Mary approached coloring the fish differently than I probably would've, weaving warm and cool colors together, and shading various blues and greens. A nice touch, adding depth and color to the fish, helping to pop the Big Guy from the watery backgrounds.

On page one (below, left), I established the scene, the boys fishing off the dock on the river, the city in the distance. We used cool and warm colors to distinguish one panel from another, and to break things up. I prepared a diagram (below, right)  to show shapes and flow of the page. The orange line shows a couple main shapes. The blue line tracks the flow of the text/word balloons and sound effects. The red line shows further the composition of the page, how I used the fishing poles and line to direct the reader's eye so the action flows naturally from panel to panel.

I wish I had even more room one page 2 to show the magical underwater world in which the crew finds themselves, but somehow was able to pack a lot of stuff into this panel (shown larger here than in the printed comic). For all the underwater scenes we considered and could have cast everything in darker hues, but decided to bring it to life, keeping things colorful and magical.

Pages 2 & 3 (below) appear in the mag side-by-side, bleeding together a bit. The red line I drew for page 2 shows the general flow for the page and panels. We kept the background for the masthead white to pop the title, utilizing the bubbles as I mentioned earlier. On panel 2 I used a series of arcs (as suggested by the sunken ship), carrying them through the whole panel and to direct the eye to the proper following panel. I bled out all the background for page 3 to establish an underwater backdrop for the talking fish and Joey, using panel borders for cutaway shots and an inset. Because this page is therefore more free-flowing and open, I overlapped word balloons over panels to make sure the reader followed along in the right order.

Here's a close-up which shows how we bounce and balanced warm against cool colors. Notice again the difference between the fish font and boy's speech.

I've written and posted more about how we've created this comics series, which we've now been doing for five years. Read all the comics at Google+,  or Facebook. It's already been a good run...with more to come!

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