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Tag: DC Comics



Deadman. An old favorite DC Comics character. Colors in Photoshop. Inks below, done in Manga Studio. Update: Interesting recent Deadman TV show news...


TothPix: Witching Hour - "...Toil and Trouble!"

To wrap up Toth Halloween month, I've cleaned and collected a series of panels & pages from batches of Witching hour issues. These are in no particular order, chosen randomly, which either set the tone for the stories to come, or are great shots of the Three Witches, crone Morded, mother Mildred, maiden Cynthia.

Have a Happy Halloween, everyone!


TothPix: Doomstone

A Toth three-panel sequence originally appearing in DC's My Greatest Adventure #61, reprinted in Phantom Stranger #15. The graphic composition of this sequence from the story, I Battled for the DoomStone! is based on two main shapes: the triangle formed by the three shots of the explorer; and the "C" shape formed by the rock in all three panels, tying them together, reinforced by being the same color.

Each frame is strong and serves its purpose, what with #1 showing the explorer's upward climb (shown from above and the landscape far below) and #3 with his discovery of the Kraka Stone and gorilla (from behind). But the stunning shot is frame #2, with the explorer's legs splayed out precariously between two rocks. The dangerous journey is accentuated as we see him from below, with the landscape in the deep distance. This panel is simply and effectively colored with largely natural tones.

My only two minor quibbles: I wish the thought balloon in frame #2 didn't cover his arm/hand (perhaps Toth would have placed it differently had he lettered it himself?) and: it'd have been nice had Toth added just a few bits of texture to the ground in panel 3 - it looks too stark and bare.


TothPix: Soldier's Grave

This week I feature the entire Soldier's Grave Kanigher/Toth story I've touched on the last couple Toth posts. This is one of my favorite Toth pieces, an unsung gem. I'll comment between pages, but if you haven't read if before, it might be best to read through it first and ignore my comments til after. I scanned these pages myself from my beat-up, yellowed copy of Our Fighting Forces #134, cleaning up and tweaking extensively in Photoshop to sharpen and pop the images, darken areas of black, and to match the color tones and hues from the printed page as best I could - remastered, if you will. I daresay this is the best these colored pages have ever looked. Now, read on!

toth_soldiers_grave01  Toth opens with a couple long, horizontal panels, setting the scene and tone, and the coloring is decent, reinforcing the harsh mid-day shadows and helping to convey the desert heat. Kanigher then jumps us back centuries, throwing us smack dab in the middle of the fierce action of battle. This page is largely constructed by a series of triangles: not only the pyramids, but the lizard atop the rocks, and the two soldiers from the top of the attacker's helmet following down his blade to the rock on the left, and his lurching body on the right, both leading to the carved-in-stone title base. The title indicates the fate of the soldier, so we pretty much know the end in advance.


Then, with a series of close-ups and more angles, Toth brings us tighter into the fight, first with a cropped close-up, focusing on our humble soldier and the danger he faces, even more on his opponent's grip on his neck and threatening, dangerously close point of the blade. In frame 2, we see the blade, an important object in this story. Frame 3 pulls back a bit, but everything we need to know about this story and its conclusion is contained within, including the shield in the background.

Next, the creators employ another slight flashback as the soldier leaves his family and explain why. Toth uses silhouettes, a distant horizon and sunset to set the mood.


Page 3 is a super page, establishing the Egyptian army and camp, and its leaders as old Mullah pleads his case. The two panels int he middle tier show us the motivation and desperation of the main character. With the lower tier, Toth uses another sharp silhouette before pulling way back with a magnificent use of negative space, and showing us Mullah's place in the army, and thus his plight and challenge. The coloring is simple and effective, toned-down when it needs to be (only two colors are use in panel 3), then alternately subtle and bright conveying tone, time and atmosphere. Nice stuff!


Another well-colored page, as Mullah contemplates his place in the world, as he falls further behind the marching army. I love how Toth uses varied panel shapes here: first showing the size of the pyramids relative to the tiny soldiers; Mullah's weariness and slumped shoulders; a Pharaoh's after-life opulence; and cool vertical frame with Mullah surrounded by the other soldiers' footprints.


Now, Toth goes all horizontal as Mullah falls completely behind. Super coloring again, as the first frame is left colorless, Mullah's silhouette now totally merged with the footprints in the sand. In frames 2 & 3, the heat is turned up with yellows and golds, then orange and red. The bottom half of the page is cool as nightfall descends, and the exhausted Mullah figures he's lost his chance.

For more analysis of this page, see this previous post.


With page 6, Mullah's age and weakness has turned to his advantage, as he plucks off one enemy after another with his bow and arrow. That 2nd frame is brilliant, all moonlight, rim lighting, silhouettes and the flecks of light on the stealthy Mullah and his weapon.


Page 7 brings us full circle, back to the main battle. The two figures are colored warm and hot against the cools of the night background. Other than frame 3, where Toth gives us a brutal close-up of the enemy's face as he makes the fatal plunge of his blade, Toth instead focuses not on the characters, but rather the action and actions with body language, folds of clothing, etc. I find his approach effective here, since he's already established the characters, he highlights the futility of war in general human terms. The soldiers are not personalized here, but the EverySoldier, obscured by shadow, turned and cropped heads. Others may find his choices here cold and distant.

I love how Toth conveys Mullah's triumphant but hopeless state through twisted body language, as he breathes his last.


But unknown to the departed Mullah, he's saved the day, provided for his family who will be presented with the very blade that felled their savior. The other primary object of the story is highlighted in the 2nd and last panels, the shield we saw earlier in the story, now and forever serving as grave marker for Mullah and the sacrifice he's made.

Even while honoring Mullah's struggle and triumph, the editors ended all their war stories with a Make War No More benediction. If only...


TothPix: Reflection Pool

Today's Toth panel is taken from the Eclipso story, Hideout On Fear Island (House of Secrets #64 - DC Comics).

Though typical for Toth, it's striking because his approach is different from how so many artists would handle the same challenge. He obscures the face of the man to focus instead on the reflection he himself sees (and thus, us), again the main action and center of interest of the panel. Many would do a close up of the same shot, or show the face of the man and his reflection, but Toth does so much more.

He's created an wildly unorthodox and interesting composition, showing a thin sliver of shadow and background in the upper right, an huge expanse of negative space in the lower left. And with the curve of the horizon, he brings depth to the environment, showing the man's tracks leading to the small water hole. And though we see the man's body, Toth has foreshortened it in to create interest while keeping it secondary, not a distraction to the reflection.

All of this in service to the story. He doesn't over-dramatize, or show off with perfect feathering or concentrate on a superfluous vista. He just smartly and simply gets to the business at hand - and brilliantly so.

To view or download large scans, visit the Toth fan site.

More next week.

Update: Thanks to my ol' editor and long-time pal, Brian Augustyn for providing the same panel - he just happened to have black and white copies of the self same story:


Swamp Thing Sketch

I was surprised to find I still had this old convention sketch in the files, and pleased, as it was a favorite. As with most other sketches, it was done with black marker, colored pencil and white on colored paper. I was into Swamp Thing at the time, this being done shortly after the end of Alan Moore's seminal run on the title, his introduction to American comics, and what a coming out party!  He flipped the original concept on its head, helped revitalize the medium and reenergized the horror genre with mindblowing concepts and an expert and playful use of language. The art by Steve Bissette and John Totleben provides the perfect tonal compliment. I should pull those out and read again; it's been a while. And if you haven't read those stories before, you'll have chance with a new Swamp Thing collection I discovered is being released any day. These stories have been reprinted in black and white volumes previously, but this new release is in color, and at almost the same price. Order thru our Amazon Blue Moon Store at no extra cost to help support the blog.