4

TothPix: Grave Undertaking - Details

I posted the full story last week, but I'll focus in this post on some of my favorite panels from the Grave Undertaking story. It's chock full of clever shots, 3/4 bird's-eye perspective, varied characters, patented Toth silhouettes and so much of this horror story is bathed in swaths of shadow. Top notch!

What an opening splash establishing shot! Not simply a through-the-window panel, but an overhead, inside-looking-out, which shows us the client who sets the story into action, outside waiting at the door on a dark, rainy night.

Then, as he leaves, he's inadvertently planted a demon seed in the mind of Mr. Thwackum. I love the door jam askew, framing the cropped face, throwing a shadow across his face and top hat.

As the men set to their grisly task, they get extra greedy. The light source is from the lantern at the lower middle of the frame, highlighting the jewels in hand, basking Mr. Peach in shadow, as well as the creepy profile of Mr. Thwackum in the foreground. Wonderful composition, blocking, lighting and storytelling.

Here's a nice shot from well above, past the huge bell in the foreground, through the tower's window to the creaky horse-drawn carriage below. This helps set the tone and heighten the suspense, the window and gravestones bathed in moonlight.

And when their new business is going well, but bodies aren't coming their way fast enough, they travel to a nearby village for more. Just look at this panel! Toth sets the scene as he establishes the old village, varying textures adding uneven lines, though establishing correct perspective. And the greatest touch - the tilt of the carriage, not only adding visual interest, but also a commentary on the bent nature of the two principals.

At the new graveyard, they're interrupted by a man who meets a nasty fate. All in silhouette save the grey background and the white lantern light and WOK sound effect. So much action, power and detail, conveyed so simply.

Poor guy, he happened upon the wrong twosome! Thwackum gave him a good thwack to the head. This is a brilliant panel, as we look past the murder weapon, the shovel handle cock-eyed in the foreground, to the twisted, lifeless body on the ground, shadows encompassing him, cropping across his face for us to focus on the dead eyes.

This one's a real winner! Breathtaking! Who else would show us the carriage entering the shed from inside overhead, most of the figures and carriage in shadow? All elements are beautifully framed by the doorway, including the client just outside, who's opened the door for them. Striking! I scanned this panel (and the shot of the village) from the Toth: Black & White book (1999 - Auad Publishing).

Next week, the last entry for Toth Halloween month...