TothPix: The Fox - Shadows and Stars

Continuing the focus on Toth's Fox stories for Red Circle, this is actually the splash page to the first one he did, reintroducing a character from the Golden Age of heroes. And while Toth drawing, craftsmanship and skills are far beyond what was done when the character was first introduced, his sensibilities are firmly rooted in that era. It's almost as if he's drawing us back with him to his childhood, crafting an adventure that is no doubt more a memory of what he loved about heroes and comics, but better than what he actually read.

In the opening paragraph at the bottom of the page, the creator and storyteller, Toth is communication directly with the reader, breaking down the fourth wall, before he rebuilds it and throws us into the story. He's telling us exactly what his intentions are, what he holds and values as good comics, characters and stories, and he does it typical Toth style and panache.

Toth's striking use of black and white in this signature chiaroscuro panel of The Fox shows how he's blurred line and form, allowing much of the figure and background to be determined by how shadows fall across them. The Fox is at one with environment, and yet Toth finds a way to separate somewhat The Fox from the background. Though that's made even more apparent in the color version of the same panel below, there's something pure and dramatic in the black and white line art.

But for Toth, good hero comics is not all shadows. It's goofy characters who utter snappy dialogue in overlapping word balloons, slapstick action and comedy, all awash in a cascade of floating stars.

This story first appeared in color on newsprint in Black Hood #2 (1983), also appearing in Manuel Auad's Toth, Black & White (1999).

And with that, we're out...'til next week!