TothPix: Safecracker

I grabbed and cleaned up some choice panels from an obscure four-page back-up story from Roy Rogers #111 (1957), about a kid who locks himself accidentally in a vault. A Texas ranger has tracked down a dude long on a run, who exposes his true identity by breaking the kid out using his lock-picking skills. Of course, the ranger let's him off. What guy!

Even with this short knock-off story, Toth, as usual displays his superb storytelling chops - varying the shots between close-ups, mid- and long shots, changing the POV, staging, cropping and composition, no-nonsense drawing and expert characterization. Here's a great close-up, a partial profile from slightly below, the panel split in two. Actually, the word balloon breaks up the half-and-half composition, while avoiding a tangent.


In this next, the ranger meets with the lock-picker dude. Notice the tilt of the heads, the naturalistic placement and rendering of hands. Toth spots his blacks great here, in an unassuming manner, and places a lantern in the foreground for depth.


As the two guys head into town, he shows us what we need to follow the story - the town, the main players, the crowd) but also love the way the lock-picker leans from his horse, the tilt of the guy's head looking up, his gesture to the crowd. That post in the foreground helps again with depth, as well as the shadow on the horse.


Our three dudes move in, seen here in the distance framed by silhouettes. And the overhead shot let's us know where everyone is, who's doing what. Nice stuff.


Inside, the lock-picker has a decision to make - save the kid and expose his true identity, to shut up. He gets to work, Toth enhancing the drama with a low-angle POV (right).


Then, in the most compelling shots of the piece, he gets us right in there with the lock-picker as he does his stuff. We're in so tight, one can almost hears the tiny clicks, feel the subtle turns of the dial. The cropping makes us focus on the hand and the dial. Dang, this is so good!


Then the little tyke is saved, and the lock-picker earns his freedom. All in a day's work for a ranger - and the brilliant Alex Toth!