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TothPix: Trouble Steering

Though the pilot depicted in this comic book panel is having trouble managing his craft, artist Alex Toth is in full control of his. Toth's line is bold and assured, the from-below angle conveying the drama of a tense situation for his adventure hero. The diagonals of the windows, chair, pilot's leg and arm give us a sense of being off-kilter, out of control. The rough and bold rendering of the folds in clothing add urgency and immediacy - the reader feels what the pilot feels. Bravo!

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We all feel out of control at times and have trouble steering through life. Toth certainly did, in his childhood, dealings with clients/editors and interactions with fans and colleagues. Despite this, he produced an incredible body of work, at the drawing board during and through difficult times. No doubt drawing for himself and on the occasional postcard was for him a solace for many years after he lost his wife. He found comfort in doodling... and died at his drawing board.

I literally had trouble steering more than two years ago now, unable to make a turn, sliding on a snowmobile sideways into a tree, breaking many bones. I was fortunate to have not been hurt worse, lucky to be alive. Still, after 27 months, I'm still having trouble steering sometimes: with work; as a parent and husband; with daily habits and activities of life, with my creativity; even in my car. But like this pilot, like all of us, I hold onto that stick or steering wheel for dear life, zig-zagging and maneuvering as best I can, making a serpentine line for my destination and goal. It may take me a while to get there at times, but I make it. Step by step, action by action. And when I take a bad turn or am going the wrong direction, with a little help from my family and friends, I right the ship and get 'er back on track.

Art like this gives me inspiration and the energy to strive to be better, to go for more.

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If anyone knows the source of this panel, please clue me in - I've no idea. It sure shows a Milt Caniff/Frank Robbins influence. Good stuff, Maynard!

Update - June 2, 2011

In Comments, fellow Toth fan and superb artist, Roberto Zaghi answers my question and clears up some confusion about the panel I originally presented. I should have caught it, but the art I posted was a copy of Toth's panel, and very well done at that - sure fooled me! I let it get past me, even though it didn't have a word balloon - d'oh! That copied/covered panel is now at the bottom of this post.

Everything I wrote about that panel still stands, Toth's original inked panel now at the top of the page, above. As Roberto points out,  that panel is from The Land Unknown (Four Color 845, 1957, Dell Comics), but also reprinted in The Alex Toth Reader (Pure Imagination). Fortunately, I possess a copy of that book, so was able to scan the actual Toth panel for inclusion here. I also have the story in color on disk, so grabbed that and cleaned it up. No doubt the red knock-out color on the pilot is shocking and corresponds to the action depicted, but the coloring here and for the story overall is not very well done. I much prefer the black and white version of The Land Unknown from the book linked to above. I'll do another post about that story in the near future, as it features tons of incredible Toth panels.

Thanks for the correction, Roberto. I should've gotten it right in the first place!

Update 2 - June 17, 2011

I tracked down the source of this image, done as an exercise by superb cartoonist, Tonci Zonjic. I should've done my due diligence from the get-go. Check out ToZo's comics & illustration and/or follow him on Twitter.