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TothPix: Death by Toth

I never mustered the courage or had the guts to write Alex Toth to critique my work, or even a gushy fan letter. I did , however, send him an S.A.S.E. to request a small bit of art from him for a project, which led to the only piece of Toth art I possess.

In the mid-'90s my pal and Trollords partner Scott Beaderstadt and I decided to release a (as it turns out, ill-fated) Trollords Classics collection. It featured the first three issues of Trollords (originally published in 1986, as well as as a new story called Death Dreams, which focused on the Trollords arch nemesis, Death. In the 30-page story, we got to see things for Death's point of view, and in a large double-page spread his visage from a variety of perspectives. To convey this, we asked as many artist as we could think of and contact to contribute a 2" x 2" piece of art with their depiction of "death."

We were pleased to receive back pieces from Scott McCloud, Michael Golden, Alex Ross, Steve Rude, Adam Hughes, Dave Sim, Neil Gaiman, Kyle Baker, Berke Breathed, Terry Gilliam and Will Eisner, among many superb artists. But nothing made my heart skip as when I pulled out the simple piece sent by Alex Toth.

Some folks depicted their characters, or a skull, conceptual or spiritual takes on the theme. But nobody offered a more pure expression of the idea.

Seeing it for the first time, as bleak as is the outlook, I had to smile. How perfectly Toth. Perhaps he was an atheist, or maybe he knew we all really don't know what is in store for us "after." But this simple black square is one of my most prized possessions.

Maybe he was being profound, or perhaps he was just being...lazy.

= - )

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