TothPix: Clint and Mac part 6

More of Toth's Clint & Mac picks with a nice page with great compositions, blackspotting and tons of folds. There's an illustrative quality to the art here and it looks decent in color...

...But I blew out the color and cleaned things up for a closer look in black & white. Take this first panel from the top of page 18. Toth crops the figure on the left (Smith), his head in a halo of smoke, bathed in shadow which swings us on a curve as we move right to his partner in crime. What natural gesture, and with not the easiest pose, at that. Could Toth have pulled this off without a model or reference? He said yes, his reference file in his head, and that every artist should strive for the same.

This is a comic for kids, but everybody's smoking! So: Smith leans forward. Sweet black areas, expression and folds in his jacket. Toth looks like he could draw this stuff in his sleep. Behind him, the limehouse room walls are decorated with pin-ups of gorgeous women. This guy's lamp is all askew (right), casting dramatic shadows around the room . Most of this frame is taken up by Smith's dominating figure, his buddy taking orders, diminished, then - cropped at right.

(Not facing panels.)

From the lower tier, we cut to Clint & Mac turning over the skiff. Toth achieves tremendous depth, a shadowed post and pier in the foreground, the boys in the mid-ground, surrounded by receding decking and posts underneath the dock. He stages and renders a complex scene simply. By cropping Mac with the foreground post, we focus instead on Mac with the strong diagonal of his body and rope as he lowers the skiff - one can really feel the tension and effort! A more open space between the posts frame and highlight his head, and the impressionistically rendered splashes of water around the skiff add contrast and draw attention to the object, and lets the reader's eye finish the picture.

Here's the entire page in black & white, just for grins.

The top tier of page 19 features to wonderful panels, the boys framed by the opening between the dock and gate, the wake from a ship in the distance providing another halo. Then the boys are in the water and Toth takes us under with them. What beautiful flow and action, as the curve of their bodies leads us to their destination: the skiff. Great composition and design here with a variety of patterns: the long, horizontal ellipses of the ripples on the water surface; the rounded, billowing cloud of their path; the diagonals of the skiff and wood. Just superb.

We're back on the surface in the next frame, the POV just above the water's surface, actually. It brings near the boys' POV, accentuating the anxiety of their situation. In this long horizontal panel, the skiff covers a good portion of the panel, cropping the boys underneath, emphasizing its importance and framing the two gents on the dock.

Before giving us a two-shot of Toby and the Skipper with some cash and the satchel, Toth keeps the camera angle low but from another POV, showing us the skipper's ship. A trail of smoke is in each panel, leading the eye through and framing figures.

Toth continues to vary the shots, this time from above, the top of the skipper's ship and a light in the foreground, the two men cropped by those foreground elements in mid-ground, the ever-present skiff behind. Toth is moving about, showing us who and what is where, objects and people in relation to each other. An overhead shot focuses on that skiff - will the boys be discovered?

Then we cut to a close-up under that boat as the boys decide to take leave, Toby and the Skip pull up the skiff, which has seen some action!

Rather than repeating with another shot of the boys swimming underwater, that action occurs between frames and in the final large panel of the page, Clint & Mac have safely escaped, now under a pier, it and them in silhouette, Skip and Toby ready to set out. Cool shot!

Next week: Some choice panels from the next few pages as we head into the final third of the comic.

As always, you can refer to and read and view the story in its entirety at Michael Sporn's splog. Catch up on other Clint & Mac installments or the 80+ Toth posts I've done the last two years for TothPix.

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