TothPix: Clint and Mac part 7

Page 21 of Alex Toth's Clint & Mac is just a great page, the last panel of which inspired me to cover this full story with this series of posts. That "closing the hatch" panel is still one of my all-time faves in Toth's canon.

In panel 1, the boys are still in the water under the dock, cropped and hidden as they eavesdrop and plan. The page all told is well composed, each panel also superb, working together with patterns of angles and curves, focusing not on a money shot of a particular character or close-up, but establishing the characters and objects in relationship to each other. The hatch is is the prime focus of the page. Rather than showing us more face-front views of the characters in action, Toth forces us to pay attention to that hatch. Storytelling, man - storytelling!

Sure, in Panel 2 we see the Skipper, an incidental character (and a fantastic drawing, by the way), but other than this and the medium/long shot of Clint & Mac in frame 1, that's all we get. Why? Here, we see Toby from behind. The point at which his hat crops said hatch in the background is nearly in the exact center of the panel. We think we're focusing Toby & Skip, the boat, perhaps any of the details that might catch our attention (the joists, light, rope, satchel...whatever), but actually all these elements point us back to the hatch. All of them. The perspective and angles of the joists lead to each side of the hatch, even if one side is obscured by Toby's head/hat. The exchange between Toby & the Skip is secondary. All lines lead to the hatch.

See? Like this:
If we didn't get the point, Toth leaves us no choice in panel 3: the hatch takes up just about all of the frame. Though the satchel is cropped and partially obscured, we get that Toby's hiding it in the locker. The perspective here is spot on. No tangents, all details drawn so well, but so simply - the handle, Toby's hands, etc. So good. What'd Toth say again?

Emphasize what is important in a scene. Save drawing!

Eliminate the superfluous, the unnecessary...In other words: strip it all down to essentials and draw the hell out of what is left!

In panel 4 (above) Toth takes us underneath the dock again, nearly all in shadow or silhouette.

A terrific overhead long-shot re-establishes the boys, the dock and the boat, and despite all the detail of the boat, all eyes are on the boys making their way aboard. Then, of course: the shot. Love it!

On the next page (22), Toth brings us inside the locker with the boys to enhance the immediacy and drama. Much of what works here is weakened by poor coloring, so...

...let's take a look in black and white. Ah, that's better. The shots here are from below, dark, cramped and claustrophobic. Medium-dark coloring would've reinforced what Toth has set up so well. And how more effective panels 3 & 4 would have been without narration and dialogue. An additional panel after panel 4 with that dialogue would've improved things.

Back above: top deck. Our two rascals move the satchel about again. The cropping of the characters put it again at center stage. I love the angle on Toby, so natural and emphasizing his girth. There's a real flow and sway to the gestures, hands, jacket folds and face.

Moving the "camera" above, Toth makes a tough shot to pull off look easy. He usually does....

Next week: More great stuff, go figure. It's hard to believe there's so much done so well in a mediocre kids comics adaption of a sub-par Disney television serial...but there is!

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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