TothPix: The Land Unknown • Part 3

For part 3, I'll cover story pages 6-9 of Alex Toth's adventure adaptation of  The Land Unknown! As always, one can read the story in its entirety on line.

During the next section of the piece, the crew surveys the warm pocket within the Antarctic, tries and end run around a storm, get hit by a flying object and are forced into a rough landing. Some members of the party deal with repairs to the 'copter while others take in the warm climes and surroundings.

In this first panel of page 6, the 'copter drops down for a closer look at the terrain. The panel and composition couldn't be simpler, but how interesting and effective! Toth splits the frame with a diagonal, balancing the land and snow with mirrored shapes, actually further clarified by the basic flat color (only four: land, 'copter, snow & shadow).

This next frame probably looks better in the original art, but the reprinted black & white version doesn't much change the effect from this color version. After a few close-ups in the 'copter, Toth employs another long shot (the last frame from the same page) which establishes their position and predicament: finding a way through or past the storm. The simple colors work well here, too (again but four), especially the snowy crags in the foreground in deeper blue, complete with rim lighting from the lightning. Not bad for an old four-color comic for kids on crappy newsprint!

Their trip back to the ships is stymied when the blades hit a flying object, obvious to the reader as a Pterodactyl. Though striking in B&W, Toth no doubt designed this frame to read as silhouettes against a single, soupy color of the fog/storm, save for the white/yellow at the point of impact. Very cool.

That page also features the panel which I've covered on this blog previously, in which the pilot has trouble steering.

The next page (eight) is the weakest of the story - Toth could have done more with it, especially the final three panels as the 'copter approaches and lands. The color on the final panel actually improves on the B&W art, separating the foreground, middle-and-background. And still, I love Toth's bold, cartoony sound effects.

Over that page, the next and throughout warm colors are applied to contrast with the subdued, toned-down and cool colors of the first quarter of the story, making the reader nearly feel the heat, none more effectual than in this panel...

Check out Part 4 for some brilliant pages and panels as the crew encounters - DINOSAURS! For an overview and insta-links to all separate other 13 parts of this blog series, visit our handy Land Unknown page.

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