In loving memory of one of the greatest artists to ever draw a comics page… Trust me, you love this guy. (Thanks to frequent CSBG commenter Ian Astheimer for the suggestion!)
147. Alex Toth
Alex Toth died one year ago today, and it’s an apt time to remember him and what he brought to the medium. Simply put, the man is a legend and will always be a legend, a titan, a champion of comics. He reportedly passed away at his drawing table, a poetic punctuation to a wondrous life and career.
He started with a desire to create comic strips, but moved into the books when it looked like the comic strip was going downhill. This led him to draw all sorts of Golden Age super-characters, like Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, and others. He moved on from DC to draw other genres like war, romance, and crime for Standard Comics, as well as a highly regarded Zorro run in Four-Color, before entering into an army stint. When he returned, he started working in animation, on the Space Angel cartoon. Hanna-Barbera quickly scooped him up after that, and then we got those beautiful favorites like Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Birdman, the Herculoids, and, of course, Superfriends. Those were brilliantly designed cartoons. Even if the animation was a bit dodgy back in those days, the art was splendid. Hell, I even dug Shazzan.
There are only a few people who really mastered sequential art, and Alex Toth is definitely one of them. He was an artist’s artist– an influence to comicsmiths for years. He probably always will be. From his designs to his brushwork to his perspective to, oh, every single aspect of putting together a comic page.
I have to again link to the story I linked to a few days ago– “Dirty Job” by Bob Haney and Alex Toth. It’s just four pages, but Mr. Toth’s style is blazingly alive on those pages. I adore the way he played with his layouts, composing a page for a stunning aesthetic. Gorgeous, gorgeous, work. Thanks again to Dial B for Blog.
Of course, Toth was also a tremendously talented letterer, too. Everyone pays attention just to the art, but his lettering style was great, too.
(I hope Steven Grant doesn’t mind me borrowing an image or two from his tribute column last year. In thanks, I urge you all to read it. Go!)
Alex Toth loved comics dearly, and passionately. He probably thought about comics more than anyone else ever did, and wasn’t afraid to shout his opinions from the rooftops. To close this piece, I’m going to let Alex himself speak about the state of comics today. I happen to agree with him on this one. Click to enlarge:
Damn straight, Mr. Toth. Comics will forever miss you. Thanks for everything.
Be sure to visit The Alex Toth Website, which is one of the most fantastic websites out there. It’s chock full of Toth-y goodness– a new page of beautiful sequential art every day, a plethora of brilliant articles, be they written by Alex or about him. And if you’d like, pick up a copy of Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodlebook.
Finally, I link to Tom Spurgeon’s terrific tribute of Alex Toth from one year ago. The man is a better writer than I, and he’s got some neat stuff mixed in there. Take a look.