CCI XTRA: "Simplicity: The Life and Art of Alex Toth"

Late last Saturday afternoon, the crowd of Comic-Con-goers were tired and weary from a day of news-packed panels and a shopping extravaganza that few had ever experienced, but there was still another jewel of a panel off to the side of the second floor that had fans waiting in line over 30 minutes to attend. "Simplicity: The Life and Art of Alex Toth" is a documentary attached to the "Space Ghost and Dino Boy: The Complete Series " DVD (and to a lesser extent the "Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series " DVD collections) that was previewed in front of an eager crowd that wasn't disappointed.

The most interesting part of the panel was not the documentary previews or the insights into what made Toth an amazing artist and storyteller, but the details about what type of a person he was. The panel consisting of not only producers, artists, and friends but Toth's children got up in front of a crowd and showed not only the genius but also the isolated, difficult and argumentative character that Toth was.

Moderator Alex Gray of Warner Bros. defined the 80-minute documentary about Toth as "about who he was as a man." Growing up a child prodigy, Toth was a perfectionist who could find not only the absolute best way to tell a story, but also wouldn't hesitate to tell you if you were doing it wrong -- and how to do it right! Many examples of this were shown to the crowd, such as letter responses from Toth friends had received that were so covered in red ink you would have thought that their third grade teachers gave them F's for every line.

Toth would often correct grammar, argue with your point of view and outline why you were wrong, and if you didn't see his light of way would just forgo speaking to you for a few years. Toth friend John Handcock said it best when he remarked, "Alex was like a planet. If you were to collide with him you could find a nice, warm mushy place to land. Another minute you could land on jagged razor blades and would be left battered and bruised."

For being such a tough man to get to know, he also had a kind side. Son Eric Toth said, "He really was a teacher, but wouldn't admit to it" as he was "afraid of working with people."

Ruben Procopio of Masked Avengers Studios talked about how "he would send postcards with lessons on them. But he would scoff at you if you would tell him he really was a teacher."

In the end, all members of the audience were taught what made up Alex Toth and it was as plain as the title of this documentary, "simplicity." Son Damon Toth said of his father, "He thought it – he felt it – he did it – that was it."

Alex Toth made the difficult look easy and "was so true to himself, and never compromised himself," said Mark Chiarello of DC Comics.

"Simplicity: The Life and Art of Alex Toth" can be found in its entirety on the " Space Ghost and Dino Boy: The Complete Series " DVD collection and a 20-minute version can be found on the " Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series " DVD collection. WB producer Jon Mefford did not rule out further documentaries if this one is a success.

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