Monday, May 29, 2006

Alex Toth

Well, as I'm sure you've heard if you're coming to read this blog, Alex Toth died on May 27. It's somewhat mandatory that I say a few words about him here, I think.

In all honesty, I'm not nearly as familiar with Toth's work as I probably should be. Oh, sure, I've seen any number of episodes of Space Ghost, Johnny Quest and Superfriends but Toth's work on those projects was largely over after the conceptual stage. He didn't write the stories that were aired, and he didn't do any of the animation. I've seen a handful of the earlier X-Men comics Toth did, but that's about the extent of his comic work that I've seen. In fact, I've seen more of his "columns" in Alter Ego than I have of his actual comic work.

And that's something that I need to correct.

From where I sit, I want to know how all of comics inter-relate. If Dan Slott says that Fabian Nicieza was an influence on him, I figure I should see what Nicieza did. If Walt Simonson says Jack Kirby was a big influence, I'm going to go back to see what The King did. (In these two cases, I was already pretty well aware of the Nicieza and Kirby before I knew of Slott of Simonson, though!) I've been trying to get my hands on a cheap copy of Steve Canyon and Pogo reprints because I've heard so many people reference those stories. And I can't tell you the number of times I've heard comic creators say that Toth was an influence on them.

But, for some reason, I've never really been able to track his work down. I suppose it was low enough on the priority list that it was never really feasible financially. There are SO many things out there I want to read and study, I can't afford to get them all. And even if I could, I've got a pretty good stack of things that I've bought but haven't read yet as it is! I think my Essential Dracula volume 2 has been sitting on the shelf since it was originally released and my Green Lantern Archives volume 3 is still shrink-wrapped! Not to mention several dozen Golden Age Marvel books that I've had on microfiche for the past two years and haven't even seen the light of day yet. So I have to say that I can't feel terribly guilty for not having studied Toth yet.

That said, he IS on my list of creators to become more familiar with. It's just that... well, I guess it should (unfortunately) become easier as companies start trying to capitalize on his death by releasing reprints of his materials.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I knew Toth first through Creepy, during the mid 60s. He did absolutely DAZZLING marker and wash work for Warren, which is still some of my favorite of his work. I remember being knocked out by his work when I was small, without knowing exactly why. (Maybe I still don't.) But one thing: his stories all moved, they all had a sweeping, vortical motion to them that felt just like a film story board. The very essence of dynamic. Well-drawn for sure, but not "illustratorly", say the way Reed Crandall's own beautiful stuff was. He is interesting to me, and possibly unique among cartoonists of his generation, for growing into a really smart, pared simplicity as he reached old age. His powers never failed and never went lax, but rather were whittled down to an infallable instinct and mastery of essential.