Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell continue their comprehensive review of the life and art of Alex Toth in Genius, Illustrated. Covering the years from the 1960s to Toth’s poignant death in 2006, this oversized 9.5″ x 13″ book features artwork and complete stories from Toth’s latter-day work at Warren, DC Comics, Red Circle, Marvel, and his own creator-owned properties, plus samples of his animation work for Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, and others, as well as sketchbook pages, doodles, advertising art, and other rarities provided through the cooperation of Toth’s family and his legion of fans. Two of Toth’s best stories are reproduced complete from the original artwork: “Burma Skies” and “White Devil… Yellow Devil.” A full-length text biography will chart the path from Toth’s increasingly-reclusive lifestyle to his touching re-connection to the world in his final years. Fans of comics, cartoons, and all-around great artwork revere Alex Toth. See why Genius, Illustrated —along with its companion volume, 2011’s Genius, Isolated —are being praised as the definitive examination of the life and art of The Master, Alex Toth. Volume 2 of a definitive three-volume series.
To mark the season, here’s an old favourite of mine from Creepy #125 (February 1981): it’s “Jacque Cocteau’s Circus of the Bizarre,” with script by Roger McKenzie and amazing art by the odd couple of Carmine Infantino and Alex Toth:
The single panel above is from the story, “The Tell Tell Car,” as it appeared in Pete Millar’s DRAG CARtoons #2 (December 1963).
Marshall Matt Dillon, of course, was played by actor James Arness; in interviews, Arness generally claimed to be 6′ 6″ tall, but some sources say he was actually 6′ 7″, which is a full three inches taller than Clint Eastwood was, back in his salad spaghetti days.
From a 1993 reprint of Two-Fisted Tales #22 (EC, 1951), here’s “Dying City!” with script and layouts by Harvey Kurtzman, pencils by Alex Toth, and inks by Kurtzman:
Of course, in the summer of 2012, “Dying City!” will be back in print, this time from Fantagraphics, which recently acquired the reprint rights to the EC Comics Library and has announced plans to publish a series of volumes focused on individual creators. “Corpse on the Imjin” and Other Stories (including “Dying City!”) by Harvey Kurtzman and his various collaborators (ISBN: 978-1-60699-545-7) will be the first volume in the series.
From The Witching Hour #12 (Dec.-Jan. 1970-71), here’s “Double Edge,” with story by Steve Skeates and art by Alex Toth; note that I’ve included the opening page of the issue, drawn by Toth, because it explains the witch-host’s appearance halfway through the story:
From Girls’ Love Stories #1 (August – September 1949), here’s “Unlucky Heart,” with script by Robert Kanigher (uncredited), pencils by Alex Toth — who had graduated from the High School of Industrial Art less than two years earlier, in 1947 — and inks by Bernie Sachs:
From Young Love #74 (May-June 1969), here’s “Hide Your Love,” with art by Alex Toth and story by an uncredited writer:
[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]
I happen to love beautifully drawn romance comics, but even if you don’t, you will surely recognize the brilliance of Toth’s design of the opening page, with its elegant panel arrangement that steps down in a curve from left to right around the title of the story, which, for our eyes only, Toth has written on the troubling engagement-party invitation card that the main character, Betty, has just received from her “friend” Elaine, a card that is half-hidden inside an envelope the outlines of which define the panel — Betty’s arrival at Elaine’s party — that closes the opening page! If you have read the story, you’ll know why this is significant…