Monday, May 29, 2006

The Passing of Alex Toth - Part 3

By the 60s, Toth was doing less comic book work and much more animation work, but was still making significant contributions, especially to DC. Eclipso is another in a long line of truly odd heroes introduced by DC in the 60s, perhaps trying to keep up with the House of Ideas. The strange concept of the villain as hero was made even stranger by Toth’s artwork on the strip – which veered away from superhero norms of the time. I’ve included a page here from House of Secrets #65 to give a sense of just how unique Toth’s approach to superhero comics was at the time. Another good example is the oft-reprinted Brave and Bold #53, featuring one of the better non-Batman team-ups. Toth also contributed several stories to DC’s line of mystery titles in the early part of the decade. Later in the 60s, he did some strong work for some DC romance titles as well as Hot Wheels.

Stan Lee was well known for asking many DC artists to work for him (many under pseudonyms) in the 60s as the Marvel line was expanding. Artists such as John Romita and Gene Colan were given almost a fresh start at Marvel, and yet somehow Alex Toth made only minimal contributions. The best known example is X-Men #12, which has been reprinted several times, but the reader won’t get a true sense of what Toth could do, as he was working from Kirby layouts, who had a very different approach from Toth. A better example is the story ‘The Warning’, a very strong back-up story from Rawhide Kid #46. I own the title page from this story, and it is incredibly different from anything published from Marvel at that time. I can only assume that Stan Lee felt that Toth was simply a poor fit for his books, and didn’t offer any more work. Outside of DC and Marvel, other strong colour work from Toth can be found in some in Dell/Gold Key titles such as Frogmen and Twilight Zone. These can be found for a fraction of the price of a DC or Marvel book from the same era.

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