Thursday, February 20, 2014

Alex Toth's Black Fox

The Black Fox is back!
And by Alex Toth, comic artist extraordinaire!

Alex Toth has been around almost since the beginning of comics. He started out drawing things like Green Lantern in the 40's, though he didn't acquire his distinctive and highly praised style until the 50's when he had to leave DC Comics and draw romance and horror comics.

In an interview Toth said, “romance was very special. It dealt with emotions in a different way than the slam-bang adventure stuff. There are a lot of things under the surface... a line of dialogue could say "this," but the expression of the person would say "that." Maybe only the camera/us/the reader's viewpoint would reveal the truth when she said, "I love you, too, George." Her face, eyes were saying something else! And the reader knows that, but "George" doesn't! He can't see that! So, there were all of these little nuances of line readings, acting, reacting, interpretation, layers of character personality, integrity, etc., people bouncing off each other... that was suddenly very grown-up, as opposed to the slam-bang... It was a whole new ballgame, and it forced me to really pay attention, and look, learn and listen.”

You can see some signature Toth images here like the extreme close-up (panel 6 and 7), the cut figures (in panels 1, 3, and 4) and the strong blacks. from Lonesome for Kisses, Intimate Love # 26. Feb. 1954.
While you can see the beginning of the signature Toth style this early page doesn't have the dynamism of the later romance page. from Green Lantern #28, Oct. 1947.
“There was a lot more to telling a story, without physical action to lean on, to make it dynamic, to draw the interest of our female readers. Using dramatic tricks, close-ups, poses, and attitudes, expressions, to give the story more punch, without overdoing it. It was great fun, to learn anew. You think you know enough, but you don't. You must open up; let it in.”

While it looks like he was pushing his art hard in the 50’s, creating all kinds of dynamic and unusual images, later on in his career he seems to have assimilated it into his work where it’s still there but in a much more toned down, natural way. In the early 80’s he did some work for the short lived Red Circle comics, creating a few Black Fox strips among other things. Here is Black Fox from the Black Hood #2. Here is Black Fox from the Black Hood #2.

It's such a treat to come upon new Toth work with it's dynamism and energy. He is as true treasure of the comics medium.

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