Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Alex Toth (1928 - 2006)

Just wanted to make note of the passing of one of the great masters of comic art - Alex Toth, who died last Saturday.

For those unfamiliar with the artist and his work and why he was so important, I recommend reading this excellent tribute.

Toth did relatively little illustration outside of the comics and animation industries, though he could have stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Noel Sickles and Austin Briggs, both of whom had their roots in cartooning.

You can see some examples of Toth's rare book illustrations here.


  1. I am truly BUMMED
    IMHO.....One of the best illustrators of our time.
    Godspeed Alex.

  2. I am so sorry to hear about this. Toth was a great comic artist. I didn't love everything he did (for a fun time, read Harvey Kurtzman's recollections of his clashes with Toth over the quality of Toth's artwork for EC war comics-- two strong personalities, each one absolutely convinced he was right)but the man sure could draw and I thought his work for the Warren magazines in the 60s and 70s was especially strong.

    Mostly I think of Toth as a man of great uncompromising principle. He had an artistic conscience stronger than anyone else's in the business. When he couldn't satisfy himself, he wouldn't turn in the job. You pay a lot for having high standards-- the friction wears away at you day after day in the money you don't make, the people you alienate, the jobs you don't get. You need to be replenished from within to survive that kind of a life. To his credit, Toth was.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Leif. A man like this should not pass by unnoticed.

  3. Thanks for that, David. As always, very well put.

  4. Bob Cosgrove7:40 PM

    I enjoy this site so much that I hate to say anything even mildly critical (but with that intro, you know I'm about to anyhow)--I'm not sure where your illustration appeared, but it seems far removed from Toth at his best--in fact, it looks like Toth inked by a weak inker. Kudos, I guess, for showing me some Toth I hadn't seen before--but for a memorial header, I'd have liked a stronger offering, even if a common one.

  5. No offense taken, bob - and I'm very glad you enjoy the blog. Perhaps you'll understand better if I explain the choice in greater detail...

    This is the one piece of original art by Toth that I own. I have it framed and hanging above my desk so I can look up from my work at any time for a burst of inspiration.

    Though at first glance it doesn't look like much, it has some really lovely bits. I encourage you to go to my Flickr set and click on its "All sizes" tab. The third panel is especially nice but the scene in the window in the last panel is also really great.

    It was not very expensive. It was listed as being inked by Vinnie Colletta (not an inker I'm ever glad to see on just about anybody), but after reading a Dick Giordano article somewhere... I forget (in CBA?) and seeing another page from the same story, I was delighted to discover I owned a Toth page inked by a very good inker!

    It may not be the most exceptional work Toth ever did but it has special meaning for me and so I felt it would be most appropriate to share it at this time with the TI readers.

  6. Bob Cosgrove3:14 PM

    Whoops. Open mouth, insert foot. Well, there's no such thing as bad Toth--just good Toth you like to one degree or another. Thank you for sharing a piece from your collection, and congratulations to you on the purchase. If I'm not sounding too absurd, I've often thought that Dick Giordano's work (which I admire) looks a bit like "good Colletta." The inking of the bottom panel looked like Dick's to me, while some of the faces earlier on seemed more like Vince, leaving me to fudge it in my initial comment. I'll take a closer look, and thanks for your enlightening, and temperate reply.

  7. Ha - no problem at all, bob. You were correct in your initial assessment that this is not top-notch Toth.

    Also, I would welcome more critical discussion/debate here so please always feel free to shoot from the hip.