Thu, 1 October 2009
Hey All, Swain here.
I'm pretty sure my first exposure to Alex Toth was during his Warren days. My father was a butcher for 35 years and worked for a grocery store chain in Chicago called Del Farms. I remember sitting in the isles at Del, on the floor, thumbing through Creepy and Eerie—and loving them. Maybe later, I picked up some Silver Age DC stuff by Alex.
One I clearly recall was that Flash/Atom story from Action Comics where Flash gets tied down like Gulliver in Gulliver's Travels (...wow). After that, it was Hot Wheels, a 'war' story called Dirty Job and by the time I saw Death Flies the Haunted Sky, I was all in—my conversion was complete!
Bravo for Adventure, Zorro and his animation work for TV shows like Johnny Quest and Super Friends, I didn't pick up on until way later.
In my late teens, I bought The Black Hood published by Red Circle because of their distinctive covers and guess who did them? Alex Toth. He also wrote and drew a back-up story in those books featuring this noirish character called The Fox—and it was EXCELLENT!
Keep in mind, folks, at that point in the '80s, Alex must have been close to 60 years old. Still kicking ass like nobody's business! Quoting my friend, Mark Chiarello, Alex actually got better as he got older. He and Will Eisner both had some odd wiring in their DNAs that made them even more awesome as they aged (I know that's poor grammar, but it feels accurate). We should all hope for the same, by the way.
When I proposed doing this tribute to Alex, Dwight and I didn't have a clue what it would turn into. Almost nobody we approached said no. Right away, it went from let's chat with a few creators—to let's do a two-parter. Apparently, I wasn't the only rude little kid sitting on the floor in the market reading comics and such. Thank God.
The Roll Call for Part I of our celebration of the life and art of Alex Toth is as follows: John Hitchcock, Klaus Janson, Howard Chaykin, John Paul Leon, Tim Sale, Paul Pope and Rubén Procopio. All of these guys are either friends, fans or peers of Toth's—and in some cases all three. Either way, they were great for agreeing to take part in this. We thank them.
Look for Part II of 'Bravo for Alex Toth' soon and we thank you all as well—for listening.
**Lots of people to acknowledge here, so grab a sandwich.
Mark Chiarello (O Captain), your greatness is only exceeded by your tiredness (ha)—many thanks, brother! TothFans.com for being such a great resource. Alex's son Eric for chatting with two art nerds he's never met before (Eric will be featured on Part II). Rubén Procopio for his candor, his help and his answering machine message—thank you, my friend. Paul Gravett of The Guardian (I shamelessly pillaged and personalized his Toth obit from June of 2006)—my apologies, but thank you, sir. Adrian Johnson for his enthusiasm and encouragement. And last, but most of all, my man Dwight, for supporting me on this 'vanity project'. Thanks, sibling!