Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Creepy Presents: Alex Toth

Creepy Presents: Alex Toth
New Comic Company / Dark Horse, July 2015

‘Creepy Presents: Alex Toth’ (163 pp) was published in July, 2015 by New Comic Company / Dark Horse.

Alex Toth (1928 – 2006) was a prolific contributor to comic books from DC, Dell, Warren, and Marvel during the interval from the 1950s to the early 80s.

This volume is the sixth in the ‘Creepy Presents’ / ‘Eerie Presents’ series of compilations of Warren characters and / or artists. These volumes are well-made hardbound books, affordably priced.

‘Creepy Presents: Alex Toth’ compiles all the comics Toth did for Creepy and Eerie, from 1965 to 1982. These comics span the horror / sf genre.

In his Forward, Douglas Wolk remarks upon Toth’s approach to graphic art, utilizing a style that can best be described as expressionistic or minimalist, relying heavily on composing his linework around contrasting blocks of black and white – an approach that was arguably well suited for Warren’s magazines. Toth frequently experimented with many aspects of the comic book page, trying out new arrangements of panels, new styles for speech balloons, and portraying characters and their actions in silhouette. 

While it’s true that Toth was quite original in the way he composed his art, it’s also true that he was not as skilled nor as accomplished a draftsman as other Warren artists, such as Bernie Wrightson, Russ Heath, Neil Adams, Paul Neary, Esteban Maroto, Alfredo Alcala, and Gonzalo Mayo. 

For a lot of his Warren pieces, Toth’s work has a rushed, almost crude quality to it, and his use of pop-art and op-art techniques – such as for the story ‘Ensnared !’  – come across as more of an effort to meet deadlines, and move on to the next paying assignment, than very deliberate and crafted efforts to stretch the boundaries of graphic art.

Occasionally Toth was able to produce some memorable artwork equivalent to that of the best comic book art draftsmen, particularly his ‘Gothic’ pieces such as ‘Proof Positive’, ‘The Hacker is Back’, and ‘The Hacker’s Last Stand’.

Summing up, there are other Warren artists who - arguably - deserve their own showcase in the ‘Creepy Presents’ series much more than Toth does. I can’t rate this as a ‘must-have’, unless you are determined to collect all the volumes in the series, or are a diehard fan of Toth’s artwork.

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