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Alex Toth

So little is said about Toth today, and yet so much in terms of the amount of his art, has become available. Though rare in that they are limited in number and produced by smaller publishers, the variety of books with his art is a pleasant surprise to this admirer of his work. DC Comics is really "missing the boat" in regards to their full library of Toth material - from his first through to the 1950s and then spatters through the 60s and 80s. Great stuff - particularly his Black Canary tale.

His influence is widespread among artists, within the industry - both comics and animation - but not among the reading public. His simplicity of line is something artists appreciate, but many a 'layman' don't agree that "less is more". Any heavily delineated, even "over-worked" piece of art is given more value, attributed more required skill to render. That is by no means true, yet there are clear examples where the details are truly penned by masters of great skill...

Bernie Wrightson, Mark Shultz, and Al Williamson readily come to mind. These three gents use great detail with incredible skill, yet, like Toth, understand what it takes to "build" an image from scratch. Each works differently and yet each of them see the mastery in Toth's economy of line. They add great detail, as this piece by Wrightson clearly shows.

These details are by definition, "rendering". Toth's art has very little rendering or modeling of form. The art of Schultz and Williamson evoke fantasy and sci-fi and particularly in Wrightson's work - horror. And that is true also of Toth - more horror than fantasy or adventurous sci-fi like Williamson or Shultz, yet he's been there too - he's done it all. Toth's best know yet rarely seen - DELL Four Color #845, The Land Unknown is a great 1950s adventure romp in the Antarctic.

And here we see his great use of design and economy. The angular, simple, yet defining imagery of the sea ice and its environment - the vast sense of space. Of the men and equipment, and later the jungle and all therein.

Toth's work abounds in several Dell comics - from his work on Disney's Zorro, to a number of other titles, usually adaptations of television and movies.

We'll comment often about Toth here - as an influence upon A First Salvo. But how does his style relate to Contract? Quite simply, Crime comics - noir - black and white, or more to the point, heavy shadows. While Contract is known for its humor and sci-fi elements, it also has its crime comic ties, and that too will be presented as further story shorts and volumes of Contract are presented on the web, through our digital distribution partners and of course in print.

Toth drew hot ladies and knew how to successfully place blacks. How cool to have seen a pugnacious Panzer by Toth? A hot vixen with a gun - Jessie of course! Or the layabout Tsumi, with an Errol Flynn glint in his eye?

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